Cruising! It is the most exciting vacation experience anyone could have. Cruising is not just about monster-size ships and all the great activities included. There is a whole lot more than meets the eye. There are the shore excursions, shows, and most important-duty-free shopping. Further, that stateroom key card becomes very hot, if anyone gets the point.
On any cruise, guests are known to spend tons of money on alcohol, duty-free souvenirs, and shore excursions. No matter what cruise line families sail on, what port they sail from, or the length of cruise, the same issue remains. On board charge accounts are serious stuff. A cruise is much more than a vacation. It is also a monetary responsibility. Here are the five golden tips to on board charge accounts. Once taken into consideration, the stresses of on board spending can be reduced considerably.
Registering a credit card online: When setting up on board charge accounts, it is highly recommended that passengers register a credit card online. Many cruise lines already allow guests to do so. Carnival, Princess, Royal Caribbean, and Disney are some examples. Some cruise lines like Cunard and Norwegian don’t. When passengers set up their on board charge accounts, they must be careful when doing so. They must make sure of whose name they place the credit card under. The name on the credit card and the guest responsible for the account should match up, so that other guests (if applicable) can be added. There have been scenarios which guests registered the credit card under another family member’s name, leaving the passenger completely off the account. Guests should not rush through this process. It is a tedious process which attention to detail is paramount. No one wants to be left off their on board charge account all because of a small error.
Bringing a back-up credit card: Upon arrival at the cruise terminal, guests must have the following items ready to be checked in-tickets and travel documents. In addition to cruise tickets and travel documents, the credit card registered for the on board charge account must also be in hand. Recently, Royal Caribbean changed the format of its Set Sail cruise ticket. Even though the guests registered a credit card for their on board charge accounts, they should have the same card in hand. The agent may ask for the card to verify the numbers in the system. For security reasons, only the last four digits on the credit card are provided in the on board charge account. There have been times when guests provided the wrong four digits. Bringing the same credit card or even a back-up credit card to the cruise terminal is vital, to help expedite the check-in process.
Aside from bringing the proper credit card, guests should bring a back-up credit card. With the ongoing threat of credit card theft, guests have to be on their guard. With credit cards having been compromised in the past, guests must make a habit of having a backup credit card ready. Credit card holders are easy theft targets nowadays, so it is best to carry a backup credit card on a cruise. Taking a backup credit card is the best habit any guest could have. They will be eminently fortunate having done so.
Be mindful of cash accounts: Not all guests are comfortable with registering a credit card online. Some guests prefer to leave their on board charge account blank and provide their credit card upon check-in. There is absolutely no harm in doing so. Some guests prefer setting up a cash account. There is still some confusion among guests concerning cash accounts. The check-in agents DO NOT accept money at check-in. The check-in agent will activate the cash account in the system, and then the guests can set up their cash balances on board. Cruise lines also accept travelers checks. Travelers checks are handled on board at the guest services desk.
Since 2014, Carnival has been accepting cash deposits at the check-in counter. Guests can hand their money to the check-in agent, and then sign a pair of receipts. One copy is for their safe keeping, while the other copy is attached to the money they deposited. The money will then be submitted to the ship. The recommended amount per guest is $200.00. Guests can replenish their cash accounts at any time during the cruise. Upon disembarkation, guests are responsible for making sure that they pay up any outstanding charges before leaving the ship.
Monitoring account activity daily: During any cruise, not only is it crucial for guests to keep touch with members of their party, but also important to keep “tabs” on their on board charge activity. Whether they registered a credit card or set up a cash account, monitoring their on board charge activity throughout the cruise is vital. Some guests shop til they drop. Some have the tendency to be frugal and don’t spend much at all. Regardless of spending habits, guests should keep an eye on their on board charge account activity. Guests can use their stateroom TVs and key board to look up their on board account and monitor their on board expenses. If they need to tone down on their spending, they will easily notice. By getting in the habit of monitoring on board charge activity on a daily basis, no surprises will arise come disembarkation.
Managing children’s spending: There is that famous expression, “Money doesn’t grow on trees.” On a cruise vacation, that tree goes bare mighty quick. When a family goes on a cruise vacation, the parents have to keep their children on a tight leash. That tight leash refers to keeping them under control in reference to their on board spending. Children, especially those under the age of 18, will spend money on anything, anywhere they go. They will spend money largely on souvenirs and in the game room. A New York pier supervisor once referred to the game room as the “kiddie casino”. Keeping children under control with the on board charge account is paramount. Believe it or not, it doesn’t have to be difficult. When setting up the on board charge account on line, it is best to leave children under 18 off the account. If they wish to add them upon check-in, they can always let the check-in agent know. Parents are encouraged to do the same regarding having the children removed. At the check-in counter, guests should not be afraid to leave their children off the account. Leaving them off the account tremendously cuts down on the uncertainty.
How important is keeping children under control regarding on board charge activity? EXTREMELY! Yes, it’s great to be on vacation, but there is no break from being the boss. A few years ago, a family checked in for a Royal Caribbean cruise. On the very first night at sea, one of the youngsters ran up a $500.00 tab in the game room. The parents had no idea why their on board charge bill was through the roof. Disney Cruise Line makes life easier for adults regarding on board charge accounts. Disney Cruise Line guests under the age of 10 are automatically defaulted as inactive. They can only use their stateroom cards as their identification and stateroom keys. For guests between the ages of 11 and 18, parents should use their utmost discretion.
Cruising is considered to be the most exciting vacation experience of all. There is so much to do and see. From tasting exotic cocktails, to eating at specialty restaurants, to getting pampered at the spa, and purchasing exclusive duty-free souvenirs, cruise ships have it all. Apart from the fun and excitement comes the vitality of managing on board charge accounts. From setting up the account online, to monitoring on board charge activity on daily basis, to keeping control of children’s on board spending, there is much to keep in mind.
Guests should never rush when setting up their on board charge accounts. It makes life a whole lot easier come embarkation day. It becomes far easier throughout the cruise. Keeping track of on board charge activity on a daily basis is a plus. Most of all, parents should use their utmost discretion and common sense when it comes to their children’s spending habits. Guests should return home from their cruise vacation feeling relaxed, rejuvenated, and refreshed…not broke. These 5 simple hints are not just meant to promote a sense of organization, but to keep “tabs” on on board charge activity. Cruise vacations, cheap or expensive, are meant to bring waves of excitement, not tidal waves of chaos. Ultimately, these 5 hints promote the importance of cruising and spending responsibly.