Is Princess Cruises Loyalty Program Even Worth It?

Is Princess Cruises Loyalty Program Even Worth It?

Each year, we set out to experience a new cruise line. In 2021, we experienced Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas. In 2022, we got to experience Celebrity Apex from Celebrity Cruises. And now, in 2023, we’re getting ready to sail Virgin Voyages’ Valiant Lady over Thanksgiving.

As I evaluate what cruise line to try next, I start my research with a line’s loyalty program. I always want to know what perks I can achieve by sailing with the cruise line. Especially having reached Diamond status with Carnival Cruise Line, it’s hard to go backward.

Earning Princess Cruises Loyalty Levels

After finding a few bookings on Princess Cruises that got me excited, I pulled up their loyalty rewards program information. Princess Cruises Loyalty Program is called the Princess Captain’s Circle and it’s free to be a member.

The program is divided into 4 tiers which I’ve highlighted below:

  • Gold – after completing your first cruise
  • Ruby – after completing 3 cruises or 30 cruise days
  • Platinum – after completing 5 cruises or 50 cruise days
  • Elite – after completing 15 cruises or 150 cruise days

It’s interesting to see that Princess Cruises still includes an option to reach status based on number of cruises. When I look at October 2023, I could book three cruises back-to-back for a total of 13 days on Crown Princess for $886 (two 3-day sailings and one 7-day sailing, base fare, not including taxes, port fees, gratuities). These 3 sailings would put me at Ruby status for under $1,000!

Carnival Cruise Line’s VIFP Club used to be structured this way, but it tended to penalize those cruisers who sailed longer, more expensive itineraries with the line as cruisers who booked cheap, 3-day sailings, were reaching status levels faster and at a much lower cost.

Princess Captain’s Circle Membership Benefits by Level

Gold Level
Each of the various levels come with perks. After your first sailing, you are considered Gold and have access to some savings and pricing offers, a tier-specific recognition pin, and access to a “Circle Host” – a crewmember on board who will help make sure you get the most out of your member benefits. You also get invited to members-only onboard events. Nothing that really excites me.

Ruby Level
Once you reach Ruby, as mentioned in my example above, you have access to some additional perks, although, none of these particularly excite me, either. You get a Captain’s Circle Help Desk phone line. You also receive a discount on an upgraded Vacation Protection plan. When you read the fine print, that discount is “With purchase of standard Princess Vacation Protection” which costs 9% of the cruise cost according to Princess’ website:

Image Courtesy Princess Cruises

If you book one of those 3-day cruises I mentioned at an ultra low rate to speed up your status achievement, the 9% of cruise cost doesn’t apply as there’s a minimum price of $39!

So, Ruby gets you an upgrade to the Platinum Plan at the Standard Plan price point. Um. Woohoo?

Platinum Level
The Platinum level is where the perks should start to become more meaningful, but there’s still a lot of catches.

You get 50% off a MedallionNet® internet package – but that “discount” is applied as a credit to your account. Additionally, if you decide to upgrade your cruise to include the Princess Plus or Princess Premier Package, this benefit is meaningless as both include internet.

Image Courtesy Princess Cruises

In addition to internet, you get some additional discounts on board like 10% off Lotus Spa® treatments. But, keep in mind, this is not combinable with any other Spa offers on board. So that “manager’s special” or “port day deal” that’s advertised? The 10% discount doesn’t apply. It also does not apply to any retail products purchased in the spa. Finally, if you book your Spa treatment prior to sailing, you will receive your 10% discount back as a refund to your account as an onboard credit.

Image Courtesy Princess Cruises

Similar to the Spa discount, the 10% off photos in the photo gallery is not combinable with any other offer. Based on this, compare the discount offered as part of your Platinum status with the deals offered on the ship as those deals may be better! Additionally, the fine print states that the discount is available on printed and digital photos, but is not valid on events such as weddings, renewal of vows, and large group photos (sorry bride and groom above; no discount for you!).

Ok, so the discounts aren’t all that great – but at least you get access to the Platinum and Elite Lounge, right? That’s got to be a big perk!

Well, once again, even the lounge benefit isn’t all that exciting. The Platinum and Elite Lounge gives you access to a special space on board that offers select discounted cocktails and some small bites like Guacamole with Tortilla Chips.

Sure, it’s nice to gather with fellow frequent cruisers, but the perk is really not that exciting or great, especially when compared with other cruise lines. And, if you book the Princess Plus or Princess Premier Packages that give you access to free drinks all sailing, this benefit is useless.

Elite Status
Ok, this is where the magic has to take place! At 15 cruises, or 150 cruise days, you’ve certainly demonstrated your loyalty to Princess Cruise Line! Truthfully, this is the only level that I find of value. Elite Status members get early access to itineraries, priority water shuttle and debarkation services, and complimentary laundry service (excludes same day) and shoe polishing to start.

Additionally, Elite Status provides some additional 10%-off discounts to The Shops of Princess and shore excursions. However, like the previously mentioned discounts, the 10% off is not combinable with any other promotion that the line may be running pre-cruise or on board, so compare options wisely. Similarly, like the Spa discount, if you book a shore excursion pre-cruise, the 10% discount will be applied to your account as an onboard credit.

What I really love about Elite Status though is the complimentary mini bar set-up and complimentary Grapevine Wine Tasting Event. The mini-bar set-up is one per stateroom while the Tasting Event is one per Elite Status member. Both benefits are limited to once per cruise.

Of course, as mentioned with the previous benefits, if you purchase the Plus or Premier Package that Princess has been pushing, mini-bar and wine tasting experiences are kind of a moot point as you’ll have access to “free” drinks throughout your cruise.

Final Thoughts

While we are seriously still considering Princess Cruises for our next cruise line to try, the Princess Captain’s Circle Loyalty Program doesn’t play into that decision in any way. Considering we’re looking at upgrading to either the Princess Plus or Princess Premier Package, we’ll actually have benefits that are on par to the highest level Elite Status for our very first sailing!

We’d love to hear from you! Are you loyal to Princess Cruises? Do you find that the Princess Captain’s Circle keeps you coming back or are there things you’d like to see changed about the program to make it more richer and more rewarding? Drop a comment below!

Full Program Details

Click the image below to access the PDF that provides full details on Princess Captain’s Circle Loyalty Program:

Image Courtesy Princess Cruises

4 thoughts on “Is Princess Cruises Loyalty Program Even Worth It?”

  1. I am not loyal to any one cruise company. But the Princess program is the most useless of any ship. So disappointing. I am Sapphire . Looking at booking another cruise . Very tempting to go with NCL [ both going to the same area ports] just because of the program really offers you so much more. Feel Princess does no long care about loyalty.

    1. Thanks for confirming what we kind of saw looking at the Princess Captain’s Circle Program. Definitely time for a revamp to actually reward loyal cruisers. Although, with how hot the industry is right now, I’m not sure any of the lines are really that concerned.

      We really like what we see with NCL’s loyalty program. In fact, I’m working on a couple additional articles that deep-dive into various cruise loyalty programs. We also are a fan of free laundry, priority boarding, and the Diamond Luncheon on board Carnival Cruises Line. Hoping with their revamp, they’ll add some additional levels with even richer perks. -Mark

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