Cruise line sales, frankly, are a dime a dozen. While they can always make you feel like you’re getting a great deal on a cruise, these offers run constantly and don’t actually change the final price that much.
So what is an actual good price for a cruise? How do you know when you’re getting a deal versus overpaying?
At Cruzely, we’ve not only taken dozens of cruises but also priced out thousands of more. In fact, we’ve written extensively on how to find cruise deals. That gives us unique insight into what actually qualifies as a good price for your trip versus what’s just average.
Below, we share exactly what price we consider a deal on trips to the Caribbean, Alaska, and Europe. First, there is some background you need to know about what constitutes a good deal on your vacation.
Defining What a Good Deal Means Depends on Several Factors
While we offer up one basic price per night to judge your cruise deal against, the truth is that this is the most basic measure. Truth is that even if you have a good base price, you’re likely to end up paying considerably for your trip. That’s because there’s a lot that goes into selecting your specific cruise that will impact the price.
For simplicity, we’re considering the daily price of the trip for a basic interior cabin for one person, before taxes and fees. The price you pay will vary depending on many factors, including:
Cruise Line: Different cruise lines offer different price points. Some, such as MSC and Carnival, are known for value. Others like Celebrity or NCL are known for charging higher prices. For our purposes, we’ve considered the pricing of major lines, not relatively small luxury lines.
Ship: Even within a cruise line, there can be different pricing for different ships. Newer ships tend to have a pricing premium over older vessels. Thus, you’ll typically find better deals on the older ships.
Time of Year: By far the biggest factor in what you’ll pay for a cruise is when you sail. The same cruise to the Caribbean in the low season (such as February or October) can be hundreds less than the trip in the peak of summer. That means you likely won’t find a good deal on a cruise if sailing at high demand times.
Room Type: As mentioned, the pricing we’ve detailed below is per person for the most basic interior cabin. If you want a balcony, suite, or other type of room, then you’ll definitely pay a higher price. Even so, if the interior cabin meets the mark of a good deal, then you can assume that you’re also getting a good deal on the balcony as well, despite a higher price.
Don’t Forget Other Costs: Unfortunately, what you spend on the cruise will be much more than cruise fare. In addition to the fare, you’ll also have port fees and taxes, gratuities, anything you spend onboard, and transportation costs to and from the port. In other words, you can expect to spend considerably more overall than just the per-night prices mentioned below.
What’s a Good Deal on a Caribbean Cruise: $70 Per Night
When it comes to cruising, the most popular spot on the planet is the Caribbean. In this case, we’re talking about everything from The Bahamas to Mexico and all points in between. Here, you have year-round trips, and while summer is definitely the busy season, there are lots of options any time of year.
As well, you’ll find that all the major cruise lines sail this area, with thousands of departures across ports from Texas to Florida to New York.
With all of those options on lines, ships, and itineraries, it shouldn’t be a surprise that this is where you’ll also find the best deals. In fact, if you sail a short cruise on an older ship in the off-season, you can find fares starting at under $200 in total. However, newer ships and peak season can lead to fares soaring — sometimes into thousands of dollars.
In general, we’d suggest a starting cruise fare at $70 or under per person, per night represents the mark of a good deal. This works out to a starting price of $280 for a four-night cruise or $490 for a seven-night trip. Remember, when you add in fees, taxes, room upgrades and more, the cost of your cruise will be significantly higher. Still, if you want to know you got a deal then $70 a night in cruise fare is a good measuring stick.
The good news is that in many cases you can find rates significantly below this mark. Value lines such as MSC and Carnival regularly offer trips that cost less. If you want to go even further, we’d suggest that a rate under $50 per night constitutes a great deal. This would be $350 for a seven-night cruise, which is rare but does happen.
What’s a Good Deal on Alaskan Cruise: $85 Per Night
If you have yet to sail to Alaska, then you don’t know what you’re missing. This is one of the most awe-inspiring areas of the planet and there is arguably no better way to see it than by cruise ship.
Cruise lines have ramped up their Alaskan offerings in recent years giving you more options than ever. Still, the Alaska cruise season is somewhat restrained due to weather. It runs from April through October, with the peak season (and highest prices) being in June, July, and August.
Given the distance and short season providing fewer options than the Caribbean, it shouldn’t be a surprise that sailing to Alaska is generally more expensive. That said, there is not an outrageous difference.
We find that sailings starting at $85 per person, per night represent a good deal for passengers. That comes out to a price of $595 for a week-long cruise.
If you sail in the “shoulder” months like April, May, September, or October, then these rates can be found rather easily — especially on older ships. As well, certain lines like Princess seem to generally have lower fares across the board, so we suggest being open to multiple lines. We’ve also found that sailing from Vancouver instead of Seattle tends to be less expensive. However, it can cost more to travel to Vancouver for many American passengers.
Want a great deal to Alaska? We suggest anything lower than $500 per person, per week — or around $70 per night.
What’s a Good Deal on a European Cruise: $110 Per Night
For many passengers, a European cruise is a “bucket list” vacation. With these trips you can visit multiple world-famous cities and historical landmarks in a matter of days and with only unpacking your suitcase one time.
If you’ve wanted to sail Europe, then you should know a few things regarding pricing. First, in general you’ll find trips are more expensive than you might be used to if you’ve sailed North America. So be prepared to pay a little more than you have before.
But on the positive side, there is also a wider range of pricing than what you find in other parts of the world. For instance, you can sail some cruises aboard MSC starting at less than $300 for a seven-night cruise. Other lines regularly price cruises for hundreds more, even for the cheapest fares.
We’d suggest that a good price for a European cruise starts at around $110 per night across the industry, or $770 for a week. That does come with the caveat that certain lines offer rates that are drastically lower in price (specifically MSC and Costa Cruises). These cruise lines can see one-week cruise fares in the $300-$500 range, making them ideal if overall cost is the biggest factor in planning your vacation.
As well, you want to keep in mind that European cruises can encompass several different regions from the Mediterranean to Northern Europe to Scandinavia. Different regions will see different pricing.
More on Finding Cruise Deals:
- 10 Rules to Getting the Best Deal on a Cruise
- 12 Cheap Cruises Under $500 Per Person
- 10 Cheap Alaskan Cruises (Starting at Just $249)