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Celebrity Cruises Captain’s Club – Loyalty on the High Seas

by on August 7, 2014 · 19 comments

in Cruises

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Cruising is a multi-billion dollar part of the travel industry, yet when it comes to the loyalty world, it’s the airlines and hotels that seem to get all of the spotlight. In an attempt to level the playing field (seas?) a little bit, we are starting a series looking at the basics of the major frequent cruising programs. Warning: they aren’t nearly as lucrative as most airline/hotel programs, but if you’re hitting the high seas, you might as well join these programs- especially if you are an avid cruiser. 

Celebrity Cruises, one of the six brands under Royal Caribbean LTD, currently operates 11 vessels and transports over 25,000 passengers a year. Last year they updated their loyalty program: The Captain’s Club with new tiers and pros for uber-cruisers. Like most other cruise programs, the program is not like your typical airline or hotel program. Elite status and points accrue for a lifetime (so no yearly requalification hassles) and the points never expire. That being said, you can’t actually redeem the points for anything- they simply qualifying you for different tiers where you get perks. The more you cruise, the more perks you get, though don’t expect free cruises and upgrades without having to really work for them.

Celebrity Cruises Captain's Club

Celebrity Cruises Captain’s Club

Points
Captain’s Club points are earned based on two factors: the stateroom category and the length of sailing. In the lowest stateroom category (Inside and Oceanview staterooms), you’ll earn 2 Club points per night, so a 12-night cruise in an Oceanview stateroom would earn you 24 Club points. Pricier staterooms earn more Club points; the Penthouse and Reflection suites, for example, earn 18 Club points per night. The chart below shows the number of Club points earned per night in each stateroom category.

Celebrity Cruises Captains Club earning

Points are earned based on your stateroom category and the length of your cruise.

Tiers

Celebrity Cruises Captains Club status levels

Celebrity Cruises tier levels and Club point requirements.

As you can see, the higher tier levels require earning an exorbitant number of points. If you took two 14-day cruises each year (oh, to cruise for nearly a month a year!) in a lower level suite (Century, Sky, or Aqua), earning 112 points per sailing or 224 points annually, it would take you about 13 years to reach the Zenith tier level. Those staying in anything less than a suite can pretty much abandon the hope of ever even sniffing the higher tiers. You’d need to sail for 150 nights in an Inside/Oceanview stateroom just to reach the Elite level, or a ludicrous 1,500 nights (that’s about 4 years!) to reach the Zenith level.

Here are some of the highlights of each level:

Classic: 10% off on-board internet purchase and a small upgrade when available.. oh, and 1 Scoop of Complimentary Gelato from Gelateria!
Select: Priority embarkation, 25% off a single on-board internet package purchase, complimentary pressing of 2 items
Elite: Complimentary 90 minute internet package (~$65 value), one complimentary bag of laundry (~$30 value), private departure lounge
Elite Plus:  Two bags of laundry (~$60 value), complimentary 200 minute internet package (~$120 value), 15% discount on specialty dining
Zenith: Concierge lounge on board, complimentary 1,600 minute internet package (~$750), complimentary 7 night Bermuda/Caribbean cruise when reaching Zenith (easily $1,000) and more.

Credit Card
Celebrity does have two Visa Signature credit cards offered by Bank of America, one of which carries no foreign transaction fee (though does have an annual fee of $69). They accrue “MyCruise Rewards Points”, which can be redeemed at $0.01 each for cruises and cruise related expenses. With the premium card, you get discounts on guest dining, beverage packages and excursions as well and depending on how often you cruise and how much you spend, it might be an option to consider because the perks can pay for the annual fee if you cruise enough.

There is a maximum number of points you can earn a year, which is rare to see on a rewards card: “Each Calendar Year, you may earn a maximum of five hundred forty thousand (540,000) MyCruise Points on qualifying transactions posting from January 1st through December 31st. 

Celebrity Solstice, part of their 11-ship fleet

Celebrity Solstice, part of their 11-ship fleet

Other options that have more lucrative sign-up bonus and redemption options for cruising are Barclaycard Arrival and Capital One Venture- two programs that allow you to purchase whatever cruise you want (like through a trusted travel agent so you can get the best rates/perks) and then erase the expense off of your statement.

Are you a Captain’s Club member? Have any experiences to share?

Related Articles:

Maximizing Points and Miles with Cruises

What Credit Card is Best With Cruises

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Jimbob

    Cha-Ching?

  • http://aaadventurephoto.com/ Alan

    I just don’t see the benefit. But then again, I don’t see the benefit in most (if not all) cruise loyalty programs. Many lines offer the occasional repeat-customer discount, but you’ll qualify for that after just a single cruise. To get some meaningful free internet time, you probably have to spend $50,000 worth of cruising. So why stick with the same company for years just to receive status? That seems pretty weak.

    As for cruise reward credit cards, they all dish out rewards at a $.01 rate. In that situation, you might as well just have a cash back card that you can use on anything. Or like was mentioned above, go with the Arrivals Plus card.

    FWIW, Ultimate Rewards does offer cruising redemption (and you should get that 25% credit bump), but you have to call them. You can’t book online. I’ve never tried to do it so I don’t know if they’ll throw in the freebies that other travel agencies will.

    The best way to maximize saving on cruises is probably still the old-fashioned way. Shop around, look for sales, and see whose throwing in the best freebies (on-board credit, pre-paid gratuities, etc).

  • John

    Why anyone would want to go on a cruise is beyond me

  • Joseph Alberts

    that comment was really merited, eh? perhaps because unpacking once and waking in a new destination every other day or so may be appealing to some wackos out there. depending on the line, the food can be exceptionally good. and there are many amazing deals to be had. reposition from europe (barcelona, rome, etc) to florida in the early fall and expect to cruise 15 nights for under $500/pp on a classy line like holland america. yeah, why would anyone want to do that! what a fool.

  • szuperdan

    My wife and I DO cruise for at least a month a year and it is wonderful. We like the Transatlantic repositioning, French Polynesia, South America and an occasional Caribbean. We use the cruises as hotels that take us to islands normally costing significantly more. We spend the entire day snorkeling at the best locations usually doing it with locals/cabs instead of tours. I’ll reserve my comments for the Princess elite program if/when you write about it. I will say that our April Transatlantic will be on Celebrity (our first on it). We like cruising one way and flying back. Our Jan South America will be with Princess and flying down via Copa (Business Class) using United points – at a reasonable number of points.
    Crusing is not for everyone but to get to Bora Bora, Moorea, Rangiroa, Huahine and Raiatea each for 1-2 days on a very small ship and have the whole island to walk and snorkel for about 20% of what it would cost to fly/stay in the islands is too good to pass up.

  • Steve

    What is internet time?

  • http://aaadventurephoto.com/ Alan

    Mainstream cruise lines charge you by the minute to use their wifi or computer labs.

  • Ben

    Your Bora Bora, Moorea etc trip sounds awesome. What cruise line is that?

  • szuperdan

    Princess. They have a couple of 600+ passenger ships. Look for them to embark from Papeete. Pick one in Jan for best weather.

  • pssteve

    We are Elite Plus with Celebrity and cruise 4-5 times a year usually 12-14 days each. Basic internet on board is 75 cents a minute so the package is a value but the connection is usually spotty at best. The best part of status is the 2 hour free Happy Hour each day which saves me $60 a day on bar tabs.The best part of cruising for me is unpacking once and visiting numerous ports.

  • dcsells

    “Grandma, come quick! TPG has a post about cruises!”

    “My stars!”

  • mary

    The Points Guy is about points and travel. Of which, this article completely is relevant.

  • Chuck in Dallas

    Spot on Alan. My family and I love cruises, but you can earn better points on the Barclay Arrival plus (2.22/$) than any other cruise line card. Then you’re not tied to any cruise line.

    I suggest finding a travel agent that you trust and who is willing to put in the work for you finding you the best cruise deal. Not all travel agents are created equally. My wife and I had so many problems with the different online agencies that she started her own travel agency. Use a real human-being. They can always meet or beat the online prices.

  • Wandering Sheppard

    I’m loyal to Royal cruiser (which includes Celebrity) and I was let down last year when they diluted their Captain’s Club. Before it was based on nights regardless of cabin class and you could reach at the time Elite very easily (which was pretty good). While they arguably upgraded the program by adding the two new levels, it takes a reasonable cruiser a long time to get Elite+, the lower of the new levels. (I calculated 22 week long cruises for Concierge/Aqua). Celebrity does give 25-50 bonus points in recent promotions, which I guess helps – but it’s not going to get your free cappuccinos like racking up airline miles/hotel points

    When it comes to credit cards and cruising, the absolute best is always stacking United Cruises and Chase Sapphire Preferred. I’ve thought about Barclays Arrival, but wasn’t overly excited about the rebate (wish it was more like the CSP travel portal redemption).

  • K Johnson

    Alan, I earned 150 free internet minutes (among other decent benefits) after taking 3 cruises by myself on Princess last year (4 days total between the cruises). I used that benefit on 4 day cruise earlier this year and can use it on all future Princess cruises unless they change the program. I spent less than 1/10th of the amount you state and those who didn’t have to fly to take the cruises like I did likely spent much less.

  • Glaire

    Good analysis. There’s are quite a few times where purchasing a higher category gets you more points per night per dollar spent. This is especially true on reposition cruises where a Concierage class cabin is less than double the inside but you earn 2.5 times points. For example, there is a 15 day Barcelona to Fort Lauderdale for $1250 inside and $2020 Concierage. So that’s earning 30 points vs 75. It’s also a less expensive way to try a higher level of cabin. Celebrity should allow the earning of additional points based on shipboard spend. Holland America gives you one extra credit for each $300 in shipboard spend (even gratuities and you had shipboard credit).

  • Glaire

    Internet packages are outrageously expensive and the internet is slow. There are typically plenty of places in ports to to get free wi-fi access. I would much rather have a discount beverage package than internet package.

  • http://aaadventurephoto.com/ Alan

    Those are platinum level benefits, aren’t they? You certainly found a way to game the system – earning double status points in the shortest possible itineraries. Very nice. But is that $120 of free internet going to make you stick with Princess when Celebrity had a $200 fare sail or throws in free drinks (like they’re doing right now)? Status is only useful if you use it, but a $120 perk isn’t enough to keep me from value shopping… especially if it’s just a perk and not money chopped off the bottom line of the cruise’s price. But a that point, everyone will have a different opinion of what’s important.

  • http://aaadventurephoto.com/ Alan

    Yeah, I hate all-inclusive resorts… Especially when they take me from port to port and let me vacation is several places without having to move my luggage.

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