Cruise On-Board Credit. 8 Ways To Get More, And What You Can Spend It On!

On-board credit, how do you get it, and what can you spend it on, and why? I’m Gary Bembridge, this is another of my Cruise Tips For Travellers. I was recently on a cruise,
and I was lucky enough to have a lot of On-board credit, and that got me thinking about how do you get loads of On-board credit? And importantly, what you
can, can’t spend it on? And what are the best things
to spend on-board credit on? So let’s take a look starting with actually what is on-board credit? The best way to think about on-board credit is it’s free money. So it’s a bit like someone
giving you a gift card or some cash to go and
spend on whatever you like. So it’s a bit like a gift, and it comes normally
from the cruise line. So it’s basically free money
for you to spend on board. So how do you actually get on-board credit? There are nine key ways that
you can get onboard credit. The first of these is from the cruise line when they do promotions. You’ll find when itineraries
are launched especially, there are lots of deals and incentives to encourage you to book. So the cruise line will normally throw in some on-board credit, which will normally be
per person or per cabin. And this can mount up to quite a lot depending on the grade that you book. The other way that you get
on-board credit linked to that is if you book your cruise on the ship, so when you’re another cruise,
they pretty much always will throw in on-board credit incentives. Again, scaling up based on
the length of the cruise, or the grade of the cabin
that you’re actually booking. Those are the most common ways
of getting on-board credit, but there are seven other
ways that you can get it. One of those is if you book with a agent, you’ll often find the
cruise agents will throw in other incentives to try and
get you to book with them, and often, they are able to
offer extra on-board credit. And certainly, when you’re
booking with an agent, ask them if there’s any opportunities, they’ll often throw in
some, sometimes I guess, they’ll use some of
their commission perhaps to put into onboard
credit to encourage you to book with them. One of the ways that I
have been very successful at getting on-board credit is by tracking the price of a cruise. So once I’ve booked a cruise, what I then do is I keep an
eye on what the prices are for the grade that I’ve booked. If you see the price falling dramatically, the cruise line normally
is not gonna tell you, but what I then do is I
either talk to my agent, or if I booked direct
with the cruise line, I say to the cruise line,
look, I see that my cabin is now being sold for so
many hundred dollars less, what are you going to do? They’ll normally offer either an upgrade, or what they prefer to do
is offer you on-board credit. So for example, the cruise
that I’ve just come off on, there was a dramatic reduction in price because the itinerary was changed, and I ended up getting
$400 of on-board credit because that was the difference in price. So it’s really an important thing to do, to keep tracking the price
of your cabin on a cruise. It’s a great way of getting a lot of extra credit to spend on board. A lot of loyalty programmes
will also offer on-board credit. So as you work your way
up the different tiers, you’ll find that on-board
credit often gets thrown in as one of the benefits. So loyalty to a cruise line is another great way of
getting on-board credit. Some of the cruise lines nowadays have their own credit cards. So if you’re a member of their credit card and you spend and you build up points, instead of being able to
use those for other things, you can convert those
into on-board credits. So if you really love a
particular cruise line, check if they have a credit card. You’ll find that a lot of the
really big well known names in cruising have a credit card. So it’s a great way of just
doing your everyday spending and building up credits
to your next cruise that you can spend on board. If you have a problem on board, that’s another way of
getting on-board credit through compensation. So if you have a problem with service or your cabin or whatever, and the cruise line is
not able to resolve it, be cheeky and ask if
they’re prepared to give you any on-board credit as
compensation, because that is an easier way of them
keeping passengers happy, and of course, it doesn’t
necessarily cost them a lot of money. So that’s a great way of
getting on-board credit. So if you’re a serving
member of the military, and sometimes if you’re a veteran through different ID programmes, you’re often able to get on-board credit. So if you are a serving
member of the military check if your cruise line offers extra benefits and on-board credit. The last way to get
on-board credit is if you’re a shareholder in a
particular cruise company, and you’ll find that you can
apply for on-board credit. So for example, I hold shares in the Carnival Cruise Corporation, and I use that whenever
I’m going on a cruise to apply for extra on-board credit. Again, it varies based on the
length of time of the cruise and the cruise line. It does involve a little bit of admin, because you have to contact them, you have to send them
a copy of your booking, a copy of your shareholding, but you can get extra on-board credit by owning shares in a
particular cruise company. So those are the nine key ways
you can get on-board credit. Once you’ve got on-board credit, what on earth can you spend it on and what are the best things to spend it once you’re on board? Before we look at what you
can spend on-board credit on there are probably four key watch outs about on-board credit that you
should know when you get it and before you think about
what you’re going to spend it on. First of all, really
important, is in most cases on-board credit is non refundable. So if you don’t spend it on board, they’re not going to give you the cash. So you need to make sure that you spend all of your on-board credit on board. And the way you can do that, of course, is track it either by getting a printout, from Guests Services,
or nowadays on the app, or the interactive television
on most cruise lines. But really important, you’re
not going to get the cash back, so make sure that you’re
planning and spending all of your on-board credit
when you’re on the ship. Most cruise lines won’t
let you use on-board credit for things you book in advance. So there are a couple that will say, the cruise I was just
on, Oceania for example, they did let you pre-book things and allocate it against
your on-board credit. But many other cruise lines have been on if you pre-book things
online, excursions, drinks, packages, internet, whatever it is, it doesn’t come off your on-board credit. So you have to wait
until you’re on the ship before doing that. So check very carefully
if your cruise line lets you allocate prebooking
stuff to your on-board credit. The third key watch out is what
you can spend on-board credit does differ slightly by cruise line. So I’m going to talk about the
things you can spend it on but do listen very carefully because there are some cruise lines that won’t let you spend on-board
credit on certain things. The big and easiest guideline though when it comes to on-board
credit is pretty much anything that you can use your cruise
card for, on the ship, normally you can allocate
to on-board credit. So that’s kind of an easy guideline. So let’s take a look, first
of all at what you can and then at what you can’t
spend on-board credit on. There are 10 key things that you can normally spend on-board credit on. The first of those is excursions, and this is often what I use a
lot of my on-board credit for. You can find all sorts
of range of excursions at all sorts of prices,
and you can allocate your on-board credit to it, it’s a great way of
spending on-board credit because excursions can be
one of the biggest on costs to your cruise fare. So excursions is a really good idea to allocate on-board credit to. The second thing that I like to use on board credit for is gratuities. You’ll find pretty much on
every single cruise line, you can use on-board credit
to offset gratuities. Now, there are one or two
exceptions so double check and if you’re not sure
ask at Guest Services when you get on board,
if your on-board credit is going to be allocated against gratuities. But most of the most cruise lines I have been on will allow you to offset that. And of course, that’s a cost that you often haven’t budget for, or you forget, and that can mount up. You can spend $200 or more per person on gratuities on a week long cruise. So on-board credit is a great way of kind of negating that impact. The third thing that I
like to use on-board credit because I see it as sort of
free money is spa treatment. Spa treatments on cruise
ships can be quite costly. So using on-board credit is
a great way of making that more of a justifiable expense. So I like to use on-board
credit for spa treatments if I have any leftover after
gratuities and excursions. Another great use of
onboard credit is for WiFi. WiFi can be pretty expensive on board and you can use on-board credit to buy it. Drinks is also something you could charge against on-board credit. So either buying a drinks
package or drinks ad hoc. I tend to buy drinks ad
hoc using my on-board credit rather than drinks package. I don’t drink a lot so I
find that ends up being a better use of on-board credit
than buying a drinks package, but you can use on-board credit to buy drinks ad hoc or drinks packages. The other key things
that you can use it for is if they have a cabana area
or sort of a retreat area, you can use on-board credit for that. You can use it for specialty dining. So if you want to go and eat
at one of the restaurants, you can use on-board credit for that. You can use it for shopping
in the on-board shops. So that’s a great thing
if you have gifts to buy if you have on-board credit left. The photographs on board the ship. And the other thing that you can do, which is great for many people
is you can use it for treats. So if you like specialty coffees, gelato, those kind of things in those shops, you can normally use on-board
credit to buy those things. So those are the 10
things that you can buy. So what can’t you use on-board credit for. Now, pretty much every single ship there are three key things you
can’t use on-board credit for. First of all, the medical centre. So if you need any treatment
in the medical centre, you can’t use on-board credit. Secondly, most cruise lines
will not let you use it for gambling, or bingo, there
are a couple of exceptions, and that does change over time. So particularly with
Carnival and Royal Caribbean, you can often use on-board credit. So just double check if
you’re going on those. Most of the other lines I’ve
come across don’t let you. So do double check, but
assume that you can’t use it for gaming and gambling. And the third thing you can’t use it is to book your next cruise. Certainly when you’re on a cruise, lots and lots of people
book their next cruise but unfortunately you can’t use on-board credit as your deposit. on-board credit, it’s free
money, work at those nine things to try and get as much
onboard credit as you can. I had loads of onboard
credit on my last cruise it was fantastic because I can do things that I probably wouldn’t
normally do on a cruise, and it felt like it wasn’t
costing me any money. I have loads more Cruise
Tips For Travellers videos, so why don’t you watch another
one of those right now.

44 thoughts on “Cruise On-Board Credit. 8 Ways To Get More, And What You Can Spend It On!

  1. Yes, keep an eye on the prices dropping drastically. We got an upgrade, daily tips/resort fees waved and $550.00 onboard credits for our Alaskan cruise in August. Next time we are not going to make deposits for future cruises onboard. I’d rather save money and not have to haggle later…

  2. It is common to get onboard credit refunded for me. Just ask if that's an option. They wouldn't refund on the ship though I had to wait about 2 weeks for a check in the mail. I was warned it could take 3 months so 2 weeks was a nice surprise.

  3. Wish I’d seen this last week. Just booked some tours as I had a heaps of OBC only to find out it doesn’t come off the OBC😥

  4. Thank you Garry for the video. As a veteran, I have to give a great big kudos to Princess Cruises for their military OBC program. Have been on two cruises with them since the program was started. It's a great "thank you for your service" . 👍👍👍

  5. I am going on the Iona in October sailing to Spain 14 nights and we have on board credit , Is it allocated against the total bill at the end of the cruise or do you have to say at the time of spending can it be debited against the on board credit?

  6. I’m getting married and we’re honeymooning on an msc cruise. Do you think I could convince them to give us onboard credit? And if so what do I say?

  7. Another great video Gary! As a many-times cruiser, I’m always amazed at the tips you come up with that I hadn’t heard about.
    Could you answer this? A couple of years ago we booked very early to ensure a particular cruise. We got $750 on board credit as an incentive to purchase. By the time of the cruise, the price had dropped by almost £1000. We didn’t know then that you can ask for compensation if prices drop significantly. Would we have been likely to get OBC or some other form of compensation if we had complained or would the OBC we already received have been considered to be a reduction in the cost? Thank you.

  8. Hello Gary and a good video you’ve done thanks showcasing your advice about on board credit as it’s something I’ve most probably haven’t heard of as I’ve never done that type of cruise so like all your videos I’ll bear in mind what you’ve advised us on so until the next time take care and cheerio

  9. Here are the 9 ways to get OBC:
    1 – Deals / Promos
    2 – Book on board
    3 – Book with TA
    4 – Price Drops
    5 – Loyalty Program
    6 – Credit Cards
    7 – Problem on Board
    8 – Military Active & Vet
    9 – Cruise Line Stock Shareholder

  10. QUESTION: I am legally blind, do I need to tell the ship, even if I have someone travelling with me to assist me and will it force me to book a more expensive room?

  11. However, most of the time when you see booking offers indicating the new price is $$$ with $$$ in credits, hope you had been tracking prices as most of the time they just increased the price (sometimes for more than what they are giving you in credits/perks).

  12. Best tip, keep track of your cruise price until the day you sail…but before that ensure you get a price match guarantee from your travel agent or directly from cruise line when booking your cruise that they will match best price until sailing day – NOT final payment day.

  13. Personal thank you for your time and uploads. We will be booking our first cruise after years and years of deliberations. Finally we will bite the bullet. I would like to thank you very much for your uploads with a plethora of valuable and in most cases critical information. Your uploads have certainly helped me understand the concept of cruising and taken the edge of any doubts I had. THANK YOU! And…… subscribed 👍

  14. Celebrity will allow you to prebook shore excursions and such and gives you the option of paying with your onboard credit. Holland America requires you to book things onboard if you want to use onboard credit. Those are the only two I know for sure.

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