Five different Royal Caribbean ships will be sailing in Australia as part of the line’s next season, and one taste of the Royal Caribbean style is potentially very addictive to the point where you’ll be keen to try each of these ships as they each have their own unique flavour. It’s the perfect formula for developing a loyal cruiser and this is where the Crown & Anchor Society loyalty program comes into play.

Upon visiting Royal Caribbean’s website, a link to the program can be found in the upper left-hand side of the screen. If you haven’t joined before, it’s free to do so and once you’re in, a whole world of benefits and perks to further enhance your cruise experience is within reach.

Crown & Anchor Society offers six membership tiers (Gold, Platinum, Emerald, Diamond, Diamond Plus and Pinnacle Club) and the perks start rolling in the door from your second cruise onwards. Your first cruise still counts toward your status, but should also be about getting to know the line, finding out what you like most about it and subconsciously planning your life’s worth of sea holidays. Each day you spend on a Royal Caribbean ship, you earn one point towards climbing the ladder towards each subsequent tier.

After signing up and creating a profile, one of the first things you can do which will immediately bring a smile to your face is to set your upgrade preferences. Straight away, Royal Caribbean wants to know how you prefer for your stateroom to be upgraded on any future sailings – whether automatic, with restrictions that you can set yourself or if indeed you prefer to keep your cabin right where it is. That’s right, you don’t have to be upgraded if you don’t wish to.

Once you get back from your first cruise and set the wheels in motion toward your second (and onwards), you can access exclusive fares through being a Crown & Anchor member as well receive advance notice on new ships, new itineraries and special offers. These are among a raft of booking privileges which grow each time you cruise. As you start racking up the points and ascending through the tiers, further pre-booking perks open up, including:

  • Matching tier entry into the respective loyalty schemes of Royal Caribbean’s sister lines Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises.
  • Discounts on balcony and suite staterooms booked.

Then, after you board your second cruise and each voyage thereafter, the perks increase. To start with, they’re fairly modest and include things such as a book of value offers, a different colour SeaPass reflecting your tier status and an invitation to special ‘Members Only’ events such as a ‘Welcome Back’ party and an exclusive Trivia game.

The rewards for Crown & Anchor members also extend on land thanks to Royal Caribbean’s partnership with MGM Resorts International. The casino and resort operator offers reciprocal entry to its own MLife loyalty program, which opens up discounts on hotel visits and dining at MGM properties around the world including the popular tourist hotspot of Las Vegas.

If you’re just starting out, it’s actually quite easy to climb the ladder to the first few tiers of the system. Starting out on the Gold tier after your first cruise, you only need to do two more sailings (of 14 days or more – regularly run on sailings from Australia) in an Interior, Ocean View or Balcony stateroom and you’re already at Platinum status. The next two tiers – Emerald and Diamond – are both attainable with only an extra 25 days each. So theoretically, you could return from your seventh cruise and be in line for Diamond level perks next time.

There’s a shortcut too. If you crave your personal space while at sea, you might prefer to pay for a Suite rather than a Stateroom. If you do, your Crown & Anchor points will accrue at double the regular rate, so you can climb the ranks in potentially half the time.

As you progress up the ladder, from time to time Royal Caribbean will email you special offers (which will be better depending on your tier), including exclusive fares for a sailing which might not be selling so well. Often these can be hundreds of dollars off the prices you’ll find elsewhere, so it’s certainly worth considering when they come through.

Once cruising finds its way into your bloodstream and leaves you hooked, rewards can also come by referring your friends and family into coming with you next time you cruise. The referral reward is US$25 in onboard credit (on top of any you already have) for each stateroom booked by your friends and family sailing for the first time, to a maximum of five. The only condition is that the guests you bring must be first timers.

If you’ve already cruised a number of times with Royal Caribbean but are yet to sign up to Crown & Anchor, don’t worry. All past cruises you’ve done can be applied retrospectively to your account, as long as you provide enough information to help the line find your past bookings. This is often a quick process and will ensure you’re receiving rewards appropriate to your tier on your next sailing and each one thereafter.