Cruise Cash vs. Sail and Sign – Exploring 5 Differences

Embarking on a cruise vacation is exhilarating, and Carnival makes onboard transactions seamless with its Cruise Cash and Sail & Sign programs. These convenient options let you enjoy your journey without worrying about handling cash onboard.

So, how do you compare – Cruise Cash vs. Sail and Sign?

In cruise cash vs sail and sign,  Cruise Cash is non-refundable credit pre-purchased for onboard expenses, while Sail & Sign is a cashless, refundable system linked to a card received by guests. These two spending options on Carnival cruises. Both are used for various purchases, but only Sail & Sign contributes to the VIFP Club loyalty program points.

Let’s navigate through these systems, exploring their five key differences to optimize your cruising experience. Get ready to sail away informed!

Cruise Cash vs. Sail and Sign-Quick Comparison

FeaturesCruise CashSail and Sign
DefinitionAdvance-purchased Credit Added to the AccountCarnival’s Cashless Program for Onboard Charging
PurchaseAdvance Purchase of Cruise CashLinked Sail & Sign Card Received by Guests
UsageApplies to all Sail & Sign ChargesCan be used for Onboard Purchases and Gratuities
Loyalty ProgramNot a Part of the VIFP Club Loyalty ProgramEarn Points for Each Carnival Cruise Day

Before we dive into the depths, here’s a quick rundown of the two programs. Cruise Cash is an advance-purchased credit added to your onboard account. While Sail & Sign is Carnival’s cashless program for onboard charging. Cruise Cash is non-refundable, whereas Sail & Sign balances are refundable. 

Carnival cruise VIFP club card is shown that is used for adding prepaid cash to sail and sign Card.Cruise Cash vs. Sail and Sign

The purchase method differs too, with Cruise Cash being pre-purchased, while guests receive a linked Sail & Sign card. Both programs can be used for various onboard purchases, but only Sail & Sign allows you to earn points through the VIFP Club loyalty program.

The Sail & Sign card also proves convenient for booking tours and adventures, such as the popular Coco Cay Snorkeling experience, straight from the ship.

Definition-Cruise Cash vs. Sail and Sign

Cruise Cash is a program that allows passengers to pre-purchase credits for their onboard account. These credits can be used for a wide variety of charges that may occur on the ship, from beverages and meals to spa services and excursions.

On the other hand, the Sail & Sign program is a cashless system adopted by Carnival to make onboard transactions seamless. With this program, guests receive a Sail & Sign card that works like a credit card for all onboard purchases. This card is linked to a credit card, cash, or traveler’s checks provided at the time of check-in.

Refundability of Cruise Cash vs. Sail and Sign

When comparing Cruise Cash and Sail & Sign in terms of refundability, there is a distinct difference. The funds added to Cruise Cash are non-refundable and non-transferable, meaning that if you don’t use the full amount during your cruise, the remaining balance is forfeited.

In contrast, the Sail & Sign program offers a more flexible option. If you end up not spending all the money you’ve assigned to your Sail & Sign account, you can have it refunded at the end of your trip. This feature makes Sail & Sign a more risk-free choice for those uncertain about how much they might spend onboard.

Moreover, when considering off-ship excursions, such as evaluating how good the AT&T tour plans are, Sail & Sign provides easy, hassle-free bookings.


Cruise Cash must be purchased in advance of your cruise. This can be done through Carnival’s website up to 11:59 PM ET, the evening before the cruise departure date. Once purchased, it’s automatically applied to your onboard account.

The Sail & Sign card is provided to each guest at check-in without the need for prior purchase. You link this card to your credit card, debit card, or cash, allowing you to make cashless purchases throughout the cruise.


Both Cruise Cash and Sail & Sign can be used for a wide array of onboard charges. Whether you want to indulge in a premium dining experience, book a relaxing spa treatment, or grab some souvenirs from the gift shop, both methods have you covered.

However, Sail & Sign offers an extra perk: gratuities. Unlike Cruise Cash, Sail & Sign allows you to charge gratuities to your account. This feature adds a level of convenience, allowing you to focus on enjoying your cruise rather than worrying about carrying cash for tips.

Similarly, when choosing between different cruise ships, such as Eurodam and Westerdam options, knowing your preferred onboard expense system can influence your decision.

Loyalty Program

If you’re a frequent cruiser with Carnival, you might be interested in their VIFP Club loyalty program. This program rewards guests with points for each day they cruise, leading to various benefits and perks.

The catch here is that only Sail & Sign transactions are eligible to earn points. Cruise Cash, despite being a useful program, does not contribute to your VIFP Club points.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Between Cruise Cash vs. Sail and Sign

When choosing between Cruise Cash and Sail & Sign, consider the following factors:

  • Spending Habits: If you’re a heavy spender, Sail & Sign might be more convenient, especially considering the loyalty points you can earn.
  • Budgeting: If you want to set a strict budget for your cruise spending, Cruise Cash might be a better option, as you decide how much money to add upfront.
  • Refundability: If you’re unsure about how much you’ll spend, Sail & Sign offers the safety of getting unused funds back.

Additionally, when selecting the right cruise line deals, consider the onboard spending options offered. Knowing whether Cruise Cash or Sail & Sign better aligns with your spending habits and financial comfort can help you make the most out of your cruise experience.


Can I use Cruise Cash for gratuities?

No, Cruise Cash cannot be used for gratuities. It is designed for onboard charges like meals, beverages, spa services, and excursions. For gratuities, Carnival’s Sail & Sign program is the appropriate option.

Can I earn VIFP Club points with Cruise Cash?

No, you cannot earn VIFP Club points with Cruise Cash. Only transactions made through Carnival’s Sail & Sign program are eligible for earning points in the VIFP Club loyalty program.

What types of purchases can I make with Sail & Sign?

With the Sail & Sign card, you can make a wide range of purchases onboard, including meals, beverages, spa services, excursions, gift shop items, and even cover your gratuities.


Both Cruise Cash and Sail & Sign offer a convenient way to handle onboard transactions on a Carnival cruise. Your choice between the two depends on your spending habits, budgeting needs, and interest in a loyalty program. Choose wisely to ensure a smooth, worry-free, and enjoyable cruise experience.

Hope you do well with your fun times, it’s time to leave, bye for now!

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