04.21.2009  
 
Editor's Note

Cruise line loyalty has its rewards

Comparing Cruise Line Loyalty Rewards Programs

By PAUL MOTTER

Every cruise line offers a preferred passenger program, also known as "loyalty rewards," for passengers who sail on the same line for more than one cruise. Just like airline frequent flyer clubs, you can join the first time you sail with any line, but it is up to you to track your own benefits. And unlike airline frequent flyer clubs, cruise line benefits are about a lot more than free cruises.

CruiseMates have just published a ten-page complete guide to cruise line loyalty rewards programs. Most of the programs have a few things in common. They start after the first cruise and offer a "repeat cruisers club only" onboard reception with free drinks. Every member gets a subscription to the cruise line's magazine and receives inside news and special offers by mail or email.

Beyond that, loyalty programs vary a great deal, especially at the more advanced levels. But this alone doesn't mean we recommend cruising on only one cruise line just for the loyalty rewards. The onboard experience of every cruise line varies a great deal, even between the three mainstream lines, so picking a favorite cruise line is a highly individual choice. We recommend trying a variety of cruise lines, especially for beginners, to see which one best fits your personal style and including this loyalty programs guide as a part of your "cruise line of choice" process.

Although some programs are ultimately far more rewarding than others, we believe all loyalty programs are worth joining. You get onboard amenities and special offers to save time and money. All of them give some immedate benefits and some give substantial benefits after just five cruises. There is no harm in joining any of these programs, but you have to manage your own accounts and make sure you are credited for every cruise. Once that is done, the better programs have representatives onboard to help you attain and manage your benefits.

CruiseMates just published a complete overview of all the major cruise lines loyalty programs. You can see which ones offer a lot and which offer relatively little. We also tell you which programs we think are the best in each category; we compare the three mainstream lines to each other: Carnival, Norwegian Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean. Next we compare the premium cruise lines; Celebrity, Disney, Holland America, Princess and Oceania. We end up comparing five luxury cruise lines -- Crystal, Cunard, Regent, Seabourn and Silversea.

Access our complete CruiseMates guide to cruise line loyalty rewards programs and find out which ones we rate the best and the worst.


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