It seems to be the year cruise lines change benefits for their loyalty schemes. In January, Royal Caribbean announced a whole raft to their Crown & Anchor Society with immediate effect. P&O are currently sending out information regarding changes to theirs, the Portunus Club, including yet another name. Originally the POSH Club from 2000, it was changed to Portunus several years ago and from April 2012 will be known as the Peninsular Club. P&O, like Fred Olsen, award points per night rather than cruise credits, making it harder to get to the next tier. Fred Olsen are one per night while P&O are ten. Currently, sailing with Princess gives you an extra five Portunus points per night (while Captain’s Circle is cruise credits) but from next year that will cease. At the moment there are three tiers:
Ruby is more ‘Them and us’ than Cunard. At least you can get into the World Club party after two cruises with Cunard. You need over 500 points for P&O. So from April 2012 the new tiers will be:
Baltic (2501 plus 80-200 nights spent onboard in the three years preceeding the start of their next cruise)
Ligurian (2501 plus 201 or more nights spent onboard in the three years preceeding the start of their next cruise)
Naturally people are complaining about being demoted from Gold, just like those who moaned when RCI announced their changes. To be fair, points is a better system. Why should people get higher member benefits on a credit system when they’ve only taken short cruises, as many do to Nassau when those who have taken a week or more are on a lower tier? I am one cruise away from the next level on RCI and Celebrity, yet have taken longer cruises on Celebrity. My only really long on RCI was on Friends & Family so doesn’t count otherwise I would have five credits under my belt. Anyone who reads the cruise reviews on the site can see how many short trips I’ve taken of four nights and less, usually money being a factor, especially if I’m on my own. As for P&O, too many are on Gold now getting the same benefits so something has to give. I’m a lowly Ruby and will be just fifteen points away from Sapphire/Atlantic after this year. But let’s be honest, how many are really bothered about a loyalty scheme? What DO they do for you in the grand scheme of things? The answer is not a lot when you think about it unless you’re on the highest level. A bit like First class versus economy. I like the onboard discount with P&O but since I rarely get sent any magazine or even advance brochures and can’t get to the party whatever tier I’ll be makes no real difference. Cunard don’t offer onboard discount but you can get so many minutes of free internet plus the booze up. Get out the flags(!) Although I always had a half bottle of sparkling wine waiting in my cabin when I returned to Cunard. Pity I can’t stand the stuff. RCI and Celebrity give you money off vouchers for many things you never use. I never get any booking discount through a travel agent for being a member of whatever yet have in the past online with only Cunard and P&O. Would having NO loyaly scheme make a difference? Probably not. I cruise because I love it, not for what I can get from clubs.