Cruising with MJ – Elite Status with Disney
Castaway Club is Disney Cruise Line’s loyalty program. Like most of the cruise line programs, you can join after your first cruise with Disney. We actually have our first Disney cruise booked for next March, and are very excited to enjoy the Disney cruise experience for ourselves. Unfortunately, since we have yet to take that first cruise, we are not members of Castaway Club and I had to piece together information I could find online into a review of their elite program.
Disney’s elite levels are divided into three categories. You obtain Silver after 1 cruise, Gold after 5 cruises, and Platinum after 10 cruises. Disney will automatically enroll you in the program after your first cruise. The perks that come with each level get progressively better the more you cruise. There are the basics such as a dedicated reservations line and priority boarding. You also get priority booking access for shore excursions. For example, as a Disney newbie, I cannot book any cruise line shore excursions until 75 days prior to departure. Past guests, however, can book at progressively earlier times based on their elite status with Platinums able to book at 120 days prior to sailing, 105 days for Gold, and 90 days for Silver. These same advance booking guidelines apply to specialty restaurants and the spa as well.
Additionally, there’s the usual welcome back gift (aka swag) with all levels. At the Gold and Platinum levels you get an invite to a cocktail party onboard, and Platinum members receive a complimentary dining at Palo, a highly regarded, adults-only specialty restaurant featured on all 4 Disney ships. In my research, I found a very nice summary chart of Castaway Club elite benefits on DIS. You can access Disney’s public website page for the Castaway Club here.
In summary, Disney’s Castaway Club offers standard benefits for repeat cruisers with perks that improve the more you sail. The jump in benefits is especially notable when advancing from Silver to Gold status. I’m sure internet access is more important to a blogger than your average cruiser, but the absence of an internet credit for elite cruisers is a drawback of the program. Disney has an excellent reputation for delivering a wonderful cruising experience. Keep an eye out for my DINKS Cruise Disney posts as our Disney Fantasy sailing approaches in March 2014.