Too POSH to push for perks?

//Too POSH to push for perks?

Cruise loyalty clubs – awarding the equivalent of airlines’ frequent flyer miles to their regular customers – can be complex affairs with different tiers of membership and associated privileges which are jealously guarded by members.
Discounted fares, early-booking opportunities, exclusive receptions with senior officers, free drinks at sailaway parties; even unlimited internet access and complimentary laundry are among the perks on offer, and woe betide anyone who meddles with them.
P&O have taken the brave – or foolhardy – step of announcing a new Peninsular Club which will replace the existing Portunus Club from April next year.
Out will go the three membership levels of Ruby, Sapphire and Gold, to be replaced by six new tiers: from the common or garden Atlantic and Pacific, through Mediterranean and Caribbean, to the ultra-exclusive Baltic and Ligurian.
To gain access to the top two levels, passengers must have amassed at least 2,500 points (earned at the rate of 10 for every night spent on board a P&O ship) and to retain membership they must have spent more than 80 nights on board during the previous three years. Membership will be confirmed on a cruise-by-cruise basis.
Announcing the changes, P&O president Carol Marlow said the new scheme “has been shaped by our customers’ experiences and their comments, which demanded a more exclusive club.”
Perhaps they wanted a return to the appropriately-named POSH club which was replaced by Portunus.
But Carol cannot have been surprised to read some moans on the We Love Cruising forum which caters almost exclusively for P&O passengers.
One Sapphire member wrote: “I’m losing a Portunus party and gaining a glass of cheap sailaway Champagne. Cheers, P&O, that really makes me feel special after 10-plus cruises in five years.”
Another said: “I can see this upsetting a lot of new Gold members. P&O must be bracing themselves for a barrage of complaints. Very strange way to run a loyalty club.”
Some, however, welcomed the new scheme. One comment read: “I like the new benefits. P&O have to set the goalposts somewhere and as it stands I am comfortably in the Baltics so I have some added perks to look forward to.”
Whether the club encourages passengers to stay loyal to P&O rather than booking cruises with rivals such as Celebrity or NCL – which is, after all, the primary objective – remains to be seen. And it would appear that a little code-sharing affiliation, such as that employed by airlines, is a step too far. Passengers travelling with P&O’s sister companies like Cunard and Princess cannot pool their points. Time for another reform already?

By | 2017-06-15T16:00:09+00:00 2 March 2011|Cruise News|0 Comments

About the Author:

John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.

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