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Should you book your next cruise while onboard?

11 Jan 2023

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.

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast Episode - NextCruise

12 May 2022

Listen to the Show

This week's episode looks at why you might want to book a cruise at NextCruise

Share with me your thoughts, questions and comments via...

On this episode:
Running time:

You can now book new cruises from the Royal Caribbean app while onboard a cruise

11 Feb 2020

Guests sailing on a Royal Caribbean cruise can now book a brand new cruise via Royal Caribbean's app and take advantage of the NextCruise offers without stepping foot inside the office.

The new NextCruise option for booking via the RCI App is available now, and can be used anywhere on the ship. 

Simply download the Royal Caribbean app, connect to the Royal Caribbean wi-fi network onboard and make a NextCruise Book Later reservation with
access to all available offers

From the profile page in the app, scroll down and select the NextCruise feature which will lead you directly through the booking steps.

NextCruise booking via the Royal App is available on any Royal Caribbean ship that offers the app, currently onboard Allure, Oasis, Symphony, Harmony, Anthem, Ovation, Liberty, Serenade, Voyager, Vision, Adventure, Brilliance, Independence, Rhapsody, Majesty, Enchantment, Mariner, Navigator, Freedom and Empress of the Seas. The rest of the fleet is expected to be complete by end of 2020.

Guests can only choose the Book Later open-booking option via the app. This allows you to place a non-refundable reduced deposit of $200 per stateroom, and gives you up to one year to choose a ship and sail date.  If you pick a cruise within the first two months, you will receive up to $600 in savings. 

The NextCruise office will remain an option for specific sailings bookings, whereas the app provides an option for guests who aren’t ready to pick a ship and sail date yet, but do wish to make a deposit and also want to make a booking from the convenience of their smart phone. 

Royal Caribbean offering book up to two months later option at NextCruise

13 May 2019

Guests sailing on a Royal Caribbean cruise have a new option to consider when visiting the NextCruise office to book a future cruise.

In addition to the book now option, where guests book a specific sailing while in the NextCruise office, Royal Caribbean has added a Book Later option, where guests have up to two months to book their sailing.

The idea behind this new option is to allow guests more time to consider different sailings while still retaining the same onboard booking bonus they would get by booking onboard.

Book Later requires a $200 non-refundable deposit per stateroom ($100 deposit per stateroom if picking a specific sailing onboard), and promises up to $600 onboard credit or instant savings by selecting a sailing within 2 months.

The Pay Later option deposit stipulates:

  • The $200 per stateroom deposit is non-refundable
  • If a guest does not pick a ship and sail date within one year of creating the reservation, the "Book Later" reservation will expire and the deposit will be list.
  • In order to get the up to $600 in savings offer, a sailing must be selected within two months of creating the reservation.

The Pay Later option is in addition to the Book Now option, which remains available for guests to book while in the NextCruise office.

Special thanks to Karen Fraser for alerting us to this new option.

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast Episode - Booking another cruise onboard

25 Jul 2018

Listen to the Show

It’s not hard to imagine being on a Royal Caribbean cruise and enjoying an incredible family vacation when suddenly you have the epiphany that you ought to do this again. And again. And again. Booking more cruises comes hand in hand with having a passion for cruising, and this week, we are going to talk about Royal Caribbean’s NextCruise program, which offers some incentives for rebooking onboard. We will talk about what the program offers, how to take advantage of it, and what you need to know before rebooking.

Share with me your thoughts, questions and comments via...

On this episode:
Running time:

Royal Caribbean introduces NextCruise $100 per person deposit policy on non-refundable fares

05 Dec 2017

Royal Caribbean is introducing $100 per person deposits on cruises booked onboard a Royal Caribbean ship at the NextCruise office.

When guests book their next cruise onboard a Royal Caribbean ship, they are now eligible to pay a reduced deposit of only $100 per person regardless of length of cruise only when they select the non refundable fare program. Refundable fare bookings continue to require full deposit.

This offer will be available on all cruises that commence on or after December 9, 2017. China roundtrip voyages are excluded.

The new $100 per person deposit program is applicable when booking a Junior Suite category or below. Interiors, Oceanview, Balcony and Junior Suites are all included in this offer. Grand Suites and above continue to require full deposit.

Since this deposit program applies to non-refundable fares, if the booking is cancelled, the $100 per person deposits are non refundable and no Future Cruise Credit will be issued.

Changes made within the first 30 days of creation date align with the existing NextCruise policy and will not incur a $100 per person change fee. Changes made after the first 30 days of creation will follow the existing non refundable fare brand guidelines which will incur a $100 per person change fee if changes are made to the original ship and sail date. Deposit remains non refundable from the time of booking.

Group bookings are not eligible for the reduced deposit and will continue to follow the existing group deposit guidelines

Royal Caribbean alters NextCruise onboard booking bonus

30 Jul 2017

Royal Caribbean is making changes to its onboard cruise booking incentive program, known as NextCruise.

We first heard about the changes on a Cruise Critic message board post, and it appears the changes are being directed to travel agents first.

Effective on August 1, 2017, the reduced deposits incentive will be eliminated.  The deposit required onboard will be equivalent to the same value as shoreside deposit, which ranges between $100 - $450 per cabin, depending on the length of the cruise.

In addition, Royal Caribbean is altering the onboard credit offered to those that book cruises onboard.

  • 4-5 night cruises
    • Interior/Oceanview rooms: $25
    • Balcony/Junior Suites: $50
    • Grand Suite and above: $150
  • 6-9 night cruises
    • Interior/Oceanview rooms: $50
    • Balcony/Junior Suites: $100
    • Grand Suite and above: $300
  • 10 nights or longer cruises
    • Interior/Oceanview rooms: $100
    • Balcony/Junior Suites: $200
    • Grand Suite and above: $500

As of August 1, 2017, NextCruise will only offer the future onboard credit option.  Royal Caribbean claims this change was due to lack of popularity of the Instant Onboard Credit option.

Guests booking NextCruise will have the choice to have either the Refundable or Non-Refundable Deposit Fare program while onboard.  Both the Refundable and Non-Refundable fares are combinable with NextCruise Onboard credit.

Royal Caribbean changes policy towards booking suites on future cruises

22 Mar 2017

Royal Caribbean is introducing a nonrefundable deposit and a change fee for all Grand Suites and above booked through the cruise line's onboard booking program, known as the NextCruise program.

WIth the change, suite guests who reserve their future cruise while onboard will now require a full, nonrefundable deposit. Assuming these guests commit to the original selection and do not adjust their ship or sail date in the future, there is no impact imposed by this new policy adjustment. Should guests opt to alter their cruise selection in the future, a change fee of $100 per guest will be incurred. All Suite cancellations are now subject to a nonrefundable fee in the amount of the deposit. 

Here is a breakdown of the changes:

  • For Guests whose NextCruise Booking is for a Grand Suite stateroom or higher, changes made during the first thirty (30) days after the NextCruise Booking was made shall not be subject to a Change Fee but will remain nonrefundable. After the expiration of that thirty day period, a Change Fee (currently $100 per person per change but subject to adjustment without notice) shall apply.
  • For Guests who chose the Instant Onboard Credit offer for their NextCruise Booking (regardless of the stateroom category booked), the deposit is nonrefundable for all staterooms. Downgrades to your NextCruise booking will result in an additional charge of between $50 to $500 on your booking and in the loss of your special promotional offer.
  • Downgrades include booking a shorter duration cruise or booking a lower class of staterooms. Grand Suite Staterooms and above bookings require full deposit and are only eligible for Future Onboard Credit. For Guests who choose the Future Onboard Credit offer and later Downgrade their NEXTCRUISE BOOKING, the amount of that future onboard credit shall be reduced. 

The change is described as, "an effort to preserve our Suite inventory and to ensure that our committed Suite guests have abundant access to premium accommodations." The new change fee has been imposed to encourage solid business and to deter continual or late changes to the selected ship and sail date. During the first 30 days after creation, unlimited changes can be made without a change fee incurred. If a booking is cancelled within the 30 days, the deposit remains non-refundable.

If guests book a suite outside the NextCruise program, the deposit remains fully refundable until final payment. The benefit of booking onboard, however, is the advantage of the rich NextCruise Onboard Credit program, which will not apply if the reservation is not confirmed while onboard.

When asked if non-refundable deposits will become standard for Royal Caribbean, the cruise line's response via a statement was, "In recognition of the high demand onboard for our Suite inventory and the added value of the NextCruise onboard credit, non-refundable deposits are currently only applicable to onboard Suite bookings."

Any Suite bookings made prior to the policy change will not be affected by the change fees and non-refundable deposit policies.

Royal Caribbean Next Cruise program details, info and tips

11 Aug 2016

Royal Caribbean's Next Cruise program rewards guests that book another Royal Caribbean cruise while onboard their current cruise and that might generate some questions about how it all works.

If you want to take advantage of this offer when you go on your next Royal Caribbean cruise, then here is what you need to know about Next Cruise.

Why book onboard with Next Cruise

Photo by Bobby Southard

Essentially, booking another Royal Caribbean cruise onboard with Next Cruise gets you free onboard credit for doing so. The price and booking incentives will be the same onboard as on land, but the difference is the extra onboard credit that you will get by doing so.

The Next Cruise offer is perfect for anyone that knows they will certainly take another Royal Caribbean cruise in the future.  Exactly which cruise and when is not important, but considering the Next Cruise offer is "free money," anyone that wants to take another Royal Caribbean cruise in the future will stand to benefit from this offer.

Next Cruise incentives

By booking a cruise with the Next Cruise program, guests will receive onboard credit equivalent to the deposit amount required for the cruise length and stateroom category.

Onboard credit and deposit required per stateroom

  • 5-7 night cruises
    • Interior/Oceanview: $50
    • Balcony/Junior Suites: $100
    • Grand Suite & Above: $200
  • 8-10 night cruises
    • Interior/Oceanview: $100
    • Balcony/Junior Suites: $150
    • Grand Suite & Above: $300
  • 11-14 night cruises
    • Interior/Oceanview: $150
    • Balcony/Junior Suites: $200
    • Grand Suite & Above: $400
  • 15 nights or longer cruises
    • Interior/Oceanview: $200
    • Balcony/Junior Suites: $250
    • Grand Suite & Above: $500

Open Booking

If you prefer, there is an open booking Next Cruise option, where instead of booking a specific sailing, you will get a certificate that can be used on any upcoming cruise.

Open booking shipboard credit per stateroom:

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

After booking a Next Cruise open booking, you will get via email a booking reservation number and that is the number you will need when you are ready to book a specific Royal Caribbean sailing.  Give your travel agent or Royal Caribbean your Next Cruise number and they will turn it into an active reservation that reflects the deposit amount you made plus booking incentives your certificate has.

Next Cruise also allows additional flexibility for guests with which reservation they make.   These include:

  • Option to change your reservation to suit your needs prior to final payment.  This means, you can change the sailing later to any other cruise and retain the Next Cruise benefits.
  • Combinable with Crown & Anchor exclusive savings
  • You can retain the services of your travel agent with any Next Cruise reservation
  • Book up to three staterooms for friends or family on any cruise with the same benefits

Can I still use my travel agent if I book onboard?

Guests can still use their travel agent when making a Next Cruise booking.  In fact, if you booked the cruise you are on with a travel agent, they will automatically get notification of the Next Cruise booking.

Disadvantages of Next Cruise

There is really just one consideration about Next Cruise to keep in mind and that is the deposit you make is non-refundable.  

Unlike other Royal Caribbean cruise reservations, the Next Cruise deposit is non-refundable, which means you either have to take that Royal Caribbean cruise eventually or lose that money.  The reason why we stated earlier to book Next Cruise is if you know with certainty that you will take another Royal Caribbean cruise, it is free money to take advantage of.  But if you have doubts about taking another Royal Caribbean cruise, keep in mind that Next Cruise program is non-refundable.


One other policy you should be aware of is changing your mind to downgrade your cabin after booking.

Downgrades to your NextCruise  will result in an additional charge of between $50 to $500 on your booking and in the loss of your special promotional offer.

Downgrades include booking a shorter duration cruise or booking a lower class of staterooms.

More Next Cruise rules

  • For Guests who choose the Instant Onboard Credit offer, downgrades to your Next Cruise booking will result in an additional charge of between $50 to $450 on your booking and in the loss of your special promotional offer. Downgrades include booking a shorter duration cruise or booking a lower class of staterooms.
  • Guests who choose the Future Onboard Credit offer and later Downgrade their Next Cruise booking, the amount of that future onboard credit shall be reduced.
  • Bookings made through the Next Cruise program are not combinable with certain rate plans, promotions or other offers.

Next Cruise Tips

  • The Next Cruise office tends to get busy, especially towards the end of the cruise. Make an appointment early in the cruise to get it done before the crowds hit.
  • You can make an appointment with the Next Cruise staff by adding your name and stateroom number to a book near the entrance to their area.
  • The Next Cruise office is open on disembarkation day and is often quite empty.
  • The best time to visit the Next Cruise office if you do not have a meeting is on port call days, when most guests are off the ship.


The bottom line is if you are certain that you will take another Royal Caribbean cruise at some point in the future, you are best off booking a Next Cruise offer because it is free money.  Seeing as the only drawback is the deposit is non-refundable, there is very little risk involved.

The onboard credit you receive can be taken on the cruise you are on or deferred to the cruise you just booked. We prefer to defer the onboard credit to that future cruise because we have already budgeted for the current cruise, but it is a subjective option.  

Photos of new Next Cruise office on Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas

18 Dec 2015

Royal Caribbean has completed refurbishing the NextCruise office onboard Oasis of the Seas and we have some new photos to show what it looks like now.

Royal Caribbean Blog reader Edwin Wallace is onboard Oasis of the Seas and was able to share these photos of the new space, following the removal of the construction walls earlier today.

Royal Caribbean's NextCruise office allows guests to book new Royal Caribbean cruises while onboard and enjoy a booking bonus.

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