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How to Get Onboard Credit for Owning Carnival Stock (2022)

How to Get Onboard Credit for Owning Carnival Stock (2022)

If you cruise on Carnival, Princess, or any other Carnival-owned cruise line, you can get free onboard credit on every cruise, just for being a Carnival stockholder! Here’s how to get your free OBC.

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One of my favorite perks of cruising is getting free onboard credit—often abbreviated to OBC— when I book during certain sales. Since I always use a cruise travel agent, I’ll often get extra onboard credit just for booking through the agency.

OBC is awesome! You can use it for just about anything on the ship—buying souvenirs in the shops, paying for specialty dining, booking shore excursions, and more.

But did you know that you can get even more free onboard credit every time you book a cruise on Carnival, Princess, Holland America, or any other cruise line owned by Carnival Corporation?

It’s true! If you’re a Carnival stockholder, you’re eligible for free onboard credit each time you cruise. As long as you own enough shares and can show proof before each sailing, you’ll get free money to make every cruise even more fun.

What cruise lines offer free onboard credit to Carnival shareholders?

Carnival Corporation offers free OBC to shareholders on all of their cruise lines. Carnival, Princess, and Holland America are the most popular Carnival-owned lines for North American cruisers. But several other cruise lines around the world are also under the Carnival Corporation umbrella.

Shareholders cruising with Cunard, Costa Cruises, Seabourn, AIDA, or P&O can also apply for free onboard credit.

Applying for free onboard credit as a Carnival shareholder

If you own Carnival stock (or you’re planning on buying some), it’s super-easy to get your free shareholder OBC. Read on to find out how many shares you need to own, how much credit you’ll get for each sailing, and how to let your cruise line know you’re eligible.

How much Carnival stock do you have to own to get OBC?

You’ll need to own at least 100 shares of stock in Carnival Corporation at the time of sailing to earn their free onboard credit benefit. The shares need to be held in the name of a booked passenger to earn OBC.

How much onboard credit will I get for my cruise?

The amount of free onboard credit you’ll get per cruise depends on how long your sailing is, and which cruise line you’ll be on. See the table below to find out how much OBC you’ll be awarded on your next cruise.

The amount of onboard credit you’ll receive (and what currency it will be in) depends on the specific cruise brand and where it’s based.

So, if you’re from the UK and sailing on a cruise on an Australian brand, you’ll get your onboard credit in AUD. An Australian sailing on a North American brand on a European itinerary will get OBC in US dollars.

North American brands:

  • Carnival Cruise Line*
  • Princess Cruises*
  • Holland America Line
  • Seabourn
  • Cunard*
  • Costa Cruises*

Continental European brands:

  • Costa Cruises*
  • AIDA Cruises

UK brands:

  • P&O Cruises UK
  • Cunard*
  • Princess Cruises*

Australian brands:

  • P&O Cruises Aus
  • Princess Cruises*
  • Carnival Cruise Line*

*The currency and amount of onboard credit for some cruise lines is determined by the operational currency used on any specific sailing.

You may also like: How to Save Money on Cruises

How do you let the cruise line know you’re a Carnival shareholder?

Although so many things are automated these days, you’ll need to let the cruise line know that you’re a shareholder before each and every cruise, so you can have your OBC credited to your account.

Annoying, I know, especially if you take a lot of cruises! But trust me, it only takes five minutes, and you’ll earn between $50 and $250 (or a similar amount in other currencies) to spend on your next cruise. Now that’s a nice rate of return!

Five steps to apply for onboard credit as a Carnival stockholder

Applying for Carnival shareholder stock is simple if you follow these steps:

  1. Own at least 100 shares of Carnival stock
  2. Print, copy or scan your proof of shares
  3. Black out your address and account number
  4. Send proof to your cruise line before your cruise
  5. Check your online cruise planner for the OBC a few weeks before your cruise departs

You’ll need to mail, email, or fax proof of your shares to your specific cruise line at least three weeks before your sail date.

(Click here for a list of mailing addresses, emails, and fax numbers for each cruise line.)

Proof of shareholder status could include a copy of your shareholder proxy card, a dividend tax voucher, or a nominee statement with both your mailing address and brokerage account number blacked out.

Be sure to also include your full name, reservation or booking number, ship name, and sailing date to ensure you’re credited correctly.

What if multiple members of my family are Carnival shareholders? Do we all get free onboard credit?

Carnival’s free onboard credit program for shareholders only allows one shareholder per stateroom to use the benefit. So if you have multiple shareholders in the same cabin, only one can get the free OBC.

But if you want to get creative, you can sometimes work around this policy.

Let’s say you’re traveling as a family unit—two parents and your kids who are old enough to stay in a nearby room. Each parent owns at least 100 shares of Carnival stock, but you’d like to actually sleep in the same room as your spouse or partner.

Despite the strict rules around one free OBC benefit per cabin, the cruise lines aren’t the bed police! If you book one parent into each of the two rooms, both adults can get the free credit.

Of course, each stateroom key card is assigned to a specific passenger and also acts as ID and your way of making purchases on board. So the logistics can get tricky with this workaround, but many cruisers use this method to double up on OBC.

You may also like: Cruising with Kids: 19 Essential Tips

Can you gift your Carnival shareholder onboard credit to friends or family sailing with you?

Just like any other cruise onboard credit you might receive in a special sale or via your travel agent, Carnival shareholder onboard credit isn’t transferable. The cruise line will apply the OBC only to the account that matches the name of the legal shareholder.

But if you want to share your credit with friends or family, you can always use it to buy a gift on board for a friend or loved one. Just remember you need to make the purchase yourself—you can’t give your cruise card to another passenger to use your OBC.

Can you save your Carnival shareholder onboard credit for another cruise?

Although it would be nice to be able to save your unused onboard credit to use on a future cruise, your OBC expires at the end of each sailing. So use it before you lose it!

Can you get more than one free OBC benefit if you hold more than 100 shares of Carnival Corporation stock?

If you have several hundred (or more!) shares of Carnival Corporation stock, you’re probably wondering if you can get more free onboard credit for each block of 100 shares you own.

Unfortunately, free onboard credit for Carnival shareholders is limited to one credit benefit per person per sailing.

Is anyone excluded from receiving free onboard credit for being a Carnival shareholder?

Carnival Corporation employees likely already know that they’re not eligible for onboard credit for owning Carnival stock. But some non-employees also aren’t able to take advantage of this program.

If any of these situations apply to you, you also won’t be able to get free OBC as a Carnival shareholder:

  • A travel agent cruising at travel agent rates
  • Tour conductors or group leaders cruising at a reduced rate
  • Anyone sailing on a complimentary basis

***UPDATE November 2021***

Carnival has very recently begun denying shareholder OBC to guests cruising at discounted rates. According to many longtime Carnival cruisers who have applied for the free onboard credit, the company has been denying the benefit for reasons including:

  • VIFP offers
  • Casino rates
  • Military discount rates
  • Resident discount rates
  • Senior citizen discount rates

It’s unclear whether this is a permanent policy change by Carnival Corporation, or just a temporary hold while ships are sailing at reduced capacity. I’ll continue to update the post as more information emerges on this new development.

What can you use your Carnival shareholder onboard credit for?

Unlike some cruise lines that allow you to use OBC before your cruise to pay for packages and services on board, Carnival and its subsidiaries only allow you to use onboard credit once you’re physically on the ship.

Use your free onboard credit for an unforgettable experience, like my favorite Ultimate Balcony Dining on Princess (image courtesy of Princess Cruises)

But, you can use your onboard credit for almost anything you’d normally pay for once you’re on the ship. Here are some examples of how you can use your free shareholder OBC:

  • Specialty dining that you book on board
  • Shore excursions that you book on board
  • Beverages that aren’t covered by a drink package
  • Purchases in the onboard shops
  • Spa and salon visits
  • Experiences like wine tastings, cooking classes, or behind-the-scenes tours

Just remember that some cruise lines will give you a discount if you prebook and prepay for some of these extras before you sail. Take that into consideration when deciding how you’ll use your OBC.

You may also like: Are Cruise Drink Packages Worth It?

What can you NOT use your Carnival shareholder onboard credit for?

There are tons of ways you can use your free onboard credit for owning Carnival stock on a cruise. However, Carnival has a few rules about what you can’t use it for. Make sure you know these exclusions before you assume you’re covered (and stuck with an unexpected bill).

  • Using shareholder OBC for casino play
  • Paying for crew gratuities with shareholder OBC
  • Using shareholder OBC for anything that you need to use cash for (like for extra tips, or vending or self-service laundry on some ships)

What’s your favorite way to get free onboard credit on a cruise? Have you received OBC for being a Carnival shareholder? Let me know in the comments below!

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Eleanor Moschetti

Thursday 4th of August 2022

We use our Carnival Shareholder benefits whenever possible. I would like to find a list of the other cruises or other affiliates that will give you a credit. Is Oceania Cruise line an affiliate with Carnival Cruises Shareholders?

Carrie Ann

Friday 5th of August 2022

Hi Eleanor, there's actually a list of all the cruise lines you can get Carnival shareholder benefits on near the top of this post. It's under the heading "What cruise lines offer free onboard credit to Carnival shareholders?"

Oceania Cruises isn't affiliated with Carnival - It's actually owned by Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings. If you'd like to learn about using NCL stock to get OBC on Oceania, you can read my post How to Get Onboard Credit for Owning Norwegian Cruise Line Stock. Thanks for stopping by!


Tuesday 12th of July 2022

Hi Carrie Ann, is there a travel agency that gives cabin credit for booking with them on a Carnival cruise?

Carrie Ann

Wednesday 13th of July 2022

Hi Richard, great question! While there isn't a specific travel agency that always gives extra onboard credit for booking a Carnival cruise, some do fairly frequently. I always check CruiseDirect first because they don't charge any booking fees.

You could also try Cruise Critic's Carnival deals page to find potential extra OBC on cruises.

I always check with several travel agencies before I book, and take any booking fees into consideration first. Happy cruising!


Tuesday 12th of July 2022

I applied for OBC as a stock holder for an upcoming cruise and was denied because it states we have booked on a reduced rate promotion. I was dissatisfied with this reasoning because all VIFP members get promotions at a reduced rate! We have been going on a lot of Carnival cruises lately since we are now retired and have enjoyed the benefit of the OBC. We love cruising with carnival. In fact, we just purchased more stock because we trust the company will continue to grow. I feel like this is not really a benefit as a stockholder if we have to pay more for a cruise in order to receive the OBC. My question is what kind of promotion do we have to book a cruise as a VIFP member to be able to receive OBC.

Carrie Ann

Wednesday 13th of July 2022

Hi Shelia, I hear you, and I wish I had a definite answer! Ever since October/November of last year (when Carnival started denying shareholder OBC for booking at discounted rates) I've heard rumors and speculation that this new stricter adherence to their policy would just be temporary. But - we're going on eight months and I've yet to see a change.

I'm like you - I only book VIFP promos (and usually just casino loyalty deals) because they're too good to pass up. So I'm not too upset about missing out on free OBC when my cruise fare is $100 or less. But for other VIFP discounts, I think shareholders should still get that benefit!

Carnival listens when their loyal customers complain. Remember back in 2019 when they tried to take away free room service? I think if enough cruisers reach out (my advice is to complain to Investor Relations) they might at least clarify their position on OBC for "discounted" fares.

If any Carnival stockholders who've recently received OBC for a discounted cruise care to chime in, we'd love to hear!

Claire gough

Wednesday 1st of June 2022

Hi Please help, I have notified carnival and emailed my share certificate 3 times in the last week but can't get confirmation that my obc has been allocated to my forthcoming cruise. The cruise is over 3 and half week's away so looking for a reply ASAP.

Many thanks

Carrie Ann

Wednesday 1st of June 2022

Hi Claire, if you've just sent it in recently, Carnival's been running behind due to staffing issues, so I wouldn't be surprised if it's not showing up yet. If it gets down to the wire, there are a couple of things I would try. First, reach out to your travel agent and ask if they'll submit the info as well. That way, if you don't have the OBC by the time you board, you can go to Guest Services and explain the situation. They can often work with you and your travel agent to rectify the situation. I'd advise printing out a copy of your shareholder info and all correspondence before your cruise as well.

If it's a week before embarkation and you've still heard nothing, you can always try contacting Investor Relations (follow that link for US and UK phone numbers). Hope this helps!


Saturday 21st of May 2022

How long do people generally find it takes to get confirmation back from the cruise line about their onboard credit?

Pre-covid I got a same day response. I sent my proof of stock ownership to Princess last week and haven’t had a response yet - when should I chase them?

Donna Lynn Ryan

Saturday 16th of July 2022

@Carrie Ann, I sent in my request yesterday July 15th for a B2B in Sept. I received an email this morning July 16th saying my request was granted.

Carrie Ann

Sunday 22nd of May 2022

Hi Adam, thanks for the question! You're right that pre-COVID, the turnaround was pretty quick—usually :). But with Carnival Corporation's current staffing issues, I'd plan for that confirmation to take a bit longer. I'm not sure how far out your cruise is, but I'd really only start to worry if you sent your info in weeks ago, haven't heard anything, and your sailing date is within three weeks.

If you're getting close to sailing and you're nervous, it wouldn't hurt to resubmit via email, letting them know it's a resubmission. Also, if you're working with a travel agent or a PVP, I'd let them know as well. It's a good idea to have another ally on your side!

I was on the first post-shutdown sailing of Carnival Panorama last August when support staffing was terrible. I was chatting with a group of guests including a couple who just hit their 100th Carnival sailing (and were shareholders). Another guest hadn't received his onboard credit as of sailaway, and was understandably upset. They advised him to go to Guest Services and explain the situation.

When I bumped into him the next day, he told me that although Guest Services couldn't immediately help him at the desk, he had a VM on his stateroom phone that night to return to Guest Services. They let him make a free ship-to-shore phone call to his travel agent to let them know about the situation and fix it.

I hope this helps alleviate your worry a bit!

I'd like to also invite recent Carnival Corporation cruisers to reply to this specific thread with how long it took to receive confirmation for your onboard credit!