Money Matters, Cashless Cruising

A Cashless System

Ships operate as a “cashless” society where onboard purchases are charged to each guest’s shipboard account established at the beginning of the cruise. Most cruise lines require passengers to activate their shipboard account when they check-in for their cruise by completing a basic account registration form and providing a major credit card or cash/traveler’s check deposit.

Ship Boarding Card – Room Key

Most cruise lines will issue each guest a personalized boarding card at check-in. This card serves as the guest’s:

  • individual identification card
  • boarding pass in ports of call (to be shown with a picture id in order to re-board the ship)
  • shipboard account charge card
  • room key

Onboard Purchases
Onboard purchases such as beverages, shore excursions, gift shop items, salon/spa services, photos, laundry, casino (though most ships accept cash in the casino), and other items of a personal nature not included in your cruise program.

The cruise line will keep a running tab of all shipboard purchases throughout the cruise for each guest, and an itemized final billing statement will be delivered to each guest’s stateroom on the last morning of the cruise. A print out of your shipboard account can also be requested from the ship’s reception desk at anytime during the cruise.

If there are no questions about the billing statement, the total bill amount will automatically be charged to the credit card presented during registration (as with the Express check-out option offered at hotels). Guests who put down a cash deposit instead of registering a credit card will need to settle the account at the ship’s reception desk prior to leaving the ship.

Important notes:

  • Most cruise lines accept major credit cards such as American Express, MasterCard, Visa and Discover (some also accept Diner’s Club and Optima Card) as well as Debit cards with a Visa or MasterCard logo. Regular ATM debit cards are generally not accepted.
  • An authorization “hold” is placed on credit/debit cards registered for the duration of the cruise and vary by cruise line and length of sailing. (Important note: when using a debit card, the authorization hold will effectively take the funds out of the corresponding bank account until after the cruise has returned and the account has been settled.)

Currency Onboard

US dollars is the standard currency on most ships, although a few ships in more exotic destinations use other currencies such as Euros. Travelers checks can be cashed at the ship’s front reception desk with proper ID. Some ships do offer currency exchange at prevailing rates if you wish to carry local currency into your port of call, although US dollars, travelers checks and major credit cards are accepted in shops and restaurants in most ports of call.