If you’ve booked a cruise, you may have been given on board credits by the cruise line or your travel agent. In fact, may people accumulate a fair amount of on board cash credits, and wonder what to do with them
In this post, I share how you can use your on board credits, OBC’s for short, and answer a few common questions from cruise passengers.
What is Onboard Credit or OBC?
What is an onboard credit? An on board credit is a shipboard cash credit. On board credits are often given by the cruise line or travel agency as a promotion or incentive to book. On board credits can be used towards most items related to your cruise vacation, just like cash. This includes excursions, drinks and gratuities for crew.
Most of the time, on board credits are non transferable and non refundable, so they must be used during your cruise. OBC is an acronym for on board credit, part of the “cruise lingo” you’ll want to know before you cruise.
Can You Use Your On Board Credit to for Pre-Cruise Purchases?
In some cases, your on board credits will only be visible on your account once you board your cruise ship. In those cases, you’ll only be able to use your OBC’s onboard.
20 Best Ways to Use Your On Board Credits on a Cruise
On board credits are amazing! It really is like having extra money for your cruise.
This is why it’s important when deciding on booking a cruise, to look beyond the price of the cruise to see if any extras are included. A slightly higher priced cruise may include a specialty dining package, free gratuities, or a good amount of on board credits.
We love having an on board credits on our cruises! It allows us to book and pay for some “extras” that perhaps we wouldn’t have purchased otherwise as well as any practical purchases.
Since gratuities will appear as a daily charge on your ship board account, you can use your OBC’s to pay for this.
2. Shore Excursions
Don’t underestimate how great a shore excursion can be. While not necessary in every cruise port, taking a tour or doing an activity you’ve always wanted to do, such as swimming with dolphins, could be well worth it.
Drinks can really add up on a cruise, and OBC’s are perfect to offset the cost.
4. Drink packages
It may be worth it to purchase a drink package, which may be alcoholic or non-alcoholic.
5. Specialty Restaurants
Some of our best dinners have been in the cruise specialty restaurants. Consider splurging on the steakhouse or another specialty dining experience.
6. Shopping On Board
The duty-free shopping is actually pretty good on most cruise ships. You’ll convenience store items, logo wear, brand name luxury goods, high end jewelry and watches, a souvenir shop, and your favorite cruise line swag.
7. Spa Treatments
Pamper yourself with a massage or other spa treatment. As a tip, look our for first day specials and port day promotions.
8. Hair and Nail Salon
9. Fitness Centre Classes
While the gym on a cruise ship is included, and there are some free classes, there are also some that have an extra fee. If you vowed to keep fit on your cruise, check out the Pilates and other classes available.
10. Chef’s Table
There are some really special dining experiences on a cruise. The Chef’s Table, at around $75 per person, is a 5 course meal with wine pairings that are pretty exclusive. They often only serve about 12 people a night so sign up early.
11. Behind the Scenes Ship and Bridge Tour
Sign up quick for bridge tours, as they are very popular!
12. Professional Photos
If you’re on a family cruise or a romantic cruise and want to do something special to bring home the memories, get some photos taken by the ship’s photographer. You can even opt for a photo package. Make sure to sign up online to see if there are any pre-cruise discounts.
13. Specialty Coffee
14. Wifi Package
Cruise ship internet is a bit pricey. If you need to work or simply want to keep in touch, consider using your OBC’s to purchase a wifi package.
If you love Bingo, why not play? Bingo cards are available once on the cruise ship.
16. Art Auction
Attending an art auction is free, however you may fall in love with a work or art and want to buy it and bring it home. Your OBCs can be used towards a print or other items.
Let the kids have a small allowance to use at the ships arcade or the candy store
18. Onboard Activities (where there’s an extra fee)
While there’s a lot included with the price of your cruise, there may be some additional fees for certain cruise ship activities. Some examples are the race cars on Norwegian Joy or the North Star on Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas.
Did you know you can have an acupuncture treatment on many cruise ships? In some cases you can also see a chiropractor. There are many services available on a cruise to help you rejuvenate and feel better.
20. Private Adult Area
If you’re in the need of a little R & R (rest and relaxation), it can be worth it to purchase a daily or weekly pass to the ship’s exclusive adult area. Check these out to see if your cruise ship has one, and what it includes.
Things you wouldn’t think of – The truth is there’s so much available to do, see, and experience on a cruise vacation, that it’s impossible to think of them all. However, in most cases, if there’s an additional cost on your cruise, you can use your OBC to pay for it.
When On Board Credits Cannot Be Used
An on board credit is almost as good as cash, but it does have its limitations. These are the things that you aren’t able to buy with your OBC.
- future cruise deposit
- ships medical services
- items off the cruise ship
How Can You Get More Onboard Credits?
Onboard credits are often given by the cruise line and/or a travel agent as a promotion when you book a cruise. In some cases, cruise lines have referral credits, like Princess cruises.
One of the cruise hacks many seasoned cruisers use to get more on board credits, is to book their next cruise onboard. When booking a future cruise onboard, you’ll receive on board credits that you can either use for this cruise or on your next cruise.
Finally, OBC’s are sometimes given as good will gestures, such as a compensation for an issue onboard a cruise ship or even as a resolution to a complaint you may have made.
What if You Don’t Use Up Your On Board Credit?
Most of the time on board credits are non refundable, as they are meant to be used during your cruise. There are a couple exceptions to this, but if you’ve been given OBC’s as a gift or promotion, this wouldn’t apply.
If you really can’t think of how to spend it all on the ship, consider shopping in the duty free shops and purchasing something special. This can be souvenirs, liqueur, or even a beautiful handbag or gorgeous piece of jewelry.
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Final thoughts: On Board Credits (OBC) – How Can You Use Them?
Onboard credits are just as good as cash on a cruise, and can actually be a great way to get even more enjoyment out of your cruise vacation! You can use OBC’s on things you may have bought anyway, or to treat yourself to a special activity, onboard experience or even a gift from the cruise ship boutiques.
I hope I’ve answered your questions about on board credits and how they work. If you do need more information, please leave a question in the comments below.
Have you had onboard credits on a past cruise? If so, how do you like to use them?
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