During our visit to MSC Magnifica the representative of the cruise line hinted at a change to the loyalty program. The new MSC Voyagers Club promises to give us more every time we cruise with MSC Cruises.
The MSC Voyagers Club includes five levels of membership.
With the introduction of the new Voyagers club the ‘Welcome’ tier/level was created. It is the first level of membership before ‘Classic’. Book a cruise with MSC and as soon as you receive your e-ticket you are able to subscribe to the MSC Voyagers Program online. This means that you can become a member before cruising with MSC Cruises. The Welcome tier is valid for the first cruise only. You immediately start collecting points on your first cruise; at the end of the cruise, all points will be assigned/added to your Club account and the Welcome member will become a Classic member or higher, depending on the amount of points accumulated during the cruise.
All Classic and above members receive a 5% discount on all future bookings. Additionally all members can save up to 15% extra on every single unique sailing included in the Voyages Selection listing. The MSC Voyages Selection sailings are compiled exclusively for MSC Voyagers Club members. Silver, Gold and Black Card members will also receive €/$50 shipboard credit for these cruises.
Once onboard the party can get started with the welcome back cocktail party. The fact that guests themselves should contact Reception-Guest Services immediately after check-in for more information seems a bit strange though. All members, from Classic to Black, will receive an On Board Special Offers booklet with a collection of offers to use onboard.
Silver, Gold or Black Card members will receive a lapel pin on reaching the next level of membership. They will also receive a complimentary basket of fresh fruit in the cabin.
Gold and Black Card members receive a complimentary one-hour thermal area session (steam bath or sauna) and a MSC Voyagers Club complimentary gift. The also receive a complimentary picture and a birthday cake and card when celebrating a birthday onboard.
Guests who have reached the Black Card level get a few extra perks. They are entitled to enjoy a dinner for 2 during the cruise (beverages excluded!) at one of the speciality restaurants. A free bottle of spumante with chocolate-dipped fruit and a chocolate gift ship will be delivered to the cabin. Black Card members will receive an invitation to the MSC Voyagers Club Black party (and hopefully a free drink or two). Upon disembarkation they may remain in their cabin until 2 hours after the ship arrives in port.
Going over the perks loyal guests recieve, I did miss something (very important). There appears to be no dedicated lounge where members can meet. Royal Caribbean for example provides a ‘Diamond Lounge’ as an exclusive benefit for Diamond and above members. Neither is there an ‘Evening Cocktail hour’, like Celebrity Cruises has, or a ‘Nightly Diamond Event’, for Diamond and above members cruising with Royal Caribbean. And to be honest, I do like that ‘Happy Hour’ from 5:00 to 8:00 pm.
Additionally there are some privileges that do not seem very interesting to me, after all it seems obvious to me that there is a website where I can view my points balance, offers and news. An e-newsletter to keep me up-to-date with all MSC news, products and offers again seems pretty obvious. And finally I sincerely hope that MSC would contact me so I can share my opinions and feedback.
All those benefits may look pretty nice, but how do you get them?
The different levels of membership are based on points. Each time you cruise with MSC Cruises you earn further points to upgrade your membership level. Points are earned according to 3 criteria: Experience purchased, pre-paid on board services and on board expenses.
MSC offers the possibility to book different types of ‘experiences’: Bella, Fantastica, Aurea, MSC Yacht Club. You receive points depending on the type of experience you book and the duration of the cruise. Strangely the type of stateroom (inside, outside, balcony) has no influence on the amount of points.
The type of stateroom only plays a part if you live in a country where you cannot purchase experiences or where experiences do not apply. In those cases MSC enforces the following rules:
Pre-paid on board services:
Members will earn 100 points for every 150 € on expenses made before the cruise on MSC packages and services related to the cruise. Points will be equally distributed amongst the stateroom occupants.
On board expenses:
Members will earn 100 points for every 150 €/$ spent on board (excluding casino expenses). Assigned points for on-board expenses (including pre-boarding purchased shipboard credit) will only be applied to the MSC Voyagers Club Card holder making the final payment.
The new MSC Voyagers Club has one big negative point compared to other Cruise Line loyalty programs: EXPIRATION.
Points earned at the end of a cruise have a validity date of 36 months from the date of disembarkation. If the last cruise disembarkation date is over 3 years ago (36 months) or no cruise has been taken in 3 years since the registration date, membership to the MSC Voyagers Club Program expires. So you need to complete at least one cruise in 36 months since your last disembarkation date to extend your membership for another 36 months. Imagine you have finally reached that Black Card membership level and then you do not cruise with MSC during 36 months…
Nevertheless there are some nice privileges to be had once you reach a certain level of loyalty with MSC. But the best part of the revamped loyalty program has to be the Loyalty Match Program.
The Loyalty Match Program let’s you take advantage of the new loyalty program to discover the world of MSC Cruises, while enjoying all the benefits you are used to. In other words, if you belong to a loyalty program of another cruise line, hotel and/or tour operator, you will be able to join the MSC Voyagers Club and receive the matching status card, guaranteeing you a 5% discount on any booking plus similar or higher benefit status without ever having set foot on a MSC cruise ship before… I guess this proves ‘Italians do it better’!