Cruise line gift cards: Where to buy them, how to spend them

27 March 2023

If you’re racking your brain to come up with the perfect gift for your cruise-loving family member or friend, consider buying them a gift card or certificate from their favorite cruise line.

Cruisers will appreciate a gift they can use toward purchasing their cruise fare or splurging on a beverage package, specialty restaurant or spa treatment. Don’t rule out the first-timers on your list; you can help them fund their first foray into cruising or surprise them with something extra to make their upcoming trip special.

If you’re a cruiser, you may also want to purchase a gift card for yourself, especially when you can find a deal. AARP sometimes offers digital gift cards for cruise lines like Princess, Holland America and Royal Caribbean at a savings of 10%. Gift cards purchased with Target’s RedCard receive a 5% discount. You can also look for Black Friday sales on Disney gift cards at Sam’s Club and other promotions offered through the cruise lines or retailers.

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Not every cruise line offers gift cards, and some have alternative ways to help pay for a portion of someone else’s vacation. But if you’re in the market for cruise line gift cards, read on to find out which seven lines offer them, where to buy them and how to use them.

Holland America Line

HOLLAND AMERICA LINE/FACEBOOK

Holland America offers gift cards in denominations between $25 and $2,000 that are available to buy on its website. You can either purchase a physical card to send enclosed with a personal message or choose a digital version that the recipient can open online with personalized audio and photos.

The line offers one or two sales a year that feature an added perk, such as a $100 bonus card with a $1,000 purchase.

You can use the cards to pay for cruise bookings, pre-cruise expenses or onboard charges covering specialty dining, beverages, shore excursions, spa treatments, gratuities and other purchases. They can also be used to buy Holland America’s “Have It All” bundle, which includes a beverage package, shore excursion credit, Wi-Fi and specialty restaurant meals.

Holland America’s gift cards are also available at online retailers, including Amazon, Target and Walmart, in preset amounts. Certain banks also feature credit card programs where you can redeem points for the cruise line’s gift cards. If you prefer to shop in person, you’ll find the gift cards in stores such as Target, Publix, Kroger, Giant Eagle and HEB.

Related: The 4 classes of Holland America ships, explained

Gift cards are only available in U.S. dollars. Gift cards are activated upon receipt, and they cannot be resold. In addition, buyers cannot purchase an aggregate amount exceeding $10,000 in one day.

Princess Cruises

Island Princess. PRINCESS CRUISES

Princess Cruises also offers gift cards on its website in denominations between $25 and $2,000. Buyers can personalize the line’s eGift Card with photos and audio for the recipient. Princess Classic Gift Cards arrive by mail, and the line offers free shipping on cards over $100. Expedited shipping is available.

Princess’ gift cards can be used to pay for your cruise, including fares with the Princess Plus and Princess Premier all-inclusive packages.

Recipients can also settle part or all of their onboard bill with gift cards at the end of the cruise at the passenger services desk. That means gift cards can essentially pay for meals in specialty restaurants, shore excursions, spa treatments and other onboard splurges.

You cannot use the gift card to pay for land excursions as part of a cruisetour, flights booked through Princess or gratuities.

Related: The ultimate guide to Princess Cruises ships and itineraries

You can find Princess gift cards in grocery stores like Kroger, Harris Teeter and Giant Eagle, and online at retail sites such as Amazon, Target and Best Buy.

Gift cards are only available to residents in the U.S. and Canada. Classic Gift Cards cannot be mailed to Canada, so Canadian residents should choose the eGift Card option.

Buyers are limited to a $10,000 online aggregate purchase in one day and a maximum of five transactions a day. Anyone can use the gift card since there’s no name on the card.

Carnival Cruises

Carnival Cruise Line’s online gift cards are customizable from $100 up to $1,000. They can be purchased as a physical card that’s mailed, and you can even have them wrapped and delivered in a tin for an additional $1.99 for up to five cards. If you prefer, you can choose an e-gift card that’s sent to the recipient online.

The gift card can be used toward a cruise booking, pre-purchased shore excursions or spa treatments. You can also apply it to beverage packages and gratuities. If you’d like to use the card as an onboard credit, you must go to the guest services desk or Sail & Sign kiosk to apply the gift card as payment for your onboard bill once you’re on the ship.

Related: Cruise onboard credit: What it is, where to get it and how best to use it

Carnival’s gift cards are available in over 9,000 retail outlets, including Kroger, Albertsons, Lowe’s, Safeway, Winn-Dixie and Publix. You can also purchase gift cards on board Carnival’s ships. You can buy as many cards as you’d like, but there is a maximum online transaction of five gift cards at one time.

All gift cards are in U.S. dollars and not accepted on ships using a different onboard currency. You can transfer the gift card to another user since there are no names on the cards.

Disney Cruise Line

THE POINTS GUY

Gift cards for Disney Cruise Line are sold online at shop.disney.com in preset amounts, from $25 to $500. You can choose from over 60 Disney designs of physical gift cards and have them shipped, or you can send a themed eGift Card.

Gift cards are also sold at Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland Resort and Disney retail locations throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico and Canada. If you’re purchasing them in person, you can load them for any amount from $15 to $1,000. The cards are reloadable with as little as $5 and up to $1,000. They can be reloaded at any location that sells the gift cards. That option is not available online.

Related: 11 ways to save money on a Disney cruise

Disney’s gift cards can be used to purchase a cruise, shore excursions, merchandise on the ship and other onboard expenses. The cards can also be spent at Disney-owned properties, like Disney’s Vero Beach Resort; on trips or cruises with Adventures by Disney; for Disney on Broadway; at retail stores and other Disney businesses.

You’ll also find them in preset amounts at retailers like Target, Walmart and Best Buy.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Mandara Spa. CHRISTIAN SANTIAGO/NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE

Norwegian Cruise Line ended its gift card program in 2021, but you still can send gifts to cruisers in the form of an onboard credit or spa credit. Onboard credit is available in $25 increments up to $100. Mandara Spa certificates are offered in amounts of $25, $50 and $100. To send the gift, you’ll need to know some personal information, including the birth date of the recipient or the reservation number for the booking. You can order the gift of onboard credits on Norwegian’s website.

CruiseFirst certificates are another gift option. These advance purchase vouchers can be used to pay for cruises of six days or longer and are valued at double the price. For example, you’ll pay $150 for a certificate worth $300. You can transfer these vouchers to another person as a gift without a charge.

You can purchase up to 10 certificates per person at a time, and they can only be applied to new reservations on voyages scheduled at least 120 days out from the purchase date of the certificate. Only one certificate can be used per sailing – and there are a few other restrictions. These vouchers expire within three years of the purchase date.

Royal Caribbean

Jewel of the Seas. ROYAL CARIBBEAN

Royal Caribbean is another line that uses a gift certificate program rather than gift cards. Certificates are available in the following U.S. dollar increments: $50, $100, $250, $500, $1,000, $1,500, $1,700 and $2,000. These certificates must be redeemed at least 10 days before the cruise.

They can be used to pay the cruise fare, with some restrictions, or toward onboard credit to cover specialty dining, beverage packages, spa treatments, gift shop purchases and other items. If you want to apply the gift certificates as payment for expenses on the ship, you’ll need to redeem them online 10 days before the sailing date. They cannot be used for government taxes, fees, gratuities or casino play.

Related: 35 Royal Caribbean cruise tips and tricks that will make your voyage better

Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Solstice. CELEBRITY CRUISES

Celebrity Cruises has an online store where you can purchase onboard credit to celebrate someone’s birthday, a honeymoon, anniversary or other memorable occasion while on their cruise. Gift certificates are available in $25 increments that can be used anywhere on the ship, including in the casino. If they are redeemed in the casino, there is a 5% handling fee. These certificates can be purchased online if you know the recipient’s reservation information, or you can call Celebrity’s Store Customer Support team to place an order.

You can also give specialty dining certificates for $45 each. If the amount charged is less than that, the remaining sum will be applied to the passenger’s onboard account.

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