How to Get Free Onboard Credit for Cruise Shareholders! (Save on Travel)

Are you a shareholder of a cruise company? If so, you may be eligible for free onboard credit on your next vacation! This is a frequently unknown travel hack that is perfect for saving money on your upcoming trip.

Cruise ship in the clear blue Caribbean ocean.

What is onboard credit?

Onboard credit is a promotional benefit that some cruise companies offer as promotions during booking or to their shareholders. The credit can be used for most purchases onboard the ship, including:

  • Drinks
  • Shore excursions
  • Spa treatments
  • Onboard retail purchases
  • Specialty onboard dining experiences (if they exist on your ship)

Scoring free onboard credit is a great way to save money to stretch your budget.

How do I get shareholder onboard credit?

In order to receive shareholder onboard credit, you will need to provide of stock ownership in advance of your cruise. Each cruise line has different requirements for the minimum number of shares you need, and the procedure for getting the credit.

Let’s look at some of the biggest cruise lines, and what they offer:

A couple enjoying drinks as part of their onboard cruise credit for being shareholders.

Carnival Cruises

Carnival Cruise outlines their current shareholder benefits as follows for North American brands. The current benefits are valid through July 2023 (but are likely to extend again after that date). If you own at least 100 shares of Carnival cruise stock, you’ll get:

  • $250 onboard credit per stateroom on sailings of 14 days or longer
  • $100 onboard credit per stateroom on sailings of 7 to 13 days
  • $50 onboard credit per stateroom on sailings of 6 days or less

These benefits currently apply to Carnival Cruises, Princess Cruises, Holland America, Seabourn, Cuinard, and Costa Cruises. Note that they do qualify the benefits by stating “*The onboard credit for Carnival Cruise Line, Costa Cruises, Cunard and Princess Cruises is determined based on the operational currency onboard the vessel.”

They have separate benefits for Continental Europe brands, UK brands, and Australian brands.

To obtain the benefit, you’ll need to contact them at least 4 weeks prior to your sail date, and include your name, reservation/booking number, ship, sailing date, and proof of stock ownership. Their shareholder benefit document outlines the correct contact information for each of their brands.

Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL)

If you own at least 100 shares of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. (NCLH) stock at the time of sailing, you’re eligible for an onboard credit. The shareholder benefit varies based on the length of your cruise:

  • $250 Onboard Credit per stateroom on sailings of 15 or more days
  • $100 Onboard Credit per stateroom on sailings of 7 to 14 days
  • $50 Onboard Credit per stateroom on sailings of 6 days or less

This benefit is valid on Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, or Regent Seven Seas Cruises. However, it excludes charter sailings.

To obtain your onboard credit, you’ll need to fill out the NCL Shareholder Benefit Request Form. You’ll need to provide your contact information, ship info, sailing date, and proof of stock ownership. This form must be submitted at least 15 days before your sailing date.

Royal Caribbean

Similar to Carnival and Norwegian, Royal Caribbean offers onboard credit to shareholders of their company that own at least 100 shares, and the specific amount of credit varies based on your cruise length:

  • $250 Onboard Credit per stateroom on sailings of 14 or more nights
  • $100 Onboard Credit per stateroom on sailings of 6 to 13 nights
  • $50 Onboard Credit per stateroom on sailings of 5 nights or less

This applies to any Royal Caribbean or Celebrity Cruises sailing, except for any charters or Galapagos sailings.

To receive the benefit, you’ll need to complete the online shareholder onboard credit request form at least 2-3 weeks prior to your sailing date.

Additional FAQ

Here are some common questions that may come up related to this topic:

Do you get a bigger onboard cruise credit for owning more shares?

Unfortunately, no. Once you meet the 100 share threshold on the major cruise lines, you earn the standard amount of onboard credit, and that does not change with more shares.

Does Disney Cruises offer an onboard credit for shareholders?

Unfortunately Disney Cruises does NOT currently offer any shareholder benefit for onboard credit.

Can you use the cruise shareholder benefit multiple times?

Yes. On cruise lines that offer it, you can currently request the onboard credit on every sailing. (Note that may change in the future, though).

Can both you and your spouse get the cruise shareholder benefit?

The onboard credit is on a per stateroom basis based on double occupancy. As such, you can not double dip on credits when sharing a room with a spouse or friend.

Final Thoughts

If you’re a shareholder in most of the major cruise companies, it’s definitely worth considering taking advantage of their shareholder onboard credit benefit. With just a little bit of planning ahead, you could receive some significant onboard credit to use on your next cruise vacation. Happy traveling!

[PS – Read more money saving hacks here!]

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