Princess Cruises' past passenger loyalty program is known as the Captain's Circle. It is a good program with meaningful benefits. Indeed, in our conversations with fellow guests, the Captain's Circle program is often listed as a reason why members avoid the temptation to sample other cruise lines.
The Capatin's Circle program has four membership levels - - Gold, Ruby, Platinum and Elite. As you move from each level from Gold to Elite, your benefits increase. Each level combines the benefits of the levels below it with a set of additional benefits.
There are two ways to advance through the program. First, you can advance by taking more cruises. You automatically become a Gold member after your first Princess cruise. After your third cruise, you graduate to Ruby level. You become Platinum level after your fifth cruise and you reach the top level (Elite) after your fourteenth cruise.
Guests staying in full suites as well as guests traveling alone in a stateroom and paying the exclusive occupancy fare receive two cruise credits for a cruise. However, this practice only looks back as far as December 7, 2008. This policy recognizes that guests staying in a full suite pay considerably more for a cruise than other passengers and thus deserve a greater thank you. Along the same lines, guests traveling exclusive occupancy in a cabin usually have to pay twice the double occupancy per person rate and it is only fair that they also receive the cruise credit that would have gone to their cabinmate.
Using the number of cruises a guest has taken as the critereon for advancement through the loyalty program is in harmony with the business purpose of having a loyalty program. A business has a loyalty program in order to reward customers for their repeat business. In this case, the customer behavior that you want to reward is the decision to buy more cruises.
The second way to advance through the program is by the number of days you spend on a Princess ship. You graduate from Gold to Ruby after sailing 30 days with Princess. Platinum levelis reached after 50 days and Elite level is at 150 days. Only the number of days spent cruising are counted. Days spent on the land portion of a Princess cruisetour are not counted.
The reason for counting the number of cruise days as an alternative means of advancement has to do with the fact that Princess offers cruises of varyious lengths ranging from relatively short cruises to long world cruises. Longer cruises are usually more expensive than short cruises. As a result, a guest who has done a few long cruises may have spent more with the line than a guest who has done several short cruises. Therefore, having the number of days as an alternative critereon makes sense both both from the perspective of fairness to the guest and from the perspective of encouraging customers to take longer cruises.
Above: Regal Princess in St. Maarten.
The Captain's Circle offers members an array of benefits both during the cruise and ashore. (For Princess' list of benefits click here). We will only discuss those benefits that we have found most useful.
Princess offers preferential pricing to Captain's Circle members on certain cruises. These can be significantly better than the prices offered to the general public. Therefore, when researching Princess cruises on the Princess website, we have found it advantageous to enter our Captain's Circle number.
Perhaps the most famous of the Captain's Circle benefits is the free laundry. Elite members can send an apparently unlimited number of garments to the ship's laundry on each cruise. This can be very helpful because it reduces the amount of things you have to pack and eliminates the need to waste time finding a way to get your clothes cleaned during your vacation.
Elite guests also receive a complimentary mini-bar set up including spirits and soft drinks on each cruise. This can be exchanged for a bottle of red or white wine; However, such exchanges have to be done aboard and our experience has been that it is sometimes a struggle to do so. Seemingly, a way could be found to state your preference during the pre-cruise check-in process or in the member's cruise profile.
Captain's Circle members Platinum level and above also are entitled to some complimentary internet time. The amount varies according to the length of the cruise ranging from a minimum of 150 minutes to 500 minutes on cruises over 20 days in length. It was a nice benefit when the program was created but in these days of streaming lifestyles, the amounts are obsolete.
Gatherings and get togethers
There is usually a Captain's Circle party on most cruises during which there is complimentary drinks and entertainment. Hosted by the onboard Captain's Circle representative, the captain makes a presentation to the member who has the highest number of days.
In addition, to encourage more interaction between the Captain's Circle members, Platinum and Elite members are invited on select evenings during a cruise to an exclusive lounge for “for drink specials and complimentary pre-dinner hors d'oeuvres.” There is an array of special food items and certain drinks are offered at a reduced price. Our experience with these gatherings has been that guests purchase a drink, sample the various food items and leave. It does not seem to have the hoped for effect of building comradery between members.
Pins and cards
The Captain's Circle program has lapel pins for each level of the program. Many guests do wear them, especially on the night of the Captain's Circle party.
Your membership level is also reflected on your room key card. Each level has its own color card. The black cards of the Elite level are highly prized.
Along the same lines, Princess has traditionally posted cards outside each guest's stateroom. These cards a Princess logo in the same color as the color as the guest's room key card.
Cruise ship article/review - - Princess Cruises - - The Captain's Circle