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Automotive Traveler Magazine: Vol 2 Iss 1 Page 97

Cruising Round-Up

Frequent-cruiser programs encourage you to reward yourself for vacationing at sea

By Joe Babiasz

You stretch out in your deck chair, luxuriating in the warmth of the sun. "I could get used to this!" passes through your mind, again. It's your first cruise, and you've been pampered from morning until night, enjoying more fun, food, and entertainment than you could have imagined.

Perhaps you've even taken a peek at your work schedule for the upcoming year, hoping to find additional unused vacation days for another adventure at sea. If you can remember where you tossed your calendar or mobile phone after coming on board, that is....

Before you run out and book that next cruise--regardless of how good the deal is--be sure to sign up for the company's frequent-cruiser program.

Just like credit cards, supermarkets, and casinos, most cruise lines offer programs that reward repeat customers with benefits, which can make a big difference on future vacations. (Many cruise lines allow you to sign up while on your first cruise.) The more you sail, the more perks you earn.

Let's look at a few of the major cruise lines and their frequent-cruiser rewards programs.

Royal Caribbean: Crown and Anchor Society

After just one cruise, Crown and Anchor Society members receive a special booklet with onboard discounts, a "welcome back" party, and quarterly future-cruise savings certificates. After five cruises, members receive such additional benefits as priority check-in, a private departure lounge with breakfast, a special on-board event, advance notice of upcoming offers, a special pre-cruise telephone number, and complimentary custom-air arrangements.

After 11 cruises, the benefit list expands to include priority wait listing for shore excursions, distinctive amenities delivered to your stateroom, priority departure from the ship, special nightly events, and more. And after 24 cruises with Royal Caribbean, you will have a concierge lounge at your service.

Disney Cruise Line: Castaway Club

After the first cruise, repeat Disney cruisers receive exclusive member information and offers about future cruises, a special check-in line, a "welcome back" stateroom gift, dedicated Castaway Club phone number to call with questions, and up to $200 onboard credit towards a future cruise. After five cruises, in addition to the previously mentioned perks, the Castaway Club offers a special party, early booking opportunities, special merchandising offers, and up to $275 onboard credit on a future cruise.

After 10 cruises, repeat cruisers become Platinum members, enjoying complimentary dinner at the onboard Palo restaurant, a Platinum member check-in area, and a "special Platinum Member experience," according to the company.

Princess Cruise Line: Princess Captain's Circle

After one cruise, members receive up to a $100 discount on selected future cruises, preferential pricing offers, a members-only onboard event, a quarterly magazine and e-newsletter, a recognition pin, and other benefits. With your sixth cruise, you receive a special cruise atlas, vacation protection upgrade, preferred check-in, and complimentary Internet packages.

After 16 cruises, Circle members also receive priority ship-to-shore