I received both a comment and an email last night regarding the viability of using your Barclaycard Arrival Miles to pay for your cruising expenses. Here’s the email:

“You touch on the EXACT thing I’ve been searching for. The Barclay Arrival Card. Do ALL onboard expenses get coded as “travel”? My goal is to save up the points for a 100% free cruise. To pay for everything with arrival points. The ticket, the item I buy on board, the excursion, etc. I’ve heard a lot of conjecture that cruises may just tab onboard purchases as “travel” and I can wipe it out with arrival miles but do you know this for a fact? If I buy a watch on board or pay carnival for an excursion, does just one large “Carnival: Travel” bill get sent to barclays when I disembark and I could potentially pay for everything with miles?”

The answer is yes, your onboard expenses are charged as travel. In fact, I recently paid the onboard expenses for a short weekend cruise with my Arrival card and then cashed in some points to wipe out the bill. Note the charge as a “steamship and cruise line” and the subsequent “travel credit” I received.

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In another test of whether or not onboard expenses are counted as travel by the card companies, I took a look at my Chase Sapphire Preferred account charges from our recent Disney Cruise.

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Note that I received double points for travel. In case you are wondering, I really did spend more than $198 during the weeklong cruise. This is a screen snip of just one of three separate times I was charged by Disney during the week. Yes, I received double points for all charges.

I think either of the card products mentioned here are great ways to pay for cruises and your onboard expenses. Onboard expenses can include anything from your evening cocktails to jewelry, and even a cash withdrawal at the casino from the cashier. Your onboard expenses will be transferred to the credit card you gave at check in, and are charged as travel expenses in my experience.

-MJ, April 4, 2014