Payments on cruise ships are almost entirely digital, but there are still a few situations where cash is useful. Knowing how much cash to bring on a cruise can help you plan your vacation budget and avoid ATM fees along the way.
Here’s what you need to know about cash on a Royal Caribbean cruise.
Do I need cash on a cruise ship?
Cash is rarely needed on a Royal Caribbean cruise, as all onboard payments are made through your SeaPass account. Before your cruise, you will connect your onboard account to a credit or debit card, and all payments will be debited from this card at the end of the cruise.
You won’t need cash for 99% of purchases on a cruise, whether it’s specialty restaurants, cocktails or souvenirs. Plus, you’re never obligated to make any additional purchases in the first place if you take advantage of the free options available on a Royal Caribbean cruise.
Related: What’s included in your Royal Caribbean cruise fare
When will I need cash on a cruise ship?
Although cash is not required for onboard purchases, there are a few scenarios where you will want to have cash available.
Tipping crew members
You will need cash on a Royal Caribbean cruise, these are the extra tips you give to crew members.
Although you pay daily gratuities before your cruise ($16 per person per day in most cabins), many cruise lines like to give something extra. Whether it’s $2 to the bartender, $20 to your server, or $50 to your cabin attendant, it’s common to tip crew members extra for great service.
There is no need to tip extra, and there is no right or wrong amount to tip a crew member. Some guests may bring an additional $200 for tips while others may bring $50.
Having small bills on hand is useful if you plan to tip crew members throughout your sail.
The time you’ll need the most cash on your cruise vacation is when you’re in port. Whether in Mexico, Saint-Martin, Italy or Vanuatu, it is recommended to have cash. Although cards are widely accepted, you may still encounter establishments that do not accept card payments.
And while you don’t need to visit a port with $1,000 in your wallet, you’ll want to make sure you have enough cash to cover expenses throughout the day.
Depending on what you plan to do at the port, you might need money for:
- Restaurants and cafes
- Museum entrance fees
- Beach chair rental
We recommend bringing around $100-200 in cash with you on a port day. This should provide enough money for transport, food and small souvenirs at the port.
Can I use my credit card at the port?
You can use a credit or debit card to make purchases at ports of call whenever possible. However, you will want to make sure that you have informed your bank that you will be out of the country.
If you haven’t informed your bank, they will usually send you a fraud alert or temporarily block your card.
How to get money on your cruise ship
If you forgot to bring cash on your cruise, there are several ways to get it once on board.
The first is the ATM. All ships have at least one ATM on board, usually located in the Royal Promenade or the Centrum. ATMs typically charge a fee of $5-6 per transaction.
Depending on your bank, ATM transaction fees may be waived. If you want to avoid ATM fees, you can theoretically withdraw money through the casino.
If you go to any slot machine, you can transfer money to the game through your onboard account, which is connected to your credit or debit card.
If you transfer money to the slot machine and cash out immediately, you can bring your withdrawal slip to the casino cage and receive the indicated amount in cash.
What currency do I need for a cruise?
The currency you need to bring with you on a cruise depends on your departure port and your itinerary.
If you’re sailing from the United States to the Caribbean, US dollars are widely accepted at popular cruise ports. You can also choose to pay in local currency, but it is not necessary to obtain cash in more than 3 currencies before a cruise.
You will often receive change in local currency, even when paying in USD. If you buy a $5 souvenir with a $20 bill in Mexico, for example, you’ll receive the change in Mexican pesos.
Cruises from Europe and Australia will still use the US dollar as the official currency on board, but you must make purchases at the port with the local currency of the destination. If you are sailing from Australia to the South Pacific, Australian dollars are widely accepted.
To avoid currency confusion, especially if you are traveling to multiple countries on a cruise, we recommend using a credit or debit card for port purchases whenever possible.