It’s not lost on me that the majority of people that drop by BoardingArea are frequent flyers and airline miles/hotel points hobbyists. That said, I know there are frequent floaters among us too! I’ve explored the biggest cruise line loyalty programs in this space before, and it’s time for an updated look. As I noted then, cruise line loyalty programs are mainly perk-based with the level of attention and perks you receive rising with your number of cruises or days at sea. Our new series will include a greater focus on the points side of cruising. Yes, most cruise lines have some sort of credit card based “points” program that is separate from their “loyalty” program. Historically, the cruise points programs have not been great deals, and for the most part, that’s still true.
The loyalty landscape is always changing, and the evolving revenue-based picture on the airline side is very likely to impact the individual value of being loyal. I never thought I’d say this, but it’s entirely possible that the value of cruise points programs could rise to a point of being at least worth thinking about depending on your personal situation as airline loyalty programs become less valuable to many.
What Drives Cruise Line Loyalty?
Loyalty to a particular cruise line is not that different than being loyal to your favorite airline. Product, places, and people. If a particular line offers the kind of amenities you are looking for (onboard accommodations, activities, loyalty perks, etc), sails itineraries that interest you from ports that are easily accessible, and employs people that provide what you perceive to be great service, you’ll find it easy to be loyal to that particular line. I would even add a second component to the “people” equation – the people on board. Different lines tend to attract different groups of customers. Young and actives might gravitate more towards Carnival, NCL, or Royal Caribbean, while 40-somethings and up might prefer Celebrity or Princess. The beauty of cruising is that you can make it what you want, and there are no hard and fast rules on age groups, activity levels, etc. The level of onboard perks and attention you receive can be a big driver of loyalty to a particular line. In my own cruising life, I find myself frequently saying “but if we sail so and so, we get such and such” whenever I think about straying. It’s an evil game. 🙂 What isn’t a big driver, to many, is the idea of amassing points for free cruises…..but that could be changing.
What’s the Deal?
In our cruise line loyalty series, we’ll explore in detail, the “points” programs of the various cruise lines. We’ll also look at the bank programs, Arrival Miles, Membership Rewards, Ultimate Rewards, WorldPoints, and cash back. We’ll start this week with the biggest cruise company, Carnival Corporation, and go from there.
-MJ, September 14, 2014