Just two weeks after making adjustments to the Crown Lounge that promised no change in access requirements or services offered, Royal Caribbean International has notified guests aboard its newest, largest vessel that access is indeed restricted – at least on one sailing.
The restriction is for several evening hours throughout the current 7-night cruise aboard Wonder of the Seas, but does lead to speculation about further changes that may be coming to how the exclusive lounge is offered to loyal guests.
Guests aboard Wonder of the Seas have been notified that the newly renamed Crown Lounge will only be available to Diamond Plus and Pinnacle Club members from 5-8 p.m. each evening of the cruise. That “cocktail hour” timing is when the exclusive venue is most popular, and because of that popularity, it is not possible to also accommodate Diamond members at that time.
“Due to the high number of Top Tier Crown & Anchor Society members on this cruise, we’ve made a slight adjustment to Crown Lounge access during our nightly beverage service,” the letter from the ship’s Crown Lounge Concierge, Lou Ann Pataueg, reads.
The letter does not specify how many top-tier cruisers are onboard, though Wonder of the Seas can accommodate 5,734 travelers at double occupancy, and up to 7,084 guests when fully booked with all berths filled.
The Crown Lounge – formerly known as the Diamond Club Lounge – on the Oasis-class Wonder of the Seas is located on Deck 4, just forward of Studio B on the ship’s starboard side. Guests in the Diamond, Diamond Plus, and Pinnacle Club levels of the cruise line’s loyalty program typically have access to the lounge 24 hours a day.
The letter does note that no matter what time of day, “lounge space is limited – seating and service is available on a first-come, first-served basis.”
Other than the daily restriction from 5-8 p.m., Diamond members still have full access to the lounge at all other times.
Guests are also reminded that their complimentary drink vouchers reset daily at 5 a.m. and can be used at most bars and lounges onboard the ship. Diamond-level guests receive 4 free drinks per day, while Diamond Plus and Pinnacle Club members receive 5 and 6 free drinks per day, respectively.
To reach these upper levels of the loyalty program, guests must have accrued 80 (Diamond), 175 (Diamond Plus), or 700 (Pinnacle Club) loyalty points respectively. Points are earned based on how many days a guest has sailed with the cruise line, with double points awarded for sailing in a suite stateroom.
It should be noted that the terms and conditions of Royal Caribbean’s Crown and Anchor Society (subsection 15) does state the following:
“Royal Caribbean may limit or remove access to the Crown Lounge as needed to accommodate special sailings including, but not limited to: Charters, Crossings, Repositionings, Inaugurals, Trade Events, and President’s Cruises.”
While the current sailing of Wonder of the Seas – a 7-night Eastern Caribbean itinerary calling on CocoCay, St. Thomas, and St. Maarten – is not one of the designated special sailings, it is not uncommon for a new ship to attract great interest from loyal cruisers, and therefore the access would need to be more limited to ensure the expected service quality.
Experienced Royal Caribbean cruisers have noted that these types of restrictions do happen on different cruises when more past passengers are sailing. Since the limitation is only for a few hours and drink vouchers can be redeemed elsewhere onboard – Wonder of the Seas has plenty of bars and lounges to choose from throughout its eight distinct neighborhoods – the inconvenience is relatively minimal.
It is also possible that if these restrictions become more frequent, the cruise line may adjust overall access privileges to the exclusive lounge. While no such adjustments have yet been announced, guests who prefer spending time in the Crown Lounge will want to stay alert to such possibilities in the future.
The 235,600-gross-ton Wonder of the Seas debuted in March 2022 with great fanfare as the largest cruise ship in the world, but will be eclipsed by the even larger Icon of the Seas when the new ship debuts in January 2024.
Undoubtedly, Crown Lounge access will be similarly limited on many Icon of the Seas cruises as eager Royal Caribbean cruisers set sail with the new vessel.
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