Can a Silly Pin Make You Loyal to a Cruise Line?

June 13, 2012 | By | 9 Comments

Loyalty programs have been much discussed on the Cruise Critic boards over the past year. With Royal Caribbean having changed its loyalty program last year and Carnival just changing its program this week, there’s been lots of back and forth about the merits of various programs.
For my part, I’ve never much cared about the perks I get from a loyalty program. Maybe that’s because I’ve generally associated loyalty programs with airlines and hotels, and despite working in the travel industry, I’ve never actually flown enough or had enough control over which hotels I stay in to really rack up enough points to get the “real” perks. The same has been true of cruising…until recently.

For my birthday I and eight others sailed aboard Norwegian Gem. It was my third cruise with Norwegian over the past four or five years. I knew I had a past passenger number because you get one automatically after your first cruise, but beyond that I had never paid attention to the loyalty program.
Even standing on line to embark and realizing we were on a semi-priority line because I had bronze status, I didn’t really care about loyalty perks. And then they gave me my pin. That stupid little pin that so many people, including me, have dismissed as silly.
It says Norwegian Gem. It says Bronze. And suddenly I was hooked. I couldn’t wait to put the pin on my backpack. I still didn’t care about what the perks of being bronze were — I’m not a drinker, so I rarely attend free cocktail hours and don’t need a free drink coupon. But I loved getting the pin. I wondered what the silver pin looked like. I wondered how many more times I’d have to cruise to get that silver pin. And suddenly I understood some of the hullabaloo about loyalty programs. Would I stop cruising a line if they took away my pin or said I wasn’t bronze anymore or that silver was no longer just one cruise away? No. But truth is getting that pin felt good, and I honestly can’t wait to sail again so I can get my silver level pin.
Does your favorite cruise line’s loyalty program inspire you to remain loyal? If so, how? If not, why not? Tell us below.
What will you get for always sailing on the same cruise line? We’ve got the details on cruise line past-passenger programs.
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    9 Responses to “Can a Silly Pin Make You Loyal to a Cruise Line?”

    1. Rob
      June 14th, 2012 @ 12:30 pm

      I could care less about a pin. The perks are really useless until you cruise ALLOT. I am Emerald on RCL and just now its starting to make any difference to me. When I boarded Oasis I was in some priority line, and getting off there was some special line (i think). I think I also get robes in my room on RCL and we usually get a coupon book that has a few useful coupons. To answer your question, the pin means nothing to me and I sure wouldn’t walk around the ship with it on me.

    2. Barbara
      June 14th, 2012 @ 1:25 pm

      I have to laugh. My husband and I took our second cruise on the Gem and each got a pin. I put my pin on my backpack! I like the fact we get to board early and go to a cocktail party for free drinks. I’m hoping to get more perks in the future.

    3. Alan Rosenbaum
      June 19th, 2012 @ 2:53 pm

      I don’t care about loyalty programs, but as a travel agent many of my clients feel locked in by them. I might have a client that’s getting tired of a particular cruise line and I’ll suggest another. But they don’t want to start over with a new cruise line so they stick with what they know rather than try something that might be better.

    4. Josh
      June 19th, 2012 @ 11:47 pm

      Especially at the lower levels, the perks are seldom enough to induce one to sail with a particular line, all things considered. However, if you view the perks as things you would not have otherwise gotten, they can be great. It is all about expectations. We always appreciate our platinum perks on RCI; although they are nothing special, they do add a little bit to each trip.

    5. Charlie
      June 20th, 2012 @ 11:45 am

      It is better than nothing, and it is nice to be noticed and (hopefully) valued as a repeat customer. Word of mouth is very powerful – anything they can do to make your trip feel special and make you feel welcome is great PR. We have Princess pins and HAL coasters, and every time I look at them, I remember the holidays.

    6. marie sanders
      June 20th, 2012 @ 1:37 pm

      My husband and I are in the loyalty club for several cruise lines. With the exception of one cruise line, most of the others offer almost the same perks once you have moved to the second level on up until you reach the last level. I really don’t see the need for the pin. I would prefer getting something more substantial from the cruise line if I cruise a lot with them.

    7. Diane
      June 20th, 2012 @ 3:36 pm

      I would not be loyal for a pin; however, I would like the perks a loyalty program provides.

    8. cathy
      June 20th, 2012 @ 5:44 pm

      No it can’t – a pin doesn’t have that power – great service – friendly staff – clean rooms – good food – that makes a person want to go back – the pin – which i have dozens of – that’s fun – when they cut out that perk (because they couldn’t get quality ones any more) – I asked for them because I missed them – but they are back and yes it is fun to get a pin. I compare them from ship to ship and fro year to year – And in my old age – I will look at my collection of pins and remember what great times I had! -the other perks of early embarkation and debarkation – free specialty dining in the Le Bistro specialty restaurant – free bottles of wine – they all are great and add to my desire to book again with NCL – The coupon books – useless for the most part – except the bingo coupons and the casino coupons… NCL has the finest crew – PS – my husband and I are Platinum latitudes – I’ve been cruising with NCL since 1982 …I love NCL –

    9. Norm b.
      June 20th, 2012 @ 5:55 pm

      We sail with princess , we are elite , our last cruise 35 days , our laundry , pressing , account tallied $150 , which we didn’t pay , also nice mini bar , full of corona not bad.

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