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TravelDisney Cruise Line’s Castaway Club loyalty program: Everything you need to know

Disney Cruise Line’s Castaway Club loyalty program: Everything you need to know

Among the best-known cruise brands, Disney Cruise Line has one of the most modest loyalty programs — even after an upgrade that brought an all-new tier.

Unlike the programs of such cruise operators as Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean, the Disney Cruise Line Castaway Club, as it’s called, doesn’t offer members over-the-top perks such as a free cruise after reaching a top tier. There are no big discounts on shore excursions and spa treatments for members, like lines such as Windstar Cruises offer.

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Still, Disney Cruise Line’s Castaway Club loyalty program does bring a few valuable perks at its higher-level tiers, including early access to new itineraries and onboard activities.

The Disney loyalty program also makes it relatively easy to reach a high-level tier.

Ways to earn

Earning status in the Castaway Club loyalty program is about as simple as can be. You get a credit for every cruise you take — whether it’s three nights long or 10 nights long. That’s it. No muss, no fuss. Your status, as we’ll explain below, depends entirely on how many cruises you take.

Program tiers and benefits

There are just four tiers in the Castaway Club program, including a new top tier unveiled in 2023:

  • Silver (after one cruise)
  • Gold (after five cruises)
  • Platinum (after 10 cruises)
  • Pearl (after 25 cruises)

Once you reach the first tier of the program (Silver), you will be entitled to exactly six perks. Perhaps the most notable of these is the ability to book in advance for onboard cruise activities such as ticket-only character greetings and specialty restaurant dinners up to 90 days before sailings. This is a big deal in the world of Disney cruises, where some of the hottest activities on ships sell out quickly.

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Related: The ultimate guide to Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line’s newest ship, Disney Wish. STEVEN DIAZ/DISNEY CRUISE LINE

Silver members can also book new Disney cruise itineraries one day ahead of the general public. That may not seem like much of a head start, but it can be a real advantage when trying to snag the perfect cabin on a hot new itinerary. Disney fans are known to snatch up the best cabins — if not all the cabins — on unique new sailings very quickly.

In addition, Silver members get:

  • Select port arrival time and complete online check-in 33 days in advance of departure
  • Exclusive cruise terminal check-in where available
  • A members-only direct phone line to call for information and assistance
  • A welcome-back-aboard gift

Upon reaching the Gold level, members get all the above perks with three notable upgrades. For starters, they can book onboard cruise activities up to 105 days before sailings. That’s 15 days earlier than Silver members. They are also able to book new Disney cruise itineraries two days ahead of the general public.

Plus, they can complete check-in 35 days in advance.

In addition, Gold members get:

  • A private reception for members
  • Special discounts on voyages

Related: 26 tips for sailing on a Disney Cruise Line ship

The third tier of the program, the Platinum level, extends the pre-booking windows even further. Platinum members are able to make advance bookings for onboard cruise activities up to 120 days before sailings. That’s 15 days earlier than Gold members and 30 days earlier than Silver members. They are also able to book new Disney cruise itineraries three days ahead of the general public.

For Platinum members, check-in opens 38 days in advance of departures.

In addition, Platinum level members are entitled to a free dinner at Palo, the upscale, adults-only Italian eatery on Disney ships — more on this in a moment.

The elite level that makes a difference

It isn’t really until you hit the new Pearl level of the Castaway Club that the perks start to get interesting. The big perk at this level is that you can book new itineraries earlier than everyone else. You also have the earliest possible access to reserve onboard activities.

Specifically, you can make reservations for newly announced itineraries four days before the general public. You can also book activities up to 123 days in advance of sailing.

Related: A beginners guide to cruise line loyalty programs

In the world of Disney, this is a very big deal. As mentioned above, Disney fans are known to snag all the good cabins for a popular sailing the moment a trip goes on sale. Ditto for onboard activities.

In addition, Pearl status also lets you check in for your cruise 40 days in advance of sailing.

One more perk added for Pearl members of Disney Cruise Line’s Castaway Club is a complimentary unlimited digital photo package, which is a notable perk.

Disney has lots of official photographers on board its ships to snap photos of you and your kids with princesses and the like. However, it doesn’t offer those photos for free. Paying for even a relatively small number of photos taken by these onboard photographers — even in digital form — normally can cost hundreds of dollars.

Best elite perk

Unlike some lines, Disney doesn’t offer any truly over-the-top elite perks, such as the free cruise that top-tier members of Royal Caribbean’s Crown & Anchor Society get. It’s also skimpy on handing out big discounts on shore excursions, spa treatments and other cruise line-sold services to elite members — something some other lines do. Still, there are a few perks that get us at least modestly excited.

The most enticing offering, in our view, is the free dinner that comes with Platinum status at Palo, as noted above.

Related: The best credit cards for booking cruises

The invitation extends to the elite member and any other adult passenger staying in the same cabin. Assuming there are two of you, that’s a $100 value. Palo normally costs $50 per person.

The perk can be used at either the Palo eateries found on Disney’s four older ships or the Palo Steakhouse eatery on the line’s new Disney Wish.

Does my Disney Castaway Club status last forever?

In a major change that took effect in early 2024, Disney Castaway Club members will no longer get “forever status” upon reaching the various tiers of the program — a notable allure of the program since its inception.

As of this year, Castaway Club members lose their Castaway Club status — and, indeed, their entire membership in the program, even at the entry level — if they don’t book or complete an eligible Disney cruise at least once every five years.

As a result, if you haven’t taken a Disney Cruise Line voyage in a few years, and you have high-level status in the Castaway Club that you want to preserve for the future, it might pay to book a quickie Disney voyage this year to maintain your loyalty level. Or, maybe now is the time to switch your loyalty to another family-friendly cruise brand, such as Royal Caribbean.

Bottom line

Disney Cruise Line offers a handful of decent perks to members of its Castaway Club loyalty program, including early access to new itineraries and onboard activities.

However, the Castaway Club loyalty program is not nearly as robust as the frequent cruiser programs of many other well-known brands, such as Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line. If you’re going to sail a lot with Disney, you’ll want to do it because you love the brand, not because you expect a lot of onboard recognition for your loyalty.

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