Cruising with MJ – Elite Status with Holland America
When I think of Holland America, I think of refined tastes, stately service, and a crowd that is a little less active than me. Having never cruised on Holland America, I won’t judge. I’ve heard very nice things about the line, so I will save my thoughts until I sail with Holland America. I can certainly look at the finer points of their loyalty program, Mariner Society ….and I like what I see.
While I tend to prefer fewer rather than more status levels, multiple levels are a trend in cruising and as a Mariner Society member there are five levels. As is the case with most lines, you can join the program after your first cruise when you receive Star Mariner status, and begin climbing the status ladder. Status is awarded based on cruise day credits (one day of cruising = one credit) with opportunities to earn bonus credits for suite category staterooms.
Every status level, including Star Mariner, receives a Welcome Back embarkation lunch in the main dining room as well as a Mariner Champagne brunch during your cruise. I like the welcome back lunch benefit for a lot of reasons, primarily because the buffet on any cruise can be quite the special experience on embarkation day. I avoid it if at all possible. The remaining benefits are pretty standard, “collectible gifts” meaning swag, and special offers on future cruises. Once you collect 30 cruise day credits, you are elevated to 2-Star Mariner and receive a few additional benefits including, discounts, a ship photo, and the holy grail of cruising, the lapel pin. I’ve never worn mine, but to each their own.
Once you collect 75 cruise day credits, you are promoted to 3-Star Mariner, and the benefits become a bit more respectable. Discounts on wine packages, specialty restaurant charges, and even mini-bar charges are included. You also receive advance notice of new itineraries and a waiver of air deviation fees (the fee they charge if you book cruise line air and “deviate” from the standard offer like..let’s say you want to fly into port a few days early rather than day of).
At 200 cruise day credits, you will be elevated to 4-Star Mariner which includes pretty decent benefits in my opinion. You will receive priority check-in, priority disembarkation, priority tender service, and complimentary laundry and pressing. You also receive the same discounts I mentioned for 3-Star Mariners, but at 50 percent as opposed to 25 percent. A complimentary wine tasting is also included. MJ likes free wine.
If you are fortunate enough to earn 500 cruise day credits, you hit the top tier of the Mariner Society, 5-Star Mariner, and receive a respectable list of benefits in addition to the other status levels. You will receive two complimentary dinners in the Pinnacle Grill, a specialty restaurant, a complimentary subscription to Travel & Leisure or Food & Wine magazines, and wait for it….another lapel pin. Yes! Seriously, here’s a shot of every benefit of 5-Star Mariner status, and I think it’s decent.
If anything is lacking with Mariner Society, I would say it is weak on internet benefits, with only 5-Star Mariner status offering something in that regard. Granted, the point of cruising in my mind is to get away from it all, so that may not matter to most cruisers as much as it does to this sailing blogger.
In summary, Holland America Line has a reputation for outstanding service and great dining. The line offers a respectable loyalty program with benefits that make your cruising experience better and honor your loyalty to the line.
Up next, Celebrity’s Captains Club.
-MJ, June 6, 2013