In an earlier post I gave you information about why cruising is the best vacation idea ever. I am a cruise nut, as evidenced by the fact that I’m about to take off on my fifth Carnival cruise this weekend. I’ve found that when you cruise once you are either crazy about it (like me), or you find it’s really not your speed. So far everyone I’ve introduced to cruising has loved it. One thing I’ve noticed about repeat cruisers is that many really develop brand loyalty. I’m no different. I definitely want to try out other lines in the future, but my first love will always be Carnival for its fun, all-inclusive, let loose vibe. Today I want to talk about how brand loyalty can make cruising more exciting.
So let’s just assume that my blog post convinced you that cruising is the best thing since sliced bread. Now that you’re a fan – you may want to find a cruise line that you love and investigate all of the perks that come with being a loyal customer. Most cruise lines have some sort of loyalty program for their guests. Because my experience has been with Carnival, I’ll be sharing mostly about my experience with them, however – I’ll also hit on some of the other major cruise lines' perks. In addition – you can get an overview of various cruise line loyalty perks at this site.
And yes – I know Carnival has caught some flack lately for issues with ships, but I’ve never had an experience that was anything but positive. I’ve actually read some reviews online from folks that were on the powerless Triumph back in February. While the situation they shared was not a good one, I read time and time again that the Carnival staff did everything possible to provide stellar customer service to help ease everyone’s discomfort. I would never want to be on a ship without working toilets – but I know if I find myself on one, Carnival will make me as comfortable as possible.
So – crossing my fingers that I avoid toilet catastrophe – I am preparing to embark on my fifth cruise. Carnival has a great loyalty program called VIFP – short for Very Important Fun Person. It rewards you based on number of days at sea. After this cruise I will have 29 days at sea which lands me squarely in the “Gold” category. From here on out I get a free drink and a free party with drinks and appetizers every time I sail. While these perks are nice – the real fun is at the next loyalty level which begins with 75 days at sea. At this level I’ll receive priority boarding, free laundry service, and special gifts to my stateroom (among other things). I know what you’re thinking… “75 days at sea?! That’s a long time!” I don’t see it that way. In less than four years I’ve racked up 29 days at sea. Assuming I take one cruise per year, I’ll be to my goal within 7 -8 years. I know it sounds a bit extreme, but when you are spending your hard earned dollars, it’s nice to be appreciated for your loyalty.
You don’t have to be as addicted to cruising as I am to take advantage of loyalty programs. Some lines give you priority check in sooner, like Norwegian and Royal Caribbean. Then there’s Disney Cruise Line, which makes even their loyalty rewards magical. When you sail Disney you join the Castaway Club which promises surprises along the way to past guests that only insiders know about you. You are a sly dog Disney. Well played. You have made it so I will have to go on a Disney Cruise one day.
Now – I never condone spending money to get a deal or perk. I’m such a fan of the low cost, low stress vacation experience that cruising brings, I’d be planning a cruise per year without a loyalty program. Having brand loyalty and being part of a loyalty program just sweetens the deal. The loyalty program is not what should make you want to take a cruise, but if you’re hooked – find a cruise line that deserves your loyalty. I know I have, and today I set sail on another great adventure! And since I let you all know in my earlier post that one of my favorite perks of cruising is being off grid – I’ll see you all in a week when I’m back on dry land!