Thanks for almost nothing — Royal Caribbean’s coupon books


In these tough economic times, many cruise lines are discounting heavily. Plus, for clients of top agencies, some cruise lines are offering on-board coupon books, but are they worth the paper they are printed on?

I took a close look at the Royal Caribbean International’s coupon book. Here’s what I found.

The coupons include 10 percent off flowers purchased on board; 10 percent percent off tuxedo rental or purchase of robes; a $1, yes, $1 bonus bet on blackjack; and a “complimentary work of art” for attending an art auction (translation a Seriolithograph of their choosing). There’s a spa credit, in theory — but in practice it is only a $15 discount off a body composition analysis. The photo credit is only a fourth 8″ by 10″ portrait when three are purchased. The coupon doesn’t apply to the smaller casual cruise pictures, digital and film picture CDs or printing. For Bingo fans there’s a free Jackpot card when any Bingo card “package” is purchased.

What’s the point? The discounts are either trivial or offer discounts on items and activities most passengers don’t use. Celebrity Cruise Lines in their book at least gives two-for-one glasses of wine, fitness classes and discounts off any spa services or internet minutes.

The Royal Caribbean book is glossy and full color, so it looks good. And there are postcards attached to the coupons for clients who want to advertise the line to their friends. But for most passengers, the money the cruise line spent might be better used for a couple of free soda coupons.

If any readers have experience with other cruise lines and real or so-called on-board coupons, please comment. I will compile the best in a future post.

  • John F

    They are not in the business to lose money and the coupons are an enticement for sure. Like you, I likely would not use many of them, but that is not to say they are insignificant.

    Flowers–many celebrate birthdays and anniversaries on board and 10% is 10%

    Photos? Again, a cruise is a big deal for most people and they likely will buy a lot of photos (unless they are veteran cruisers) and at $20+ per 8X10, a free one is a nice add on.

    The free Bingo card might be a winner and the dollar bet–well that is a dollar they are giving.

    I had a meeting with a bunch of cruise execs last week and right now I bet you are just beginning to see the start of some incredible offers

  • Mike T

    It all depends on the level you are in their loyalty program (For Royal Caribbean, it’s Crown and Anchor). You can readily purchase mostly unused coupon books for a song on online auction sites, and some of the coupons are quite useful. For our recent cruise, I had purchased several books, and used the coupons extensively. Our first night in the casino, I played eight “five dollar match play” coupons. While more won than lost, I was going to play anyway, and got thirty dollars I wouldn’t have had otherwise. There were two-for-one drink coupons, two-for-one specialty coffee coupons, and others. On our cruise, there was no “jackpot” bingo, so we ended up purchasing the three-for-two “special”, and using the coupon for an extra set of cards, so we ended up playing bingo for half off.

    We go on vacation to have fun, and when we do, it’s not about pinching pennies. Will a coupon entice me to do something I wouldn’t have otherwise done? Nope. It will, however, make me even more likely to buy something I was already thinking about.

  • Wrona

    Are you talking about the coupons for being a Crown & Anchor member or something else?

    Like anything else their real value depends on what you will use. Some people could care less about spa treatments or photos or casino credits.

    Also, the value of the Crown & Anchor coupon books go up the more you cruise. In the Diamond book, the coupons are for a free drink (not just a discount), a discount on bottles of wine, 15% off any spa treatment, etc. For me, the 15% off a spa treatment alone saves me at least $40 per cruise.

  • Janice Hough

    These are the coupon books given by Royal Caribbean to travel agents for their clients not to Crown and Anchor (repeat) members. Which apparently are much better. (Good tip on the auction sites, even if the cruise lines may not see it that way.) Regarding the photos, a fourth photo is nice, but these are not the pictures that the photographers take all around the ship, these are the formal studio shots that cruisers can sit for on formal and informal nights. A fourth photo period would be a much better inducement.

    And yes, they are not in the business to lose money, but this book seemed and does seem like a particular waste of glossy paper.

  • John F

    Well, if the book entices three customers to sail on each of their ships, I suspect it is worth the price of the printing.

  • Carlo

    Am I buying this coupon book or is it given to me for some reason? If it’s a giveaway, well…maybe. If I’m buying it, I’m demanding my money back. There’s not one single thing in there I would find at all useful.

  • LeeAnne

    John F, if any cruise line executive thinks for one minute that even ONE person is going to be enticed to take a cruise based on that worthless coupon book, he is completely deluding himself. That is the epitome of corporate wishful thinking…not to mention wasted spending.

  • Janice Hough

    The book I am talking about is a giveaway that cruise line sales representatives give to some travel agents to entice them or reward them for booking the cruise line…. I have even seen some agents advertise “bonus coupon book” with your cruise.

    Some of the other people posting comments are talking about frequent cruisers who get different books with much better offers because they have cruised a lot before…. Apparenlty some of these folks are selling THEIR unused or partially used booklets on Ebay. Which I am sure the cruise lines are not thrilled about…but hey, it’s a free country. (And I am making no statement about whether or not you should buy them But there are certainly several available – interestingly enough, many of Carnival’s coupons seem to involve alcoholic beverages..)

  • linda mott

    i would like on board coupons 2nd time traveling royal carribean i choose this cruiseline i am very comfortable traveling with you than any other cruise line.