how much does a cruise cost

How Much Does A Cruise Cost? Let’s Dive In!

How Much Does A Cruise Cost? Let’s Dive In!

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how much does a cruise cost

Planning a cruise vacation? Understanding the full cost is essential.

This guide covers all required and optional expenses, helping you budget effectively and enjoy a stress-free trip.

Base Fare Costs

Cruise fares vary widely, and understanding what’s included in the base fare is crucial for budgeting.

This section will help you navigate the different types of cabins and the factors affecting the base fare, including general ballpark costs.

Types of Cabins

Choosing the right cabin can significantly impact your cruise experience and overall cost. Here’s a breakdown of the main cabin types with approximate costs:

Inside Cabins

  • Typically the most affordable option.
  • Average cost: $50-$150 per person per night.
  • No windows, but often feature mirrors to create a sense of space.
  • Ideal for budget-conscious travelers or those who plan to spend little time in their room.

Oceanview Cabins

  • Feature a window or porthole offering natural light and views of the ocean.
  • Average cost: $100-$200 per person per night.
  • Slightly more expensive than inside cabins.
  • Great for travelers who appreciate a view but want to avoid the higher cost of a balcony cabin.

Balcony Cabins

  • Include a private balcony where you can enjoy the sea breeze and views.
  • Average cost: $150-$300 per person per night.
  • Offer more space and a higher level of comfort.
  • Perfect for those who value privacy and outdoor space.


  • The most luxurious and spacious cabin option.
  • Average cost: $300-$800+ per person per night.
  • Include separate living areas, large balconies, and premium amenities.
  • Best for travelers seeking an upscale experience and willing to pay a premium.

Factors Affecting Base Fare

Several factors influence the base fare of a cruise. Understanding these can help you find the best deal and plan your budget effectively:

Cruise Line Variations

  • Different cruise lines cater to various demographics and budgets, from budget-friendly options to luxury experiences.
  • Budget lines: $50-$200 per person per night.
  • Luxury lines: $300-$1,000+ per person per night.

Itinerary and Destination

  • Cruises to popular destinations like the Caribbean, Mediterranean, or Alaska often have varying costs based on demand and seasonality.
  • Caribbean: $100-$250 per person per night.
  • Mediterranean: $150-$350 per person per night.
  • Alaska: $200-$400 per person per night.

Length of Cruise

  • Longer cruises generally cost more, but the per-day cost may decrease as the duration increases.
  • Short cruises (3-5 days): $75-$250 per person per night.
  • Mid-length cruises (7-10 days): $100-$300 per person per night.
  • Long cruises (14+ days): $125-$400 per person per night.

Time of Year

  • Peak season (summer and holidays) typically sees higher fares due to increased demand.
  • Off-season or shoulder season (spring and fall) can offer significant savings while still providing a great experience.
  • Peak season: $150-$400 per person per night.
  • Off-season: $100-$300 per person per night.

Understanding the base fare costs and the factors that influence them is the first step in planning a cruise vacation.

With this knowledge, you can make informed decisions and find a cruise that fits your budget and preferences.

how much does a cruise cost

Taxes, Fees, and Port Charges

Beyond the base fare, various mandatory charges can significantly impact the overall cost of your cruise. Understanding these additional expenses will help you avoid surprises and budget accurately.

Government Taxes

Government taxes are imposed by the countries you visit and can vary depending on the itinerary.

These taxes are typically included in the total fare you see when booking but can sometimes appear as separate line items.

  • Average cost: $50-$200 per person per cruise.

Port Fees

Port fees are charges levied by the ports that cruise ships visit.

These fees cover the cost of using the port facilities and services. They vary depending on the destination and the number of ports included in your itinerary.

  • Average cost: $100-$300 per person per cruise.

Other Mandatory Fees

Other mandatory fees might include security fees, environmental fees, and administrative charges. These fees are generally small but add up, especially on longer cruises with multiple stops.

  • Average cost: $50-$100 per person per cruise.

Taxes, fees, and port charges are essential elements of your cruise fare.

By being aware of these costs, you can better prepare your budget and avoid any unexpected expenses that might arise during your vacation planning process.

Gratuities and Service Charges

Gratuities and service charges are an important part of the cruising experience, ensuring that the hardworking crew members are fairly compensated.

These charges can add up, so it’s essential to understand them beforehand.

Pre-Paid Gratuities

Pre-paid gratuities cover tips for the dining staff, housekeeping, and other service personnel on the ship. Many cruise lines allow you to pay these gratuities in advance when you book your cruise, providing a hassle-free way to handle tipping.

  • Average cost: $12-$20 per person per day.

Onboard Service Charges

In addition to pre-paid gratuities, some cruise lines add service charges to your onboard account for specific services. These might include charges for specialty dining, spa services, or room service.

  • Specialty dining service charge: $10-$50 per person per meal.
  • Spa service charge: 15%-20% of the service cost.
  • Room service charge: $3-$10 per order (if not included).

Understanding gratuities and service charges is crucial for accurately budgeting your cruise. While these charges ensure quality service throughout your trip, knowing the expected costs in advance helps you avoid any surprises and manage your spending effectively.

Transportation to and from the Port

Getting to and from the cruise port can be a significant part of your overall travel expenses. This section breaks down the various transportation costs you may encounter.


For many cruisers, flying to the departure port is necessary. Flight costs can vary widely based on the departure city, destination, and time of year.

  • Average cost: $200-$600 per person for domestic flights.
  • Average cost: $500-$1,500 per person for international flights.
  • Tips for saving: Book early, use fare comparison tools, and consider alternative airports.

Ground Transportation

Once you arrive at your destination airport, you’ll need transportation to the cruise port. Options include shuttle services, taxis, rideshares, and public transportation.

Shuttle Services

  • Many cruise lines offer shuttle services from the airport to the port.
  • Average cost: $20-$50 per person each way.

Taxis and Rideshares

  • Taxis and rideshares provide direct and convenient transportation.
  • Average cost: $30-$100 each way, depending on distance and location.

Parking Fees at the Port

  • If you’re driving to the port, you’ll need to consider parking fees for the duration of your cruise.
  • Average cost: $10-$25 per day.

Understanding the costs of transportation to and from the port is essential for your overall cruise budget. By planning ahead and exploring different options, you can find the most cost-effective way to get to your cruise and ensure a smooth start to your vacation.

Onboard Expenses

Onboard expenses can add up quickly and significantly impact your overall cruise budget.

This section covers various costs you might encounter while on the ship, from dining and beverages to entertainment and shopping.

Dining and Beverages

While many dining options are included in your cruise fare, specialty dining and beverage packages come with additional costs.

Specialty Dining Costs

  • Specialty restaurants offer unique culinary experiences.
  • Average cost: $20-$50 per person per meal.

Alcoholic Beverage Packages

  • Packages can provide unlimited drinks for a set price.
  • Average cost: $50-$90 per person per day.

Non-Alcoholic Beverage Packages

  • These packages include sodas, specialty coffees, and more.
  • Average cost: $10-$30 per person per day.

Excursions and Activities

Shore excursions and onboard activities offer exciting ways to enhance your cruise experience, but they also come at an extra cost.

Shore Excursions

  • Excursions can range from sightseeing tours to adventurous activities.
  • Average cost: $50-$200 per person per excursion.

Onboard Activities

  • Activities like cooking classes, wine tastings, and fitness classes often have additional fees.
  • Average cost: $10-$50 per person per activity.


Most onboard entertainment is included, but some special events and shows may require additional fees.

Special Shows and Events

  • These might include premium entertainment experiences.
  • Average cost: $20-$100 per person per show.

Spa and Wellness

Spa services and wellness programs offer relaxation and rejuvenation but are typically not included in the base fare.

Spa Services

  • Treatments like massages, facials, and salon services.
  • Average cost: $50-$200 per treatment.

Wellness Programs

  • Yoga classes, fitness programs, and personal training sessions.
  • Average cost: $10-$30 per session.

Shopping and Souvenirs

Cruise ships feature duty-free shops and boutiques, providing a variety of shopping opportunities.

Duty-Free Shopping

  • Savings on items like jewelry, perfumes, and electronics.
  • Prices vary widely based on the products.


  • Ship-branded merchandise, local crafts, and gifts.
  • Average cost: $10-$100 per item.

Understanding and planning for onboard expenses is crucial to ensure you stay within your budget and fully enjoy all the amenities and experiences your cruise has to offer.

By being aware of these potential costs, you can make informed choices and allocate your budget accordingly.

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Additional Onboard Services

While onboard, you may find yourself needing various services that come with extra costs.

Knowing these potential expenses in advance can help you budget more effectively.

Internet and Communication

Staying connected at sea is important for many travelers, but it comes at a premium.

Wi-Fi Packages

  • Cruise ships offer internet packages ranging from basic to premium.
  • Average cost: $10-$30 per day, or $50-$150 per week.

Telephone Charges

  • Making phone calls from the ship can be expensive.
  • Average cost: $2-$6 per minute for ship-to-shore calls.

Laundry and Dry Cleaning

For longer cruises, laundry services can be a necessity.

Laundry Services

  • Ships offer full-service laundry, pressing, and dry cleaning.
  • Average cost: $2-$5 per item for laundry, $5-$10 per item for dry cleaning.

Self-Service Laundry

  • Some ships provide self-service laundry facilities.
  • Average cost: $2-$4 per load for washing and drying.

Medical Services

In case of illness or injury, onboard medical services are available but can be costly.

Medical Consultations

  • Visiting the ship’s doctor for a consultation.
  • Average cost: $100-$150 per visit.

Medications and Treatments

  • Costs for medications, treatments, and emergency care.
  • Average cost: Varies widely depending on the treatment, typically $10-$200+.

Insurance Recommendations

  • It’s advisable to have travel insurance that covers medical expenses at sea.
  • Average cost: $50-$150 per person for comprehensive coverage.

Understanding the costs of additional onboard services ensures that you are prepared for any necessities or emergencies that may arise during your cruise. Proper planning and budgeting for these potential expenses can help you enjoy a worry-free vacation.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is a critical component of planning a cruise vacation. It can protect you from various unforeseen events that could otherwise lead to significant expenses. This section covers the types of coverage available and their associated costs.

Types of Coverage

Trip Cancellation Insurance

  • Covers non-refundable costs if you need to cancel your trip due to covered reasons such as illness, injury, or unforeseen events.
  • Average cost: 5%-10% of the total trip cost.

Medical Insurance

  • Provides coverage for medical expenses incurred while on the cruise, including hospital stays, doctor visits, and emergency evacuations.
  • Average cost: $50-$200 per person, depending on age and health status.

Lost Luggage Insurance

  • Reimburses you for lost, stolen, or damaged luggage and personal items.
  • Average cost: $20-$50 per person.

Comprehensive Travel Insurance

  • Combines trip cancellation, medical, and lost luggage coverage into a single policy.
  • Average cost: $100-$300 per person, depending on coverage level and trip length.

Cost of Insurance

The cost of travel insurance varies based on several factors, including the length and cost of the cruise, the traveler’s age, and the level of coverage selected. Here are some ballpark figures:

Short Cruises (3-5 days)

  • Basic coverage: $50-$100 per person.
  • Comprehensive coverage: $100-$200 per person.

Mid-Length Cruises (7-10 days)

  • Basic coverage: $75-$150 per person.
  • Comprehensive coverage: $150-$300 per person.

Long Cruises (14+ days)

  • Basic coverage: $100-$200 per person.
  • Comprehensive coverage: $200-$400 per person.

Importance of Travel Insurance

Travel insurance provides peace of mind and financial protection in case of unexpected events.

It’s particularly important for cruises, where medical services and evacuation costs can be extraordinarily high.

Ensuring you have adequate coverage can save you from potential financial hardship and allow you to enjoy your vacation with confidence.

By understanding the different types of travel insurance and their costs, you can make an informed decision that best suits your needs and budget.

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Tips for Saving Money on a Cruise

Cruises can be expensive, but with careful planning and smart strategies, you can save money without sacrificing the quality of your experience. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your budget.

Booking Strategies

Early Booking Discounts

  • Many cruise lines offer significant discounts for booking well in advance.
  • Booking 6-12 months ahead can secure lower rates and better cabin choices.

Last-Minute Deals

  • If you have flexible travel dates, last-minute deals can offer deep discounts.
  • These deals are typically available 1-3 months before departure.

Travel Agent Discounts

  • Travel agents often have access to exclusive deals and discounts.
  • They can also provide valuable advice and assistance in planning your trip.

Choosing the Right Time to Cruise

Off-Season Benefits

  • Cruising during the off-season (fall and spring) can result in lower prices and fewer crowds.
  • Destinations like the Caribbean and Mediterranean are less expensive outside of peak summer months.

Shoulder Season Savings

  • The shoulder season, just before or after peak times, offers good weather and better prices.
  • For example, cruising to Alaska in May or September can be more affordable than in mid-summer.

Utilizing Loyalty Programs

Cruise Line Loyalty Programs

  • Enrolling in a cruise line’s loyalty program can earn you discounts, upgrades, and onboard credits.
  • Benefits increase with the number of cruises you take with the same line.

Credit Card Rewards

  • Using a travel rewards credit card can help you earn points or miles that can be redeemed for cruise-related expenses.
  • Some cards offer perks like travel insurance or onboard credits.

Onboard Spending Tips

Pre-Purchasing Packages

  • Pre-purchasing dining, beverage, and excursion packages can save money compared to buying onboard.
  • Look for bundled deals that offer a variety of services at a discounted rate.

Utilizing Onboard Credits

  • Many cruises offer onboard credits as part of promotional deals.
  • These credits can be used for dining, spa services, excursions, and other onboard expenses.

Avoiding Excessive Purchases

  • Set a budget for onboard spending and stick to it.
  • Limit purchases of souvenirs and extra services to avoid unexpected charges.

Bringing Your Own Essentials

  • Bringing items like toiletries, medications, and small snacks can help you avoid paying high prices onboard.
  • Some cruise lines allow you to bring a limited amount of beverages, like bottled water or wine, which can reduce your bar tab.

By employing these money-saving strategies, you can make your cruise vacation more affordable and enjoyable.

Planning ahead, taking advantage of discounts, and managing your onboard spending are key to keeping your trip within budget while still having a fantastic experience.

Case Studies and Sample Budgets

Understanding the potential costs of a cruise vacation can be more tangible when viewed through real-life examples.

Here, we provide three sample budgets for different types of cruises: budget, mid-range, and luxury. Each example includes typical expenses to give you a comprehensive overview.

Budget Cruise Example

Cruise Details

  • Destination: Caribbean
  • Duration: 3 days
  • Cabin Type: Inside Cabin
  • Cruise Line: Budget-friendly

Cost Breakdown

  • Base Fare: $150 per person ($50 per night)
  • Taxes and Fees: $75 per person
  • Gratuities: $36 per person ($12 per day)
  • Transportation to Port: $200 per person (round-trip flight)
  • Ground Transportation: $50 per person
  • Onboard Dining: $0 (main dining room included)
  • Beverage Package: $30 per person (non-alcoholic, per day)
  • Shore Excursions: $100 per person
  • Additional Onboard Services: $0 (no additional services utilized)
  • Travel Insurance: $50 per person

Total Estimated Cost: $691 per person

Mid-Range Cruise Example

Cruise Details

  • Destination: Mediterranean
  • Duration: 7 days
  • Cabin Type: Oceanview Cabin
  • Cruise Line: Mid-range

Cost Breakdown

  • Base Fare: $1,400 per person ($200 per night)
  • Taxes and Fees: $150 per person
  • Gratuities: $98 per person ($14 per day)
  • Transportation to Port: $800 per person (round-trip flight)
  • Ground Transportation: $100 per person
  • Onboard Dining: $150 per person (specialty dining)
  • Beverage Package: $420 per person (alcoholic, $60 per day)
  • Shore Excursions: $350 per person
  • Additional Onboard Services: $100 per person (spa treatment)
  • Travel Insurance: $100 per person

Total Estimated Cost: $3,668 per person

Luxury Cruise Example

Cruise Details

  • Destination: Alaska
  • Duration: 10 days
  • Cabin Type: Suite
  • Cruise Line: Luxury

Cost Breakdown

  • Base Fare: $5,000 per person ($500 per night)
  • Taxes and Fees: $250 per person
  • Gratuities: $150 per person ($15 per day)
  • Transportation to Port: $1,200 per person (round-trip flight)
  • Ground Transportation: $150 per person
  • Onboard Dining: $500 per person (premium specialty dining)
  • Beverage Package: $900 per person (premium alcoholic, $90 per day)
  • Shore Excursions: $700 per person
  • Additional Onboard Services: $300 per person (multiple spa treatments)
  • Travel Insurance: $200 per person

Total Estimated Cost: $9,350 per person


These case studies illustrate the range of costs associated with different types of cruises. Whether you’re looking for an affordable getaway or a luxurious experience, understanding the potential expenses will help you plan and budget effectively.

Each cruise type comes with its own set of expenses, so consider your priorities and preferences to choose the best option for your vacation.

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Hi, I’m Steven, a Florida native, who left my career in corporate wealth management six years ago to embark on a summer of soul searching that would change the course of my life forever.