Looking for a can’t-miss, last-minute gift for the cruiser on your list?
Give the gift of onboard credit. Mainstream, big-ship cruising has always been a la carte — but these days there are more added-fee options than ever, from specialty dining to babysitting to upcharge entertainment. (See how readers rate these fees on the Nickel and Dime Scale.)
For many cruisers, this new normal means spending onboard is part of the experience.
To that end, Carnival Cruise Lines has introduced a new gift card option, in e-card and hard copy versions, that can be used as payment toward a cruise or onboard purchases. The cards can be preloaded with funds ranging from $10 to $1,000. You can choose the denomination. Standard gift cards have no expiration date, though special promotional cards may.
The new gift cards replace a related offering, Fun Ship Dollars. There are a few key differences. If you bought the Fun Ship Dollars for yourself — who says you don’t deserve it? — whatever wasn’t spent during a cruise was refunded. The currency on the new gift cards can’t change forms; once a Carnival gift card dollar, always a Carnival gift card dollar. Also, Fun Ship Dollars were valid only for the individual identified on the front of the certificate. The new cards have no name and so can be used by anyone who gets ahold one, including this weirdo. The new gift cards can be redeemed online or onboard.
Meanwhile, in other cruise gift card-related news, Celebrity Cruises is running a promotion through December 31. Purchase a gift card, and the line will match the amount up to $200 for four- to seven-night sailings and $500 for sailings eight nights and longer. The cruise must be booked by a U.S. or Canadian resident by January 31, 2013. There are some limitations. A limit of $1,000 in combined gift cards per cabin might be applied. And, unlike Carnival’s GC’s, the card can’t be used to settle any shipboard charges. All itineraries are eligible, with the exceptions of transatlantic voyages and vacations on Celebrity Xpedition in the Galapagos Islands.
No doubt the gift match is a nice touch, but the qualifiers — great gift for people who are booking a Celebrity cruise before January 31 — limit the offer.
As for the other big-ship heavyweights — Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, Holland America and Princess Cruises — they don’t offer gift cards per se. But you can still give the gift of onboard credit via their respective programs. The difference, of course, is that your giftee must be booked/book a cruise, and you may have to grab their reservation number to complete the transaction. Kind of spoils the surprise. Or requires an uncomfortable level of snooping through friends’ and family’s personal belongings and/or credit card statements.
Need other ideas for the cruiser in your life? Check out our gift guide.
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