Cruise lines’ reward scheme, what do they offer?

Couple with Champagne

Some cruise lines go to remarkable lengths to tempt you back on board, year after year. But whose reward scheme offers the finest freebies? Mitchell Symons investigates…

How loyal are you? Speaking as a veteran  of some 90 cruises aboard 35 ships operated by 12 different lines, my own answer has to be “not very” – at least when it comes to choosing my cruising. But if there’s one thing the big operators want more than our custom, it’s our repeat custom – and to get it, they each have incentive schemes to reward their regulars.

Goodies on offer range from free ice-cream (just the one) and slippers (no thanks) to entire complimentary cruises (where do I sign?). Naturally the more you spend, the more you get, and to qualify for the juiciest freebies you need  to be counting your time afloat in years, rather  than weeks.

For keen cruisers who rack up an average sort of mileage, the benefits fall somewhere between
the extremes. I’m a Platinum member of Princess’s Captain’s Circle which entitles me to – among other things – preferred check-in, a special disembarkation lounge and 150 free internet minutes. I’m also a member of P&O’s Peninsular Club (7.5 per cent off my on-board spend and a free glass of Champagne) and Select on Celebrity (25 per cent off a single internet package, and priority embarkation).

I probably speak for many cruisers when I say it’s free internet time, pre-paid gratuities and priority embarkation that really put a spring in my step on the gangplank. You can keep your “collectible gifts” and personalised luggage tags, and I would actually pay to avoid those “exclusive” cocktail events where you sip a glass of nasty sparkling wine, ruin your appetite with canapés and make awkward conversation with people
who are equally ill-at-ease. As for the member discounts offered on future cruises, savvy travellers know they can do far better by searching the web.

But we’re only human, and we’ve all felt that sneaking sensation of pleasure when we step through the velvet rope to enjoy some little privilege that’s denied to the common herd. Each cruise line has its own idea of what constitutes a tempting reward, but here’s what you can expect from the most popular operators. I’ve cherrypicked, so the lists are far from comprehensive, and I’ve also covered a couple of six-star lines – Crystal and Regent – who include most other operators’ extras as standard.

Look hard and you’ll find there are some genuinely useful discounts to be had. And if a chocolate-dipped strawberry floats your boat, step right this way…

CARNIVAL

One point for every day sailed.
RED (24 POINTS): Free drink on the final evening
PLATINUM (75-199): Priority boarding, spa
reservations, disembarkation  and restaurant
reservations
DIAMOND (200+):

  • Guaranteed restaurant reservations
  • Unlimited free laundry
  • One free cabin upgrade, or  3rd and 4th guests
    sail free

 CELEBRITY

Shared scheme with Royal Caribbean;
two points for  every night in an inside cabin

CLASSIC (AFTER ONE SAILING)

  • One category upgrade
  • 10% internet discount

SELECT (150-299 POINTS)

  • 25% internet discount
  • Priority for embarkation and excursions

ELITE (300-749)

  • 90 minutes’ free internet
  • Free dry-cleaning of one item and one free bag of laundry

ELITE PLUS (750-2,999)

  • 200 minutes’ free internet
  • 15% restaurant discount, 10% drinks discount,
    free hot beverages
  • Free dry-cleaning of one item and two
    free bags of laundry

ZENITH (3,000+)

  • Free 7-night Caribbean or Bermuda cruise
  • 1,600 minutes’ free internet
  •  Free laundry l Free beverage package and 25% dining discount

 COSTA

100 points per night sailed, plus 40 for every €52
spent on board

CLUB ACQUAMARINA (1-2,000 POINTS)

  • 10% discount on Privilege cruises
  • Upgrade when you take more cruises
    than the previous year

CLUB CORALLO (2,001-5,000) :
12% discount on Privilege cruises

CLUB PERLA (5,001-13,000)

  • 15% discount on Privilege cruises
  • Priority boarding
  • €20 to spend on board

PERLA ORO (13,001-26,000)

  • 17% discount on Privilege cruises
  • Upgrade to a suite when you take
    more cruises than the previous year
  • €50 to spend on board

PERLA DIAMANTE (26,001+)

  • 20% discount on Privilege cruises
  • Luggage collected and returned to your home
  • Permanent Club Restaurant reservation
  • One free spa day
  • €75 to spend on board

 CRYSTAL

One credit for each day up to 15 days; two per day
thereafter

LEVEL 10 (10 CREDITS) : $200 shipboard credit
LEVEL 25 Free cruise up to 7 days
LEVEL 50  Free cruise up to 12 days
LEVEL 100  Free cruise up to 12 days in
Crystal Penthouse


 CUNARD

GOLD (2 VOYAGES/20 NIGHTS) 2 hours’
free internet
PLATINUM (7 VOYAGES/ 70 NIGHTS)

  • Additional 2 hours’ free internet
  • Priority check-in
  • 10% off White Star luggage service
  • Invitation to the senior officers’ party.

DIAMOND (15 VOYAGES/ 150 NIGHTS)

  • Additional 4 hours’ free internet
  • Priority disembarkation

 FRED OLSEN

One point for every day sailed

BLUE (1-30 POINTS): Introduce-a-friend reward
SILVER (31-100): 5% off onboard spend
GOLD (101+): 5% off excursions


 HOLLAND AMERICA

STAR MARINER (AFTER 1 CRUISE)

  • Embarkation lunch
  • Mariner Champagne brunch

2-STAR MARINER (30-74 DAYS): 10% discount
on clothing in onboard shops
3-STAR MARINER (75-199): Discount on selected
spa treatments
4-STAR MARINER (200-499)

  • Priority disembarkation, tenders and check-in
  • 15% clothing discount in onboard shops

5-STAR MARINER (500+)

  • One free spa day
  • 50% internet discount

 

PRINCESS GOLD

(AFTER ONE CRUISE) Members-only onboard
events
RUBY (31-50 CRUISE DAYS) 10% off a
Reflections DVD
PLATINUM (51-150)

  • Preferred check-in
  • Limited free internet

ELITE (151+)

  • Priority tenders and disembarkation
  • Free shoeshine and laundry
  • Free minibar
  • 10% boutique discount
  • Free wine-tasting

 

MSC

Minimum 200 points awarded per cruise

CLASSIC (1 TO 2,199 POINTS): On-board special offers
SILVER (2,200-4,299): Basket of fresh fruit in cabin
GOLD (4,300-9,999)

  • One-hour thermal area session
  • Priority tenders

BLACK (10,000+)

  • Free restaurant dinner
  • Sparkling wine with chocolate dipped fruit in cabin
  • Courtesy towelling bathrobe and slippers.
  • Late cabin check-out

 NORWEGIAN

One point for every cruise night
(two for a suite)

BRONZE (1-19 POINTS): Priority check-in
SILVER (20-47)

  • 15% spa discount
  • Exclusive opportunity to meet the ship’s officers

GOLD (48-75)

  • 20% spa discount
  • Priority tenders and disembarkation
  • 25% off a bag of laundry

PLATINUM (76+)

  • 25% spa discount
  • Free dinner for two
  • One free bag of laundry

 OCEANIA

Cruises up to 24 days earn one credit;
longer trips earn more

BRONZE (5-9 CREDITS)

  • $200 shipboard credit
  • 20% internet discount

SILVER (10-14)

  • $400 shipboard credit
  • Free pre-paid gratuities
  • 10% beverage discount

GOLD (15-19)

  • $500 shipboard credit
  • Two free spa treatments

PLATINUM (20-39)

  • Free cruise
  • $600 shipboard credit

DIAMOND (40-59)

  • Free cruise
  • $1000 shipboard credit

 P&O

10 points for each night sailed

PACIFIC (150-500 POINTS): 5% off onboard
spend
ATLANTIC (501-1,000)

  • 7.5% off onboard spend
  • Free glass of champagne

MEDITERRANEAN (1,001-2,000)

  • 8.5% off on board spend
  • Free slippers

CARIBBEAN (2,001-2,500)

  • 10% off onboard spend
  • Priority check-in
  • Free half-bottle of Champagne
  • Officer-hosted fine dining event

BALTIC (2,501+): 50% laundry discount


 REGENT SILVER

(21-74 NIGHTS)

  • Limited free garment pressing
  • One-hour free phone time per suite
  • Priority booking for dinner and excursions

GOLD (75-199)

  • Unlimited free internet
  • Extra two hours’ free phone time

PLATINUM (200-399)

  • Unlimited laundry and pressing
  • Extra six hours’ free phone time

TITANIUM (400+)

  • Free private transfers to the ship
    (within a 50-mile radius)
  • Free dry-cleaning

 ROYAL CARIBBEAN

Shared scheme with Celebrity; one point
per night sailed, or two points in a suite

GOLD (3-29 POINTS): Priority check-in
PLATINUM (30-54): Onboard offers preloaded to your SeaPass card
EMERALD (55-79 POINTS): Welcome gift/amenity
DIAMOND (80-174 POINTS)

  • Priority for excursions, spa and dining room
  • Exclusive nightly diamond event
  • Nightly drink vouchers

DIAMOND PLUS (175-699)

  • Priority seating at theatre
  • Meal with an officer (340+)

PINNACLE CLUB (700+ ):Free 7-night cruise in a balcony stateroom