For any cruise passenger, onboard credits (or OBCs) are wonderful things. In simplest terms, they are currency you can use to pay for a variety of goods and services onboard. How can you get OBCs? There are several ways, which include:
Cruise promotions. Some cruise lines offer OBCs instead of, or along with, fare discounts. And, cruise lines often give professional travel advisors onboard credits to pass on to their clients.
Loyalty and referrals. A cruise line you’ve sailed with before may offer OBCs as an incentive for a future cruise, or as a reward when a friend books a cruise on your recommendation.
Credit cards. You may receive OBCs when you sign up for your favorite cruise line’s branded credit card.
Shareholder benefits. If you own enough shares of a cruise line’s stock, you may receive OBCs whenever you take a cruise on that line.
Complaint compensation. It’s not a very fun way to get OBCs, but if you have a complaint, OBCs may be part of any compensation the cruise line may offer to you.
Once you have onboard credits, there are lots of ways to use them:
Beverage and dining packages. If you’ve cruised before, you know that most beverages are not included in your cruise fare; but, you can use OBCs to purchase beverage packages that provide discounts on soda, cocktails, beer, wine, specialty coffees, and other drinks. If your ship has specialty restaurants with cover charges, you can also pay for them with OBCs.
Shore excursions. A few luxury cruise lines include shore excursions in their fares, but on many cruises, onshore activities come with fees you can pay for with OBCs.
Spa treatments. In onboard spas, treatments can start at $100 or more. If you’d like a massage or some other pampering, it’s a delightful use of OBCs.
Wi-Fi access. While many cruise ships now make Wi-Fi available, they often charge hourly or daily rates. If you need to stay in touch while sailing, this is another good use of OBCs.
Fun and helpful extras. You can use OBCs to buy things in onboard shops and boutiques, or for extras like laundry services. Some cruise lines allow passengers to use OBCs as gratuities for the crew, but a few specifically disallow this.
OBCs are usually non-transferable and non-refundable, so when you have some, be sure to use them before they expire. For more tips about onboard credits, talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.
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