Pathway to Pinnacle: How I Reached the Top of the Royal Caribbean Loyalty Program


You’ve heard of frequent flyer miles, but did you know that cruise lines also have loyalty programs?

Royal Caribbean’s customer loyalty program is called the Crown and Anchor Society. You earn points based on the number of nights of your cruise, as well as your cabin type or if you go solo.

There are six levels in the program:

  • Gold: 3 points
  • Platinum: 30 points
  • Emerald: 55 points
  • Diamond: 80 points
  • Diamond Plus: 175 points
  • Club Pinnacle: 700 points

As you progress through the levels, you earn rewards such as internet discounts, onboard merchandise, drink packages, and select fares, to name a few.

It may seem impossible to reach 700 cruise points, but it can be done. There are many ways to achieve this, and I wanted to share how we did it.

Beginning

My husband and I took our first Royal Caribbean cruise on the Freedom of the Seas in 2006 for our honeymoon. After that we sailed once a year, always in October for our anniversary.

In 2010, we started doing weekend cruises on Monarch of the Seas. One morning we went to the next cruise office to book our annual anniversary sailing. The crew member there told us that we should really strive to become Diamond. He then walked us through how to earn extra points to help us climb the ladder faster. His advice was to start booking junior suites. By doing this we would earn two points per night. So for many years that is what we have been doing.

In February 2011, we were Diamond. Then it became a goal to get to Diamond Plus. We continued to book exclusive junior suites and reached Diamond Plus in October 2015.

At this point we were happy (at least I was). Diamond Plus is an excellent level. This is a significant level (175-699 points) and as you level up you get more perks.

At 340 points, you receive what’s called a “one-time supplement discount,” which is great for solo cruisers. Typically, if you’re sailing alone, you pay double occupancy (unless you find the few single cabins that are only available on certain ships).

With the single supplement discount, instead of paying the 200% rate, you are only charged 150%. Sailing solo also earns you an additional cruise point per night.

This became important to us because achieving Pinnacle status before turning 50 became my husband’s goal.

Full speed

New Royal Caribbean cruise terminal at Port Canaveral delayed |  Royal Caribbean Blog

In 2016, we started what I call “the point hunt”; book like crazy to get to Pinnacle as fast as possible. We are fortunate to live in central Florida as we have access to four cruise ports with travel times ranging from 45 minutes to 4 hours. We don’t have children either, so we weren’t tied to school hours. We were able to navigate at any time of the year.

Our game plan was to incorporate as many weekend starts as possible to maximize our points. We ended up doing nine cruises that year.

To keep all of these cruises straight, we created an Excel spreadsheet with not only our budget for each cruise, but also how many points we would accumulate per sailing. We literally titled it our “Pathway to Pinnacle” spreadsheet.

In 2017 we crossed the 340 point mark and I started doing solo cruises. Not only did I sail alone, I was also in a junior suite. This earned me three points per night! Since we got married my husband has been able to share my points even without having to navigate. That year ended with 14 more cruises, including three as a solo traveler.

In 2018, we were assigned a new Royal Caribbean Vacation Planner who told us what many of their clients are doing to get to Pinnacle faster. On cruises where my husband and I were together, she suggested that I book the junior suite where we always sail alone and ask my husband to book an interior room. This way we would always get the maximum points for each navigation.

I thought it would be nice outside of our price range, but in reality it ended up only costing a few hundred dollars more because of the one-time supplement discount. We nicknamed our “triple point scam”. We were now earning three points per night for each sail.

It made us progress quickly. From January 2018 to the end of 2019, we gained 246 points. At this point, we have reached 661 points.

Roadblock

Stuck at sea: one year since the closure of Covid-19 cruise ships |  Royal Caribbean Blog

In 2020, we made two weekend crossings in January and February for a total of 697 points. We just had to wait for our April cruise on Harmony of the Seas to become Pinnacle. And then, two weeks after our last sailing, the pandemic struck and the entire cruise industry was shut down for the next 15 months!

We were literally going crazy. Only three points!

We have booked and re-rented every month. Our disappointment grew with each subsequent cancellation until finally in June 2021 we were able to book the first sailing in North America. We flew to Nassau to embark on Adventure of the Seas and ultimately win this coveted 700th cruise point.

In all, it took us thirteen and a half years to get to Pinnacle, not to mention the year and a half that the cruise industry was shut down.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, we did this before my husband was 50, with a month to spare!