Visit our travel agent friends at MEI Travel

Should you book your next cruise while onboard?

11 Jan 2023
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean offers passengers the opportunity to book another cruised while onboard a cruise, but is it worth it?

Symphony of the Seas docked at CocoCay

The NextCruise desk is open every day of your cruise, and it's where you can go to book another Royal Caribbean (or even Celebrity Cruise) sailing.

The idea is simple: you're having a great cruise, why not book another? It seems like a good idea because the cruise line has extra incentives for booking.

A lot of readers are curious if it makes sense to book a cruise onboard, or if the offer isn't as lucrative as it sounds.

NextCruise office

Here are the reasons why you should book another cruise while you're onboard your next sailing, and why you might want to wait.

Extra onboard credit

The best reason to book a cruise at NextCruise while on a Royal Caribbean cruise is the extra onboard credit you'll get.

The price of a cruise is the same whether you book onboard or at home, but Royal Caribbean will give you extra onboard credit for booking onboard.  It's a bonus on top of other promotions the cruise line has, and is one of the best ways to rack up onboard credit.

Couple at the pool

How much credit? It depends on how long your sailing is and the type of cabin:

  • 4-5 night cruises
    • Inside/Oceanview: $25
    • Balcony/Junior Suites: $50
    • Grand Suite & Above: $150
  • 6-9 night cruises
    • Inside/Oceanview: $50
    • Balcony/Junior Suites: $100
    • Grand Suite & Above: $300
  • 10 nights or longer cruises
    • Inside/Oceanview: $100
    • Balcony/Junior Suites: $200
    • Grand Suite & Above: $600
Wonder of the Seas pool deck

You could also book an open booking, which is kind of like a certificate that you can apply to a future reservation. 

The amount of onboard credit for an open booking is less than a specific booking you could make, but it's better than nothing!

  • 5-7 night cruises: $25
  • 8-10 night cruises: $50
  • 11-14 night cruises: $75
  • 15+ night cruises: $100

In short, you're getting free money to spend on your sailing simply by booking another cruise.

Reduced deposit

Couple with drinks on Suite Deck

Another nice to have benefit of booking a cruise at NextCruise is you'll have to lay out less money initially.

Royal Caribbean allows guests to book a sailing with only $100 per person deposits on select fares.

Once again, the deposit amount depends on the type of cabin you select, but this takes the sting out of the initial reservation cost.

Combinable with other promotions

Want to know the easiest way to get a lot of onboard credit? Take advantage of NextCruise while there's another offer by Royal Caribbean so that you can stack the offers.

The extra onboard credit mentioned earlier in this article is combinable with most other Royal Caribbean promotions, such as Kids Sail Free.

It's also combinable with Crown & Anchor exclusive savings.

The NextCruise offer is combinable with most groups, such as a lovely Royal Caribbean Blog group cruise!

You can book friends and family

Did you know in addition to getting that onboard credit and reduced deposit for yourself, you can also loop in anyone else that you want to sail with?

Royal Caribbean will allow you to book up to three staterooms for yourself, friends, or family on any cruise with the same benefits.

Grace period for suites

Grand Suite on Freedom

As you may or may not know, suite bookings are non-refundable, but if you book at NextCruise, you get a grace period to change your mind.

If you make a NextCruise booking for a Grand Suite stateroom or higher, changes made during the first 30 days after the NextCruise booking was made are not subject to a change fee, but will remain non-refundable.

This means you can change sailings, or even cancel without incurring the $100 per person change fee that would otherwise be applicable to a non-refundable cruise fare.

Keep in mind after the first 30 days, the change fee is applicable again.

Extras for booking early during the sailing

Next Cruise swag

While I don't think this is necessarily a reason to always book a cruise, but sometimes the NextCruise desk runs special extras you can get for booking.

A commonly offered benefit is if you book a cruise at NextCruise early in the sailing (usually the first day or two), you can qualify for a free bottle of champagne or gift bag.

Whether or not something like this is offered on your sailing will vary, but I've seen this as an incentive posted in order to drum up business early in a sailing, when the NextCruise desk is usually not busy.

Why you shouldn't wait to book a cruise onboard


If all of this sounds great, there's still a very good reason not to wait to book a cruise once you get onboard a ship.

Royal Caribbean's cruise prices fluctuate all the time. The price can change minute-by-minute depending on which cabins get booked.

Remember, cruise fares are dynamic and respond to the company's internal pricing methodology that is largely based on how many rooms are left.  The more cabins that get booked up, the less inventory there is for a particular sailing, and that can drive prices up.

Icon of the Seas aerial aft night

The risk you run if you wait to book a cruise until you get onboard, is the price can go up between now and then, which would negate any savings you'd receive from the extra onboard credit offer.

Ideally, you'll visit the NextCruise desk while on a sailing because while on your cruise, you think it would be great to book another vacation.  In that scenario, booking at NextCruise makes a lot of sense for all the reasons mentioned earlier in this post.

But, if you're at home and your next cruise vacation is weeks or months away, you should probably book a cruise now and not wait to protect yourself against a price increase.

Person using computer

Sure, the extra onboard credit and reduced deposit are nice, but at the end of the day, I'd rather pay the lowest price for the cruise fare than run the risk the price goes up just so I could net some extra credit.

What to look for before you book onboard

If you do find yourself at the NextCruise desk, there are a few things to double check before you hand over your credit card to book a cruise.

First and foremost, look at the cruise fare type that you are booking.  Specifically, refundable or non-refundable deposit.

I can't stress enough how important it is to be fully aware of the pros and cons of these fares.  Almost certainly any quote the NextCruise agent makes will be for a non-refundable cruise fare. 

Inside cabin on Icon of the Seas

There's nothing wrong with these types of deposits, but you should clearly understand what happens if you want to change the sailing, date, and/or ship and associated fees that come with it.

The next thing to check is your travel agent is listed on the reservation. 

If you booked with a travel agent for the sailing you're on, NextCruise should automatically associate the new booking with your agent.  Verify that is the case, or if you prefer to keep the reservation to yourself so that you can transfer it to another agency later, you can do that (make sure you complete that process within 30 days of booking).

Breakfast in mdr

Also verify you have the right dining choice, traditional or My Time Dining.

Lastly, look at the extra costs, such as travel insurance and gratuities.  Sometimes the agent will add them on, but if you already have travel insurance, then you don't need to have that cost there.

In short, don't assume anything.  When you get the print out at the desk, verify everything you were told and promised is written down on the sheet.

Should you book your cruise at NextCruise?

NextCruise sign

If you're on your cruise ship and have the inclination to book another sailing, yes, there's no reason not to book with NextCruise because of the incentives offered.

The extra onboard credit and reduced deposit are wonderful benefits to booking.

However, if you're at home, your best bet is to still book a cruise now and lock in the price. Overall, cruise prices tend to go up over time, and the best prices tend to be when booked as early as possible.

Matt started Royal Caribbean Blog in 2010 as a place to share his passion for all things Royal Caribbean with readers. He oversees all the writers at Royal Caribbean Blog, and writes a great deal of content on a daily basis.  He has become one of the foremost expert on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Over the years, he has reached Pinnacle Club status with Royal Caribbean's customer loyalty program.

Get our newsletter

Stay up-to-date with cruise news & advice

    We never share your information with third parties and will protect it in accordance with our Privacy Policy