Everything you need to know about Disney Cruise Line’s Castaway Club loyalty program

Dec 22, 2020

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Disney Cruise Line has a relatively modest loyalty program.

Unlike such cruise lines as Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line, Disney doesn’t offer its loyalty club members over-the-top perks such as a free cruise after reaching a top tier. There are no big discounts on shore excursions and spa treatments for members, like some lines offer.

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Still, the Castaway Club, as Disney calls its loyalty program, does bring a few valuable perks at its higher-level tiers, including early access to new itineraries and onboard activities.

The program also is one where it is relatively easy to reach a high-level tier.

Ways to earn

Earning status in the Castaway Club is about as simple as can be. You get a credit for every cruise you take — whether it’s three nights long or 10 nights long. That’s it. No muss, no fuss. Your status, as we’ll explain below, depends entirely on how many cruises you take.

Program tiers and benefits

There are just three tiers to the Castaway Club program:

  • Silver (after one cruise)
  • Gold (after five cruises)
  • Platinum (after 10 cruises)

Once you reach the first tier of the program (Silver), you will be entitled to exactly half a dozen perks. Perhaps the most notable of these is the ability to make advance bookings for onboard cruise activities such as ticket-only character greetings and specialty restaurant dinners up to 90 days before sailings. This is a big deal in the world of Disney cruises, where some of the hottest activities on ships sell out quickly.

Related: The ultimate guide to Disney Cruise Line 

Disney Dream at Port Canaveral, Florida
Disney Cruise Line currently operates four ships including the Port Canaveral, Florida-based Disney Dream. (Photo by Red Huber/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

Silver members also will be able to book new Disney cruise itineraries one day ahead of the general public. That may not seem like much of a head start, but it can be a real advantage when trying to snag the perfect cabin on a hot new itinerary. Disney fans are known to snap up the best cabins — if not all the cabins — on unique new sailings very quickly.

In addition, Silver members get:

  • Exclusive Castaway Club communications
  • A members-only direct phone line to call for information and assistance
  • A members-only check-in line at the cruise terminal
  • A welcome-back-aboard gift

Upon reaching the Gold level, members get all the above perks with two notable upgrades. For starters, they will have the ability to make advance bookings for onboard cruise activities up to 105 days before sailings. That’s 15 days earlier than Silver members. They also will be able to book new Disney cruise itineraries two days ahead of the general public.

In addition, Gold members get:

  • Early access to select port arrival times
  • A private reception on sailings of eight nights or longer
  •  Special discounts on voyages

The elite level that makes a difference

It isn’t really until you hit the Platinum level of the Castaway Club that the perks start to get interesting. The big perk at this level is that you can book new itineraries earlier than everyone else and you also have the earliest possible access to reserve onboard activities.

Specifically, you can make reservations for newly announced itineraries three days before the general public, and you can book activities up to 120 days in advance of sailing.

Related: A beginner’s guide to cruise line loyalty programs 

In the world of Disney, this is a very big deal. As mentioned above, Disney fans are known to snap up all the good cabins for a popular sailing the moment a trip goes on sale. Ditto for onboard activities.

In addition, Platinum status also brings access to members-only voyage discounts and priority check-in at the terminal. Only Concierge class passengers board Disney ships ahead of Platinum members.

Best elite perk

Unlike some lines, Disney doesn’t offer any truly over-the-top elite perks such as the free cruise that top-tier members of Royal Caribbean’s Crown & Anchor Society get. It’s also skimpy on handing out big discounts on shore excursions, spa treatments and other cruise line-sold services to elite members — something some other lines do. But there are a few perks that get us at least modestly excited.

The most enticing offering in our view is the free dinner that comes with Platinum status at Palo, an adults-only, high-end Italian restaurant found on every Disney ship.

Related: The best credit cards for booking cruises

The invitation extends to the elite member and any other adult passenger staying in the same cabin. Assuming there are two of you, that’s an $80 value. Palo normally costs $40 per person.

Bottom line

Disney Cruise Line offers a handful of decent perks to members of its loyalty program, including early access to new itineraries and onboard activities. But the Castaway Club program is not nearly as robust a frequent cruiser program like those offered by other well-known brands such as Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line. If you’re going to sail a lot with Disney, you’ll want to do it because you love the brand, not because you’re expecting a lot of onboard recognition for your loyalty.

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Featured image courtesy of Disney Cruise Line

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