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Old July 2nd, 2014, 11:00 AM
AR AR is offline
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Default Special Cruises for Top-Tier Passengers

I just got another e-mail touting a special cruise for Diamond members of a certain line's frequent sailor club. I won't mention the line because they all seem to do this. It's a "special" cruise targeted to very frequent customers, and promising unique treatment for these valuable marketing targets.

I've been getting these promotions forever from a number of lines, and I've always wondered why any frequent cruiser in their right mind would partake. OK, I can think of one good reason: your fellow passengers will probably not be wearing cutoffs and baseball caps in the dining room. The ship's company will be quite savvy and there will be more of a grownup feel to the cruise if that appeals to you.

But the negatives are obvious, and can be summed up easily: if everybody's special, then nobody's special. Put another way, perks aren't perks if everybody gets them. Of course, this isn't universally true. Some perks, like free internet, free laundry, shop discounts, etc. can theoretically be scaled as necessary and made available to all who qualify. But other perks typically given to top tier cruisers disappear if everybody's "in the same boat," so to speak. If everybody's in the Elite check-in line, then it's just the check-in line; If the Elite departure lounge is open to all, then it's not Elite (and everybody won't fit); if everybody gets priority tender boarding, restaurant reservations, spa reservations, an out-of-the-way room for quiet breakfasts with fellow frequent cruisers (along with decent coffee), a special saloon at cocktail time, meals with the captain. . .then nobody does.

On a normal cruise, some super-elites complain that too many people have privileges. Imagine what it must be like when nearly everyone qualifies.

Have the frequent cruisers here ever taken such cruises? If so, with a ship full of equals, were you made to feel special?
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Old July 2nd, 2014, 12:04 PM
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AR....

Any perk not usually included in a regular cruise is still a perk. Your perspective sounds as if you only perceive something to be a "perk" if you are getting special favors or perks that the regular "pedestrian" cruisers are not getting on the same cruise.

I am sure that for every person who sees it your way - there are also people who would view as "a sailing of my peers" and would extra special just for being invited on such a cruise. That is how I would feel about it.
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Old July 2nd, 2014, 03:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Paul Motter View Post
AR....

Any perk not usually included in a regular cruise is still a perk. Your perspective sounds as if you only perceive something to be a "perk" if you are getting special favors or perks that the regular "pedestrian" cruisers are not getting on the same cruise.
Well, of course, Paul. That's what a bloody perk IS, and it's the very foundation on which frequent sailor programs are built (just like frequent flyer programs). It's an unapologetic way to give "special favors" as you call them to your best customers. Nobody's ever made any secret of that.

But you've obviously missed my point, which was that it is impossible for the line to give some of the top tier perks when everyone onboard qualifies for them. It's simply a practical matter. In order to be able to have a small, out-of-the-way breakfast venue as a perk, you have to have a ship that is mostly populated by "pedestrian" cruisers who are ineligible to go there, or else the venue can't be small and out-of-the-way. Same with priority tenders. Some lines allow elites to go downstairs and get on a tender anytime they want, while "pedestrian cruisers" have to wait in a lounge or theater with numbered tickets. You obviously can't do that if everybody's elite.

I also acknowledged your other point, that an upside for many may well be that they are sailing with "their own kind," and don't have to put up with the "Clampetts." ("Clampetts" by the way, is the cynical term of affection used regularly on the very catty BB known as Flyer Talk, which is populated by road-warrior mega-frequent flyers, to describe occasional flyers. These people also classify themselves with the acronym "DYKWIA" which stands for "Do You Know Who I AM?" They are by and large insufferable boors.) Very few frequent cruisers are as vain as frequent flyers, but it's certainly true that some may value being with people like them more than they value the creature comforts and conveniences that may be impossible to deliver on all-elite cruises.

I was sort of hoping to hear what regular cruisers think about this. Since you often cruise for free and I imagine are given many, many perks into the bargain, you may not have the best take on this issue.
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Old July 2nd, 2014, 06:47 PM
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Well.... I see your point now, that some perks are meant to be limited in scope...

For example you could not have a "Queens Grill Only" cruise on Cunard, or a "Yacht Club Only" cruise on MSC.

So, I do get your point and you are correct that I did miss it. Also, there is no need to bring up my status as a cruise reporter. To be very clear I go out of my way NOT to ask for special perks, because it is my goal to see the cruise the same way a Clampett would see it.

But it is also true that I do get offered "perks" - but I still say there is some validity to the idea of a platinum club cruise where everyone gets free drinks for dinner, free Internet access, free laundry, etc. It seems to me that when a cruise line does such a cruise, it must go out of its way to make sure no one gets any special perk that cannot be shared by everyone - or else there is always the option of taking the "elite of the elite" and giving them extra extra-special perks.

But I guess the question there is - "wouldn't it be something of an insult to the DYKWIA?" to deny them those perks - so, in the long run it seems it would best just to somehow eliminate limited perks for those types of cruises.

Or here is another logical solution: In a way this is related to the question of giving suite guests some of the same perks that they give to DYKWIA members - it seems unfair. But by the same token - you could have a "platinum members" cruise and just give the limited in availability perks to the people booked into suites.

I am guessing that is what they do. Ask David Beers, he has top status on RCL and Celebrity, maybe some others.
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Old July 2nd, 2014, 09:01 PM
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Actually, I think the snobbish elite flyers use "The Kettles" too, when dismissively looking down their business class noses at the vacationers who dare fly on the same airplane as those air warriors. But, Clampetts or Kettles, the intended insult is clear.

I know of the offer AR received, I think. I'm assuming it is the one from Royal Caribbean for a 12-night fall foliage cruise from Quebec to Bayonne.....a "Crown And Anchor Member Cruise".

I'm not top tier with RCI, but I am Diamond Plus level. I'll never see the rarefied air of the Pinnacle Club status unless I start cruising every other month. Anyway, I happen to agree with AR. I'll never book one of these cruises because I know exactly what will happen. The ship will be filled with 'cruise card tappers', people with lapels full of silly loyalty pins, and I can guarantee a lot of them will make sure to begin each conversation with "Well, I'm a <insert member level> and I have <insert number of cruise points>, and I think I am entitled to <insert special treatment or perk>."

They'll have the nightly cocktail party for upper tier guests, except that it will be for 2000 guests instead of a hundred, so they can't use the Diamond Lounge or Concierge Lounge. Instead they'll have to commandeer a night club and have shifts assigned.

So to me, it is not a member perk to offer these cruises. Ironically, the most exclusive people aboard would be any new cruisers who happened to book it.
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Old July 2nd, 2014, 11:20 PM
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I guess all sorts of permutations are possible, perk-wise, on these special cruises. And I should also say that I realize that on the various lines there is a lot of hair-splitting between top tier, top tier plus, top tier plus plus and "the ship is my home address." So I reckon I should have said "top tiers." I'll never get into that absolutely top echelon either.

But I agree with Dave: easier to just book a regular cruise, go to your breakfasts and bars and parties and schmooze with the other frequent cruisers who aren't, as he says, "card tappers." This has worked well for us for some time, and I see no reason to change the approach. Anybody else have a take on this?

And yes, it's absolutely true that over on FlyerTalk they use "Clampetts" and "Kettles" interchangeably as terms of contempt for leisure flyers. It's absolutely dreadful, because so many of these put-down artists are little more than latter-day Willie Lomans, except that they've replaced Willie's beat-up old jalopy with airplanes. But, to quote Willie, they all still believe that "they're very well liked." Their pleasure in life comes from pulling rank at airports, claiming their free upgrades and complaining that the free Scotch in the frequent flyer lounges is not up to snuff. And like Willie, some of them are classical tragic characters in every sense.

Paul, as far as your accepting or not accepting perks is concerned, the point is that you are not a typical cruiser. After all, it could be argued that free cruises are the biggest perks of all. Whether or not you turn down a lot of the additional stuff that is offered you, you're still a "marked man," and you're one of the few passengers who is on the cruise principally for business, not pleasure. As such, you're atypical.
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Old July 3rd, 2014, 12:26 AM
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Most posters here are quite simply tickled pink when they get upgraded to a suite that they wouldn't think of actually paying the extra for. Myself included. Until the "better than you's" next door, and down the hall are encountered.... specifically people who look down their noses and harrumph at the people who clearly don't belong in the mix, simply because they booked a lower grade of cabin. I personally HATE the roped-off section in the theatre "Reserved for Suite Guests", in which half the seats are unoccupied, but kept so just in case a VIP chooses to wander in halfway through the show.

Listen, suite passenger, I can afford to be here, and ditto goes for 90% of your fellow passengers. I just personally choose to divert my cash to cruising on TWO sailings in an inferior cabin, compared to your ONE cruise in the penthouse.

I'll be the one waving happily from the railing as you disembark.
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Old July 3rd, 2014, 12:26 PM
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Actually the member cruises aren't that bad. I am Diamond Plus and have been for just over 4 years now and have done two member cruises. Both were to the Caribbean. You had a cross section of members ranging from Gold to Diamond Plus. At the time of my last member cruise Pinnacle had not been formed yet. There was a gift every night in your stateroom. There were free excursions and yes there were cocktail parties every night all over the ship. Everyone got the same treatment. There were some who talked about their tier and points but mostly it felt like you were part of a club. Wasn't that bad at all.
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Old July 3rd, 2014, 01:52 PM
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How long were those two Caribbean cruises, and what time of year?

For a 12 night cruise, in the fall, from Canada to NJ, I'd expect to see an older clientele meaning a lot of upper tier members. Younger, less traveled cruisers typically can't get two weeks off, especially when it is school time.
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Old July 3rd, 2014, 04:38 PM
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Both were 7 nights and both were on the Serenade OTS. 2005 and 2008 to the southern Caribbean. There weren't a lot of school age kids on these cruises but there were some. I have never done a member cruise longer than 7 nights. What I got from them was that we are all C&A members. I got the email the other day about the 12 night member cruise. I looked at it and all of the suites were sold out. The balcony's were still available but even a Jr. Suite gives you double points. A step closer to Pinnacle. Longer cruises than 7 nights and Jr. Suites and above is how you get to Pinnacle. Dave both were in Dec.
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