Royal Caribbean Onboard Credit: 13 Best Ways To Spend It

Did you recently get onboard credit for your next Royal Caribbean cruise? If you’re wondering what this is, or how best to use it, we’ve got you covered…

Onboard credit is considered ‘cruise cash,’ and you can use it in many different ways, but some ways are better than others.

Learn how to leverage your onboard credit smartly, turning a great vacation into an unforgettable one, even if you find yourself with an abundance of it!

What Is Onboard Credit (OBC)?

Royal Caribbean onboard credit (OBC) is like special spending money given to passengers to use for different things on the cruise.

This credit can be applied towards onboard activities such as specialty dining, shore excursions, spa treatments, and other premium experiences.

How Does Onboard Credit Work?

On a Royal Caribbean cruise, your SeaPass account serves as a cashless system for your onboard expenses. Whenever you make a purchase on the ship, the cost is added to this account. By the end of your cruise, you can pay off your account using cash, credit, debit, or onboard credit.

Acquiring onboard credit means it’s applied directly to your SeaPass account, essentially reducing the charges for the purchases you have made on the ship.

How To Get Royal Caribbean Onboard Credit

You can obtain Royal Caribbean Onboard Credit (OBC) through various ways:

  • Special Offers: Booking your cruise during a special offer period may give you up to $400 OBC per stateroom.
  • Reserve While Sailing: Booking your subsequent cruise while you’re already on a voyage could get you up to $500 OBC for your current or next adventure.
  • Working with a Travel Agent: Some travel agents reward you with OBC for booking your cruise through them.
  • Royal Caribbean Visa Card: Earn points by using the Royal Caribbean Visa credit card. Accruing 10,000 points grants you $100 in OBC.
  • Compensation: In case of cruise issues such as technical problems or subpar service, you might receive OBC as an apology.
  • Price Reduction: If the cruise price drops after you’ve booked, you could receive the difference as OBC.
  • Postponed Cruises: If your cruise is rescheduled, pre-purchased items convert into OBC for your next sailing, with a bonus of 25%.
  • Shareholders: Owning a minimum of 100 RCL shares entitles you to receive $50 OBC on cruises up to 5 nights, $100 on cruises up to 6-13 nights, and $250 on extended cruises.
  • Military: US and Canadian armed forces members and veterans may be eligible for $50 OBC per stateroom when booking specific cruises.

Using Your Royal Caribbean Onboard Credit

With Royal Caribbean onboard credit, you can conveniently buy a variety of items during your cruise journey. Though you cannot use it for medical expenses, taxes, and port fees, it comes in handy for most other onboard purchases.

Great news! You don’t have to be on the ship to use your onboard credit anymore. You can now apply it to pre-cruise purchases made via the Royal Caribbean Cruise Planner website or over the phone.

Please keep in mind, though, that this option is only available for specific types of onboard credit and not gift card purchases.

Read Next: Who Owns Royal Caribbean?

What Happens To Unspent Onboard Credit?

Make sure you completely use up your onboard credit before the last night ends. There is no rollover for you next cruise and any remaining balance will be forfeited.

Best Ways To Spend Royal Caribbean Onboard Credit

Although onboard credit can be considered by many ‘free money,’ there are ways to use it more intelligently than others.

It’s probably best to use the onboard credit for things you would have to pay out-of-pocket regardless, like gratuities. Using your onboard credit for the essentials first is one of the smartest ways to use the ‘free cash.’

And of course, there are some things you can spend onboard credit on that aren’t as rewarding as others.

1. Gratuities

One of the smartest (and, in our opinion, best) ways to use your onboard credit is to cover gratuities. These are required expenses for all guests and directly support the hardworking crew members.

The daily rates for gratuities are $16.00 per person for standard staterooms and $18.50 per person for suites.

If you’re on a 7-day cruise in a standard room, you’re looking at $117 in gratuities per person. Putting your onboard credit towards that is one of the wisest uses of the free credit.

Any remaining onboard credit will automatically be subtracted from the gratuities on your final bill.

2. Drinks

Fancy Cocktail Royal Caribbean

You can purchase individual drinks at any of the ship’s bars, lounges, or restaurants. Enjoying a refreshing fruity beverage is often a highlight of any vacation!

Your Royal Caribbean cruise fare includes several complimentary drink options like water, tea, coffee, juices, and milk. However, you’ll need to pay more for alcoholic beverages.

Rather than buying each alcoholic drink separately, consider using your onboard credit for a Royal Caribbean drink package. These packages might be pricey initially, but they can offer substantial savings if you frequently enjoy drinks during your cruise.

3. Onboard Activities

Flowrider Royal Caribbean
Source: @tiffyjv

While your Royal Caribbean cruise fare covers many activities, there are several special experiences that come with an additional cost. Notably, some attractions that used to be complimentary, like the North Star observation pod and the iFly skydiving simulator on Quantum-class ships, now require a fee.

Here’s a rundown of some key activities and their approximate charges:

  • North Star: $25
  • iFly Skydiving Simulator: $55
  • Behind-the-scenes ship tour: $49 to $129
  • Escape room: $20
  • Private Flowrider surfing lessons: $69 to $500
  • Fitness classes: $12
  • Cooking classes: $35 to $70
  • Video games in the arcade: $1 to $3 per game

Prices can vary depending on the specific sailing and are always subject to change. While there’s plenty to do for free onboard, these paid activities offer unique experiences.

If you have leftover onboard credit after covering essentials like gratuities, these activities could be a fantastic way to use it, especially if there are particular experiences you’re eager to try.

4. Specialty Dining

Spending your onboard credit on a meal at one of Royal Caribbean’s fine dining establishments is a great treat and use of the credir.

The price for these special meals varies depending on the ship and itinerary, but generally, you might spend around $25 per person for a lunch at venues like Chop’s Grille or Jamie’s Italian, or up to $100 per person for an exclusive dinner at the Chef’s Table.

Royal Caribbean’s specialty dining options, such as Izumi, offer a chance to indulge in exceptional culinary experiences, although they do come at an additional cost.

Prices can differ: some restaurants have a set cover charge, while others offer a la carte pricing.

For instance, a lunch at Giovanni’s Table may cost about $25 per person, in contrast to the $100 per person for a dinner at the Chef’s Table.

An economical and exciting way to explore these culinary delights is by purchasing a specialty dining package.

These packages allow you to enjoy a variety of specialty restaurant meals at a set price, making them particularly worthwhile if you’re planning multiple upscale dining experiences on your cruise.

5. Spa Services

Spa Services At Royal Caribbean

Using your onboard credit for a bit of pampering at the spa might seem like a splurge, but it’s a perfect opportunity to indulge, especially if spa visits are not part of your regular routine.

Treating yourself to spa services, perceived as complimentary through your onboard credit, can make the expense feel more justifiable.

Spa treatments on Royal Caribbean can range in cost, with some luxury options reaching up to $2,000. However, if you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option, consider purchasing a day pass to enjoy spa amenities like the sauna and steam room, often available for around $30 depending on the ship.

Alternatively, for a similar cost, you could opt for a wash and blow-dry at the hair salon, ensuring you look fabulous for the formal night onboard.

While Royal Caribbean’s Vitality Spa services aren’t inexpensive, your onboard credit provides an excellent opportunity to indulge in these treatments without the guilt, adding an extra layer of relaxation and luxury to your cruise experience.

Spa visits are a favorite activity for many cruisers, serving as a vital way to unwind and escape the everyday hustle and bustle.

6. Babysitting

Most of the time, childcare at Royal Caribbean’s Adventure Ocean kids’ clubs is free. However, if you have a child younger than three, or if you need childcare services after 10 pm, there’s a small fee.

This fee, ranging from $6 to $8 per hour for group babysitting, is actually quite reasonable compared to typical babysitting rates at home. Considering this, it’s a great opportunity to enjoy some grown-up time.

Using your onboard credit for childcare can make your time on the cruise even more relaxing and enjoyable, knowing your little ones are safe and having fun.

7. WiFi

Laptop on Cruise Ship

For those needing to stay in touch with work or family, or if you require a dependable online connection, purchasing a wifi package using your onboard credit is a smart move.

Internet connectivity, whether for personal enjoyment or work obligations, has become an essential need for many. To access the full range of internet services, you’ll need to opt for one of these internet packages.

It’s worth noting that the Royal Caribbean app and its chat feature can be used without a full internet package, but for broader web access, a wifi package is necessary.

Royal Caribbean provides different internet packages, available for purchase both before and during your cruise.

For cost savings, consider buying your wifi package in advance through the Cruise Planner site, as prices are typically lower than buying onboard.

8. Souvenirs

Contrary to what you might expect, not all souvenirs on Royal Caribbean’s cruise ships are incredibly expensive.

In fact, you can find some really good deals, which become even more attractive when you’re shopping with your onboard credit.

Sure, there’s a range of high-priced items like designer bags, watches, and jewelry, which can cost a pretty penny. But you’ll also find a variety of affordable keepsakes.

Whether you’re in the market for something branded by Royal Caribbean or looking to splurge on designer sunglasses, there’s a wide selection to suit every taste and budget.

The prices of souvenirs vary significantly, with Royal Caribbean-branded merchandise generally being more wallet-friendly compared to the designer goods.

Additionally, there’s an assortment of toys and items focused on younger guests. So when your children inevitably spot that must-have toy, your onboard credit could come in very handy.

8. Shore Excursions

During your cruise, your ship will dock at several exciting ports, offering numerous opportunities for adventure and your onboard credit isn’t limited to just onboard purchases. You can also use it to book official shore excursions.

These excursions, although sometimes a bit costly, offer convenience and peace of mind compared to organizing a trip on your own.

Besides, you can apply your onboard credit to various activities at Royal Caribbean’s exclusive island, Perfect Day at CocoCay. Although the island offers plenty of complimentary activities, there are some exclusive experiences at an additional charge.

9. Photos

Cruise ship photographers on Royal Caribbean capture stunning photographs, providing a fantastic chance for you to get lasting mementos of your cruise experience.

The photoshoots themselves typically don’t cost anything — you simply pay for whichever photos you select, either in digital format or printed.

Onboard, each evening presents opportunities for professional photo sessions, with prices for individual photos starting at $19.99.

The photoshop allows you to charge the purchases to your onboard account, which can then be balanced with any remaining onboard credit at the end of your cruise.

Royal Caribbean offers photo packages, enabling guests to take home a certain number of photos captured onboard.

These packages can cover everyone in your stateroom, offering a comprehensive way to collect memories.

Whether you opt for a single photo or an entire package, you can conveniently use your onboard credit towards these purchases.

10. Laundry

Laundry Service - Royal Caribbean

There aren’t any self-service laundry facilities on Royal Caribbean cruises, so if you find yourself running out of clean clothes, you have two choices: washing them yourself in the sink or opting for the ship’s paid laundry services.

During your cruise, it’s likely you’ll accumulate some dirty laundry. To make things easier, why not consider having some or all of it professionally cleaned?

Royal Caribbean provides a variety of full-service laundry options, each available for an additional fee, but you can use your onboard credit for these.

These services include:

  • Wash & Press
  • Pressing Only
  • Steaming Only
  • Dry Clean & Press

11. Casino

Casino on Royal Caribbean
Source: @svh_travel

Cashing out your Royal Caribbean onboard credit through the casino might be an option, though it’s not an officially encouraged practice by the cruise line.

Some passengers have shared experiences on forums about using their SeaPass cards in slot machines. They transfer funds from their onboard account to a slot machine, play a few rounds, and then hit the ‘cash out’ button to get a receipt. This receipt can then be taken to the casino cashier to exchange for real cash.

For those considering this method, using a slot machine is advisable over table games. At table games, there’s an additional charge of 5% for converting onboard credit into gaming chips.

Furthermore, it’s reported there’s an informal expectation to gamble with a portion of the money before cashing out.

While onboard credit cannot be directly used for casino games, charges made to your SeaPass account while playing can be subsequently balanced with your onboard credit.

12. Bingo

Using your Royal Caribbean onboard credit for buying bingo tickets is another fun option. With bingo, not only is there the excitement of the game, but there’s also the chance to win substantial prizes, potentially including a free cruise.

However, it’s worth noting that some of the prizes might be modest, and your entry cost could exceed the prize value.

The pricing for Royal Caribbean’s bingo tickets begins at $49, which gives you 24 opportunities to win.

For a slightly higher investment of $69, you can double your chances with 48 tickets. Considering the price difference, opting for the larger ticket package generally offers more value.

This is a great way to play bingo if you enjoy it, but keep in mind the financial return may not be as high as the cost of entry.

13. Art

Attending an art auction on a Royal Caribbean cruise can be an entertaining experience, often complete with a complimentary glass of champagne.

This is a fun experience and although you likely won’t walk out with a Picasso, it’s a unique way to spend your onboard credits.

Remember to prioritize your onboard credit spending on activities and services that best align with your preferences and needs. Make the most of your cruise experience by using your credit wisely!

What’s The Best Way To Spend Royal Caribbean Onboard Credits?

The best way to spend your onboard credits is on gratuities; if you haven’t pre-paid those. Calculate the expected gratuities based on the number of guests in your room, your stateroom type, and the duration of your cruise. Deduct this amount from your onboard credit.

The other ways to spend your onboard credit, if any is leftover, is on drinks and specialty dining. These luxuries add up and it’s a nice treat to feel like you’re getting a ‘free’ meal.

How Is Onboard Credit Different From A Future Cruise Credit?

Onboard credit is a spending allowance given to cruise passengers to use for services and purchases onboard, like dining, spa treatments, and shore excursions. This credit is typically provided as part of promotional deals, loyalty rewards, or as compensation for any inconveniences.

Future cruise credit, however, is more like a voucher used towards booking a new cruise, usually issued when a cruise is canceled.

While onboard credit must be used during the specific cruise it’s assigned to and cannot be transferred, future cruise credit helps passengers rebook a cruise for a later date, with its own set expiry.

How To Use Onboard Credit In The Cruise Planner

To use onboard credit while planning your cruise, simply select items for purchase in the Cruise Planner and add them to your cart. You’ll have the chance to apply any available onboard credit during checkout.

It’s important to note that not all onboard credit types, particularly those from travel agents, might be usable in the Cruise Planner; they’re often accessible only after boarding the ship.

At checkout, after providing your credit card details, you can choose to offset the cost with your onboard credit.

If you decide to cancel a purchase you’ve made in the Cruise Planner, any onboard credit used will be promptly refunded for future use.

Can You Cash Out Your Onboard Credit?

While directly cashing out onboard credit isn’t typically allowed, there’s a workaround involving the cruise ship’s casino.

Normally, guest services won’t convert your onboard credit to cash, but the casino might. You can request a cash advance at the casino against your SeaPass account.

This advance is treated as a standard onboard purchase and offset against your onboard credit.

Usually, the casino applies a 5% fee for each cash advance, except for high-tier Casino Royale members. However, taking a cash advance from a slot machine interestingly bypasses this 5% charge.

How To Check If You Have Royal Caribbean Onboard Credit

To find out if you have Royal Caribbean onboard credit, you can initially check your account prior to your cruise.

This account might show available credit for use on Cruise Planner purchases, but remember, not all onboard credits can be used before the cruise begins.

Consulting with your travel agent or checking the cruise invoice from Royal Caribbean can provide insights into any expected onboard credit.

Once on the ship, the credit usually reflects in your account within the first two or three days of sailing. For any uncertainties, you can always verify your onboard credit balance by visiting Guest Services on the cruise ship.

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