Cruise Line Loyalty Programs, Part Two – Premium Cruise Lines

Last week, I wrote about the loyalty programs offered by four luxury cruise lines. This week, we will look at the loyalty programs of three premium cruise lines – Holland America Line, Celebrity Cruises, and Princess Cruises.

In most cases, you are added to a loyalty program as soon as you complete your first sailing with a cruise line. For example, on Princess Cruises, you become a member of the Captain’s Circle as soon as you complete your first cruise. After your first sailing, you move up tiers based on either the amount of voyages completed with Princess, or the total number of days sailed with Princess. But more on that in a minute.

Last week’s article was a bit harder to understand than this one. These programs are more straightforward, and quite honestly can provide better amenities than the programs offered by the luxury players. But as I mentioned last week, the value of these perks comes from what you, as a traveler, prioritize.

I joked quite a bit about free laundry in last week’s article because, believe it or not, it is something that many travelers value. However, it can take so many points to get your clothes washed that you may decide that you’re okay with being a little bit smelly throughout your voyage. My most valued perk? Free wifi. Because part of the fun taking a cruise in your early 20s is the ability to make your Facebook friends jealous.

Princess Cruises – Captain’s Circle

Regal Princess. Photo courtesy of Princess Cruises

We will start by looking at the loyalty program offered by Princess Cruises. This program consists of four tiers that build off of each other. So, as soon as you finish one tier, you keep all of the perks from the previous tier while gaining other rewards.

Princess uses both days and number of completed cruises to place guests into each tier. For example, to reach the Ruby Tier, you need to have either sailed with Princess from 31-50 days OR taken three cruises with Princess. So, if you are taking longer voyages with Princess you are still able to move up tiers even if the number of cruises you’ve taken hasn’t met the minimum.

Let’s take a look at the benefits that each tier provides guests.

Gold – Between 1-3 Cruises With Princess

Benefits include:

  • Captain’s Circle launch savings and reduced deposits
  • Preferential pricing offers
  • Members only onboard events
  • Access to a Circle Host onboard
  • Princess Passport
  • Collectible Destination Stamps
  • Circle Magazine
  • Gold member recognition pin
  • Captain’s circle online

Before we move on to the next tier, I want to explain a couple of things that may be unclear. Circle Hosts are onboard every vessel to make sure that Captain’s Circle members are receiving all the benefits that should be. Princess Passports are stamped each voyage and signed by the captain, allowing guests to have a keepsake from each voyage. Lastly, Captain’s Circle online allows guests to view savings, view cruise credits, and more.

Ruby – Between 4 & 5 Cruises, Or 31-50 Days

  • Princess Platinum vacation protection upgrade
  • Exclusive shoreside access to a designated phone line
  • 10 percent discount on Reflections DVDs
  • Ruby member recognition pin

The Princess Platinum vacation protection will only be upgraded if you have purchased vacation protection through Princess. Each Reflections DVD is taped during the sailing, allowing a custom video for all guests on each sailing.

Platinum – Between 6-15 Cruises, Or 51-150 Days

  • Complimentary destination collection brochure
  • Priority check-in at embarkation
  • Platinum disembarkation lounge
  • Complimentary internet package – minutes determined by length of sailing
  • Platinum member recognition pin

Elite – From 16 Cruises Upward, Or More Than 150 Days

  • Early access to preview and book new itineraries
  • Priority ship to shore tender embarkation (this is a big one, tenders can take a long time)
  • Priority disembarkation
  • Shoe polishing service
  • Complimentary laundry and professional cleaning services
  • Complimentary mini bar set up
  • Deluxe canapés selection
  • Afternoon tea
  • Upgraded bathroom amenities
  • 10 percent discount at shops
  • Complimentary wine tasting
  • Elite member recognition pin

Holland America Line – Mariner Society

Nieuw Statendam docked in St. Thomas. © 2019 Britton Frost

Holland America Line’s program works a little bit different than Princess’. Credits are accounted for solely by the number of days spent cruising. However, passengers who have booked suites are entitled to double days, and an extra credit is awarded for every US$300 a guest spends onboard.

Like Princess, all of these benefits do build off of each other. So as you move up tiers, you keep all of the benefits from the previous tiers.

Star Mariner – Less Than 30 Days

Benefits include:

  • Mariner Welcome lunch
  • Collectible gift
  • Mariner brunch with sparkling wine
  • Subscription to Mariner magazine
  • Special offers on select sailings
  • 50 percent discount for third and fourth guests in the same stateroom on select sailings

2-Star Mariner – 30-74 Days

  • Complimentary photo of the ship
  • 10 percent discount on HAL logo clothing
  • 15 percent discount on merchandise from HAL website
  • Annual cruise planner
  • Special recognition lapel pin

3-Star Mariner – 75-199 days

  • 25 percent discount on speciality restaurant surcharges, beverages in Explorations Café, and mini-bar purchases
  • Mariner Welcome Onboard reception
  • Discounts on select treatments at the spa
  • Advance information on new itineraries

4-Star Mariner – 200-499 Days

  • Complimentary cruise fare for third and fourth guests in the same stateroom on select sailings
  • 50 percent discount on speciality restaurant surcharges, beverages in Explorations Café, and mini-bar purchases
  • Complimentary laundry and pressing
  • Priority tender and check-in
  • Complimentary wine tasting
  • 15 percent discount on HAL logo clothing
  • Discounts on select spa treatments

5-Star Mariner – 500+ Days

  • 50 percent discount on 100-minute internet package
  • Two complimentary dinners at the Pinnacle Grill
  • Complimentary Culinary Arts Center cooking class
  • Complimentary day pass to the spa

Celebrity Cruises – Captain’s Club

Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity comes last because quite frankly, it is the largest list. As far as benefits go, Celebrity gives its guests reason to return. You’ll see what I mean in a minute. But be warned, the list is hefty.

Before we get into the list, though, we must understand how points are acquired. Celebrity’s point system is more complex than the others that we’ve looked at, but it makes sense. Points are awarded based on the category stateroom booked.

Guests booking inside and ocean view staterooms will receive two points per night. Those booking Veranda or Infinite Veranda staterooms will receive three points per night. Concierge and AquaClass guests will be awarded five points per night. Guests booking Sky Suites will receive eight points per night. Celebrity, Signature, and Royal Suite guests, along with those who have booked Edge Villas will acquire 12 points per night. And lastly, guests booking Reflection, Penthouse, or Iconic Suites will receive 18 points per night.

So, although Celebrity’s point system may be a bit more complex than the other two lines we have looked at, guests booking suites receive more points based on the category they book. Which, let’s be honest, makes perfect sense.

Preview Tier

Celebrity is also different from other lines in that there are certain benefits available to guests once their cruise is booked.

Upon booking your first Celebrity cruise you will receive these benefits:

  • Access to Captain’s Club Newsletter
  • Access to Loyalty Desk
  • Access to Captain’s Club partner benefits
  • Eligibility for Captain’s Club promotions when booking a future cruise onboard
  • Reciprocal status in Azamara Le Club voyage program

Classic Tier – 2-149 Points

  • Pre-sailing specialty restaurant reservations
  • Eligibility for quarterly Captain’s Club savings certificates
  • One category upgrade through AquaClass
  • Access to exclusive events on speciality sailings
  • Captain’s Club celebration event
  • 10 percent discount on any bottle of wine over US$40
  • 10 percent discount on internet package
  • 10 percent discount on any digital or print photo package
  • US$50 off The Studio photo packages
  • 10 percent off laundry services – one time use
  • One free treatment enhancement at the spa with purchase of massage or facial
  • Additional benefits at casino

Select Tier – 150-299 Points

  • Priority embarkation
  • Reciprocal status in Royal Caribbean Crown & Anchor Society
  • Captain’s Club Senior Officer’s Party
  • Captain’s Club Wine Tasting
  • Captain’s Club Backstage Tour
  • 15 percent discount on any bottle of wine over US$40
  • 25 percent discount on internet package
  • 15 percent discount on any digital or print photo package
  • US$75 off The Studio photo packages
  • Two complimentary pressed items
  • One discounted bag of laundry for cruises more than 12 nights
  • 10 percent discount at the spa – one time use while ship is in port
  • 10 percent off The Spa on Edge

Elite Tier – 300-749 Points

  • Priority tender service
  • Private shipboard departure lounge
  • Captain’s Club daily Elite Cocktail Hour
  • Captain’s Club daily Coffee Lounge
  • Captain’s Club Elegant Tea
  • 20 percent discount on any bottle of wine over US$40
  • 30 percent discount on internet package, plus 90 free minutes
  • 20 percent discount on any digital or print photo package
  • US$100 off The Studio photo packages
  • One complimentary dry clean item
  • One complimentary bag of laundry
  • 15 percent discount at the spa – one time use while ship is in port
  • Complimentary access to Persian Garden – one time use while ship is in port
  • 10 percent discount at The Spa on Edge

Elite Plus Tier – 750-2999 Points

  • Complimentary cappuccino, latte, tea, espresso
  • 15 percent discount on cover charge at specialty restaurants
  • 10 percent discount on beverage package
  • 35 percent discount on internet package, plus 240 free minutes
  • Two complimentary bags of laundry
  • One complimentary fitness class

Zenith Tier – 3000+

  • Priority boarding when returning to the ship in port
  • Priority seating in the theatre
  • Access to Michael’s Club and The Retreat Lounge
  • Access to concierge lunch in main dining room
  • Complimentary luggage valet
  • Complimentary Extend Your Stay (on disembarkation day)
  • 25 percent discount on cover charge at specialty restaurants
  • Complimentary beverage package
  • Unlimited internet – one device
  • US$150 off The Studio photo packages
  • Complimentary laundry (See, I told you it took a lot of points)
  • 20 percent discount at The Spa on Edge
  • Complimentary seven-night Bermuda or Caribbean cruise in a Veranda Stateroom
  • At 6,000 points and every 3,000 after, guests receive a complimentary seven-night Bermuda or Caribbean cruise in an AquaClass stateroom
  • Captain’s Club will make a US$100 donation to the World Wildlife Fund

In Conclusion

Repeating what I said in my last article, every loyalty program works differently, and some are obviously more beneficial than others. While it may seem like it would be worth it to stick with a certain cruise line to reap the rewards they offer, keep in mind how long it may take to collect the necessary number of points to cash out.

If you like a certain cruise line well enough to stay with it and keep gaining status, great. If not, switch lines and try your luck somewhere else. But don’t let the promise of free laundry or internet make you feel bound to a certain line. 150 days is a lot of time to spend onboard to get your shoes polished.

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One Comment

  • We’re Elite with Princess; free laundry had a 2-day turn time. Last cruise, it was 3 days, and we spoke with fellow Elite passengers who have experienced 4, even 5, day turn times.


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