If you have had a cruise canceled taking future cruise credit may seem like the logical choice. There certainly are benefits to taking future cruise credit but it’s important that you understand what you are agreeing to. For some people, future cruise credit is a great option but for some people, me included, it isn’t always.
There are a number of restrictions and limitations placed on future cruise credit. In this post, we look at 7 things you NEED to know about future cruise credit before taking it over a cash refund.
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1 – Does Future Cruise Credit Include Taxes or Fees?
Most cruise lines do not include taxes or fees in future cruise credit. The future cruise credit is based on the cruise fare portion only and the taxes and fees will be refunded to guests separately.
For most people, it isn’t as simple as getting your money back for future cruise credit and moving it onto another cruise in the future. The cruise fare will usually be refunded in the formal of future credit with the taxes and fees being directly refunded to your credit card.
This means that when you book your next cruise you’ll have to pay for those taxes/fees again with your cash refund. You should already have had this money back from the cruise line so you won’t be out of pocket but it’s still another thing that you need to think about.
Cash Refunds are Also Refunded Separately
Most cruise lines are refunding the taxes/fees separately to the main cruise fare. My Carnival cruise was refunded to me in two transactions and some members of our Facebook Group have reported receiving up to 4 transactions!
When I received my first transaction I was confused and wondering why it was lower than I expected, the taxes and fees came through about a week later.
What Happens if I Booked my Cruise as a Package?
If you booked your cruise as a package with hotel and flight included it can be more complicated but the cruise line should know how much the cruise fare portion was.
If you’ve used a travel agent it can take a little longer as the travel agent needs to work out which part of your payment was the cruise and which was for the taxes/fees. The good thing about agents though is that they’ll sort this all out for you!
Are Excursions Included in the Future Cruise Credit?
Excursions are not normally included in future cruise credit and will be refunded separately to guests. There are a few cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean however who do this.
Some cruise lines include things like excursions and prepaid gratuities in their future cruise calculations. With Royal Caribbean, they are included. If you spent $100 on an excursion you would receive $125 onboard credit for this.
Royal Caribbean will also carry over any onboard credit you already had on the original cruise to the next one which is good. As far as cruise line policies go Royal Caribbean, Virgin Voyages, and Norwegian Cruise Line seem to be the most generous.
I consistently recommend Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line to families, to find out why, including who I think would be best suited to the cruise lines, check out our recommended cruise lines page here: Best Cruise Lines For Families (Tried & Tested, Pros & Cons!)
2 – You Can’t Give it to Somebody Else/Use it For Another Person
In the past when I’ve been on cruises with certain cruise lines I have purchased cruise certificates which allow you to buy extra credit compared to how much you are spending. For example, you buy a voucher for $150 and it’s worth $200 later on. Vouchers like this are transferable and I’ve spoken to a lot of people who think that this is also how future cruise credit works but it does not.
Future cruise credit must be used by the person who it was given to. If you booked your original cruise with your brother and were thinking ‘hmm, maybe I’ll take my sister on the next cruise’ you won’t be able to do this with the future cruise credit as the credit is assigned to your brother.
Future Cruise Credit is USUALLY Per Person
The majority of cruise lines are assigning the onboard credit per person rather than per booking but a few cruise lines such as Costa cruises are giving all of the future cruise credit to the lead passenger. This does give the lead guest more flexibility but gives the other guests fewer options as in theory, the lead guest could take somebody else on their next cruise!
3 – If You Cancel You Could Lose Your Money
Most cruise lines have updated their cancellation policies recently with the aim of being more flexible.
If you have a cruise booked, Royal Caribbean is offering the opportunity between now and August 1, 2020, to protect the original price and promotional offering of a cruise by selecting a future sailing on the same itinerary type, sailing length, stateroom category, and within the same 4-week period of their original cruise date same-time-next-year.
You do not need to book the same ship or even class of ships. – source.
If you want to do this though you must do it before the offer ends and before Royal Caribbean cancels your cruise. At the point that Royal Caribbean cancels your cruise, you will receive the 125% onboard credit as standard.
What Happens if You Take Future Cruise Credit, Then Cancel?
Once you’ve taken future cruise credit and booked a new cruise you can’t then cancel and get your money back. You’re locked in at this point. If the cruise line later cancels your cruise you’ll be able to move it but not get a cash refund.
For this reason, it’s very important that you are happy with your cruise line choice. Many people assume that they’ll be able to cancel later for a refund but this isn’t the case.
4 – Most vouchers have a time limit.
The majority of vouchers have to be used before the end of December 2021. This is the case for Royal Caribbean and most of the big cruise lines. Disney is allowing 15 months for the voucher to be used and some are only allowing 12 months.
Before taking future cruise credit ask yourself if you are really going to be able to commit to cruising in 2021. At the moment we’re unsure what the future of cruising will look like and certain safety measures may make it more difficult for you to cruise. A number of cruise lines are requiring doctors notes for guests 70+ and we can expect to see more of this in the future.
What Will The Future of Cruising Look like in Regards to Cruise Prices?
At the moment we don’t know. Cruise prices could go up or cruise prices could drop. If cruise prices do go up the 125% credit may not be as tempting as you’ll actually be unable to get the same value for your money. Alternatively, the cruise prices could go down and you may be able to buy a much nicer/longer cruise.
5 – Future Cruise Credit Can be Split Across Multiple Cruises
If the cruise that you’d like to book with your future cruise credit is cheaper than the original you can split the balance and put it towards a second cruise. The second cruise usually still has to be within the same time frame so you may end up having to take two cruises in 2021, not that this is the end of the world!
If the cruise is more expensive you can pay the difference. The cruise line is more than happy to let you book onto a more expensive cruise.
Can You Pay Off The Balance on an Existing Cruise?
Some cruise lines will let you use the credit to pay off an exciting booking but many will not. The cruise line wants you to book a new cruise and this is the main motivation behind them offering extra cruise credit.
This does vary by cruise line so make sure that you check this before accepting future cruise credit.
6 – Future Cruise Credit Often Comes With Time Pressures
Some cruise lines are offering a bonus credit or discount but only for a limited time. Norwegian are offering a 20% discount on some cruises and Princess has been offering extra onboard credit. These discounts combined with future cruise credit can give you some really good deals if you are willing to book a cruise now.
What Happens if You Don’t Take Future Cruise Credit or Refund?
Most cruise lines are only offering the onboard credit for a limited time, some will automatically give you the credit when this time is up and some will automatically give you cash when this ends. Royal Caribbean will refund you in cash automatically.
I personally don’t really like the idea of waiting and then getting a refund but you could do this if you’re unsure. Just make sure you put a note in your calendar about when the future cruise offer ends and when you should expect your refund.
7 – Can’t be Used on Different Bands Within The Same Company
You can’t use a final cruise credit for another cruise line even if it is with the same brand. For example, you can’t use a Royal Caribbean future cruise credit on a Celebrity cruise even though Celebrity is owned by Royal Caribbean.
For a lot of people, this isn’t a problem as they know and love a particular cruise line. I personally prefer to have the flexibility to book with any cruise line before I find that I’m able to find the cheapest deals this way.
Before you take future cruise credit make sure that the cruise line is definitely the cruise line that you’d like to cruise with and that you wouldn’t be tempted to cruise with another cruise line if the price was better. It would be very annoying to book a cruise for example $1000 with a cruise line then find an almost identical cruise with another cruise line next year for $500.
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