Do I Need To Bring Cash On A Cruise?

So you’re planning to go on a cruise, but you’re not sure whether you need to bring cash with you? Well, it really depends on your personal preference and the cruise line you’re traveling with. Some cruise lines operate on a cashless system, where you can use your key card or wristband to make purchases onboard. This means you don’t necessarily need to carry cash, as everything will be charged to your onboard account. However, it’s always a good idea to have some cash on hand, just in case you encounter any unforeseen circumstances or if you want to tip the staff members who have provided exceptional service. In this article, we’ll explore the different scenarios where you may or may not need cash on a cruise, and provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision. So keep reading to learn more!

When it comes to whether or not you need to bring cash on a cruise, it’s important to consider a few factors. Firstly, the destination of your cruise plays a role in determining if you’ll need cash. Some ports of call may only accept cash for purchases, such as local markets or street vendors. It’s always a good idea to research the different ports you’ll be visiting and find out what their preferred payment methods are. Additionally, some cruise lines may have areas or services onboard where cash is still required, such as gambling in the casino or visiting the spa. It’s always a good idea to check with your specific cruise line to find out their policies and recommendations regarding cash. So, while carrying cash on a cruise may not be necessary for all your expenses, having some on hand can provide peace of mind and ensure you’re prepared for any situation that may arise.

Importance of cash on a cruise

When it comes to planning for a cruise vacation, one important consideration is whether or not to bring cash onboard. While many people rely on credit cards and other forms of electronic payment, having cash on hand can offer several benefits. However, there are also potential drawbacks to not having cash available. In this article, we will explore the importance of cash on a cruise, the different payment options available onboard, using cash for extra expenses, currency exchange on a cruise, tips for managing cash, the benefits of using non-cash payment methods, key considerations for cashless cruising, and situations where cash may still be necessary. By the end, you will have a better understanding of whether or not you should bring cash on your next cruise.

Benefits of bringing cash

One of the main benefits of bringing cash on a cruise is the convenience it offers. While most cruise ships accept credit cards and have onboard accounts, having cash readily available can make certain transactions quicker and easier. For example, if you want to purchase something from a small vendor at a port of call, they may only accept cash. By having cash on hand, you can avoid the hassle of finding an ATM or dealing with currency exchange.

Another advantage of bringing cash is that it allows you to have better control over your spending. With a set amount of cash, you are more aware of how much you are spending and less likely to overspend. This can be particularly helpful for individuals who tend to rely heavily on credit cards and may be tempted to make impulse purchases.

Potential drawbacks of not having cash

While relying solely on electronic payment methods may seem convenient, there are potential drawbacks to not having cash on a cruise. One of the main concerns is that credit cards and onboard accounts can be subject to technical issues or fraudulent activity. If your credit card is declined or your onboard account experiences a glitch, having cash can serve as a backup. Additionally, some ports may have limited or unreliable internet and communication services, making it difficult to process electronic payments.

Furthermore, it’s worth noting that not all destinations and establishments accept credit cards. If you plan on exploring local markets or dining at smaller, independent restaurants, having cash readily available will ensure that you can make purchases without any issues.

Different payment options onboard

While cash is important, it’s also essential to understand the different payment options available onboard a cruise ship. Most cruise lines accept credit cards, making it easy to charge expenses to your account. This can be convenient as it allows you to keep track of your spending electronically. Additionally, some passengers opt to use prepaid cards, which can be loaded with a set amount of money before the cruise. These cards function as a form of electronic payment but are not linked to your personal bank account. Lastly, cruise lines also offer onboard accounts, which act as a credit system that allows you to charge all onboard expenses to your account and settle the balance at the end of the cruise.

Using cash for extra expenses

While credit cards and onboard accounts cover the majority of expenses on a cruise, there are certain instances where cash may be necessary or preferred. One such instance is paying for gratuities. While many cruise lines automatically charge gratuities to your onboard account, some still prefer to tip in cash to ensure that their gratuities go directly to the service staff.

Another situation where cash may come in handy is when booking shore excursions independently. Many ports of call offer a variety of enticing excursions, such as snorkeling tours, city tours, or cultural experiences. While you can typically book these excursions using your credit card or onboard account, some smaller operators may only accept cash. By having cash available, you won’t miss out on unique experiences or have to rely on finding a nearby ATM.

Lastly, if you enjoy shopping for souvenirs or other items onboard or at a port of call, cash can provide you with more bargaining power. Some vendors may offer better deals or be more willing to negotiate if you are paying in cash. Additionally, having cash available allows you to make smaller purchases without the need for a credit card or adding charges to your onboard account.

Currency exchange on a cruise

If you decide to bring cash on a cruise, you may need to consider currency exchange. Most cruise ships offer currency exchange services, allowing you to convert your money into the local currency of the various ports of call. Some cruise lines also provide currency exchange services onboard, making it convenient to obtain the currency you need.

When it comes to exchanging currency, it’s important to be mindful of both exchange rates and fees. Cruise ship currency exchange rates may not always be the most competitive, so it’s worth comparing rates and fees with other options. Additionally, keep in mind that some countries may impose fees or taxes on currency exchange transactions, so familiarize yourself with any potential charges before exchanging your money.

Tips for managing cash on a cruise

Bringing cash on a cruise requires careful planning and management. To ensure you have enough money without carrying excessive amounts, consider the following tips:

  • Determine the right amount to bring based on your estimated expenses. Research the typical costs of food, drinks, souvenirs, and excursions to help you budget accordingly.
  • Don’t carry all your cash with you at all times. Use the safe provided in your cabin or inquire about the onboard safekeeping options to securely store any excess cash.
  • Consider using a money belt or hidden pouch to carry your cash while exploring ports of call, ensuring it remains safe and discreet.
  • Keep track of your spending by saving receipts or using a dedicated app to record expenses and stay within your budget.

Benefits of using non-cash payment methods

While cash can be useful for certain situations, there are also benefits to using non-cash payment methods on a cruise. One of the main advantages is convenience. With credit cards or onboard accounts, you can charge expenses with a simple swipe or tap, eliminating the need to carry physical cash or worry about making currency exchanges. Additionally, non-cash payment methods offer added security, as they can typically be canceled or frozen in the event of loss or theft.

Another benefit of using non-cash payment methods is the ease of tracking expenses. With electronic records or monthly credit card statements, you can easily see how much you spent on various categories such as dining, shopping, or entertainment. This can be helpful for budgeting purposes and gaining a better understanding of your overall spending habits.

Key considerations for cashless cruising

If you choose to go cashless on your cruise, there are a few key considerations to keep in mind. Firstly, it’s important to check the onboard spending limits of your credit card or onboard account. Some cruise lines may have daily or overall spending limits, which can impact your ability to make purchases if you haven’t planned accordingly.

Additionally, it’s a good idea to monitor your credit card statements or onboard account balance regularly. By doing so, you can quickly identify any unauthorized charges or discrepancies and report them to the cruise line or your credit card company.

Possible situations where cash is still necessary

While using non-cash payment methods is convenient, there may still be certain situations where cash is necessary. For example, if your cruise includes port visits to remote areas or undeveloped destinations, there may be limited or no electronic payment options available. Local markets, street vendors, and smaller establishments may not have the infrastructure to accept credit cards or onboard accounts, making cash the only viable payment method.

Additionally, when it comes to local transportation, cash is often the preferred payment method. Taxis, rickshaws, or other forms of transportation may require cash payments, especially in countries where credit card acceptance is limited.

Making a decision on bringing cash

Ultimately, whether or not you need to bring cash on a cruise depends on personal preferences and the specific cruise line policies. Consider your spending habits, the destinations you will be visiting, and the payment options available onboard when making your decision.

If you prefer the convenience of electronic payments and are confident in the availability of credit card acceptance at your destinations, you may choose to rely on non-cash payment methods. However, if you value having cash on hand for smaller purchases, bargaining power, or in case of any technical issues, bringing cash may be the right choice for you.


The decision of whether or not to bring cash on a cruise is a personal one that depends on various factors. While non-cash payment methods offer convenience and ease of tracking expenses, having cash on hand can provide flexibility, particularly in situations where credit card acceptance is limited or unreliable. By considering your spending habits, destination choices, and cruise line policies, you can make an informed decision that ensures you have a stress-free and enjoyable cruise vacation.