Exclusive: Virgin Voyages to debut cruise loyalty program in 2023, with temporary perks available now
Big news, Virgin Voyages fans: The line's long-awaited loyalty program is finally here.
Or maybe we should say almost here.
The new cruise line backed by Richard Branson's Virgin Group on Tuesday will announce the first details of what it's going to call The Sailing Club, though the program won't officially debut until 2023.
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The line still is working on specifics of the tiers and perks that the program will have for the long term — and, as we'll explain below, it wants your help. But for now, loyal fans of Virgin Voyages will be eligible for some wonderful temporary perks when booking voyages in the coming months.
Specifically, they'll have access to a package of bonus perks called Deep Blue Extras that will include:
- One free Shake for Champagne delivery of bubbly while on board.
- Access to anytime boarding.
- A free premium Wi-Fi package.
- Invites to exclusive cocktail parties.
- Free laundry services.
The Deep Blue Extras perks will be available to all qualifying "sailors," as Virgin Voyages calls passengers, on voyages from September through December of this year only. See below for details on who is considered a qualifying sailor.
In addition to the above, qualifying loyal customers in the coming months will be eligible for a package of spending perks, as well as a $200 onboard credit (known as "sailor loot" at Virgin Voyages), when booking a Virgin Voyages cruise as part of the line's upcoming Red Hot Booking Bonus Months promotion.
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The Red Hot Booking Bonus Months promotion will take place from Aug. 30 through Nov. 15 and be valid for bookings not just in 2022 but beyond. A few notes:
- The perks will not be available for passengers booking with existing voyage credits.
- The onboard credit is combinable with all other promotions.
- Qualifying customers who book during the promotion also will have a chance to win a trip to other Virgin properties.
Now here's where it gets a tad complicated: As part of its lead-up to the official launch of The Sailing Club in 2023, Virgin Voyages will be introducing “tokens” to track all qualifying passenger spending at the line. Token counts for each customer will factor into the benefits they get when the program officially debuts in 2023.
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As part of the new token program, loyal Virgin Voyages customers will get credit in tokens for all the money they have spent with Virgin Voyages since its inception. They also will get credit in tokens for every dollar they spend during the coming Red Hot Booking Bonus Months promotion. Passengers will get a differing number of tokens per dollar spent depending on their current status as customers.
For such purposes, Virgin initially is dividing its customers into three status levels, with customers in all three levels eligible for the short-term 2022 perks listed above.
The three status levels are:
- Sea-Blazers. These are the "pioneers" of Virgin Voyages sailings who took a cruise with the line in 2021. In addition to the above perks, this group will get a $125 Bar Tab Bonus every time they sail with the line for the rest of their lives; this was something Virgin Voyages promised them back in 2021. These customers will get up to four tokens for each dollar spent during the Red Hot Booking Bonus Months promotion.
- Sea-Rovers. These are customers who sailed with Virgin Voyages at least twice during 2022. They'll receive all the above perks plus a $100 Bar Tab Bonus on any sailing over the next two years (valid through 2024). These customers will get up to three tokens for each dollar spent during the Red Hot Booking Bonus Months promotion.
- Match & Sea More Sailors. These are customers who are enrolled in other cruise and select airline travel rewards programs who now will be able to match their status with these other companies to get immediate status in the Virgin Voyages program. As part of this, they’ll be granted the above Sea-Rover status, which includes the $100 Bar Tab Bonus for two years.
Passengers who have sailed only once with the line in 2022 do not qualify for Sea-Rover status and will not get extra tokens toward their 2023 status. Cruisers who don't have Sea-Blazer or Sea-Rover status will get just one token per dollar spent.
Virgin Voyages will launch a microsite today with more details of its new Match & Sea More status match program.
“We are thrilled to introduce the Sailing Club and offer our loyal Sea-Blazers and Sea-Rovers our 2022 Perks Program as a thank you for being our biggest fans,” Virgin Voyages president and chief experience officer Nirmal Saverimuttu said in a statement sent to TPG. “We look forward to welcoming our future Match & Sea More Sailors to experience setting sail the Virgin Way.”
As part of Tuesday's announcement, Virgin Voyages also will be soliciting comments from fans on which perks they want to see most in The Sailing Club program when it officially debuts in 2023. The line will be taking suggestions by email at email@example.com.
Virgin Voyages also is seeking volunteers to participate in surveys and focus groups. Details will be posted on the line's website.
The Sailing Club will be a new program, separate from the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club and Virgin Red programs that are connected to other Virgin brands. Members of those programs in the U.S. already can redeem their Virgin Points on sailings from Miami and Barcelona on both of the line's current ships, Scarlet Lady and Valiant Lady. Capital One cardholders also can access cruises for points through a partnership between Capital One and Virgin Red announced in March.
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