You now can status match between three of the biggest cruise line loyalty programs

Royal Caribbean loyalists will soon be able to status match their way to perks with luxury line Silversea Cruises — and vice versa.

The same will be true for Celebrity Cruises loyalists.

Royal Caribbean Group, which owns all three brands, will announce Thursday that customers with loyalty program status at any one of the three lines will get equivalent status at the other two.

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For example, Diamond-level members of Royal Caribbean’s Crown & Anchor Society loyalty program will now be able to get instant recognition in Silversea’s Venetian Society loyalty program at the 250 Venetian Society Days milestone award level — even if they’ve never sailed with Silversea.

Similarly, Elite-level members of Celebrity’s Captain’s Club loyalty program will now be able to get recognition in the Silversea program at the 250 Venetian Society Days milestone award level without ever having sailed with the brand.

Royal Caribbean and Celebrity elite members at higher status levels will match into even higher tiers of the Silversea program.

“When that customer is making that decision on their next [cruise] experience, you want them to feel loyal to stay within your family of brands,” Jason Liberty, Royal Caribbean Group CEO, said in an exclusive interview with TPG to discuss the new program.

Speaking by video from his Miami office, Liberty noted that the company’s cruising customers sometimes shifted between cruise brands as their circumstances changed — when they entered a new stage of life with or without kids or grandkids, for instance. They also sometimes shifted between brands to experience a new destination that wasn’t on their favored line’s schedule, he said.

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He suggested that in such cases, Royal Caribbean Group doesn’t want them to choose cruise brands owned by other companies.

“We don’t want a Royal Caribbean customer to find their way onto a competitor’s ship. We would rather them find their way onto one of our ships,” he said. “And loyalty, as you know, is one of the strongest ways to make sure that happens.”

Instant status at 3 brands

The new program will make Royal Caribbean Group the only major cruise company to offer loyalty program status matching across all its wholly owned brands.

Until now, Royal Caribbean Group has offered status matching between the loyalty programs of its Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises brands but not its Silversea brand.

The company also used to offer a status match with the loyalty program for Azamara Cruises, which it once owned.

The new program may have the greatest impact on Royal Caribbean and Celebrity regulars who want to give Silversea a try.

Diamond members in Royal Caribbean’s program and Elite members in Celebrity’s program who status match to the 250 Venetian Society Days level in the Silversea program will be immediately eligible for a 10% discount on Silversea cruises — a significant savings. They’ll also get other perks with the brand that first-time Silversea cruisers wouldn’t normally get.

Membership in Silversea’s Venetian Society at the 250 Venetian Society Days level normally requires completing 250 days of sailing with the line — a high hurdle.

The new status match program also will mean that high-tier Silversea passengers who want to, say, try a suite product on a Royal Caribbean ship — maybe because they’ll have kids or grandkids in tow — will be instantly eligible for all the high-status perks in the Royal Caribbean Crown & Anchor program.

Related: Don’t miss these great perks when sailing with Royal Caribbean

Under the new status matching system, customers with loyalty in any of the three programs will be able to match to an equivalent status level in the other programs at five different tiers. The exact breakdown of status match levels will follow the chart below:


Among the fine print of the new Royal Caribbean Group status match program:

  • It will begin with sailings departing June 5 or later.
  • Customers must enroll in a program before receiving a status match.
  • Customers already enrolled in multiple loyalty programs will be automatically matched across the brands within seven days.

No single loyalty program for now

The new status match program for all three wholly owned Royal Caribbean brands stops short of what some loyalty experts see as a logical next step for the company’s loyalty program efforts: a single combined loyalty program for all three brands.

When TPG asked about this, Liberty suggested the company wanted to be sure it understood what loyal customers at its three brands wanted before making a more radical change. But he hinted more change might be coming.

“This is kind of step one. We want to tie these [programs] together,” he said, calling the new status match program “basically kind of the beginning of a common loyalty platform.”

Saying there was “more to come,” Liberty added, “You’ll see here over time that you’re building status and other things across the family of brands.”

When asked specifically about whether Royal Caribbean Group might shift to a single loyalty program similar to what Marriott offers with its massive Bonvoy program, which allows for earning and burning points across more than 30 hotel brands, Liberty suggested that might not be the right model.

“In some ways Marriott put Bonvoy in front of the brands,” Liberty said, suggesting that stays at Marriott hotels had become all about earning points in the Bonvoy program and not the allures of the individual hotel brands and hotels. That’s something Liberty suggested Royal Caribbean Group doesn’t want to do.

He said the company wanted the individual brands in its portfolio to always be the focus for its customers and the “guest facing” part of the business, not the company’s loyalty program.

“We don’t have what I just typically describe as the earn-and-burn customer,” Liberty noted. “Our customers actually appreciate more the recognition [from loyalty status]. Like, they want to go to the cocktail party for their tier. They want to have free dry cleaning. Those things are more important to them [than earning and burning] points.”

Liberty noted that people don’t cruise as often as they stay in hotels, so an “earn-and-burn” model for a cruise loyalty program that resembled the Marriott Bonvoy program didn’t make as much sense.

“We get you one, two, three times a year. We don’t get you one or two, three times a month, which you have [with] the earn-and-burn type players … mainly hotels and airlines.”

One thing Liberty did note is that there is more overlap between Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Silversea customers than many people might think.

“From what we can see in our data, there’s actually quite a bit of overlap between our suite guests [on Royal Caribbean] and our Silversea guests,” he said.

He gave the example of well-heeled customers who booked top suites on Royal Caribbean’s family-friendly ships, sometimes at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars a week, when traveling with their kids and grandkids. Those same customers might then switch to Silversea’s high-end vessels when they wanted a more intimate or off-the-beaten-path escape to a place like Antarctica.

Liberty reiterated a catchphrase he’s been using in recent conference calls with Wall Street analysts: Royal Caribbean Group wants to move its customers from experiencing “a vacation of a lifetime” with one of its brands to “a lifetime of vacations” at the company’s three brands. The new status match program is a first step in that direction.

“I think we’ve been very intentional about having the right brand in the right segments,” he said. “Now it’s time to make sure that we’re orbiting ourselves around the customer and meet them on the experience that they want to do and recognize them accordingly.”

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