Thursday, August 22, 2019

Travel Loyalty Progams - Are they worth it?


Two frequent questions that come up when you are making friends on a cruise are: Is this your first cruise? Have you tried any other cruise lines? 

Some travelers love sailing the same cruise line. It’s familiar.  Cruise ships within the same company tend to have the same bars and restaurants on most ships.

Cruise lines offer perks for people who cruise their line frequently. If you get to the upper levels of these programs, you may qualify for free laundry, free mini bar or even a free cruise. Frequent sailors also like the special recognition. They enjoy the invites to special parties or the recognition by the Captain.

Someone once asked me if I could choose only one cruise line to sail for the rest of my life, what would I pick? I picked Princess. They have a great variety in the fleet from small ships to big ships. Their itineraries span the globe and they have good food.
But I don't have to cruise just one - so I don't. Sometimes,  I want to sail a unique itinerary or try a brand new ship or find the cheapest 7 night cruise and just go.
I’ve sailed on Carnival, Norwegian, Azamara, Princess, Viking Ocean, Holland America, Hurtigruten, Royal Caribbean, Disney, Celebrity, and Viking River.  All of them had good points and all of the them had trade offs. Two exceptions: Royal Caribbean Enchantment of the Seas and Holland America Rotterdam. Our cruises on those ships had more trade offs than good points.

As with all things related to travel, it’s about making the right choice for you.

Two places where I think loyalty can pay off are airlines and hotels – especially if you have their credit card and travel often.

For airlines, I picked the airline I flew the most out of Tampa: Southwest. I signed up for their credit card. Through frequent travel and credit card spending, I earned the Companion Pass. This meant my husband flew free with me on any Southwest flight. That saved us over $1,000.

For hotels,  I personally really like the Hilton program. When you reach the Gold level, you can pick your perk. Free breakfast at hotels that don’t normally serve breakfast is a great perk. Wyndham also has a great program if you tend to road trip. Their program includes La Quinta, Baymont, Super 8 and TRYP.

What’s your take on these programs? What perks make it worth it to you to be brand loyal?

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