I spend a lot of time talking about Disney Cruise Line and my deep abiding love for it. Disney, like all major cruise lines, has a loyalty program for repeat guests called the Castaway Club. These programs are all somewhat similar, but they all are different as well. So, let’s compare! There are lots of cruise lines out there, but I’ll stick to five of the biggest players in the American market like Disney, Royal Caribbean, Holland America, Norwegian and Carnival. And, here are 10 things you may be wondering about these cruise lines’ loyalty programs.
1. What Are The Loyalty Programs Called? – Perhaps not surprisingly, every cruise line takes great pride in their loyalty program and calls it something different. Repeat guests on Disney Cruise Line for example, are called Castaway Club Members. On Royal Caribbean it’s the Crown and Anchor Society. On Holland America they are members of the Mariner Society, and on Norwegian it’s called Latitudes Rewards. Carnival calls it their VIFP program. Otherwise known as a Very Important Fun Person. See what they did there? Who doesn’t want to be a very important fun person?
2. How Do I Become A Member? – The standard way is by sailing. With Disney you are automatically registered after your first sailing. Disney will send you a card with your membership number on it after your first sailing (but don’t worry if it doesn’t come in the mail, you can call and get the number). After you have sailed Royal Caribbean, just take your sailing date and ship name and register online. You can also register while onboard your first cruise with Royal Caribbean. On Carnival you can actually register before you ever step foot on a ship and take advantage of some discounts for members. With Holland America, you are automatically enrolled after the first time you sail with Holland America, but you will also be enrolled when you make your first booking if you’ve previously sailed on a line that they have a relationship with – Princess, Cunard, Seabourn, Carnival or Costa. Finally, Norwegian will let you register with Latitudes as soon as you have made a booking, but you will not receive any membership benefits until you have completed your first sailing.
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Disney Cruise Line has a membership rewards program called the Castaway Club which, depending on your needs, may have an impact on your cruise experience.
Sailings on any of the Disney cruise ships count toward your Castaway Club status.
What exactly is the Castaway Club?
This is a method Disney uses to reward repeat cruisers. It works somewhat along the lines of a frequent flyer program in that the more you use the service (Disney cruising), the better your “status” and the more perks you get.
What are the status levels?
- If you’ve never taken a Disney cruise before, you are a First Time Guest.
- Guests who have completed 1 to 4 Disney cruises have Silver Castaway Club status.
- Guests who have completed 5 to 9 Disney cruises have Gold Castaway Club status.
- Guests who have completed 10 or more Disney cruises have Platinum Castaway Club status.
There may be some rare occasions, such as a Disney cast member cruising on business (tough life, eh?), where a voyage might not count toward your Castaway Club status, but the vast majority guests will be able to count all their Disney cruising toward their status level.
So what does having status mean?
There are a number of benefits available to all Castaway Club members, including “Welcome Back” stateroom gifts, and priority check-in at the port terminal. As your Castaway Club membership level increases, the benefits increase. For many guests, one of the chief benefits of Castaway Club membership is that the higher your status level, the earlier access you have to reservations for many aspects of your cruise including port excursions, on-board dining at the adults-only Palo and Remy, spa experiences, and some childcare situations.
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