Lately, it seems Carnival just can’t get anything right — at least as far as many Carnival loyalists are concerned. First, cruisers were disappointed with the new VIFP (Very Important Fun Person) past-passenger program. And then, just when the furor was starting to die down, there was yesterday’s announcement: The line will begin testing an unprecedented program that gives a “capacity controlled” number of cruisers access to perks enjoyed by Carnival’s top past passengers (Platinum- and Diamond-level members). For $50 per cabin, cruisers get access to fast-track embarkation, priority dinner seating, express guest services access, priority tendering, early access to their cabin, express luggage delivery, and choice of early or late debarkation.
In a Cruise Critic poll, nearly 70 percent of the 2,000-plus respondents said no way would they pay. Of those, almost 20 percent said they were already upper-level members of the VIFP program and already get priority embarkation and such. And, going by their comments on the original story and posts on Facebook, these elite Carnival cruisers think the value of perks could be diluted by expanding access.
“I think it devaluates the loyalty that people have, and were/are willing to show to any organisation, when you start selling those perks for a fee,” Facebook follower Andi Scott posted.
Trey Troy agreed. “Even though they CLAIM it is Capacity controlled….it still takes away from the value of the program we earned as elites.”
But Platinum- and Diamond-level Carnival cruisers aren’t the only ones who said they’re not fans of the new program. Half of all respondents said they wouldn’t pay because they’d rather spend the money on something else. (Booze was the overwhelming favorite “something else” — FB follower Cindy Yoder pointed out that she could “have 8 cocktails for that.”)
“Nothing listed is worth paying for,” commented Christy Arnold Spivey. “Last several cruises we were on we walked right through embarkation. Luggage delivery is no big deal. We carried off our luggage on majority of last cruises and that was fast also.”
Facebook follower Tommy Johnson agreed, “There is a cost/benefit equation to this offering and, to me, there just isn’t enough benefit (from the items listed) to encourage me to hand over an additional $50. I can do without the stated perks and not feel as though I’m missing out on something.”
Still, far from everyone is dead set against the new program. Just over a quarter of readers said they would be willing to pay for access to elite-level perks like fast-track embarkation and early cabin access.
“Had a suite last year with priority embarkation and it was awesome. Definitely worth $50 bucks,” commented Barbara Saylor.
Facebook follower Nanette Wise Moreira also said she was keeping an open mind. “I wanna get my fun on. I will say this, I don’t want to be nickel and dimed to death like the airlines. But I may try this new thing.”
One brave reader even tipped his hat to Carnival for the sheer marketing brilliance of the program.
Tom Pecena, owner of Ahoy Cruises, commented: “Great money maker. They are charging for things that don’t cost a dime.” Pecena added he wouldn’t pay for any of it, “as I know from experience it won’t make one iota of difference in the cruise experience.”
What other perks do loyal past-passengers get? Learn more here.
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