Cruise TipsTips on Using Cruise Gift Cards and Gift Certificates

Tips on Using Cruise Gift Cards and Gift Certificates

cruise gift cardSo a cruise gift card is as good as cash right?  Well, not exactly.  Before buying or using a cruise vacation gift card or certificate there are some things you should know first.  Not every cruise line will handle these gift cards the same and you should do your due diligence before booking a cruise with one.

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Here are some questions you may have:

  • Can I use my gift card as on board credit?
  • Can I use my gift card for group bookings?
  • Will the gift card only cover the cost of the cruise fare?


It’s important to always read the fine print on using these gift cards, as painful and annoying as that is.   And also keep in mind that not every company that sells cruise vacation gift cards are reputable.  Sometimes you can only use the gift card if you book through a certain website and you can’t go directly through the cruise line.   This could be a problem because that website may have higher prices to justify giving out that gift card.



Carnival has something called “Fun Ship Dollars” that can be redeemed on board the ship.  You can use them for things like paying for the cruise fare price or a day at the spa on the ship.   You cannot, however, use this credit for any gambling on the ship, for paying gratuities, and for any group activities or amenities.  So you can use the Fun Ship Dollars for just you and your partner and not for other people in your group as well.  These gift certificates can only be used on Carnival ships and you should call ahead of time to make sure that they can be used for your particular cruise.  Often if you use a cruise certificate to pay for the fare you have to use it at least 2 weeks in advance.



Disney gift cards are very popular, but again they cannot be used as cash per se.   You cannot use your Disney gift card to pay for things in the gift ship since all purchases will have to be made with your “Key to the World” card.  But what you can do is go to the guest relations desk and ask them to apply the credit on your gift card to your bill to offset the costs.  This makes it a lot easier when making purchases anyway.   If you want the gift card added to your account in advance you can call the cruise line and give them the number on the card.


Royal Caribbean

If you are using a Royal Caribbean gift card or certificate it MUST be redeemed at least 10 days before your sailing date!  A lot of people have gotten upset about this and hopefully RCCL will change their rules on this soon.  Don’t expect to just walk on the ship with your gift card and be able to use it right away.  If you put up a big stink at the guest relations desk they may be able to use the gift card anyway, but who wants to go through all that mess.  Once the gift card is applied to your account you can just use your seapass card for any purchases on board the ship.  You can buy RCCL for anywhere from $50 to $3,000 dollars.



As far as I can tell Norwegian doesn’t really have gift cards in the true sense of the term but they have Bon Voyage Gifts that are a little more limiting in that you have to use them for the intended purpose.   You can buy a package deal that will include flowers, food, photographs etc, but you can also just buy on board credit ahead of time and apply those to your account or you can give them to a friend.


Always read the fine print before you try to buy or use a cruise gift card and it will save you a lot of hassle.

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J. Souza
J. Souza
Jon is the co-founder of Cruise Fever and has been on 50+ cruises since his first in 2009. As an editor, 15-year writer on the cruise industry, and avid cruise enthusiast he has sailed with at least 10 cruise lines and is always looking for a great cruise deal. Jon lives in North Carolina and can be reached at [email protected].
Cruise TipsTips on Using Cruise Gift Cards and Gift Certificates


  1. I recently bought a Norwegian gift card for a friend. He just used it on line toward prepaying his daily gratuities. He could also have used it toward any other amenity purchase or toward the outstanding balance on his fare. And of course, he could use the gift card as payment toward his onboard balance. In other words, Norwegian does have a gift card, and it doesn’t appear to have any strings attached or usage restrictions.

  2. The new carnival gift card program is a joke. We ordered an expensive gift card for Christmas and paid express mail prices to make sure it arrives on time and nobody has any clue when it is being shipped. We have talked to their customer service reps over and over and all they can do is apologize and pass you to a different department, none of whom can help. We were told they have received numerous complaints but they don’t know how to fix it. Choose another gift card and another cruise line.

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