Compared to some of its closest rivals, MSC Cruises has a relatively modest loyalty program.
Unlike the frequent cruiser programs at Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line, the MSC Voyagers Club loyalty program doesn’t offer its members a free cruise after reaching the top tier. It does not offer a massive discount on the single supplement charge for solo travelers, as Royal Caribbean offers its top-tier members, nor does it grant priority access to onboard shows.
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Still, the MSC Cruises loyalty program offers several valuable perks at higher levels, including a complimentary meal in an extra-charge specialty restaurant once per cruise and priority access to tenders in ports.
The MSC Voyagers Club program also allows you to status match your way into one of its top tiers — something that no other major cruise line loyalty program offers.
Ways to earn points
The points-earning system for MSC Voyagers Club is a bit convoluted, as the number of points you earn on any given cruise depends on various factors.
For starters, you earn points based on the length of the cruise you take and which MSC Cruises “experience” you book. As regular MSC Cruises customers know, the line offers four onboard experiences, each with different inclusions and price points. Bella is the most basic — and least expensive — experience available. MSC Yacht Club is the top experience available. Experiences called Fantastica and Aurea are in between.
For sailings of four nights or fewer, each passenger in the cabin will earn the following number of points depending on experience type:
- Bella: 200
- Fantastica: 400
- Aurea: 600
- MSC Yacht Club: 800
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For sailings of five to nine nights, every guest will earn the following number of points depending on experience type:
- Bella: 500
- Fantastica: 700
- Aurea: 1,000
- MSC Yacht Club: 1,500
For sailings of nine or more nights, they’ll earn the following number of points depending on experience type:
- Bella: 700
- Fantastica: 1,000
- Aurea: 1,500
- MSC Yacht Club: 2,000
In addition to the above, you can also earn points for extras when spending money on MSC Cruises ships or when booking in advance of sailing. You’ll earn 100 points for every $150 you spend on prepaid and onboard expenses.
One caveat: Only the MSC Voyagers Club member who makes the final payment for onboard expenses will receive those points. For expenses for prepaid services that apply to all cabin occupants (and not single occupants), points will be equally distributed among the cabin occupants.
For example, say the total amount of prepaid onboard services that apply to all cabin occupants before the cruise is $600. If there are four cabin occupants, the spending for the points calculation of each member will be $150, which is equal to 100 points.
The final way to earn points is by updating your contact details up to 72 hours before departure on your next cruise. This will earn you 100 points.
All points, including for the cruise, onboard spending and updating your profile, will pop up in your account about 10 days after the cruise is completed.
MSC Voyagers Club tiers and benefits
There are four tiers to the MSC Voyagers Club program:
- Classic: 1 to 2,199 points
- Silver: 2,200 to 4,299 points
- Gold: 4,300 to 9,999 points
- Diamond: 10,000 or more points
As is typical for cruise line loyalty programs, the entry-level tier (Classic) doesn’t provide many truly valuable rewards. By far, the most alluring benefit at this level is the 5% discount members receive when booking future sailings. (This discount is not valid for MSC Grand Tours and when booking Tandem cabins, which are specially discounted cabins that parents can book for kids.) That’s real savings every time you book a cruise.
Additionally, Classic members receive:
- An extra 5% discount on Voyagers Exclusives sailings made six to nine months before departure
- An MSC Voyagers Club e-newsletter
- MSC Voyagers Club personalized luggage tags for embarkation in the e-ticket
- An MSC Voyagers Club card
- An invitation to a “welcome back” cocktail party
- A dedicated number to call on board
- Discounts on many packages and amenities, including onboard pictures, digital accessories, Wi-Fi and spa and fitness offerings
- An MSC Shops discount (for each $50 spent in any onboard shops, you will receive a $10 discount)
Note that the MSC Shops discount has a lot of fine print. The discount is not combinable with promotions available on board and is not available for spending on tobacco products and electronics. It’s also only valid on the first day of a cruise. That final point prompts us to downgrade the value of this perk considerably.
Upon reaching the second tier of the program, Silver, you get a couple of additional perks. The most notable to us is a $50 onboard credit per person, plus double MSC Voyagers Club points, for all bookings made more than 12 months before departure. (If you book nine to 12 months in advance, you get the $50 credit but not the double points.)
The Silver level also brings an unspecified milestone reward and all the perks of the lower-tier Classic level.
You will be a member of the Classic level as soon as you take a single cruise, as it takes only 1 point to reach the Classic level. You also might be able to reach the Silver level in just one cruise if you take a long voyage of nine nights or more, pay for the top MSC Yacht Club experience and do a modest amount of onboard spending.
Still, a more typical cruiser sailing seven-night trips at a mid-tier Fantastica or Aurea experience level would need two or three cruises to reach the Silver level.
The elite level that makes a difference
Being loyal to MSC Cruises starts paying off in a more meaningful way once you reach the Gold level of the MSC Voyagers Club program. Even here, though, the rewards are still relatively modest.
The Gold level comes with one solid perk: priority disembarkation in ports where a tender boat is required. This can make a real difference in your cruising experience, as it means you can get off the ship much faster in some cases than the majority of other passengers. That will allow you to maximize your time in tender ports.
Additionally, Gold status brings all the perks of the tiers below it plus:
- A complimentary one-hour thermal area session once per cruise
- A complimentary gift
- A complimentary photo taken during the “welcome back” cocktail party
- A complimentary birthday cake when it’s your birthday
It could take you as few as two cruises to reach the Gold level if you sign up for longer sailings and pay for the top MSC Yacht Club experience. Someone sailing seven-night trips at a mid-tier Fantastica or Aurea experience level would need four or five cruises to reach the Gold level.
The best elite perk with MSC Voyagers Club
Alas, there isn’t a “wow” perk in the entire MSC Voyagers Club menu. As noted above, unlike some lines, MSC Cruises doesn’t award top-tier members with truly high-value perks such as a free cruise. Still, MSC Voyagers Club’s top Diamond status tier does come with a few enticing benefits.
Our favorite perk in the entire MSC Voyagers Club program is the complimentary dinner at a specialty restaurant that comes with Diamond-level status. That said, be warned that the complimentary dinner comes with a lot of fine print (so much fine print, in fact, that to use it verges on the ridiculous).
The complimentary dinner, in theory, is for you and a cabinmate. However, among the fine-print caveats is that two Diamond members staying in the same cabin don’t get two free dinners.
If you and your spouse are both Diamond members, and you dine together using the perk, MSC Cruises counts that as you both using your perk for that one meal. That said, if you had two other people staying with you in the same cabin, you and your spouse could each use your perk to take one of them out for the free dinner, resulting in two free dinners for your cabin.
Additionally, the complimentary dinner privilege at specialty restaurants might not be available on all ship classes. Members under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult at dinner. Also, drinks are not included with the complimentary dinner, nor are you allowed to bring outside drinks into the restaurant.
Should all that prove too confusing, MSC Voyagers Club Diamond status thankfully also offers two other solid perks:
- A priority line for boarding on embarkation day
- Priority disembarkation at the end of the cruise
Diamond level also provides all the perks of the tiers below it plus:
- Courtesy bathrobe and slippers available during the cruise
- A complimentary dance class
- An invitation to an exclusive Diamond Party
- Late cabin checkout on disembarkation day
- A chocolate gift
Someone sailing seven-night cruises at a mid-tier Fantastica or Aurea experience level would need to take about eight to 10 trips to reach the Diamond level, depending on onboard spending.
In contrast to every other major cruise line loyalty program, MSC Cruises customers do not get “forever status” once they reach a certain tier of the MSC Voyagers Club. Once achieved, your status is only good as long as you take a cruise at least once every 36 months.
If you don’t take a cruise once every 36 months, you will see your points in the MSC Voyagers Club disappear and your entire account erased. You’ll have to reenroll and start all over again.
This is a notable difference from other cruise line loyalty programs, as “forever status” is one of the great allures of such programs. Many airline frequent flyer programs, by contrast, require loyalty members to requalify for status each year.
MSC Voyagers Club status match
As noted above, the MSC Voyagers Club program allows you to status match your way to its top tiers — something other major cruise line loyalty programs don’t offer.
If you show proof of a high loyalty program status level with a competing cruise line, a hotel company or even a booking site such as Expedia, you can catapult your way from no status to a top-tier status with MSC Cruises in a jiffy. A high status level at an airline, alas, won’t get you a status match at MSC Cruises, with a handful of exceptions such as a high status level at Air China.
This MSC Cruises status match, to us, is a big deal. It’s one thing that sets MSC Voyagers Club apart from other cruise line loyalty programs.
The status match process at MSC Cruises is simple. Go to the dedicated enrollment page for MSC Voyagers Club status matching at the MSC Cruises website. You’ll find a short online form where you enter some personal details (including name, birth date and address) and details about your status level with another loyalty program. You’ll then have to upload a picture of your membership card for that program (or, if you don’t have a membership card, a screenshot of your online account page showing your name and status).
That’s it. Within a few days, you’ll get an email or text welcoming you into the MSC Voyagers Club program at a status tier that matches your status with the other brand.
The dedicated enrollment page lists more than 60 loyalty programs from which you can status match into the MSC Cruises loyalty program. They include such cruise line loyalty programs as Royal Caribbean’s Crown & Anchor Society and Carnival Cruise Line’s VIFP Club program. Your status in the loyalty programs run by such major hotel chains as Hilton, Hyatt and Marriott also can be submitted for a match.
MSC Cruises doesn’t offer a chart showing which tier of its loyalty program you will receive based on your tier at each of the other brands. Our staff members at TPG have had luck matching into the top Gold or Diamond tiers of the MSC Voyagers Club program from high levels of competing programs. One TPG editor received top Diamond tier status in the MSC Cruises program as a match to World of Hyatt Globalist status, for instance. Another staffer received Gold status in the MSC Cruises program as a match to the Diamond level in Royal Caribbean’s program.
You can enter your status in only one program when seeking a match, so pick the program in which you have the highest status level.
MSC Cruises offers some decent perks in its four-tier loyalty program, including discounts and onboard credits when you book additional cruises. It also allows cruisers to status match their way to the top tiers of the program.
Still, the MSC Voyagers Club program is not nearly as robust a frequent cruiser program as those offered by such rivals as Royal Caribbean and Norwegian.
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