From a recent reader email:
Hi MJ:
Thank you very much for writing me back. I am a blog subscriber and I want to first thank you for all the information your blog provides folks like me. I am writing you because you seem to be the only one who writes about cruises. Thus, I am hopeful that you can assist me with my cruise-related question. Please feel free to blog your response to my question.
FACTS:
My wife and I live in Southern California. We plan on taking an 11-day cruise to Scandinavia in the Spring of 2014 via Princess Cruises. I have not booked the cruise yet. I likely will not book the cruise until next year. I noticed that Princess Cruises gives status and a discount to former Princess cruisers/customers. Neither my wife nor I have ever cruised before. Thus, we do not have status with Princess Cruises and we are not currently eligible for any discounts.
QUESTION:
Should one or both of us take a really short/cheap cruise with Princess Cruises off the coast of CA to get status and thus, a discount on our 11-day cruise to Scandinavia?
MJ Responds:
Hi XXXX. Thanks very much for your email. I appreciate hearing from you. I took a quick look at some of the short cruises on Princess from the west coast. Honestly, I would probably try a short cruise if you have the time, but not because of the discounts. Your 11 night Scandinavian cruise sounds absolutely phenomenal!!! I want to go! 🙂 Here’s the thing…. if you’ve never cruised before, I think it’s a good idea to try a short cruise first. It will let you get your feet wet, sample a bit of what cruising has to offer, and best of all…. if for some reason you find that cruising isn’t necessarily for you or you have motion sickness issues you can either not book another cruise or make preparations to deal with motion issues in advance of your longer cruise. Now, these big ships don’t move around that much, but for the motion sensitive, it can be an issue.

I’m betting you’ll like your first cruise, and with that, you’ll be looking even more forward to your 11-night adventure. As I read the discount rules, it doesn’t appear to me that you’ll be able to receive a discount on your cruise unless you book by August 31, 2013. You can look at the chart here. So unfortunately, unless I’m missing something, I don’t think you’ll be able to take advantage of an early booking discount for your Spring 2014 cruise. If you aren’t worried at all about whether you’ll like cruising, and are certain you won’t have motion issues, then I’m not sure it’s worth taking short cruise just to get the Gold status prior to your Spring 2014 cruise unless the other benefits that come with it are appealing to you. I hope this is helpful, and I appreciate your offer to blog about your email. I will do that as I expect others have had the same question. Of course, I won’t include any names. Feel free to write back if you have other questions.
So, what do you think of my advice? I’m especially interested in hearing from other Princess cruisers. I don’t think I’m misinterpreting the discounts offered to gold status cruisers, but want to hear from you if you think I’m wrong.

-MJ, September 2, 2013