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.
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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.