Holland America honors all past guests by inducting them into the Mariner Society, which is what they call their loyalty program. For every subsequent cruise Mariners earn more points. Enough points increases the ranking to earn more privileges. Just one prior cruise is enough to earn some bonuses with Holland America. One is embarkation day lunch in the dining room, and another is the Mariner Lunch.
At some point in the cruise, prior guests on Holland America receive an invitation to a special lunch in the dining room for Mariners only. So first you get to feel special when you find that invitation in the mailbox outside your cabin. Then there’s the lunch.
Though the options are more limited than regular dining room lunches, the Mariner lunch often has fancier food. Seating is done randomly in order of entry, usually at tables with other cruise fans.
At some point during the lunch there’s usually some announcements honoring specific guests. The captain or another high-ranking officer often gives some sort of speech. Each attendee also gets a collectible tile picturing the ship they are on to take home.
The food has been different each time I have attended the Mariner lunch. There’s normally a choice of several appetizers and entrees, and then a special dessert served only at that lunch. Actually all the food options there are served only at the Mariner lunch.
On our last Veendam cruise they also provided a plate of cookies for everyone at the table in addition to the main dessert – and on that particular cruise we’d been seated at a table for two rather than one of the larger tables with other guests so we took the cookies back to our cabin for later.
Of course getting the invitation doesn’t mean you are required to go. When sailing with people new to Holland America I tend to skip the Mariner lunch since they would be left out, but it’s fun to go to when sailing with people who have been on Holland America previously.