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I Have Sailed on 5 Cruise Lines—These Cruise Loyalty Programs Have the Best Savings and Perks


It certainly pays to be loyal to a specific cruise line, as the more you sail, the better perks that you'll get. However, not all loyalty programs are designed the same way. 

Since I began cruising in the early 2000s, I've been on over a dozen sailings on five different lines, including MSC Cruises, Disney Cruise Line, and Royal Caribbean, and I've learned that I prefer certain lines over others due to the benefits of their programs. 

From complimentary drinks to free photographs and even cabin discounts, I love saving money on vacation because of my loyalty status. Here's a list of my favorite programs that have the best savings and perks based on my personal experiences.  

Read more: How to move up the cruise line loyalty program ranks faster

Royal Caribbean

Allure aft

Royal Caribbean has been my preferred line for years. Since reaching Diamond status, I've found myself gravitating towards booking more and more sailings with them because I'm able to get four complimentary drinks per day, as well as a free photograph, discounted laundry, and more. 

While I'm still many, many, many cruises away from Pinnacle Club status, I love that Royal really rewards their top-tier cruisers. They get six daily drinks, a free cruise, complimentary internet, and more. Parents are also able to share their status with their children up until their 18th birthday, meaning that if you're Diamond, they'll be able to get things like four complimentary non-alcoholic beverages and arcade credits. 

There's a reason that so many people are "Loyal to Royal!"

Read more: What You Need to Know About Royal Caribbean Crown and Anchor Society Status Levels (2024)

Celebrity Cruises

Apex in Malta

Since Celebrity and Royal Caribbean are both owned by Royal Caribbean Group, you're able to match your status from one line to the other. Since I'm a Diamond Crown & Anchor member, I was able to become an Elite Captain's Club cruiser before ever stepping onboard a ship! 

Onboard my Celebrity Ascent cruise, I took advantage of a complimentary happy hour, a welcome back event, and bottled wine discounts. A few benefits I didn't utilize on my first sailing were the free bag of laundry and morning coffee hour. 

Like Royal, those who reach the highest tier are awarded a complimentary 7-night Caribbean or Bermuda cruise, as well as unlimited premium Wi-Fi and drink packages. Note that the highest tier you can status match into is Elite. If you want to become an Elite Plus or Zenith cruiser, you'll have to sail with Celebrity. Similarly, you can't match your Celebrity status to Royal Caribbean's Pinnacle Club.

MSC Cruises


Like Celebrity, MSC has a status-matching program; however, theirs is more extensive. If you hold status with certain airlines or hotels, you'll be able to match into their Voyagers Club. When I cruised on MSC Seashore, I was able to enjoy a free hour in the thermal spa, as well as attend a welcome back event that had complimentary drinks and light snacks. 

Diamond members get a free specialty dinner, priority boarding, a free dance class, and more. While you won't get a free cruise, the free specialty dinner in and of itself is a nice perk, as you're able to bring a guest for no extra charge. Plus, if you're able to status match, you'll be able to take advantage of tons of perks on your first sailing, which is beneficial to see whether you'll like the experience enough to stay permanently loyal. 

Perhaps the thing I dislike the most about MSC's Voyagers Club is that status isn't for life. If, for instance, you reach Royal Caribbean's Pinnacle Club, you'll retain that status even if you don't cruise for another decade. MSC Voyagers Club members must cruise at least once every three years for their membership status to remain valid. 

Read more: MSC Voyagers Club - What you need to know about MSC’s loyalty program

Carnival Cruise Line


To reach the highest tier of Carnival's VIFP program, you only have to accumulate 200 cruise points. In comparison, being a Pinnacle Club cruise requires 700. While their program doesn't include as many incentives as other lines, it's pretty easy to ascend the ranks. 

The perks don't kick in until you've reached the Gold tier (i.e., 25 cruise points). At this level, you'll get a complimentary drink on sailings that are 5+ nights. When you achieve Platinum status, you'll get perks that are akin to what suite guests receive, including priority check-in and boarding on embarkation day, as well as priority reservations in the Main Dining Room and specialty restaurants.

I do dislike how Carnival's Sail & Sign cards are colored according to your rank. For instance, if you're on your first-ever cruise, your card will be blue, whereas those who have 25 cruise points will have a gold one. When I was on my first Carnival cruise, I felt a little out of place, as I didn't see too many other sailors with a blue card.  

Disney Cruise Line

DCL Fantasy

Out of all the cruise lines I have sailed with, I find Disney's Castaway Club to be the least rewarding. Most cruise lines give you points based on the length of your sailing. If, for instance, you take a 7-night Carnival cruise, you'll get 7 VIFP points. Disney's loyalty program doesn't operate the same way, as you earn a single per cruise, regardless of the length of the sailing. 

The primary perks include the ability to book cruise activities and excursions in advance, as well as check in before other passengers to receive better boarding times. Platinum cruisers get a complimentary dinner at Palo; however, this doesn't benefit children. 

Those who reach the highest tier of the Crown & Anchor Society are rewarded with a free cruise, six daily beverages, free Wi-Fi, and more. Pearl Castaway Club members shouldn't expect the same kind of rewards. Upon reaching the highest tier, the only new benefits are a complimentary photo package, as well as a plaque in your honor at Castaway Cay

Honorable mention: Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Viva

While I haven't sailed with Norwegian yet, they have a more comprehensive program than lines like Disney and Carnival. 

For instance, upon reaching the fourth tier in their Latitudes Rewards program (which requires 75 cruise points), you'll receive a complimentary bag of laundry, as well as a free dinner for two at Cagney's or Le Bistro. You'll also have access to their concierge service for help with reservations for specialty dining, shore excursions, and onboard shows, as well as a 45% discount on their Unlimited Open Bar Drink Package

If you reach Ambassador (the highest level possible), you will be rewarded with a free cruise, similar to Royal Caribbean's Crown & Anchor Program, as well as Celebrity's Captain's Club. 

How do you sign up for cruise loyalty programs?


You're able to join loyalty programs in advance by signing up on their respective website. However, you can usually visit a loyalty deck once onboard, too. Even if you join before your first sailing, you often won't be part of the actual program until after you return.

For instance, you're able to join Royal Caribbean's Crown & Anchor Society prior to your cruise; however, you won't be a Gold member until the cruise points from the sailing post to your account. 

Moreover, some cruise lines do have age restrictions. Norwegian's Latitudes Rewards, for example, doesn't let individuals join until they're 18. Upon their 18th birthday, however, they do get credit for all previous sailings; they just cannot take advantage of any benefits until they are 18. 

Each cruise line rewards points differently. Disney, for instance, only gives one point per cruise, whereas Royal Caribbean rewards guests with one point per night. If you're staying in a suite, you'll actually receive two per night! Similarly, Carnival cruisers earn a single point per night; however, there's no benefit (in regard to loyalty status) for booking a suite. 

Unlike hotel rewards, you cannot covert your cruise points to other things, like airline miles


Regardless of which line you decide to commit to, you won't be able to convert your cruise points to airline miles, hotel points, or other travel-related experiences. 

Moreover, you won't be able to redeem cruise points for things like free cruises, Wi-Fi discounts, etc. The points are simply a way to keep track of your loyalty status. 

Of course, with the exception of MSC, you won't have to worry about retaining your status each year. I'm currently Gold with American Airlines, and I'm already thinking about how I can meet the threshold for the next qualification year; I'm thankful I don't have to worry about renewing my Crown & Anchor Diamond status. 

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