Posted March 20th, 2017, 12:58 PM
As others have posted, you use it as a charge card for all your purchases on-board, including ship's shore excursions, drinks, speciality dining, ship's shop purchases. You show your card & sign a receipt for everything, the server gives you a copy.
You get a statement at the end of the cruise (plus intermediate statements on a long cruise, and you can ask for a current printout at any time). Check the statement against your receipts to make sure there's been no mistakes - rare, but it happens. The statement will also credit any on-board credit you've received and debit the daily tips/service charge.
Each person gets their own sail-and-sign card, each person gets their own statement of their spend.
You will have registered a card when you board (there's a cash alternative, more detail if you ask), and that card will be charged with all of your party's purchases at the end of the cruise ....................
except..................... if you prefer, when on-board you can register another card or cards, and ask for the cards to be charged pretty-well any way you like. Your purchases on your card & your partner's on theirs, or the total spend split equally between the cards, or pay in some cash to reduce the total due, etc.
Do bear in mind that the ship will place a daily "hold" on funds in your debit/credit card, to protect them against unpaid charges if the card reaches its credit limit before cruise-end. It takes anything up to a couple of weeks after the cruise & after your card has been charged before those holds are released. This is important with a debit card if you run a low bank balance or with a credit card if it's fairly close to maxing-out.
Same applies with car rentals, many hotels & other outlets, in case of add-on charges that come to light after you've returned the car / checked-out of the hotel. The funds are only "held" (reserved), not withdrawn, so these holds don't appear on your card statements.
Your sign-and-sail card is also your boarding card, you need it with you when you go ashore. It's scanned when you leave the ship & again when you return, so they know whether you're on the ship or not.
It also doubles as your cabin key (other than on particularly old ships).
It has magnetic strip like other charge cards. Don't keep it close to your camera, phone etc.
But if it does fail, you can get a replacement from guest services.
Anyone who looks like their passport photo is too ill to travel (Will Kommen)