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This is a very good question. I don't know the answer but I have a card that I use when travelling which has a low ($1,000) credit limit. I carry this around which limits my exposure should it be lost/stolen.
On a 7 night cruise last year I presented it when boarding. This was accepted so presumably it is less than $1,000.
After leaving the ship, which had a tab of around $400 to settle, the card was declined at a gas station. No big problem because we had other cards but when I enquired with the CC company I was told the RCCL (Celebrity) still had a hold for possible charges.
Problem with debit is that you might have a health problem, use the doctor, be taken off the ship without having a chance to switch to a credit card. All those charges go against the card on file, and unless you have a large checking account balance, you might be looking at a negative balance. And if you are hit by a double charge that you miss until you get home and study bills at your leisure, more aggravation. You get the money back but might be overdrawn for awhile. Use a credit card.
We simply don;t have any credit cards, so we'll either use cash or debit - what's the debit hold? How much cash do they require you to deposit?
I've always used my debit card for the shipboard account and never had a problem. On my last cruise I didn't notice a hold placed against the balance at all. YMMV -- but it's how I've done it and will continue to do it.
I have not done cash / travelers' cheques for the shipboard account since 1993, so I can't speak to that.
When we cruised in May, at check in, I asked the agent checking us in just how much of a hold they would put on my card. I was told they do not put any hold on the card, authorized hold, whichever you would like to call it. There was additional explanation, but I don't really recall the details and I don't want to give out incorrect information. But bottom line, there was no dollar amount "held". I checked that particular account a few days in and there was no temporary hold of funds. Actual charges hit the card either the day we disembarked or maybe the following day.
Many years ago, I worked for Marriott and I recall when we swiped credit cards at check in, we were told to authorize for the amount of room and tax for each night a guest was at the hotel for AND to tack on an additional $100.00 a night to cover for any incidentals. I always hated doing that, I guess that's why I am always curious to see what other operations do.
Celebrity Reflection ~ Nov/Dec 2013
Celebrity Solstice ~ Feb/Mar 2011 Celebrity Solstice ~ May 2010 RCCL Mariner of the Seas ~ September 2008 RCCL Liberty of the Seas ~ September 2007 RCCL Adventure of the Seas ~ October 2002