Martha and I have gone on three cruises, two on Norwegian Cruise Line and one on Carnival. We’ve had a blast all three times, though we are big fans of NCL’s Freestyle Cruising mentality. With Freestyle Cruising, you don’t have to schedule a time to eat dinner at the “Fine Dining” restaurants (to use a Disney term). You simply go when you’re hungry and you’re seated when they have seats available. We’ve been fortunate never to have waited longer then ten minutes for a table, so it works for us.
Having sailed twice on NCL, we started thinking about their loyalty program. Our second cruise, which was on the Norwegian Sky to the Bahamas, was discounted because we were Latitudes (their program name) members.
So let’s take a look at the program!
Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) has a four tier loyalty membership program, named Latitudes:
- Bronze: After the first cruise, travelers enter the Bronze tier.
- Silver: After the fifth cruise, travelers enter the Silver tier.
- Gold: After your 9th cruise, you’re in the Gold tier.
- Platinum: After the fourteenth cruise, you reach the highest tier of Platinum.
If you remember our look at Carnival Cruises’ Past Guest Program, NCL’s program has more tiers but you get to them faster. For both cruise lines, you enter the first tier after your first cruise. You don’t get to Platinum Member status on Carnival until your 10th sailing, which corresponds with the Gold tier for NCL. In the end, the tiers don’t matter all that much, it’s really about the benefits, right? Your status could be Plutonium for all you care, it’s about what you get.
With Bronze Membership you get the Latitudes newsletter and mailings, which includes deals on cruises available only to past cruisers, plus priority check-in, a members-only cocktail party, and access to an on-board latitudes representative. This is about the same as Carnival’s first tier, except Carnival doesn’t offer priority check-in, which is arguably a great early perk.
Take all the Bronze perks and add an exclusive on-board gathering and on-board discounts. It’s unclear what the gathering is or what on-board discounts are but I suppose it’s better than not getting invited to the gathering or being offered the discount. This likely changes from ship to ship.
Gold Membership adds priority restaurant reservations, priority tender tickets, and priority disembarkation, which is similar to what Carnival offers its Platinum members. You also receive a discount of 25% off the reatil price of laundry service.
Platinum adds complimentary laundry service (one bag per member), dinner in Le Bistro (includes a bottle of wine), and a complimentary “Behind the Scenes” Ship Tour (on cruises of 5 nights or longer). If you compare this to Carnival, you’ll notice that laundry service is a perk they offer after nine cruises, NCL takes fourteen. In this respect, NCL might have more levels but not necessarily more perks. It’s the same perks just spread out across more sailings.
Overall, it’s an average cruise line loyalty program. It’s not awesome, it’s not terrible, but it doesn’t make NCL more attractive than any other line. We’ve gone on a couple NCL cruises and enjoyed them for what they were, not what they earned us in the loyalty program. That being said, we were able to get great discounts because we were past guests, which is ultimately what matters. Perks aside, if we get a good deal on a cruise, we still come out ahead.