Cunard loyalty program review
Princess Cruises loyalty program review
Norwegian Cruise Line loyalty program review
Royal Caribbean International loyalty program review
Reaching the Pinnacle at Royal Caribbean
Royal Caribbean International's loyalty program is known as the Crown & Anchor Society. It is an industry leading program with substantial benefits. As a result, many guests become “loyal to Royal” and, particularly once they reach the upper levels of the program, refuse to consider any other line.
The Crown & Anchor program has six levels: Gold (3 points); Platinum (30 points); Emerald (55 points); Diamond (80 points); Diamond Plus (175 points); and Pinnacle Club (700 points). Although it is not offically denominated as a level, guests who reach 340 points find that they are entitled to additional benefits beyond those accorded to other Diamond Plus guests.
Guests earn one C&A point for each night they cruise with Royal. If you book a cabin that is a junior suite and above, you receive two points. Similarly, if you are the only person staying in a cabin designed for two or more passengers, you receive two points per night. If you book a junior suite and above single occupancy, you can receive three points per night.
The Crown & Anchor program offers a wide array of benefits including discounts, gifts, enhanced amenities, priorities, onboard gatherings and member cruises. (There is a list of the benefits on Royal Caribbean's website.). Of course, these benefits are subject to various limitations but overall, they are quite generous.
Guests start to receive benefits as soon as they reach the Gold level. These include such things as Crown & Anchor exclusive rates, reduced rate upgrades and C&A offers.
However, the most impressive benefits start to kick-in when you achieve Diamond status. At that level, you have access to the Diamond Lounge (on almost all of Royal's ships) where each day there is a complimentary breakfast buffet with specialty coffee. In addition, there is a social event each night in the Diamond Lounge where guests are offered complimentary drinks and hor d'oeuvres. In your stateroom, you find complimentary bottles of water and a snack (usually cookies) on embarkation day. You become entitled to a tour of the ship's entertainment facilities.
The benefits grow both in number and quality as you continue upward through the program. At Diamond Plus, you can take a behind-the-scenes tour or a tour of the ship's bridge. You receive a bottle of wine in your stateroom (or an alternative gift of your choice). This becomes bottles of wine as you accumulate more points. Similarly, you receive a commerative gift (a crystal block with the name and picture of the ship on it) every 70 points after you pass 140 points. In addition, you have access to the Concierge Club, a luxurious private lounge on certain ships.
When you reach Pinnacle level, you become entitled to a free cruise. You also have access to the Suites Lounge and the Coastal Kitchen (suites dining room) on those ships that have them. You receive priority on just about everything. In addition to the listed benefits, there are discretionary benefits accorded Pinnacle members such as the impromptu sail away cocktail party on the helicopter pad that we had on one ship. In short, the cruise experience becomes comparable to the experience on a luxury category ship. (See related article).
We find very little to complain about with regard to the Crown & Anchor program. Onboard it is admisintered by an officer who is dedicated to that task. He or she is assisted by the concierges who run the Diamond Lounge and the Concierge Club or Suites Lounge. In general, we have found these people friendly and willing to help with any problems.
Ashore, Royal has a dedicated Crown & Anchor desk for membership questions. There are also dedicated representatives for Diamond Plus and Pinnacle members. We have also found them both knowledgeable and helpful.
The biggest issue the program faces is growth. Often, there are so many Diamond level guests aboard that one of the public lounges has to be commandeered for the nightly social event.
Similarly, the number of Diamond Plus guests is often too great for the facilities of the typically smaller Concierge Club. On such occasions, Royal sends out a pre-cruise e-mail explaining that Diamond Plus guests will not have access to the Concierge Club on that cruise but that they will have access to the Diamond Lounge and that one of the public lounges that will be used as an addition to the Diamond Lounge during the nightly social event. (This issue will eventually disappear. As the various ships have gone in for their regular re-refurbishments, the Concierge Clubs have been transformed into Suites Lounges. As a result, there are very few Concierge Clubs left in the fleet. Suites Lounges are only open to Pinnacle members and suites guests).
Of course, this is not the worst problem in the world for a cruise line to have. It means that the loyalty program has been successful; the problem only occurs because guests keep returning.
Another quibble is that one of the Crown & Anchor benefits is listed as “matching” tier status in the loyalty programs of Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises. However, since changes in the Celebrity program a few years ago, some levels of the C&A program do not receive matching recognition when they are on a Celebrity ship. Recognition is capped at the Elite level, which is equivalent to Royal's Diamond level. Thus, guests who are Diamond Plus are not treated as Elite Plus and Pinnacle members are not treated as equivalent to Zenith members. (By the same token, Elite Plus and Zenith members of Celebrity's loyalty program are only treated as Diamond members on Royal Caribbean). Thus, for members in the upper levels of the C&A program, this aspect of the program is not as generous as it may appear on a casual reading.
At the same time, however, very few lines offer members any recognition in the loyalty programs of their sister brands. For example, if you are in the top tier of Cunard's loyalty program, you are treated the same as a first time cruiser on Holland America or Carnival Cruise Line.
It should be noted that no C&A points are earned for sailing on a Celebrity or Azamara cruise. The inter-brand recognition is solely about the benefits you receive while cruising on the sister brands.
The Crown & Anchor program fosters a great deal of camaraderie. Your membership level is indicated on your key card and the line gives away distinctive lapel pins for each level Platinum and above. Indeed, Pinnacle Club members receive a pin with their name engraved on it. Crew members recognize the pins and appreciate your repeat business.
Like most cruise lines, there is a general reception for all members Platinum and above. These gatherings offer complimentary drinks and entertainment. There are talks by the captain and the Crown & Anchor representative. The guest with the most number of points in recognized and the new Pinnacle members are recognized.
But what really cements guest loyalty is the nightly social event. People gather in the Diamond Lounge, Concierge Club or Suites Lounge and make friends or renew acquaintances. Naturally, the main topic of conversation is Royal Caribbean because that is something everyone has in common. People talk about a cruise they are planning and often the next day, the people that they were speaking to report that they went to the future cruise desk and booked that cruise. More generally, people have an enjoyable time in these lounges and they want to repeat the experience. As a result, they become increasingly loyal to Royal.
Senior officers of Anthem of the Seas being presented at a Crown & Anchor Top Tier party.
Cruise ship article/review - - Royal Caribbean International - - Crown & Anchor Society