Onboard credit score on cruises: Methods to get it and use it

Spend any time looking for cruises on-line, and you will seemingly come throughout the time period “onboard credit score,” often known as OBC. Cruise strains and on-line journey companies usually advertise as a reserving bonus. They could provide as little as $25 cruise onboard credit score for reserving an inside cabin on a brief crusing and all the best way as much as hundreds of {dollars} for reserving suites on longer cruises or with luxurious strains.

However what precisely is onboard credit score, and what are you able to do with it after getting it? Discover out right here if cruise onboard credit score is a perk you need to use in your subsequent crusing.

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What’s onboard credit score?

Onboard credit score is free cash you need to use to purchase issues in your cruise ship. It is a monetary credit score to your shipboard account; the quantity of your onboard credit score can be deducted out of your closing invoice of purchases made on board throughout your cruise.

Should you’ve by no means cruised, know {that a} cruise ship is a cashless society. You do not use bank cards, both. As an alternative, the cruise line opens a cost account for each passenger on embarkation day. You’ll both join the account to a credit score or debit card or pre-load it with a money cost.

Your onboard account is the way you pay for nearly all the things you want that is not included in your cruise fare or wasn’t paid for prematurely. That features retailer purchases, bar drinks, spa and salon therapies, health lessons, and shore excursions. The identical cruise keycard that opens your cabin door additionally features as a shipboard bank card. Hand it over to the bartender or salesperson to invoice a purchase order to your onboard account.

Most cruise strains place no restrictions on using onboard credit score; for those who can invoice it to your account, you’ll be able to cowl the associated fee together with your cruise onboard credit score. A couple of do not permit OBC use within the on line casino or to pay for crew gratuities. Some cruise strains, resembling Norwegian Cruise Line, provide particular onboard credit, restricted to 1 sort of buy. For instance, NCL’s “shore tour credit” can solely be used to buy excursions.

Typically, onboard credit score is nonrefundable. Should you do not use it up in your present cruise, you neither receives a commission out in money nor are you able to roll it over to your subsequent cruise.

How do you get onboard credit score?


Cruise vacationers have a number of methods to amass onboard credit score; some are simpler than others.

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Reserving bonuses

Onboard credit score is a standard reserving bonus, supplied throughout a cruise sale as a substitute of (or along with) worth drops, decreased deposits and different free perks.

Cruise strains that frequently put up reserving bonus provides of onboard credit score embody a lot of the standard big-ship strains: Royal Caribbean, Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America, Princess Cruises, MSC Cruises and Celeb Cruises, plus extra luxurious strains, resembling Seabourn, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Oceania Cruises. Some strains provide additional onboard credit score for first responders and members of the navy.

Journey brokers, each on-line and in individual, usually have onboard credit at their disposal to make use of as reserving bonuses, as properly. Typically, the quantities they hand out are bigger than what the cruise strains are providing. I booked an Alaska cruise just lately by way of United Cruises and obtained $50 OBC; the cruise line was providing $25 for a similar cabin.

The gross sales brokers on board your cruise even have onboard credit score reserving bonuses handy out, virtually all the time in quantities bigger than you may discover elsewhere. In case you are loving the cruise you are on, it pays to guide the subsequent one whilst you’re nonetheless on board.

Value drops

As soon as you have paid to your cruise in full, some strains will give you a refund within the type of onboard credit score for those who notify them that the value of your cabin class dropped. This is not fairly the identical as free spending cash because you already spent it in your cruise. But it surely’s enjoyable to have a bit of of that cash again to make use of for extras as a substitute of the bottom fare. It occurs extra usually than you would possibly suppose. Your journey agent would possibly already be watching these fares for you; if not, you ought to be doing it your self.


For some cruise strains, having you share your enthusiasm for his or her model with your mates is cause sufficient to ship a little bit of OBC your means. Windstar Cruises, for instance, provides each you and buddies you refer $100 every in onboard credit score as soon as they pay in full for a cruise.

Bank cards

In case your favourite cruise line has a cobranded bank card, test to see if it provides onboard credit score, both as a sign-up bonus or as one of many factors redemption choices. Celeb Cruises’ and Royal Caribbean’s branded Financial institution of America Visa Signature playing cards each function My Cruise Factors redemptions for onboard credit score. Signal-up bonus factors are continuously marketed on the cruise line web sites. The playing cards haven’t any annual charges and no overseas transaction charges.

The knowledge for the Royal Caribbean Visa Signature card has been collected independently by The Factors Man. The cardboard particulars on this web page haven’t been reviewed or offered by the cardboard issuer.

When issues go flawed on board

Cruise strains do not all the time get all the things proper. Possibly your air-con wasn’t working for just a few days throughout your cruise. Possibly you had been imagined to have an unobstructed view, however your cabin confronted a lifeboat. Should you can doc the issue and politely inform visitor companies, chances are high good they’re going to give you compensation within the type of onboard credit score — both for the present cruise or a future one.

Stockholder onboard credit score provides

When you’ve got performed your analysis and determined to buy cruise line inventory, know that some strains provide onboard credit score to shareholders every time they cruise, with sure restrictions. A kind of restrictions is often a minimal variety of shares; one other is that you simply won’t be allowed to earn each your stockholder OBC and reserving bonuses on the identical cruise, solely the choice with the best worth.

Associated: Do you personal cruise line shares? You may get onboard perks

What’s one of the simplest ways to make use of onboard credit score?


Now that you’ve the fundamentals, let’s dig into some makes use of of onboard credit score and tips on how to squeeze probably the most out of these transactions.

However first, a notice: Carnival Cruise Line, Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean permit passengers to make use of onboard credit score to pay for pre-cruise purchases. Nevertheless, that is usually solely promotional credit score straight from the cruise line, not bonus credit score issued by third events like journey brokers. MSC Cruises, Celeb Cruises, Holland America and Norwegian Cruise Line don’t settle for OBC for many pre-cruise purchases.

In case your cruise line solely accepts OBC when you’re on board a ship, you would possibly must resolve between paying money for discounted pre-cruise purchases and saving your OBC for different onboard spending, or skipping the low cost and advance buy to make use of your credit score on a selected bundle or tour when you board. Notice that there are particular cruise actions you must guide prematurely for those who do not need to miss out.

Further restrictions would possibly apply to using onboard credit score, so all the time learn the phrases of any onboard credit score provide earlier than you settle for it.

Associated: 7 extra-charge objects on cruise ships which can be price the associated fee (and seven that are not)


Wi-Fi is dear on a cruise in comparison with your property web plan. That truth alone makes it an ideal use for onboard credit score. The essential recommendation for onboard Wi-Fi is that if you may want it for the whole cruise, purchase a pre-cruise bundle when costs are just a few {dollars} cheaper per day. Apply your onboard credit score to the pre-cruise buy, and your financial savings have multiplied.

This is an instance: Carnival’s Premium Wi-Fi for a full-cruise bundle is $21.25 per day for one machine for those who purchase it earlier than midnight the day earlier than your ship sails. Purchase it on board, and the associated fee is $25 per day for one machine. On a four-night cruise, a pre-cruise Wi-Fi bundle is $85. Should you occur to have $50 of onboard credit score, that is a unbelievable use of it. You will get Wi-Fi for less than $35 of your individual cash.

Drinks and beverage packages

Getting probably the most out of your onboard credit score in relation to drinks is dependent upon what sort of drinker you’re. Do not suppose solely by way of beer, wine and cocktails. On a cruise, you may additionally need to pay for specialty coffees, sodas, smoothies, nonalcoholic cocktails and bottled water.

Should you do not plan on buying many drinks, think about using your onboard credit score for a enjoyable splurge like an occasional poolside beverage, a bottle of wine at dinner, or a mixology class or cocktail tasting.

Cruisers who plan on shopping for a number of drinks a day will save by buying an inclusive beverage bundle. Should you’ve obtained onboard credit score and your cruise line permits it, use the OBC to purchase the bundle pre-cruise when it is on sale.

Associated: Greatest drinks to order with a cruise ship beverage bundle (and three to keep away from)

Spa and salon therapies

Enjoyable therapies at a cruise ship spa are tops on many cruisers’ splurge lists, which makes them worthy of onboard credit score use. Typically, including a therapeutic massage, facial or manicure to your cruise plans makes the entire journey much more particular. In case your cruise permits pre-cruise spa purchases, the costs is likely to be barely decrease. Additionally search for first-day and port-day specials to stretch your OBC additional. These will often be posted in every day’s ship highlights, or you’ll be able to all the time name or go to the spa to ask for specials.


Specialty restaurant meals and eating packages

On some ships, the paid specialty eating places are what add the wow issue to the general meals expertise on board. That truth alone makes them a great way to spend onboard credit score.

If a multinight bundle is out there, that may decrease your price, as would a pre-cruise buy the place obtainable. In any other case, guide your specialty meals as quickly as doable after boarding as a result of prime instances disappear shortly. You are able to do this by way of the cruise line’s app (if there may be one), on the eating places of your alternative or at stations arrange on embarkation day particularly so you can also make eating reservations all through the ship.

Onboard prices for specialty eating often present up on the finish of your meal, reasonably than if you make reservations. That is vital to know so you’ll be able to price range your OBC accordingly.

Associated: The last word information to cruise ship meals and eating

Shore excursions and actions

Shore excursions supplied by the cruise line are a terrific use of onboard credit score. In some ports, you may have loads of choices, even after you board the ship. I’ve seen folks in line on the shore tour desk reserving excursions because the ship arrives in port.

One of the best use of your onboard credit score can be an advance buy at a reduced worth on cruise strains that provide that possibility. When that is not doable, it is best to guide and pay for the excursions that matter most to you, leaving OBC purchases for the excursions you could possibly reside with out.

As an example, if salmon fishing is what you have dreamed of doing in Alaska, do not wait till you need to use onboard credit score on embarkation day. You in all probability will not discover any availability as a result of Alaska excursions like that usually replenish months prematurely. Save that credit score for one thing else.

Along with shore excursions, some ships and even some non-public islands owned by the cruise line have sights that are not included within the cruise fare, from non-public cabanas to flee rooms. Howdy, onboard credit score. It is uncommon to search out offers on these sorts of extras, nevertheless it by no means hurts to ask. The strongest potentialities are port-day specials for onboard actions like thermal suite passes or thrill rides that include a cost.

Purchasing and souvenirs

Onboard buying {and professional} portraits allow you to convey again tangible mementos out of your cruise trip. If the credit score is there, and you actually desire a new scarf, or one of many formal evening images is the most effective considered one of you and your accomplice in years, use that OBC to deal with your self. Verify the every day publication and even store signage for particular provides to scale back your prices a tiny bit.

Requirements and practicalities

Except you pay suggestions prematurely, most cruise strains add a every day gratuity quantity to your cabin account through the cruise. It is one thing you may pay a technique or one other, so utilizing OBC to cowl the expense is smart on ships the place it is allowed. Holland America and Norwegian Cruise Line particularly state that onboard credit score can’t be used to pay for service prices and gratuities.

I additionally know individuals who have used their onboard credit score for laundry or dry cleansing. Who cares if cruise line laundry costs are excessive if you’re utilizing free cash? It is particularly good to do that if you’ll find yourself paying for laundry or dry cleansing when you get dwelling (and for those who’re on a ship the place drinks or suggestions are included).

I additionally know a man who obtained his hair lower on board utilizing OBC, saving him the price of his subsequent haircut at dwelling. Clean transfer.

On line casino play

You often can fund your on line casino play with OBC — however be careful. Some cruise strains put restrictions on utilizing OBC within the on line casino (Holland America bans it outright) or cost a comfort charge for utilizing your onboard account for funds on the gaming tables.

Slot machines will typically settle for a switch out of your account with out charges. When you will have completed enjoying, your winnings can be paid out as a credit score slip which you are taking both to a machine or the cashier for precise cash.

If you are going to gamble on board, please play responsibly. This is what I did just lately with $50 in onboard credit score that didn’t contain risking any of my very own cash. I discovered a slot machine with a minimal play of 25 cents. I used to be snug enjoying $1.25 at a time, which meant I had 40 performs earlier than my unique $50 was used up. As soon as these 40 performs had been performed, I used to be enjoying with my winnings, not my OBC. I selected to money out at that time, and fortunately walked away with $52. Plus, I earned factors within the cruise line’s on line casino loyalty program.

Associated: I earned a ‘free’ cruise in a ship on line casino — this is what it price, plus suggestions for getting comped

Backside line

Onboard credit score is cash in your account to do with virtually no matter you want. The extra you accumulate in your account, the extra you will have obtainable to spend or play with. You possibly can consider it as a license to do one thing you would not do for those who had been paying or a solution to cut back your anticipated trip invoice by utilizing it to cowl prices you already deliberate to incur.

Both means, you must all the time hold your eye out for onboard credit score provides when reserving a cruise, or ask your journey agent or cruise line if they’ve OBC handy out to thanks for your enterprise.

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