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Repeat cruising pays off

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On May - 29 - 2006

Over the years, I’ve reaped the sweet rewards of being a repeat cruiser. On my last repeat cruise, I saved more than $1,500 from a single coupon. That coupon was from Princess Cruises’ “Captain’s Circle,” the line’s program for past guests, but the offers come from many different lines and programs. In recent weeks, I’ve received offers for two-for-one cruise fares, free airfare, free hotel nights, free cabin upgrades and more. In one case, my kids could come along for free.

It’s easy to become a member of a cruise line loyalty program; in fact, most cruise lines confer membership as soon as passengers complete their first cruise. Members then receive mailings urging them to book another cruise at a special discount. On board, members also receive special treatment; perks can include gifts, upgrades, credits, cocktail parties, dinner with the captain and free shore excursions.

Following is a list of cruise loyalty programs and some of their benefits.

Carnival Cruise Lines.Past passengers receive a copy of Currents magazine three times a year for two years after their first cruise. Inserts notify members about special offers including cruise discounts and a special reunion cruise with special gifts and benefits for past guests. Repeat cruisers also receive special Gold and Platinum Sail & Sign cards that give entrée into an exclusive reception on board. New this year is Carnival’s Concierge Club for guests who have sailed 10 times or more. Concierge Club perks include priority embarkation, priority supper club and spa reservations, and complimentary laundry service.

Celebrity Cruises. Once passengers cruise with Celebrity, they can join the Captain’s Club. Members are entitled to a one-category cabin upgrade on future sailings (if available), special first-class boarding and departing privileges, preferred dining assignments, cocktail parties with the captain, an invitation to the annual Captain’s Club Reunion Cruise, special spa privileges, welcome back gifts and newsletters that promote special offers.

Costa Cruise Lines. Repeat cruisers receive monthly mailings with discounts on selected cruises. In addition, on every sailing, repeat cruisers are invited to a special VIP cocktail party.

Cruise West. After cruisers sail once with Cruise West, they become members of the Quyana Club, which entitles them to a 5 percent discount on any subsequent cruises. They also receive quarterly newsletters with information about special offers and new cruise destinations, often before these are announced to the general public.

Crystal Cruises. After their first cruise, passengers are automatically enrolled in the Crystal Society. Members are entitled to special savings and exclusive events. These benefits increase the more often you sail, and include stateroom upgrades, onboard spending credits, special events and gifts — even free cruises. Members also receive Crystal Cruises’ quarterly magazine, Passport, with the latest news on itineraries, destinations and special offers.

Cunard Line. Passengers become members of the Cunard World Club after their first cruise. On later sailings, they receive exclusive savings offers of up to 25 percent off the brochure price; if they book while on board, they will also be eligible for additional savings or onboard credits and reduced deposits. Members will also receive a newsletter, mailings for special offers, dedicated World Club Desk service and access to a members-only Web page. Frequent cruisers can also earn additional benefits including onboard cocktail receptions, priority check-in, priority embarkation and more.

Disney Cruise Line. Guests are automatically enrolled in the Disney Cruise Line Castaway Club after their first Disney cruise. Castaway Club guests enjoy special perks and amenities including a dedicated booking line, priority check-in and boarding, an exclusive onboard party with the ship’s captain and officers, special gifts during and after the cruise and, for those who book certain other cruises while on board, a shipboard credit of up to $200 on the later sailing.

Holland America Line. Guests become members of the Mariner Society after their first cruise. Members are entitled to lower pricing on many cruises. As Mariner Society members, most frequent guests receive Mariner magazine, which offers news and special offers on upcoming cruises, as well as insider information about new ships and product changes. Repeaters also receive lapel pins or medallions for reaching milestones. Onboard perks include an invitation to a champagne reception and awards party.

Norwegian Cruise Line. After their first Norwegian Cruise Line cruise, guests are automatically enrolled in the Latitudes program. Latitudes members can obtain upgrades, discounts on selected sailings, early embarkation from some ports, onboard credits on designated Latitudes Member Cruises, a cocktail reception and bridge and galley tours on selected cruises.

Oceania Cruises. Guests are automatically enrolled in the Oceania Club after their first cruise. A pair of leather luggage tags and a certificate for a discount on a future cruise are delivered to the passenger’s house as a homecoming gift. A repeat passengers’ party is held on board every sailing. Pins are presented to frequent cruisers after five, 10 and 20 cruises. Members also receive Oceania Club Journal and special online access to the latest discounts and offers.

Orient Lines. After their first Orient Lines cruise, guests automatically become members of the Polo Club. On every repeat sailing, Polo Club members receive an onboard credit, a bottle of wine and an invitation to a private cocktail party, along with commemorative pins to mark special cruises. In addition, members receive Polo Club News magazine and offers for savings on selected cruises.

Princess Cruises. After completing one Princess cruise, guests become Captain’s Circle members; the more cruises they take, the more benefits they get. Every three months, members receive Captain’s Circle magazine with information on exclusive deals. On each cruise, members are invited to a members-only cocktail party. Extra perks for Gold, Platinum and Elite members include priority embarkation, priority tenders in port, special lounges for disembarkation, upgraded bathroom amenities, free minibar setup, deluxe canapé service, free Internet access, shoe polishing service, complimentary dry cleaning and laundry service, and upgraded travel protection insurance.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises (RSSC). After completing their first cruise, passengers become members of Regent’s Seven Seas Society program. Seven Seas Society members receive Inspirations magazine along with advance access to itineraries and special offers plus savings of 5 percent or 10 percent on selected sailings. In addition, members are invited to a private cocktail reception on every cruise and may participate in special Seven Seas Society voyages featuring exclusive shore events. Members who attain Silver, Gold and Platinum status receive complimentary onboard amenities like free pressing, free Internet access, free phone time and free spa treatments.

Royal Caribbean International. After an initial cruise, passengers are eligible for complimentary membership in the Crown & Anchor Society. Members receive Crown & Anchor magazine, savings certificates, a 5 percent gift shop discount and an invitation to a cocktail party on their next cruise. After completion of a fifth cruise, guests receive lapel pins, luggage tags, 10 percent off gift shop purchases and robes to use onboard. After 10 cruises, passengers save 20 percent on gift shop purchases and are entitled to priority embarkation.

Seabourn Cruise Line. Past guests become members of the exclusive Seabourn Club. Privileges include 50 percent off selected sailings, an additional 5 percent savings when booking a future cruise on board, a cocktail party, Club Herald magazine, notices of special discounts, and e-mail contact with the Club Desk. But the biggest bonus for repeat cruisers on Seabourn is a free 14-day cruise after sailing a total of 140 days. Other gifts are awarded after guests sail for 100 and 200 days, and special recognition gifts are awarded on each cruise to passengers who have cruised the most with Seabourn.

Silversea Cruises. Past guests become members of the Venetian Society, entitling them to discounts of 5 percent to 15 percent on selected sailings. Those who cruise 100 days or more receive a Tiffany gift and another 5 percent off any future cruise. Members save 10 percent after 250 sailing days. A free seven-day cruise comes with the 350-day milestone, and a 14-day cruise is awarded after 500 days. Repeaters also get a $250 onboard credit per couple, a cocktail party and laundry service.

Star Clippers. Past passengers receive Star Clippers’ quarterly newsletter, Topgallant. They also receive mailings with special savings offers on selected voyages.

Windstar Cruises. Passengers who sail with Windstar are automatically admitted into the Foremast Club. Members receive two-for-one discounts on selected cruises, a newsletter subscription and invitations to exclusive onboard events.

As with all repeat business, repeat cruising is all about relationships. Make the most of your cruise line relationships and you’ll definitely seize the savings.

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