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  #1 (permalink)  
Old June 8th, 2003, 12:30 PM
AR
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Default Not such great news

Most everyone seems to be very excited about the elimination of the Captain's Club enrollment fee, along with receiving the $50 reimbursement certificate for current members. I'm not so sure I'm ready to join the celebration.

You can argue endlessly about whether Celebrity's benefits are any better than any other line's, but there's one thing you can't argue: if you charge for membership you will get fewer (but more loyal) members than if you don't charge. I believe that fewer members was--in itself--perhaps the most important benefit of the Captain's Club, and a benefit I was glad to pay $35 for somewhere in the deep dark past.

As I've contended here before, the more people on board who are members, the less valuable the benefits: longer "VIP" lines, crowded receptions, and all the rest.

And you can bet that all those people who have been moaning on this board and elsewhere about the $35 will now join immediately and be part of the throng that dilutes the benefits on future cruises.

The saving grace seems to be the membership levels. Arguably the most important benefit is priority embarkation/debarkation privileges, and they don't kick in until the second level unless you were grandfathered in when they went to the tiered system. Obviously, none of the newcomers will qualify on that score, so these people won't be eligible for this benefit until their sixth cruise.

Which leads to the one question that isn't yet clear to me: will new members be able to produce receipts from past cruises and get credit for all of them, or must they start fresh and only get credit for their most recent cruise (which of course is still a prerequisite for joining)? Anybody know the score on this?

And, as an aside, the Captain's Club check-in lines always seem to be labelled just "Captain's Club," and not "Captain's Club Select, Elite, and Founder Classic Members Only." I wonder if they ever really check whether you belong in the "fast lane." If not, I wonder if they will start now.

AR
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  #2 (permalink)  
Old June 8th, 2003, 03:12 PM
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Default Re: Not such great news

Hi Ar,
I agree, now that its free, what good is it really?

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Old June 8th, 2003, 05:30 PM
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Default Re: Not such great news

AR.. I agree with you 100%. I suspect we'll start seeing fewer sailings being couponed..... and coupons only good against higher 5* rates.. etc.

It still amazes me that after all this time Celebrity still hasn't managed to sort out the CC database.

When you pay -0-.. you get............

I'm an Elite CC member... debarkation is a pretty easy affair for me. But embarkation??? Most of the time the ines are so long at the CC/Suites check in desk... I just use one of the regular check in lines.

Hmm.. perhaps will see another change to priority embarkation only for Elite level??

If the crowds get too big..... something will have to give.
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Old June 8th, 2003, 06:19 PM
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Default Re: Not such great news

On our Constellation cruise the majority of passengers were Captain's Club members, so priority embark or debark were out the window. Thought this would have happen eventually.

It is possible that Celebrity had found they'd reached the max for the CC, and could no longer supply the expected benefits to the paying members.
Much harder to complain about the benefits you didn't pay for <G>

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Old June 8th, 2003, 06:39 PM
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Default Re: Not such great news

Don't suite pax have priority boarding? They do on some other lines.
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Old June 8th, 2003, 07:28 PM
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Default Re: Not such great news

AR,

As I've contended here before, the more people on board who are members, the less valuable the benefits: longer "VIP" lines, crowded receptions, and all the rest.

It turns out that longer cruises and cruises to more "exotic" destinations tend to draw a high proportions of repeat passengers. Princess seems to handle this quite deftly simply by holding "Captain's Circle" receptions on two nights, if necessary, to accommodate all of the passengers without overcrowding the facilities where these receptions take place. I suspect that Celebrity will do likewise.

It also should be fairly easy for Celebrity to adjust the number of reserved ("priority") check-in lines in proportion to the number of eligible passengers since the purser's desk should have statistics on the number of eligible passengers on each cruise. The fact that there are more eligible passengers on a particular cruise just means that they need more designated lines.

Norm.
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Old June 9th, 2003, 09:52 AM
AR
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Default Re: Re: Not such great news

So, by your logic Norm, if everyone on the ship is a member of the Captain's Club, all check-in lines will be designated for the Captain's Club, and the problem will be solved. Right?

Or might that mean that we're simply back where we started?

Your solution doesn't hold up when you do the numbers. The point of the CC lines is that you'll get through the process faster. This means by definition a higher agent to customer ratio than in the standard lines. If all you're doing is juggling the signs to separate the sheep from the goats, you're not accomplishing anything.

It's like the first/business check-in lines at the airport. They'll have one or two agents handling the 10% or so of the pax who are flying up front, and three or four agents handling the other 90%. They put a disproportionately higher level of manpower on the premium pax to keep the lines shorter. It's what you have to do to make the separate line have any meaning.

And that's what they'd have to do to make "priority" check-in work for an increasing CC membership if they want to make members feel they're being treated as VIP's. Babette says in this string that she thinks the battle is lost already. That's not my experience, but I can easily see how it could be well on the way.

AR
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Old June 9th, 2003, 10:59 AM
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Default Re: Not such great news

I agree with AR, you will end up getting less and less. The CC was the only club that actually offered you something in return for your $35. Let's not rehash old hash but it is becoming apparent to me that Royal Caribbean is slowly infiltrating the Celebrity Line.

Celebrity has always had a bit of a problem trying to establish a brand. They want to strive for quality but they don't want to be elitist. Unfortunately RCI seems to be amalgamating instead of "Rebranding".

ROSS
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Old June 9th, 2003, 04:02 PM
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Default Re: Not such great news

Norm:

I attended the Captain's Club Reunion sailing in February. The CC had no idea how many members were booked on the sailing... and thus.. mis-ordered the various momentos special to the cruise.

Celebrity has never had a handle on the CC database. I have a feeling it was just easier for them to roll over and play dead.. rather than correctly administrating the database.

Interestingly... some married couples have separate CC membership numbers... and received two mailings with the $50.00 refund coupon.. although they only paid $35.00 for one membership. I have single friends who are members.. they have one number...and their widowed mothers (who live with them) have another number. Yet.. only one mailing was sent to the address with both names.....But both paid the $35.00!!

All Celebrity has done is increased their printing and mailing costs. Rather than targeting their mailers to people who were interested in sailing Celebrity again.. and demonstrated said interest by paying the $35.00.. Celebrity will now be sending mailers to a universe of cruisers... who may or may not be interested in ever even hearing the name Celebrity mentioned!!

Lots of high priced marketing people.......blowing every standard Marketing 101 rule in the book.
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Old June 9th, 2003, 07:13 PM
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Default Re: Not such great news

Opps Celebrity! I totally agree. I'm not sure why they have stopped charging to join the Captains Club but I agree .... what good is the program now?? Everyone can be one!

There must have been a boardroom meeting held somewhere where all the pro's and con's were discussed when they came to this decision. I wish I had been included.

I think this is a poor decision. I am a huge Celebrity fan having cruised 6 times with Celebrity. I felt "special" to be a Captain's Club member. Because I choose to spend the money to join, I enjoyed the special treatment that came with it. Whenever you put a price on something it tends to have value. Take away the price and you have no value. I'm disappointed with their decision regarding this matter. It would be interesting to hear their explanation and reasoning behind this decision.
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Old June 11th, 2003, 06:57 PM
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Default Re: Re: Re: Not such great news

AR,

The point of the CC lines is that you'll get through the process faster. This means by definition a higher agent to customer ratio than in the standard lines. If all you're doing is juggling the signs to separate the sheep from the goats, you're not accomplishing anything.

Your "by definition" does not necessarily follow from the precedent. If all of the members' information (passport, emergency contact, credit verification, etc.) is already in the system from the prior cruise, so the processing at check-in takes a lot less time for a member than for a non-member. Thus, the members' lines will move more quickly even with the same ratio of agents.

It's like the first/business check-in lines at the airport. They'll have one or two agents handling the 10% or so of the pax who are flying up front, and three or four agents handling the other 90%. They put a disproportionately higher level of manpower on the premium pax to keep the lines shorter. It's what you have to do to make the separate line have any meaning.

And then there are those of us who fly way too often, and consequently get to use the first class check-in line even when we're seated in coach on super-cheap tickets....

And that's what they'd have to do to make "priority" check-in work for an increasing CC membership if they want to make members feel they're being treated as VIP's. Babette says in this string that she thinks the battle is lost already. That's not my experience, but I can easily see how it could be well on the way.

I rather think that a "premium" cruise line should treat all of its passengers like the VIP's that they are. If any passengers have to wait in line to check in for more than two or three minutes, the cruise line needs to address the problem somehow. Opening more check-in stations certainly would help, as does collecting as much information as possible in advance so there's very little to do at check-in.

Princess has check-in down to a science -- those who submit all their information in advance, as requested, just show their passports, sign the authorization for their shipboard accounts, and collect their cruise cards. The whole process takes less than a minute per party, even for first timers. I hope that Celebrity is doing as well -- and I will find out in November!

Norm.
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Old June 11th, 2003, 07:56 PM
AR
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Default Re: Re: Re: Re: Not such great news

Norm:

Wrong, wrong and wrong.

1. All the lines are about to insist that everyone's information be submitted ahead of time and be in the computer, because there are new regulations that require the lines to send it on to the government. So, either you or your agent is going to have to feed the beast ahead of time now, whether or not you're a Captain's Club member. This effectively levels the playing field regarding your first point and confirms my obvious statement that you need more manpower per customer to truly have a VIP service. Parenthetically and interestingly, you need to have some "non-VIP's" around for comparison purposes to make this scheme work psychologically.

2. Yes, the airlines do let some very frequent flyers use the first class check-in, even if they're flying coach. So what's your point? What I said still holds true: there are proportionally more agents for those entitled to the first class line than for those stuck in the coach line. That is why the line is shorter. By the way, what a double whammy: being a VERY frequent flyer and having to do it in coach.

3. If you really believe that everyone should be treated like a VIP, then you believe that the Captain's Club and other such frequent cruiser clubs are or should be superflouous. Two or three minutes in a cruise check-in line is a tough standard to meet in those moments just after all the busses show up from the airport or wherever. You fail to acknowledge that there are practical limits to the number of check-in stations that can physically be shoehored into the various terminal facilities, and that these can be hammered at peak boarding periods at some ports.

I doubt that Princess has this figured out much better than anyone else. Perhaps you just have been arriving at ideal times. And yes, Celebrity has done the same thing. . .if your info is in the computer, you show your passport, get your cards and you're on your way. And as I say, pretty soon your information will be required to be in the computer, so that should speed things up overall.

AR
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