Thursday, January 3, 2008

What is onboard credit???

So you are searching through the internet or have contact several agencies for a great cruise deal and you’ve stumbled upon a cruise agency’s making what appears to be an unusual offer. These cruise agencies are offering shipboard or onboard credit for you cruise package. I can’t tell you how many friends, family and clients have asked me what is shipboard or onboard credit. First let me state that there is no difference between these two, they are exactly the same thing. Now that I have cleared that up, for the rest of my article I will be commonly be referring to it as shipboard credit.
So let me start with the check in process to help you understand what shipboard credit can do for you. When you check in for your cruise the cruise line representative will ask you for a major credit card so the cruise line can set up a cabin charge account. Each passenger in your party receives an access key for your cabin during check in and these keys are also to be used to charge items to your cabins charge account and is also your identification during you cruise for debarkation and embarkation during your cruise. Does everyone in your cabin get charging privilege? That’s up to you! During the check in process you will decide who will have charging privileges. Sorry kids, it’s all up to the adults. If you don’t like the idea of using a major credit card with potentially unlimited charging power, don’t worry you can usually set up your account using cash or you may be able to set charging limits. Be sure to ask the cruise line representative to explain all of the options available to you during check in but you can also request changes before and during your cruise at the Pursers Desk. Once your cabin charge account has been set up and you have your cabin key this is, for the most part, the only card you will need while on the ship so I recommend you put all other personal item’s such as credit cards, other personal identification including passport, money and traveler checks in the room safe until a need arises for them, such as excursions or when visiting the casino. I personally use cash or traveler checks for my visits to the casino. It sets a limit to my gambling that I can live with and I avoid any cash advance fees or ATM fees that may be charged by the cruise line and/or my credit card that I used to setup the cabin charge account. When purchasing items on the ship from the gift shops, bar and night lounges, excursion deck and specialty restaurants, as well as anything that may not be covered in the price of your cruise, you will present your cabin key and your cabin charge account will be billed accordingly. At the end of the cruise you can see an itemized list of all your charges. If there is any dispute you must take care of it before you depart the ship at the pursers desk, departing the ship constitutes that you have agreed to the charges as listed by the cruise line and all charges will be charged to your credit card.
So now that I have covered a little bit about the check in process and what some of the things you will need your cabin key for you are probably still wondering what is shipboard credit? Shipboard credit is like having a gift card on your cruise. The cruise line representative may confirm your shipboard credit during your boarding process or you may receive a card in your cabin stating you have shipboard credit and the amount. The shipboard credit is applied to your cabins charge account as a credit therefore reducing you bill at the end of your cruise by that amount. Shipboard credit is offered for a variety of reasons with your cruise package, often it is being offered as part of a promotion either by the travel agency or the cruise line. Shipboard credit can be used to cover a wide variety of things including paying for you gratuities that if not pre paid will be automatically billed to your cabins charge account, for any excursions booked through the ships excursion desk, your bar tab, pop card for unlimited soft drinks, purchases at the gift shops, and any other purchases made while on the ship. Ask your cruise specialist that you booked your cruise through for other creative ways your shipboard credit will work for you during your cruise experience.
Even if shipboard credit is not being offered with your cruise package you can ask your travel agent to purchase it on your behalf before your cruise sails, that is if pre paying for some of your expected expenses makes your cruise vacation a more enjoyable experience.
Catch the wave and book your next cruise vacation today!

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