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Sea-Blazers Program


boojum
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I have some thoughts on the Sea-Blazers Program. While I think it's great that Virgin is working on a way to promote brand loyalty, I can't help but feel very put-off by the way it's being rolled out. Many of us were whiplashed last week with all the unexpected cancellations. For me, that resulted in a deposit for a different cruise on another line to replace my canceled Valiant Lady cruise, along with a repricing of my flights and hotels because obviously the replacement dates didn't line up exactly. Then, I booked a replacement Virgin cruise for 2022. And that was all fine. Things happen, and it's Virgin's prerogative to make decisions necessary to keep their business (pardon the pun) afloat. I still have my 200% FCC that I've been rolling with and had no complaints about how I've been treated through this tough time.

 

But then, the announcement of the Sea-Blazers Program one week after that kerfuffle really ruffled my feathers. The way it's being presented feels like a rubbing of salt in the wound after what was admittedly for me a very disappointing announcement last week. That stance of "Sorry, we're canceling your cruise" followed this week by "Anyone who cruises with us during the time that your canceled cruise was scheduled for will get lifetime recognition" just burns me, especially when there wasn't a peep last week about the Sea-Blazers Program when I was shuffling all my travel plans around to make up for the cancellation.

 

Regarding the promotion itself, I understand that it's marketing-speak, another promotion with a unique "lifetime" benefit attached to it. When taking into account the normal bar tab deal available to everyone and any potential bonus bar tab promotion that may be going on at any given time, there isn't that much added value that would cause me to shuffle my plans again. And I certainly understand that Virgin might need to do whatever it can to fill its 2021 voyages, but I just don't get why this wasn't simply rolled out as another promotion to pull in some end-of-year bookings, without the loyalty component. The prestige being bestowed upon these bookings, with the "Sea-Blazer" mark of loyalty isn't a label to be taken lightly. We cruisers love our loyalty status, and this is Virgin's first stab at it, but why on Earth did they choose this set of parameters (compressed booking window) under these conditions (right after a major rift in existing customer bookings) to tie in a program that awards permanent loyalty status to those who happen to be able to fall into those tight conditions?

 

I'd challenge Virgin to ask itself who its loyalists are. Are they the people who might book because of a flashy promotion? Or are they the people who watched the steel-cutting livestream (buffering issues and all), coughed up a deposit, and rolled with the punches ever since? While we've been known by a few different descriptors in the past (early deposit program participants, VIPs, etc.), at this point we're just known as accountholders with a helluva lot of FCC in our accounts. But coupled with that monetary benefit, cruisers need to feel an emotional connection to the line(s) they frequent, and honestly I just don't feel special with Virgin anymore. Admittedly, it's difficult to maintain momentum and excitement amid so many stuttered starts and stops, but clearly Virgin has a talented marketing team that's capable of constantly rolling out innovative ways of engaging its customers. I'd just challenge them not to forget those of us whose sails may be a little worse for wear because of how long we've been waiting.

 

 

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1 hour ago, boojum said:

I have some thoughts on the Sea-Blazers Program. While I think it's great that Virgin is working on a way to promote brand loyalty, I can't help but feel very put-off by the way it's being rolled out. Many of us were whiplashed last week with all the unexpected cancellations. For me, that resulted in a deposit for a different cruise on another line to replace my canceled Valiant Lady cruise, along with a repricing of my flights and hotels because obviously the replacement dates didn't line up exactly. Then, I booked a replacement Virgin cruise for 2022. And that was all fine. Things happen, and it's Virgin's prerogative to make decisions necessary to keep their business (pardon the pun) afloat. I still have my 200% FCC that I've been rolling with and had no complaints about how I've been treated through this tough time.

 

But then, the announcement of the Sea-Blazers Program one week after that kerfuffle really ruffled my feathers. The way it's being presented feels like a rubbing of salt in the wound after what was admittedly for me a very disappointing announcement last week. That stance of "Sorry, we're canceling your cruise" followed this week by "Anyone who cruises with us during the time that your canceled cruise was scheduled for will get lifetime recognition" just burns me, especially when there wasn't a peep last week about the Sea-Blazers Program when I was shuffling all my travel plans around to make up for the cancellation.

 

Regarding the promotion itself, I understand that it's marketing-speak, another promotion with a unique "lifetime" benefit attached to it. When taking into account the normal bar tab deal available to everyone and any potential bonus bar tab promotion that may be going on at any given time, there isn't that much added value that would cause me to shuffle my plans again. And I certainly understand that Virgin might need to do whatever it can to fill its 2021 voyages, but I just don't get why this wasn't simply rolled out as another promotion to pull in some end-of-year bookings, without the loyalty component. The prestige being bestowed upon these bookings, with the "Sea-Blazer" mark of loyalty isn't a label to be taken lightly. We cruisers love our loyalty status, and this is Virgin's first stab at it, but why on Earth did they choose this set of parameters (compressed booking window) under these conditions (right after a major rift in existing customer bookings) to tie in a program that awards permanent loyalty status to those who happen to be able to fall into those tight conditions?

 

I'd challenge Virgin to ask itself who its loyalists are. Are they the people who might book because of a flashy promotion? Or are they the people who watched the steel-cutting livestream (buffering issues and all), coughed up a deposit, and rolled with the punches ever since? While we've been known by a few different descriptors in the past (early deposit program participants, VIPs, etc.), at this point we're just known as accountholders with a helluva lot of FCC in our accounts. But coupled with that monetary benefit, cruisers need to feel an emotional connection to the line(s) they frequent, and honestly I just don't feel special with Virgin anymore. Admittedly, it's difficult to maintain momentum and excitement amid so many stuttered starts and stops, but clearly Virgin has a talented marketing team that's capable of constantly rolling out innovative ways of engaging its customers. I'd just challenge them not to forget those of us whose sails may be a little worse for wear because of how long we've been waiting.

 

 

Wow, well said. Until I actually voyage in late October (God forbid I get cancelled for the 107th time :)) all I have to say about VV is negative..

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I agree that the "lifetime benefit" should be going to those who have been forced to cancel and have chosen to rebook more than once, through no fault of their own, no matter when their eventual sail date actually happens. Those people seem much more loyal and worthy of recognition than a "virgin" who just happens to book in 2021. Geez, VV is now saying August is a go but they still haven't reported how they will guarantee a 100% vaccinated cruise, sailing out of Miami with the current "can't ask" law in place. Have I missed that piece of the puzzle?

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Seems like giving new benefits to get people to book is a smart idea to me. They have lots of empty cabins to fill. If you think it is such a screaming deal book a cruise in 2021. The life time benefit is like an extra $25 over a drink promotion they regularly run. And you need to book a second cruise to get it. Hardly anything to get worked up about.

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I also found it strange that they’re running a new “campaign” when they’ve yet to sail ONCE.

 

I’m scheduled in October (also for the 3rd or 4th time, can’t keep track anymore), and at this point I’m about 10% sure that’s even happening. I still feel like it’s a pipe dream at this point.

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I've been one of those cancelled and rebooked several times now. It's at least six or seven times, I've lost count. I rescheduled my original booking for next May, just because I was tired of having to sit on the phone with them for hours. Then, I have was a winner in their Shipload of Love contest, and booked for their second sailing from Miami. Of course, that eventually was cancelled, and I'm now booked again for the "new" first sailing from Miami on October 6th... I was reading the fine print, and because my sailing was a prize, I'm not eligible whatsoever for the Sea Blazers promotion. Ticks me off, to have tried over and over, and be cancelled over and over again... They've had my original cash payment for over a year and a half now, and apparently I get diddly squat for my efforts...

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What I find interesting is that while yes you get $300 off a 2nd cruise in 2022 - it seems like they biggest benefit they are pushing is the bar tab. 

 

Personally if I have 1 drink during a cruise it's a lot so I really have no plans to purchase the bar tab - so this benefit would be lost on me - I'd rather get this use of the spa or other onboard credit as that I might use.

 

 

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On 7/14/2021 at 10:58 PM, twodjs said:

I agree that the "lifetime benefit" should be going to those who have been forced to cancel and have chosen to rebook more than once, through no fault of their own, no matter when their eventual sail date actually happens. Those people seem much more loyal and worthy of recognition than a "virgin" who just happens to book in 2021. Geez, VV is now saying August is a go but they still haven't reported how they will guarantee a 100% vaccinated cruise, sailing out of Miami with the current "can't ask" law in place. Have I missed that piece of the puzzle?

Perhaps they are planning on the Norwegian cruise lines lawsuit against the state of Florida winning.

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On 7/14/2021 at 10:58 PM, twodjs said:

I agree that the "lifetime benefit" should be going to those who have been forced to cancel and have chosen to rebook more than once, through no fault of their own, no matter when their eventual sail date actually happens. Those people seem much more loyal and worthy of recognition than a "virgin" who just happens to book in 2021. Geez, VV is now saying August is a go but they still haven't reported how they will guarantee a 100% vaccinated cruise, sailing out of Miami with the current "can't ask" law in place. Have I missed that piece of the puzzle?

Oh, and I paid my deposit 1,337 days ago(Nov 17, 2017) and they don't treat me any different than someone who books a new voyage..

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On 7/15/2021 at 4:52 AM, sid_9169 said:

I've been one of those cancelled and rebooked several times now. It's at least six or seven times, I've lost count. I rescheduled my original booking for next May, just because I was tired of having to sit on the phone with them for hours. Then, I have was a winner in their Shipload of Love contest, and booked for their second sailing from Miami. Of course, that eventually was cancelled, and I'm now booked again for the "new" first sailing from Miami on October 6th... I was reading the fine print, and because my sailing was a prize, I'm not eligible whatsoever for the Sea Blazers promotion. Ticks me off, to have tried over and over, and be cancelled over and over again... They've had my original cash payment for over a year and a half now, and apparently I get diddly squat for my efforts...

Get a travel agent--You don't pay extra and they will handle the details-Mine has done ALL the legwork for me on multiple rebookings....

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15 hours ago, pl281 said:

What I find interesting is that while yes you get $300 off a 2nd cruise in 2022 - it seems like they biggest benefit they are pushing is the bar tab. 

 

Personally if I have 1 drink during a cruise it's a lot so I really have no plans to purchase the bar tab - so this benefit would be lost on me - I'd rather get this use of the spa or other onboard credit as that I might use.

 

 

 I find it hard to spend $50 on drinks a day when it includes sodas and such on other lines.  I don’t know how I would spend $100 when I don’t have to pay for sodas.  Maybe if their cruises were longer but that is like 45 drinks in 4/5 days!  I would have to do 30 just to break even with what I would pay for the bar tab.

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