FUTURE CRUISE CREDITS AND HOW THEY WORK FOR YOU
If you're like us, you've inevitably breezed past your cruise ship's on-board sales office, ignoring the colourful brochures and promises of booking incentives. Why waste time planning your next cruise when you only have about a week on-board to spend time at the pool, play trivia for silly prizes and try your luck at the casino?
The thing is, if you're going to go on another cruise someday -- and, face it, we all know you are -- then, you'll really want to check in at the sales desk to see the kinds of deals featured. That's because your cruise line is likely to be offering on-board credit, reduced deposits or an attractive discount when you book a future cruise on-board your current sailing. Many of the cruise lines mentioned in this story let you transfer your booking to your travel agent, so you can reap any perks they offer, too. Many also let you change your cruise dates or ship or even cancel by a certain date with no penalty or fees. In most cases, you have nothing to lose if your travel plans change and everything to gain if you're going to take another cruise with that line.
A host of lines from mainstream to luxury offer onboard booking perks, though each line's offerings and booking parameters are slightly different. Here's a look at some of the key benefits the major lines offer when you book a future cruise during a sailing on their ships. Unless specifically outlined below, deposits and cancellation policies for onboard bookings don't differ from those that apply to the lines' other methods of booking a sailing.
Azamara Club Cruises
Azamara features a Future Cruise program in which cruisers can book their next trips while on board. With an Open Passage booking, you can reserve a sailing with a reduced deposit (more than half of the usual amount) and receive up to $500 in on board credit for the future sailing date (the amount is dependent upon selected cabin category and voyage length). You don't have to pick your sail date right away, but the deposit is nonrefundable (though there is no expiration date).
The Confirmed Passage deal also offers reduced deposits, and you pick your ship, sail date and cabin category at the time of booking. Passengers booking Confirmed Passage deals get up to $1,000 on board credit, which varies in amount by cabin category and voyage length; the credit can be redeemed for the future or current sailing, though the deposit becomes nonrefundable if the credit is used instantly. Note that there is a limit of three future cruise bookings allowed per person.
Carnival Cruise Line
In 2017, Carnival introduced a new Future Cruise Vacation program, allowing passengers to book a new cruise at a promotional rate up to two weeks following their sailing.
The program gives passengers the option to either book the promotional rates onboard as before, or do it later, either online or through the FunHub app. Passengers who take advantage of the new program may combine Early Saver Rates with a $25 per person onboard credit up to $50 per stateroom, 50 percent reduced deposit requirement and a two-category upgrade. For those booking suites, the onboard credit is $50 per person up to $100 per stateroom, along with the other benefits.
The program has some limitations. Passengers won't be able to choose other rates, such as those for past guests or Friends and Family vouchers. Under the old program, onboard credit remained if you found a rate reduction at a later date; now, the credit will disappear if you rebook.
Celebrity's Future Cruise Vacations program offers reduced deposits. Passengers pay $100 each, instead of the standard deposit of $250 or $450 per person (depending on the length of the cruise) to reserve a cabin for a future cruise. You can book unlimited future cruises for yourself and up to three additional cruises for friends or family, and you can combine the booking deal with one other offer (such as the "Go Big, Go Better, Go Best" sale, for example).
Choose either the Cruise Now or Cruise Later option when reserving a cruise. The Cruise Now plan offers up to $500 in onboard cabin credit (based on the length of the sailing, the itinerary and the cabin category) for passengers who know which ship and sail date they want; the credit can then be redeemed for use on your current or future cruise. You can cancel your booking up to 90 days before your sailing date without penalty. You also can change your cruise date or ship, and, if the price drops for your cruise, you can get the better deal. The Cruise Later option is best if you know you (or a friend or family member) want to cruise but haven't yet picked a ship, destination or date, and prefer to determine those particulars later on. There is no expiration date on your reservation, and you (or they) are eligible for up to $200 in future onboard credit.
Crystal Cruises' passengers who book onboard can pay a reduced $100 preliminary deposit (they can pay the remainder of the standard deposit once they're back home). Crystal also gives a 2.5 percent discount to passengers who book while onboard; repeat Crystal Cruisers are automatically enrolled in the Crystal Society past passenger program, entitling them to an additional 2.5 percent savings, too (for a total of 5 percent off a future cruise).
Cunard Line passengers who book future voyages while still on their cruise are entitled to a future onboard credit of up to $400 each (amount varies by cabin category and cruise length booked, and is applicable only for the first two passengers in each cabin). Plus, passengers pay a reduced deposit of $300 per person (versus standard deposits of 25 percent of the total cruise fare). For longer voyages of more than 24 nights, cruisers get a 3 percent discount and a reduced deposit amount of 10 percent of the fare.
Holland America Line
Holland America's Future Cruise Consultant desk offers up to $200 per person in onboard credit for the future cruise booked (the amount's based on length of sailing and stateroom category) with a deposit of $100 per person. You can choose an itinerary on your current sailing or make a future cruise deposit and take up to four years to pick your cruise.
Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian Cruise Line's onboard CruiseNext program allows passengers to make a $250 deposit (per stateroom -- deposit amounts start at $500 for Haven and suite categories) to reserve a cabin on a sailing of six days or longer and gives each booked passenger $100 in instant onboard credit, meaning you use the credit on your current sailing. The CruiseNext deals are combinable with whatever other applicable promotional offering Norwegian might be offering at the time of booking. In addition, passengers get a complimentary in-category stateroom upgrade for the future cruise. While onboard, you can make up to four deposits toward future cruises (with increasing OBC amounts (up to $500 for four deposits), and you have four years to pick your sailing date before the deposit expires. You can even charge the deposit to your onboard account. Deposits, minus the amount of the instant onboard credit, are refundable within 30 days.
Princess Cruises offers future cruise sales consultants on each of its ships. You pay $100 per person to reserve a future sailing, and you can claim future onboard credit of up to $150 per passenger (based on cruise length and cabin class). You can book a specific cruise onboard or get an open reservation to sail that's good for up to two years. Your deposit is refundable if you choose not to use your reservation.
Royal Caribbean International
Royal Caribbean features a Next Cruise booking program. You get up to $500 per cabin in future onboard credit (based on length of sailing and cabin category) and pay reduced deposits from $50 per person for your reservation. Cruisers have to pick their ships and sailing dates at the time of the reservation, though they can also opt for an open booking, which will get them a future onboard credit of up to $100 per stateroom (based on the cruise length). Each person can make up to three bookings for themselves or friends or family while onboard.
Seabourn features a simple savings formula for onboard bookings. Passengers get a 5 percent discount when purchasing a sailing onboard -- a $500 "Future Cruise Deposit" is required to secure it (the remainder of the initial required deposit is due within 10 days of disembarkation). If you're unsure of which cruise you want, you can purchase an "Open" Future Cruise Deposit onboard and receive the 5 percent savings toward the future cruise when it's eventually booked. The deposit expires four years from the date of purchase, and you must apply it to a sailing that embarks prior to the expiration date. If not, it will be automatically canceled on that date, and the amount paid will be credited back to the credit card used to purchase the deposit. The deposit can also be canceled and credited back at any time at your request.
*** Please note that is a guide only and Globe-trotters or its owners hold no responsibility for the accuracy of the material above. Cruise lines reserve the right to change or withdraw FCC at any time. We rely heavily on third party websites and each country may apply different promotional FCC credits and are at the cruise lines discretion.