Memo to cruise fans: It may finally be time to get an AARP membership — if you don’t have one already.
Holland America on Monday announced a major new partnership with AARP that will result in members of the association getting up to $200 in onboard credit when they book a cruise.
Given that a membership in AARP costs just $16 per year ($12 for the first year if you sign up for automatic renewal), this is quite the deal.
For more cruise news, guides and tips, sign up for TPG’s cruise newsletter.
By our math, you can make up to 16 times your money this year by investing $12 in such an initial AARP membership if you’re planning to book a Holland America cruise that gets the full $200 credit.
The onboard credit, it should be noted, will range from $50 to $200 per cabin, depending on the type of cabin you book and the length of the voyage (more details below). Even if you just get a $50 credit on a sailing using the card, it’s still a return of four times your initial card cost.
Here’s the kicker: The onboard credit is “combinable,” to use the cruise world lingo, with other special offers and fares. That means you can still get the credit even if you’re already getting an onboard credit through another booking promotion. That isn’t always the case.
“What makes it unique is that it’s combinable with everything else that we have,” Kacy Cole, Holland America’s chief marketing officer, told TPG before the announcement. “Whatever is our current best published rate or offer, even our Have It All package, you can combine the two so that you get … the extra benefit of being an AARP member.”
Reward your inbox with the TPG Daily newsletter
Join over 700,000 readers for breaking news, in-depth guides and exclusive deals from TPG’s experts.
Holland America’s Have It All package is a premium package that includes several items that normally come with an extra charge, such as specialty dining and a beverage package, at a discounted rate.
In talking over the new AARP partnership with TPG, Cole noted that Holland America has been doing a lot of research to better understand its current customers and possible future customers. As part of that effort, it has found that it is “over-indexed for AARP.” In other words, AARP members are a sweet spot when it comes to the sort of people who already are and might soon be booking a Holland America cruise.
“We want to meet our guests where they are,” she said of the impetus to partner with AARP.
Cole said the data shows that around 7 million of AARP’s 38 million members are planning to take a cruise in the next year — an enormous number. She added that 1 in 3 adults over 50 who plan to visit Alaska in the coming year are AARP members.
Holland America has one of the biggest cruise operations in Alaska, and it’s a big part of Holland America’s business.
A ‘double dip’ opportunity for savings
The new onboard credit offer presents an interesting opportunity for AARP members to “double dip” for savings when booking a Holland America cruise.
That’s because AARP already offers its members the opportunity to buy gift cards for Holland America sailings at a discounted rate through its AARP Rewards program.
AARP members can currently buy $100 and $500 gift cards to pay for Holland America cruises for just $90 and $450, respectively — a 10% savings.
We see no fine print in the offer that would forbid an AARP member from paying for a Holland America cruise with AARP gift cards — resulting in a 10% savings on the cruise — and also taking advantage of the onboard credit offer of up to $200.
Savvy cruisers know that AARP members can also receive up to $100 in onboard credit on select cruises when booking through the AARP Travel Center Powered by Expedia. Alas, this is one of the handful of promotions not combinable with the new onboard credit offer for AARP members who book a Holland America cruise.
So, you can’t “triple dip” by taking advantage of the AARP Travel Center Powered by Expedia credit, too.
The AARP cruise credit fine print
As is generally the case with onboard credits, the new AARP credit for Holland America cruises can be used for a wide range of onboard spending, including shore excursions, spa services, beverages, specialty dining and gift shop purchases.
AARP members can get the onboard credit when booking a Holland America cruise no matter how they book the trip, including:
- Directly with Holland America
- Through a travel agent
The credit will be in the amount of:
- $50 per cabin when booking an inside or ocean-view cabin on a five- to nine-night sailing
- $100 per cabin when booking a balcony cabin or suite on a five- to nine-night sailing
- $100 per cabin when booking an inside or ocean-view cabin on a sailing of 10 nights or longer
- $200 per cabin when booking a balcony cabin or suite on a sailing of 10 nights or longer
The onboard credit offer is available for nearly all Holland America voyages. Exceptions are for the line’s super-long Grand Voyages, segments of such Grand Voyages and voyages of fewer than five days. Holland America offers very few of the latter.
Additionally, as noted above, the offer is combinable with many other offers, including Holland America’s Have It All premium packages.
Other fine print:
- A Holland America Mariner Society loyalty program number is required to make the booking.
- The onboard credit is available on more than one booking in a year.
How to become an AARP member
While AARP is an organization dedicated to people over the age of 50, there is no official minimum age to join. Anyone of any age can sign up for an AARP card to take advantage of the Holland America partnership and other travel offers.
When it comes to AARP benefits, the only ones not available for those under 50 are those related to products that are age-restricted by vendors, such as certain insurance products.
You can quickly and easily sign up for an AARP card by visiting this AARP membership page.
Planning a cruise? Start with these stories: