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Why You Might Want Status on a Cruise Line

There are perks to having status.

On my last sailing with Princess Cruises, check-in at the Port of Galveston on the day of embarkation was a breeze. I skipped lines and was on board the ship in no time, also beating the lunch rush. As I lingered over a glass of white wine and a Neapolitan-style pizza at Alfredo’s Pizzeria in the atrium, I watched throngs of tired passengers walk onto the ship, secretly thrilled I’d gotten there first.

On the day of disembarkation, while on another sailing with the line, I relaxed in a dedicated lounge with fresh coffee and pastries while waiting for my group number to be called. This is way better than standing or walking around aimlessly on the saddest day—because it’s the last—of the entire cruise.

There’s a reason for these priority perks. It’s called cruise-line status. It’s lesser known than the process of accumulating miles on one airline or stacking up points with a hotel brand, but essentially the same thing: you are treated better, given access to time-saving methods, and receive a lot of perks.

When shopping for cruises, particularly because all the large-ship cruise lines literally sail the same itineraries, it can pay off to stick with just one line. With Princess Cruises, I’ve earned Platinum status in its Captain’s Circle program by taking eight cruises (translating to 49 cruise days, another way to earn status). This is the second-highest status level.

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If you hop between cruise lines, you’re never going to get any perks. Read on to learn examples of what cruise lines offer to their most valued (ahem, traveled) guests. Once you earn status, you often get a lapel pin. Wear it proud!


Want early access to new itineraries? Princess Cruises’ Elite status unlocks the keys. Norwegian Cruise Line’s Latitude Rewards program provides offers for all five of its status levels on select sailings. During the booking process, and before the ship sails, Celebrity Cruises allows upgrades—within cabin categories—for all five of its statuses within the Captain’s Club loyalty program, from Classic to Zenith.

Boarding Process

Nearly every cruise line rewards its loyalty members—the top statuses—by making the boarding process as easy as possible. It’s a real buzz kill, after all, to start your vacation off in a series of queues, especially after a day of travel to get to the port. Now, you can jump lines and get onto the ship faster. Then, once you’re on board, you get access to a priority line at the Guest Services Desk on several cruise lines if you have status, including Carnival Cruise Lines’ VIFP Program (if you’ve earned Platinum or Diamond status).

Courtesy fo Norwegian Cruise Line

In-Cabin Amenities

From WiFi packages to laundry, the higher you climb up the status chart with a cruise line, the more likely these are free. In the meantime, you may receive discounts. For example, Royal Caribbean’s Diamond Plus in its Crown & Anchor Society gets one day free of WiFi, while the highest level (Pinnacle Club) earns two free days. Some cruise lines, including Princess Cruises, will even stock the mini-bar for you in case you get the midnight munchies once you reach top status.

On-Board Perks

Once you get on board, you see the most perks. Many cruise lines—including Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Princess Cruises—invite passengers with status to join an Officer’s Party and Cocktail Party, which are opportunities to meet staff as well as other guests.

Cruise lines also reward loyalty members with discounts on drinks packages or by-the-glass purchases at bars. This makes the cost easier to absorb because most people are going to incur drink charges. With Diamond, Diamond Plus, and Pinnacle Club on Royal Caribbean, drinks up to $14 are covered, which might mean you don’t have to pay for a drinks package. And the higher you get up in status, the more likely you’re avoiding crowded buffets and dining rooms for an intimate breakfast at a specialty restaurant. Princess Cruises stocks the mini bar for its Elite passengers, and Norwegian Cruise Line delivers chocolate-covered strawberries to staterooms occupied by those who have achieved their top four (of six) status levels.


For cruise lines with coffee bars and gelato cafes, status means you get either free scoops or drinks or deeply discounted options. One example is on Royal Caribbean ships, where even the lowest loyalty level (Gold) pays less for coffee drinks. Speaking of sweets, the top-three status levels in MSC Cruises’ Voyagers Club gift you a birthday cake, so you might want to sail on or near your special day. Specialty dining reservations are easier to make—and maybe even the cover charge covered. Members of Holland America’s Mariner’s Society 4-Star and 5-Star Mariner status can book at 50% off, for example.

Priority seating is another reward, including in the theater or other venues on the ship.

And if you’re a sailor who needs a spa splurge, several cruise lines provide a discount. Princess Cruises’ Platinum and Elite status members get 10% off treatments. (This discount also applies to on-board shops selling jewelry, clothing, souvenirs, and snacks.) Holland America provides 5-star Mariner guests with a day pass to its Greenhouse Spa and Salon Thermal Suite.


Shore Excursions

When the ship gets into the port, the first thing you want to do is get off, right? If you have Platinum and Elite status with Princess Cruises, for example, you can jump the line. This allows for more time in port and less time waiting in line to leave the ship.

As far as booking shore excursions, having status means you get priority off the waitlist and sometimes even a discounted fee. It’s not uncommon for shore excursions—the really cool ones, at least—to fill up well before the sailing date.


As mentioned above, the saddest day on a cruise is disembarkation day, and to make matters worse, it’s always in the early morning. If you have a status as I do, you can relax in a lounge with coffee and fresh pastries and get away from the rest of the passengers while you enjoy the final moments of your cruise. It’s akin to an airline’s lounge where food and drink are provided, and you have people taking care of you. I can’t think of a better way to end a cruise other than late check-out, with MSC Cruises’ being one of the lines to offer that to its most-traveled guests at the Diamond level.

robomax July 9, 2024

FYI - on the Carnival Cruise line, you do NOT need status as a first-time cruiser. All you have to do is pay $70+ per person for the "Faster to the Fun" upgrade option. It is worth EVERY penny! I cruised eight years ago for the first time from Long Beach with my family and paid $50 per person - We skipped the line at check-in and skipped the line to get off the ship to board the boat to Catalina Island.Having cruised twice, spent hours reading comments and reviews on cruise-related Reddit posts and websites, and created a very lengthy packing list, here is my advice:1. Stay AWAY from photos taken by cruise employees – you will end up paying $500. Take your own digital photos and enjoy FREE memories.2. Book offshore excursions DIRECTLY with the cruise line – YES, you will overpay, BUT the cruise line legally cannot leave you if your group is late back to the ship. They HAVE to stay in port and wait for you.3. Check out online websites like and Reddit posts for the best cabins on the specific cruise ship you plan to sail.4. Arrive one day early if you are flying to where the port is located and stay in the hotel closest to the port to account for flight delays/cancellations, etc.5. If you are boarding the cruise early in the day, your cabin might not be available yet. You might want to pack a small bag and be already dressed in swimming clothes.