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Edwina reviews cruise line loyalty schemes

Cruise Advice

Every cruise line has its own past guest programme, with extras and benefits to thank you for returning to the fold. For some, this is a highly motivating scheme, ensuring they stay with a particular cruise line rather than straying. For others, it's a nice bonus, and accepted as a 'thank you'. Sometimes, the scheme is run in such a way that it works completely counter to its intention, and sends you straight into the arms of a competitor. With the announcement of a new scheme from Seabourn, we thought we would look at how the programmes stack up.

Seabourn has announced a major expansion of the benefits it offers to returning guests. From their first cruise, they are enrolled in the Seabourn Club and start working towards the milestone of 140 days, when a complimentary cruise is awarded. Now, new benefits start to reward guests immediately after their first cruise, and increase in value as they sail more.

In creating the scheme, Seabourn polled their guests and hotel staff on board, and reviewed other programmes. As a result, they decided to add one more element - that of choice, enabling client to choose the reward they prefer from a menu onboard amenities. Seabourn Club points are awarded for each day sailed, with double points for penthouse accommodation, and additional points for Seabourn journeys and on board spend (the only luxury cruise line that recognises on board spend).

The menu of benefits ranges from free hours of internet or telephone usage, savings on specific on-board purchases, free laundry and so forth. And all this runs alongside that longterm offer of a free 7 day cruise after 140 days, or a free 14 day cruise after 250 days.

Crystal's Crystal Society offers past guest savings on every new cruise booked, with key milestone benefits every five cruises, which include free upgrades, on board credits, and free cruises at specific levels (at 20, 50 and 70 cruises). After 100 cruises, guests enjoy a free cruise in 1345 square foot Crystal Penthouse.

Regent Seven Seas' Seven Seas Society starts at Bronze Level, rising through Silver, Gold and Platinum to Titanium. Key to many is complimentary internet access after just 20 days, and rising hours of free phone calls. Platinum guests (200+ days) get complimentary laundry, with dry cleaning thrown in after 400 days.

Silversea's Venetian Society is particularly attractive to loyal guests with the coveted free laundry at just 100 days, and VS bonus reductions of 5%, or 10% after 250 days, and a complimentary cruise after 350 days (7 days free) or 500 days (14 days free).

Each scheme is sufficiently different to make like with like comparisons extremely tricky, and in truth, a discerning guest travelling at this level would never return to a company unless they were completely happy with the levels of service and attention to detail. Nothing is quite as pleasing as the personal recognition of on-board staff welcoming you back on board, and small gestures of recognition (an invitation or special arrangement that someone has thought about, rather than something issued as a standard requirement) carry far more weight than any programme.

Edwina Lonsdale
Meet the author

Edwina Lonsdale is Managing Director and, together with husband Matthew, owner of Mundy Cruising.

More about Edwina

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