My opinion on all of this--Lifers AND R.O.'s--is that they are elitist and divisive of our community. Look at the words already used in this thread:
There are ways to thank people for repeat patronage, eg gifts in exchange for the thousands of dollars we have spent on JC. But creating separate communities of Lifers, R.O.'s, and everybody else builds a hierarchy that is not what Jam Cruise should be about. Some people might have found out about JC a few years in and have been dedicated patrons ever since--it's not their fault they didn't know about it before, but they will never be able to be in this elite group of Lifers.
Agree with Odman that a Lifer club is also pointless in that it will always be the same unless people drop off.
So are the Lifers now going to have their own party separate from the R.O. party? What other special treatment are they going to get? Even R.O.'s makes more sense than this, because eventually anybody can become an R.O.--but they can never be a Lifer. It's analogous to shutting out people for being a certain skin color, or for where they were born. Lame.
For the record, I went on Jam Cruise 1 and have been an R.O. ever since R.O.'s have existed. I have never once been to an R.O. party out of principal for exactly this reason. New cruisers should be equally as welcome to ALL Jam Cruise events as R.O.'s or Lifers. Jam Cruise is not about VIP treatment for certain groups. Jam Cruise IS the VIP experience that we are all paying beaucoup bucks for.
As a compromise, since R.O.s--and now, presumably, Lifers--get a party (as much as I don't like it, I assume this is not going to change) then what about a separate event for "younger" cruisers so they feel welcome, too? Or are new cruisers just supposed to wander around jerking off on the pool deck while R.O.s and Lifers stroke their egos at their elitist private events?