Shipboard Credit: 10 Ways to Get Your Share

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Did you get a chance to read our last blog regarding what shipboard credit is, why you want it and what you can do with it?  Now we want to tell you how to get some!


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Cruise Line Promotion Features-

When a cruise package includes a bonus such as what happened with Bill and Doris for their NCL Hawaii cruise. In that case, we obtained after they had booked.

For our clients sailing soon on Oceania, a $600 shipboard credit was one of the amenities of the promotion we used for their upcoming vacation. In their case, these travel-savvy clients don’t like to risk that a wanted excursion or massage time may be full by the time they board the ship, so they pre-booked and paid for those in advance.  Trying to decide how they would spend that $600 while cruising, the husband commented, “I guess Brenda is just going to have to shop for something fun on the ship.”  I’m trusting she’s up for the challenge!

Celebrity Cruises has one of the most popular promotions involving shipboard credits. Their “Go Big, Go Better, Go Best” promotion allows the traveler to choose one to four “perks” out of a list of perks, one of which being a shipboard credit.


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Agency Promotion Features-

An example of this may be a shipboard credit which may be a bonus for all participants in a group or for booking into a group during a specific timeframe. For instance, we had a $50 per person early booking promotion tied in with one of our large groups which entitled everyone booking by February 28 to receive a $50 shipboard credit. We had over 200 clients book early enough to receive that.  They will be especially happy to enjoy that “free money” during their upcoming cruise on MSC.


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Future Cruise Bookings-

Cruise lines want you to book your next cruise while your “vacation adrenaline” is at its peak while you are on one of their ships.  Therefore, most offer a shipboard credit on the new cruise as an incentive to book again.  Some lines will even give you a credit on the cruise you are currently sailing on if setting up another cruise.


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Friends and family members can buy gifts for someone who is sailing.  These are often in the form of a bottle of wine, a food gift or some other item delivered to a cabin.  Many lines also have the ability for someone to gift a shipboard credit. Looking for something to give Mom for Mother’s Day? If she’s booked on a cruise, siblings could consider a shipboard credit (think “gift card”) to treat her to a massage or some shopping?


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A few cruise lines offer OBC to past guests. Crystal Cruises’ Crystal Society and Oceania Cruises’ Oceania Club loyalty programs reward past guests with shipboard credits at designated levels.


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Military Credit-

We love that Princess Cruises shows gratitude to the active military personnel and veterans of United States, Canada and the UK in the form of an onboard credit.  Each qualified person receives a $50 – $250 (depending on cruise length) credit. There are a few stipulations, but they are simple. We’ve never had anyone with an honorary discharge be denied.

There’s a request form to be sent along with a DD214 (or alternative documentation depending on circumstance).  We’re always happy to save our clients the time and hassle by filling out the request form for them. Note that older DD214s tend to have social security numbers on them which should be blacked out.


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Price Drops-

Cruise lines typically will not reprice a reservation after final payment is made.  But we’ve had times when pricing on a sailing has reduced on a promotion that’s not for “new bookings only” and we’ve been able to negotiate a shipboard credit for the difference between what our client paid and what someone coming along now would pay. The situation is rare as it benefits everyone when travelers book early… but it does happen.


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Some lines thank you for referring a friend.  For instance, Princess’ Refer a Friend program will reward both the friend you have referred and for sending them after your friend cruises. Royal Caribbean International instead has a Bring a Friend program which rewards you with shipboard credit involving new-to-RCCL friends who book cabins to travel with you.


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Cruise Line Branded Credit Cards-

Most major cruise lines have a branded credit card.  One of our clients, MaryAnn, uses her Royal Caribbean credit card when possible to build up points for discounts on cruises, upgrades, merchandise and shipboard credits. Depending on dollars spent and points accrued, a cardholder can receive shipboard credits ranging from $50 to $2000. (That is not a typo!)


word in gold color- invest


A benefit for shareholders of cruise line corporations is shipboard credit. Current shareholders holding at least 100 shares of Carnival Corporation receive $50 – $250 (depending on cruise length) when sailing on Carnival Cruise Line, Costa Cruises, Cunard Line, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises and Seabourn. Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. operates a nearly identical program with a shipboard credit available when cruising aboard Azamara Club Cruises, Celebrity Cruises and Royal Caribbean International.


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We’d like to think that every vacation will go perfectly and that there will never be a service, mechanical or weather issue that gets in the way of that goal.  Most vacations do go smoothly or the bumps are small.  However, if there are major problems, you may end up with a shipboard credit on your current cruise or one to be used on a future cruise.  The key to a valid complaint are that the guest is calm, everything gets documented and the case (either shipboard or afterward) is presented succinctly.  On the very rare case in which “the stuff is hitting the fan,” it may be a larger OBC.  One of our clients, Glynn, along with family and friends was on a South American cruise plagued with weather that created extra unusual challenges in many ways.  Due to the extenuating circumstances, everyone on the ship received a large shipboard credit and along with a discount on a future cruise.


If you had $100, $300 or more in shipboard credit, how would YOU like to spend it?

Happy Traveling!

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P.S. Click here to read last week’s article about what you can do with your shipboard credit.

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