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GenghisQuan

Best loyalty program?

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Yes that was the cheapest cabin on Viking for that cruise off their web site and got the price off the princess site..... both are in Aus Dollars....... and I thought it was only fair to compare a princess suite with a standard cabin on Viking.

 

Both were without an air fare   and it didn't look at OBC   just the straight fare

 

I agree I would not be interested in going on a royal class ship

 

For our cruises we have done to new Zealand... it is fare $400 plus $70 per person per day for everything else.... we drive to the port so no cost there  so $470 for us against $685 plus a return flight to get home and any other expenses

 

For us the numbers do not add up.....

 

If money was no object... yes I would Viking or any other cruise line....

 

Cheers Don

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4 hours ago, Nic6318 said:

Hi

 

For the OP if he/she cares... I do think it was mentioned at least once... choosing and sticking with cruise line based on the loyalty program has never been a good idea. It is better to find the cruise line that is best suited to your tastes, and you are able to do that only if you try a number of different cruise lines. Trying one flavor and saying, I like that, I don't need to try anything else, might be good enough, but you also might be missing something that you would like better.

 

happy cruising

Good post, I agree that you cannot if you like a particular cruise line without testing them first but you also need to pick the right itinerary for comparisons.

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2 hours ago, Hlitner said:

HAL has a very loyal base of cruisers, most of whom could care less about the perks (which are not very good).   Sometimes we find it hard to understand the almost fervent loyalty by long time HAL cruisers but we have found it unique among all the cruise lines upon which we have cruised.  We suspect this is one reason why HAL has never made much attempt to improve their loyalty perks.  HAL fans are happy to get a near worthless Medallion or a Pin (try to deny them those things and they revolt).   For those cruisers that really care about perks, HAL is not a great choice.  But ask many HAL cruisers why they love HAL and they will tell you they like the smaller ships, wonderful Indonesian staff, and atmosphere of the line.  

 

I love the cruise industry (like many here on CC) and have a lot of fun analyzing the management decisions(or lack thereof) of many cruise lines.  So here is new thought.  Perhaps some cruise lines need to offer more loyalty perks to attract more cruisers, while other lines do fine without having to bribe cruisers with a few perks.  Consider that HAL really does not offer much with their Mariners Club perks, but I can tell you that the HAL fans are very loyal!  The reality is that most HAL fans are not booking the line for a few perks although we all certainly take advantage to what is offered.  Ask long time HAL cruisers what Mariners Club perk they really appreciate and you will often hear, "unlimited free laundry."  That is because seasoned HAL cruisers are often taking very long cruises (measured in weeks or months) and truly need the laundry.  Those on lines like X will cite the daily free drinks (I like this benefit) but many on HAL could care less because they are simply too old to drink (only teasing).  

 

Consider that HAL has a Medallion award ceremony on all their cruises and this is usually held just prior to the Mariners Luncheon.  Some folks actually go to this boring ceremony to see cruisers awarded a tinny Medallion for having cruised a certain number of days.  On most lines, passengers could care less about this kind of stuff and other lines do not have anything like the Medallion program.  But among HAL loyalists this is an important thing (as I found out when I suggested it would be OK if it was  eliminated).  DW and I are 5 Star Mariners on HAL and normally skip these ceremonies and the Mariners Luncheon (which means the Lido will be less crowded that day).  Other HAL friends have told us they are surprised we would not attend these functions as they view the events as cruise highlights.  For us, getting out of our comfy deck chair and getting dressed for a luncheon makes little sense...but for others this is a very important rite of passage.  HAL management is attuned to these passengers and accommodates their wants.  In that sense we think that HAL is ahead of many other cruise lines who simply offer perks as bribes to encourage booking.  Give some of these HAL cruisers a choice between free Internet or a worthless Medallion...and they would choose that Medallion (which they can wear around their necks on a ribbon).   I do not understand this love of Medallions...but now recognize that for some HAL loyalists it is among one of the more important facets of their cruise life :).  I still smile at a post (a few years ago) from a lady who told me that "she earned that Medallion" and it is truly important.  As one who now gets lots of perks on many lines I have never thought of any of that as being "earned" but simply bought...similar to frequent flyer perks on airlines.

 

And lastly, we offer this observation.  A few years ago we were on a RCI cruise with a CC Mod.  At the time we were both Diamond (with RCI) when that loyalty category had access to the Concierge Lounge (this has benefit has since been changed).  We chatted with that guy about cruising on one line (in this case RCI) versus seeking variety on many lines.  That person told us that he preferred RCI because having the perks made him feel "important and special."   He did not like the idea of "starting all over again" on another line.  So for some folks these Loyalty perks are truly important.  For many others (including moi) they are nice but have little to do with our choices on which line to book.  Different strokes for different folks?

 

Hank

We pick our cruises for the itinerary, so have tried quite a few lines, have some decent loyalty status with a few. We tried HAL  earlier this year and enjoyed the cruise and the overall feel but it was an EXC cruise which may be a little different to regular HAL cruises. In any case, our system works for us and as I say - Different boats for different folks.

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10 hours ago, Hlitner said:

 

And lastly, we offer this observation.  A few years ago we were on a RCI cruise with a CC Mod.  At the time we were both Diamond (with RCI) when that loyalty category had access to the Concierge Lounge (this has benefit has since been changed).  We chatted with that guy about cruising on one line (in this case RCI) versus seeking variety on many lines.  That person told us that he preferred RCI because having the perks made him feel "important and special."   He did not like the idea of "starting all over again" on another line.  So for some folks these Loyalty perks are truly important.  For many others (including moi) they are nice but have little to do with our choices on which line to book.  Different strokes for different folks?

 

Hank

 

My philosophy is just to keep cruising and trying different lines. Keeping in mind that I started cruising at age 9, eventually I will achieve status on any line I like enough to cruise with regularly. And if I don't like them enough to cruise regularly, their loyalty program is irrelevant to me. 

 

Of course that philosophy is stymied when three of the cruise lines I have sailed with in the past no longer exist. Something today's cruisers might also keep in mind....!  (Although to be fair, at least Princess gave me credit for my Sitmar cruises.  👍)

 

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8 hours ago, Heidi13 said:

 

Having both worked for and cruised with Princess for 35 years, you couldn't pay me to board a "Royal" class ship, such as the Majestic. What happened to the Promenade Deck ???😞

 

 

 

Sailed Princess since early days (and Sitmar before it).  One cruise on the Regal Princess was enough to turn me completely off...

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Posted (edited)

Perks only pay a role in our selection of a ship when two ships are 'tied' in our view.  Then we will look at perks.

 

We really could care less about the cruise line.  It is the ship and the itinerary that are important to us.  Heck, we did not even know what Diamond status was until Celebrity (or was it RCI) sent us a letter.  Same with whatever we got on Princess.

 

This cruise line loyalty business has never been important to us.  Partly because the industry and the players are changing so quickly,  partly because the rewards are really quite inconsequential, and partly because we do not need our ego stroked by some corporate entity.   

 

As one HAL cruiser once told me......he gets a medal, some free laundry, and a free meal at the alternate dining venue for being a loyal customer.  His TA gave him $500 in OBC's for the cruise.   He is much more loyal to his TA than he is to the cruise line!

Edited by iancal

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1 hour ago, cruisemom42 said:

 

My philosophy is just to keep cruising and trying different lines. Keeping in mind that I started cruising at age 9, eventually I will achieve status on any line I like enough to cruise with regularly. And if I don't like them enough to cruise regularly, their loyalty program is irrelevant to me. 

 

Of course that philosophy is stymied when three of the cruise lines I have sailed with in the past no longer exist. Something today's cruisers might also keep in mind....!  (Although to be fair, at least Princess gave me credit for my Sitmar cruises.  👍)

 

We have much in common (from reading your posts) including Sitmar!  I still think they had the best pizza and pastries :).

 

Hank

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18 minutes ago, iancal said:

....This cruise line loyalty business has never been important to us.  Partly because the industry and the players are changing so quickly,  partly because the rewards are really quite inconsequential, and partly because we do not need our ego stroked by some corporate entity.   

 

.....He is much more loyal to his TA than he is to the cruise line!

Count us in the "pro 'loyalty'" group with the major caveat that we would have no problem cruising on a different line than Oceania if the conditions warranted our interest/business. In fact, we always look at other lines in the premium/luxury industry segments for their pricing et al. on similar itineraries. But (in all honesty), we have yet to find the same value/quality quotient in any such comparison.

 

Part of that does relate to Oceania's loyalty "perks" (published or not) which are (IMO) substantial: gratuities (even extra SBC if TA is covering them), air deviation, sizable SBC (beyond any O Life) and, of course, repeatable complimentary "milestone" cruises that (depending on your choice of itinerary) represent about a 20%+/- "rebate" on the preceding cruises used to qualify. None of these items are "chump change."

 

As to the unpublished perks: the smaller size of Oceania's ships add an element of recognition (NOT the "free pin" type) that always makes for a rewarding cruise. O has many long serving crew and we often run into our favorites from captain and GM to wait staff, stewards and others on down the line. Unplanned lunch with the skipper and trading sea stories is always enjoyable. There are enough officer invited dinners and other events to render a booze package unnecessary (along with the unlimited personal alcohol allowance). And having a Rolodex of the cruise line's home office personnel in the event of some FUBAR is priceless.

 

And, yes, this preference also relates to Oceania's top-producing preferred partner TAs who often sweeten the deal with sizable commission sharing.

 

Nonetheless, in Oceania's situation (and perhaps any other premium/luxury line where you'll find more than 70% repeat customers on any given itinerary) "loyalty" may be a misleading label. 

 

Perhaps "efficacy" would be a better descriptor. As long as Oceania's policies and practices maintain quality and value while treating us efficiently and effectively, we'll be hard pressed to "jump ship."

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Posted (edited)

Ugh, crapbaskets, lost a massive post because for some reason ctrl+clicking the pages to look at something refreshes the page rather than opens in a new tab.

 

Of course, different people like different things. For both my wife and myself, we're very much the kind of travelers for whom "experiences" like fine sheets and lobster every night are nice-to-haves, rather than must-haves, therefore the marginal utils from these experiences aren't necessarily worth the marginal costs associated with getting them (also, free airfare does not appear to always be included). And of course, going out of your way to spend just to acquire perks is stupid. But we like cruising anyway, and we're likely to go on one at least every year or two, so we might as well stay loyal when practical such that the experience is improved for us about ten or so years down the road.

 

There's also factors like cruise frequency or length. We're very much working professionals who don't yet have kids, therefore it doesn't make much sense for us to drop 4-5K on a Oceania weeklong cruise multiple times just to have to save up another 4-5K to take another cruise to actually enjoy the perks. Reviewing the RCI/O comparison, an extra 100/person/day isn't exactly a negligible amount; a lot of boozing or touring can be done for that extra spend.

 

Basically, my metric is mainly the ease by which it is to earn a status that gives you some kind of tangible perk (as opposed to some vague "reduced member rate" that may not be better than what some cruise booking aggregate site gives you, or a discount on a drinks/photo package that you may not use). Princess gives you some status for a return cruise, for example, but all that gives you is some onboard event and some collectible stamps; it takes Platinum (6 cruises or 51 days) to actually get something useful (internet package). Similarly, on HAL, it takes 4-star (200 days) to actually get something good (although 4-Star is pretty close to Princess Elite). Oceania's site is a bit frustratingly low on details on how you actually get to the statuses, but at minimum Silver appears to be where perks start actually being worth more than just a discount on merch or advance notice of itineraries.

 

Then I also thought that the requirements to reach a high tier status should also be considered, so we can also consider how long it takes to get some combination of laundry, priority boarding/departure, Internet, drinks, etc. On the other end, from Oceania, Carnival is just a straight-up 75 nights to get priority embarkation/debarkation and also some free laundry and drinks, which is about 11-12 weekong Caribbean cruises for about 9K of spend on cabin fares.

 

So really, the question is centered along ease of earning status, and also by type of perk:

 

1. How hard is it to earn some kind of useful perk.

 

2. How hard is it to reach a "high end" status level (VIFP Platinum, Royal Caribbean Diamond, HAL 4-Star, etc)

Edited by GenghisQuan

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NCL has a few decent perks once you reach platinum. A free behind the scenes tour, 2 free specialty restaurant dinners for 2, a bottle of wine (from a list, not the gross sparkling wine they give pretty much everyone), chocolate covered strawberries, a free bag of laundry, a little free internet time, and some discounts on photos/shore excursions/etc.

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Oceana will give you a two for one deal on your very first cruise!!  😁  

 

I actually like the free laundry perk we get on Celebrity.  Means I can cut how many golf shirts I pack by half!   

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52 minutes ago, ldubs said:

Oceana will give you a two for one deal on your very first cruise!!  😁  

 

I actually like the free laundry perk we get on Celebrity.  Means I can cut how many golf shirts I pack by half!   

Ok, I will give some deference to the Oceania fans since it is a decent cruise line that filled a wanting niche.  But as a cruise aficionado who thinks of himself as a student of the industry, I do have some issues with "O."  At one time they were impossible to deal with (for me) because of their insistence of packaging air with their cruises and giving awful credit to those who had no interest in their air.  But they did learn the error of their ways and no longer push that game.  But when one of their reps kept bugging me on the phone (that was OK since the man was very polite) I kept asking him why I should pay about $300 a passenger day for a basic balcony on an "R" ship.  Of course his answer was that "O" had good food and service.  But I pointed out to him that I could cruise on their competition for less than half of "O's" price and I did not think that O was going to give me $150 a day in better cuisine.   He did not have a good answer, although their newer vessels may have resolved that issue.  But now, we have Viking Ocean Cruises who is another interesting player in the industry and within 3 years we will have MSC's smaller ship Yacht Club ship offerings.  What fun.

 

We have an open mind on "O" and will likely cruise them in the near future.   But there is a lot of competition in the cruise industry and we have a lot of fun playing the field.

 

Hank 

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2 hours ago, Hlitner said:

Ok, I will give some deference to the Oceania fans since it is a decent cruise line that filled a wanting niche.  But as a cruise aficionado who thinks of himself as a student of the industry, I do have some issues with "O."  At one time they were impossible to deal with (for me) because of their insistence of packaging air with their cruises and giving awful credit to those who had no interest in their air.  But they did learn the error of their ways and no longer push that game.  But when one of their reps kept bugging me on the phone (that was OK since the man was very polite) I kept asking him why I should pay about $300 a passenger day for a basic balcony on an "R" ship.  Of course his answer was that "O" had good food and service.  But I pointed out to him that I could cruise on their competition for less than half of "O's" price and I did not think that O was going to give me $150 a day in better cuisine.   He did not have a good answer, although their newer vessels may have resolved that issue.  But now, we have Viking Ocean Cruises who is another interesting player in the industry and within 3 years we will have MSC's smaller ship Yacht Club ship offerings.  What fun.

 

We have an open mind on "O" and will likely cruise them in the near future.   But there is a lot of competition in the cruise industry and we have a lot of fun playing the field.

 

Hank 

 

I'm sure Oceania is very good.  I think I'm still pretty far from the point where I would give them a try.  I simply still get a lot of enjoyment out of the lines we currently use at a much lower cost.    

 

 Anyway, I was just making some fun of their bi-weekly mailings of the 2 for 1 deals.  Been getting those for about 5 years now (might be a little exaggerated).   

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10 hours ago, ldubs said:

 

I'm sure Oceania is very good.  I think I'm still pretty far from the point where I would give them a try.  I simply still get a lot of enjoyment out of the lines we currently use at a much lower cost.    

 

 Anyway, I was just making some fun of their bi-weekly mailings of the 2 for 1 deals.  Been getting those for about 5 years now (might be a little exaggerated).   

You can very easily stop the paper flow by opting out on the Oceania website.

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I agree with the posters that mentioned “you get what you pay for” which I assume means the benefits from the loyalty program are a direct correlation to what you pay for the cruises to start with.

 

And let me add another spin to all of this and say that once people achieve a certain status on a cruise line , I think it’s difficult for them to then jump to a different cruise line as they feel they’re giving up on something they’ve earned.

 

We are Platinum on Carnival and frankly there are 2 perks that stand out

a) priority boarding

b) free laundry 

 

Its probably dumb that we value these inexpensive things so highly but given Carnival’s value to book a cruise , we continue to stick with them .  Tell me I’m strange

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11 hours ago, ldubs said:

 

I'm sure Oceania is very good.  I think I'm still pretty far from the point where I would give them a try.  I simply still get a lot of enjoyment out of the lines we currently use at a much lower cost.    

 

 Anyway, I was just making some fun of their bi-weekly mailings of the 2 for 1 deals.  Been getting those for about 5 years now (might be a little exaggerated).   

You can very easily stop the paper flow by opting out on the Oceania website. 

 

In any case (with an average 70-75% of passengers on an Oceania cruise being repeat customers), what is it that keeps O regulars coming back? 

 

It is a unique balance of value and quality aimed primarily at experienced cosmopolitan travelers who are decorous and who have worked very hard for their money. And that is why so many of Oceania's itineraries fill within days of their first announcement (even when "wannabes" like "ship within a ship" lines may be charging less or, as is the case with Viking, charging more while self-promoting themselves as a "Premium" line - LOL)

 

If all that matters to a cruiser is the short-sightedness of cabin cost comparisons (instead of "net daily rate" value/quality), Oceania is NOT a good choice. And that is coming from someone (me) whose first words and mantra, as a kid growing up in Brooklyn, were "NEVER pay retail."

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19 minutes ago, Luckiestmanonearth said:

I agree with the posters that mentioned “you get what you pay for” which I assume means the benefits from the loyalty program are a direct correlation to what you pay for the cruises to start with.

 

And let me add another spin to all of this and say that once people achieve a certain status on a cruise line , I think it’s difficult for them to then jump to a different cruise line as they feel they’re giving up on something they’ve earned.

 

We are Platinum on Carnival and frankly there are 2 perks that stand out

a) priority boarding

b) free laundry 

 

Its probably dumb that we value these inexpensive things so highly but given Carnival’s value to book a cruise , we continue to stick with them .  Tell me I’m strange

Certainly not "strange"  nor "dumb." It's what works for you.

Personally, I more highly value what I consider to be perks offering substantial ROIs. 

For example, "doing the math" on an upcoming loyalty "complimentary" cruise on our preferred line found that the savings amounted to an overall 20% "retroactive discount" on the prior qualifying cruises. And that's on top of regular (every cruise) free gratuities, unlimited internet and SBC et al.

"To each his own."

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51 minutes ago, Flatbush Flyer said:

You can very easily stop the paper flow by opting out on the Oceania website. 

 

In any case (with an average 70-75% of passengers on an Oceania cruise being repeat customers), what is it that keeps O regulars coming back? 

 

It is a unique balance of value and quality aimed primarily at experienced cosmopolitan travelers who are decorous and who have worked very hard for their money. And that is why so many of Oceania's itineraries fill within days of their first announcement (even when "wannabes" like "ship within a ship" lines may be charging less or, as is the case with Viking, charging more while self-promoting themselves as a "Premium" line - LOL)

 

If all that matters to a cruiser is the short-sightedness of cabin cost comparisons (instead of "net daily rate" value/quality), Oceania is NOT a good choice. And that is coming from someone (me) whose first words and mantra, as a kid growing up in Brooklyn, were "NEVER pay retail."

 

Yes, I've run the apples to apples and it is not for me.  As I said, I'm sure Oceania is very good.  I'm glad you enjoy it.  

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Posted (edited)

Although I'll never sail on Oceania (maybe because of the elitist posts concerning the line), I've come to the conclusion that no loyalty program is worth sticking with one line.  A loyalty program is, in my mind, only a marketing tool used to make the consumer believe he is missing out on something if he books with a different line. 

 

My husband is very keen on making a particular level on a particular line.  I've learned to zip my lip and go on these cruises, then come here and complain about it.  :classic_cool:

Edited by fyree39

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2 hours ago, Flatbush Flyer said:

Certainly not "strange"  nor "dumb." It's what works for you.

Personally, I more highly value what I consider to be perks offering substantial ROIs. 

For example, "doing the math" on an upcoming loyalty "complimentary" cruise on our preferred line found that the savings amounted to an overall 20% "retroactive discount" on the prior qualifying cruises. And that's on top of regular (every cruise) free gratuities, unlimited internet and SBC et al.

"To each his own."

 

Considering it takes 20 credits to get to the level of a free cruise, and any cruise up to 24 days is 1 credit. I'm having a hard time picturing how a single cruise applied that much of a retroactive discount. That is quite the return. It's possible I'm missing something here. I would like to learn more, because that sounds like a good deal. 

 

In fact, since you keep pushing the idea that "doing the math" makes it such a no-brainer from a financial standpoint, maybe you should share some of the financials with us, if you are comfortable. Maybe we ARE seeing it wrong, and are paying a similar amount for less. From other perspectives, it is at least possible that you have still spent tremendously more amounts of money for things others don't see the same value in.

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To the OP...GenghisQuan,

Following your quest...genuinely interested because we once shared your quest.  You stated you are working professionals without kids (yet)...how much vacation do you get?  This was one of our limitations when we were much younger...we had very little time off. (The other was of course money).  In our younger years, we only cruised once a year. 

 

For years, we sailed on various cruiselines not knowing anything about loyalty programs. (Also wished we had known about Cruise Critic sooner...thanks to members here, we've made less mistakes.)

 

Our first introduction to loyalty perks was on Princess.  Our trivia mates asked if we drank alcohol and we said "yes".  They said they don't drink alcohol and gave us a dozen of those tiny alcohol bottles...and said "You can have them, we get them for being Elite."  We also found out you get free laundry.  We had no idea.

 

On second introduction was rather funny and I've posted it here...on Royal Caribbean, we were walking by a "Private Function", the redolent smell of garlic made me want to walk in...the lady at the door told me "This is a private function"...the next day, I was really curious to what was being served and tried again...the lady at the door said "This is a private function, may I see your card?"....embarrassed, I gave her my card...much to my surprise, the lady said "Oh! you're Diamond, welcome back, come on in".............we had no idea what being Diamond was before that.

 

Our quest for loyalty perks happened by accident and only discovered it by cruising on various lines. (We used to love Renaissance cruise lines until it went out of business...so like cruisemom42 said, be careful who you cruise with).  Our favorites perks (and the list of loyalty perks are more than this of course): With Princess, it's the unlimited free laundry, the free bar set-up, limited free internet, and onboard credit for being a military vet.  With Royal Caribbean, the free bag of laundry, the nightly drinks, 2 days free internet, free photos, and priority embarkation/disembarkation.  For Celebrity (we just got off the Solstice yesterday), it's the free laundry, nightly drinks, and bellinis/mimosas with breakfast...................makes us sound like alcoholics. 😊

I hope this helps you in some way.....we will follow this thread and hope to learn more.  Thank you.

 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Joebucks said:

 

Considering it takes 20 credits to get to the level of a free cruise, and any cruise up to 24 days is 1 credit. I'm having a hard time picturing how a single cruise applied that much of a retroactive discount. That is quite the return. It's possible I'm missing something here. I would like to learn more, because that sounds like a good deal. 

 

In fact, since you keep pushing the idea that "doing the math" makes it such a no-brainer from a financial standpoint, maybe you should share some of the financials with us, if you are comfortable. Maybe we ARE seeing it wrong, and are paying a similar amount for less. From other perspectives, it is at least possible that you have still spent tremendously more amounts of money for things others don't see the same value in.

There are numerous 7 day Oceania cruises to the Caribbean, Alaska et al. A balcony cabin for two on those cruises generally costs under $5000. Even some longer cruises (some with book onboard discounts or TA rebates) can be had at $2500/person. 

 

 Twenty such cruises, netting 20 cruise credits, equals under $100k expense.

 

Free cruise is 14 days ANYWHERE including air.

Check out the 14 day balcony cabin Australia/New Zealand, January 2021: with included air = $20,000 value for the cabin. The last time I took a math class, that works out to 20% of the cost of the qualifying cruises.

 

As for the "net daily rate" comparisons, I (and others) have posted "real dollar" examples here on CC several times. One guy even demonstrated that the right "fly in" intercontinental O cruise was cheaper than RCI for the same required and desired expenses. It may be worth your while to search for them.

 

But, let's get you started with some guidance

Some of the best of the Oceania deals (in terms of lowering net cost on O) involves doing what O refers to as "custom" B2B onboard bookings to intercontinental destinations where significant multi-City air comes into play.  This method gets you approx 5% off for "book onboard" and another 5% off for the "custom" B2B. With either air tix or air credit for the intercontinental flights, you're looking at another $1500+\- per person savings there.

 

Shop that "book onboard" deal around for transfer to an Oceania Connoisseurs Club TA and you'll net another 5-10% of commissionable fare in rebate check or refundable SBC. Some of these TA's (especially those belonging to one or two specific consortiums) will also include gratuities. Alternatively, you could get on the "quiet sale" list of these TAs and get select "close in" sailings with cabin availability (e.g., Caribbean) for up to 15% off.

 

AND, I haven't even mentioned the inclusions of unlimited internet/beverages/specialty restaurants OR the qualitative measures of superior food, service, amenities OR the exclusions of thundering herds, amusement parks, smoky casinos, prom nites, etc.

 

NOR have I included the O Life perks of booze, tours or SBC.

 

If you know any of the many many Celebrity cruisers (for example) who have done the math, jumped ship to O and never looked back they can help you figure it out.

 

Edited by Flatbush Flyer

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A couple of things that must be pointed out with the Oceania comparisons:

 

1. It is not accurate to say that airfare is included. More that you can pay a certain amount above the base cruise-only fare, and this will include airfare. It is not readily apparent what additional terms and conditions there might be on the flight. However it is also not always the case that this is actually cheaper than booking a flight on your own. The cruises to Alaska or around the Mediterannean, for example, at best reach parity with what you can get by flying on your own.

 

2. OLife - please explain a bit more regarding what this actually is, as the language on the Oceania site suggests this is a promo (albeit one that seems to be frequently running). Is this always available? Only on certain cruises? Do you need to specifically go through an agent to get it? Also, it is important to note this is for the entire cabin, so in order to compare apples to apples we must halve the value of this when comparing prices on a per passenger basis.
    2a. Booze package savings - this one is limited to House Select, which is only champagne, wine, and beer with lunch and dinner, so no evening whiskey neats, nor afternoon cocktails. Also, the actual value of this should be the amount you normally drink per day times the number of days, rather than the straight-up cost of the beverage package. Plus, the other person in the cabin also has to pick this one, which makes it not worth it in cases where I can comfortable pull 4-5 drinks on a good day while my SO is squarely at 1-2.
    2b. Free tours - many tours are excluded. If you are in Juneau, you cannot use this to redeem for any of the whale watching or dog sledding tours (https://www.oceaniacruises.com/Alaska-cruises/seattle-to-vancouver-REG190619/). The Caribbean ones are a bit more worth it (https://www.oceaniacruises.com/Caribbean-cruises/miami-to-miami-RVA191125/?sr=%2Fspecial-offers%2Folife-choice%2F), although there's still some that will be excluded as well.
    2c. Straight-up shipboard credit - several hundred dollars (am seeing 400 for a 7-day, 600 for a 10-day, and 1400 for a 31-day), but again you must half this amount if you are using per passenger comparisons, and it knocks off about 20-30 per customer per day.
    
3. How much OBC do they actually give you at each level?

 

4. Free gratuities knock 16/person/day off of the extra spend. You get this at Silver, which is...10 cruise credits (is the impression I get from Flatbush's first post, as I can't actually find the number thresholds on O's website). However, this is also often available as a benefit from various third party sites, and also sometimes from the cruise line itself as a promo.

 

5. How frequently do you get your free cruise? Once per year? After you redeem, what must you do to get your next cruise?

 

6. The "qualitative" measures are...questionable. Superior food? Lobster every night is a nice-to-have, not a must have; both the missus and I have had our share of cuisine, yet a lobster night for one week is sufficient for us, we've never felt the need to visit any of the specialty restaurants, and there's little additional utils to be derived from a couple hundred per person just to enjoy this alone. Internet? I go on cruises to unplug, and the ports will have wifi if I actually do need to post some social media or if I need my daily dose of memes. Meanwhile, there is much to be said in favor of the "amusement park", especially for couples who do not currently have children but plan on doing so.

 

I mean, let's compare https://www.oceaniacruises.com/Caribbean-cruises/miami-to-miami-RVA191125/:

The airfare is roughly +750/guest, while flights to Miami are much less (about 450 from CA, much less if you're flying out of closer places like Houston or Des Moines).

 

Which O-Life perk you choose...kind of depends on what you want to do. Let's peg it at $150/excursion, since that appears to be the higher end of non-Select excursions. Times 6 excursions, that is a savings of 900, better than the other two, but on a per passenger basis that's 450 worth of savings.

 

Assuming you book a guaranteed inside, you're still paying a base fare of 1800/person, it's just that you've saved 450 worth of shore excursions per person (I'm assuming both you and your SO will be wanting to do the same thing together). Being that there's 6 actual exotic ports (who cares about Key West, amirite?), there's still 3 ports that you'll have to pay yourself, so using previous rate of 150/excursion, +450

 

Total of 2250/person.

 

Now, let's grab any number of these: https://cs.*****/cs/forms/CruiseResultPage.aspx?skin=1&phone=888-333-3116&pin=&did=1&len=9|15&nr=y&sort=6&mon=11%2F1%2F2020&vid=566%2C568%2C613%2C712%2C636%2C638&dt=11%2F30%2F2020&pg=1

 

That Royal Caribbean one that's also 10 days and leaves out of Ft. Lauderdale sounds perfect for comprison.

750/person to start for that same guaranteed inside cabin. You'll be paying your own excursions though, so +900 = 1650.

 

Our actual difference is 2250 - 1650 = 600, so an extra 60/day. Not as bad as the 100/day, but still not a number that comes after the word "only" (I would consider 10-20 per day to fall under the "only" category, and the longer the cruise the closer that number goes to 10).

 

We might also consider the Celebrity Reflection, 940 + 900 = 1840, still an extra 40/day. A bit closer, but still not "only". This one currently has a promotion for free gratuities, which further drags the distance.

 

This trip leaves you 1/20 of the way to O Platinum and 1/10 of the way to Silver. A comparable trip on RCI leaves you 1/70 of the way to Pinnacle, but 1/3 to Platinum (priority departure lounge) and 1/8 to Diamond. Pretty far from Celebrity Zenith, but 1/15 of the way to Elite (priority tender, free bag of laundry).

 

Finally, it is also important to consider that the dollar amount of perks and benefits do not offset the costs you spent to earn that benefit.

 

If it cost you 100K to reach O Platinum, that you got a free cruise valued at 20K does not mean you spent 80K on 20 cruises and got a cruise for free, it means that you spent 100K for 21 cruises. This average drops the more free cruises you take, of course, thus the million dollar question in this regard is how frequently are you allowed to use this benefit?

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On 5/18/2019 at 11:38 AM, bonsai3s said:

To the OP...GenghisQuan,

Following your quest...genuinely interested because we once shared your quest.  You stated you are working professionals without kids (yet)...how much vacation do you get?  This was one of our limitations when we were much younger...we had very little time off. (The other was of course money).  In our younger years, we only cruised once a year.

...

I hope this helps you in some way.....we will follow this thread and hope to learn more.  Thank you.

 

I get 10, she gets 20, so total of 10 XD.

 

To a point, the easiest way of getting some kind of status (starting from 0) is probably getting the Hilton card that gives you Hilton Diamond, then status matching it with MSC, last I heard it was matching to Gold. Gets you a fruit basket, a 1 hour session in the thermal area, free photo, priority tendering, and some other minor stuff. Not much, but probably the one with the least investment involved.

 

Various other card-based ones (Marriott Gold and IHG Platinum, for example) were matching to Silver, I think.

 

There is of course no real purpose in taking cruises (or doing anything) specifically to earn status. For those of us who aren't traveling consultants, all these perks do is add a bit of icing on the delicious vacation cake.

 

With that in mind, the somewhat derided mass market lines like Carnival and Royal actually do have a pretty good structure in the sense that rewards are relatively flat, and just the returning status gets you a little something even if it's something like a $2 bottle of water, and for both it's 75/80 days to a pretty good status.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, GenghisQuan said:

 

...1. It is not accurate to say that airfare is included....

Oceania fares have always included air/air credit. "Cruise only" fares are a recent addition.

 

2. OLife - please explain a bit more....

ongoing promo for past several years with no end in sight.


    2a. Booze package savings - this one is limited to House Select, which is only champagne, wine, and beer with lunch and dinner, so no evening whiskey neats, nor afternoon cocktails. ......

For $20 pp more per day, it becomes unlimited prestige package incl. tips.


    2b. Free tours - many tours are excluded. 

...as is the case with all premium/luxury lines.


    2c. Straight-up shipboard credit 
 Take this if booze or tours don't work for you


3. How much OBC do they actually give you at each level?

Varies (minimum of $250)

 

4. Free gratuities ....this is also often available as a benefit from various third party sites...

In that case, O gives you "in lieu" SBC $ too

 

5. How frequently do you get your free cruise?

Every 20 cruise credits

 

6.  Superior food?

Ask food critics everywhere (in and beyond the cruise industry). Your "Lobster night" is not the same as Aragosta Fra Diavolo.

 

Internet?

Don't want it- don't use it.

 

there is much to be said in favor of the "amusement park"

Perhaps if it's Disneyland (the real one in Anaheim).

 

If it cost you 100K to reach O Platinum, that you got a free cruise valued at 20K does not mean you spent 80K on 20 cruises and got a cruise for free, it means that you spent 100K for 21 cruises. 

You've got some fuzzy math there. Bottom line is that no one is making you take the free cruise after every 20 credits earned.

 

BTW, your comparison with RCI and Celebrity is useless. Whether it's Oceania or any other premium/luxury line, we're talking about worlds apart in food, service, amenities, etc.

 

 

Edited by Flatbush Flyer

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