How Much Does a Cruise Cost?

Last Updated on May 19, 2024
Written by CPA Alec Pow | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popinker

You’ve been dreaming about taking a cruise vacation filled with sun, fun, and relaxation. But as you start looking into cruise options, one big question comes up – how much does a cruise cost?

Cruise prices can vary widely depending on factors like destination, length, stateroom type, and more. This guide breaks down the true cost of a cruise to help you budget and plan.

How Much Does a Cruise Cost?

A typical 7-night Caribbean or Mexico cruise for two generally costs $1,400-$3,000+ depending on several important factors like the cruise line, destination, cruise ship features, and more. Per person prices range:

  • Mainstream cruise lines – $200-$350 per person per night
  • Premium cruise lines – $300-$500 per person per night
  • Luxury lines – $500-$1,000+ per person per night

For a family of four, expect to budget $5,600-$12,000+ for a one week cruise, excluding flights and pre/post hotels. Solo cruisers pay slightly more, while kids often sail free or discounted on mainstream lines.

Inside cabins offer the most savings. Balconies, minisuites, and luxury accommodations increase nightly rates noticeably. But you’ll enjoy added amenities and space.

Cruise Line Price Comparison Table

The cruise of your choice will be one of the biggest factors affecting the price as we said above. So let’s see how much would a cruise line affect the final bill.

Below is a table that shows the average prices of a 7-night Caribbean cruise vacation (without the cost of the flight) if you were to book a balcony cabin. The price is per person, on packages of two people sharing, booked at some of the most popular cruise companies.

Cruise line Cruise fare Drinks package Gratuities Total
Costa Cruises $920 $320 $90 $1,320
Carnival Cruise Line $990 $375 $120 $1,460
Celebrity Cruises $1,690 included included $1,690
Disney Cruise Line $2,550 not available $102 $2,652
Marella $1,690 included included $1,690
MSC Cruises $1,000 $440 included $1,440
Norwegian Cruise Line $1,359 $693 $140 $2,192
P&O Cruises $1,300 $375 included $1,680
Princess Cruises $1,175 $425 $120 $1,700
Royal Caribbean $1,150 $483 $112 $1,745

Cruzely.com reports that the average cost of cruise fare runs from about $150-$245 per person, per day (depending on cruise company). However, the cost of a specific cruise will vary depending on factors such as the cruise line, specific ship, date of cruise, cabin type, and trip length. The cost for a 7-day cruise can run around $2,000 per person.

CruiseDirect.com is a website where you can book a cruise with no booking fees and the best price guaranteed. They offer cruises for every type of traveler, from budget to luxury, and every type of ship, from riverboats to mega-ships.

Cruise.com allows you to easily compare cruise rates on your favorite cruises on all destinations and all cruise lines including Carnival Cruises.

Cruisewatch.com helps you find the best cruise deals and cruise price drops. They also offer a price prediction tool to inform you as soon as prices change.

USNews.com reports that the cost of a cruise can vary greatly depending on factors such as the number of nights, cabin type, amenities, and cruise line. For example, a seven-night Caribbean cruise in November costs approximately $424 to $1,158 per person, while a seven-night Alaska cruise in May costs approximately $244 to $1,632 per person.

Factors Affecting the Cost of a Cruise

Several factors affect cruise pricing:

  • Cruise line – Mainstream lines like Royal Caribbean and Carnival are most affordable. Luxury lines like Regent and Crystal cost more.
  • Length – Short cruises of 3-5 nights are more budget-friendly. Expect higher fares for 7-14 night or month-plus cruises.
  • Destination – Exotic routes like Europe and Alaska are pricier than Caribbean and Mexico.
  • Ship features – Newer ships with more amenities and activities come at a premium.
  • Stateroom type – Interior rooms are least expensive. You’ll pay more for oceanviews, verandahs, and suites.
  • Season – Booking during peak periods like summer and holidays increases rates. Shoulder seasons offer savings.

Keep these elements in mind when considering your cruise budget. Cabin type, ship choice, and when you sail make the biggest impact on base fare.

How Cruise Fares Work – What’s Included and Additional Costs

Cruise fares work differently than a typical vacation package. Here’s what’s included and what costs extra:

Included in your cruise:

  • Accommodations
  • Most onboard meals and snacks
  • Access to ship amenities like pools, gyms, shows
  • Basic onboard entertainment
  • Cruise port charges and taxes

Additional costs:

  • Airfare
  • Transfers to/from ship
  • Shore excursions at ports
  • Specialty dining and drinks
  • Spa services, photos, shopping
  • Gratuities
  • Travel protection/insurance

While your cruise fare covers accommodations, food, and standard amenities, you’ll have additional costs for flights, tours, beverages, gratuities, and more. Budget $100/person or more per day.

Breaking Down Other Fees and Upcharges

You might also like our articles about the cost of a Great Loop experience, Bahamas vacation, or Jamaica vacation.

wine on a cruiseBeyond your basic cruise fare, here are estimated costs for common add-ons:

  • Airfare – $200-$600+ per person for roundtrip to embarkation port
  • Transfers – $20-$100 per person each way
  • Shore excursions – $50-$200 per person per tour
  • Beverage packages – $50-$100 per person per day
  • Specialty dining – $15-$50 per person per meal
  • Gratuities – $10-$15 per person per day
  • Photos – $20-$40 for digital photo packages
  • Internet – $10-$40 per device per day
  • Spa treatments – $100-$500+ per treatment

These extras add up quickly, so know what’s most important to your experience. You can save substantially by skipping higher end activities and packages.

Best Ways to Save Money on a Cruise

If you’re looking to lower cruise costs, try these tips:

  • Sail during off-peak “wave” seasons like Fall and early Winter for lower fares
  • Opt for an inside or oceanview stateroom over balcony cabins
  • Book group rates for 10+ travelers
  • Take advantage of military, senior (55+), and resident discounts
  • Pay in full upfront for best rates vs. installments
  • Avoid add-ons like shore tours, drink packages, and specialty dining
  • Skip the cruise line’s airfare and book budget flights yourself

Being flexible on dates and ship allows you to capitalize on periodic sales and deals that lop hundreds off pricing. Avoiding packaged extras keeps your out of pocket costs lower.

How Much Does a 7-Night Royal Caribbean Cruise Cost?

As one of the most popular mainstream cruise lines, Royal Caribbean offers both affordable and upscale options. For a 7-night Caribbean or European cruise, expect to pay:

  • Inside stateroom – $900-$1,200 per person
  • Oceanview stateroom – $1,100-$1,500 per person
  • Balcony stateroom – $1,300-$1,800+ per person

Suite pricing is substantially higher on Royal Caribbean’s newest ships offering experiences like two-story loft suites with huge balconies. But you can find very reasonable fares choosing midsize, modestly appointed staterooms.

Onboard extras like beverage packages, wifi, and specialty restaurants will tack on $100+ per person per day. Keeping your selection of add-ons limited controls overall vacation spending.

How Early Should You Book a Cruise?

There’s no universal “right” time to book a cruise to get the best deal – pricing fluctuates frequently. But here are general guidelines:

  • 18-12 months ahead – Best selection of cabins/dates, but no discounts yet
  • 1 year out – Sales often lower fares 10-30% from initial release
  • 6-8 months ahead – Good availability and chance of deals, especially wave season
  • 90 days out – Last minute deals appear but cabins limited

Booking very early ensures you can pick your preferred room. But sales usually drop pricing along the way if you book 6-12 months out. Don’t wait until the final 90 days or availability disappears quickly.

Should You Use a Travel Agent to Book Your Cruise?

Booking through a travel agent has several advantages:

  • Agents access exclusive rates and group pricing unavailable directly
  • Their expertise helps match the right ship/cabin at the best value
  • They handle all documentation and pre-planning details
  • Most specialize in cruises, providing personalized service
  • There’s no added cost to use a travel agent – cruise lines pay their commission

Experienced agents have extensive knowledge of ships and cities. They can simplify booking while finding you hidden perks, upgrades, and savings you may miss booking alone.

Highlights – How Much to Budget for Your Cruise

Planning a cruise requires understanding what’s included in your fare versus additional costs. Here are quick tips:

  • Base fare covers your accommodations, standard dining, and shipboard entertainment
  • You’ll pay extra for flights, transfers, tours, beverages, gratuities, and onboard purchases
  • 7-night mainstream cruise fares start around $200 per person per night for basic cabin
  • Lavish suites on luxury lines run $500+ per person per night
  • Tack on $100+ per person in port fees, insurance, transfers, and daily incidentals
  • Book 6-12 months ahead to balance price, availability, and deals
  • Avoiding packaged extras like drink plans saves substantially
  • Travel agents access special rates and handle planning details

Cruising offers immense value once you learn how to pick the right ship and cabin to match your style and budget. With a little planning, you can enjoy an incredible ocean getaway without breaking the bank.

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