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Best Cruise Lines to Book On Board

30 April 2024

Royal Caribbean's NextCruise office

One of the best ways to save money on your next cruise holiday is – rather ironically – to book one while you’re already enjoying a cruise holiday. Referred to online using terms like “future cruise” and “next cruise”, almost every major cruise line offers a service where you can book your next cruise holiday – like you would through a cruise agent or online booking system – through the cruise line itself while you’re actually onboard the cruise ship.

If you’re new to cruising, you might be looking at this and thinking it all sounds a little unusual, but taking advantage of onboard booking programs is one tactic veteran cruisers use to spend less and cruise more – all while enjoying fantastic flexibility and bonuses you just can’t beat. Doesn’t sound so bad, right? Well, that’s because booking onboard is one of the best ways to book a cruise.

While booking a cruise onboard isn’t quite the same as getting free money in your pocket, it’s not as far off from that as you might think. Each cruise line offers a fantastic array of bonuses to guests who take advantage of this system and you could be missing out on some excellent benefits if you’re planning another cruise holiday and you don’t book onboard. Competitive cruise discounts and lower deposit rates, more onboard spending credit, and even exclusive looks at upcoming cruise itineraries are all examples of the book onboard benefits you can enjoy. But, what does booking onboard actually entail? And, importantly, is booking onboard worth it?

Well, if you have a cruise holiday coming up and you’re curious about book onboard programs – or you’re already thinking about planning your next trip and you want to know some specifics – we’re here to help.

What Is Book Onboard?

Simply put, book onboard is a system where you can book a future sailing with your cruise line while on a cruise ship.

When it comes to booking onboard while you’re cruising, this is often done at a specific desk on your cruise ship; Royal Caribbean, for example, has an entire “Next Cruise” office where you can sit down and speak to a consultant about your options.

With how popular this is becoming among cruisers, you will probably need to book in a time slot to speak to a consultant – so, that’s something to keep in mind if you’re thinking about taking advantage of this. However, when you do, you’ll be met with a clear explanation of what booking onboard with your cruise line specifically entails and all the best cruise deals available at that time.

If you booked your first cruise through a cruise agent, like Iglu Cruise the cruise line you book onboard with will automatically transfer your booking to your cruise agent – making the whole process rather painless. Or, if you booked directly through the cruise line but you want to go through a cruise agent in the future, you will be able to discuss this with your book onboard consultant, too.

Guests enjoying a drink in a cruise ship's fine dining restaurant
Enjoying a drink in a fine dining venue

And, with benefits not limited to additional onboard spending money and cheaper deposits, there really is no reason to wait until you’re back home if you’re planning on enjoying another cruise holiday in the future.

Want more information on the specifics? We have everything you need to know about the best cruise lines to book onboard with, and details on all the differences between each cruise line’s book onboard offering, below.

Contents:

  1. P&O Cruises Book On Board
  2. Royal Caribbean Book On Board
  3. MSC Cruises Book On Board
  4. Princess Cruises Book On Board
  5. Norwegian Cruise Line Book On Board
  6. Celebrity Cruises Book On Board
  7. Cunard Cruises Book On Board
  8. Fred. Olsen Book On Board
  9. Book Onboard FAQs

P&O Cruises Book On Board

When booking onboard with P&O Cruises, you’ll be dealing with P&O’s Loyalty and Cruise Sales team – friendly consultants with expert knowledge.

What are the benefits of booking a P&O cruise onboard?

Well, on top of securing your spot on one of the upcoming P&O Cruises getaways available, you can look forward to a varying selection of additional discounts and bonus onboard spending credit for your holiday.

The specific details of the discounts available vary and, in most cases, will be exclusive to onboard bookings. However, you will be able to enjoy an extra £100 onboard spending credit per person when booking with Select Price holidays that are at least four nights long. With the details of these Select Price holidays subject to change, this is something you’ll be able to discuss in more detail when you speak with the Loyalty and Cruise Sales team onboard.

Key benefits to booking a P&O Cruises’ getaway onboard include:

P&O Azura
P&O Azura

For those of you who booked your P&O Cruises holiday with a cruise agent, the Loyalty and Cruise Sales team will automatically pass all your new booking details along to your cruise agent when you’re back at home – which can come with its own additional benefits and discounts.

Get an exclusive 5% discount when booking with Iglu Cruise!

If you booked through P&O Cruises, you’ll have the option to transfer this booking to a cruise agent. Then, they will be there to assist you further with any questions or requests ahead of your new upcoming departure date.

Top P&O Cruises’ Onboard Booking Terms and Conditions:

*Other terms and conditions may apply.

Royal Caribbean Book On Board

Booking a future cruise while onboard Royal Caribbean is simple thanks to Royal Caribbean’s Next Cruise programme – an onboard booking system packed with benefits.

With the Royal Caribbean Next Cruise programme, you will be able to speak with the onboard Future Cruise Booking Team to take advantage of lower deposits, discounts on pre-planned Shore Excursions, and more. With so many exciting upcoming Royal Caribbean holidays, this is a fantastic way to make the most of your money and save when securing your spot.

Royal Caribbean also offers an Open Booking option, where a non-refundable deposit is required. This will then give you 12 months to select a specific ship and sail date for your holiday; a fantastic option for anyone who needs some time to decide. If you book your cruise holiday within two months of this booking date, you will be eligible for up to $600 in onboard credit or dollars off your next cruise – the same benefits you can enjoy if you book onboard a specific cruise. However, beyond this, you will not be eligible. So, this option is only really worthwhile if you’re looking to take your time exploring your options.

Key Royal Caribbean Next Cruise benefits include:

The top deck of a Royal Caribbean ship
The top deck of a Royal Caribbean ship

Like other major cruise lines, if you booked your Royal Caribbean getaway through a cruise agent, the Future Cruise Booking Team will transfer all your information over to your cruise agent. Not only will this make them your first port of call for questions and requests, it also often comes with its own set of benefits.

Save 5% on your next Royal Caribbean cruise when booking with Iglu Cruise!

If not, though, you will have the option to book through a cruise agent when booking onboard. So, you can still take advantage of these extra offers ahead of your next holiday.

Top Royal Caribbean Next Cruise Terms and Conditions:

*Other terms and conditions may apply.

MSC Cruises Book On Board

If you want to book onboard with MSC Cruises, you’re going to find yourself with two distinct options: Future Cruise, and Open Booking.

The MSC Cruises Future Cruise programme, for all intents and purposes, is the cruise line’s standard book onboard offering. If you opt for this option, you can expect to enjoy reduced cruise holiday deposits, up to €200 extra onboard spending credit per cabin, and double MSC Voyagers Club points – which is never a bad thing. Through MSC Future Cruise, you can also take advantage of a ‘book now and choose later’ option, meaning you don’t actually need to decide which cruise you want to go on right there and then.

Taking this one step further, MSC Cruises’ Open Booking program gives you up to 12 months from when you create your open booking to select a ship and sail date, with a reduced deposit available and additional onboard credit offers depending on the length of the cruise you opt for and which stateroom you decide on. If you want to take advantage of this, you’re going to need to put down a non-refundable deposit, and you’re not guaranteeing the prices available at the time will be the same when you settle on where you want to sail. So, this option really is only worthwhile if you’re looking for extra time to plan your holiday.

Key MSC Cruises Future Cruise benefits include:

Key MSC Cruises Open Booking benefits include:

An MSC cruise ship sailing in the sun
An MSC cruise ship sailing in the sun

If you booked your MSC Cruises holiday through a cruise agent, the booking will be automatically transferred to the same cruise consultant – something that may mean you’re eligible for additional discounts and deals.

Save up to £150 per person when booking with Iglu Cruise!

However, if you booked through MSC Cruises the first time, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy all the benefits of booking through a cruise agent in the future. Your MSC Cruises Future Cruise consultant will be able to help you transfer your onboard booking to a cruise agent of your choice. Then, that cruise agent will be there to assist you if you have any questions or special requests when you’re back home.

Top MSC Cruises’ Future Cruise Terms and Conditions:

*Other terms and conditions may apply.

Princess Cruises Book On Board

Princess Cruises’ onboard booking system is one of the most flexible available, making it perfect for indecisive holidaymakers and cruisers who want to take their time deciding which ship and sail date they prefer.

While you’re enjoying a Princess Cruises getaway, you will be able to purchase a Princess Cruises Future Cruise Deposit – a reduced, fully-refundable deposit that secures your spot on an upcoming sailing. With these deposits as low as $100 per person and Princess Cruises giving you up to $150 onboard spending credit if you take advantage of booking onboard, you will have 12 months from the deposit date to make a decision and book yourself on an upcoming Princess Cruises getaway. If you don’t make a decision and this expires, you’ll be refunded the full amount! This is one of the most risk-free book onboard programmes available at the moment.

Your Future Cruise Deposit details will be available anytime through My Princess Circle Savings as a payment type and, while any additional onboard spending credits you earn may take 60 days to appear in your account, you will be afforded complete freedom to select a specific ship and sail date with your Future Cruise Deposit when you make a decision – provided it’s within 12 months, of course.

Key Princess Cruises Future Cruise Deposit benefits include:

Princess Cruises sailing
Princess Cruises sailing

Cruisers who booked their Princess Cruises holiday through a cruise agent will find any cruise they book with their Future Cruise Deposit is automatically transferred to the same cruise agent, who will then be there if you have any additional questions or requests. This might mean you’re eligible for additional discounts and benefits.

Save up to £75 per person when booking through Iglu Cruise!

If you’ve booked directly with Princess Cruises, you’ll also be able to discuss booking through a cruise agent in the future. An expert cruise consultant can help you through this process onboard.

Top Princess Cruises’ Future Cruise Deposit Terms and Conditions:

*Other terms and conditions may apply.

Can I buy a Princess Future Cruise Deposit online?

No, not at the moment. Part of Princess Cruises’ Future Cruise Deposit program, buying a Future Cruise Deposit is only available while you’re onboard. However, it’s always worth checking online for any upcoming Princess Cruises deals ahead of your cruise if you’re thinking about booking onboard – you never know what deals might be available!

Norwegian Cruise Line Book On Board

When you’re cruising with Norwegian Cruise Line, you’ll have the option to book onboard via “Cruise Next Credits” – a system that you can take advantage of to secure your spot, but without committing to a specific ship or sail date right there and then. If you’re looking for a little flexibility, this is a great way to bag some benefits while you book; although, it’s worth keeping in mind that this credit is then non-refundable once bought.

Still, buying Norwegian Cruise Line Cruise Next Credits gives you up to 12 months to decide on where and when you want to sail, and you can earn up to $500 extra onboard spending credit – which is certainly enough for a drink or two at one of the bars onboard. So, it’s well worth considering if you’re planning another cruise in the future.

Available exclusively onboard via the CruiseNext desk, you can also purchase Cruise Next Haven Credits if you want to make sure you’re sailing in a Suite or The Haven in the future.

Key Norwegian Cruise Line Cruise Next Credits benefits include:

Norwegian Cruise Line
A colourful Norwegian Cruise Line ship

If you booked your Norwegian Cruise Line holiday through a cruise agent, any cruise you book with your Cruise Next Credits will be automatically transferred to that same travel agent when you book it – which might mean you’re eligible for some extra bonuses.

Get a discount of up to £75 per person when booking with Iglu Cruise!

And, if you booked with Norwegian Cruise Line directly but you want to take advantage of a cruise agent moving forward, you will be able to discuss transfering your booking to a cruise agent when you make it.

Top Norwegian Cruise Line Cruise Next Credits Terms and Conditions:

*Other terms and conditions may apply.

How much free onboard credit can I earn?

The amount of free onboard spending credit you earn depends on how many Cruise Next Credits or Cruise Next Haven Credits you purchase. You can check out the current offer below:

Celebrity Cruises Book On Board

If you want to make sure you’re taking advantage of all the Celebrity Cruises book onboard benefits available ahead of your next cruise getaway, you can in one of two ways: Book Now, or Book Later.

Keeping things simple, the Book Now programme is perfect for guests who have a specific Celebrity Cruises holiday in mind when they go to book onboard. Meanwhile, the Book Later system allows you to take your time while still getting all the bonuses you would if you booked a specific cruise there and then – giving you 12 months to set a specific ship and sale date with your deposit. To investigate either, all you need to do is speak to the Future Cruise Vacations team onboard your cruise ship – but, keep in mind you may need to book a time slot to see them during your holiday.

Key Celebrity Cruises Book Onboard benefits include:

Celebrity Apex
Celebrity Apex cruising

Anyone who booked through a cruise agent the first time will find their Celebrity Cruises onboard booking automatically transferred to their cruise agent when they get back home. Not only does this make keeping track of everything easier, but it can also make you eligible for additional discounts and deals – those specific to the cruise agent.

Get 5% off your cruise fare with Iglu Cruise!

If you booked your cruise directly with Celebrity Cruises, you will have the option to transfer your onboard booking to a cruise agent if you want – this is something your onboard cruise consultant can help you with.

Top Celebrity Cruises Book Now and Book LaterTerms and Conditions:

*Other terms and conditions may apply.

Cunard Cruises Book On Board

Onboard bookings with Cunard can be made through a Loyalty and Cruise Sales Manager, with one of two fare options available: Cunard Fare, and Early Saver Fare. With both, the first two passengers on each onboard booking will receive additional onboard spending money – depending on the length of the cruise you’re going on and the stateroom you’ve chosen.

With a Cunard Fare, whether you book onboard or otherwise, you will benefit from complimentary shuttle bus services between the ship and local transport hubs, priority dining for Britannia guests, complimentary parking for voyages over 7 nights, and the highest priority for any available stateroom upgrades.

If you opt for an Early Saver Fare – which is only available on select Cunard cruise holidays and staterooms – you will still be able to enjoy all the benefits specific to booking onboard – the lower deposits and bonus onboard spending credit.

Key Cunard Book Onboard benefits include:

A Cunard cruise ship
A Cunard cruise ship

Cunard cruisers who booked through a cruise agent will have their onboard booking transferred automatically to their chosen cruise agent when it’s made, which can mean they’re eligible for even more benefits.

Save up to £75 per person when booking with Cunard through Iglu Cruise!

Anyone who booked a Cunard holiday through Cunard themselves will have the option to keep this booking with Cunard, or they can have their booking transferred to a cruise agent when it’s made. This is something the Loyalty and Cruise Sales Manager can help you with.

Top Cunard Onboard Booking Terms and Conditions:

*Other terms and conditions may apply.

Fred. Olsen Book On Board

When sailing with Fred Olsen, you can book onboard and enjoy an array of benefits – including additional discounts and deals only available on the ship itself. With one of these a blanket 5% discount, and an additional 5% discount available when you register with the Oceans Loyalty Club, it’s hard to deny that this is an excellent way of booking your next Fred Olsen getaway.

On top of this, if you book onboard with Fred Olsen and you feel like you’ve made a mistake, the cruise line offers a ‘cooling off’ period that will mean you can cancel your booking for free – beyond that, though, deposits are non-refundable and cancellation fees are steep within 90 days of your departure date.

Key Fred Olsen book onboard benefits include:

A Fred Olsen cruise ship sailing
Fred Olsen cruising

If you’re booking your Fred Olsen cruises through a cruise agent, you’ll be able to transfer your onboard booking to your chosen cruise agent automatically – which can come with its own benefits in addition to those above.

Save up to £75 per person when booking onboard with Iglu Cruise!

Or, if you booked directly through Fred Olsen, you will have the option to transfer your onboard booking to a cruise agent of your choice then and there.

Top Fred Olsen Book Onboard Terms and Conditions:

*Other terms and conditions may apply.

Book Onboard FAQs

Is booking while onboard worth it?

Usually, yes, but it all depends on what you’re looking for when it comes to your next cruise holiday. If you want to take some time to explore your options, or book a holiday with a different cruise line, then this might not be the best option for you.

However, there’s a whole host of benefits to booking onboard during your cruise holiday, including but not limited to: additional cruise holiday discounts, extra onboard spending money, and reduced deposits.

Certain cruise lines, such as Princess Cruises, also offer an ‘open booking’ option – this gives you 12 months from putting down your reduced deposit to decide and book a cruise holiday of your choice.

Two men enjoy a cocktail on the top deck of a cruise ship
Enjoying a drink on the top deck

What does free onboard spend mean?

When discussing booking onboard, the term “free onboard spend” – which can sometimes be phrased as “onboard credit” or “shipboard credit” – is a form of cashback that you can only spend on your cruise ship during your cruise holiday. So, when you’re offered additional free onboard spending or bonus onboard credit when booking onboard, you’re effectively getting free spending money for your upcoming getaway. The amount, however, varies from cruise line to cruise line and is often dependent on the duration and destination of your future cruise.

Onboard credit can be used in various ways while aboard; so whether you want to put it towards speciality dining, shore excursions, or spa treatments, the choice is yours! Make sure to check, however, the specific terms and conditions of your chosen cruise line’s onboard spending. There may be some differences worth being aware of.

Is it cheaper to book a cruise when you’re on a cruise?

Sometimes, but not always. In a lot of cases, the price of the cruise itself will be the same when booking onboard or when booking online at home. However, when you book onboard, you can enjoy an array of additional benefits, such as: extra onboard credit, reduced deposits, and exclusive upgrades. Each cruise line offers a unique set of benefits when booking onboard.

This is just one common misconception we're here to help you debunk. For more, check out the 10 most common cruise myths debunked right here.

People playing pickleball on a cruise ship sports court
High fives in the sports court

What happens if I change my mind after booking onboard?

That’s okay, it happens! But, there are a few things to keep in mind.

If you want to change a few details ahead of your departure date, maybe add a drinks package to your cruise holiday, then you should be able to contact your cruise consultant and get this sorted – provided this is done far-enough in advance.

If you want to change the date of your upcoming cruise, or go on an entirely different cruise holiday altogether, you’re going to need to check specifically with your cruise line how far in advance you can do this. With some cruise lines, you can make one major change free of charge, where others charge a change fee every time.

Similarly, some cruise lines allow changes up until the date the full balance of your cruise is due, while others require you make changes at least 90 days before your departure date – sometimes longer.

If, though, you want to cancel your cruise altogether, you should have no trouble doing so if you have just paid a deposit while booking onboard. In most cases, the deposit is fully refundable; however, it’s best to clarify this detail with the consultant you speak with when booking onboard.

Can I pick my cabin when I book onboard?

Yes, absolutely! If you’re booking onto a specific cruise while onboard, you will be able to choose your cabin in the same way you can when booking online or with a travel agent. This makes booking onboard a fantastic way to guarantee you’re getting the cabin that best suits your tastes and budget ahead of your next holiday.

If you’re opting for a deposit-only ‘open booking’ offer while booking onboard, though, this option may not be available – but, that’s because you don’t actually need to decide which cruise you’re going on when taking advantage of this offer.

Book Your Cruise Getaway With Iglu Cruise Today

If you're ready to enjoy a cruise holiday with the finest food and the best entertainment available on the seven seas, you can find out more about the best cruise deals right here. With so many sailings coming up, you'll definitely find something to suit your tastes and needs.

And, while you take a look at what's on offer, check out this selection of blog posts to learn more about cruise ships, cruise holidays, and the wider world of enjoying a cruise.

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