Does lifetime elite status matter on cruise ships including NCL Norwegian Cruise Lines?

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Let me get the obvious out of the way – Haven and Suite life on NCL is flat out amazing and the way to go (see intro link above how-to). Status with Norwegian is not a replacement for booking the highest level and experience on the cruise line. There are a great many things you simply do not get or experience when you are in any other cabin i.e. a standard balcony etc. With that out of the way let’s see what you do get and if chasing higher status is worth it.

You can review the different Latitudes levels here to get an overview of what I am about to share. Unlike airlines I love that with cruise lines you get lifetime status (at least at the current time). You have no spend requirement or yearly minimum cruises to complete to keep it or keep from dropping to a lower level. To me, with NCL, until you reach Gold you are not really gaining all that much. In fact if you are going to strive for status – Platinum – is what you should shoot for. After that Platinum Plus is nice but after that there is simply no need to shoot for Ambassador. I will cover more on this later.

Anyone who has been on a ship knows check-in can be a mess and lines can be ridiculously long. This is even often the case when you get to the ship really early and many hours before sailing. On a recent trip my wife and I had a basic porthole cabin (review up later) and yet were escorted past everyone waiting to check-in that was dozens deep. After that we were welcomed to a roped off Platinum and above waiting area and were some of the first to board after Haven guests. Just nice!

But this is where separated elite perks end with NCL. I say “separated” because there are a number of other sweet perks but you have to ask or know what you are entitled to. Take for example priority tender tickets and disembarkation (for Gold and above). Sometimes you have to ask and sometimes you just have to show your card to a staff member and you will be escorted to the front of the line. Sure you get some looks but way better than waiting!

Then next you have monetary perks at the Platinum and higher level such as two dinners at no charge at specialty restaurants (~$125 value) each cruise. The other tiny bits i.e. a few waters or chocolate covered strawberries is nice but not a game changer. However, access to the Concierge does matter. To have someone to ask questions, book dinner times and more is a very valuable perk to me even if hard to put a price tag on this benefit. With “Freestyle Cruising” having the ability, even in the main dining rooms, to book a set time if you want it is great. At Platinum Plus you are likely, like Haven guests, to have your wait time greatly reduced when you just show up wherever.

Bottom line is near top status with NCL is very nice in both monetary perks as well as other bits that make your experience just that much better. It in no way is a replacement for WFBF that is “want first buy first” but still it matters. Having talked to a number of Ambassadors at the elite “party” NCL puts on each sailing, I have received mixed feedback from them. Some feel valued while others are disappointed that literally years of nights onboard are not treated much better (in fact last year some really nice Ambassador perks were cut).

I have personally come to the conclusion I would rather cruise fewer times each year and always book in a suite or higher but if some amazing deal does pop up I will know that loyalty is still (mostly) rewarded when on a discounted cruise! – Rene

 

 

 

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