How Much Money Should You Bring on a Cruise?



Marcello De Lio

I’ve been cruising since I was 11 years old. I love the freedom that cruising provides, meeting new people, and exploring amazing new ships. I love to share my passion for cruising and travel with readers.
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When planning your cruise, it’s important to bring enough spending money to make purchases when you visit the ports of call.

Carrying physical cash isn’t as essential as it used to be a few years ago. Debit and credit cards make it easy to purchase in-store and online.

But, when you visit ports of call, many small merchants aren’t set up to accept debit or credit.

You may wonder how much cash you’ll need to take on a cruise.

How Much Money Should You Bring on a Cruise?

Generally, most guests should bring between $100-$125 in cash per day. The amount of money you bring varies depending on your spending habits.

Although you won’t need cash on the ship, you’ll need to carry cash when you visit ports for transportation, tips, souvenirs, food, and drinks.

Money jar labelled for travel on a map with passport and miniature plane in the background

Generally, you should budget the same amount of money as you would for any other vacation.

Insider Tip

While on board the cruise ship, we recommend leaving most of your cash in the safe inside your stateroom, along with important documents, passports, credit cards, IDs, and more.

Do You Need Cash on a Cruise Ship?

Norwegian Bliss Tradewinds ONBOARD Shops

You won’t need any cash on a cruise ship. Your stateroom keycard doubles as a charge card when you’re on the ship.

In other words, you can use your keycard just like a credit or debit card. Passengers can use it to purchase drinks, souvenirs, spa treatments, shore excursions, specialty dining, and more.

When you swipe your card at the bars or shops, the purchases are charged directly to your onboard account.

The purchases are paid at the end of the vacation when you receive the statement of transactions.

You’ll also pay the automatic gratuities through your onboard account. Many first-time cruisers make the mistake of overlooking the automatic gratuities. The automatic tips mean you don’t need to tip throughout the cruise.

Of course, you can always tip more by giving cash to the hard-working bar staff, room steward, or wait staff. Many people prefer to give cash tips to crew members so they know that the money is going to the right people.

Just don’t forget that cash tips are on top of the automatic gratuities that cruise lines charge. It’s a great way to thank the hard-working staff that makes cruise vacations so relaxing.

Casino Royale onboard Ovation of the Seas

Aside from onboard tips, the only other place you may need cash is at the casino. If your ship has a casino, you can often use cash to purchase chips. And, if you win, you’ll be paid out with cash.

Even if you use your cruise card to play, the cruise casino often pays winnings in cash.

Swiping your keycard is super convenient. It eliminates the need to carry cash around the ship and minimizes the risk of theft or losing it.

However, it can be challenging to keep track of all that swiping. And it’s easy to get carried away.

Remember, you won’t receive your account balance until the final day on the ship. If you’re not careful, you may spend more money than you anticipated.

Purchases That Require Cash

Colorful shops and buildings along the shore of Curacao cruise port

You may not need cash on the ship, but you’ll want to carry money when you step off the boat. When you visit a port of call, you’ll need cash for taxis, buses, souvenirs, food, drinks, tips, and activities.

If you’ve booked an excursion, you may not need to pay for much besides souvenirs.

Alternatively, if you wish to explore the port on your own, you’ll need cash for transportation, food, and drinks. The cost of a taxi varies by port and distance traveled, but it’s typically around $20 – though you’ll want to bring a bit more just in case.

Although you can use a credit card, we highly recommend using cash to make purchases in ports.

Cruise ports are relatively safe places. However, petty theft and credit card fraud can happen.

The most common forms of credit card fraud involve double charging, overcharging, and obtaining credit card information through RFID readers.

While theft and fraud are low, paying in cash provides us with peace of mind. After all, we are on vacation, and the last stress we need is worrying about theft.

Even if you plan to use your credit or debit card, it’s always good to keep a bit of cash on hand. Small shops and some taxi drivers may not accept credit cards. If you run into one of these businesses, you’ll be glad you brought cash.

And don’t forget about transportation to the cruise terminal. Unless you plan on driving to the cruise terminal, you’ll need to pay for a taxi.

What Currencies Should You Bring?

All of the ports in the Caribbean, Mexico, Alaska, and Bahamas accept US dollars. If you sail around Europe, it’s best to take Euros as they are accepted in most countries (except the UK and Norway, which only accept pounds and Norwegian Krone, respectively).

Do Cruise Ships Have ATMs?

Most cruise ships do have ATMs available on the ship, so there’s no need to panic if you run out of cash.

It’s important to note that cruise ship ATMs charge hefty fees to withdraw cash (usually around $7).

You’ll also find ATMs in most ports of call. However, these cash machines also charge substantial fees and might not be all that trustworthy.

It’s not a common occurrence, but the ATMs on cruise lines might run out of money during the cruise. If you find yourself in this situation, there’s no need to panic.

Viking Ocean Cruises Ships in Valletta Malta
(Photo courtesy of Viking Ocean Cruises)

You can get a cash advance at the Casino Cashier using a credit card or debit card. But be prepared to pay a “convenience fee” of around 5% (typically with a $5 minimum fee).

Cruise ships also offer currency exchanges.

But, be warned… the exchange rates are awful, and there’s always an exchange fee paid to the cruise line.

If you need to convert currencies, it’s best to do so before you set sail.

Final Thoughts

The amount of money you bring on a cruise depends on your spending habits. On average, $100-$125 per person per day should be enough cash for most people.

And don’t worry if you don’t bring the right amount.

The money you don’t spend can be returned to your bank account when you get home from the cruise.

And if you don’t bring enough, there are always the ATMs onboard the ship and at most cruise ports.

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About the author

Marcello De Lio

I’ve been cruising since I was 11 years old. I love the freedom that cruising provides, meeting new people, and exploring amazing new ships. I love to share my passion for cruising and travel with readers.

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