Introduction — Status Matters – A New Cruising with MJ Series

Cruising with MJ – Elite Status with Carnival

Cruising with MJ – Elite Status with Disney

Cruising with MJ – Elite Status with NCL

Cruising with MJ – Elite Status with Princess

Cruising with MJ – Elite Status with Holland America

Cruising with MJ – Elite Status with Celebrity

Cruising with MJ – Elite Status with Royal Caribbean

Cruising with MJ – Elite Status Reciprocity with Affiliate Brands

Cruising with MJ – Elite Status Summary

Well, considering I wrote the intro post in this series on May 7, one could say that this took a while. :) There were a lot of cruise line programs to get through, but here we are.

What We Learned

Much like the airlines, cruise lines have loyalty programs meant to drive repeat business. The programs have elite status levels with increasing benefits as you climb the status ladder. That’s where the similarities end. With cruise lines, you don’t accrue thousands of points through the loyalty program to be cashed in for free cruises. (Note: several offer credit card points programs with points that can be cashed in for cruises – more on that soon.) You accrue points based on either the number of cruises taken or the number of cruise days. Based on the number of points, you are afforded elite status with familiar sounding names like Platinum or Diamond or sometimes nautical sounding names like 2 star Mariner. The benefits range from cruise discounts, complimentary laundry, and free internet to free booze and dinner with ship’s officers. For my money, the best benefits are the various discounts. For example, for my upcoming Quantum of the Seas cruise, I received a discount of $350 of the price of my balcony cabin as a Diamond Plus member of Royal Caribbean’s Crown & Anchor Society.

Other Programs

I did not cover every loyalty program out there. Notably, the small ship lines like Azamara, Seabourn, and Regent, as well as big ship line MSC which now bases a ship in Miami full time. I touched on Azamara during the elite status reciprocity post because of their relationship with Royal Caribbean and Celebrity. They and the others offer attractive programs as well. The small ship lines are high end, and their loyalty programs reflect it. MSC, while a more traditional sized ship line, offers a competitive loyalty program in the larger ship market.

Which Program and Cruise Line Would MJ Like to Try?

As you know, I’m a Royal Caribbean Diamond Plus, and diehard “loyal to Royal.” That said, the other cruise lines offer attractive products and loyalty programs that interest me. Of the programs I covered, Princess Captain’s Circle interests me the most. I mean, not only is Princess the cruise brand behind The Love Boat, Captain’s Circle Elite tier members get a complimentary mini-bar setup. What’s not to like? :) There’s also a pretty generous internet credit benefit for higher tier elites among many other benefits. Small ship lines Azamara and Seabourn are also calling my name. And rounding out my cruise bucket list is a trans-Atlantic crossing on Cunard’s Queen Mary II as well. Yes, I really can wear a tuxedo every night if needed.

I hope this was a useful primer on cruise line elite status programs for you. What other cruising topics would you like to see here at MJ on Travel?

-MJ, July 20, 2013

8 Responses

  1. Marshall,

    My wife and I really like Celebrity. We are interested in Azamara. So that would be the one I would like you to try.

    Bryan

  2. Does Cunard have an Elite Frequent Cruiser program? I am a regular Princess cruiser – Platinum, working towards getting to Elite. I want the laundry and the mini-bar set-up! :-)

  3. [...] Cruising with MJ – Elite Status Series Summary [...]

  4. i just want to say that elite status series you did with the cruise lines was a great read! it’s great to see something written about cruises that’s not on cruise critic!

    like you, i agree rccl is the best when you compare it against the rest. i am currently diamond and going to go on my first celebrity cruise next month. i am really excited to use the elite perks. hopefully, i’ll get to try azamara one day. i can’t wait to hit D+ in about 2.5 years! i’m anxiously awaiting for quantum to come to my homeport.

    i’ve been on disney before and their status program is good too. i like it way more than ncl. the souvenir castaway club bag you get and the little treats are huge to me and i wish rccl did something like that.

  5. Thanks! D+ is worth the effort. RCL is great but I bet you will love Celebrity. I’m booked on Quantum 12/14. :) My first cruise from Bayonne.

  6. ah quantum! i am really excited quantum is coming to bayonne! i’v been on the explorer 8 times and been sailing out of bayonne since 2005 so a change is definitely needed! i am looking at a 12/14 quantum sailing too! i am not a fan of the short bahamas itineraries though =(. not sure if you’ve heard or read, but last week they voted/announced they are going to re-model cape liberty in time for quantum’s first sailing. it will be very exciting to get a new cruise port and a new ship!

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