With all of the new cruise ships (and even some cruise lines!) over the past two years, you may be considering a cruise. Taking a cruise can be an effective and affordable way to see multiple destinations – you will travel to different ports of call as you stay in one room with no need to unpack.
However, many travelers are worried about the costs of a cruise ship ticket. They may seem to be expensive. Luckily, many cruise lines and sailings are very affordable. Because most (but definitely not all) of the costs are included, they can be an easy thing to budget for as well.
So, how much does a cruise ship ticket cost? This post will help you understand cruise prices on some of the most popular, mainstream cruise lines, as well as what affects the price of a cruise. There are also some optional add-ons that can add to the expense (as well as the fun!). For instance, a Virgin Voyages cruise fare includes WiFi, gratuities, and dining at any of the specialty restaurants at no additional cost.
Typically, the base cruise fare includes things like your stateroom, meals (in the buffet, main dining room, and other included venues), government taxes, port fees, and most activities on board the ship.
Note that we are only looking at mainstream lines, not luxury cruise lines. Prices and inclusions are always subject to change.
How Much Does a Cruise Ship Ticket Cost?
What affects the price of a cruise?
There are so many factors that go into the price of a cruise. First, you’ll want to decide which cruise line you want to sail on. There are many benefits to each line If you don’t have one in mind, you should do some research in advance to find out what activities, amenities, itineraries, and general atmosphere are on the cruise lines you are considering.
The cruise line that you sail on is probably the biggest driver of cost. Some are most expensive than others. However, the inclusions may be different, so look at the add-ons in addition to the base cost to really get a good idea of what you’ll be spending.
The itinerary that you are sailing on is another major price driver. This includes the ports of call that you’ll be visiting and the number of days of your sailing. In general, if you want to save some money on your cruise vacation, one easy option is to decrease the length of the cruise.
The type of stateroom that you choose will also affect the price. Expect to pay more for suites and balcony staterooms. The most cost-effective option of the cabin types is typically an interior stateroom.
Some cruise lines may offer you the opportunity to bid on a higher-level stateroom. It can be a great way to try for a suite or other concierge room that may have otherwise been out of your price range. To maximize your chances of getting the bid accepted, however, you’ll want to follow the cruise line’s recommendations. That won’t necessarily give you the best deal though.
Another option to save money on your stateroom is to book a GTY stateroom (guaranteed). In this case, you’ll book your room without knowing the exact category or location. You are guaranteed a minimum category and can save money with this option.
Add-ons To Your Cruise Price
It’s also important to understand what things can add to the cost of your sailing. Some of these are entirely optional, while others really aren’t. Be sure to have an idea of these costs so you can budget for them accurately.
Travel insurance is optional, but it is a good idea, especially for an expensive trip. This is an extra charge, and you can usually either purchase it on your own or through your cruise line. Check around for coverages and don’t just automatically go for the lowest price. Often, the cruise insurance won’t include coverage for flights purchased on your own.
Whether you are driving or flying, you’ll either need to park at the port or get there somehow. Some cruise lines will offer an option airport shuttle to the cruise port, but you’ll typically have to pay extra. In some cases, this will be the cheapest option, but that’s not always the case. Regardless of what you choose, you’ll need to include this cost in your vacation budget
Drinks packages or individual alcoholic drinks
Alcoholic beverages are not included with the cost of your cruise unless you’ve purchased an unlimited beverage package. Some cruise lines, like Disney Cruise Line, include soda, but others charge extra for some non-alcoholic drinks. It’s up to you to decide whether a package is worth it but plan on spending some money for drinks if you plan to have any soft drinks, specialty coffees, or alcohol during your cruise.
Not all cruise lines offer unlimited beverage packages. Disney offers a beer or wine package, and Virgin Voyages offers a “bar tab”. Regardless, these can be the best deal if you will take advantage of them.
Every port of call will have some fun shore excursions that you can consider booking. Cruise lines offer these, or some guests choose to book them independently. Just remember that if you book on your own, it’s entirely your responsibility to make sure you get back to the ship on time.
Shore excursions vary in price, depending on the activity. Some, like a helicopter ride, can be quite expensive, while others, like sightseeing tours, are more affordable. European and Alaskan excursions can be costly, so you’ll want to research before booking so you aren’t surprised.
Spa services on a cruise ship can be a wonderful splurge and luxury. These are not included in the cost of your cruise ship ticket, so if you do plan to visit the onboard spa or salon, be sure to understand the costs before committing.
While most of the main dining rooms on cruise ships offer excellent food and service, sometimes it’s nice to visit some of the specialty restaurants on board. These often come with an upcharge, although they are complimentary on Virgin Voyages where there is no main dining room. Some cruise lines may have a package where you can prepurchase from one to unlimited signature dining.
Gratuities are typically an additional charge on top of your cruise fare. Usually, you’ll tip individually when purchasing beverages or for room service. Then, you can leave a bigger tip for your server team and stateroom host.
Some cruise lines allow you to prepay your gratuities, which can definitely make things easier to budget. You can always add on at the end for excellent service. Virgin Voyages includes gratuities in the total price, so you don’t have to worry about them unless you’d like to add on.
Cruising can be a great way to unplug and relax. However, sometimes you do need internet access to stay in touch with the real world. While WiFi at sea isn’t always great, it definitely has improved over the years. You can sometimes purchase a full cruise package and a daily package, which is a great option if you don’t need it for the entire sailing.
Wondering about sample prices? These are just some examples of current prices of sailings on some popular newer ships and established cruise ships. Keep in mind that these prices are always subject to change, so this information is just informational. We looked at May 2023 dates for this analysis, for one balcony room with two guests:
Carnival Cruise Line:
- 4 Days Bahamas from Miami, FL on the Carnival Sunrise – $1,527
- 6 Days Western Caribbean from Miami, FL on the Carnival Celebration – $1,995
- 5 Day Mayan Sol from Miami, FL on the Scarlet Lady – $2,216 (inclusive of tips)
Disney Cruise Line:
- 4-Night Bahamian Cruise from Port Canaveral, FL on the Disney Wish (Silver Anniversary at Sea) – $3,251
- 5-Night Western Caribbean Cruise from Miami, FL on the Disney Magic (Silver Anniversary at Sea) – $3,907
Royal Caribbean International
- 4 Night Bahamas & Perfect Day Cruise from Miami, FL on the Freedom of the Seas $1,504
- 7 Night Eastern Caribbean & Perfect Day from Port Canaveral on the Wonder of the Seas – $2,786
- 6 Night Bimini, Grand Cayman & Mexico from Fort Lauderdale, FL on the Celebrity Equinox – $1,810