Often times when you’re new to a company, it’s hard to get in on the ground floor. So when opportunities come to show your loyalty to another company with which they compete (or sometimes are partnered with), it can unlock value by short-cutting your way to getting benefits from a new program.
For my first cruise with Royal Caribbean, it was proving my offers through various land-based casinos with URComped, which then got me a comped cruise with them, and I was up and running. The cruises I’ve earned since have been based on my history with them. But URComped doesn’t work with Carnival Cruise Lines.
Fortunately, Carnival periodically runs their own program to bring in new players, and that’s exactly what’s been happening for much of the year with the Carnival Players Club Fun Match Program which is slated to run through at least December 31, according to the terms of the program.
Carnival is not interested in other cruise line information – they’re focused on your players cards with various companies. You can upload one or more (front and back) of the land based casino cards you’ve earned, and based on that they’ll determine what you’re eligible for.
They promise free drinks in the casino, discounts or free cruises, free upgrades and free play of at least $50, when you do the fun match program. They also say on the Fun Match page to check for offers within a week via email.
So I registered for the program back in mid-September. I waited the week… and more. All I showed was the baseline offer of a discounted cruise, $50 free play and free drinks in the casino. I had free cruises with Royal Caribbean and I figured that was that.
However, a full two months after I registered, I got a new welcome email offering me an Ocean View (window) cabin, $100 in free play and the free drinks in the casino. A few days later, that “free upgrade” part became apparent when my room type was upgraded to a Balcony!
The one difference between their free offer and Royal’s is that they wanted a $100 deposit per person, but they would give that back as onboard credit. So it’s a wash, as long as we properly utilize the credit while on board, but that’s a decent teaser offer in my view.
So I booked a week-long balcony cruise for late next year as a way to give it a try. Aside from the deposit, all the same standard expectations around free casino cruises that I’ve established sailing with Royal Caribbean were in effect here.
Why would Carnival (or any cruise line really) offer this? For casino players, like any other program targeting them, they hope (and really expect) you will gamble in the casino, and they’ll have a shot at your money. Once you do an actual cruise, they can build offers based on your actual play history, so the first offer is really designed to get you to check them out as well.
And if you’re uploading players cards with a certain amount of play required, they can take an educated guess at what sort of player you’ll be. In some cases they may have partnerships with casino companies and have data sharing, so they can get more granular.
The offer I ultimately got with Carnival wasn’t particularly different from the ones I’m currently getting from Royal Caribbean. But it was a good enough offer to entice me to give them a try. And based on some of the reports I’m seeing from players who made the jump, Carnival is heavily enticing casino players to play with them right now, which can be an encouraging sign for those who want to maximize their benefits.