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How to Earn and Spend Onboard Cruise Credit

It’s like free money!

When you book a cruise, either through a travel agent or directly with a cruise line, you may receive an amount of onboard credit as a special offer or tempting incentive to get you to complete your booking, put your deposit down, or pay for your cruise in full.

This onboard credit is valuable because it’s essentially free money that you’re able to use in a variety of ways on board during your cruise vacation. While the amount of onboard credit you could receive will vary based on cruise demand, current deals, and offers, where you book your cruise (more on this soon), time of year, destination(s), and the class of stateroom you are booking, the ways in which this credit can be used is generally universal across all cruise lines.

One of the surefire ways to get the most significant stash of onboard credit for your next cruise is to book it while on your current cruise. Of course, the exact special offers will vary, but theres a good chance youll score more onboard credit by stopping by the ”future cruise reservations desk” than if you wait to book your next cruise back on land. Plus, when seated across from a cruise representative, you can negotiate and easily discover which itineraries and sailing dates will net you the biggest nest egg of onboard credit.

Onboard Credit (OBC) can be used for most purchases on the ship and will be available to use as soon as you board. The credit will be on your onboard account, with applicable purchases deducted from that balance first before new charges hit your credit card. On most cruise ships, you will be able to check your onboard account daily (including your credit and daily charges) on your cabin TV or visit the guest services desk to check your balance at any time during your cruise.

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From much-needed spa treatments to exciting port excursions, here are the ten ways for your to use your onboard credit to make your cruise more epic and memorable!

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While not every cruise line may allow the usage of onboard credit for excursions, most do when those excursions are booked during the cruise. So if you want to swim with the pigs in the Bahamas, take a seaplane over the glaciers in Alaska, or enjoy a guided walking tour of Florence, Italy, excursions could be a great way to use your onboard credit.

Spa Treatments

Receiving a free massage, pedicure, or facial in the cruise ship’s spa might be the most relaxing way to spend your OBC!

Beverage Package

You can order your drinks a la carte if you want to indulge in just a glass or two of wine with dinner each night, a random cocktail to close out an evening, or purchase a deluxe beverage package once on board and use your onboard credit to pay for all of it!

Specialty Dining

From the steakhouse to the sushi restaurant on board, the lure of specialty dining during a cruise can be strong, especially on a long cruise when the buffet, main dining room, and pizza joint become a bit redundant. Thankfully, if you received a generous amount of OBC, you can spend some of that onboard credit to book a special occasion dinner in one of the ship’s specialty restaurants.

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Onboard Shopping

Maybe you have been eying up those classy rose gold sunglasses in the Michael Kors store or want to pick up a sweatshirt with the ship’s name and logo on it in the official ship gift shop but don’t want to spend any extra money. Shopping on the ship is a great way to spend your onboard credit during a cruise!

Internet Access

We get it, you want to make your Instagram followers jealous of your glamorous cruise vacation and can’t resist making and posting Reels live from the ship’s jacuzzi. On the ships that don’t provide free Wi-Fi, you can spend your onboard credit for a cruise-long internet access package to stay connected to life back on land.

Photo Packages

Many cruise ships have roaming photographers who aim to capture candid shots of you, your partner, and your entire family having fun, eating dinner, and making memories. Additionally, you could choose to pose in front of backdrops on elegant nights in your finest threads. If any of those shots turn out great, feel free to use your onboard credit on the photo packages offered during your cruise vacation.

Double Your Money at the Casino

Are you a gambler who loves to play with house money? You can use your OBC to play table games or slots, to try to grow that onboard credit nest egg…or give it all back to the cruise line. Either way, if the casino is where you get your kicks, you can play for free with your onboard credit!

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What You Can’t Use Onboard Credit For

Your precious bankroll of onboard credit can be used for many things, but there are some expenses for which this type of credit cannot be used. For example, if you can sick or hurt during your cruise, you most likely will not be able to apply your credit toward your medical costs incurred onboard. Additionally, while you may know that you have credit waiting to be used before embarkation day, you probably won’t be permitted to use that credit to pre-pay for things in advance of your cruise. Finally, your onboard credit may be required to be used up before the stroke of midnight on the last night of your cruise before any remaining balance of onboard credit will be applied to your final bill.