How Much Does the Average Person Spend on a Cruise?

Ever wonder if you got a great deal on a cruise? Of course, you should read our 10 Rules for Getting the Best Deal on a Cruise, but it also doesn’t hurt to compare what you paid to the average price other passengers paid.

That’s easier said than done… until now. No, you don’t have to go from passenger to passenger asking them how much they paid. You aren’t likely to get an accurate answer anyway (and you may get slapped!).

Cruise lines are often public companies. That means they regularly report statistics to their shareholders and the investing public. These reports offer interesting glimpses into the cruise business with everything from stats on how many passengers a cruise line carries to how much money it takes in.

And with a little math, we can use some of these numbers to calculate exactly how much is spent per passenger on tickets and onboard items like alcohol and souvenirs. This gives us the average amount spent per person on a cruise.

Calculating the Average Spent on a Cruise

As mentioned, we have to do a little digging to figure out how much the average person spends on a cruise. Fortunately, each public cruise line features the information we need in their annual report.

The first figure we need is the revenue generated. All three of the major cruise lines — Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian — have this listed in their annual reports. In fact, they break it down into two different areas:

Passenger Ticket Revenue — This is amount passengers spent with the cruise line for tickets to get on the ship. Passenger ticket revenue is the largest portion of the money made by the cruise lines and the largest portion paid by cruise passengers.

Onboard and Other Revenue — While this includes a number of items, it’s primarily the amount spent by passengers once on the ship. So when you spend money at a specialty restaurant, the spa, or buy a drink at the bar, it’s included in onboard revenue.

Once we have the revenue figures, we also need the total number of passengers to see how much money is generated on a per passenger basis. This figure is reported by all the public cruise lines as well.

Here are the totals for the past fiscal year for the three major cruise lines:

Amount spent on a cruise

As you can see, Carnival is far and away the worldwide leader in revenue and passengers carried. But on a per passenger basis, things are a little different.

Below, we’ve calculated the average amount spent per passenger for tickets and once onboard the ship. We simply divided the revenue figures by the total number of passengers. Take a look…

Graph of average amount spent on a cruise

As you can see, based on the latest fiscal year, Norwegian makes the most money on a per passenger basis for both ticket revenue and onboard spending. But don’t automatically think that Norwegian is the most expensive cruise line.

That’s because these figures are on a per passenger basis — not a per-day basis. A cruise with fewer days is usually less expensive than a longer trip. So if a cruise line offers more short trips, then their average spend per passenger will be lower.

As well, the numbers are for the entire parent company. So the figures for Carnival include not only the Carnival brand, but also Princess, Holland America, AIDA, and more. Royal Caribbean also includes Celebrity and Azamara.

Instead, we simply get a decent look at how much passengers spend on the average trip aboard each cruise line. If should give you a better idea of what others on the ship will spend for their cruise.

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  1. The best advice I can give for saving money on a cruise is to sail during Hurricane Season. Watch the weather, and only book 2 or 3 weeks out. The later you book, the safer you are. You may not get the best cabin on the ship, but you will get on that ship. If it’s an active season, wait till it slows down a little. Hurricane season is 6/1 to 12/1. Most occur from late August to mid October. If you run into a surprise storm, Cruise lines are very good about sailing around it. I’ve seen 3 and 4 dayer’s for $99 bucks. We live in Florida, near Port Canaveral and we’re always looking to jump on a last minute get away!


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