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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Free and Worth Every Penny

Savvy cruisers know that freebies can be had—you just need to know where to look. Here are the two I’ve found to be the best for scoring freebies and extra fun on your next trip: loyalty clubs and’s “Meet and Mingle.”
Loyalty Clubs
These are the clubs that reward you for taking the same cruise line more than once. And that throw more rewards your way the more you sail with them.
When you take your first cruise, you immediately start racking up points with the cruise line’s loyalty club. Each club is structured differently—some award points based on the number of cruises you take, others on the number of cruise days.
And there’s huge variation in the benefits. Here’s just a sample of what you can get—all at no cost:
Discounts on cruises. We’ve saved hundreds of dollars on trips when we’ve checked the box that asked, “Have you sailed with us before?”
Parties with free drinks. These can feature live music and dancing, and drinks or drink tickets.
Special entertainment. We’ve been to events that range from an exclusive diving performance on Allure of the Seas to special appearances of the ship's singers.

Behind-the-scenes tours. These allow you to get a peek behind the curtain of the workings of the ship, and can include the galley, theater, engine room or bridge.
Meet the senior crew. Loyalty club members often get invited to cocktail parties to hobnob with senior officers.
Other free or discounted benefits. Benefits can range from free dry cleaning to price breaks on wi-fi, to special lounges for disembarkation.
For specifics on each program, such as Celebrity’s Captain’s Club, Royal Caribbean’s Crown and Anchor, and Princess’ Captain’s Circle, check the cruise line’s website.
Meet and Mingle
Sponsored by, Meet and Mingles are free get-togethers onboard that are co-organized by cruiser volunteers and the major cruise lines. They’re not available on every trip, so you’ll need to do a tad of research to find out if there’s one on your trip. And the cruise lines each handle sign up differently.
Celebrity, for example, requires a minimum advance sign up of 25 people before hosting an event. When you sign up, you’ll get a confirmation email, and once onboard, a special invitation. Princess has Meet and Mingle events on every sailing; simply check the Princess Patter onboard for when and where. See the Meet and Mingles page on for info on how to sign up for an event on your ship.
The Meet and Mingles are great opportunities to talk cruising with like-minded folks, and always include some light refreshments. The best we’ve been to have featured:
Cabin crawl—As a group, you tour a range of cabin types in different locations throughout the ship. This might even include a suite.
Crew members up close and personal—Recently on the Allure, in a small and intimate setting, a panel of divers and skaters took our questions about onboard life and work.
Giveaways and raffle prize drawings—With some luck, you might go home with more than great memories!