Kids can now join the Princess Cruises loyalty program

Oct 27, 2019

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Younger travelers who’ve caught the points-and-miles bug got some good news this week out of the Princess Cruises headquarters in Santa Clarita, California: They finally can join the line’s Captain’s Circle loyalty program.

Until now, the four-tiered program only was open to passengers ages 18 and older.

The change means younger cruisers who travel a lot with the line will be entitled to such Captain’s Circle perks as complimentary laundry service and discounts in shipboard shops.

Perhaps of more importance to the typical teen or tween (and certainly their parents), they’ll also now be eligible for the free internet time on ships that comes with higher status in the program. Captain’s Circle members receive up to 500 minutes of free internet time per cruise once they reach Platinum status – the third of the program’s four levels.

The best credit cards for booking cruises

“By extending the benefits of our Captain’s Circle Loyalty Program to our youth guests, they will remain more connected than ever to their friends and family and continue to share their joy of cruising with the world,” Princess Cruises president Jan Swartz said in a statement accompanying the announcement.

With the change, Princess becomes the first and only cruise line to offer younger cruisers free internet access as a loyalty program perk.

While airlines generally allow children to have their own loyalty accounts, that hasn’t always been the case with cruise lines. In addition to Princess, major cruise operators that have limited their programs to travelers ages 18 and older include Norwegian Cruise Line and Celebrity Cruises (in Norwegian’s case, cruises taken as a minor will be credited to their account after they turn 18).

Lines that extend their loyalty programs to minors include Carnival, Royal Caribbean, MSC Cruises and Holland America. At Royal Caribbean, children can have their own accounts, but also can get the status level of their parents for all tier levels except the top Pinnacle Club tier.

In a big win for left-out-until-now little ones, Princess is making the change to its Captain’s Circle program retroactive. Young passengers will get Captain’s Circle credit for all past voyages with the line. As a result, some younger Princess passengers will jump from no status at all to the very top Elite tier in the program overnight.

In making its announcement, Princess said it already had run the numbers to figure out (and contact) the youthful traveler with the most Princess cruises under his or her belt — and it’s nine-year-old Wyatt Wilkinson, of Los Angeles. Thanks to a grandmother who began taking him along on cruises when he was just 1 year old, he’s already been on 46 sailings.

Princess also identified the youthful cruiser with the most days at sea: Alexis Lavoie, 15, of Montreal. A veteran of two extended world cruises and a 60-day trip around South America, he’s already been at sea 538 days. While that’s nowhere near the number of days that record-setting Princess cruiser Ilene Weiner has spent at sea, it’s not bad for a 15-year-old.

Both Wilkinson and Lavoie will receive top-tier Elite status in the Captain’s Circle program. As is typical with cruise line loyalty programs, their new status levels will be valid indefinitely. Unlike airlines, cruise lines don’t require passengers to requalify for status every year.

The Captain’s Circle program at Princess is typical of cruise line loyalty programs in that status is based on hitting certain milestones related to the number of cruises taken or number of days spent at sea over an entire lifetime.

The first two tiers of the Captain’s Circle program, Gold and Ruby, offer relatively minor perks (the most notable being some additional discounts on early booking fares). The program really doesn’t start getting interesting until you hit the top two tiers, Platinum and Elite.

The Platinum level, which comes after your fifth cruise credit or 50 days at sea, brings the free internet package on every sailing, priority check-in at embarkation and access to a special lounge at disembarkation.

The Elite level, which comes after 16 cruise credits or 151 days at sea, adds such perks as priority access to ship-to-shore water shuttles, priority disembarkation, free shoeshines, free laundry service and a discount in shipboard shops.

Captain’s Circle members generally get one cruise credit per voyage but qualify for two credits per trip when staying in a suite or paying a “single supplement” charge when traveling alone.

How to book a cruise using points and miles

Parents and their kiddos should know there is one Elite perk that children won’t be getting: Complimentary access to onboard wine tastings that normally come with a charge. Princess says the minimum age for beneficiaries of the perk will continue to be 21.

The change to the Captain’s Circle program comes as Princess rolls out a faster internet system fleetwide that will make it easier to deliver the free internet perk that is offered to higher-level Captain’s Circle members. The system, called MedallionNet, already is on several ships.

Princess also is setting its sights on drawing more families with children and more groups of multigenerational travelers. The “Love Boat line,” as it’s often called, hasn’t historically been as big with families as brands like Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Norwegian, which boast ships loaded with massive water slides, kiddie splash zones, go cart tracks and other family-friendly amusements.

Feature photo by Gene Sloan / The Points Guy

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,650

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
  • Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

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

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.