One of the most popular Royal Caribbean Crown and Anchor Society benefits looks like it may be in need of a refresh.
Royal Caribbean is apparently looking to address overcrowding in its customer loyalty lounges, based on a recent social media post.
Royal Caribbean’s CEO Michael Bayley posted on Facebook the following question, which provided some interesting insight.
“So! I’ve been hearing from a lot of our guests about overcrowding in our Diamond lounges and in the Suite lounge. It makes sense since our Top Tiers have grown by 30% last year alone! Capacity limitations is a tough one. What do you think we should do?”
As you can imagine, the post has already prompted hundreds of responses from his followers. Some provided real solutions while others took this as an opportunity to reflect on changes that have taken place within the Crown and Anchor program.
If you’re one of Royal Caribbean’s top tier loyalty members, you have probably noticed significantly more people heading to loyalty lounges onboard your cruises.
Crown and Anchor members who have reached Diamond, Diamond Plus or Pinnacle status have access to Royal Caribbean’s loyalty lounges onboard its cruise ships. These loyalty lounges typically consist of a Diamond Lounge, available for Diamond members and above.
The overcrowding in loyalty lounges onboard Royal Caribbean ships has been an issue for a while, with more cruisers achieving Diamond status or higher.
As Mr. Bayley indicated, an influx of new Diamond members has exacerbated the overcrowding problem. So, what really created this problem and what is the solution for overcrowding in the loyalty lounges?
Increase of top-tier members
As Mr. Bayley shared himself, there has been an estimated 30% increase in the top tiers of the Crown and Anchor program last year.
This influx of new top-tier members can likely be attributed to Royal Caribbean’s post-pandemic strategy of offering double loyalty points for sailings. During the post-pandemic cruising restart, Royal Caribbean offered a lucrative promotion where loyalty members could earn double Crown and Anchor points for all itineraries.
This meant if you sailed on a 7-night itinerary in a standard cabin, instead of earning 7 Crown and Anchor points, you would earn 14 points. Couple this with staying in a suite or cruising solo, and it was pretty easy to rack-up your points.
Offering double points made it very feasible for loyal Royal Caribbean cruisers to earn top-tier status. Many took advantage of this promotion throughout 2021 and 2022. The strategy made sense operationally for Royal Caribbean to lure back loyal cruisers post-pandemic while the general public might have maintained some hesitancy towards cruising.
This promotion was obviously very enticing for those looking to bump their Royal Caribbean status.
For example, our own Royal Caribbean Blog videographer, Jenna, earned Diamond Plus status within one year of cruising with the double points promotion. Her first Royal Caribbean cruise was in 2021. Comparatively, I have been cruising with Royal Caribbean since 2005 and I have the same Diamond Plus status as Jenna.
The double points promotion ended in December 2022, although only cruises booked in 2021 for the following year qualified. Undoubtedly, this had a major contribution to the lounge overcrowding because of the influx of new top-tier members with no place to go other than the Diamond Lounge.
Removing the Concierge Lounge
As some of you might remember, Diamond Plus and Pinnacle members once had access to the Concierge Lounges onboard Royal Caribbean cruise ships. This used to be the top-tier lounge onboard - and it was a lucrative perk once you hit Diamond Plus loyalty status.
However, in the last decade, Royal Caribbean has been focusing more on amenities and accommodations for suite guests. As cruise ships get bigger, Royal Caribbean has been designing more luxurious suites onboard and providing more lucrative benefits to suite guests.
With each new ship that Royal Caribbean built, the cruise line opted to add a Suite Lounge to replace the Concierge Lounges onboard. This meant that Diamond Plus members could only access Diamond Lounges onboard.
For a while, if you were sailing on a ship that lacked a suite lounge, Diamond Plus members still had the opportunity to visit the Concierge Lounge. But, to accommodate more suite guests, Royal Caribbean chose to first restrict access for Diamond Plus members to the Concierge Lounge.
For a few years, Diamond Plus members could only utilize the Concierge Lounge at the discretion of the loyalty director onboard each sailing. If a particular sailing had a large number of Diamond Plus members onboard, the sailing would restrict access to the Concierge Lounge.
With the influx of many new Diamond Plus members in the last two years, it was rare to gain Concierge Lounge access anyway. Starting in December 2022, Royal Caribbean revoked all access for Diamond Plus members to enjoy the Concierge Lounge.
As such, Diamond Plus members can only access the Diamond Lounge now.
Drink Voucher Change
Prior to the pandemic, one of the biggest draws to the Diamond Lounge was receiving unlimited alcoholic beverages during happy hour. Diamond members and above could only receive complimentary drinks in the lounge during happy hour, which typically ran from 5pm to 8:30pm.
To combat overcrowding in the lounge, Royal Caribbean made the decision to allocate daily drink vouchers onto SeaPass cards. Drink vouchers can be used at any bar onboard for nearly any drink under $15. You no longer needed to wait until happy hour to redeem these, as you could enjoy your drink vouchers at any time during the day.
Unanimously, this was a win-win for everyone. The vouchers were a positive change for loyalty members because it provided flexibility. Also, you could now have almost any drink you wanted rather than ordering from a set drink menu in the Diamond Lounge.
Because of the drink vouchers, you no longer have to visit the Diamond Lounge to receive your loyalty perks. This has certainly helped with overcrowding, as it would be an absolute zoo each evening if the Diamond Lounge was the only place to receive free loyalty drinks.
Difficulty Earning Pinnacle Status
Another contributing factor to the overcrowding issue is the massive gap in loyalty status from Diamond Plus to Pinnacle status. Here are the thresholds to reach top-tier status with Royal Caribbean’s Crown and Anchor status:
- Diamond: 80 points
- Diamond Plus: 175 points
- Pinnacle: 700 points
There is an obvious gap in the loyalty ladder between Diamond Plus and Pinnacle status. It only takes less than 100 points to move from Diamond to Diamond Plus, yet you need to earn more than 500 points to reach Pinnacle status from Diamond Plus.
Because of this structure, many people get stuck in Diamond Plus status for a very long time. You could earn Diamond Plus status three times over before you reach Pinnacle Status, as it requires triple the amount of effort to get to Pinnacle from Diamond Plus.
Why visit the Diamond Lounge?
The Diamond Lounge is more than just a spot to grab free drinks. Each evening, you can find different nightly appetizers served. If you’re sailing on an older ship with limited dining options (like my last cruise on Jewel of the Seas), then grabbing a snack here in the early evening can be really nice if you have later dining.
In addition, you can find continental breakfast served in the Diamond Lounge each morning. Those who prefer to have specialty coffee can enjoy cappuccinos and lattes in the Diamond Lounge all day, which is one of my favorite perks.
There is also a dedicated Diamond Lounge Concierge to help you with any sort of issues you might have onboard. These concierges can help with dining reservations, questions, tender tickets and more.
The Diamond Lounge can also be a quiet space to retreat during the day, as this is often not when the lounges are crowded. Most of the overcrowding happens in the mornings and evenings. I’ve heard of some loyalty members heading to the Diamond Lounge on older ships because it provides panoramic views and a quiet space to relax.
Finally, there is a sense of community in the Diamond Lounge. You are often surrounded by other travelers and loyal cruisers, making it easy to strike up a conversation with those you have things in common with. Many enjoy meeting others in the Diamond Lounge, as it provides a more intimate place to mingle with others.
Ideas to combat overcrowding
The overcrowding in loyalty lounges is a product of other decisions made by Royal Caribbean. While it seems as though the pandemic exasperated the issue, the overcrowding issue has been building for a while. To start, many loyalty members are stuck in Diamond Plus status for a very long time. In fact, I’ve been a Diamond Plus member for OVER a decade, and that’s with multiple Royal Caribbean cruises each year.
One of the most popular suggestions on Michael Bayley’s Facebook post was needing another loyalty tier between Diamond Plus and Pinnacle status.
Another status could help break up the massive amount of Diamond Plus members that are currently enrolled in the loyalty program. With another status, Royal Caribbean could reevaluate the benefits for each tier as well during the restructure process.
Adding an additional loyalty status could even prove to be profitable for Royal Caribbean. Once Crown and Anchor member reach Diamond Plus, some feel they will never reach Pinnacle status, especially for older cruisers. This leads many to try out other cruise lines because they have already reached their most attainable status with Royal Caribbean.
It seems unlikely that Royal Caribbean will allocate more space on its ships for loyalty lounges. This has been apparent for quite some time, as the location and size of the Diamond Lounge continues to be less than exceptional.
Another common suggestion was to limit the Diamond lounge to only Diamond Plus members.
Depending on the breakdown between Diamond and Diamond Plus, limiting the lounge to just Diamond Plus members would certainly alleviate some of the crowding. In addition, Pinnacle members able to still access the Suite Lounges onboard, so limiting Pinnacles to just one lounge could help with overcrowding as well.
Many responses praised Royal Caribbean for creating the drink voucher policy, which has been wildly popular among cruisers. Having more flexibility each day of your cruise is one of the most enticing perks of Royal Caribbean's Crown and Anchor Society, in my opinion.
Do you think overcrowding is an issue? If so, what do you think could help with the overcrowding?