Cruise 101: Onboard Credit—And How To Spend It

Think of this perk as bonus “cruise cash.”
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The Kate Spade boutique onboard Harmony of the Seas.

Credit: Royal Caribbean

When you booked your cruise, you may have received a promotional bonus of onboard credit. You also might have purchased them before your cruise through Shop Royal Gifts—perhaps picking up some gift certificates to surprise your friends or family, or even yourself, before setting sail.

However you got them, think of these credits as “cruise cash” that you can apply toward a wide array of purchases when you’re on the ship. We’ve got the complete rundown of how you’ll receive and use your onboard credits, as well as some inspired ideas for spending them.

How They Work

It’s common for guests to wonder about how to access their credits once they have them. When you board your Royal Caribbean cruise, all travelers set up a cashless SeaPass account card, which you’ll use for purchases while sailing. Conveniently, your onboard credit will automatically appear on your account for this card (typically two or three days into your cruise.) To enjoy them, simply use your SeaPass—almost like a debit card—and the credited amount will be deducted from your total balance at the end of the trip.

All forms of onboard credit can be applied to purchases while you’re on board. Bonus: If you received credits as part of a special offer when you first booked your cruise, you can now apply them to purchases and reservations you want to make before you set sail. Your credits will be associated with your reservation number, so once shore excursions, specialty dinners and other experiences and amenities are open to book in our Cruise Planner, you can reserve online or over the phone in advance.

What’s the best way to use them? They’re a great way to indulge, whether that’s with a massage or an exciting shore excursion, especially if you received them as a gift or from a special offer when you booked. Luckily, there are plenty of options.

Shopping and Souvenirs

Afternoons at sea are perfect for strolling and shopping, especially along the tree-lined Central Park neighborhood on our Oasis-class ships.

Whether you’re looking to pick up nautical attire or splurge on a Swiss timepiece, the Royal Shops have you covered: there are labels like Michael Kors and Kate Spade for fashion, Regalia for fine jewelry, and Hublot for luxury watches. If you want to take home a one-of-a-kind item, there also are world-class pieces of art for sale at Park West gallery.

Each ship has its own stores, but the Royal Esplanade at the heart of Quantum of the Seas shows just how varied your options can be:

Luxurious Spa Services

Since “cruise cash” may be bonus spending money, it’s also perfect for treating yourself at the Vitality Spa. Found on every ship, this is one of the best ways to spend a day at sea.

You’ll find signature treatments like facials and manicures—administered by skilled staff—but there’s much more. Massages done with warm bamboo sticks or poultices of steamed herbs are excellent, energizing choices, as well as body wraps, scrubs and acupuncture.

With a dedicated medi-spa area, you could even opt for treatments like Botox, teeth whitening or microdermabrasion to rejuvenate your skin. On Oasis-class ships, teens have their own program called Yspa, and those onboard credits can make a perfect gift for younger travelers.

Gambling at the Casino Royale

It’s always better to gamble with “free” money—and here, onboard credits are eligible at the Vegas-style Casino Royale, found across the fleet. When you step onto the floor, you’ll be greeted by the bright lights from a whole manner of slot machines and video poker, as well as spinning roulette wheels and the flying dice at the craps table.

If cards are your game, there’s an assortment of poker games, blackjack, popular side bet “lucky ladies” and baccarat for all types of players. High rollers will appreciate the poker, blackjack and slot tournaments, too.

Deluxe Dining & Drinking

There are ample complimentary dining options, with dinner every night in the Main Dining Room and casual meals available in the Windjammer Café, but you can use your credits to experience the thrill of hibachi at Izumi or enjoy handmade pasta at Jamie’s Italian—both specialty dining options. If you’re a meat and potatoes type, try the prime cuts at the American steakhouse Chops Grille, which offers dry-aged steaks at the peak of tenderness and flavor.

Or order drinks at our pubs, lounges and bars. Our signature robotic bartenders can shake something up at the Bionic Bar, and cocktail buffs should visit the bar at Wonderland, where the craft cocktails are as whimsical as the food—and come served in sub-zero glasses chilled by liquid nitrogen.

However you spend your onboard credits, you can book your cruise here and start planning for them now.