All You Need to Know About The Royal Caribbean Seapass Card: Your Onboard Expense Account Manager and Key to a Smooth Cruise Experience

By Alan
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Filed Under: Cruise 101, SeaPass

If you have never cruised with Royal Caribbean before, one of the first questions you’ll probably have is about how you pay for things onboard the ship.  Well, this is where the Royal Caribbean Seapass card comes in.

The Seapass card is basically your onboard debit/credit card, your ID card, and stateroom key all rolled into one.

At its core, the card is linked directly to an onboard expense account, which you set up with a debit or credit card or a cash deposit. This creates a cashless system on board, allowing the card to be used for any payments onboard, without having to worry about carrying cash or other cards around the ship.

As you can see it serves several different functions, so let’s get into detail about exactly what the card does and the reasons why it is used that way.

What Exactly Is the Royal Caribbean SeaPass Card?

Close up of a Royal Caribbean SeaPass card

Your SeaPass card acts as your room key, wallet, and identity card all held conveniently on a credit-card-sized card. 

The card data is a combination of the printed information on the card itself and the data held on either a magnetic stripe on the card or an RFID chip embedded within the card itself.

You will find that on the older ships. the data is held on the magnetic stripe and the staff will often swipe it to read and validate the data. They can also scan a barcode on the back of the card if required as well.

On newer ships, the Royal Caribbean SeaPass card will not have a magnetic strip or barcode. An embedded RFID chip within the card allows staff to simply tap the card on a specific reading device. 

This basically works in the same way contactless credit and debit cards do. If you want to find out a little bit more about RFID cards and their uses I recommend watching this video.

Here’s a quick rundown of everything you need to know about the primary functions of the SeaPass card:

Your SeaPass Card Is Your Room Key

On all Royal Caribbean ships, the SeaPass card acts as your room key. On older ships, you will insert the card into a slot to open the door.

On newer ships like Wonder of the Seas, you simply tap the card against the reader on the door. 

Your SeaPass Card is Your ID Card

Cruise ship passengers after they have go off a cruise ship at port
You Will Need Your SeaPass To Get On and Off The Ship At Ports

Your SeaPass acts as your official ID card on the ship. Whenever it is used, your photo will appear on the computer screen during the transaction. This makes it relatively secure.

They also use the card to log you on and off the ship, which is why you need to carry it with you at all times, even when heading into port. 

When a bartender scans your card, they can instantly confirm whether you are indeed the correct cardholder, that you are of drinking age or not, and also whether you have any of the Royal Caribbean drink packages or not. 

The reason that I say the card is “relatively” secure, is that you are still relying on the staff member processing a transaction to actually pay attention and verify you are the person on the card. The staff can get very busy and I know they don’t always have the time to check.  That’s why it’s important to treat this card with respect and look after it the same way you would a regular credit card.

Your SeaPass Card is Your Onboard Credit Card

A floating bar at Labadee - Royal Caribbean's privatye beach locartion in Haiti
You Can Even Use Your SeaPass Card at Labadee and CocoCay

If you have already booked your Royal Caribbean cruise, you will most likely remember having added a card for your onboard account. This is the card that will have been assigned for any payments using your SeaPass card. 

There are several very important things to be aware of:-

  • You can assign one credit or debit card to more than one SeaPass:  For example, if you are traveling with your family and want to add guests from your stateroom to just one credit card you simply detail who are the authorized purchasers on your account will be. Alternatively, you can of course assign a different credit/debit card to each if you wish. You can even add family in another stateroom as authorized purchasers.
  • Just like hotels, the cruise will “pre-authorize” charges to your Credit / Debit Card:  For this reason we recommend using a credit card only. The pre-authorization charges can be very high depending on the spending trends on board. Those pre-authorization holds aren’t charges but they can take up to 30 days to see these charges removed, which can be quite distressing. So if these charges go to your day-to-day banking debit card, you might find your available funds have been locked out due to the pre-auth charges. Unfortunately Royal cannot control how long the holds remain on your account or when the holds are released. This is down to the individual financial institutions involved.
  • You can change the assigned credit or debit card: If for any reason you decide to change the card that they have on file for you, simply visit guest services to make that change
  • Your account may be set-up with either a credit card / debit card or you can use a “cash” account:  Speak to guest services and explain you would prefer to use cash. They will then remove the card on file and ask you to put down a “cash deposit” against any onboard spending. 
  • Each SeaPass Card is a separate billing account: This makes it great to track the kids or other family members’ spending if you have all the cards linked to one credit card. 

Using the card for purchases made onboard is easy. Leave your cash and other credit/debit cards in your stateroom safe. All you will need onboard is your SeaPass card. In fact, the crew can’t accept any other form of payment – only the SeaPass is accepted for payment authorization onboard.

And for those who dread carrying things around, a lanyard can become your new best friend. It keeps your SeaPass card handy and reduces the “Oh, where did I put it this time?” moments.  We use and recommend the SailPak Lanyard due to its built-in safety features.

How Do You Get Your SeaPass Card?

Sign on door of Royal Caribbean ship showing that rooms will not be ready until 1:30pm
You Will Find Your SeaPass Card At Your Room – But Don’t Be Too Early

Getting your SeaPass is a breeze. In the past, they used to hand you your SeaPass card at the check-in desk on embarkation day, but on all the recent cruises I have taken, the SeaPass card can be found at the little card holder just outside your Stateroom door.

This does cause a little bit of confusion for a lot of guests if you are lucky enough to board the ship before you can get access to your stateroom. Most staterooms are not available until 1-2 pm, so how can you pay for onboard purchases before that? 

It’s actually quite easy. Just open up your Royal Caribbean App and you can show them your “folio” number. Your folio number is your onboard account number. They can then process the transaction using that number. 

If you don’t have access to the app, just make sure you have your cruise documentation with you to show the staff member and they can find your folio number from that.

In my experience, it does cause a little bit of a delay during the initial couple of hours on board at the pool bars, but it’s a minor inconvenience.

What Information is Shown on Royal Caribbean’s SeaPass Card?

Your SeaPass card displays the following information:-

  • Your Name
  • The Ship Name
  • The Sailing Dates
  • Stateroom Number (excluding the deck number) – So if you are in room 7156, only 156 will show on the card. The first one or two digits indicate the deck number
  • Your Account Number (or Folio Number)
  • Your Assigned Dining Time, Main Dining Room deck, and table number, if you are not on My Time Dining
  • Your Assembly / Muster Station
  • Your Crown and Anchor Loyalty Club Status Level
  • Your Beverage Package Type (if Applicable)
  • Your Suite Access Level (If Applicable)

Why Do Some SeaPass Cards Have Different Colours?

The default color is blue. This is the standard color of the card. However, you may also see other colors being used. For example:-

  • Silver – Used for passengers booked into standard Suites
  • Sky Blue – Sky Class Royal Suite passengers
  • Burgundy – Star Class Royal Suite passengers
  • Green – Sea Class Royal Suite passengers
  • Gold – Pinnacle level Crown and Anchor members (Pinnacle if the highest status level)

Managing Your SeaPass Account

Screenshot from Royal Caribbean App showing account transaction
You Can Check Transactions in the Royal Caribbean App

As your cruise ship Seapass card is just like a regular credit card, it is wise to keep an eye on the balance during your cruise.  You can do this in a couple of ways.

  • Check the Account Transactions on the Royal Caribbean App: Within the app, select your “user” icon and you will see an option to show your account transactions and view your balance. You won’t automatically receive a receipt for every transaction, so it can be easy to lose track of your spending.
  • As for a statement printout at Guest Services: At any time you can ask for a printout of your account transaction at Guest services
  • Check Your Account on the Stateroom TV: On newer ships like Oasis-class, you can even view your account transactions on the TV in your stateroom
  • Any On-Board Credit is automatically credited to your account: If your cruise comes with some OBC (on board credit), that credit will have been added to your account. Any spending on your card will then gradually reduce your onboard credit as you spend it 
  • Check Your Balance before you leave the ship: On the final morning of your cruise always check your seapass® onboard account balance to ensure any purchases are correct. Until recent years, a final statement was delivered to your stateroom on the last morning of your cruise vacation for your review. With the availability of Account access with the Royal Caribbean App, this no longer automatically happens. Remember if you have set up a “cash” account you will need to ensure you settle your account before you can leave the ship.

Want a SeaPass Card on Your Wrist? – Get a WOW Band

An Introduction To the Wow Bands

On many of the newer ships, Royal Caribbean offers “WOW Bands” as an alternative to the traditional SeaPass card. These are RFID-enabled wrist bands that operate in exactly the same way as your SeaPass card.

They do cost an additional $9.99 plus tax per person. If you are in a Star Class suite you will be supplied them free of charge.

WOW bands are available on Wonder, Anthem, Harmony, Oasis, Odyssey, Symphony, Quantum, Spectrum, and Ovation of the Seas.

On the last cruise we did on Wonder of the Seas I saw many guests had to remove the Wow bands from their wrists to complete transactions. This did make me doubt the benefit of using them – especially as they are an upcharge! However, I do know that many guests love using them and find them more convenient.

What Happens If You Lose Your SeaPass Card?

Lime and Coconut bar on Wonder of the Seas with cruise guests queuing to be served
If You Lose Your Card You Waiter Might Still Have It

The first thing to do is not to panic! Remember your ID is embedded on the card, so if anyone else tries to use the card, it’s likely they won’t be successful.

You will also notice that your full room number is not shown on the card. The deck number is not shown on the card, so this makes it similarly difficult to try to access your room using a stolen or lost card.

If you realize that your SeaPass card is missing, first check with one of the waiters if you happen to be in one of the bars at the time. The waiters are very busy and can occasionally forget to return your card to you. That has happened to me so many times.

If the waiters don’t have it, head to guest services and report it lost. They will then immediately put a lock on the card and check the latest transactions with you to ensure there are no fraudulent charges on the card. They will then issue you a brand-new card.

One thing to note: The likelihood of me losing my SeaPass card always seems to increase with the number of drinks I’ve had from the drinks package. I can’t understand why LOL

Now You Are Ready To Cruise

Five Royal Caribbean Seapass cards spread out on a table
Just Some of Our Recent Cruise SeaPass Cards

So now you know all about the Royal Caribbean SeaPass card. You are ready for your first Royal Caribbean cruise!

But wait there is still more to learn about Royal Caribbean. What about the Royal Caribbean drink packages? How does My Time dining work? What about specialty dining packages?

At our goal is to make your cruise vacation as smooth as possible by equipping you with all the information you might need before or during your cruise. So please take time to browse through our site, in particular, the Royal Caribbean section and our Cruise Tips and Guides area. I’m sure you will find lots of useful info.

Oh and at the end of your cruise, don’t throw away that card. They make a great little keepsake to collect.  I regret not keeping mine from all those years ago. They would have made quite the collection.

Please do remember to come back to the site after your cruise to let us know how you got on. We’d love to hear from you!

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Alan took his first cruise in 1991 and has been cruising ever since. When he is not writing articles for you'll find him either on a cruise ship (he's the guy in the kilt), or on the golf course!

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