How much cash should I take on a cruise?

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Cruising is the type of vacation many guests go on because almost 95% of everything is booked and paid for by the time guests set foot on the ship. By Pre-paying for everything, guests can have peace of mind while sailing. But how much cash should one take on a cruise?

For anything that was not prepaid, having a credit card or debit card attached to your onboard account is a helpful way to pay for any incidents that may arise during your stay. Some people even load discounted gift cards to their cruise accounts to cover any spending money on board.

But there are instances where having physical cash is needed throughout the cruise. The general rule is that most people will use a credit or debit card, but if you need money during the cruise, this blog post will help!

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How Much Cash should I take on a Cruise?

When going on a cruise, guests should budget around $100 per adult and $50 per child per day. This spending money set can ensure you have enough cash for specialty cocktails, souvenirs, excursions, and cash tips.

Cash, in this case, U.S. Dollars, should be split up among a few $20 and small bills unless you plan on paying all onboard expenses with cash. The amount of money needed does depend on your spending habits, but this guide will help you with your budget.

A Cashless Cruise Experience

Many cruise lines encourage passengers to experience a cashless cruise. Cashless allows the passenger to charge everything to the card attached to the cruise account, and a final bill will be automatically generated and charged. It is always a good idea to have cash stored in the stateroom safe just in case you need it by the end of the cruise.

Do Cruise Ships have ATMs?

Most cruise ships have Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) or Cash Machines on the cruise ships. However – like everything else at sea – there will be hefty fees to use your ATM card is much higher at sea than on land. If you want to bring a bit of cash, withdrawing cash before you get on the cruise ship or while in Port is better.

Cruise Ship ATM fees

Carnival Cruise Line$6.50 fee per transaction
Celebrity Cruises$6.50 fee per transaction
Disney Cruise LineNo ATM on Board
Norwegian Cruise Line$5.99 per transaction
Princess Cruise Line$8.50 per transaction
Royal Caribbean International$6.50 per transaction
Virgin Voyages$5 per transaction
Above are all of the ATM fees associated with Cruise Ships

Can you exchange money on a Cruise ship?

You can exchange money on a cruise ship – however, it will be expensive. Many Cruise ships have ATMs onboard, but if you bring your cash, you can exchange it for local currency. The exchange rates will be unfavorable for the guest even though it is an easy option.

How many Credit Cards should I bring on board?

Even though cash is king for most people, bringing at least two credit cards while cruising is best. Having two credit cards is a good tactic if your credit card company flags the cruise vacation as credit card fraud and there is no way to pay your bill at the end of your cruise.

What Currencies Should I Bring?

American U.S. dollars are generally accepted for cruises sailing out of the United States. However, if you pay in cash, you may receive change back in the country’s current currency. When traveling in Europe, it is wise to exchange money for Euros and spend it wisely. The good news, if you take out too much cash, you can always save it for your next cruise or vacation!

Will I Need Cash on My First Day on the Cruise?

You will need cash on your first day of the cruise or embarkation day. Typically on this day, a porter will gather your bags to bring them onto the ship – smaller bills will come in handy because you can tip the porter $1 per bag.

You will also want to have spare cash if you take a taxi or other transportation that doesn’t accept credit cards or if you need to tip these folks.

Will I Need Cash on a Cruise Private Island?

You shouldn’t need cash when cruising on your cruise ship Private Island. If this is your first cruise to a private island, and you do not plan an excursion, you can expect to hang out on the beach, purchase a few beverages, and eat a buffet lunch. Some shore excursions will cost extra, but these can be charged to your stateroom.

How Much Cash Will I Need Onboard?

If you do not plan to gamble or drink many alcoholic beverages while on board, $100 per day per person should be the right amount of cash for a seven-day cruise. Many items can be charged to your room with cashless systems. Below are the cruise ship areas where you can rack up the extra onboard expenses.

Specialty Dining

While each cruise line may be different when it comes to specialty dining, on the cruises I’ve been on cruise ships that when you pay for specialty restaurants, a portion of that extra charge goes toward the waiter’s tip. Of course, if the service is spectacular additional tips are always appreciated.


Prepaid automatic gratuities are my favorite when cruising because you do not need to think about how much is appropriate to tip. If your service was above and beyond, you could always give cash tips to those serving you.

Automatic gratuities range from $15-20 per person per day and go to tip the waitstaff, chefs, room steward, housekeeping, and more. Many cruisers like to give additional gratitude in cash, which is unnecessary.

Cruise Ship Suggested Gratuities

Carnival Cruise Line$14.50 per person per day
Celebrity Cruises$17.50 per person per day
Disney Cruise Line$14.50 per person per day
Norwegian Cruise Line$16 per person per day
Princess Cruise Line$16 per person per day
Royal Caribbean International$16 per person per day
Virgin VoyagesIncluded in the Cruise Fare
Above are all of the automatic gratuities for Cruise Ships

Room Service

Depending on the ship you are on, room service may be free or for a small nominal fee, and you would tip the person to bring the room service. I generally list $1-2 per full meal.

Spa/Beauty Treatments

Suppose you are in a treat-yourself mood while on a cruise you can look into the spa treatments offered on board. Spa services can range from your typical mani-pedi to a couples massage. Depending on where you live, spa treatments are more on the cruise than on land ranging from $50-$150 for a treatment.


If your cruise has a casino on board, you can use your cruise card to pay to gamble, but that would get me in trouble. If you like to gamble, you know your daily risk for gambling. Much like a Vegas trip, I typically bring $100 a day to bet and end up not gambling after I’ve lost $50 on the slot machines.


Wifi during a cruise is unnecessary, and you must pay extra. Wifi at sea is a luxury; depending on how many people purchase the package could slow down the speed. You can budget about $10-15 daily on the internet if it is a must-have.

Cruise Ship Basic Internet

Carnival Cruise Line$14.45-$17 per day
Celebrity Cruises$20 per day
Disney Cruise Line$89 for 1,000 megabytes or
$20 a day on Disney Wish
Norwegian Cruise Line$25.50 per day
Princess Cruise Line$15 per day
Royal Caribbean International$20 per day
Virgin VoyagesIncluded in the Cruise Fare
Above are all of the prices for basic internet for Cruise Ships

Laundry Services

Did you know you can even do your laundry on a cruise ship? Yes, for those longer cruises doing a few loads of laundry on the ship may help extend your outfits or make doing laundry at home much easier. It’s better to bring your own detergent typically, but almost all cruise lines will allow you to purchase laundry soap.

How much money will you need for port days?

The best way to ensure you spend your time wisely is to prepay or at least pre-plan what you will do in Port Days. It is perfectly acceptable to stay on board and eat the food provided by the Cruise ship – but the whole point of the cruise is to see different areas of the world.

Shore Excursions are popular with cruisers. An excursion can range from a full day with tour guides or jumping in a van with shuttle drivers and exploring the cruise port on your own. Both options are great ways to explore foreign ports.


If you decide to explore the cruise port of call and forgo a Cruise ship-sponsored excursion, you will need to set aside some cash for Transportation and Taxis. Many places will have a way to pay for transportation either with a card or within the app, but if you are in a country, you will need to budget. I’ve taken a bus for as little as $1.25 per person and taxi cabs for as much as $50 for one way. 

Just make sure, if you are going off on your own, that you know that you need to make sure you have enough cash, cell phone battery, or service to get back to the cruise Port. When going off on your own, it is highly suggested that you get to the ship 1-2 hours before sailing away. 


Excursions can be costly when booked on board, but you can save cash by booking with a third-party vendor like Viator. For many of these excursions, you will either pay online or the day of, so you typically only need cash if you book a tour ahead.

If you decide to walk off the ship and find a tour company to use for the day, you should carry about $50-$100 per person of the local currency’s cash on you in case the tour company does not take some money. 

Entrance to Attractions

If you are exploring a port on your own and want to explore a museum or other attraction, try to purchase tickets online ahead of time. Most of the time, buying tickets ahead of time gives you skip-the-line privileges or a small discount. Many museums and attractions can range from $20-$40 or even more per person. 


If you love purchasing Souvenirs for yourself or gifts for your loved ones, you will need to budget out this amount. The best souvenirs are edible ones, such as chocolates or wine, or small purchases for the house. When it comes to Souvenirs, it is best to do a budget per person versus per Port. 

I typically budget $100 per vacation for Souvenirs for myself and $20-$30 for gifts for others. 

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Even though it might be tempting to eat a little while in Port and have a large dinner when you get back onto the cruise ship, one of the best things to do in Port is eat and drink! Many places will accept a credit or debit card, but ensure you bring cash to pay for a tip when dining.


Americans have a large tipping habit that is becoming increasingly larger. It is common for an American to be guilted into tipping 18-20% for service that could have been better. Americans do generally list for almost everything.

Make sure you have smaller bills so you can tip in cash for smaller transactions like buying a cup of coffee or tipping the taxi driver.

If your cruise is in Europe, study your receipt to see if a service charge is added to your bill. In Europe, you are expected to tip less than 15%. Generally, an extra $1-2 on top of the bill is expected for good services.


You will only run into this issue a little when sailing out of America and in the Caribbean, but in Europe, many bathrooms require you to pay a small fee. Yes, Public restrooms are not always free. If you were able to exchange your money, make sure you have a few local coins to pay the admittance fee for the bathroom.

If you need the correct restroom opportunity, you can always stop by a local cafe or restaurant to purchase a coffee and use the bathroom. This is a tactic that Sunset Chasers use all the time when we need to use the restroom.

How Can I Keep My Cash Safely on a Cruise?

You want to have a manageable amount of cash floating around your cabin. The best way to keep the cash safe on the cruise is to either put it in the safe in the room or buy a lock for one of your suitcases and lock valuables in there. 

Beware of Foreign Transaction Fees on Credit Card Purchases

One reason why people enjoy using cold hard cash is because of Foreign Transaction Fees on Credit Cards. At Sunset Chasers, we ensure we get a credit card that waives or reimburses any foreign transaction fees. Many cards that have this benefit do have a yearly fee. However, this fee will add additional bonus points you can redeem for flights or hotel rooms.

Sunset Chasers Favorite Credit Cards:

Credit CardAnnual FeeWhy we like itApply today!
Southwest Credit Card$69We are working on our Southwest Companion pass, and New Orleans has a lot of direct flights.Southwest 50,000 bonus points
Chase Sapphire Reserve$550This annual fee is quite large, but you do get a lot of perks, including $300 in travel, free global entry for one person, and Priority Pass lounges!60,000 extra Travel points
IHG Rewards Traveler Credit Card$99This credit card gives you 1 free anniversary room a year!IHG 140,000 bonus points
Delta Credit CardThe first year is free, after that, the credit card fee is $99 per year.One of our favorite airlines to travel on!40,000 Delta Bonus miles

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