After the stress of work and home gets to be too much, a cruise sounds like a great option.
Known for being relaxing and carefree, cruises provide vacationers with luxury, entertainment, and stops at places most people only dream about.
Having taken a huge hit during the pandemic, the cruise industry has bounced back with more than 13.9 million passengers around the world in 2021.
Though they haven’t gained back the numbers they had pre-Covid, things are looking up for the industry as they gain back their wanderlust appeal.
Cruises can be quite expensive, and there’s a lot to factor in when determining your total cost.
How Much Does A Cruise Cost?
Depending on the number of days your cruise is and many other factors, you can look to spend between $200 per person to extreme prices of $620,998 per person.
The average cost breaks down to about $215 per person/per night.
Single rooms with no windows and basic amenities start at around $118, but prices for the same cruise will rise based on which room you choose, such as ocean view, balcony, and suite.
However, an around-the-world trip on one of the most luxurious cruise lines can run you up to $3,696 per night/per person for their finest suite and all the amenities.
Also, older ships are usually cheaper than newer ships with more amenities.
Here are some things that must be considered in order to get a more accurate estimate of what your cruise will cost.
1. How Many Days Is The Cruise?
The price of a cruise is based on a lot of things, but the length of the cruise is a major factor in figuring out your overall cost.
When you pay for a cruise, you’re paying the total cost of the whole trip up front.
For example, you can’t just pay for two nights on a five-day cruise.
You must pay for all five days whereas, for land trips, your costs are typically broken down by day.
First, it’s essential to figure out how many days you have to spare and then browse the cruises available in that timeline.
Cruises can be anywhere from two to the upcoming 274-day cruise, set to start sail in 2023.
The cost of a two-day cruise from Miami to the Bahamas starts at $149 per person for two nights for an interior room based on double occupancy.
The brochure cost of a 168-day trip in the Master Suite MS on the Regent’s Seven Seas Mariner reaches $620,998 per person, which breaks down to roughly $3,700 a night.
Most people don’t have 168 days of vacation time or over half a million dollars to spend on a vacation, so many vacationers opt for a five- or seven-day cruise, which costs around $200 to $400.
2. Where Does The Ship Disembark And Where Does It Go?
Cruises disembark from many places around the world.
In the United States, popular cruise ports include Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Tampa, Los Angeles, Boston, and New Orleans.
Typically, where a cruise disembarks will determine where it goes, as cruise ships mostly repeat the same route each time.
For example, a ship leaving Los Angeles will probably not be sailing to the Bahamas, and a ship leaving Boston probably won’t be visiting Latin America.
It’s easy to choose where you want to disembark from and where you want to visit on your cruise when searching on any cruise line’s website.
Cruises that leave from Florida tend to be the cheapest at around $150 to $300, as many cruisegoers want to visit the Caribbean and Bahamas, and the trip is short when leaving from Florida.
Since Florida is so close, they can afford to charge less for their cruises.
More ships leave from these ports as well, making them cheaper as they fill up with eager vacationers.
Cruises leaving from places like Boston, New York, or New Jersey cost around $300 to $500, depending on where they’re going.
For instance, a cruise from New York to Canada averages $400, while New York to Europe starts at around $700.
Again, these costs are also determined by the number of days it takes to sail to the destination.
3. Which Cruise Line Do You Want To Use?
Not all cruise lines are made the same, and each ship within the cruise line offers different amenities as well.
Cruise lines are also known for different things and are catered to different crowds.
Some also offer Kid’s Clubs, where kids can play in designated fun-filled areas.
Disney is another great cruise line for children, but it is much more expensive.
A four-day cruise leaving from Port Canaveral to the Bahamas in August on a Royal Caribbean ship starts at $300–$400 per person, while a four-day Disney cruise leaving from the same port at the same time of year costs roughly $1,200 per person.
Luxury cruise lines like Regent will cost you much more, though more will be included in your overall cost, and your amenities will be much nicer, such as free unlimited drinks, shore excursions, round-trip first-class airline tickets, pre-paid gratuities, and more.
4. Which Type Of Room Do You Want, And How Many Are Traveling With You?
Cruise prices are usually based on double occupancy, letting you save money with more people on your trip.
Staterooms, which include the interior, ocean view, balcony, and suites, usually sleep up to four people, so the more guests you have in your party, the lower the individual price will be.
Therefore, an ocean-view room for one will cost almost double that which you would pay if you had two people in your room.
An example is one guest being charged $483 for an ocean-view stateroom, while that same room is $207 a person if you have two guests.
Four guests will bring it down even further to $195 a person.
Though it might seem like four guests should be cheaper than that, you’re paying for the extra room service and the price of food, activities, etc.
Interior rooms have no windows and will be the cheapest yet smallest and most confining.
Rooms with an ocean view have a window and cost a bit more, while rooms with a balcony cost even more than an ocean view.
On many cruise ships, there are many suites in various sizes and accommodations as well.
For example, Royal Caribbean offers Junior Suites, Grand Suites (one Bedroom), Owner’s Suites (one bedroom, but more square footage), and Grand Suites (two bedrooms).
The prices rise by about $200 per person for each level of Suite.
Suites will also usually get you first boarding privileges and other conveniences.
5. What Time Of Year Are You Going?
For the most part, cruises leaving in the winter months in the United States are much cheaper than cruises departing in the summer months.
According to CruiseFever, the cheapest weeks to take a cruise are the second week of January through early February.
After Christmas and New Year’s, rates drop significantly until spring.
After Labor Day into early Fall, you’ll also likely find affordable cruise options.
However, this is the height of hurricane season, so it’s always risky to book a cruise at this time of year.
Typically, the summer months and other times children are out of school will have the most expensive cruises.
Booking well in advance can help save you money.
You can also find last-minute deals on cruise line websites and other travel websites.
You’ll also find fewer crowds when you cruise in early January, April, early May, late August, or September.
Travel and Leisure recommends booking your cruise in January through March to find the best deals.
They say, “During this period—also known as wave season—industry-wide sales occur and the price of that cruise you’ve been dreaming of may drop significantly. It’s also a good time to find booking promotions, like free upgrades, prepaid gratuities, or onboard spending money.”
6. What Does Your Base Cost Include?
Your base cost will include several things, which is part of what makes cruises so appealing to people, especially families with children.
Some cruises are all-inclusive, meaning your food, lodging, and other accommodations are included in your base price.
When parents have children with big appetites, all-you-can-eat buffets sound mighty enticing.
However, you also may have the choice to purchase dining packages, meaning you pay one price and can choose from specific restaurants aboard the ship for an additional charge.
Most cruises include some type of meal service in their base price.
For example, on all Carnival cruises, your base price includes a three-course meal in the dining room each day, unlimited access to the Lido marketplace, sea day brunch, dining room brunch, and more.
Many of their ships have specialty restaurants as well, such as Guy’s Burger Joint and Cantinas.
Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line and others also include most of their meals in their base cost.
Entertainment is also included in most cruise line base costs, which can include nightly variety, music, or comedy shows, mini golf, rock climbing, water slides, pools, board games, shuffleboard, ping pong, and access to the ship’s dance clubs and kid’s clubs.
The price of suites will include more, such as priority check-in and departure lounge, concierge services, priority tender tickets, complimentary luggage valet service, and luxury spa bathrobes to use onboard.
7. Taxes And Port Fees
The biggest added expenses to a cruise base price are the taxes and port fees.
These are required added expenses that are usually left out of the cruise base fare and can range from 10% to 20% of the base fare.
They can even reach as high as 50%.
When you go to book a cruise online, make sure you’re including these fees in your final price, as some travel sites and cruise line sites tack them on at the end, making them an unwanted surprise.
Taxes, of course, go to the government and are required by the country of disembarking.
Every cruise ship must pay taxes as well as port charges when they dock at the places you’re visiting.
Port fees are charged by the local authorities and range in price depending on where your ship is docking.
If you’re docking at multiple stops, your port fees will be higher, as you’ll be paying port fees for every place your ship docks.
8. Added Expenses
After your taxes and port fees are added to your base prices, you can expect to factor in other added expenses, like gratuities, shore excursions, transportation to and from your place of disembarking, hotels before or after your cruise, and any additional food items, drinks, and entertainment on board not covered in your base fare.
Gratuity and tips should always be factored into your overall cost, as cruise lines do not pay their staff a livable wage and rely on cruise-goers to make up the difference.
Tips are generally divided up between the wait staff, cabin stewards, and other cruise employees at the end of your trip.
A general suggestion for tips is between $10 and $20 per person/per day.
You can ask for a tip envelope at the concierge desk and leave cash in your cabin when you leave or add it to your final bill.
Some cruise lines add gratuity automatically at the end, so be sure to check for this before you leave more.
Shore excursions, like snorkeling trips, ziplining, private island visits, swimming with sting rays, and so many more options, are available to purchase additionally on a cruise.
Each stop your cruise makes will have different shore excursion options.
Typically, a cruise will give you your options in advance, and they can be purchased ahead of time online or added once you’re on your ship.
Prices of shore excursions vary greatly, from $15 to more than $1,000.
Hotels and transportation to your ship should also be factored in if you do not live near your place of disembarking.
If you’re flying to your place of disembarking, you’ll need to factor in your airline tickets and transportation to and from the airport, as well as to and from the ship dock.
Usually, cruises board early in the morning, so you’ll most likely need to stay in a nearby hotel the night before and possibly after you arrive back to shore.
Many cruises also offer additional food and drink packages, including alcohol packages for additional fees.
These can greatly run up your total bill.
For example, a classic alcoholic drink package on Celebrity Cruises is $69 per person/per day.
There are also soda packages for $9 per person/per day, classic non-alcoholic packages starting at $18 per person/per day, and more.
Dining packages offer access to elite on-board restaurants and vary greatly in price, depending on your choices.