It’s a little-known secret, but one of the easiest ways to get free money on your cruise. If you own shares of your favorite cruise company stock, then you can get up to $250 in onboard credit just for being an investor.
Here’s how it works…
Several cruise brands, including Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian Cruise Line are actually part of larger publicly-traded companies with stock that anyone can buy. As a thank you and special benefit for owning the stock, those cruise lines give shareholders onboard credit for free when they sail on one of their ships.
That means simply for owning shares, you get free cash to spend on your cruise. Here’s what all you need to know.
Which Companies and Cruise Lines Offer the Shareholder Benefit?
There are the “big three” cruise companies that trade publicly — Carnival Corporation, Royal Caribbean Group, and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. If you own shares of any of these three companies, then you can receive the onboard credit benefit if you sail one of their lines.
The cruise lines eligible include just about every major brand:
- Carnival Corporation: Carnival, Princess, Holland America, Seabourn, Cunard, Costa Cruises, AIDA, P&O Cruises
- Royal Caribbean Group: Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity, Silversea Cruises
- Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings: Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, Regent
Notably, Disney shareholders do not receive an onboard credit benefit.
How Much Is the Benefit?
The amount of the benefit varies with the length of your cruise and cruise line. In general, however, it is between $50 and $250.
- Cruises of 14 days or longer: $250 onboard credit
- Cruises of 7-13 days: $100 onboard credit
- Cruises of 6 days or less: $50 onboard credit
Royal Caribbean Group:
- Cruises of 14 nights or longer: $250 onboard credit
- Cruises of 6-13 nights: $100 onboard credit
- Cruises of 5 nights or less: $50 onboard credit
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings:
- Cruises of 15 days or more: $250 onboard credit
- Cruises of 7-14 days: $100 onboard credit
- Cruises of 6 days or less: $50 onboard credit
How Many Shares Do I Need to Own to Get the Onboard Credit?
No matter which company you own, they all require you own at least 100 shares to get the benefit.
However, given the different share prices of each company, this means you could spend vastly different amounts of money to buy those 100 shares.
Can I Get Bigger Benefits if I Own More Shares?
No. If you own 100 shares or 1,000 shares, you receive the same shareholder benefit. So if you own 200 shares, you don’t get double the onboard credit. Therefore, if you decide to buy the cruise line’s stock just to get the onboard credit for an upcoming trip, you don’t need to own more than the 100 share minimum.
Does Everyone Get the Benefit or Just the Person With the Shares?
The conditions of the offers say that the credit is applied on a “per cabin” basis, not on a per-person basis. That means if a couple are traveling together and have 100 shares, they get the credit for the room.
Expect it to also be limited to one benefit per cabin. So if a husband and wife both own 100 shares separately, they will only get the onboard credit once.
For example, here is the fine print for Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings:
“Credit is applied on a per stateroom/suite basis. There can only be one credit per shareholder reservation on any one sailing. If you are requesting shareholder onboard credit for two or more separate staterooms/suites and shares are held jointly, a minimum of 100 shares per stateroom/suite booked must be held.”
Can I Receive the Benefit Every Time I Sail?
Yes. The benefit can be renewed for each time you sail. For instance, if you love Royal Caribbean and sail them several times a year, then you can use the same 100 shares of Royal Caribbean Group to be eligible for the benefit.
In other words, while the benefit may be limited to $250 per cruise, there is no limit mentioned on the number of times you can redeem that benefit while you own the shares.
How Long Do I Have to Own the Shares to Get the Credit?
The rules posted by the cruise companies don’t stipulate any length of time required for owning the shares to receive the benefit.
However, to redeem the onboard credit the companies require you to submit documentation 2-3 weeks before the cruise. The fine print also says you need to own the shares at the time of sailing. The means a holding period of at least a few weeks.
How Do I Apply for the Shareholder Benefit?
To get your credit, each cruise company requires you to apply before your sailing. Carnival requires you do this three weeks before the sailing, Royal Caribbean says 2-3 weeks prior, and Norwegian asks for 15 days prior. We recommend applying at least three weeks before, just to be sure.
Each line requires that you contact them to supply documentation of your share ownership (such as a brokerage statement), typically either via mail or email.
You can find more details on what to submit and contact information here:
- Carnival Corporation Shareholder Benefit
- Royal Caribbean Group Shareholder Benefit
- Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Shareholder Benefit