Cruises are a fantastic way to vacation. They’re exciting, luxurious, and allow you to visit numerous places and experience new things every day.
But before you book your trip, it’s essential to know how much cruises cost. Luckily for us, cruise vacations are very affordable, and there is a range of choices for travelers of every budget size.
In general, you can expect to pay $212 per day on a cruise, not including airfare. On a per-person basis, the approximate cost for a 7-day cruise is $1750.
To make sure you budget the right amount for your vacation and aren’t surprised when you get the final bill, check out our tips to estimate the total cost of your cruise before you book:
Base Cruise Fare
The base cruise fare is the main cost of a cruise vacation. It’s the price you’ll see cruise lines advertise, and the ones you’ll find on travel sites. The base fare includes your accommodations, basic dining, entertainment, and the majority of onboard activities.
Some cruise lines have begun including gratuities with the cruise fare. When not included, they’ll be added to your onboard account after the cruise.
Beyond the cruise fare, there are many extras that can be purchased on board. Some extras and upgrades include specialty dining, shore excursions, alcohol, and the casino.
There are many factors that affect the price of the base fare including when you book, the length of the cruise, the ship, cabin category, and destination. Further, the price of the cruise fare fluctuates throughout the year.
Typically if you are staying on a mainstream cruise line such as Carnival, Royal Caribbean, MSC Cruises, Norwegian, Celebrity Cruises, or Princess, you can expect to pay around $50/person per night for an inside cabin and $200/person per night for a balcony stateroom.
Keep in mind, these are approximate costs, and there is a wide range of prices.
Getting to the Ship (Flights, Hotel, and Transportation)
Not everyone lives within driving distance of a cruise port. Regardless of whether you drive or fly to the port city, there are transportation costs that need to be considered.
Airfare is a major consideration for travelers. If you’re flying in from another country, the flight could cost more than the cruise fare.
If you’re flying to the port city, we always recommend arriving the day before you sail.
The added cost of the hotel when you arrive early is well worth the stress of potentially missing your ship.
Don’t forget to factor in the transfer costs of the bus, taxi, or shuttle to get you from the airport or hotel and the ship for embarkation and disembarkation. Your cruise line may offer a shuttle service to the airport, which is usually cost-effective if you are traveling solo, or as a couple. If you have a large group, an uber or taxi will usually be cheaper. And if you stay at a hotel the night before sailing, as we recommend, they may include a shuttle service free of charge.
Are you driving to the port? Check the parking prices in advance.
If you can drive to the port, you will need to consider parking. Most ports charge $20-$30 per day to park. At these prices, it might be cheaper to taxi to and from the port.
Tip: If you arrive the day before, you may be able to find a hotel that offers free or discounted parking during your cruise.
To sum it all up, make sure you should check airfare, car rentals, parking, taxis, and hotels before booking a cruise to get an accurate assessment of the total cost of your trip. And arrive a day in advance if you are flying to the port city.
Unless you are cruising on a luxury cruise line, the base fare usually does not include gratuities. It is crucial to account for tipping while onboard because it recognizes the hard work of the crew members who make your vacation memorable.
On many cruise lines, the service charge is required rather than optional, so read the fine print.
Gratuities are typically around $15 to $20 per person per day but vary between cruise lines.
Most cruise lines offer two tipping choices: pre-paying before your cruise vacation or an automatic gratuity added to your bill at the end of each day. In our experience, either option results in the same cost; it is more a matter of personal preference.
It’s important to note that the daily gratuities don’t include tips on drinks, spa treatments, or other paid extras. Bar bills and spa treatments will have a 10-20% gratuity added.
Just like with any vacation, there will be additional costs associated with your vacation.
The costs should not be something that will be mandatory to spend money on, but when you are on vacation, you should make the most of your trip. The total spending you do while on the ship is entirely up to you, but according to cruise line reporting, you can expect to spend between $65-$95 per day for onboard spending and expenses.
Of course, this is an average of millions of yearly passengers. You may spend more or less depending on your shopping habits. Whether you choose to forgo the shopping or “shop till you drop” make sure you factor shopping into your budget.
Typical extra costs onboard include:
- Fitness Classes
- Specialty Dining
Shopping in Port
Just like onboard shopping, the amount you spend in port will vary among passengers. Some people visit ports without spending a dollar, while others spend thousands on everything from souvenirs to fine jewelry.
If you plan to explore the city by taxi, make sure you add that to your budget.
Remember, your cruise fare won’t include anything you eat or drink at the port, which you will have to pay out of pocket.
Booking excursions through the ship allow passengers to explore ports of call and experience once-in-a-lifetime activities. Signing up for one of the ship’s tours can range anywhere from $30-$500 per person.
Why the large price range?
The cheapest options generally consist of a walking tour or bus tour, while the most expensive excursions consist of helicopter rides, private tours, wine tastings, and adventures like hot air ballooning and scuba diving.
Some of these excursions are once and a lifetime tours and activities that we don’t recommend missing. Just make sure you do your research before your cruise, so you’re not surprised by the final bill.
If you want to explore on a budget, you can skip booking an excursion altogether and walk off the ship and start exploring the port. Taking a taxi into town, walking the streets, relaxing on the beach, and discovering unique destinations around the world around you are at the core of what makes port days so much fun.
Drinking and cruising go hand in hand. But all those morning mimosas and midnight cocktails can add up fast and quickly increase the cost of your cruise. Your base fare will typically cover basic beverages like water and juice. But you can expect to spend extra on alcoholic drinks, specialty coffees, soft drinks, and more.
While onboard, you can expect to pay from $4 to $15 per drink, depending on your beverage of choice.
If you plan to do a lot of drinking and want to get the best value, most cruise lines offer a drinks package that includes alcohol, fountain sodas, or packages of bottled water. The cost of the package isn’t worth the price for most people, but if you drink a lot throughout the day, it may save you a lot of money by the end of the cruise. The decision to purchase the beverage package depends on your drinking habits.
It is generally cheaper to buy a drink package before the start of your cruise rather than waiting until you are on the ship. Keep in mind; most cruise lines have a rule that if one person purchases the drink package, everyone sharing their cabin, above the age of 21, must also buy the package. The rule is intended to eliminate sharing beverage packages with friends and family members.
TIP: Before deciding whether or not the drink package is worth the price, remember that you won’t be using it while you are in port.
The last thing most of us want to think about when we plan a cruise is the list of things that can go wrong before and during our vacation. But there are many reasons why it’s a good idea to consider travel insurance for your cruise. Flight delays caused by bad weather can result in us missing our embarkation time, we can get sick before or during the voyage, the airline can lose our luggage, and the list goes on.
There are many reasons to purchase travel insurance for your cruise. Most importantly, it is a layer of security in case something goes wrong during your vacation. We recommend you have travel insurance on your vacation and hope you never need to use it.
Specialty Dining & Activities
Yes, there is plenty of food for every meal and snack included with your cruise fare. And trust us, you won’t go hungry. But if you are interested in a dining upgrade, many ships offer specialty restaurants.
Specialty restaurants offer cuisines and cooking styles not otherwise available onboard. Steakhouses, Italian, Hibachi, sushi, and more are available on many cruise ships for an added cost.
In addition, spa treatments, fitness classes, and exclusive activities on a cruise ship will cost you. On some lines, aerobics classes and other onboard activities come with an additional fee.
If staying connected to emails, family, or work is essential to you, an internet package is a must. Once a ship is sailing, the only internet connection is through satellite.
Internet prices vary between cruise lines, and many offer discounted packages for the duration of your cruise. If staying connected is essential for you, make sure you check with your cruise line to see if they offer any WiFi packages. Like with the drinks package, you will usually get the best deal by purchasing the WiFi package before going on the cruise.
How Much Does a Cruise Cost?
The average cost of a 7-day cruise is $750.
But, the cost of a cruise is anywhere from $300 for a two-night sailing to hundreds of thousands of dollars for a luxury world cruise.
Keep in mind that the numbers listed above are estimates based on average passenger spending on the mainstream cruise lines. If you are traveling as a couple, be sure to double the prices.
There are cruise lines for passengers and budgets of all kinds. Before you book, take a look at the items above and create a budget that you are comfortable with. And most of all, have fun!