Carnival Onboard Credit: What It Is & How To Use It

Are you planning your next cruise with Carnival? Your first time cruising with Carnival is such an experience.

Carnival offers onboard credit, which can be used to enhance your cruise experience and make your vacation even more enjoyable.

But what exactly is onboard credit, and how can you use it?

What Is Onboard Credit?

Onboard credit is a fantastic perk offered by Carnival Cruise Line, which allows you to have a little extra spending money to use during your trip.

Essentially, onboard credit is a monetary credit that is added to your Sail & Sign account, which you can use to purchase a wide range of onboard amenities, such as specialty dining, spa treatments, shore excursions, and more.

The best part is that you can use it in conjunction with other promotions and discounts, allowing you to get even more value out of your cruise experience.

At the end of your trip, you can settle your account with cash, a credit card, or any remaining onboard credit.

What Can Carnival Onboard Credit Be Used For?

When you have onboard credit with Carnival, you can use it for a variety of things during your cruise.

Here are some of the most common uses for onboard credit:


Leaving tips at a restaurant is one of the best Carnival on board credit uses

One of the most popular uses for onboard credit is to cover the cost of gratuities (tips.)

This includes the tips you would normally give to your room steward, dining room staff, and other service personnel on the ship.

By using your onboard credit for gratuities, you can save yourself some cash and show your appreciation for the hardworking staff at the same time.

As long as you haven’t prepaid your gratuities, it is a great way to use your onboard credit.

Carnival sets gratuities to $16.00 per person, per day for most cabins. Passengers in suites will pay $18.00 per person, per day.

As there is no discount or benefit to prepaying gratuities, waiting until you are onboard and can use your credits is the best way to use onboard credit.

Specialty Dining

Specialty Dining, woman eating pasta - Featured In: Carnival onboard credit uses

Carnival offers a variety of specialty dining options on board their ships, and your onboard credit can be used to pay for these meals.

However, you must make the reservation once you’re onboard the ship. These restaurants get full quickly, so make sure to do it as soon as you board.

Whether you want to enjoy a steakhouse dinner or indulge in some sushi, your onboard credit can help cover the cost.

Spa Access and Treatments

Foot Massage - Featured In: Carnival onboard credit uses

If you’re looking to relax and unwind during your cruise, you can use your onboard credit to access the ship’s spa facilities or book a spa treatment.

Carnival cruise passengers have the option to use their onboard credit to purchase a day pass to the Cloud 9 Spa for a discounted rate of $22.

This day pass includes access to various amenities such as the relaxation room, thermal suite, hydrotherapy pool, hot tubs, experience showers, steam rooms, saunas, and hammam.

If you find it difficult splurging on these spa services, using your cruise onboard credit is a great way to not feel like you’re dishing out so much cash. Plus, there are plenty of options to choose from.

In addition to the day pass to the Cloud 9 Spa, guests on Carnival cruises can utilize their onboard credit to indulge in a variety of spa treatments.

These treatments include massages, body scrubs, facials, acupuncture, botox, fillers, teeth whitening, waxing, manicures, pedicures, and eyelash treatments.

Shore Excursions

Jetski couple - Featured In: Carnival onboard credit uses

When you’re in port, you can use your onboard credit to book shore excursions through Carnival.

It’s important to note that this can only be done at the shore excursions desk on the ship and not online before boarding.

This can include everything from guided tours to snorkeling trips to zip-lining adventures.


Photography - Featured In: Carnival onboard credit uses

Carnival’s onboard photographers are always snapping pictures of passengers, and you can use your onboard credit to purchase these photos.

You’ll find these photographers during boarding, in the dining rooms, or on the deck.

Whether you want a formal portrait or a candid shot of you and your family, there are plenty of options to choose from.

Fortunately, photo packages are reasonably priced on Carnival cruises, with prices starting at $11.99 for a small print and going up to $299.99 for a package that includes a bundle of prints, a large wall canvas, digital copies, and a calendar.

Gift Cards

According to reports from some cruisers, it may be possible to purchase Carnival gift cards with onboard credit at the Cherry On Top candy store on board Carnival cruise ships.

This can be a smart way to extend your onboard credit and use it towards another cruise in the future.

Carnival gift cards can be loaded with amounts ranging from $100 to $1000, and up to five cards can be purchased in a single transaction.

These gift cards have no expiration date, so they can be saved and used at any time to pay for a future cruise.

These can be used to buy souvenirs, future cruises or even pay for your next onboard credit.

While there have been mixed responses from Carnival regarding the use of onboard credit to purchase gift cards, some guests have reported being successful in doing so


Carnival’s onboard shops offer a variety of items, from clothing to jewelry to electronics. You can use your onboard credit to purchase anything you like in these shops.

Plus, whatever you purchase at sea is tax-free. However, these souvenirs still tend to be pricey.

But if you’ve been eyeing a new tropical hat or beach towel, this is a fun way to spend you onboard credit.


Cocktail - Featured In: Carnival onboard credit uses

Carnival’s onboard credit can also be used to purchase drinks. This includes everything from soda to beer to cocktails.

You can even use your onboard credit to purchase a CHEERS! drink package, which gives you unlimited drinks for the duration of your cruise.

However, if you plan to use onboard credit for a drink package, you must wait until you’re on the ship to buy it. It is not possible to use onboard credit for a drink package if you purchase it before your cruise.

Unfortunately, the CHEERS! Package is cheaper if you pre-purchase it. So if you do decide to use your onboard credit, it will cost more.


If you need to stay connected during your cruise, you can use your onboard credit to purchase wifi access.

This will allow you to stay in touch with friends and family back home, as well as check your email and social media accounts.

Like the drinks package, wifi packages are cheaper if you pre-purchase them.

Purchasing the wifi package online before your cruise can save you 15%. This is why we don’t recommend using your onboard credit to buy internet access, as it’s not the most cost-effective option.


Casinio - Featured In: Carnival onboard credit uses

If you’re feeling lucky, you can use your onboard credit to play in the ship’s casino. This includes everything from slot machines to table games to poker tournaments.

However, it’s important to note that you cannot cash it out. Instead, you can only cash out any winnings you accumulate while using the credit.

If you choose to withdraw your funds at a table game, there will be a 3% fee.

There is no fee to withdraw your winnings at the slot machines.


Bingo - Featured In: Carnival onboard credit uses

Carnival’s onboard bingo games are a popular way to pass the time, and you can use your onboard credit to purchase bingo cards.

Bingo cards start at $10 each, but most players end up spending more as they purchase multiple cards.

While there is a chance to win up to $5,000, the odds of winning within a specified number of balls being called are slim.

Note: many of the prizes offered in Carnival Bingo are not cash but rather items from the onboard shops such as jewelry, spa services, free bingo cards, and more onboard credit.

Therefore, while using your Carnival onboard credit to play Bingo can be an option for Bingo enthusiasts, it may not be the best use of your onboard credit for most people.


Carnival’s onboard art auctions offer a variety of pieces, from paintings to sculptures to jewelry. You can use your onboard credit to purchase any piece that catches your eye.

Overall, Carnival’s onboard credit can be used for a wide variety of things during your cruise.

Whether you want to pamper yourself at the spa, enjoy a fancy dinner, or try your luck in the casino, your onboard credit can help make it happen.

What Happens To Unused Onboard Credit?

Carnival has stated that onboard credit is non-refundable, and any unused credits will be forfeited.

To avoid losing any onboard credit, it’s a good idea to keep track of how much you have left throughout your cruise ship. You can check your onboard account balance at any time using your stateroom TV or the Carnival HUB app.

Make sure you use it all before you disembark to get the most of your vacation!

How Can I Receive Carnival Onboard Credits?

If you’re planning to go on a Carnival cruise ship, you may be wondering how you can receive onboard credits. Here are a few ways to earn credits:

  • Book a cruise during a promotion. Carnival frequently runs promotions where they offer onboard credits as an incentive to book a cruise. Keep an eye out for these deals and take advantage of them when you can.
  • Price Drops. In case of a price drop in your cruise booking, you might be eligible to receive the difference in onboard credit.
  • Join the VIFP Club. The Very Important Fun Person (VIFP) Club is Carnival’s loyalty program. As a member, you can earn onboard credits based on the number of cruises you’ve taken with Carnival. The more cruises you take, the more credits you’ll earn.
  • Cancellations Or Modifications. If Carnival has to cancel or modify the trip, you may receive onboard credit as form.
  • Refer a friend. Carnival has a referral program where you can earn onboard credits by referring friends who have never cruised with Carnival before. If your friend books a cruise, you’ll both receive credits.

It’s important to note that onboard credits are not refundable. If you don’t use all of your credits during your cruise, you won’t receive a refund for the unused portion.

However, you can use your credits for a variety of onboard purchases, such as drinks, shore excursions, and spa treatments.

By taking advantage of these opportunities, you can earn onboard credits and make the most of your Carnival cruise experience.

What’s The Best Way To Use Onboard Credit?

Although there are no ‘wrong’ ways to use your Carnival on board credit, there are some options that are much better than options.

We recommend using your onboard credit towards gratuities, specialty dining, and spa services.

Packages such as the WiFi and CHEERS! Package aren’t the best use of onboard credits as they are more cost-effective to prepurchase.

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