Cruise Loyalty Programs: Too Good to be True?
Cruise Loyalty Programs: Too Good to be True?

The gradual decline in airline loyalty benefits are a common complaint among frequent flyers.

But it seems one industry still offers serious sweeteners to anyone smart enough to sign up for the loyalty program. Repeat users are offered free upgrades, free meals, booking discounts, VIP parties… the list goes on! What’s more, all of this is offered to the member’s entire family for life! In fact, one AFF member believes the perks on offer are so generous that these loyalty programs are not sustainable.

Sadly, it’s not the airline industry offering all these generous benefits… rather, the cruise industry. Almost every major cruise line offers a loyalty program, and they’re extremely competitive. The benefits on offer can literally add up to thousands of dollars in savings.

If you enjoy cruising, our members’ advice is to sign up for your preferred cruise line’s loyalty program now while the perks are so generous. It’s unlikely that the current programs are sustainable, so get in early before the goal posts are moved!

In 2015, Delta Airlines made it significantly harder to achieve elite status. (The other US airlines soon followed.) Delta’s justification at the time was that “when everyone’s an elite flyer, no one is”. There’s a valid point here that can be applied to cruise loyalty programs. Currently, lifetime status is arguably too easy to achieve, and the costs involved in providing the benefits are enormous. What’s more, the value of the status is diluted if more than half of the ship’s passengers receive benefits such as priority boarding lounge access. So, our members believe it’s only a matter of time before things change for the worse.

If airlines want to improve the experience for their elite frequent flyers, perhaps they could take some lessons from the cruise industry. Then again, it might send them out of business…

Join the discussion HERE.

(P.S. If you’re interested in cruises, check out our “All About Cruises” forum!)

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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]