Cruise Line Loyalty – Carnival Cruises

Cruise Line Loyalty – World’s Leading Cruise Lines (Other Carnival Corporation lines like Princess and HAL)

Cruise Line Loyalty – NCL

Cruise Line Loyalty – Royal Caribbean MyCruise Rewards (including Celebrity and Azamara)

Cruise Line Loyalty – How the Bank Rewards Programs Stack Up

The World’s Leading Cruise Lines is the marketing “moniker” for the Carnival Corporation owned lines. These companies include Costa Cruises, Cunard Line, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Seabourn, and of course, Carnival Cruise Lines. We’ll focus on Holland America and Princess in this post because they offer a credit card product. Last week, we looked at Carnival with its Very Important Fun Person (VIFP) Club loyalty program, and it’s FunPoints® program based on The Carnival™ MasterCard®. We’ve reviewed the elite status loyalty programs of Holland America and Princess in this space before. Holland America’s Mariner Society has 5 status levels, with qualification being based on days at sea.

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On the other hand, Princess Captain’s Circle is based on days at sea OR the number of cruise you have take. Further, Captain’s Circle members have just 4 status levels to work through.

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Like all the cruise line loyalty programs, the perks you get rise along with your status level. You can review the Holland America program in detail here, or the Princess program here.

About the Points

Like some other cruise lines, both HAL and Princess offer co-branded credit cards that allow you to earn points that you can redeem towards discounts, onboard credits, or even a “free” cruise. Unfortunately, like most of the other cruise line credit card programs, these are mostly straight penny per point programs that do not offer great values unless you happen to live on a cruise ship. 🙂

The Holland America Line Rewards Visa® is available, and it does have some redeeming qualities like no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees. It currently offers a 5,000 point first purchase bonus. You earn 2 points per dollar for purchases with Holland America, and 1 point per dollar for other purchases. In perusing the benefit brochure, I found that you can actually get 1.25 cents in value if you redeem towards a cruise. The example given was a $500 statement credit when redeeming 40,000 points towards a cruise purchase. There are better deals out there that we’ll talk about soon.

The Princess Cruises® Rewards Visa® Card is remarkably similar to the HAL card. It is free of an annual fee and carries no foreign transaction fees. You earn 1 Princess Point per dollar for routine purchases and 2 Princess Points per dollar for all Princess Cruises purchases. Currently, the card offers a 5,000 point first purchase bonus. You can get 1.5 cents in value if you redeem a remarkable 200,000 Princess Points for a $3,000 discount towards a cruise purchase. You can review the rewards example guide here. Other examples were straight penny per point redemptions like 5,000 points for a $50 beverage credit or 50,ooo points for a $500 airfare credit.

The Bottom Line

I don’t want to rag on these card products too much. If you rarely fly, live near a port, and cruise a lot….and could use a no-fee card with no foreign transaction fees, then one of these products might be OK for you if you’re brand loyal. There are better deals in the bank programs and cash back if you want to use points to pay for your cruises. We’ll power through the remaining cruise line points programs this week and next, then tie things up with a look at the one branded cruise line credit card that might be worthwhile for certain cruisers. Finally,  we’ll cap things off with the bank program cards.

-MJ, September 27, 2014