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How much does a cruise cost? (2024)

21 Sep 2023
Jenna DeLaurentis

Curious just how much it will cost you to take a cruise? With the right information and some estimates, you can easily calculate the price to take a cruise.

Wonder of the Seas aerial photo

Luckily, cruise vacations are quite affordable and cruise lines offer a variety of options at different prices that make a cruise economical for many families.

To help anyone budget for their cruise, let’s break down what to expect in terms of overall costs. Keep in mind that cruises are global, and we cannot possibly account for every scenario, budget, and cost.

To help give a ballpark idea of what to expect, we have an in-depth look at the cost of a cruise, from the base cruise fare to optional add-ons and typical costs you’ll encounter when planning a cruise vacation.

What your cruise fare will cost

A cruise can cost anywhere between $550 for 2 adults on a 3-night weekend sailing to upwards of $80,000 total for a family to sail in the most luxurious multi-story suites. The cost of a cruise changes based on itinerary, ship, cruise length, number of passengers, and time of year you sail.

Cruise prices are also dynamic, meaning you can find a fantastic deal one day only to have the price increase the next. Knowing this, let’s take a look at a few sample prices of various Royal Caribbean cruise itineraries.

Freedom of the Seas in CocoCay

What is the average cost of a cruise?

These cruises are pricing examples on the total (not per person) cruise fare of an interior cabin versus a balcony cabin for two adults:

  • A 3-night Bahamas weekend cruise in April: $700 (interior), $1000 (balcony)
  • A 7-night Caribbean cruise in September: $1500 (interior), $1900 (balcony)
  • A 7-night Alaska cruise in June: $2400 (interior), $3200 (balcony)
  • A 12-night Holy Land cruise in October: $3857 (interior), $4300 (balcony)
  • A 7-night Mexican Riviera cruise in February: $1100 (interior), $1800 (balcony)

The prices above should be used as a guide, but actual cruise fares may be higher or lower depending on day to day pricing.

One trend we're seeing are the costs of a cruise going up each year.  In 2023, prices jumped considerably, and the industry as a whole is seeing some of the highest prices in recent memory.

The primary driver for higher cruise prices is demand.  Ever since the cruise industry restarted in 2022, demand has skyrocketed.  Lines are seeing unparalleled demand, and that kind of a hot market is a big reason why prices continue to climb.

Other factors, such as inflation, better marketing, and interest generated by new cruise ships drive up prices.

There are other costs to consider when calculating the overall price of a cruise.

Taxes and port fees

About $100-200 per person.

Cape Liberty in Bayonne

You have no choice but to pay port fees and taxes, which are lumped onto your cruise fare.

These are fees that the governments of various countries your ship sails to and from mandate, so it's a necessary evil.

Depending on which ports you visit, the costs can vary.  The more port stops, the higher this will cost.


Standard cabin: $16.00 per person, per day; Suite: $18.50 per person, per day

Guest service crew members

Gratuities are charged automatically and it covers the service you receive onboard the ship.

You can have gratuities pre-paid, where Royal Caribbean charges you the full amount up front with your cruise fare and then there's nothing more to pay once onboard. 

Alternatively, you can wait and get charged every night of the cruise to your onboard account.

Read moreTipping on a cruise ship: what you should and shouldn't do

Transportation pre- and post-cruise

Less than $100 if you live nearby; Up to thousands of dollars if flying

Miami downtown night

You should also factor in the cost to get to the cruise port and then back home again.

This could result in needing to pay for flights, hotels, and/or parking. There's also going to be incidental costs associated with this as well, such as meals along the way.

If you live close enough to drive to the cruise port, these costs may be quite low.  But many people fly to their cruise, and that will add more to the price.

Before you try to save money by flying in the same day of your cruise, don't.  This is a major mistake and could put your entire vacation in jeopardy.

How much you pay for a hotel can vary just as much as cruise fares, depending on the date of your trip, hotel brand, and other factors.  Expect it to be around $200-$300 for a night.

If you are parking a car at the port, the price is probably going to be around $20-30 per day to park.

Cruise add-ons

$100-400 per day

Cocktails on the bar

There are a host of extras you can add onto the cost of your cruise, and they're all discretionary based on your needs and preferences.

Shore excursions, drinks, specialty dining, spa treatments, and wifi are just a few optional add-ons you can choose to buy for your cruise.

Royal Caribbean purposefully leaves these extras out of the cruise fare for two reasons: it helps advertise a lower entry price for the cruise, and not everyone wants to buy these items.  Rather than include them in the fare, the line leaves it up to you to decide.

In 2022, Royal Caribbean Group reported the average guest spent $90-100 per person, per day on extras.

What determines the cost of a cruise?

Owner suite balcony

Cruise pricing is influenced by a number of factors, and knowing the trends of what makes one cruise more expensive than another can help you in the booking process.

Ship size and age: a 20-year old cruise ship will usually be significantly cheaper than a brand new ship. You should never book a ship based solely on price, though, as you want to make sure the ship you book has the amenities, activities, and entertainment choices you’re looking for in a cruise vacation.

Related: 8 questions to ask yourself before picking a cruise ship

Length: You’ll pay far less for a 4-night cruise compared to a 10-night cruise. You’ll often find exceptions to this rule, however. 3-night cruises over the weekend tend to be more expensive than 4-night cruises during the week, and long transatlantic/transpacific cruises can have a much lower cost per day compared to other sailings.

Time of year: Cruising during peak season can see cruise fares up to double what the same ship and itinerary would cost in low season. For Caribbean cruises, you’ll find some of the lowest fares from late August to early November, the first two weeks of December, mid-January to mid-February, and in May.

Related: The best time to go on a Caribbean cruise

Supply and demand: While there are general trends when it comes to cruise pricing, there are no set price rules. Supply and demand will affect the price of any cruise, and you may find hidden deals based on low demand for a sailing you’re interested in, even on a newer ship.

Cost of a cruise by cabin type

Quantum of the Seas cabin drawers

The first decision you’ll make after selecting a cruise ship and itinerary is which cruise ship cabin to book. There is a cruise ship cabin for every type of traveler, from the most basic inside cabins to luxurious suites.

Here’s a general idea of what each type of cabin may cost you:

Interior cabins are the cheapest cruise cabin available. While they don’t feature a window and are usually smaller than other cabin categories, you’ll find some great deals on inside staterooms. You can expect to pay around $70-$160 per person, per night for an interior cabin.

Ocean view cabins are the next step up from an interior cabin and feature a porthole window. Prices for ocean view cabins are generally priced at around $110 to $197 per person, per night.

Balcony cabin on Mariner of the Seas

Balcony cabins are the most popular cruise ship cabin available, with each cabin having a private outdoor balcony space. You can expect to pay between $150 and $250 per person, per night for an ocean view balcony cabin.

Suites offer the most lavish accommodations available on a cruise ship. Prices can vary widely based on the type of suite you book, with prices ranging from $250 to $420 per person, per night for Junior Suites to between $650 and $1000 per person, per night for Owner’s Suites.

Royal Caribbean’s largest cruise ship suites can be priced in the tens of thousands for a weeklong sailing.

How much does a cruise cost for a solo traveler?

Studio cabin on Harmony

Cruising solo? You’re not alone. Solo cruising has become more and more popular in recent years, and cruise lines are following the trend by offering studio cabins on their cruise ships, built for just one passenger.

Not every Royal Caribbean cruise ship has studio cabins, and those that do only have a few studio cabins which tend to get booked quickly. Why? Studio cabins do not incur a single supplement fee, which is a means of recouping the cost of a second traveler that would otherwise be in the stateroom.

Related: Guide to Royal Caribbean’s Single and Studio staterooms

Having this fee waived in a studio room is a huge incentive for solo cruisers, and it’s common to find these cabins fully booked on most itineraries.

Studio cabins can be found on Anthem of the Seas, Adventure of the Seas, Brilliance of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas, Jewel of the Seas, Mariner of the Seas, Odyssey of the Seas, Ovation of the Seas, Quantum of the Seas, Radiance of the Seas, Serenade of the Seas, and Spectrum of the Seas.

What’s included in your base cruise fare?

It’s possible to embark on a Royal Caribbean cruise and spend nothing extra onboard. While cruise fares are not entirely all-inclusive, as extras like internet and alcoholic beverages will cost extra–you’ll find more than enough included in your cruise fare to keep you satisfied throughout the sailing.

Your base cruise fare includes the following:

  • Accommodations (your cruise ship cabin)
  • Meals & snacks at complimentary venues
  • Drinks (water, tea, coffee, lemonade, iced tea, milk, juice, and hot chocolate)
  • Continental room service at breakfast
  • Adventure Ocean child programming
  • Activities and shows
  • Fitness center
  • Pool and sun decks

Related: What’s included in your Royal Caribbean cruise fare

Mariner of the Seas back of the ship

Taxes and fees will be automatically added to your cruise fare upon checkout, and the exact cost of taxes and fees will vary based on your cruise length and itinerary.

Gratuities are not included in your base cruise fare. You can choose to pre-pay gratuities when booking your cruise or incur a daily fee once onboard the ship. Royal Caribbean’s current gratuity costs are $16 per person, per day in standard cabins (Junior Suites and below) and $18.50 per person, per day in Grand Suites and above.

What costs extra on a cruise?

Chops top view

While there is no shortage of dining options, activities, entertainment, and amenities included in your base cruise fare, there are many add-ons you can purchase on a cruise vacation. While spending extra on a cruise is not required, it’s helpful to know what costs extra on a Royal Caribbean cruise.


Outside of the complimentary drinks included in your cruise fare, you’ll pay extra for the following drinks on a cruise:

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Mocktails
  • Specialty coffee and tea drinks
  • Soda
  • Fresh-squeezed juices

Related: Royal Caribbean Drink Package Info, Tips, Pros & Cons

You can choose to buy drinks individually or purchase a Royal Caribbean drink package, which allows you to enjoy unlimited drinks during your cruise for one set cost. Drink package prices range from $62-78 per person, per day for the Deluxe Beverage Package, $30-38 per person, per day for the non-alcoholic Refreshment Package, and $13-15 per person, per day for the soda package.

Specialty dining

Burger at Playmakers

Outside of complimentary dining venues on any Royal Caribbean ship are specialty restaurants. Specialty restaurants provide cuisines and cooking styles not found elsewhere onboard, such as the cruise line’s signature steakhouse, Chops Grille, or Japanese cuisine at Izumi.

Specialty restaurants come in two categories: à la carte or a cover charge restaurant. À la carte restaurants include Playmakers Sports Bar and Portside BBQ, where you can expect to spend around $20 per meal. Cover charge restaurants offer more formal sit-down dining at a set price, and you can expect to pay around $25 for lunch and $50 for dinner at a cover charge restaurant.

Related: Food on a Royal Caribbean cruise

Like drink packages, Royal Caribbean also offers dining packages for use at specialty restaurants. 2-night, 3-night, 5-night, and an Unlimited Dining Package are available to purchase before your cruise.

Dining package costs are typically around $84.99 for a 2-night (Chops + 1) package, $115 for a 3-night package, and $225 for an Unlimited Dining Package.

Room service is not included in your cruise fare aside from a complimentary continental breakfast option.

Related: Royal Caribbean room service guide & tips


Wifi is not included in the cost of a Royal Caribbean cruise, and the cruise line charges a daily fee per device. If you plan on purchasing wifi for your cruise, expect to spend around $20 per device, per day for the service. Note that two devices can use the same wifi plan as long as they are not logged in to the wifi account at the same time.

Related: Top 30 extra cruise costs that are not included

Shore excursions

Purchasing shore excursions on port days is not required, but if you elect to book an organized tour, this will come at an extra cost. Shore excursion prices can range drastically, from $25 walking tours to $400 helicopter rides. Most tours will cost between $50 and $150 per person

You can book tours directly through the cruise line or through outside providers, with the latter often offering a lower price. Before booking a shore excursion through an outside company, though, be sure to review the pros and cons of not booking through the cruise line.

Related: 5 quick and easy tips for finding a great shore excursion on your own

Radiance pulling into Seward

Booking a shore excursion through Royal Caribbean provides more security, as the ship will wait for you if the tour runs late. Booking through an independent company–while often cheaper–does not offer this sense of security.

Alternatively, you can choose to explore a port on your own without an organized excursion. This is almost always a more cost-effective way to explore a destination, as you’ll often find transportation and sightseeing costs are quite affordable in ports of call.

Related: 7 ways to have a great time in port without a cruise ship shore excursion


Houston Hobby airport

Getting to and from your cruise port is another added expense on your Royal Caribbean cruise. You’ll need to budget for flights, baggage fees, gas, parking, tolls, taxis, and any other transportation expenses needed to reach your embarkation port.

We always recommended that you arrive at your cruise embarkation port the day before your cruise departs. This allows for extra wiggle room in case of any unexpected travel delays. Arriving a day early will require booking a hotel room the night before your cruise, which could set you back between $150 and $400.

Miscellaneous expenses

Senses Spa

Aside from the major add-ons you may purchase for a Royal Caribbean cruise, you’ll also need to consider budgeting for the following optional cruise costs:

  • Spa treatments
  • Fitness classes
  • Extra-cost activities (arcade, escape room, etc.)
  • Laundry service
  • Wine and cocktail tastings
  • Backstage ship tours
  • Onboard childcare for guests 6-36 months (hourly charge)
  • Costs at home (pet care, childcare, etc.)
  • Photos
  • Souvenirs
  • Casino

How to save money on a cruise

Book early: More often than not, the earlier you book a cruise, the cheaper prices you’ll find. Plus, residents of most countries can reprice their cruise fare up until the final payment date, so if the price drops you can take advantage of a lower fare.

Use credit card points: If you have credit card points or frequent flyer miles, put the miles toward expenses like airfare and a pre-cruise hotel. Plus, you may be able to earn more points or cashback if you pay for the cruise fare with your credit card.

Use a travel agent: The best way to ensure you are getting the lowest price on a cruise is to use a travel agent. Travel agents cost nothing extra to use, but they can find the best promotions for a Royal Caribbean cruise. They are an extremely helpful resource during the entire cruise process, from the moment you book a cruise to when you return home.

Related: Top 5 things to look for in a good travel agent for your cruise vacation

St KItts volcano

Plan shore excursions on your own: Shore excursions can be expensive, so planning port days on your own is a sure-fire way to save money on a cruise.

Research the top attractions in your ports of call to determine if you can easily visit without an organized tour. This can save hundreds of dollars on any cruise and provide more flexibility in port.

Bring soda, water, juice, or wine: You can bring up to two 750ml bottles of wine per stateroom. In addition, you can bring small quantities of non-alcoholic beverages on boarding day. Non-alcoholic beverages may not exceed 12 standard (17 oz) cans, bottles, or cartons per stateroom.

Bottom line

If this article has taught you anything about the price of a cruise, it’s that a cruise fare can vary considerably. The good news? You’ll almost certainly be able to find a cruise to fit your vacation budget, whether you book a cheap interior room or lavish suite.

A rough estimate is to expect to spend around $2000 on cruise fare for a 7-night cruise for 2 adults. This can be more or less depending on cabin category, time of year you sail, etc., but it’s a great starting point for planning a cruise budget.

Of course, you’ll have to add on the cost of transportation, gratuities, and any discretional spending you do once onboard to the total cruise cost. However, a cruise vacation still offers a fantastic vacation value considering all that is included in your cruise fare.

More cruise budget tips:

Jenna DeLaurentis enjoys exploring new ports of call around the world on a cruise ship, learning about new cultures, discovering beautiful landscapes, and trying diverse cuisine. She loves to get active while at port, whether cycling through mountains in the Caribbean or scuba diving under the sea.

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