Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Obtaining on-board credits

Ever wonder how your fellow cruise mates scored their treasure-trove of on-board (shipboard) credits? While you’re busy pulling cash from your wallet, they’re enjoying drinks, souvenirs and tux rentals on the house. Although they remain somewhat of a mystery, finding on-board credits is actually quite easy. You just need to know where to look. Here are a few of their favorite hiding places:

Credit Card Statements: Credit card companies often participate in special promotions with cruise lines. So make sure to check your credit card statements for various on-board credits and other fun perks. It really does pay to check these carefully.

Airline Awards Programs: Believe it or not, airlines and cruise lines are often aligned! If you participate in a frequent flier program, investigate to see whether shipboard credits are also offered.

Find a cruise for you right now:

Passenger Perks: Do you cruise with one particular cruise line or lines? If so, you may be throwing away money. You see, repeat cruisers receive a lot of what looks like “junk mail” from cruise lines that they have previously traveled on. Buried inside are sometimes deals for on-board credits – which are part of many cruise lines loyalty programs.

Fringe Benefits for Groups: When cruising as a group, you are often awarded instant on-board credits. Consider these fringe benefits for vacationing en masse!

Now that you know where to find them, here are a few things to be aware of. Read the fine print carefully and don’t assume your credits can be used for anything and in every area of the ship. Chances are -- like any “free” giveaway or deal -- your on-board credits have some stipulations or limitations attached to them. With the bulk of cruise lines, on-board credits cannot be used in casinos, or for gambling in general, or for spa treatments or shore excursions. In fact, on-board credits are usually limited to shops and bars. You’ll also want to verify the actual, true amount of the credit. This is a gray area, because cruise lines like to use the terminology “for up to X dollars.”

One final note: Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask for on-board credits! Cruise lines love to give you money to spend on their ships! It’s their polite way of enticing you to spend even more.


TMinut said...

That's very helpful information. Not that I've ever been on a cruise but I can tell my parents, my in-laws, and my friend who is planning a cruise.

CruiseCounselor said...

Some cruise lines -- NCL comes quickly to mind -- offer $100 in on-board credit just for placing a deposit on a future cruise, even if you don't know which cruise you wish to take. If you book within 24 months, the credit is good, even in the casino!