What Is the Average Cost of a Cruise?

What prevents you from going on vacation? Time off from work? Scheduling with family or friends? Or is it the cost of the vacation? If the answer is the cost of the vacation, do you feel cruising is too expensive as a vacation choice? How much does it cost to cruise? And what do you get for that price? 

The answer will surprise you?

What Do You Get For the Price of a Cruise?

Before we get into the actual numbers, we should discuss what you’re actually getting. I had a teacher who used an illustration about the value that I’ll use here with modifications. It goes like this:

Is $100 too much to pay? That all depends on what you’re paying for. If the $100 price tag is for a chicken sandwich, then yeah, that’s one expensive burger. If that $100 gets you a brand new Bently, the price is an absolute steal.

The point is when determining if cruising is expensive or not depends heavily on what you deem is valuable. The only way to determine that is to understand what you get for a cruise. Is it an overpriced chicken sandwich or a Bently-packed bargain?

Food

To get us started, one thing to keep in mind is that once you’ve paid for your cruise, it is completely unnecessary to pay for any food on a cruise ship. There will be options for you to dine at specialty restaurants that charge a fee. But it is not required. And even with the included options, you still have a wide variety of dining choices.

Most people think of the buffet when they think of cruise food. And you do get a good variety of good-tasting food on the buffet. The main dining room is the next most popular place to eat on a ship. But there are many others that don’t cost extra.

Just to give you an example, here are some of the dining options on the NCL Breakaway from Norwegian Cruise Lines that cost nothing extra along with items that appear on the menu:

  • O’Sheehan’s – Open 24 hours a day. Food: Fish & chips, wings, fries, burgers, bacon & eggs, etc.
  • Savor – Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Food: Shrimp and arugula salad, Indian curry, salmon burgers, meatball sandwiches, pancakes, French toast, waffles, made to order eggs, pecan pie, warm chocolate volcano cake, etc.
  • Shanghai Noodle Bar – Open for lunch and dinner. Food: Peking shrimp and chicken, Singapore noodles, shrimp dumplings, potstickers, etc.
  • Uptown Grill – Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Food: Buffet style. Grilled burgers, sausages, sweet and savory pies, and other comfort food.
  • Manhattan Room & Taste – Both restaurants offer the same menu as Savor but with a different atmosphere.

As you can see, just on this one ship alone, there are plenty of dining options that come included for the price of your cruise. And remember, there’s always the buffet and main dining room. The main dining room menu changes regularly to keep things interesting. Popular items will show up every day.

Activities

Some want to go on a vacation to rest and relax. And there are plenty of spaces to do that on a cruise ship. But if activities are what you want to do, cruise ships are the way to go.

Here are some of the things you can do on a cruise ship. And it’s not exhaustive:

  • Rock climbing
  • Go-kart racing
  • Water slides
  • Surf machine
  • SkyRide
  • Laser tag

Plus the usual favorites like miniature golf, shuffleboard, basketball and the like.

Entertainment

Scene in After Midnight

Think of some of the best Broadway and Las Vegas shows. Depending on the size of the ship, you can see shows that have been or are currently running in Vegas and New York. Jersey Boys, Cirque du Soleil, Cats the Musical – all these are shows you can see on the cruise ship.

The best part? Besides not having to deal with the lines, these shows are included in the price of your cruise.

You might be thinking: Who would want to be at a show on a ship bobbing up and down? If you’re new or unfamiliar to cruising, you might be surprised to learn that larger cruise ships are equipped with stabilizers. These stabilizers are so effective, you almost never feel the ship moving. It’s like being on dry land. 

So when you see a show in one of these impressive theaters, you’ll have the experience of being at a Vegas show without getting motion sickness.

Destinations

I want you to do an experiment. Find out how much it would cost for you to travel from your location to San Juan (Puerto Rico); Basseterre (St. Kitts); Castries (St. Lucia); St. John’s (Antigua); St. Thomas (US Virgin Islands). Then price getting home from any of those islands.

I’ll tell you what you’ll find. Depending on where you live, the airfare will cost anywhere from $300 and up. And that is just to get off the plane. You still don’t have rooming. That doesn’t include food. There’s no entertainment. The price you find is just to get from one airport to another.

The reason I asked you to price the airfare to those destinations is that those stops are where an NCL cruise to the Western Caribbean will take you. And you’ll have your food, entertainment, rooming and activities covered. 

And that brings us to the reason you clicked this article.

How Much Will You Spend To Cruise?

To determine how much you’ll spend to cruise first depends on what type of cabin you want. We’ll look at cabin types first. Because that plays a big role in how much money you’ll need to cruise.

Cabin Types

When you wake up in the morning, do you like seeing the sun streaming through the window? Or does it not matter? When you stay at a hotel, do you require a suite? Or do you only need a place to rest your head?

Answering honestly will help you calculate how much you’ll pay to go on a cruise.

Suite

MSC Meraviglia, MSC Yacht Club Deluxe Suite

These are the largest cabins available on typical cruise ships. Depending on the cruise ship, there might be two floors. The bathrooms are luxurious and spacious. Step out on the balcony and take in the ocean breeze. If you spend enough, you might even get a jacuzzi in the package. One advantage of booking a suite is that there are restaurants dedicated to the exclusive use of suite passengers. Additionally, passengers in this category of cabin also get exclusive access to pool areas unavailable to the other passengers. Butler service is also a common feature of suites. 

Expect to pay north of $1,000 per person for a 7-day cruise to the Western Caribbean if you book a suite. Don’t forget, this includes your rooming, entertainment, food and transportation to each island.

Balcony

MSC Meraviglia, Balcony

If you want to enjoy the ocean and maybe enjoy a meal among the waves, a balcony might be for you. Balcony cabins tend to have spacious rooms with the option to step outside. Balconies are good choices if you like the feeling of a suite but don’t need all the space but still want to open the window.

Balcony rooms tend to start around $800 per person. There are no special pools or restaurants for passengers booking balcony rooms. But everything else discussed earlier is available to you.

Oceanview

MSC Meraviglia, Ocean View

There’s a little terminology you need to learn when booking an oceanview cabin. You will likely have the option of an obstructed oceanview and an unobstructed oceanview.  An obstructed oceanview means just that – the view is obstructed. In most instances, the tenders/lifeboats will be what gets in the way of your view out the porthole (the window). 

Who is the ideal person that should book an oceanview cabin? If you don’t need to go outside when you are in your room but need to know what time of day it is, then an oceanview is a good choice for you. 

Expect to pay a hundred dollars or so less for an unobstructed oceanview than for a balcony. Prices will be in the range of $600 – $700+ for these cabins. You will pay perhaps $50 less to get an obstructed oceanview. As with the balcony, all the amenities of the ship are available to you.

Inside 

MSC Meraviglia, Interior

An inside cabin is about the same size as an oceanview. The main difference is that there is no access to the outside. If you like the room pitch black when you sleep, an inside stateroom is what you want. If you’re comfortable not letting the sun tell you what time of day it is, you can save money and book an inside cabin.

Some newer ships pull a trick to compensate for not having a window. They put a giant display on the wall. It will show a video of what is outside the ship including sunrises and sunsets. This gives the illusion of having a sliding glass door on a balcony where one doesn’t exist. And since your window is virtual, you get the benefits of having a window without paying for an upgrade.

Expect this category of cabin to begin around $400. As with the other staterooms with the except a suite, all the entertainment, dining and activities are yours for the price of your cruise.

Factors That Affect Price

The prices I listed for the different stateroom categories are ranges. One factor that affects the prices of cabins is the size of the ship. One good rule of thumb is, the bigger and newer the ship, the more the cabin will cost.

Where the ship is sailing will play a big part in how much your vacation will cost as well. A cruise to Alaska will cost considerably more than a cruise to Bermuda. And your cabin price will reflect that.

Another factor that will affect how much your cabin will cost is where it is on the ship. This is true regardless of whether you sail on a big cruise ship or a small cruise ship. Cabins on lower decks (read: closer to the waterline) will cost less than that same cabin on an upper deck.

The cruise line you choose will have an impact on the cost of your vacation. For example, cruising on Carnival Cruise Lines is going to cost you a lot less than cruising on Cunard Cruise Lines, home of the QE2.

Yet another thing that will change the price of your cabin is when you book it. Cruise lines are like airlines. They want to fill every spot. The closer you get to the date of the sailing, the availability of cabins gets limited. This “could” mean you pay more for a room that was less expensive 6 months to a year earlier. That said, unlike the airlines, if you wait to within a week of sailing, you might be able to snag a cabin that is an absolute steal. The catch is your choice of cabin category and location will be severely restricted.

Compare Apple To Apples

If you’ve been cautious about cruising because you think it’s too expensive, remember to compare apples to apples. That is to say, compare how long the non-cruise vacation is, how much of your dining is covered, how much you’ll pay for entertainment and the cost of travel if you plan to go to multiple destinations.

What you’ll find is that dollar for dollar, cruising is one of the most cost-efficient ways to vacation

I hope we’ve cleared up misconceptions about the cost to go on a cruise. There are other things to decide when booking a cruise. Each cruise line has a unique take on cruising, a personality if you will.

J’s Dream Travel would love to help you book the perfect cruise. When you’re ready to travel, give us a call at 877-235-8061 or send us an email telling us what you want out of a cruise at DreamTeam@JsDreamTravel.com. We can even set up no-fee payment plans to make it easier to pay for your vacation.

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