Disney Cruise Line has updated their Castaway Club Loyalty Program to require guests to book or sail at least one cruise every five years. Guests who do not book or sail on a Disney cruise within a 5-year period will lose their Castaway Club membership status.
Guests who have completed one eligible Disney cruise automatically qualify for Castaway Club membership. To remain in the program, Castaway Club Members must book or sail on at least one eligible cruise within 5 years of their last Disney voyage.
Previously, guests would retain their Castaway Club status level indefinitely. A guest with a Gold Castaway Club level would maintain this level for future cruises, even if they went years without sailing.
This change is a strange and unpopular one by Disney Cruise Line. We imagine that the scale of repeat cruisers, and the growing popularity of Disney Cruise Line, has overwhelmed the Castaway Club program. Remember that Disney expanded the Castaway Club program in late 2022 to add a new tier, Pearl, as guests outgrew the current program.
But, the current Castaway Club format offers so few perks that we can’t see how this 5-year requirement is necessary. The primary perk for Castaway Club members are early booking windows, with higher levels getting a few additional pluses such as a Palo dinner or an enhanced freebie in their stateroom. Nothing the Castaway Club program offers is overly intricate or expensive.
We said back in 2022 that Disney Cruise Line needs to update the Castaway Club program. That point is more true now than ever before. Disney Cruise Line’s perk program lags behind competing cruise companies in a significant way. Other cruise lines offer room upgrades and other financial incentives as guests climb the perk ladder. Disney likely feels they don’t need to offer many incentives given their immense popularity.
Most importantly, how guests ascend the ranks in the Castaway Club program is extremely flawed. The Castaway Club program is all about how many cruises a guest takes. After one cruise you’re at the Silver level. Five cruises gets you Gold status. After 10 cruises a guest is a Platinum level cruiser. Finally, 25 or more makes you a Pearl cruiser.
That system is backwards and doesn’t make any sense. A guest taking five 3-night cruises will be Gold after 15 total nights, while a guest taking three 7-night cruises will still be Silver after 21 total nights. The Castaway Club program doesn’t take into account cruise length, stateroom level, or money spent. That’s kind of insane when you compare the Castaway Club to other cruise loyalty programs, such as Royal Caribbean’s Crown and Anchor program.
There’s really no way to spin this change as anything but negative. Guests may lose their status for reasons outside their control. Families who built up a high Castaway Club status may see their children lose their status when real life inevitably gets in the way. There’s no way to say this is a good change, and it seems like Disney Cruise Line will receive more negative PR for relatively minimal gain.
What do you think of this change to Disney Cruise Line’s Castaway Club program?