Two questions... 1). As for the Sign n Sail accounts, when you go through the embark process for check-in and set up the account can you give them a cash lump sum to be drawn against or does it have to be a credit card? 2). How long after the ship returns are you actually allowed to stay on the ship? I've read where people choose to have a leisurely breakfast and meander around while the crowds dissipate and wondered how long they actually let you linger.
Hi. Personally, I have never seen a cruiser, standing in the embarkation line, pull out a huge wad of cash to be used against purchases made on the ship. I have only seen and heard of people setting up their credit card information.
As for staying on-board to enjoy a leisurely breakfast.. yes, to a point. They are not going to want you hanging out on the ship at noon. Furthermore, the new passengers will be boarding by that time.
For the first time, I noticed on Pride, disembarkation went smooth, without hassle, without lines or without grumpiness. They offered up self-disembarkation first and then allowed the rest of the ship to leave at their leisure. We were there until around 11 a.m. It could be that every ship handles their debarkation process differently.
The dining room is a very civil and dignified way to end the cruise week.
Yes, you can set up your sail and sign account with cash. You will have to keep a mental note of how much you are spending so that you can replenish your account when it runs low or dry. If you go over your reserve, you will get a message from the Purser's office to come down and add to your account. If you ignore the request to replenish your account, then your card is closed to further purchases until you do add money to it.
For the very few who have an unpaid balance on their accounts by debarkation, there is usually a ship-wide announcement with a list of names and cabins advising them to come to the Purser's Desk immediately. Somehow the way these names are announced (without the warm and fuzzy), everyone on board knows that it concerns money. Also, you are not allowed to leave the ship during debarkation if you owe Carnival any money. I have seen the process and it is humiliating for the passenger. They are then truly treated like "dead beat debtor."
It is far easier to just use a credit card but it would be personal choice. This is the cruiselines preferred method for obvious reasons. You can secure with a credit card so you don't have to worry about the balance and then go down to the Purser's Desk on the last day and pay down or pay off your balance. You can always pay down your account throughout the cruise (if you win at bingo or in the casino).
As far as staying on the ship, debarkation is a much smoother process if you are not in a hurry. Last cruise I sat on the Lido Deck until my color was called and then slowly made my way down to the Lobby Deck. There was a little bit of a line but it was all very organized and civilized. The ship tries to have all passengers off by 10:30 and won't press the issue until around 11:00 or so when it time to let the new passengers on. By then, there are very few passengers left on the ship.
On Debarkation morning, your cabin steward will start to knock on your cabin door at around 8 or 9 if he has not seen you.
It is all a very orchestrated process that only takes a bit of cooperation from the passengers and all will be fine.
I B CRUZIN'
(solo cruzin' by design)
We always out up cash for our sign and sail card because we can better monitor our spending on the boat. I put an amount over the tips that I plan to spend and it has always worked for me. At anytime you can go to the pursers desk and get a balance and add to it. AT bedtime the night before we disembark we go and close out our account. They return any unspent money back to you in cash. It works for us.
Beware of giving them your bank card or Credit Card. They do not just take a tab of what you spend and then charge your card at the end of the cruise. They put several "holds" on your card for the purchases that you make and then at the end they charge the whole amount and leave it up to your CC Co. or bank to "release" those holds within 72 hours of the end of your cruise. I can understand why they do this though, they are covering their own @$$ in case your CC is near it's limit or not enough in your Checking. All this is explained in the S&S part of your docs. Just make sure you have plenty on your CC or in the bank for what you want to spend. At the end of our cruise, they gave a debaration talk in the lounge and they explained the whole process and what to do about your S&S account, and how and when to leave the ship. I highly recommend any first time cruiser going to that.