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Cruises and vacations can be financed by companies like Uplift and Klarna. But should you? (Photo: Klarna)

How to Pay for Your Dream Cruise Using Uplift or Klarna

Cruises and vacations can be financed by companies like Uplift and Klarna. But should you? (Photo: Klarna)
Ming Tappin

Sep 13, 2023

Read time
5 min read

Credit cards have long been the most convenient form of payment for cruise vacations. However, not everyone can qualify for one, and the interest rates if you don’t pay off the balance each month are exorbitant.

It’s good to know that new payment options - known as "Buy Now, Pay Later" or BNPL - are now available for travelers to finance their cruise vacations through an installment plan.

We take a closer look at two companies that offer these “cruise-now-pay-later” services – Uplift and Klarna.

What is Uplift?

Cruise lines, like Carnival, offer monthlly financinv via Uplift at booking (Screenshot)

Founded in 2014, headquartered in California, and having more than one million users, Uplift offers full financing for your cruise without having to put any money down – not even a deposit. Financing terms range from six weeks to 24 months, and you can finance up to $25,000 upon approval. Uplift also boasts no late fees, and the ability to pay off your balance early without penalty.

You do, of course, have to pay interest; however, it is much lower than what is charged by a credit card (on our spot checks, we saw an average interest rate of 15%). And, if your credit score is high, you may even qualify for 0% financing.

Which Cruise Lines Offer Uplift as Payment Option?

Uplift partners with eight cruise lines to provide their customers the option to fully finance their vacation: American Queen Voyages, Carnival Cruise Lines, Hurtigruten, Margaritaville at Sea, MSC Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises, and Virgin Voyages. For a complete list of Uplift’s partners, click here.

How Does Uplift Work?

When booking your cruise on the participating cruise line’s website, look for the Uplift option once you get to the pricing or payment page. You’ll need to enter your personal information for the system to conduct a quick credit check, and you will receive an instant decision with the payment plan options, showing the term, interest rate, and payment amount.

Payment plans and interest rates are determined by several factors, including your credit history and the amount being financed. Once you select the plan, you can set up a method for your monthly payment, which could be by check, debit card, or auto-withdrawal from your bank account.

What are the Pros and Cons of Uplift?


  • No upfront payment is required – your entire cruise is financed.

  • Allows up to two years to pay your balance.

  • Charges lower interest rates than credit cards, or no interest at all if you qualify.

  • You can travel before you finish paying for your cruise.


  • The ability to finance up to $25,000 may lead you to spend more than you can afford.

  • Uplift financing can negatively affect your credit score as it may perform a "hard credit check" upon being granted.

What is Klarna?

Klarna's app allows travelers to split payments in a variety of ways (Photo: Klarna)

Launched in 2005 in Sweden, Klarna has over 150 million users. It was originally designed for online merchandise shopping but has now expanded to include travel and cruises.

Klarna allows travelers to book a cruise and pay for it in two ways. You can either split your total into four bi-weekly installments with a flat $2 service fee or opt for the 6-month payment plan with an interest rate that can range from 0-29.99% based on your credit score and the amount being financed. The maximum amount that can be financed is $5,000.

Which Cruise Lines Offer Klarna as Payment Option?

Klarna has a smaller list of cruise partners for North American users - only Carnival Cruise Lines, Celebrity Cruises, and Royal Caribbean. But they do partner with several travel agencies that sell cruises. A full list of Klarna’s cruise and travel partners can be found here.

How Does Klarna Work?

Start by downloading the Klarna app onto your mobile device and creating an account. You then select the participating cruise line or the travel supplier to begin your vacation search. Once you have priced out your cruise, click the “Pay K” button on the app and enter the amount you need to pay for your cruise. The app will then display the available financing options.

A soft credit check will be made if you select the 6-month payment plan. Next, Klarna will generate a one-time credit card number, which you will use to pay for the cruise. Then on the installment due date, your credit or debit card will be charged according to the plan you had chosen.

What are the Pros and Cons of Klarna?


  • No upfront payment is required – your entire cruise is financed.

  • Travelers with strong credit ratings may qualify for 0% financing.

  • Short financing period means you’ll pay off your cruise quickly.

  • You can travel before you finish paying for your cruise.

  • Klarna performs a "soft credit check" that does not negatively affect your credit score for most payment options.


  • Financing services are only offered through the Klarna mobile app, requiring a smart device.

  • The payment method seems cumbersome and involves multiple steps.

  • The number of participating cruise lines is limited.

Should You Use a Financing Service Such as Uplift or Klarna to Pay for Your Cruise?

Should you finance your dream cruise? It's a personal choice. (Photo: Aaron Saunders)

The convenience of financing your cruise is certainly enticing, as it allows you to travel when you are short on funds. Even if you have the money, it’s nice to be able to pay in installments and use your available funds for other things. But is it right for you? After all, you are traveling on credit, and even if you qualify for 0% financing, you will still need to pay off your cruise by the agreed timeline.

Paying off your cruise vacation should not be stressful or cause any hardship.

Remember that BNPL services will typically perform some kind of credit check, either "soft" -- which typically does not affect your credit score; or "hard" -- which can affect your credit score if you miss payments, use the service repeatedly, or already have a substantial amount of credit services in play.

So, before going ahead, consider your financial situation, make your calculations, and confirm that the monthly payments will not cause additional strain on your available budget.

Updated September 13, 2023
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