Can someone please explain to me in detail what exactly the sign and sail account is. Do we put money onto it or does it add up and then we pay? How much money do you recommend putting on it? Can we use cash on the ship, or do we have to have a sail and sign account? Also it says that gratuities are included...does that mean each time we use the card it takes out gratuities or does it take out an exact amount each day? Can we change the amount of gratuities it takes out? I'm really confused as to how exactly this card works. Any clarification would be greatly appreciated.
The Sign and Sail card is basically a charge card: The ship is a cashless environment, except the casino.
All purchases are charged to your Sign and Sail card. You present the card like a credit card and it is swiped like a credit card. You sign for each purchase and receive a receipt.
The vast majority of people set up their ship board account with a regular credit card, such as a Visa or MasterCard. The charges are actually charged to that card. You can set up a cash account on board. You will have to put up a deposit of a few hundred dollars to start your account and add to it during the cruise, if you use it up and the balance must be paid before you depart the ship.
On most ships your gratuities are now charged to your ship board account. (Sign and Sail card)
You will receive a itemized listing of your total purchases for the cruise on the last night of the cruise. You can look at it and if your account is set up to go to your credit card and the charges look right, you just go on your merry way. If you go over the bill and see something out of the ordinary and want to dispute a charge you can go to pursers desk and dispute it. Or if you have set up a cash account you will need to go and pay it off before you leave the ship. If you don't go and pay it you will hear your name over the loudspeaker many times the next morning.
One last thing: Your Sign ans Sail card is your room key: So you must have one.
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Plus on some ships you can keep tabs on your tab all during the cruise via your cabin's TV set, where you can punch up your folio at any time. This way, if something goes wrong you can resolve it with the purser before the mad rush on the last night. It's also a good way to keep track of your spending, and avoid a "Holy &#^&" on the last night when the statement shows up.
One other note: When establishing your account you should use a credit card on which you have a substantial credit line, so there will be no danger of overlimit issues arising.
One thing Mike forgot to mention is your Sail & Sign account is automatically debited the amount of the suggested tips on the first day. If you put down a cash deposit for your S&S account the tip amount for the whole cruise will already be deducted.
In other words, if you put down $250 (the minimum, I think) cash for your S&S account and the suggested tips are $70 per person for the week then for two of you in the same cabin, you'll only have $110 left in your account before you buy that first drink.
Actually, Thomas, on Princess the other week I noticed that the tips were debited day by day. No matter to us because we use a credit card, but I imagine they do it that way precisely to avoid the problem you mentioned. Other lines may well front load the whole amount as you say.
If you're doing it with cash, it would be best to ask about the specific line's policy when you board.
I've heard this before, too, Thomas. I know on Carnival, the whole amount is deducted the first day.
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