Many people see something special in Cunard Line's elegeant and majestic ships. Thousands of people turn out to watch Queen Mary 2 transit the Elbe and traffic becomes snarled in Sydney when the three Cunard Queens are in town. Not surprisingly, people who sail on these ships tend to return again and again.
Even though the line is able to generate such loyalty spontaneously, it does have a loyalty program known as the Cunard World Club. The program is not as gnerous as some of the programs offered by other lines. But then it does not have to be. The loyalty program is not why Cunard guests return. It does, however, act as a thank you for returning and in so doing acts to strengthen the bond between Cunard and its guests.
Cunard is one of the world's oldest passenger ship companies. However, its formal loyalty program is of relatively recent vinatge. Prior to the 1990s, regular travelers were recognized by the staff aboard ship on an ad hoc basis with invitations to private parties and various other benefits.
In one of the management changes at Cunard in the 1990s, the loyalty program became more formal. Each guest received a small blue lapel pin with the Cunard lion on it upon sailing for the first time. There would then be more elaborate pins for guests who had sailed 100, 300 and 500 days with Cunard. Guests with over 1,000 days received either a broach or a wrist watch.
The pins were presented at regularly-scheduled past guest parties. Printed inviations were sent to past passengers in the name of the captain and the onboard loyalty prorgam representative.
Carnival Corporation acquired Cunard in 1998. Not long after that it acquired Princess Cruises. Carnival decided to give Princess responsibility for managing Cunard and a new loyalty program modeled on the Princess loyalty program was created. Even though Princess and Cunard are no longer managed together within the Carnival family, the Cunard loyalty program is still like the Princess program of the early years of this century.
The Cunard World Club has four levels. Guests who have completed one voyage are Silver members. To become a Gold member, you must have completed two cruises or sailed with Cunard for 20 nights, Platinum members must have completed seven voyages or sailed for 70 nights with Cunard. To reach the top level - - Diamond - - you must have completed 15 voyages or sailed for 150 nights.
The program is administered onboard by the future cruise representatives. Ashore, there are World Club desks at the various Cunard offices and there is a dedicated representative who Diamond members may call.
With each level, a guest becomes entitled to new benefits as well as to the benefits offered to guests at the levels below that level. Thus, a Diamond member is entitled not only to the benefits provided to Diamond members but to the benefits provided to Silver, Gold and Platinum members as well. Click here for Cunard's list of the World Club benefits.
Past guests at the Gold level and above are entitled to complientary internet packages. These range from two hours for Gold guests to eight hours for Diamond guests.
While not overly generous, these allowances are consistent with the allowances provided by most other mass market and premium cruise lines.
Platinum members and above are entitled to 20 percent off on laundry. However, the discount is only applied after any onboard credit (OBC) is exhausted. Thus, if you have a $100 OBC, your account will be charged the full price for the laundry, not the discount price.
Another perk for Platinum and above is a complimentary wine tasting on voyages six nights or longer. In its current form, this event involves tatsing four wines, two white and two red. There is a table set up for each wine in the main dining room. Guests are routed from table to table. At each table, a sommelier talks about the wine and the guests are able to sample a small amount of the wine.
Platinum members receive priority check-in whereas Diamond members receive both priority check-in and priority disembarkation. This is can be very helpful and reduces the trauma often associated with these processes.
Diamond members are entitled to a complientary meal at one of the ship's alternative dining venues. In practice, what this means is that the guest can either have a complientary lunch at the Verandah specialty restaurant or a dinner at one of the specialty dining venues that are created each night in the ship's buffet restaurant. With the advent of the Steakhouse at the Verandah, this perk has emerged as one of the best benefits offered under the program because the Verandah is now a very good restaurant.
Traditionally, the primary way Cunard has thanked passengers for their loyalty is through formal parties. On a transatlantic crossing or a cruise of more than six nights, a top tier guest can expect to be invited to three parties.
The first of these is the Captain's Reception held in the ship's ballroom. There is complimentary sparkling wine as well as red and white wine. The captain makes a welcome speech. All guests are invited to this party regardless of their level in the Cunard loyalty program.
Gold members and above are invited to the second party, the World Club Cocktail Party. These parties are also held in the ballroom on voyages six nights or longer. During the party, guests are again offered sparkling wine, as well as red and white wine. Guests can also order other drinks from the waiters. The captain makes a speech and the future cruise represntatives make a presentation to the most-traveled passenger on that voyage. (See separate article).
Platinum members and above also receive an invitation to the Senior Officers Party on voyages of six nights or longer. This party was derived from the private parties that used to take place in the senior officers' cabins on Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2). Because the senior officers' cabins on Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth are too small to host parties of any significant size, this party is held in one of the public rooms. When the program began, they were held in one of the more intimate venues such as the G32 nightclub on Queen Mary 2. However, the number of Platinum and Diamond members has grown to such an extent over the years that the Senior Officer Party is typically now held in the large ballroom. As a result, this party is very similar to the Captain's Reception and the World Club Cocktail Party except without the speeches. In an attempt to add some variety, the Senior Officers Party has been moved to a morning on some voyages. This move has not been very well-received as relatively few people like to drink in the morning.
Pins and cards
While some other lines have stopped giving loyal guests lapel pins, this tradition continues today at Cunard with distinctive lapel pins for each level of the World Club program.
The pins today are in the shape of a flag or ensign with the Cunard logo in the center. Each level of the program has its own color.
Over the years, there have been various iterations in the design of the lapel pins. In the opinion of quite a few people, the current design is not as attractive as some of the past designs. Therefore, guests who have them often wear the black Diamond pins that were issued in the early days of this century.
It is quite common to see guests wearing their lapel pins, especially at the parties.
Your World Club membership level is also indicated on your room key card.
Above: Captain Simon Love addressing a World Club Party on Queen Elizabeth.
Below left: Queen Mary 2.
Below: Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth.
Cruise ship article/review - - Cunard Line - - Cunard World Club