I’ve seen this question come up a few times, so thought I would answer it. First, let’s elaborate on what is actually being asked by using an example: If I buy a shore excursion onboard, does Royal Caribbean place a hold on the funds, then at the end of the cruise bill that shore excursion to me along with anything else I have purchased. Thus meaning I have to not only wait for the hold to be released but also ensure I have double the funds in the account in the first place?
The short answer is no.
Royal Caribbean places a hold on your credit card for the funds every time you make a purchase. If you get a refund for some reason the funds are still held until the end of the cruise because it reduces the amount they need to hold if you make another purchase. So using another example, let’s say you spent $100 on a shore excursion. Think of it like a piggy bank that just stores the money for you until the end of the cruise. So say you decide to cancel it but then book another excursion for $60. There is no new hold placed because you are already $100 in credit. If you then bought a $70 pair of pants from the ships store you would have a new hold placed on your credit card for $30. It’s only $30 because you were still $40 in credit from your $100 refund.
The math here is simple:
- Buy a $100 shore excursion. My held balance now = $100 and my unused credit = $0.
- Cancel $100 shore excursion. My held balance = $100 and my unused credit = $100.
- Book $60 shore excursion. My held balance = $100 and my unused credit = $40.
- Bought $70 pants. My held balance now = $130 and my unused credit = $0.
Now let’s say I cancel that $60 shore excursion and don’t make any more on board purchases. I will get to the end of my cruise and have $130 held from my credit card. However, I only spent $70. So my unused credit is $60. What happens now?
The unused amount will be released from the held amount and will go back to my credit card. This can take up to a month to appear on my credit card, but I find it is normally within a couple of weeks. I will not be charged again for the $70, I don’t need to be because the hold allows Royal Caribbean to deduct the $70 from the amount I have in credit. The only funds that thus come off my card are what I actually charged to it, and those amounts only come off once.
What this means is that the hold simply reserves the funds for Royal Caribbean. They can then deduct up to the amount held and anything they don’t use will appear back in your available funds.
So this will not appear as a charge and a refund, it will only appear as a charge for the final amount you spent. The rest is just released back to your available balance. Technically it never left your account, it was just reserved.
Please note that this is only the case for credit cards. If you use a debit card, they work VERY differently as far as holds are concerned. I highly recommend against using a debit card for credit card purposes.
I hope that helps make sense of it to anyone worried about it. If you have any questions about it I’m happy to help answer them from my own experiences on board Royal Caribbean, or if you have a different experience I’d love to hear it in the comments.