There are different payment methods for making purchases on cruise ships. All purchases you make on board will be carried to your account using your ship’s magnetic card.   This includes alcohol, specialty restaurants, spa treatments, shop purchases, excursions and tips. It is at the time of boarding that you will have to choose a payment method to pay your bill at the end of the trip.

What payment methods are accepted to pay for on-board purchases?

Credit card

This is the simplest and most used method of payment. Upon boarding, you will present a credit card on which an amount will be pre-authorized (to check if you have any credit left). At the end of the cruise, the total amount of your purchases will be charged on the credit card. You can choose to use a different card for each passenger or one for all the people travelling with you.

Cash or traveller’s cheques

If you don’t have a credit card, you can pay with cash, traveller’s cheques or a debit card. However, there are some complexities in these payment methods. Upon boarding, you will need to make a deposit (usually in U.S. currency) to cover the costs in advance. The minimum deposit varies depending on the length of the trip and the cruise line. This can range from $100 per person for a few-day cruises to $450 per person for cruises over 7 days. Some companies also impose a limit on the amount of daily purchases for accounts paid with cash ($500 in general). If you exceed the amount you deposited, chances are you’ll be asked to deposit an additional amount into your account before being allowed to make any further purchases. On the last day of the cruise, you will have to go to the customer service counter (and line up) to settle your account. You will then be reimbursed for the unused amounts or you will have to pay the amount that exceeds the deposit you made. Some companies like Carnival do not pay off balances under $10 and donate the money to charity.

Debit card

This method of payment is not recommended. If you use a debit card, a request for pre-authorization will be made by the cruise line to ensure the availability of funds. This request will freeze the pre-authorized amount for up to 30 days. If the total amount of pre-authorization exceeds the amount available in your account, overdraft fees will likely be charged by your bank. In addition, the money in your account will be frozen (for the total amount of pre-authorizations) and invoice payments, cheques or ATM withdrawals will be refused if the account balance is insufficient. As each companies has its own payment policy, it is important to inform your travel agent or cruise line before the trip if you wish to use a payment method other than the credit card.