Which cruise lines offer the best loyalty programs? Are they worth it? Should I only cruise with one cruise line or try all of them?
These are common questions people have when looking at cruise line loyalty programs.
We have listed the benefits for 8 different cruise line loyalty programs and what it takes to reach each level. See which perks interest you the most and how realistic it is to reach the status required to enjoy them.
Cruise lines want you to keep sailing with them. They offer rewards and incentives for staying loyal to their brand of ships. And the more you cruise on one line the better the benefits get down the line.
Each cruise line has its own name for their loyalty program, and in this article we are going to compare and contrast these status tiers and what it takes to reach them.
Note: always go directly to the cruise line’s website to get more specific and up-to-date information on a rewards program.
What kind of perks can you get with cruise line loyalty programs?
Just for signing up, many cruise lines will provide you with exclusive deals and discounts. And as you progress you can find benefits as cabin upgrades, free specialty dining, gifts, and access to exclusive lounges and events onboard.
Holland America provides free cruise fares for the 3rd and 4th cruise passenger after earning 200 cruise credits.
At Platinum level, Norwegian Cruise Line rewards cruisers with complimentary specialty dining offerings at Cagney’s Steakhouse and La Cucina.
Some of the biggest sought-after perks are priority boarding, tendering, and disembarkation. Cutting down on lines and wait times can be a nice privilege. MSC even has a late check-out for disembarkation so you can enjoy the ship longer.
Carnival does have the FTTF (Faster To The Fun) program for expedited boarding and Royal Caribbean now offers priority boarding and disembarkation with a program called The Key. These services cost extra but it’s a way of getting some of the rewards of a loyalty program without earning status.
The free services and amenities of a cruise line rewards program can be a nice touch as well. Free laundry service, shoe-polishing (Princess), photos, and internet access are some of the special rewards you can earn by staying loyal to some cruise lines.
Cruising solo? Some cruise lines (e.g. Royal Caribbean and Celebrity) will give you double points for staying in a double-occupancy cabin if you travel by yourself.
Below we will list 8 cruise lines and what perks are offered for each tier of their loyalty programs.
Carnival Cruise Line – VIFP Program
9 cruise lines fall under the umbrella of Carnival Corporation, and the parent company operates over 100 cruise ships around the world. Carnival Cruise Line is one of the most recognized lines in the world. Its loyalty program is called VIFP Club, since the line sees every cruiser as a Very Important Fun Person, especially if they keep coming back for more cruises.
You can sign up for the VIFP Club before your cruise even begins and start enjoying member-only fares and specials.
Carnival has a 5-tier loyalty program. The points for each status are based on the number of days sailed and not on how many cruises have been taken.
Every first-time cruiser with Carnival has Blue status and becomes Red after the 2nd sailing. Red will include a free bottle of water in your stateroom. Gold status is reached after 25 days at sea with Carnival and will include a free appreciation drink on a 5-night sailing or longer.
But it’s not until you’ve sailed with Carnival for at least 75 days that the real perks start making a difference. This is where Platinum status is reached, and these perks are included:
- Priority check-in and boarding
- Exclusive VIFP party with free drinks and appetizers
- Free beverage at Seaday Brunch
- “Chocolate Delight” plate delivered to stateroom (on 5+ night sailings)
- Collectible pin with specific ship and sailing year
- Priority spa reservations
- Priority tender boarding (ship to shore only)
- Buy one tournament entry at the casino, get one free (Blackjack or slots only; for passengers 21 years or older)
- Complimentary arcade credits (a $5 value; for passengers 18 and under)
- Carnival logo gift on every sailing
- Dedicated onboard Guest Services phone number
- Priority line at the Guest Services desk
- Priority debarkation
- Priority selection of main dining room seating (early, late or YourTime flexible dining) and priority specialty restaurant reservations
- Complimentary wash-and-fold laundry services (two bags on three- to six-night cruises; three bags on seven- to 12-night cruises; five bags on 12-night cruises or longer)
After you’ve sailed on a Carnival cruise ship for more than 200 nights you will have reached the top tier of Diamond. The perks will include everything you received with Platinum with the additional perks listed below:
- Guaranteed main dining room and specialty restaurant reservations, in lieu of Platinum’s priority reservations
- Unlimited complimentary wash-and-fold laundry services
- Invitation from the Captain to a special event (such as dinner, a bridge tour or a cocktail party) on each sailing
- One-time free cabin upgrade, or free third- and fourth-passenger fares
- One-time donation to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, upon reaching Diamond level
- One-time complimentary meal for two at a specialty restaurant of choice
- Complimentary VIFP Club luggage tag set
- Dedicated toll-free number for sales and services
Carnival also has milestone rewards given to regular cruisers. Members who sail on their 25th, 50th, and 75th cruise get 25%, 50%, and 75% off respectively. And VIFP members who have sailed on 100 cruises get a free 8 day cruise to the Caribbean, Mexican Riviera or Alaska.
Royal Caribbean Cruises – Crown & Anchor Society
As a member of the Crown & Anchor Society with Royal Caribbean you will earn 1 point for every night sailed on a Royal Caribbean ship. These points are doubled when a suite is booked, so getting a suite on your cruises is one way to rank up faster.
Royal Caribbean Cruises is the parent company of Celebrity Cruises and Azamara. As such Royal Caribbean will match the member benefits of these other loyalty programs. Certain restrictions do apply, but it’s nice being able to use your loyalty rewards on other related lines.
There are 6 levels in the Royal Caribbean Crown & Anchor Society: Gold, Platinum, Emerald, Diamond, Diamond Plus, and Pinnacle Club.
Perks include discounted and reduced rates, priority check-in, exclusive events, and even exclusive perks with MGM Resorts International.
Here are some of the onboard benefits for each level of loyalty within Crown & Anchor Society:
Gold level is reached with at least 3 nights sailed. Perks include some onboard offers, priority check-in if there is availability, a private departure lounge with continental breakfast, and exclusive trivia.
Platinum level is reached once you have at least 30 points. Perks include everything from Gold level. Additional rewards are an exclusive top tier event, robes for onboard use delivered at request, and a signature lapel pin.
Emerald is reached with at least 55 points earned. Perks include everything from the above levels in addition to a welcome beverage and snack selection.
Diamond is reached with at least 80 points earned. This is where some of the more coveted perks start kicking in.
Perks include all of the above status benefits and the following:
- Milestone recognition
- Chef’s choice gift/amenity
- Priority wait list for shore excursions and spa services
- Diamond Club access (on select ships)
- Priority Departure
- Exclusive Nightly Diamond event
- Daily breakfast with specialty coffee
- Entertainment tour (behind the scenes tour of theater)
Diamond Plus is reached with at least 175 points earned. Perks include everything listed above in addition to the following rewards:
- Behind the scenes tours of galley and bridge
- Personalized gift/amenity
- Concierge Club access
- Priority seating at theater, ice shows, and Aquatheater
- Meal with an officer (if over 340 points)
- Upgraded bathroom amenities (if over 340 points)
- Bonus gift (if over 340 points)
- Priority access on stateroom upgrades
Pinnacle Club is reached with at least 700 points earned. This is the top tier. Onboard perks include all of the above in addition to a personalized lapel pin for Pinnacle Club and exclusive privileges like access to the Suite Lounge.
Other discounts, cruise certificates for reduced rates, and priority noticed are available at different tiers. You can check out this PDF from Royal Caribbean to see a breakdown of all the benefits offered.
Norwegian Cruise Line – Latitudes Rewards
As with Carnival and Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line gives you a reward point for each night booked on a Norwegian cruise ship.
An extra point is earned per night when booking a suite, and you can get an extra point per night on top of that by booking one of their Latitudes Rewards inside offers. These special offers are sent out monthly and usually provide other perks like $100 onboard credit.
There are 6 tiers of status in Latitudes Rewards which are Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, Platinum Plus, and Ambassador.
Rewards points are applied to your account after you return from your cruise. Points will be applied within 48 hours after you have completed a sailing.
Bronze status is obtained after sailing at least one night on Norwegian. Perks include:
- Priority check-in at the pier
- Bottle of sparkling wine
- 10% discount in duty-free shops
- Discount on buying internet minutes
- Free artwork for attending art auction
- Insider offers on select sailings
- Latitudes rewards magazine
Silver is reached from 30-54 points earned on Norwegian. Perks include everything from Bronze in addition to:
- 15% discount in duty-free shops
- Exclusive cocktail party
- 10% discount on shore excursions
- 20% discount on photos
- 15% discount on spa treatments (while the ship is in port)
Gold level is reached from 55-79 points earned on a Norwegian ship. Perks include everything from Silver in addition to:
- 20% discount on spa treatments (while ship is in port)
- 1 bottle of water
- 50% off 1 bag of laundry service
- Priority tender tickets
- Priority disembarkation
Platinum level is reached from 80-174 points earned on a Norwegian ship. Perks include everything from Gold level in addition to:
- 30% discount on photos
- 25% discount on spa treatments (while ship is in port)
- 1 free bag of laundry service
- Priority Embarkation
- Dinner For Two At Cagney’s Or Le Bistro With A Bottle Of Wine
- Dinner For Two At Moderno Or La Cucina
- 30 minutes of free internet
- Chocolate-covered strawberries
- Behind the scenes ship tour
- Concierge service
Platinum Plus level is reached from 175-699 points earned on a Norwegian cruise ship. Perks include everything from Platinum level in addition to the following:
- 2 bottles of water
- 60 minutes of internet for free
- Dinner with officers
- Priority restaurant and entertainment seating
Ambassador level is the top tier. It is reached after obtaining at least 700 points on Norwegian Cruise Line. Perks include everything from Platinum Plus in addition to 100 minutes of internet for free and a very big bonus. A free 7-day cruise is awarded to the Latitudes Rewards member who has reached Ambassador status.
See the full list of rewards and perks with Norwegian Cruise Line’s Latitudes Rewards here.
MSC Cruises – MSC Voyagers Club
Anyone who has sailed with MSC since 2006 or has a current confirmed booking can join MSC Voyagers Club.
MSC has also done something different in matching loyalty reward levels from other cruise lines and hotels. So, if you already have reached status with Royal Caribbean or Carnival you can reap some of those rewards with MSC if you quality. By applying for the Status Match program with MSC Cruises you will be assigned a membership level from Classic to Black.
Keep in mind that if you are applying for the Status Match program you should not register for MSC Voyagers Club.
Here are some of the perks you may receive if you do quality for the Status Match program.
- If you belong to a loyalty program with a hotel, cruise line or tour operator, you may qualify
- You will be assigned an MSC Voyagers Club membership, from Classic to Black
- A guaranteed 5% discount on any cruise
- Get similar or higher privilege status than your current loyalty program
- Other perks include: priority boarding, bottle of spumante, courtesty towel bathrobe, access to the thermal area in the MSC Aurea Spa, complimentary dinner in a specialty restaurant* (these perks vary by membership level)
MSC has 5 tiers in Voyagers Club: Welcome, Classic, Silver, Gold, and Black. Here is the breakdown of the point values needed for each tier:
- Welcome Membership – 1 confirmed booking
- Classic Membership – From 1 to 2,199 points
- Silver Membership – From 2,200 to 4,299 points
- Gold Membership – From 4,300 to 9,999 points
- Black Membership – 10,000 points and above
How to earn points with MSC Voyagers Club
The points system is a little more complicated with MSC. The amount of points you earn with each cruise depends on the experience purchased and onboard purchases.
For instance, a 7-night cruise on the Bella tier stateroom would earn you 500 points. In addition, you will earn 100 points for every $150 spent for onboard expenses pre-cruise. For every $150 spent while onboard the ship (excluding the casino) you can earn another 100 points.
Just joining the MSC Voyagers club before your MSC cruise will earn you 100 bonus points. And if you are already a member you can just update some contact details to earn your bonus.
Let’s look at what you actually get for reaching these different membership levels with MSC Voyager Club.
Welcome Membership allows you access to an online private area, and you will receive a newsletter.
Classic Membership provides you with a 5% discount on your MSC cruise which can typically be combined with other promotions unless otherwise stated. Here are some of the additional perks:
- Personalized luggage tags for embarkation in your e-ticket
- MSC Voyagers Club card
- Welcome back cocktail
- Onboard dedicated number
- Flexible onboard offers
Silver Membership offers all of the same perks listed above in addition to the following:
- $50 onboard credit
- Milestone reward
- Complimentary fresh fruit basket
Gold Membership offers all of the perks listed above in addition to the following:
- Complimentary one-hour thermal area session (once per cruise)
- Complimentary gift
- Priority disembarkation in ports where a tender boat is required
- Complimentary photo. Photo offered will be from the Welcome Back cocktail
- Complimentary birthday cake
Black Membership offers all of the perks listed above in addition to the following:
- Priority boarding on embarkation day only, available at all ports
- Complimentary specialty restaurant “Tasting Menu” dinner for two (no beverages, one dinner per stateroom)
- Complimentary spumante with chocolate-dipped fruit per stateroom (once per cruise)
- Priority disembarkation at end of cruise
- Courtesy toweling bathrobe and slippers available during the cruise
- Complimentary dance class
- MSC Voyagers Club exclusive Black Card Party
- MSC Voyagers Club Chocolate Ship
- Late stateroom check-out at disembarkation
Visit MSC’s rewards page for more details.
Disney Cruise Line – Castaway Club
Becoming a member of Disney Cruise Line’s rewards program takes no more effort than booking a cruise. You are automatically enrolled after your first cruise with Disney, and after your first sailing you will be a Silver member.
Unlike some other reward programs that are based on the number of nights you’ve sailed with them, Disney counts the number of cruises. After 5 cruises you will be a Gold member and after 10 you will be at Platinum level.
Silver, Gold, and Platinum are the 3 reward levels offered by Disney and here are the perks provided for each tier:
Silver Castaway begins after the first cruise is completed.
- Early booking for new itineraries (1 day before public)
- Early access to activity planning online
- Communications just for Castaway Club members
- Dedicated Castaway Club phone number
- Exclusive terminal check-in
- Welcome back aboard gift
Gold Castaway is achieved after 5 completed cruises. It includes the above perks in addition to the following:
- Early booking for new itineraries (2 days before public)
- Early access to select port arrival times
- Gold and Platinum onboard reception
- Gold and Platinum discounts
Platinum Castaway is achieved after 10 completed cruises. It includes the above perks in addition to the following:
- Early booking for new itineraries (3 days before public)
- Platinum priority check-in at cruise terminal
- Platinum complimentary dinner at Palo (Includes cabin members of the same stateroom)
See Disney’s PDF of rewards listed here.
Celebrity Cruises – Captain’s Club
Celebrity’s Captain’s Club loyalty program breaks down into 6 different tiers: Preview Level (prior to sailing), Classic Level, Select Level, Elite Level, Elite Plus Level, and Zenith Level.
Points for these loyalty levels are earned based on 2 things: the stateroom category and the length of the sailing.
Inside and oceanview sailings earn 2 points per night. Veranda staterooms earn 3 points per night. Concierge and Aquaclass sailings earn 5 points per night. Suites can earn anywhere from 8 to 18 points per night depending on the category.
Let’s take a look at what perks are awarded for each level in Captain’s Club.
Preview Level is earned for anyone who has booked a cruise with Celebrity and provides complimentary access to Captain’s Club Loyalty Desk and the program’s newsletter.
Classic Level is earned after just one cruise with Celebrity. This level is for any cruiser with 2-149 points. Perks include the following:
- Exclusive Captain’s Club Celebration
- Access to President’s Cruises and Reunion Cruises special events
- One category upgrade applicable through Aqua Class (based on availability at time of booking)
- $50 discount off “The Studio” digital package
- Complimentary scoop of gelato
- 10% discount on internet
Select Level is earned for having 150-299 points. Perks include the above in addition to the following:
- Senior Officers’ cocktail party
- $75 off “The Studio” digital package
- Priority Embarkation
- 25% off internet
- Complimentary pressing of 2 items
- Discounted bag of laundry (wash, dry, fold) for cruises 12 nights or more
Elite Level is earned for having 300-749 points. Perks include the above in addition to the following:
- $100 off “The Studio” digital package
- 90 minutes free internet plus 30% off
- Complimentary 1 Dry Clean item
- One complimentary bag of laundry (wash, dry, fold)
- Elegant Tea
- Captain’s Club Coffee House and Captain’s Club Cocktail Lounge
Elite Plus Level is earned for having 850-2,999 points. Perks include the above in addition to the following:
- 240 minutes free internet plus 35% off
- 2 complimentary bags of laundry (wash, dry, fold)
- Complimentary Cappucino, Espresso and Lattes
- 10% discount on any Drinks Package
- 15% discount on Specialty Dining cover charge
Zenith Level is earned for having 3,000 points and more. Perks include the above in addition to the following:
- $150 off “The Studio” digital package
- Unlimited internet for free
- Complimentary laundry
- 25% discount on Specialty Dining cover charge (member only)
- Complimentary Drinks Package
- Access to Michaels Club Concierge Lounge
As mentioned before, Royal Caribbean reward levels can be used to match Celebrity and Azamara. Here is a list of reward levels that are equivalent to each other on these lines:
- Preview Level = Azamara LeClub Voyage Preview
- Classic Level = Azamara LeClub Voyage: Adventurer
- Select Level = Azamara LeClub Voyage: Explorer, Royal Caribbean Crown & Anchor Society: Platinum
- Elite Level = Azamara LeClub Voyage: Discoverer, Royal Caribbean Crown & Anchor Society: Diamond
- Elite Plus Level = Azamara LeClub Voyage: Discoverer Plus, Royal Caribbean Crown & Anchor Society: Diamond
- Zenith Level = Azamara LeClub Voyage: Discoverer Platinum, Royal Caribbean Crown & Anchor Society: Diamond
Princess Cruises – Captain’s Circle
Princess offers 4 different levels in their loyalty program: Gold, Ruby, Platinum, and Elite. Reaching each tier is based both on the number and length of the cruises.
After your first completed cruise with Princess Cruise Lines you will be Gold status. Here are some perks you will receive as a Gold member:
- Reduced deposit – for the first 2 guests in the stateroom
- Preferential pricing. Special select itineraries by mail, phone, or email
- Exclusive events onboard
- Collectible destination stamps
- Circle Magazine. Received every 3 months. Lists new itineraries, new ships, and behind the scenes info
- Gold member recognition pin
- Stand By and Refer-a-Friend programs
You will reach Ruby status once you have been credited with your 4th to 5th cruise or have sailed 31-50 days with Princess. You will receive all of the perks from Gold in addition the following perks:
- Princess Platinum vacation protection upgrade
- Exclusive shoreside access to Captain’s Circle help desk phone line
- 10% discount off the purchase of our Reflections DVD onboard
- Ruby member recognition pin
You will reach Platinum status from your 6th-15th cruise credit, or 51-150 cruise days. You will receive all of the perks from Ruby in addition the following benefits:
- Complimentary destination collection brochure – details on all itineraries and sailings for that year
- Priority check-in at embarkation
- Platinum Disembarkation Lounge
- Complimentary internet packages (cruises 7 days or less receive 150 minutes, 8-20 days receive 250 minutes, 21+ receive 500 minutes)
- Platinum member recognition pin
You will reach Elite status from your 16th cruise and on or after sailing on Princess for 151 plus cruise days. You will receive all of the benefits from Platinum plus the following perks:
- Exclusive window to preview and book new itineraries
- Priority ship to shore tender embarkation
- Priority disembarkation
- Shoe polishing service
- Complimentary laundry and cleaning services
- Complimentary mini bar set up
- Deluxe canapes selection
- Afternoon tea
- Upgraded bathroom amenities
- 10% discount in the shops of Princess
- Complimentary wine tasting
- Elite member recognition pin
Read more information about Princess Cruise Line’s loyalty program here.
Holland America Line – Mariner Society
Once you have taken your first cruise with Holland America you are automatically enrolled in the Mariner Society program.
One cruise credit is earned for every full day sailed with the cruise line. These credits are doubled if a suite is booked. So, a 7 day cruise on a suite on a Holland America ship will earn you 14 cruise credits.
Cruise credits can also be earned through onboard purchases. For every $300 spent on eligible purchases you can earn 1 cruise credit.
Holland America has 5 tiers of status in Mariner Society. Let’s take a look at the benefits of each of these tiers below:
Star Mariner status can be attained simply by returning to Holland America on a 2nd cruise. As a Star Mariner you will receive:
- Mariner Welcome Onboard Lunch
- A special collectible gift presented to you on board
- Mariner Brunch with complimentary sparkling wine
- A free subscription to the print or digital** version of Mariner® magazine
- Special offers on select sailings
- A 50% cruise fare discount on the 3rd/4th guest staying in your stateroom on select sailings
2-Star Mariner status is attained once you are able to earn 30 cruise credits. You will then get the following benefits in addition to the above perks:
- A complimentary photo of the ship
- A 10% discount on select Holland America Line logo clothing sold onboard signature shops (may exclude already discounted merchandise)
- A 15% discount on merchandise from shophollandamerica.com (Discount only available in the United States and Canada)
- An annual cruise planner
- A special recognition lapel pin
3-Star Mariner status is achieved once you have earned 75 cruise credits. At this 3rd tier you will enjoy these perks in addition to the above perks:
- A 25% discount on specialty restaurant surcharges and on specialty coffees in all dining venues*, beverages in the Explorations Cafe and all mini-bar purchases (restaurant packages do not apply to discount and wine packages discounts exclude wine cards, Cellar Master packages, individual bottles, wine-by-the-glass and beverage gift cards)
- Mariner Welcome Onboard Reception
- Discounts on select treatments from the Greenhouse Spa & Salon
- Advance information on new itineraries
4-Star Mariner status is yours once you have sailed with Holland America enough to earn 200 credits. You will receive the above perks in addition to the following:
- Complimentary cruise fare on 3rd/4th guest in your stateroom on select sailings
- An increase of a 50% discount on specialty restaurant surcharges and specialty coffees in all dining venues
- Complimentary laundry and pressing services
- Priority tender and check-in
- A complimentary wine tasting session
- An increase of A 15% discount on select Holland America Line logo clothing sold onboard shops (may exclude already discounted merchandise)
- Discounts on select spa treatments from the Greenhouse Spa & Salon
- A complimentary one-year subscription to Travel + Leisure® or Food & Wine®
- magazine (one per household, available to US and Canadian residents only)
5-Star Mariner status is the top tier you can reach with Holland America. It requires 500 cruise credits and includes the above tier benefits in addition to the following:
- 50% discount on a 100-minute internet package (one time only per cruise) Up to US$30 credit toward any Internet package
- Two complimentary dinners in the Pinnacle Grill (free surcharge only)
- Complimentary Culinary Arts Center cooking class (1 per cruise) Complimentary cooking workshop (1 per cruise)
- Complimentary day pass to the Greenhouse Spa & Salon Thermal Suite (1 per cruise)* Not available on ms Prinsendam, guest will receive additional Pinnacle Dinner
Please refer to the Holland America Line page on Mariner Society for more terms and conditions on member benefits.
Which program looks best to you?
Are you a member of a loyalty program with a cruise line? Which program do you think offers the best perks for the least amount or cruises?
Signing up for a loyalty program is a no-brainer. It’s free, easy, and in most cases automatic. But does this mean you should only sail with that one cruise line?
With more new ships coming out all the time and great deals being offered all across the board it makes sense to try out different lines before you commit to one if you really are set on utilizing a company’s loyalty program as much as possible.
While the perks can be nice features to your cruise, many of them require a vast number of cruises before they really make a difference. And with some cruise lines like Carnival and Royal Caribbean allowing you to pay extra to receive some perks like priority boarding and embarkation you can benefit from VIP status a lot earlier.