(3:30 p.m. EDT) -- Carnival Cruise Lines has joined the ranks of airlines and hotels offering their guests an array of perks for a fee with its new "Faster to the Fun" program.
The program, which costs $49.95 per cabin, gives passengers a series of benefits usually available only to elite members of the line's loyalty program, plus a few extras. For instance, those opting in will have access to fast-track embarkation, priority dinner seating, express guest services access and priority tendering -- perks usually reserved for Diamond (200-plus days) and Platinum-level (75-199 cruise days) members of Carnival's VIFP (Very Important Fun Person) program.
Faster to the Fun purchasers will also enjoy early access to their cabin, express luggage delivery and choice of early or late debarkation. Current Diamond and Platinum VIFP members sailing on the two test ships also will receive these new perks without the extra cost.
In order to ensure that ships are not overrun with priority access passengers and to enable crew to offer fast-tracked cabin access and true priority service, a spokesman tells Cruise Critic that Faster to the Fun program will be capacity controlled. Carnival would not comment on how many Faster to the Fun packages will be available per sailing.
To distinguish between high-tier VIFP members and those who have paid for their perks, a new Faster to the Fun line at the port will enable the fast-track embarkation, while still allowing Diamond and Platinum members their VIP embarkation experience.
Faster to the Fun is being tested on
Carnival Imagination starting August 20 and Carnival Liberty starting August 25. Further expansion will be dependent on these trials, but, according to the Carnival spokesman, the length of the test period has not yet been determined.
According to a Carnival press release, the new program was developed based on feedback from passenger surveys, which indicated “a strong interest in a fee-based package providing priority access and benefits.”
--by Dori Saltzman, News Editor