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There's a new superstar in the world of super-elite cruisers — and she has four legs

Oct. 27, 2022
5 min read
There's a new superstar in the world of super-elite cruisers — and she has four legs
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There's a new top dog in the world of hard-core cruisers that reach the pinnacle of elite status. And when we say top dog, we mean that literally.

Holland America on Wednesday said that, for the first time, a service dog had cruised so much with the line that it was deserving of the ultimate award in the brand's Mariners Society loyalty program, a Platinum Medallion.

In a ceremony on board Holland America's 2,668-passenger Rotterdam, Holland America president Gus Antorcha presented the black Labrador retriever, Joska, with the medallion.

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To receive the award, a cruiser must spend at least 700 days on a Holland America ship — the equivalent of nearly two years at sea. Only a very small portion of Mariners Society members ever reach the milestone.

Joska has spent that many days on Holland America ships over the last eight years in the company of her owners, Cornelia (known as “Connie”) and Cornelis Marinussen, who are both on board Rotterdam this week, too.

The vessel is in the midst of a commemorative transatlantic crossing that is marking the 150th anniversary of Holland America's first voyage.

Related: New Holland America booking offer will help you save

Both of the Marinussens have received the Platinum Medallion.

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Holland America said that Joska, who is 10 years old, and her owners spend most of their days cruising with the line.

Joska the service dog with her owners and representatives from Holland America. HOLLAND AMERICA

During the onboard ceremony, Antorcha and the captain of Rotterdam, Werner Timmers, also presented Joska with 5-Star Mariner Society status — the highest level of elite status in the Mariner Society program.

As a 5-Star Mariner Society member, Joska will — like her owners — be eligible for a long list of valuable elite perks such as priority check-in and priority access to ship-to-shore tenders.

That said, we suspect that the appeal of quite a few of the 5-Star perks may be lost on Joska. She may not find a need for the $30 credit toward an internet package that comes with 5-Star status, for instance, or the complimentary laundry and pressing service (which is available to both 4-Star and 5-Star members).

The top Mariner Society tier also brings a complimentary day pass to the shipboard spa. We're not sure how that would play out for a dog.

Related: After 900 cruises, a Royal Caribbean fan hits a milestone that may never be equaled

Reaching 5-Star status in the Mariner Society program normally requires accumulating 500 "cruise day credits." Customers receive the credits both for the number of days they travel (with bonuses for staying in suites) and for hitting certain milestones in onboard spending.

The Platinum Medallion is awarded strictly on the absolute number of days one spends on Holland America ships.

In addition to presenting Joska with a Platinum Medallion and 5-Star status this week, Antorcha and Timmers gave her something that most top-tier Mariner Society members don't receive: A selection of dog-friendly, Holland America-branded gifts.

“Joska is the first service animal to achieve this lofty status, and we wanted to honor her with an event that shows her how special she is to everyone in our company,” Antorcha said during the ceremony.

Passengers normally aren't allowed to bring animals onto Holland America ships, but — as is typically the case for cruise ships — there is an exception for registered service animals.

Related: The 4 types of Holland America ships, explained

Joska has been a familiar sight on Holland America ships over the past few years. Her owners, who began sailing regularly with the line in 2013, have racked up nearly 60 cruises with the brand to all sorts of destinations, from Alaska and Hawaii to the Caribbean and Europe.

Joska hasn't sailed on quite as many cruises as her owners. However, she now has more than 50 cruises under her belt, according to line. She joined the Marinussen family in 2014 to assist Connie Marinussen, who is legally blind.

Holland America called Joska "among the most traveled dogs in the world."

"Joska has become a member of our family," Antorcha said. "She not only brightens the spirits of everyone on board, but she also allows Connie to do what she loves most, which is to cruise and explore the world.”

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Featured image by HOLLAND AMERICA
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees