How Much Money Should You Bring on a Cruise?
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. We may receive compensation when you purchase via my links at no cost to you. See my disclosure for more information.
When planning a cruise, you must bring enough spending money to make purchases when you visit the cruise port.
While the need for physical cash has lessened over the years, many cruisers still find it beneficial, especially for small transactions. 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 bring on your cruise.
Generally, most guests should bring between $100-$125 in cash per day. The amount of cash to bring can differ significantly based on your itinerary, budget, and spending patterns on a Caribbean cruise.
You don’t need to carry cash on the cruise ship. Your cruise card acts as a spending account. Simply swipe your card to pay for purchases on the boat and at the cruise line’s private islands.
Here’s a list of things you’ll need to pay in cash:
Generally, you should budget the same amount of money as you would for any other vacation. We recommend $100-$125 in cash per day for most people.
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.
Several factors come into play when you’re trying to figure out how much money to take on a cruise. Here’s what to consider:
The length of your cruise dramatically affects how much cash you’ll need. You don’t need to bring as much spending money on a three-day getaway to the Bahamas compared to a two-week European voyage.
Generally, the longer the cruise, the more money you should have on hand.
Longer cruises have more port visits, where you’ll have more opportunities to shop and explore.
Think carefully about your shopping tendencies. If you love to buy gifts, local crafts, and souvenirs, you’ll need to bring more money.
Some passengers are content with window shopping or buying just one or two mementos, while others enjoy a full-blown shopping spree. Be honest about your habits and plan your cash reserves accordingly.
Tipping is a major part of cruise culture, and it extends beyond the prepaid gratuities that cover your cabin and dining staff.
Tipping beyond the automatic service charge is a controversial topic that we won’t dive into in this article.
But if you like to tip when you receive exceptional service, consider carrying extra cash to show your appreciation to the service staff. Consider your stateroom attendant, main dining room servers, porters, and tour operators.
The crew greatly appreciates gratuities.
Cash is king at the cruise ship casino. Many cruise ships have begun allowing guests to charge casino purchases to their onboard accounts. But most cruise lines only accept cash in the casino.
Even if you can charge casino spending to your account, winnings are still paid in cash.
It’s smart to set a gambling budget ahead of time to ensure you don’t overspend in the excitement of the moment. Remember, onboard ATMs have hefty fees, and it’s far better to bring what you need rather than withdraw more onboard.
You won’t need any cash on a cruise ship. Cruise ships operate on a cashless system where purchases are charged to your onboard account, which is linked to a credit or debit card.
In other words, you can use your keycard like a credit or debit card. Cruise lines provide you with a cruise card, which you’ll use for purchases on the ship. Some cruise lines like Princess Cruises and Virgin Voyages give you a wearable device instead.
You can use your cruise card 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.
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 some money 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 loss.
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 anticipated.
When relaxing under the warm sun on the pool deck, money matters are the least of your concerns. If you’re not careful, it’s easy to get carried away with your spending.
Setting a daily spending limit is best to ensure you stay on budget throughout your cruise vacation.
Think about how much money you’re comfortable spending each day outside of prepaid expenses like excursions or drink packages.
On a cruise, you’re in a self-contained world where all your needs are just a swipe of your room key away. But that convenience makes it too easy to lose track of your spending.
To avoid the sticker shock at the end of your trip, keep a close eye on your expenses.
You can check your onboard spending through the cruise line’s mobile app, stateroom TV, or visiting guest services. Regular check-ins help you adjust your spending and keep your budget on course.
Who doesn’t love a good deal? Cruise ships are full of opportunities to snag a bargain, so watch for onboard promotions and discounts.
From spa specials on port days to happy hour prices at the bar, there are plenty of ways to indulge and spend less.
Check the daily itinerary for special offers and plan accordingly — maybe you can treat yourself to that massage if you skip the afternoon piña colada. Remember, the goal is to find balance and enjoy your cruise without sailing into a sea of debt.
All ports in the Caribbean, Mexico, Alaska, and the Bahamas accept US dollars. If you sail around Europe, it’s best to take Euros as the local currency, which is accepted in most countries (except the UK and Norway, which only accept pounds and Norwegian Krone, respectively).
Most cruise ships have ATMs on the boat, 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 uncommon, 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.
You can get a cash advance at the Casino Cashier using a credit 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.
It is best to do so if you need to convert currencies before you set sail.
Remember to keep your money secure in your stateroom safe. Cruise ship cabins always have a safe. Use the safe to store cash, travel documents, credit cards, jewelry, and valuables when you’re not using them.
Remember to clear out the safe before you disembark at the end of the cruise.