How much does a cruise cost?

cruise cost estimate price
Here's everything you need to factor in when budgeting for a cruise. - Photo by Carnival Cruise Line

Cruise fares can be extremely enticing, with weeklong Caribbean sailings routinely advertised for less than $75 per person per day. Unfortunately, the advertised fare does not accurately represent total cost of a cruise. There’s still no doubt that a vacation at sea is a great value, but how much does a cruise really cost? To make sure you budget the right amount for your vacation, check out our tips to estimate the total cost of your cruise before you book:

Note: These estimates are just that… estimates. You could end up paying a lot more (or a lot less) for each aspect depending on a variety of factors, your personal spending habits chief among them.

1. The fare

cabins cruise ship cost

The size of the cabin is the biggest factor in the cost of your cruise fare. - Photo by

The three major factors that will influence the cost of your cruise fare are the line you sail on, the cabin you book, and where you travel to. For the sake of this article, we’re going to assume you’re going on a typical 7 night Caribbean cruise with a mainstream line like Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Celebrity, or Princess. It’s possible to find an inside cabin on a Carnival for $50/night, but a balcony cabin or suite on the same cruise could cost $200/night, so there's a lot of range here.

Estimated Cost: $400 - $1400 per person

Tip: Unlike hotel prices, cruise fares are listed per person, not per cabin, with rates based on two people occupying a stateroom. Cruise lines offer single travelers the opportunity to book a double cabin for themselves by charging a “single supplement,” which is basically 1½ or 2 times the list price for one person. Some cruise lines even offer studio staterooms designed and priced for solo travelers. The bottom line: You’ll save a lot of money if you bring a friend!


2. Factor in the cost of flights and fees.

cost plane cruise flight

Be sure to arrive well before your cruise sets sail. - Photo by

Add in the cost of flights. Sometimes port taxes are included in the advertised fares, and sometimes they’re not; if they’re not, expect to pay about $100 to $200 per person, depending on the destination and length of the cruise. Government fees and taxes are rarely included in the list rate and can be an additional several hundred dollars per person.

Estimated Cost: $150 - $500 per person


Related: Should you use a travel agent to help you book your cruise?


3. Add in transfers between the ship and the airport on both ends.

cruise cost shuttle bus cruise

The cost of the shuttle can vary depending on the length of the trip. - Photo by

Factor in the transfer costs of the bus or taxi to get you between the airport and the ship for both embarkation and disembarkation. The cruise line’s bus transfer makes sense if you’re traveling alone or as a couple; if you’re a group of three or four, a taxi or Uber/Lyft may be your cheapest and quickest option. Driving to the port? Figure in parking charges instead.

Estimated Cost: $20 - $100 per person


4. Don’t forget about gratuities.

norwegian crew towel animal cruise

The excellent service on cruise ships is almost always worth the extra cost. - Photo by Norwegian Cruise Line

Unless you’re sailing on one of the high-end lines that include everything in the fare, tipping on a cruise ship is expected and will set you back about $80 to $100 per person per week — about $13 per person per day. On some cruise lines, the tip is required rather than optional, so read the fine print. Some lines discount this amount for children, but many of them don't. In addition, 10 to 15 percent gratuity is typically added to bar bills — for alcohol and soft drinks — and gratuities are applied to spa treatments as well.

Estimated Cost: $100 - $150 per person


Caribbean Cruises From  /Nt


5. Remember that drinks add up.

Expect to pay big-city prices for drinks. - Photo by Celebrity Cruises

If you’re a drinker, beer, cocktails, and wine can quickly increase the cost of your cruise. Expect to pay $5 to $12 per drink, depending on your beverage of choice. A can of soda or a small bottle of water costs approximately $2 to $4. Most lines sell drink packages for alcohol, unlimited fountain sodas, or packages of bottled water; these make sense if you tend to drink a lot throughout the day. Deal or no deal, buying these packages makes it easier to figure out your budget for the week.

Estimated Cost: $50 - $350 per person


6. Expect to pay extra for some activities and specialty restaurants.

cruise cost estimate specialty restaurants

Teppanyaki on Norwegian Dawn - Photo by Norwegian Cruise Line

Visiting the spa or taking classes in the gym on a cruise ship will cost you. On some lines, aerobics classes and other sea day activities come with small additional fees. The cost of specialty restaurants and the myriad of options has also increased dramatically in the last decade.

Estimated Cost: $50 - $150 per person


7. Include the costs of shore excursions.

cruise cost shore excursions

Ziplining in Belize - Photo by Norwegian Cruise Line

Unless you plan on exploring independently, signing up for the ship’s group tours (or an excursion from another company) can set you back anywhere from $30 to $400 per person, per day. The cheapest excursion options are generally walking tours, and the most expensive are flightseeing excursions in helicopters and specialty tours that involve private meals, wine tastings, and adventures like hot air ballooning or watching the Grand Prix in Monaco. Sure, these may be once-in-a-lifetime adventures, and we’re not suggesting skipping them — just be sure they’re part of your budget from the beginning so there's no sticker shock when you see your credit card bill after the cruise.

Estimated Cost: $120 - $1000


8. Add it all together.

cruise ship cost estimate

Cruises truly are the best bang for your buck. - Photo by Paul Gauguin

Once we add everything together, we have the following range:

7 Night Cruise: $920 - $3,650 per person

Yes, it’s a pretty big range. Odds are, most people will end up somewhere between $1,500 and $2,000 per person. Now, it’s true that if you were to drink only water, explore ports on your own, and stick to the main dining room and buffets, you could easily knock a couple of hundred dollars off the price. But to be perfectly honest, that doesn’t sound like quite as much fun to us.

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Join the discussion

What charges tend to surprise you on your final bill?


Posted by Popdog

My wife and I are big on photography. We take lots of pictures, easily 500 on a 7 day cruise but for purposes of this discussion we also purchase the majority of the pictures the ship photographers take and that adds about $200 to our tab at the end of the week.

Posted by magpiekruse

For the ports of New York, New Jersey ( Liberty) and Seattle you can use public transportation to get from the airport to the sea port for about $8 or less. This is only suitable if you are packing light! Research on the public transportation website of your destination.

Posted by AvgVeteran

Just so that your readers understand, that after reviewing these standard averages, keep in mind that you plan these cruises 6 months to a few years out. You have plenty of payment options including paying it off monthly including shopping for your extra activities. Many cruise lines include the ability to book airfare through them that will get you to the Port in plenty of time to make the ship.

Posted by RCCruiserdude

Here's my fairly detailed cruise expenses for November 2019 cruise with Royal Caribbean Symphony of the Seas Cruise Cost (7-night 4 Stop-CocoCay, Roatan Hon, Costa Maya Mex, Cozumel Mex) Flight SAC-MIA (2) $975.98 Hotel MIAMI $150.00 CRUISE 7-day Exterior Balcony (2ND PERSON 1/2 OFF) $4319.00 CRUISE UNLIMITED DRINK PACKAGE (2) $808.00 Little French Keys (2) $200.00 Coco Cay W.P. (2) $129.98 Cozumel 3-stop Snorkle Tour (2) $60.00 Flight-MIA-ORL-SAC (2) $1054.00 Trip insurance $390.00 On-Board Credit -$250.00 Statement Credit Aadvantage -$250.00 VOOM AND SURF $97.39 GRATUITIES $14.50/DAY/GUEST $232.00 Grand Total - $7,916.35 Price each - $3,958.18 Slightly more than the range shown in this article, even with the onboard credit and credit card statement credit I got.

Posted by teejaymd

If you're looking to lower cruise costs there are a few things you can do. For cruises out of Miami I find I save a good amount on airfare flying in to Ft. Lauderdale on Southwest. They have a train that goes between the airports for under $5 then go to the cruise port or your hotel from Miami airport. NCL normally has a deal where you get a free drinks package and 3 free upgraded meals which saves a lot. At ports we normally get a cab to one of the closer beaches usually for about $30 round trip for 2 people. One port is usually the cruise lines island where the free drinks package works so that is always great. Using this I found a balcony cabin 7 day Western Caribbean out of Miami on NCL for $2,115 which includes the drinks and 3 meal upgrades for 2 people. Round trip for 2 is $424 so even with extras you can easily do the whole trip for under $3,000. Enjoy your next cruise.

Posted by EvaLynne

Planning a cruise with my 3 girlfriends, how can we prorate total fares I have a higher loyalty than my friends and the other is new. What is the best order in registering in order to get the lowest cruise protection?

Posted by TLWR

I still don't understand the per person thing. If it says based on double occupancy. If I have 2 people in a room and they quote me a price of $1800, does that mean that each of us pay $1800 or is it split so we each pay $900?

Posted by teejaymd

Double occupancy is the price per person with two people sharing a room. In your example it would be $3600 per room. If you travelled solo you would not get that room for $1800. However, you would get it slightly less than $3600 since there won't be the other person participating in the included amenities. It can be confusing since many all-inclusives state the price of the room for two people. Most cruise lines I've looked at have the per person pricing with the double occupancy stipulation.

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