In the last couple months, we have heard about changes to the repeat cruiser programs on a number of cruise lines, the most recent rumor is for Carnival Cruise Line. It seems as though there are more people cruising again and again that the cruise lines are actually reducing what it is offering to repeat cruisers or making you cruise even more to get the same things you got before. Some are adding classifications and counting your credits a different way.
I have heard that a lot of people are up in arms about these changes. On Cruise Critic, some of the changes to be proposed by Carnival Cruise Line has resulted in some angry people.
My question is does this really affect who you are going to cruise with next? Do you look for the best loyalty program or the best cruise line? Will you have a tendency to not remain loyal to just one cruise line and start cruising many others as a result? Does this matter to you?
Basically, I’m wondering is it more important to get free perks or more important to have a great experience, great service, a great cruise? Personally, I don’t like seeing the changes that reduce the benefits unless they are coupled with reduced fares as well. Will that change my loyalty? Possibly, but not because of the reduction of perks. The reduction of perks will make me look at other cruise lines and see why I am not cruising them. I have been on five different cruise lines, soon to be six. That is what has changed my mind about which cruise line is the best, not the perks offered to me. I always look for the best value for my dollar – not necessarily the best price. Price is important, but if I’m getting a cheap cruise that I’m not happy with, it is a waste of my money, time, vacation… I would rather spend a little more (or get a little less) if I’m going to have the best experience possible.
Where do you stand on this?
Price is always the bottom line for me, but that’s also the reason I haven’t tried a wider variety of cruise lines. I’d like to try them all, but some always seem to have better deals than others and I’ve enjoyed every cruise I’ve ever gone on regardless of which cruise line I went with. It would be nice to get the repeat cruiser awards though. It’s nice when they offer different levels of repeat cruiser benefits so you get something for returning at all, and more the more you return like Holland America does.
We are members of several airline & hotel reward programs. We pick the ones we like and use them where possible. To date we’ve only been on one cruise so I really can’t comment on that industry. If other factors are the similiar we will pick the one with the better reward program.
Within the cruise lines that meet my criteria of a fun time, I choose the one whose loyalty program rewards me the most. For example, if RCI significantly changed the loyalty program in a manner that significantly changed what I received, I might start cruising Disney more again. The loyalty program perks (like cruise discounts, free cocktail hours, etc.) add into the cruise experience if you are at a significant member level.