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GenghisQuan

Best loyalty program?

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Just wondering if anyone has thoughts about which line has the best loyalty program? Based on factors like terms of perks given, how easy/hard it is to move up to a tier where the perks actually give you something substantial (as opposed to a photo of a HAL ship or some Princess magazine), and anything else?

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37 minutes ago, GenghisQuan said:

Just wondering if anyone has thoughts about which line has the best loyalty program? Based on factors like terms of perks given, how easy/hard it is to move up to a tier where the perks actually give you something substantial (as opposed to a photo of a HAL ship or some Princess magazine), and anything else?

Few, if any, cruise lines come close to Oceania loyalty perks. For example:

10 cruise credits (based on # nights - not just cruises): free gratuities, SBC et al.

15 cruise credits: more SBC, free gratuities and custom air fee waivers (on top of the already included air fare)

20 cruise credits: same perks as before PLUS free 14 day cruise, more SBC et al.

 

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29 minutes ago, Flatbush Flyer said:

Few, if any, cruise lines come close to Oceania loyalty perks. For example:

10 cruise credits (based on # nights - not just cruises): free gratuities, SBC et al.

15 cruise credits: more SBC, free gratuities and custom air fee waivers (on top of the already included air fare)

20 cruise credits: same perks as before PLUS free 14 day cruise, more SBC et al.

 

Isn't Oceania also at like 1500-2000 for an inside cabin?

Also, it appears that you earn credits by cruise, except that the more nights there are the more credits earned per cruise https://www.cruisecritic.com/articles.cfm?ID=2483? Thus it'll take you at least 20K to make it to Gold, and then to make use of it it'll still be 3-4000 per trip? Compared to other lines like Holland or Carnival where it might cost similar to make it to a status that at least starts giving free stuff or discounts, but using it costs less per trip?

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1 hour ago, GenghisQuan said:

Isn't Oceania also at like 1500-2000 for an inside cabin?

Also, it appears that you earn credits by cruise, except that the more nights there are the more credits earned per cruise https://www.cruisecritic.com/articles.cfm?ID=2483? Thus it'll take you at least 20K to make it to Gold, and then to make use of it it'll still be 3-4000 per trip? Compared to other lines like Holland or Carnival where it might cost similar to make it to a status that at least starts giving free stuff or discounts, but using it costs less per trip?

Glad you added the "?"

Comparing bargain lines like Carnival or even the "higher" end of the mass market like HAL to Oceania (or any premium/luxury line) is a useless exercise. When it comes to cruising, as with other aspects of the travel industry), "you get what you pay for." The "value quotient" isn't a dollar figure. Rather, it's a question of quality ROI. 

 

I'm sure you understand that Oceania's fares, which include airfare (or air credit), internet, beverages, unlimited specialty restaurant dinners and choice of perks like booze, tours and/or SBC, have to be higher than mass market competitors. What else would you expect from a cruise line that spends three times more per passenger just for food?

 

That said, try using "net daily rate" (all required and optional expenses for your trip - including air fare et al.) when you compare lines like Celebrity, HAL or Viking to lines like Oceania (or even Azamara). You may be very surprised at the true value of "premium" cruise lines.

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X and RCI for me but it is now much harder to get to Elite/Diamond.

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3 minutes ago, MicCanberra said:

X and RCI for me but it is now much harder to get to Elite/Diamond.

Agree. 

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Princess actually has a very good loyalty program.  :classic_cool:

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7 hours ago, Flatbush Flyer said:

Few, if any, cruise lines come close to Oceania loyalty perks. For example:

10 cruise credits (based on # nights - not just cruises): free gratuities, SBC et al.

15 cruise credits: more SBC, free gratuities and custom air fee waivers (on top of the already included air fare)

20 cruise credits: same perks as before PLUS free 14 day cruise, more SBC et al.

 

Interested in your opinion of whether or not the decreased loyalty benefits starting in Nov 2019 are signs of more decreases to come?

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Rccl has really nice perks at Diamond and higher , discount on balcony cabins and suites , free drinks and picture plus others , also when you hit Diamond on. Rccl you can be elite on sister line celebrity . But if you book suites you get really great perks and also double points towards diamond.

bottom line is need to book ship or line tha you perfer. Perks are just a bonus . Even though we recently became Diamond plus next few cruises will be on other lines. 

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Posted (edited)

Best perks at top of mid range cruiselines depends on what you personally consider   best perks.  My dh and I differ on which line we think offers the best perks based on our personal preference.

Each line offers something different when you get to their top tier status.  For example, Princess offers unlimited laundry, dry cleaning , and a limited bar setup in your cabin.  Royal Caribbean offers unlimited internet, access to Suite Lounges and special dining venue, unlimited cocktails and appetizers for four hours each night.  MSC offers a complimentary specialty dinner and a bottle of Italian "champagne".  (There are many more benefits offered by each but  I list just a few.)

The takeaway I think is to cruise on the ships/cruiselines that you enjoy and not worry about acquiring a  perks-for as we all know, perks come/perks go.

Edited by gadaboutgal

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1 hour ago, George C said:

Rccl has really nice perks at Diamond and higher , discount on balcony cabins and suites , free drinks and picture plus others , also when you hit Diamond on. Rccl you can be elite on sister line celebrity . But if you book suites you get really great perks and also double points towards diamond.

bottom line is need to book ship or line tha you perfer. Perks are just a bonus . Even though we recently became Diamond plus next few cruises will be on other lines. 

Agreed, the perks are nice but such a small part of cruising / savings on a cruise budget.

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Interesting question.  We are high up in the programs of RCI, Celebrity, HAL and Princess and in pretty good position in a few others.  Each program is different although we probably would have to rate Celebrity on top of the heap....especially for those that enjoy adult beverages.  Lets consider what we get at Celebrity for being Elite Plus (many of these benefits are also given at the Elite level).  The biggie is the daily (except the first evening) cocktail benefit.  Celebrity has a 2 hour cocktail party (or the alternative is they load 3 free drinks, per day, onto the cruise card) every day except the embarkation day.  They now try to cap this benefit at 3 drinks which would be worth nearly $30 per passenger/day.  Celebrity also gives us some free laundry,  several hundred minutes of free Internet, and the usual priority stuff.  We also get unlimited  specialty and tea drinks.  Celebrity also gives a free upgrade (within a class of cabins).   There are also other perks such as a discount off the alternative restaurants and some other coupon benefits.  Another nice benefit are the daily Elite breakfasts which are Continental breakfast offered in a private venue (usually the Tuscan restaurant).  This breakfast includes free drinks including specialty coffees, Mimosas, Bloody Marys, Smoothies. and a few other things.  When you couple this with the daily cocktail benefit one could get about 5 free drinks per day!   Celebrity has tried to minimize this benefit by always promoting drink packages.  When you have a drink package the Elite drink benefit is really worthless since the packages are more generous.

 

Somebody mentioned Princess which we find just OK.  On that line (as Elite) we get lots of free Internet which is probably the best benefit.  There is also unlimited free laundry (and some dry cleaning) and a free one-time cabin mini bar set-up.  

 

HAL might be the most disappointing.   They give no free Internet and a small discount to those who reach the 5 Star Level....which requires about 500 days!  They also have discounts on a wine package that range from 25 - 50% (for 4 and 5 Star) as well as unlimited free laundry.  We find the free laundry the best benefit since we take very long cruises on this line.  The discounted wine packages are a questionable perk because the wines on the packages are nothing great and are vastly overpriced.  So when they give the big discount it is based on discounting sub-standard overpriced wines.  Better then no discount, but the wines on the packages would not please most Oenophiles.

 

RCI also offers their Diamond and above some decent drink benefits as well as some Internet.

 

Hank

 

 

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Interesting question... but is like trying compare ships and planes...

 

Each line does different things better... as perceived by the each cruiser....

 

I have tried to do cost per day per person.... trying to include perks.... to compare

 

I have an idea  !!!   maybe a new way to compare  Use a budget of $5000 per head and see what you get with each cruise line.

 

Cheers Don 

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1 hour ago, NantahalaCruiser said:

Interested in your opinion of whether or not the decreased loyalty benefits starting in Nov 2019 are signs of more decreases to come?

No one likes to lose perks or otherwise have them reduced. So far, the only thing that irks me a bit is the reduction in O Club SBC. 

IMO, a bigger potential reason for concern is the possibility of any unfavorable modification of O Life. It's easy to eat away at air credit et al. bit by bit. 

But, even with the "nip and tuck," Oceania loyalty benefits like the gratuities, air deviation, free cruise and SBC remain unrivaled. 

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Some lines will get you twice as many nights aboard compared to others using that criteria.

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First, understand that loyalty programs are marketing techniques. People are absolutely obsessed with the thought getting things for "free." The companies have tons of evidence of how you get people to spend more for "free stuff". In the end when you tally it all up, how much did you really save though?

 

This is not to say they are always scams though. If you find a product you like that offers what you are looking for, the perks are gravy. Lots of them offer lots of a great things. It differs for everyone. I think on paper, Royal Carribean offers a great one for a mass-market line. The free drinks for Diamonds and above is enticing, and competitor Carnival does not offer that. However, generally for the price difference, Royal is hundreds more. Often, you can buy those drinks on Carnival, and still come out even, if not ahead. Not to mention the 80 days of cruising you paid extra without anything "free." Yet, individual charges are the end of the world to some people.

 

Just don't sit here and tell me you received "free" gratuities, specialty dinners, drinks, wifi, etc after spending significantly more on your fare when I can walk onto other cruises as a first-time customer, purchase these things, and still spend less than a "vip" elsewhere.

 

This theory is all across the travel industry and is all discussed to death. "This hotel has resort fees" "This airline charges for baggage" "This one gives you everything free" It's all marketing. Be smarter than marketing.

 

 

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26 minutes ago, Joebucks said:

 

....Just don't sit here and tell me you received "free" gratuities, specialty dinners, drinks, wifi, etc after spending significantly more on your fare when I can walk onto other cruises as a first-time customer, purchase these things, and still spend less than a "vip" elsewhere.

While I agree with you that marketing is marketing and that truly "free" is a rare commodity, your comparison of a discount cruise line to a cruise product at the upper end of the spectrum, solely based on cabin cost, is Illogical.

 

Whether it's cruises, cars, homes, schools, dinner out, whatever.... , many many folks (not necessarily "rich") pay a higher price for quality and for what they perceive/know will be a "better" experience. And they do so based on their preferences, expectations, experiences and means (note: what is "expensive" for person A may not be for person B). 

 

That said, a fairer exercise would be to relatively compare the actual loyalty "freebies."

 

Remember: While the "cabin cost" of a premium/luxury cruise itinerary will list higher than an equivalent "mass market" itinerary, there are the other required and optional expenses in the mix (does the discount line cabin price include airfare, internet, beverages, specialties, gratuities, booze et al. and exclude crowds, art auctions, pesky photogs, etc?). For example, Inclusion of intercontinental airfare (or air credit) on a line like Oceania can easily be a $1500+\- per person necessary extra on a mass market line. And let's not even get into a comparison of food, service et al.

 

That said, a more accurate "relative" question would be whether Carnival or any other mass market line provides a loyalty perk like a 14 day cruise experience of, at least, the same quality for which you've previously paid. And, perhaps more importantly, can your choice of the 14 day "loyalty" cruise be for a far more expensive itinerary than the average of the contributing cruises that preceded it (e.g., a >$700/day South Pacific cruise vs a <$300/day Caribbean one).

 

And don't forget that some elements of that particular perk will have the same dollar value no matter which cruise line you use. Whether it's Carnival or Oceania, that RT ticket to/from Asian ports has the same price tag. 

 

In any case, to each his own. I'll take the cruise.

 

 

 

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On ‎5‎/‎2‎/‎2019 at 12:17 PM, GenghisQuan said:

Just wondering if anyone has thoughts about which line has the best loyalty program? Based on factors like terms of perks given, how easy/hard it is to move up to a tier where the perks actually give you something substantial (as opposed to a photo of a HAL ship or some Princess magazine), and anything else?

 

IMO, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity have the best programs, especially at the higher levels.

 

IMO, Holland America is the worst. 

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One great advantage of Royal and Celebrity is they share the level between them. Meaning, what ever level you are on one will get you basically the same level on the other. Great if you only cruised on one a lot and desired to try the other. You are not considered a new cruiser on that ship. Without knowing this. The first cruise on Celebrity and we were invited to the parties and given perks. i was was shocked. reason being. We have been Diamond on Carnival for several years. decided to try Princess. You get nothing. I ask why. Before Princess was Purchased by Carnival they were their own cruise line. I was told they want to remain that way and not tie themselves to Carnival. Darn, that was disappointing to say the least. The one great perk we like is priority boarding. The problem with Celebrity if I recall. After only two cruises you receive priority boarding. Just about as many in line as first time cruisers on Celebrity. Not a very great perk. All inclusive cruises are not all inclusive by any means and are very expensive. So, not for us. Do not like mingling with the elite anyhow. Would not be comfortable trying to do that anyhow. Now from what I understand. MSC will give you what ever level you are on another cruise line. They will match you with theirs. Not a lot of perks though from what I see. I did apply for it using my Diamond on Carnival. Once it was credited. I was not at the top.

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Posted (edited)

We are in several.  Based entirely on our personal preferences:

 

We would rank Celebrity and RCI near/at the top

 

Princess next.

 

Holland America at the absolute bottom....unless you like cheap medals,  and lapel pins for filling up your junk drawer.  And cheesy lunches on embarkation day.

Edited by iancal

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3 hours ago, Flatbush Flyer said:

While I agree with you that marketing is marketing and that truly "free" is a rare commodity, your comparison of a discount cruise line to a cruise product at the upper end of the spectrum, solely based on cabin cost, is Illogical.

 

Whether it's cruises, cars, homes, schools, dinner out, whatever.... , many many folks (not necessarily "rich") pay a higher price for quality and for what they perceive/know will be a "better" experience. And they do so based on their preferences, expectations, experiences and means (note: what is "expensive" for person A may not be for person B). 

 

That said, a fairer exercise would be to relatively compare the actual loyalty "freebies."

 

Remember: While the "cabin cost" of a premium/luxury cruise itinerary will list higher than an equivalent "mass market" itinerary, there are the other required and optional expenses in the mix (does the discount line cabin price include airfare, internet, beverages, specialties, gratuities, booze et al. and exclude crowds, art auctions, pesky photogs, etc?). For example, Inclusion of intercontinental airfare (or air credit) on a line like Oceania can easily be a $1500+\- per person necessary extra on a mass market line. And let's not even get into a comparison of food, service et al.

 

That said, a more accurate "relative" question would be whether Carnival or any other mass market line provides a loyalty perk like a 14 day cruise experience of, at least, the same quality for which you've previously paid. And, perhaps more importantly, can your choice of the 14 day "loyalty" cruise be for a far more expensive itinerary than the average of the contributing cruises that preceded it (e.g., a >$700/day South Pacific cruise vs a <$300/day Caribbean one).

 

And don't forget that some elements of that particular perk will have the same dollar value no matter which cruise line you use. Whether it's Carnival or Oceania, that RT ticket to/from Asian ports has the same price tag. 

 

In any case, to each his own. I'll take the cruise.

 

 

 

 

I think we can both agree that you can't compare the experience of a mass-market vs luxury line. Quality vs quantity games.

 

Just don't confuse people into thinking luxury lines are some sort of value play. Be careful with statements like Oceania is "giving you a free $1500 airfare." No, they are not. Not even close. There is a clear difference in price in booking with airfare and without. You pay for everything. You pay for the free drinks. You pay for the wifi, and etc. They do this as part of the high price tag for the "quality." The absolute cheapest option on Oceania right now is $1699 for a 7 day interior (no airfare) in September. If we made a "relative" comparison to other cheaper lines and what you can get for $1699, it's a different ballgame. I can go on Royal Carribean for a week for $399. You're paying for an experience on Oceania. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

 

I do like your rephrased question a bit better. Most of these opinions of loyalty here do not tell a good story. 

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54 minutes ago, Joebucks said:

 

I think we can both agree that you can't compare the experience of a mass-market vs luxury line. Quality vs quantity games.

 

Just don't confuse people into thinking luxury lines are some sort of value play. Be careful with statements like Oceania is "giving you a free $1500 airfare." No, they are not. Not even close. There is a clear difference in price in booking with airfare and without. You pay for everything. You pay for the free drinks. You pay for the wifi, and etc. They do this as part of the high price tag for the "quality." The absolute cheapest option on Oceania right now is $1699 for a 7 day interior (no airfare) in September. If we made a "relative" comparison to other cheaper lines and what you can get for $1699, it's a different ballgame. I can go on Royal Carribean for a week for $399. You're paying for an experience on Oceania. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

 

I do like your rephrased question a bit better. Most of these opinions of loyalty here do not tell a good story. 

Sorry but you appear to still be a bit unclear on the concept of "relative." 

 

Trusting that your comparison is a spot on identical 7 day itinerary w/o air and that our theoretical passenger would desire "identical" (at least on paper) basic onboard added perks like those provided on O, you'd then need to add unlimited internet $175, unlimited beverages $175 (approx.) and specialty restaurants (let's say four dinners on RCI at about $25/night upcharge = $100. That's an increase of $450 + RCI's original $399 cabin cost. RCI cost is now  $849. That puts the difference from O's $1700 at $851. Use an Oceania Connoisseur's Club preferred TA and their minimal added $ perk will pretty much always cover, at least, your gratuities at $16/person x 7 days = $112. (Most will also share their commission at an average of 7% of the commissionable fare, I.e., approx $100 in refundable SBC - but we won't count that commission share for this exercise). Since you'd need to pay those gratuities on RCI, lower the $851 price difference by another approx $100 = $750.

Is Oceania's $750/person higher net fare (just over $100 per day) worth it for the "experience?"

 

If, for example, you want prime meats, lobster available nightly, "a la minute" cooking in the casual restaurant, etc; first class bedding and cabin amenities (soon to include "on demand" movies); excellent service (thanks in no small part to the outstanding crew ratio); passenger loads of less than 700 (R ships) and 1200 (O ships); and a civilized/decorous environment, I'd say that price difference for the Oceania experience is a BARGAIN.

 

BTW, mass market lines have figured this out and that's why there's a growing number of wannabe "luxury" ship-within-a-ship projects which, somewhat ironically, will usually cost as much as if not more than the real thing in the premium/luxury cruise industry segments but fall far short of the mark. 

 

Of course, if you're idea of a night out on the town is Golden Corral and you're fine with  spending those 7 days on what many consider to be an overcrowded floating amusement park, I'd be the first to advise you to spend that saved $100/person/day on something of greater importance to you.

 

THAT is a "relative" comparison.

 

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1 hour ago, Flatbush Flyer said:

Of course, if you're idea of a night out on the town is Golden Corral and you're fine with  spending those 7 days on what many consider to be an overcrowded floating amusement park, I'd be the first to advise you to spend that saved $100/person/day on something of greater importance to you.

 

THAT is a "relative" comparison.

 

 

Good gracious. Can you get any more elitist?  Seriously. You really need to tone back this rhetoric. I’ve cruised luxury and premium lines including your beloved Oceania. But unlike you, I’ve also cruised those so-called amusement parks. There are great things to be said about each and every cruise line. But that’s not the topic, is it?  The topic is loyalty programs. So how about, for once, you try to stay on topic and put aside your shilling for Oceania. 

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9 hours ago, Joebucks said:

First, understand that loyalty programs are marketing techniques. People are absolutely obsessed with the thought getting things for "free." The companies have tons of evidence of how you get people to spend more for "free stuff". In the end when you tally it all up, how much did you really save though?

 

This is not to say they are always scams though. If you find a product you like that offers what you are looking for, the perks are gravy. Lots of them offer lots of a great things. It differs for everyone. I think on paper, Royal Carribean offers a great one for a mass-market line. The free drinks for Diamonds and above is enticing, and competitor Carnival does not offer that. However, generally for the price difference, Royal is hundreds more. Often, you can buy those drinks on Carnival, and still come out even, if not ahead. Not to mention the 80 days of cruising you paid extra without anything "free." Yet, individual charges are the end of the world to some people.

 

Just don't sit here and tell me you received "free" gratuities, specialty dinners, drinks, wifi, etc after spending significantly more on your fare when I can walk onto other cruises as a first-time customer, purchase these things, and still spend less than a "vip" elsewhere.

 

This theory is all across the travel industry and is all discussed to death. "This hotel has resort fees" "This airline charges for baggage" "This one gives you everything free" It's all marketing. Be smarter than marketing.

 

 

I agree, I have discussed this with many cruisers over the years

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Everyone has a different interpretation of what is value for money. Drinks included for me is great value but for someone who doesn't drink it is worthless. Loyalty programs are designed to please the majority of cruise passengers with some benefits without actually breaking the bank. This is why every couple of years they will modify the programs to either lessen the rewards or tighten the criteria to qualify (or both).

 

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