Some of Royal Caribbean’s best deals can be found on the cruise line's older cruise ships, but how much money can you expect to save by sailing on an older ship?
Everyone loves finding a great cruise deal, and finding a cheap cruise on a 20 year old cruise ship is more common than finding a deal on one of Royal Caribbean’s newest cruise ships like Wonder of the Seas.
A $2000 interior stateroom on a new ship might be priced at only $1200 on an older ship. You’ll often see savings in the hundreds of dollars when cruising on an older ship. This means you're able to stretch your vacation budget much further, whether that means splurging on a dining package, booking a spa treatment, or planning a luxurious port day.
Let’s take a look at how much you can expect to save by sailing on an older cruise ship.
Old versus new Royal Caribbean ships
Royal Caribbean has 27 cruise ships in its fleet. The oldest, Grandeur of the Seas, launched in 1996 and the newest, Icon of the Seas, is currently under construction and set to launch in January 2024.
These ships belong to seven ship classes, which are categorized for their unique layouts, onboard offerings, and size:
Related: Royal Caribbean’s 7 ship classes ultimate guide
Most passengers consider Vision and Radiance Class ships to be older ships, with Voyager and Freedom Classes somewhere in the middle. Oasis, Quantum, and Icon ships are all considered new ships by comparison.
Why sail on an older cruise ship
Older cruise ships lack many of the onboard activities that Royal Caribbean is known for, such as waterslides, Broadway shows, zip lines, and a plethora of specialty dining venues. The adrenaline-filled features you’ll see on Royal Caribbean’s TV commercials are unlikely to be found on the oldest ships in the fleet.
Related: Things you’ll notice when cruising on an older cruise ship
Nonetheless, older and smaller ships still offer a classic cruise experience, bringing guests to beautiful ports around the world while providing Royal Caribbean’s signature cuisine, entertainment, and hospitality.
Cruising on an older ship can offer a more intimate feel than a ship with 6,000 passengers. In addition, the ports you visit tend to be more unique. Whereas newer and bigger ships often visit the same ports over and over, smaller, older ships sail to unique destinations such as Costa Rica, Fiji, and Montenegro.
Related: 15 countries you didn’t know you could cruise to on Royal Caribbean
Plus, older cruise ships tend to be priced lower than newer ships in the fleet, with the potential to save you hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars on a cruise vacation.
Putting it to the test: how much can you save by sailing on an older Royal Caribbean cruise ship?
Just how much money can you expect to save by sailing on an older Royal Caribbean ship? Unfortunately, there's no set price difference between older and newer ships. Cruise pricing changes day to day based on the demand on any particular ship, itinerary, or stateroom category.
Related: How to plan a Royal Caribbean cruise on any budget
You’ll usually see a trend of older ships offering lower prices, but occasionally you can come across fantastic deals on newer cruise ships. To determine just how much you can expect to save on an older ship, I priced out cruises in three different locations: Europe, the Caribbean, and Alaska.
In each location, I selected ships of varied ages and sizes to compare the pricing between each. Pricing is based on a 7-night cruise for 2 adults. The cruise fare includes taxes and fees, but does not include gratuities.
European cruise: comparing prices by ship
Traveling to Europe is a dream for many cruisers, and Royal Caribbean sends both old and new cruise ships to Europe each summer season.
Let’s take a look at the prices you can expect to see on different classes of Royal Caribbean ships in Europe. These prices are for a European cruise in June.
Rhapsody of the Seas (Vision Class ship)
- Interior: $1,522
- Balcony: $3,356
- Grand Suite: $7,750
Explorer of the Seas (Voyager Class ship)
- Interior: $1,756
- Balcony: $3,312
- Grand Suite: $7,148
Symphony of the Seas (Oasis Class ship)
- Interior: $2,397
- Balcony: $3,551
- Grand Suite: $8,779
There is little price difference between Rhapsody of the Seas (Vision Class ship) and Explorer of the Seas (Voyager Class ship). While these two ships are older, Explorer of the Seas is a much larger vessel with many of Royal Caribbean’s signature features, such as the Royal Promenade and an ice-skating rink.
Symphony of the Seas, as one of the fleet’s largest and newest ships, comes at a higher price than the smaller ships. However, the price difference between Symphony and the two smaller ships is not outrageous, especially if planning to cruise in a balcony cabin.
Related: Symphony of the Seas Guide & Review
Smaller ships (Vision and Radiance Class) have far fewer balconies compared to new ships, making the price of a balcony cabin on these ships higher. The balcony price on Rhapsody of the Seas is nearly the same as on Symphony, for example.
It’s also worth noting that, while a suite is over $1000 more on Symphony of the Seas compared to older ships, you’ll receive many more benefits by cruising in a suite on an Oasis (or Quantum) Class ship. These ships are part of the Royal Suite Class, with benefits including complimentary VOOM internet, private Suite Sun Deck, and meals at Coastal Kitchen, a suites-only restaurant.
Caribbean cruise: comparing prices on Oasis Class ships only
While we tend to categorize Oasis Class cruise ships as new cruise ships, there is a 13 year gap between the oldest Oasis Class ship and the newest. Therefore, you can expect to see lower prices on the two older Oasis Class ships (Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas).
Let’s compare cruise fare pricing on three Oasis Class ships to determine how much of a price difference you can expect in the same ship class. These prices are for a Caribbean cruise in June.
Allure of the Seas
- Interior: $1,404
- Balcony: $2,372
- Grand Suite: $6,024
Oasis of the Seas
- Interior: $1,848
- Balcony: $2,212
- Grand Suite: $5,884
Wonder of the Seas
- Interior: $2,179
- Balcony: $2,823
- Grand Suite: $8,237
Wonder of the Seas, Royal Caribbean’s newest cruise ship, has some of the highest cruise fares in the fleet. You can expect to spend several hundred dollars more per person on Wonder of the Seas compared to other Oasis Class ships.
Allure of the Seas, while still an Oasis Class ship, doesn’t have all the features and amenities found on other ships. Her Royal amplification has been postponed, so you won’t find features like waterslides or updated specialty restaurants on the ship.
Related: Is Allure of the Seas the “worst” Oasis Class ship? I went onboard to see for myself
What you will find, however, are lower fares. You can expect to save a few hundred dollars per person on Allure of the Seas compared to sailing on a new Oasis Class ship like Symphony or Wonder of the Seas.
Alaska cruise: comparing prices by ship
Cruising to Alaska is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for many cruisers, and you’ll want to make the most of your Alaska vacation. Royal Caribbean offers cruises to Alaska on Radiance and Quantum Class ships, so you’ll find itineraries on both old and new ships.
Related: Ultimate Alaska cruise guide
Let’s compare the cost of sailing on a Radiance Class ship versus a Quantum Class ship to Alaska. These prices are for an Alaska cruise in August.
Brilliance of the Seas (Radiance Class ship)
- Interior: $1,851
- Balcony: $2,455
- Grand Suite: $6,529
Ovation of the Seas (Quantum Class ship)
- Interior: $2,141
- Balcony: $3,043
- Grand Suite: $9,413
Cruising to Alaska on an older ship (Radiance Class) compared to a newer ship (Quantum Class) will almost always save you money. And while older ships may not have as many unique features–such as indoor skydiving and bumper cars–many passengers cruise to Alaska for the destination as opposed to the ship itself.
One factor to consider before booking a cruise on an older ship, though, are flight costs to Seattle versus Vancouver. Older Royal Caribbean ships sail from Vancouver, which may bring higher airfare prices for those flying from the United States.
Regardless of airfare, you should expect to save $300-600 on cruise fare in an interior and balcony room when booking far in advance.
There’s no denying that cruising on an older Royal Caribbean ship can save you money, but it isn’t so black and white.
As you can see in the examples above, cruise prices do not follow any set rules. Just because a ship is ~20 years older than another ship does not guarantee that you’ll see lower prices in every stateroom category.
Prices change from sailing to sailing and can fluctuate daily. You might be able to snag a suite on an older ship for the price of an interior cabin on a newer ship. On the contrary, however, you might end up paying more for a balcony on an older ship than a newer ship.
It’s typical that you’ll save a couple hundred dollars per person on an older ship compared to a newer ship, especially if you book far in advance. That being said, you’ll want to weigh the pros and cons of sailing on an older ship versus a newer ship before booking to ensure you don’t end up surprised or disappointed on embarkation day.
More cruise tips & tricks:
- 30 Do's and Don'ts for the first day of your cruise
- 8 cruise tips for first-time Royal Caribbean cruisers
- What’s included in your Royal Caribbean cruise fare
- 5 quick and easy tips for finding a great shore excursion on your own
- Food on a Royal Caribbean cruise
- Which is the best Royal Caribbean cruise ship?
- What is the best time to go on a Caribbean cruise?