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How to get the best cruise deals: 15 easy tips

09 May 2023

If you’re planning a cruise on a budget, then you’ll want to find a cheap cruise deal. No one wants to pay more than they have to for a cruise vacation, and luckily there are several easy tips you can use to find the best cruise deals available.

The cost of a cruise can be a deterrent for many travelers, but it doesn’t have to be. If you’re flexible during the cruise planning process, you can find cheap deals that will save you hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Finding a “cheap” cruise deal does not mean you’re sacrificing a quality vacation, either. Cruise deals are due to a combination of factors—time of year, demand, and departure port—which means a good deal doesn’t equate a bad cruise.

The most important factor when looking for the best cruise deals is flexibility. The more flexible you are when planning a cruise, the better chance you have at snagging an amazing deal for your vacation.

If you’re wondering how to get the best cruise deals, here are 15 easy tips.

Book early


More often than not, the best cruise deals are found on sailings one to two years in the future. In most scenarios, if you’re looking for the best deals, we recommend booking as soon as possible rather than waiting until the last minute.

Most cruise itineraries are announced around two years in advance. As itineraries open up for bookings, you can often find great deals, especially if you’re hoping to book a balcony room or suite. Plus, if you’re searching for a rare cruise cabin, such as the cow-themed Ben & Jerry’s Sweet, it’s important to book early not only to find a cruise deal, but to book before the cabin sells out.

Look for last-minute deals

Navigator of the Seas in Miami

Booking a cruise at the last minute might seem counterintuitive to our advice about booking a cruise early. And although we usually recommend booking early as opposed to later, you can often snag a cheap cruise deal by booking at the last minute.

Related: How to get last minute cruise deals

If a cruise itinerary still has a significant number of empty cabins in the months leading up to the sailing, Royal Caribbean may drop the price in order to increase demand. This is most common after the final payment date for a particular sailing has passed—between 75 and 90 days before the cruise.

To find a last-minute cruise deal on Royal Caribbean, search the website for cruises and filter the results to see the lowest price first. You can also use a website such as, which has a 90-day ticker showing the best, cheapest cruise deals departing within the next three months.

Sail a one-way Alaska itinerary

Radiance of the Seas in Alaska

Alaska cruises have a reputation for being more expensive than other itineraries. After all, it’s not uncommon to spend over $2000 for an interior cabin during the state’s peak summer season.

Despite this, we’ve noticed a pricing trend for the past two years on select Alaska itineraries. One-way Alaska itineraries tend to offer fantastic cruise deals, often as low as just $550 per person including taxes and fees.

One-way Alaska cruises travel from Vancouver, Canada to Seward, Alaska and vice versa. These 7-night itineraries allow guests to visit more Alaska ports as well as spend time in Alaska’s interior before or after the cruise. While providing an excellent itinerary, one-way cruises see less demand compared to roundtrip sailings due to the inconvenience of starting and ending in different ports.

If Royal Caribbean sees low demand in the months leading up to the sailing, the prices for these sailings will drop drastically. Keeping an eye on one-way Alaska cruise deals 3-6 months before the cruise begins is a sure-fire way to find a deal on cruising to the Last Frontier.

Book with a travel agent

I book every single cruise with a travel agent, whether a short weekend cruise to the Bahamas or a two week trip to Greenland. Doing so has saved me hundreds of dollars over the past few years, and that’s not even mentioning the added service and resources my travel agent provides before, during, and after the sailing.

Whenever I book a cruise, I first email my travel agent for a quote; the quote I receive is often cheaper than what I could find on Royal Caribbean’s website. Depending on the travel agency you work with, they may offer group rates on select itineraries, which can save you money on your cruise fare.

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

Additionally, I almost always receive extra onboard credit through my travel agent. Having onboard credit means I can enjoy my cruise even more, whether I use it to book a specialty restaurant dinner or order an extra cocktail on the pool deck.

Aside from potential savings, though, are other benefits to using a travel agent. Travel agents are available to answer any questions you may have about your Royal Caribbean cruise, and they provide service in the case of any problems you encounter leading up to your sailing.

Book during the off season

Vue Bar

If your schedule is flexible, you should book a cruise during the shoulder or off season instead of the peak season.

Peak season varies by destination, but generally coincides with school holidays. Summer, holiday weekends, and school breaks for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and spring break tend to see the most demand for cruises.

Therefore, if you’re able to cruise outside of these peak times, you can almost always find cheaper cruise deals. Sailing to Alaska in early September, for example, can be hundreds of dollars cheaper than sailing in mid July.

Likewise, booking a Caribbean cruise during hurricane season is typically much more affordable than during Thanksgiving. While there’s a slight chance of a hurricane affecting your cruise, most itineraries will sail smoothly with no itinerary changes or cancellations.

Related: What to know about cruising during hurricane season in the Caribbean

While not everyone can take advantage of sailing at non-peak times, particularly if they have kids still in school, it can lead to great cruise deals for those with more flexibility.

Sail on older and smaller ships

Royal Caribbean markets their newest and biggest cruise ships more than the fleet’s older vessels, but that doesn’t mean you should avoid smaller cruise ships. By searching for cruises on older ships, you’re almost guaranteed to find cheap cruise deals.

The oldest Royal Caribbean ships—Vision, Radiance, and Voyager Class ships—often see some of the lowest prices. Despite the smaller size, many cruisers appreciate the more relaxed atmosphere of these ships and the unique ports on their itineraries.

Related: I sailed on Royal Caribbean’s newest and oldest cruise ships: here’s what it’s like to cruise on each

If you’re hoping for a blend of a cheap deal and "new" ship, look at cruising on an amplified cruise ship. As part of Royal Caribbean’s Royal Amplified program, the cruise line made significant refurbishments on select older vessels. During the process, they added features such as waterslides, new dining venues, and revamped pool decks.

Despite the addition of new features, cruise fares are still reasonable on amplified vessels—some of the best values in a cruise vacation can be found on amplified ships like Mariner of the Seas, Independence of the Seas, and Navigator of the Seas.

Be flexible with your departure ports

Walkway to cruise ship

Flexibility is key to finding the best cruise deals; if you’re flexible with your departure port, you may have a better chance at finding a cheap deal.

Instead of cruising from Miami, look at sailings from Tampa or Port Canaveral. Or, if you live in the Northeast, check if there are any cheap deals from Cape Liberty, Boston, or Baltimore. You might be surprised to find a cheap cruise leaving from a less common cruise port.

Don’t overlook more faraway departure ports as well. As someone who lives on the west coast of the United States, I’m often shocked at the price of domestic flights to South Florida from my home airport. In fact, it’s often nearly the same price to fly to Barcelona, Spain as it is to Miami!

While there’s certainly more travel time required to get to Europe as opposed to Florida, searching a wider range of departure ports means opening up the possibility for more cheap deals.

Look at any and all cruise itineraries


Just as it's important to be flexible on your cruise ship and departure port, you should also be flexible on your cruise itinerary in order to find the best deals.

If you’re set on visiting a particular port—whether Bermuda or Santorini—you’ll be more limited in cruise options. Having more limitations means you have fewer options available, meaning you’ll miss out on some of the best cruise deals.

Related: 15 countries you didn’t know you could cruise to on Royal Caribbean

If you’re looking for the absolute cheapest, best cruise fares, keep your destination availability open. All of Royal Caribbean’s cruise ports have something to offer, from the coral reefs of Australia to the cruise line’s private island of Perfect Day at CocoCay.

The more flexible you are in itinerary choice, the better chance you’ll have at scoring a great deal.

Book a guarantee cabin

Family oceanview on Brilliance

Booking a guarantee cabin on Royal Caribbean means you can save money on cruise fare with the caveat of not being able to choose your exact cabin location.

When you book a guarantee cabin, you give Royal Caribbean the power to select where on the ship your room will be located. If you book a guarantee balcony cabin, for example, you will be assigned (at least) a balcony room, but it could be located anywhere on the ship, from deck 7 forward to deck 12 aft.

Related: Should I book a guarantee stateroom on a cruise?

The advantage of booking a guarantee room, of course, is to save money—depending on the offer, you may be able to save over a hundred dollars by not choosing your cabin location. The disadvantage is that you cannot select the location. If you’re picky on cabin location, it’s best to pay extra to select the location yourself.

Despite the lack of flexibility, booking a guarantee cabin is one of the best ways to make a great cruise deal even cheaper.

Book during a Kids Sail Free promotion

Family playing mini golf

If you’re planning a cruise with kids, the best time to book is during one of Royal Caribbean’s Kids Sail Free promotions.

As the name implies, a Kids Sail Free promotion is an offer in which kids can sail “free” on a Royal Caribbean cruise. In reality, this means that any third guest and higher in a cabin who is 12 years old or younger can sail free on a cruise longer than four nights.

Related: Royal Caribbean Kids Sail Free 2023-2024 Dates & Tips

Of course, there are a few conditions to the Kids Sail Free offer. First are blackout dates, which are commonly found during school holidays. The second caveat is that you still have to pay taxes, fees, and gratuities for all kids—the “free” deal is for the base cruise fare only.

Despite these exceptions, booking during Kids Sail Free can usually save families money on a Royal Caribbean cruise if their schedule is flexible.

Book a longer itinerary

Harmony of the Seas aerial

The shorter the cruise, the cheaper the cruise will cost… right? Not exactly!

Most people assume that booking a shorter cruise will lead to a cheaper cruise fare, but that’s not necessarily the case. As a matter of fact, some of the cheapest cruises are found on Royal Caribbean’s longest itineraries!

If you’re cruising with a limited budget, don’t search for only the shortest itineraries. While a 3-night weekend cruise might seem like it would be the cheapest option, this is hardly ever the case!

Instead, keep your search flexible and search for cruises of varying lengths. Royal Caribbean’s cruise fares aren’t necessarily priced according to cruise length, but are based on a variety of factors including ship age, time of year, itinerary, and demand for a particular sailing.

Some of the longest itineraries—such as repositioning cruises and transatlantic itineraries—see the lowest price per day of any cruise itinerary. Being open to more unique, longer itineraries can be a good way to stretch your vacation budget further and have more time onboard.

Keep an eye on Going, Going, Gone rates

Couple at Mason Jar

Every week, Royal Caribbean publishes a PDF flyer online of their “Going, Going, Gone” rates. This list of last-minute cruise deals is one of the most convenient ways to check for the cheapest cruise fares available. You can view the list here.

The flyer is published once per week (usually late on Monday) but it is not updated throughout the week. Therefore, it’s recommended to check the flyer on late Monday night or early Tuesday morning in order to help ensure all deals listed are still available. As cruises book up during the week, the deals listed on the PDF may no longer be valid.

Subscribe to email newsletters

Hoping to be notified about the best cruise deals? Subscribing to email newsletters from your favorite cruise lines and cruise websites helps you stay in the loop.

The Royal Caribbean Blog newsletter, for example, is a weekly email in which we send out the week’s top stories, some of which may include information on cruise deals. Likewise, you may want to subscribe to Royal Caribbean’s official newsletter here—the cruise line sends promotional emails listing the current top deals and offers.

Stay loyal to a cruise line

Diamond Club sign

The higher your loyalty status with a particular cruise line, the better chance you have of finding cheap cruise deals. If you cruise often with Royal Caribbean, we recommend sticking to the cruise line in order to grow your loyalty status in the Crown & Anchor Society.

Platinum members and above in the Crown & Anchor Society receive discounts on balcony and suite staterooms in addition to exclusive Crown & Anchor rates. Not only that, but single supplement fares are reduced for select Diamond Plus members and Pinnacle Club members receive a free 7-night cruise at 700 and 1050 cruise points.

Related: 11 of our favorite under-the-radar Crown & Anchor perks

Although most passengers “Loyal to Royal” won’t reach Pinnacle Club status, they can still receive the benefits of discounted cabins and onboard offers. Even if you don’t find the cheapest cruise deal available, you’ll still save significant money with Crown & Anchor benefits like free drinks and complimentary laundry.

Book with special rates for military, senior, and residency deals

Fun times on a cruise

Select groups of people may be eligible for special rates on a Royal Caribbean cruise. Knowing if you qualify for a special rate is helpful before you book in order to ensure you find the best cruise deal for your sailing.

Royal Caribbean’s list of guests who may qualify for discounts includes:

  • Guests 55 years of age and older on select sailings
  • Police and firefighters (active or retired employee or volunteer)
  • Active or retired personnel in the military
  • Airline personnel

We recommend checking Royal Caribbean’s detailed list here to check if you qualify for any discounts.

How to get free wifi on Royal Caribbean

01 May 2023

Staying connected is important for most passengers on a cruise, but shelling out hundreds of dollars for wifi is not always an option. Although Royal Caribbean does not give free wifi to every passenger, there are a few ways to get free wifi onboard.

It’s no secret that wifi on a cruise is expensive. You should expect to pay around $20 per day for Royal Caribbean’s wifi package, and that's only for use on one device at a time. For a 7-night cruise, this means spending a whopping $140 to access the internet.

Because you cannot use cellular data on a cruise ship without racking up a costly bill, many passengers purchase wifi for their cruise to stay connected. For most guests, buying an internet package is just another mandatory cost on a cruise vacation, but what if I told you there's a way to get free wifi on Royal Caribbean?

There are a few ways to get free wifi on Royal Caribbean, but whether or not you can access free internet depends on several factors. From leveraging your loyalty perks to booking a suite, here are five ways to get free wifi on your cruise.

Diamond, Diamond Plus, and Pinnacle status

Royal Caribbean’s Crown & Anchor Society loyalty program offers some impressive benefits, including free drinks, a private lounge, and access to exclusive events, but it also offers free internet.

Free internet access is a benefit for top tier members in the Crown & Anchor Society, and is reserved for Diamond, Diamond Plus, and Pinnacle Club members.

Diamond guests, those with 80-174 cruise points, receive one free day of internet per cruise. Diamond Plus guests, with 175-699 cruise points, receive two free days of internet per cruise.

The free internet can be accessed for 24 and 48 hours respectively, meaning if you log in to the wifi at 4PM on day two, you can use the wifi until 3:59PM on day three or four.

Related: 11 of our favorite under-the-radar Crown & Anchor perks

Passengers who are Pinnacle Club members, with over 700 loyalty points, receive a free Surf & Stream internet package for one device. Offering free wifi to Pinnacle Club members is another way Royal Caribbean rewards its top tier members, and this perk can easily save cruisers thousands of dollars over time.

Even if you’re not a Diamond, Diamond Plus, or Pinnacle Club member, you can still save money on Royal Caribbean’s wifi packages through the Crown & Anchor Society. Passengers in lower tiers—Gold, Platinum, and Emerald—receive discounts on internet packages at 10% for Gold and 15% for Platinum and Emerald.

Use onboard credit to pay for a wifi package

If you have onboard credit for your upcoming cruise, why not purchase a wifi package?

Onboard credit is free “cash” used to make purchases on a Royal Caribbean cruise. You can receive onboard credit several ways, but most commonly when booking a cruise during a Royal Caribbean promotion and/or booking through a travel agent.

Related: Royal Caribbean onboard credit: How to get it and where to spend it the right way

You can spend onboard credit before your cruise begins on Royal Caribbean’s Cruise Planner website on add-ons like drink packages, specialty dining, and spa services. If you don’t spend onboard credit before the cruise begins, it will be loaded to your SeaPass account upon boarding your cruise ship.

If you’re hoping to purchase a wifi package without spending your own money, use onboard credit to reserve the package in advance. To do so, visit Royal Caribbean’s Cruise Planner website and add an internet package to your cart.

Once at checkout, you can redeem onboard credit to pay for the internet package. If your onboard credit is not enough to cover the entire wifi package, you will pay the difference with a credit card.

Gamble enough in the casino

Woman betting casino

Do you visit the casino every day on a Royal Caribbean cruise? If so, there’s a chance you could qualify for free wifi.

Club Royale is Royal Caribbean’s casino rewards program, in which guests earn points—called Tier Credits— in the program by gambling at the casino. The program is free to join, and as a guest moves up the program, they will qualify for free wifi.

The program has four tiers:

  • Choice: 1 - 2,499 Tier Credits
  • Prime: 2,500 - 24,999 Tier Credits
  • Signature: 25,000 - 99,999 Tier Credits
  • Masters: 100,000+ Tier Credits

Members in the Prime tier qualify for a discount on a VOOM Surf & Stream internet package. Those in the Signature tier receive complimentary wifi on one device, whereas Masters members receive free internet on two devices.

Club Royale reward points are earned by spending money at the casino. Guests earn 1 Tier Credit for every $5 coin in at slot machines and 1 Tier Credit for every $10 coin in on video poker machines. Tier Credits earned on table games vary based on the game, average bet, and length of play.

It’s not cost effective to gamble solely as a way to get free wifi on Royal Caribbean, but for those who gamble frequently while onboard, receiving free wifi is a nice benefit.

Stay in a high category suite


If you booked a suite for your upcoming cruise, you may receive free wifi as a suite perk.

Guests staying in Grand Suites and above on Quantum, Oasis, and Icon Class ships receive a complimentary VOOM Surf & Stream wifi package. Each guest in the cabin receives an internet package for one device.

Related: Royal Caribbean suites guide & review

Suites on these ships are part of the Royal Suite Class, Royal Caribbean’s most exclusive suite program. Unfortunately, free internet is not offered to guests in Junior Suites or those in Grand Suites and above on Vision, Radiance, Voyager, and Freedom Class ships.

Guests staying in suites on older Royal Caribbean cruise ships must pay for wifi themselves or use one of these tips to obtain free wifi another way.

Free wifi in port instead

If all else fails and you don’t want to spend money on wifi for your cruise, you can always find free wifi in port. Regardless of the port, it’s usually relatively easy to find places with free wifi.

One of the easiest ways to find free wifi in port is by visiting a coffee shop, restaurant, or bar in the immediate port area. These establishments cater to tourists, meaning they often provide free wifi if you purchase a drink or meal. Many businesses will have a sign on the shop or restaurant’s exterior indicating that they offer free wifi to customers.

Radiance of the Seas

Depending on the destination, you may also be able to use your cellular coverage as normal while in port. If you’re cruising to Alaska, for example, your regular US phone coverage will work while visiting Alaska cruise ports.

Additionally, if your phone service includes international coverage, you can turn off airplane mode in port and use data roaming at no extra cost.

Because your cruise ship is usually docked between 8-10 hours at a time, this should provide enough time to find and use free wifi or cell phone data before getting back onboard.

BONUS: Use Royal Caribbean’s free chat feature in the app

If the primary reason you’re considering purchasing internet for your cruise is to keep in touch with your travel party onboard, use the Royal Caribbean app instead.

Royal Caribbean’s app has a chat feature that is completely free to use, and it allows you to message other passengers on your sailing. Whether coordinating dinner plans with your travel party or letting your spouse know you’re heading back to the cabin, the app is a useful tool for communication.

Related: Here’s how Royal Caribbean’s onboard messaging system works

In order to use the app, be sure to download the Royal Caribbean app prior to your sailing. Once onboard, connect to Royal Caribbean’s wifi—and no, you don’t need a wifi package in order to access the app.

Once you open the app, click on the chat icon in the top right corner. From there, you can begin messaging others onboard. To message another guest, you must add the guest’s stateroom number (or reservation number) and their birthday. Doing so connects your accounts together, permitting you to message each other.

Using the chat feature on the Royal Caribbean app is a free workaround to staying connected without purchasing a wifi package.

We booked 2 cabins on the same cruise, but one was $300 more. Here's why booking a cruise early matters

27 Mar 2023

Nine times out of ten, the earlier you book a cruise, the more money you’ll save. No one wants to waste money, but unfortunately, booking a cruise just a few months later than another passenger onboard could see you spending hundreds of dollars more for the same cabin, sail date, and cruise ship.

I recently sailed on Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas for a 7-night Western Caribbean cruise. I booked my February cruise in early September—162 days before the sail date—and spent $1,656.

Just a few months later, my fellow Royal Caribbean staff member Elizabeth decided to book a separate cabin on the same sailing of Symphony of the Seas. She booked her room in mid December—59 days before the sail date—and spent $1986.

Both of our cruise rates reflect the total price for two adults in an interior cabin including taxes, fees, and gratuities. My cabin was only $828 per person, whereas Elizabeth’s was $993 per person.

Suffice to say, when Elizabeth found out she spent hundreds of dollars more than me for the same exact cruise experience, it was a bit of a letdown.

Money wasted is never ideal, especially when you could have saved money by just booking a few months earlier. Saving money on your cruise fare means stretching your budget further, freeing extra funds for that amazing shore excursion, spa treatment, or drink package.

Let’s dive in to share how you should approach the cruise booking process to avoid paying more than other passengers on the same sailing.

Booking your cruise early to save money

In general, the cheapest cruise fares are found as soon as Royal Caribbean releases new itineraries. Cruise itineraries are released around two or three years prior to the sail date.

Keeping an eye on when new cruise itineraries will be announced will help you snag the best deals. Two easy ways to do this are to sign up for Royal Caribbean’s newsletter or follow our newsletter here at

Related: Pros and Cons of booking a cruise early vs last-minute

As more and more people book a cruise, the price of that cruise is likely to increase over time. Not only that, but certain cabin categories can sell out, which might force you to either book a more expensive stateroom or downgrade to a cabin you would rather avoid.

What about last-minute cruise deals?

Some people prefer waiting to book a cruise with the hope of finding a last-minute cruise deal. In the case of Elizabeth’s sailing on Symphony of the Seas, this strategy would not have worked.

She booked within the cruise’s final payment date, which is after all passengers had paid the cruise in full. If there was a last-minute deal offered, it almost certainly would have been offered around the same time Elizabeth booked the cruise.

Related: Ultimate Guide to last-minute cruise deals

Royal Caribbean only offers last-minute deals if a certain cruise has low demand, but this did not appear to be the case with Symphony of the Seas.

If you do want to find a last-minute cruise deal you definitely can, but you’ll have to remain flexible on ship, sail date, and destination. Finding a cheap last-minute cruise is not something you can necessarily plan for; it’s more about the luck of finding a deal than anything else!

Book with a travel agent

I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve saved money simply by booking my cruise with a travel agent. As someone who always preferred booking vacations on my own, I’ve been blown away by the service and convenience a travel agent provides.

Whenever I find a cruise I’m interested in booking, I send the cruise information to my travel agent. More often than not, she either responds back with a lower price than I found on Royal Caribbean’s website, or the cruise fare includes a generous amount of onboard credit.

By booking with a travel agent, I often save more money than other passengers who booked a cruise on their own. Whether $50 or $200, any dollar saved is another dollar to put toward cruise add-ons like shore excursions and specialty dining!

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

Not only can using a travel agent save me money on cruise fare, but it saves time. Whenever I have a question or concern, all I need to do is email my travel agent, and she will be the one who contacts Royal Caribbean instead of having to do it myself! Time is money, after all, and I’ve saved hours upon hours of time by using a travel agent instead of booking on my own.

If I’m being honest, when I first started cruising I didn’t even know people still used travel agents to book vacations. After seeing the amazing service they provide, though, I can’t imagine not using one for my cruise, especially if I’m looking to find the best cruise deals!

Check frequently for a drop in the price of your cruise

Symphony of the Seas in Miami

One of the best Royal Caribbean hacks to save money on cruise fare is to reprice your cruise. Royal Caribbean allows you to reprice your cruise until final payment date if you notice a lower fare.

Repricing a Royal Caribbean cruise means checking if the price of your cruise has lowered since you booked the sailing. If you booked a cruise for $3000 and notice a few months later that the price has dropped to $2500, the lower price will be honored on your reservation.

You can find out if a price dropped by searching for your sailing on Royal Caribbean’s website or contacting your travel agent for an updated quote.

You should know that Royal Caribbean’s website does not specifically mention this repricing policy. In fact, the Royal Caribbean website states that you can take advantage of a lower fare within 48 hours of booking your cruise.

That being said, we have had no problem repricing our cruises until final payment date. If you notice a price drop, simply contact your travel agent or call Royal Caribbean directly to take advantage of the lower fare.

Related: 45 ways to save money on a Royal Caribbean cruise

Let’s take a look at a common scenario to highlight why it’s important to reprice your cruise and save money.

Two passengers—let’s call them John and Peter—book a Royal Caribbean cruise at the same time. Both book a balcony cabin on the same Oasis of the Seas cruise and pay $1500 each.

Four months before the cruise, however, John notices the price has changed to $1350 for a balcony cabin on his sailing. Noticing this change, he contacts Royal Caribbean (or his travel agent) and has the price readjusted, saving $150 total.

Unfortunately, Peter never checked the price of his cruise again after he made the initial booking, so he paid $150 more than John for the same cabin on the same cruise!

As you can see, taking advantage of repricing your cruise can make the difference between paying more or less for a cruise than another passenger. No one wants to pay hundreds more than someone else for the same experience, so checking the price of your cruise every so often is recommended.

Why saving money matters on a cruise


For my 7-night sailing on Symphony of the Seas, I spent $330 less than what Elizabeth paid for her cabin. With that money saved, I was able to spend extra on specialty dining and shore excursions without breaking the bank.

On my cruise, I spent a total of $60 on specialty restaurants and $150 in port—and that’s before I accounted for the onboard credit I received by booking with a travel agent.

At $210 total, the amount of money I paid extra on top of my cruise fare was still less than the amount Elizabeth paid for just her cruise fare. Booking just three months earlier than she did allowed me to spend that money on additional ways to enhance my cruise experience.

Related: I’m a budget cruiser. Here are 8 strategies I used on my recent Royal Caribbean cruise to save money

Symphony of the Seas pool deck

If Elizabeth had booked her cruise earlier, she could have put the $330 extra she spent toward her flight, travel insurance, or a pre-cruise hotel stay. Essentially, she "wasted" hundreds of dollars just because she booked a few months later than me!

If there’s anything I learned from this experience, it is to always book my cruises as early as possible. Although snagging a last-minute cruise deal is always a possibility, it’s best to plan further in advance to ensure you get the lowest possible price.

I’m a budget cruiser. Here are 8 easy strategies I used on my recent Royal Caribbean cruise to save money

27 Feb 2023

I’m always looking for ways to save money on a Royal Caribbean cruise, from booking interior cabins to skipping shore excursions. So when I booked a cruise on Symphony of the Seas, the second biggest cruise ship in the world, I knew my budgeting skills would be put to the test.

On my 7-night Western Caribbean cruise, my goal was to spend as little extra money as possible while still making the most of my vacation. I wanted to experience not only everything the ship had to offer, but the ports as well, and I knew this would be challenging when cruising on a budget.

Needless to say, I ended my cruise with only $28 spent onboard and $150 spent in port. Here are the 8 easy strategies I used to save money on my Royal Caribbean cruise that you can use too.

Booked my cruise early

I booked my Symphony of the Seas cruise five months in advance of my February sail date. The total cost of my cruise for two guests, including gratuities, taxes, and fees, was $1656.

My fellow staff member Elizabeth also sailed on Symphony of the Seas with me in a separate cabin. Like me, she booked an interior room, but she didn’t book her cruise until late December, just two months before the sail date.

Related: When is the best time to book a cruise?

Despite sailing on the exact same ship and in the same cabin category, the total price of Elizabeth’s cruise was $1986!

She paid $330 more than I did for the same cruise just because she booked three months later than I did. I always knew it was better to book a cruise early, but seeing how much more Elizabeth paid for the same experience made me grateful I had booked several months earlier.

Used a Priceline hotel deal

Miami downtown night

My flight arrived in Miami the night before my cruise on Symphony of the Seas, so I had to book a hotel for one night. Hotels in Miami aren’t necessarily the most budget-friendly, so I decided to use one of my favorite hotel “hacks” to save money.

Related: Best Miami hotels near the cruise port

Priceline offers Express Deals, a service in which you can save up to 60% off a hotel for your trip. The catch? The names of the hotels are omitted from the list of deals, which means you “blindly” book a hotel and find out the exact location and name after you book.

Luckily, you can search a specific location, such as hotels near Miami’s airport, and it will populate hotels around the airport. The hotel’s rating, number of stars, amenities, and price are listed in the results, so you can feel confident with whatever “blind” booking you make.

I booked a hotel with Express Deals and stayed at the Holiday Inn Miami-Doral Area, located just 10 minutes from the airport. Normally priced at $278 per night, I only paid $215 for the room through Express Deals, saving me $63 on my pre-cruise hotel stay.

Stayed in an inside room

Unsurprisingly, as a budget cruiser, I almost always book inside cabins. And even though I had the chance to stay in an $870 per night suite last month on Liberty of the Seas, that luxury experience was the exception, not the rule.

Needless to say, I booked an interior stateroom for my recent cruise on Symphony of the Seas. While nothing fancy, the cabin had everything I needed for my “home away from home” for the week:

  • King sized bed
  • Couch
  • Desk/vanity area
  • 2 closets
  • Wardrobe
  • Mini fridge
  • Private bathroom

Cruising in an interior room instead of an oceanview, balcony, or suite saved me hundreds of dollars on my cruise. And, since we were sailing on such a big cruise ship, we hardly spent any time in our stateroom anyway!

Booked a guarantee cabin

Not only did I book an inside cabin on my recent cruise, but I booked a guarantee inside cabin. Guarantee cabins are when you let Royal Caribbean choose your stateroom location instead of picking it yourself.

While this doesn’t offer much control over where in the ship you’ll be located, it can be a great money saving hack for cruisers on a budget. In fact, there’s even a chance you can get upgraded to a better stateroom if your guarantee cabin category sells out.

Related: I saved $100 by letting Royal Caribbean choose my cruise ship cabin location, and I would do it again

Although I didn’t receive any type of upgraded cabin, I was assigned to an inside cabin on deck 11 forward, and had no complaints about the stateroom’s amenities, size, or location.

By booking a guarantee cabin over choosing my own cabin location, I saved a total of $97.

Planned port days on my own

I rarely book organized shore excursions. Not only are they often out of my budget, but I don’t love traveling with big groups and having a set itinerary for the day.

Because of this, I prefer to plan port days on my own, and it always ends up saving me money. I research each port before my cruise begins to make note of how I’d like to spend the day.

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

On my recent cruise, we visited Roatan, Costa Maya, Cozumel, and Perfect Day at CocoCay. Here’s what I did and how much money I spent in each port:

  • Roatan: Hired a private driver from Bodden Tours for $46 per person + lunch for $7 per person
  • Costa Maya: Spent the day at Jaime’s at the Blue Reef for $56 per person + $8 taxi
  • Cozumel: Walked around downtown Cozumel and dined at two restaurants for $25 per person + $8 taxi
  • Perfect Day at CocoCay: Spent the day at the beach for free!

In total, I only spent around $150 for four memorable days in port. If I had booked shore excursions through Royal Caribbean or another tour company, I could have easily spent over $300!

Avoided spending extra on activities

It’s easier said than done, but avoiding spending extra on Royal Caribbean’s activities and services during your cruise can save you a significant chunk of change.

While most activities are included in your cruise fare, such as zip lining, entertainment productions, and live music, there are a few add-ons that can be purchased throughout the cruise.

I was tempted to reserve a time slot for the escape room, for example, but decided against the $20 fee in favor of free activities onboard. Outside of the escape room, I avoided the arcade, cupcake decorating classes, cocktail seminars, and expensive spa treatments.

Related: Top 30 extra cruise costs that are not included

Although I did make a brief trip to the casino to use my free play money, I figured it was best to leave as soon as the free play ran out!

While I’m not opposed to spending money on activities on a Royal Caribbean cruise, there are so many free activities on Symphony of the Seas that I didn’t feel I missed out on anything onboard.

Stuck to my Diamond drinks

I’ve never booked a drink package on Royal Caribbean. At around $80 per person, per day, it was always out of my budget, and I never felt like I could drink enough to justify the cost of the package anyway.

As I’m now a Diamond member in Royal Caribbean’s Crown & Anchor Society, however, I get four free drink vouchers per day. These vouchers can be used anywhere onboard, from specialty coffees at Cafe Promenade to whimsical cocktails at Wonderland.

Related: Crown & Anchor Society loyalty program info, tips & secrets

I find four drinks per day to be sufficient, but there were a few times I considered going over my daily limit by ordering another cocktail or two. At $14 each, though, I decided against it and stuck to complimentary beverages instead.

Booked specialty restaurants for lunch

One of the most sure-fire ways to save money on a Royal Caribbean cruise is to eat primarily at complimentary dining venues. From the Windjammer to the Main Dining Room and everywhere in between, there’s more than enough food included in your cruise fare.

That being said, I love Royal Caribbean’s specialty restaurants, but they can add up quickly. I didn’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on a dining package, but I still wanted to try several specialty restaurants on Symphony of the Seas. Here’s what I did instead:

Booked Jamie’s Italian for lunch

Lunch at Jamie’s Italian is $25 per person whereas dinner is $50 per person! The lunch menu is almost identical to the dinner menu but at half the cost. As a plus, we reserved lunch on embarkation day, meaning we could escape the busy atmosphere elsewhere onboard by dining inside the quiet restaurant.

Dinner at Izumi Sushi

Most specialty restaurant dinners cost between $45 to $60 per person, including the hibachi option at Izumi.

The sushi side, however, offers a prix fixe menu for only $35 per person. We booked dinner here on the Cruise Planner prior to our cruise for only $29 per person, which made it an excellent deal on a specialty restaurant dinner.

À la carte dining at Playmakers

Playmakers Sports Bar and Arcade is a specialty dining venue that offers à la carte options as opposed to a cover charge. This means each item on the menu comes with its own price, and the options are quite affordable, from $3 fries to $9 burgers.

Wanting to try something different without spending too much money, we dined at Playmakers one evening. We spent only $6 on nachos and $6 on the restaurant’s famous Campfire Cookie, a skillet chocolate chip cookie topped with toasted marshmallows and ice cream.

Overall, we only spent around $60 each to eat at three specialty restaurants during our sailing, and we were able to use onboard credit for both Izumi and Jamie's Italian!

Planning a Royal Caribbean cruise on a budget? Check out more of our money saving tips & tricks:

15 tips to cruising for cheap on less than $100 per day

16 Dec 2022

The cost of a Royal Caribbean cruise can vary dramatically depending on the ship, itinerary, and time of year you sail. However, it’s certainly possible to cruise for less than $100 per day, even when accounting for extra costs like transportation, gratuities, and expenses in port.

Planning a cruise for less than $100 per day requires some planning in advance, from selecting a ship to booking a cabin category. It also requires a little self control, as ordering 5 piña coladas on the pool deck will surely increase the daily cost of your cruise!

Here are 15 of our best tips to cruise cheap for less than $100 per day.

Explore ports without a shore excursion

Booking shore excursions in every port can quickly skyrocket the price of your cruise. Instead of planning organized tours, consider exploring ports on your own. Walking around town, finding a free public beach, and enjoying a local lunch are all great ways to have a cheap yet culturally-immersive port day.

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

If you do want to book a shore excursion, consider booking through an independent tour operator, as these tours can often be much cheaper than booking directly through the cruise line. While tours booked through Royal Caribbean offer protection in case your tour is delayed (the ship won’t leave without you), reputable independent tour operators will ensure you get back to your ship in time.

Cruise during the off-season

Mariner of the Seas Solarium

One of the best ways to save money on a Royal Caribbean cruise is to sail during the off-season. Off-season sees less demand for cruises, leading to cheaper fares than you’ll find during busier times of the year.

Royal Caribbean’s off-season prices can typically be found during these dates:

  • January (excluding MLK weekend)
  • February (excluding President’s Day weekend)
  • May
  • September
  • October
  • First two weeks of November
  • First two weeks of December

While these dates may not work well for those with kids in school, you’ll want to consider off-season cruises if your schedule is flexible to get more bang for your buck.

Book your cruise with a travel agent

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve saved money by booking my cruise with a travel agent. Whenever I find a cruise I’m interested in, I ask my travel agent for a quote, and she almost always replies back with a cheaper rate than what I could book directly through Royal Caribbean’s website. Plus, in my experience, booking with a travel agent almost always includes extra onboard credit!

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

Other than having access to special travel agency group rates, travel agents can be an extremely beneficial resource during the cruise planning process.

Take advantage of miles and points

British Airways airplane

If you have a credit card that accrues miles and points, consider redeeming your miles for pre-cruise purchases like airfare and hotels. If you have 50,000 airline miles, for example, you can easily redeem miles for a “free” flight to your cruise port, thus saving you several hundred dollars on the total cruise cost.

On that note, consider making all cruise purchases with a travel credit card. Some cards may offer 5 points per dollar spent on cruise fare, so if you spend $2500 on a cruise using the credit card, you’ll receive 12,500 miles!

Book early & reprice your cruise often

Generally speaking, the earlier you book a Royal Caribbean cruise, the cheaper price you’ll pay. One of the best times to book a cruise is as soon as new itineraries are announced, which usually occurs around two years in advance of the sail date.

Even booking 12 months in advance can bring great deals without risking stateroom categories or itineraries selling out.

Related: How to have the best experience for cheap on Royal Caribbean

Other than finding cheap cruise fares, another advantage of booking early is having the ability to reprice your cruise until final payment date. If you book a 7-night cruise for $1,500, for example, and later find the price has lowered to $1,200, you can pay the lower fare provided final payment date has not already passed.

Look for last-minute cruise deals

Although booking in advance is usually recommended, there’s always a chance you’ll find cheap, under $100 per day cruises at the last minute.

Royal Caribbean’s pricing changes based on supply and demand, and if demand for a particular ship or itinerary is low, prices may lower significantly. Some of the best last-minute deals occur after the final payment date for a particular sailing, which is between 75 and 90 days before the sail date.

For more information on booking last-minute cruises, check out our helpful guides:

Book a longer itinerary

While you’ll often find the cheapest total cruise fare on short, 3 and 4-night cruises, you can usually come across a lower price per day on longer itineraries. This is even more true when you consider the cost of transportation (airfare, gas, etc.) and divide it over the course of the cruise.

Let’s look at two examples: a 3-night Bahamas cruise on Liberty of the Seas and a 7-night Western Caribbean cruise on Allure of the Seas. Both itineraries are in late January.

For two adults in an interior cabin with taxes and fees included, here is the total cruise fare:

  • 3-night cruise: $740 ($123 per person, per day)
  • 7-night cruise: $1254 ($89 per person, per day)

As you can see, the longer cruise provides a much better value per day compared to the short 3-night cruise. If you can make a longer cruise work with your schedule, you’ll almost always find a cheaper daily price.

Stick to complimentary dining

Royal Caribbean’s specialty dining options–from savory hibachi to homemade pasta–are undoubtedly excellent. However, specialty dining comes at an extra cost, and if you’re looking to cruise for less than $100 per day, it’s best to stick to complimentary dining options.

Related: Food on a Royal Caribbean cruise

Luckily, Royal Caribbean offers an array of dining options included in your cruise fare. The Main Dining Room and Windjammer buffet are staples of any Royal Caribbean cruise, and additional complimentary dining options vary by ship. Newer ships will have the most complimentary options, from El Loco Fresh for Mexican fare to Park Cafe for soups, salads, and sandwiches.

It’s entirely possible to go on a Royal Caribbean cruise and not spend even a penny extra on food. If you are set on trying a specialty restaurant, though, consider reserving the restaurant at lunch instead of dinner. Lunch prices at select restaurants are usually half the price of dinner for a similar menu.

Consider transportation costs

Finding a cheap cruise fare is exciting, but be sure to consider transportation costs before booking a cruise. Flight costs, baggage fees, gas, parking, and other transportation fees can easily increase the cost of a cruise vacation.

If you live in the northeast, consider cruising out of New Jersey or Baltimore instead of flying to Florida. Likewise, if you’re based in the western US, cruising out of Los Angeles or Seattle can be more economical options than flying across the country.

Sail in an interior cabin (or book a guarantee rate)

A surefire way to save money on cruise fare is to book an interior cabin. While nothing fancy, interior cabins can still be a cozy place to spend a cruise.

Interior cabins do not have a window or balcony, but still come with everything you need in a cabin: a bed, vanity, closets, private bathroom, television, etc. Often priced hundreds of dollars cheaper than ocean view and balcony cabins, it’s hard to argue with the value of an interior cabin.

Related: I tried the best inside cruise cabin hacks to see how well they worked

You may also want to book a guarantee stateroom rate for even cheaper fares. Guarantee cabins mean you cannot select your exact cabin location and it will be assigned closer to departure. While guarantee rooms require staying flexible, the added savings are worth it for many cruisers.

Related: Should I book a guarantee stateroom on a cruise?

Consider older, smaller ships

It’s possible to find a cruise for under $100 per day on Royal Caribbean’s newest, most modern cruise ships, but it’s not very likely. As an example, the cruise line’s newest ship, Wonder of the Seas, is usually priced around $160 per person, per day.

You can almost always find great deals by sailing on Royal Caribbean’s older, smaller ships. Vision, Radiance, and Voyager Class ships often have the best pricing, with fares as low as $80 per person, per day possible on select itineraries.

Related: Things you’ll notice when cruising on an older cruise ship

Older ships can still offer a wonderful cruise experience, with fantastic dining options, impressive entertainment, and diverse port stops found on every ship in the fleet.

Plus, just because a ship is older doesn’t necessarily mean it’s outdated. Some of the best values are found on recently amplified cruise ships. Amplified ships, like Mariner of the Seas and Navigator of the Seas, feature many of Royal Caribbean’s most popular activities and amenities at a fraction of the cost of ships like Odyssey or Wonder of the Seas.

Lay low on the drinks

A quick way to ruin any cruise budget is by overdoing it with drinks. Drinks on a Royal Caribbean cruise aren’t cheap, with cocktails around $14 each and beers around $8. Ordering multiple drinks a day can easily add up, so if you’re looking to cruise under $100 per day, it’s best to control your drink consumption onboard.

There are, however, a few ways to save money on drinks on a Royal Caribbean cruise:

  1. Order the drink of the day. Usually a fruity cocktail, the drink of the day is only ~$10 opposed to $14 and it changes daily.
  2. If you are a member of Royal Caribbean’s Crown & Anchor Society, you’ll receive onboard offers for coupons on alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages.
  3. Bring your own wine and nonalcoholic beverages with you on embarkation day. Each stateroom can bring up to two 750ml bottles of wine and up to twelve 17 oz bottles, cans, or cartons of nonalcoholic beverages.
  4. Drink in port instead of onboard. Drink prices in port are usually always cheaper than the prices you’ll find onboard.

Use free wifi in port

Oasis of the Seas in Cozumel

Unfortunately there’s no free wifi on a Royal Caribbean cruise, and an internet package for one device typically costs around $20 per day. Instead of purchasing wifi onboard, consider connecting to free wifi in your ports of call.

It’s easy to find free wifi in ports of call at restaurants and cafes, although you’ll usually have to make a purchase to gain wifi access.

Alternatively, check your phone’s data plan to check if it includes international coverage. If it does, you can turn off airplane mode once in port and use your phone’s data as normal.

Purchase travel insurance

While purchasing something extra may seem counterintuitive to planning a cruise under $100 per day, don’t overlook the importance of travel insurance.

Travel insurance will protect your trip in case of trip interruption, delays, medical emergencies, and other unexpected scenarios. The onboard medical center is not covered under regular health insurance, so having travel insurance is a major plus on the chance you need coverage while onboard.

If you cruise or travel frequently, you may even want to consider an annual travel insurance plan, which may only cost around $300 for coverage year round.

Related: Should you buy annual travel insurance plans?

We always recommend purchasing travel insurance before a cruise whether you’re traveling on a budget or not. After all, finding a cruise for $75 a day only to receive an $800 bill from the ship’s medical center afterwards is not exactly ideal.

Pack everything you’ll need (and then some!)

Suitcase open for packing

Packing properly for a cruise ensures you won’t have to purchase forgotten items in port or onboard. Making sure to pack toiletries, medication, proper clothing, supplies for kids, and other essentials is extremely important. While many of these items can be purchased on the ship, you’ll spend double or triple for an item you could have bought cheaply at home.

Related: The Ultimate Cruise Packing List

Laundry is also not included in the cost of a Royal Caribbean cruise, so make sure to pack enough clothes to last you the entire sailing. Sending in one bag of laundry onboard can cost over $35, so it’s definitely not a budget-friendly option!

By packing everything you’ll need for your cruise, you can avoid any unexpected expenses during your sailing.

Looking for more money saving Royal Caribbean tips? Start here:

How much can you save by sailing on an older Royal Caribbean cruise ship?

30 Nov 2022

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

Rhapsody of the Seas pool deck near Crete

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.

Radiance of the Seas in Seward, Alaska

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

Explorer of the Seas docked

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

Balcony smooth seas

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


Perfect Storm waterslides on Wonder of the Seas

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

Radiance pulling into Seward

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.


Family oceanview on Brilliance

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:

How to have the best experience for cheap on Royal Caribbean

10 Aug 2021

Going on a cruise ship for vacation doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg.

Royal Caribbean has restarted sailings again this summer, and with more ships set to resume sailings this year, lots of ships and itineraries to choose from.

One of the strengths of sailing with Royal Caribbean is the value they offer across their ships.  While you can splurge for a suite or spend lots onboard, there are some easy ways to keep your vacation budget in check and still have a great time.

I'm not talking about some theoretical vacation where you just sit in your cabin as a way to avoid temptation. Rather, there are some easy ways to have a great time onboard while saving money.

For anyone on a tight budget, or just someone who wants to make their money go further, I have some simple ways to have a great experience for as cheap as possible.

Book a recently refurbished ship

The best value right now in Royal Caribbean's fleet are its refurbished Voyager Class ships.

From 2018 to 2020, Royal Caribbean instituted a new ship upgrade program called the Royal Amplified program, which added multimillion-dollar upgrades to some of its biggest ships.

In my opinion, the Voyager Class ships have the best bang for your buck right now because they are at least 3 classes of ships "older" and "smaller" than the newer vessels, but they are still big ships with lots to do.  Add to that the recent upgrades and you have a really good price to book a cruise.

I would focus primarily on Mariner of the Seas and Navigator of the Seas, although Voyager of the Seas did get upgraded as well.  Adventure of the Seas had an upgrade before the Royal Amplified program began, but her amplification and Explorer of the Seas' amplifications were both cancelled due to the global health crisis.

In short, booking a Voyager Class ship will get you a big ship feel, with some great things to do onboard, without paying top dollar for it.

Read moreWhat was added to each Royal Caribbean ship during its Royal Amplified refurbishment

Pick a ship that visits Perfect Day at CocoCay

The key to saving money is to take advantage of all the free things Royal Caribbean offers, and their private island in The Bahamas has lots to do without spending extra.

Perfect Day at CocoCay is a private island for Royal Caribbean, which means there is no cost to walk off the ship and explore the island.  The vast majority of the things to do on the island are complimentary, including the beaches and a freshwater pool.

Nearly all the food on the island is included as well, so you can really enjoy a full day without spending anything extra.

If you have younger children, there are two splash zones that are free as well: Captain Jill Galleon and Splashaway Bay.  While it doesn't have the thrills of the water park, it is exactly what younger children want: lots of splashing and even a few tame slides.

Here's a list of what's included with your day at Perfect Day at CocoCay:

  • Splashaway Bay
  • Captain Jill Galleon
  • Skipper's Grill
  • Chill Grill
  • Snack Shack
  • Beach chairs and umbrellas
  • Oasis Lagoon
  • Chill Island
  • South Beach
  • Sports Courts
  • Freshwater showers
  • Tram service
  • Beach access wheelchairs

Read more40 Perfect Day at CocoCay tips, tricks and secrets

Drink at ports of call

One of the top extra costs someone can incur on a cruise is alcohol.  Alcoholic beverages are not included in your cruise fare, so you are either paying for each drink as you order them or purchasing an unlimited drink package.

If you really want to save money on drinks, wait to do your drinking at the ports of call you visit.

The average price of a beer on Royal Caribbean is right around $8 before gratuity, and cocktails come in between $10 - $13 per drink.  If you opt to drink in one of the ports your ship visits, you will often find the same drinks at a fraction of that price.

In most ports, there are bars right near where your ship docks.  This means you do not have to go far to enjoy a cheaper drink.

Let Royal Caribbean pick your room

When you book your cabin, often there is the choice to pick a specific room, or let Royal Caribbean assign one for you.

When Royal Caribbean chooses a room for you, it is called a Guarantee Cabin, and that means they will ensure you get a stateroom of at least a certain category you designate.  It's even possible it could be a higher category, although I would not count on that happening.

Before you choose if you want a guarantee room or not, Royal Caribbean will show you the price difference. 

If you are worried this will mean they will assign you the worst possible room, that is actually not the case.

In many cases, other guests will book the absolute cheapest room they can find.  Meanwhile, the folks with guarantee cabins end up with a not so bad location.

The other consideration is how much time will you actually spend in your cabin? On cruises, cabins tend to be a place for sleeping, showering, and getting dressed. Otherwise, you are out and about.  So saving money on your room means more money to spend elsewhere.

Read moreShould I book a guarantee stateroom on a cruise?

Bring your own wine and drinks

Let's go back to drinking again, because this is one of my favorite tips for how to save money on your bar tab.

Royal Caribbean allows all guests to bring up to 2 bottles of wine (750 ml) per cabin onboard their ship on embarkation day.  You can drink this wine in your cabin, or bring it to a restaurant or bar to be opened.

There is a corkage fee with bringing your own bottle of wine to a bar or restaurant, although in practice, the corkage fee is only sometimes applied.  Regardless, bringing your own wine means you can not only bring your favorite type and brand, but purchase it at retail prices instead of the upcharged prices you would find onboard.

In addition to wine, Royal Caribbean also allows a limited amount of non-alcoholic beverages to be brought onboard on embarkation day.

You can bring up to 12 standard (17 oz.) cans, bottles or cartons per stateroom of your favorite non-alcoholic beverage (soda, bottled water, etc).

Read moreWhat food or drinks you're allowed to bring on a Royal Caribbean cruise

Try the spa while ship is in port

With all the money you are saving with these other tips, maybe you would like to treat yourself to a massage while onboard.  

The best way to save money and get the lowest possible price for any service in the spa is to book something while the ship is in port.

Quite often the spa runs daily specials, with the best prices being when the ship is docked in a port of call because most guests are off the ship, and there is significantly less demand for the spa services.

You can wait to see the daily spa specials advertised in the Cruise Compass, or go to the Vitality Spa and ask what offers they have during the sailing.

Read moreCruise FAQ: Saving Money

Walk around ports instead of booking a tour

When your ship visits a port, don't feel as though you need to book a tour in order to explore a port.

Subject to current health protocols, most ports are great places to walk off the ship and simply explore on your own.  There is usually a built up port area you can walk around that has bars, shopping, and maybe even a cultural sight or two.

Some ports are even close enough to a city that you can easily walk from the ship to the downtown area and explore on your own.  

If the main attractions are not walkable, taxis are usually very inexpensive options.

Read more45 ways to save money on a Royal Caribbean cruise

Look for shoulder season cruises 

When it comes to finding the lowest prices for a cruise, try the shoulder season.

These are the times of the year before and after the peak of a given season, when ships are sailing, but demand is significantly less.  This could be because the weather is not as ideal, school is still in session, or just before or after a ship transitions to a new area.

The cheapest times of the year to cruise the Caribbean will be....

  • January (minus New Years week) [School in session]
  • First two weeks of February [School in session]
  • May [School in session]
  • September [Hurricane season]
  • October [Hurricane season]
  • First two weeks of December [School in session]

Read moreWhat is the cheapest month to go on a cruise?

Cruise FAQ: Saving Money

23 Mar 2021

Whether you're on a strict vacation planning budget or have unlimited funds, it's great to feel like you've scored the most bang for your buck.

We've noted your burning questions about saving money on cruises. Check out the answers below, and find out how to hold on to more of your hard-earned cash.

How can I save money on a cruise?

The easiest thing you can do is familiarize yourself with standard cruise pricing across the industry so you'll know a good deal when you see one. If you need help, sign up for price drop alerts -- Cruise Critic, Cruise Watch, Cruiseline and Cruise Fish offer them -- that will tell you when fares have decreased.

You can also sign up for cruise line newsletters that will alert you to special deals and promotions on that voyage you've been eyeing.

Additionally, if you live near a cruise port and have a flexible schedule, be on the lookout for last-minute resident rates.

Another trick, partiuclarly if you don't anticipate spending much time in your room, is to book a less-swanky cabin. Choose an inside or oceanview stateroom instead of a balcony, for example.

For further savings after you're already onboard, you can book your next sailing while you're still on the present one. Most cruise ships have a future cruise desk, where cruise line representatives will almost always try to entice you to make a new reservation by reducing or waiving deposits or throwing in extras like dining, drink packages or onboard credit.

You can also seek to save a few bucks by reserving shore excursions that are independent of the cruise line.

If spa treatments are your thing, ask about discounts for booking more than one, or make an appointment on a port day, when services are often cheaper because most cruisers are ashore.

Working with a travel agent is another great way to increase value for money.

Can a travel agent save you money on a cruise?

Although travel agents can't offer discounts on cruise fares below what the cruise lines themselves are offering, they can toss in perks like onboard credit, free alternative dining, or beverage or Wi-Fi packages.

You won't see a reduction in the amount you pay for your cabin, but you will be receiving more value for your money. This is also true in terms of peace of mind. If something goes wrong during your sailing, you have a professional point person to handle the mess on your behalf.

Read more10 Secrets Royal Caribbean travel agents wish you knew

What should you not buy on a cruise?

  • Duty-free items: Sometimes duty-free purchases are a bargain, but often you're better off buying alcohol, jewelry and other pricey items at home instead, especially if they're brands that are easy to find elsewhere. On Europe sailings, for example, you won't pay duty, but you will pay VAT, which generally wipes out any savings you might have earned via a duty-free transaction.
  • Drink of the day glasses: Sure, drinks of the day are yummy, but did you know you can often save a couple of dollars if you ask for the same beverage without the souvenir glass? (Trust us: You won't use it again, probably because it will break in your luggage on the way home.)
  • For more, check out our longer list of other items not to buy on a cruise.

Is it better to book directly with a cruise line?

Although booking with your cruise line will eliminate the middle man, you won't get a cheaper price, and it's not always the best idea in terms of value.

Travel agents cannot discount fares further than what the cruise line is offering, but they can make sure you get the same price and help you to score extras -- like onboard credit or free alcohol -- that will add value to what you get for your money.

Read moreTop things you didn't know travel agents can do for your cruise vacation

Can you negotiate cruise prices?

No, cruise lines don't negotiate. However, prices often fluctuate with demand, seasonality and other variables, so the best way for you to find the lowest fares is to monitor pricing over several months before booking anything.

Some cruise lines do allow passengers to bid on cabin upgrades if there are unsold rooms available as the sailing date approaches. If you are offered the chance to bid, you can enter a dollar amount that you think the upgrade is worth, but there's no guarantee you'll get it for that price if it's too low or if someone else outbids you.

Read moreHow to get cheap cruise deals

Is it cheaper to prepay gratuities on a cruise?

No. Each cruise line has a set per-person, per-day amount that it will charge to each cruiser's onboard account, based on the type of cabin in which they're staying. That amount doesn't increase or decrease based on when the gratuities are paid.

However, you can often find cruise deals that include gratuities in the fares, which means you'll see a bit more value from the booking.

Read moreShould you prepay gratuities for a Royal Caribbean cruise?

What happens if I book a cruise and the price goes down?

If you haven't yet reached the end of the final payment window, you can call your travel agent or cruise line to ask for a price adjustment. Generally they will oblige.

If you've already paid for your cruise in full, you can work with your cruise line to see if, given the circumstances, they might offer you an upgrade.

If that doesn't work, you could book the sailing at the new, lower price and cancel the original booking. However, if you've already made final payment, you'll lose a portion of your money, so the key is to make sure the savings on your new booking will outweigh the money you lose when you cancel the original one.

Also be sure to check that you won't be losing any value adds or promotions -- onboard credit, included gratuities, etc. -- that might have been associated with the original reservation, as there's no guarantee they'll still be available for the new one.

Read moreHow Royal Caribbean will let you take advantage of a price drop up until 48 hours before your cruise

What is the cheapest month to take a cruise?

The cheapest time to cruise is during hurricane season, the period of time between June and November when hurricanes are most likely to occur in the Atlantic.

If you book a cruise to the Bahamas or Caribbean during that timeframe, be aware that itineraries can and will be altered if bad weather poses a threat to passenger safety, and passengers are not entitled to compensation if that happens.

Read moreWhat is the cheapest month to go on a cruise?

Do cruises get cheaper closer to departure?

Yes, but it won't be widely publicized. This is particularly true for higher-end cabins, so if you have your heart set on a suite or balcony stateroom, don't bank on finding a deal a month before sailing.

The best way to find out about discounts on unsold rooms is to ask your travel agent to let you know of any deals they spot, sign up for price drop alerts, and be on the lookout for last-minute resident deals if you live near a cruise port.

Read moreHow far in advance should I book a cruise to get the best price?

How much cash should you bring on a cruise?

The payment system on modern cruise ships is cashless. Before you embark, you'll either tie a set amount of cash or a credit card to your onboard account. You will then be given a room key that also functions as your onboard charge card.

However, you should still bring some small bills for tipping luggage porters at embarkation, crew members who deliver your bags and room service to your cabin, and tour guides and transportation operators you think have done a particularly good job during any shore excursions you take.

Although daily gratuities are automatically added to your onboard account, you might also choose to tip extra in cash to crew members who have been particularly helpful. These amounts are totally at your discretion.

Finally, cash is useful in port if you're hoping to buy souvenirs. If you're going somewhere that takes U.S. dollars, withdraw money before you board, as ship ATMs are notorious for exorbitant surcharges. If you're cruising someplace (like Europe) that won't take USD, wait until you get there, and find an ATM in port that will dispense local currency at a much better exchange rate than the airport kiosks.

What should you not buy on a cruise ship?

15 Mar 2021

There is a fine line between "so what? You're on vacation!" and "That's a lot of money" when it comes to buying things on a cruise vacation.

Part of going on vacation is splurging and treating yourself to something you might not otherwise buy back at home. Jewelry, a massage, cocktails are just a few examples of ways some people like to plus-up their trip.

Just because you are on vacation does not mean you have to waste your money either, and there a few situations where you should put your SeaPass card back in your pocket.

Here are the top things you can buy on a cruise, that I think you should hold off on buying at sea and buy them when you get home.

Art auction

I know there are some readers who really love the art auctions on a cruise ship, but art auctions are a prime example of "buyer beware".

Unfortunately, these art auctions have a really poor reputation for over the top evaluations, slow shipping times, and buyer regret.

Certainly some people buy art on a ship and love their piece.  I think the key is to be aware that valuations are opinions, not facts, and you should buy art because you think it will look good in your living room; not because you think it will be part of your retirement plan.

An alternative is to look at buying art in the ports your ship will visit. Many ports have art for sale in the stores near the ship, and you can find something that captures your vacation memories for likely less than the art onboard.

Read more5 Costly lessons learned on a cruise (and how to avoid them!)


Royal Caribbean sells a decent selection of cameras, action cameras, memory cards, and other fun electronics that you can use on your vacation, but don't expect any kind of competitive price for them.

In general, you are going to pay full retail prices for cameras, camcorders, and various accessories on a ship.  If you buy them at home at a retail store or online, you will find more more competitive prices.

There is nothing wrong with picking up a spare memory card if you realize you forgot one (I have done that once), but deals for these items are not common at all.

If you realize you forgot your camera or something else important, consider buying it in your embarkation port.  Your taxi can easily bring you to WalMart or Best Buy before going to the port.  Or you could look at prices in a port you are visiting.

Baby supplies

If you are going on a cruise with a toddler or infant, Royal Caribbean does stock a limited supply of diapers and formula, but this should really be for an emergency only.

Not only is their stock low, they may not have the right size of something, or the brand your child prefers.  Never mind you are going to overpay for these items.

It is a good idea to pack many more supplies than you think you will ever need to ensure you have plenty of extra.

Another alternative is to buy baby supplies in a port you are visiting.  Look for a pharmacy or super market for reasonably priced options.

Read moreIntroduction to bringing toddlers on a Royal Caribbean cruise

Personal hygiene & medicine

Got a sun burn? Need more shaving cream? Have a headache? Royal Caribbean stocks what you need, but it will not cheap.

Whether you need toothpaste, aloe, Tylenol, or any other personal care product, skip buying it on the ship.

Any port you visit likely stocks these items at better prices, so try to wait to pick it up there.

If you are flying to your cruise port and do not want to deal with the airline restrictions on liquids, consider buying them in your embarkation port before you go to the cruise terminal.

Read moreHow To Avoid Getting Sick on a Cruise

Drink package

Don't worry, I think a drink package can be a great value.  However, if you are buying it onboard the ship, you are wasting money.

Royal Caribbean regularly discounts its drink packages when you purchase them online, so do yourself a favor and buy them online before your cruise.

You can buy a drink package at almost any time up until a few days before your cruise.  

No matter the price of the drink package online, it will absolutely be less online than if you buy it onboard.

Read moreHow to get a get a discount on a Royal Caribbean drink package

Ship internet

Just like the drink package, your wifi package will absolutely be cheaper online if you buy it before the cruise.

There is one exception to waiting to buy the ship wifi, and that is if you are Diamond or higher in Crown and Anchor Society because you are entitled to a big discount on your wifi package. On short sailings (less than 5 nights), it actually can make sense to wait to buy it onboard.

But if you are new to Royal Caribbean, or have not cruised much, you will save money by booking a wifi package online before the cruise.

Read moreRoyal Caribbean WiFi: Guide to Internet at sea

How to book a cruise with your credit card reward points

27 Nov 2020

If you have credit card reward points burning a hole in your pocket, you can use them to help reduce the cost of a cruise vacation or even get it for free.

Unlike redeeming credit card points for flights, there is not as straight forward an option for getting a free cruise with your credit card.

Outside of Royal Caribbean's branded credit card (more on that later), the option to use rewards for cruises is not nearly as simple.

However, there are a few ways you can leverage your credit card points to make your cruise vacation cheaper.

Pay down the cost of the cruise

Unfortunately redeeming reward points for a cruise is not as simple as booking a flight, but you can definitely still leverage all of those points you earned.

The easiest thing you can do is use a credit card that gives you points that can be applied directly towards purchases you make on travel and/or any purchase.

Many credit cards will let you apply your points towards your credit card balance for the month, thereby offsetting the cost of the cruise. This has an additional benefit of allowing you to partially pay off the cruise if you do not have a lot of points. Other credit cards may offer cash back instead, which can also reduce the cost.

Moreover, you can use this strategy effectively by using points to pay off the deposit, and then apply more points later at regular intervals with payments or waiting for the final payment.


  • $500 initial deposit to secure the fare
  • $1000 payment a few months later
  • $500 payment next month
  • $1200 final payment 90 days before the cruise

Each of those payments could potentially be on different credit card billing cycles, and you could apply rewards points to each one.

Read more45 ways to save money on a Royal Caribbean cruise

Redeem your points for a cruise

There are a few credit cards that offer travel rewards that can actually be used to book a cruise.

Rewards programs, such as American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards and Citi ThankYou, offer these options, but there is a small catch.  When you book them, you have to book through the credit card's travel agency. This means if you have a travel agent you regularly use, or prefer to book cruises on your own, you have no choice but to go with the credit card company.

Usually the price of the cruise is presented in cash, and at checkout there is option to apply some or all of your credit card points to cover the cost of the cruise.

Get a free cruise with Royal Caribbean's credit card

Royal Caribbean offers its own branded Visa Signature credit card, where you can earn points towards free cruises (as well as other benefits, like onboard credit).

Like all company-specific cred it cards, the rate at which you earn points is worse than general travel rewards credit cards, and you are of course limited to just Royal Caribbean cruises.

If your mission is to only earn free cruises on Royal Caribbean with credit card points, this is the simplest method of doing so.  However, you will get more bang for your buck with other rewards cards.

Read moreIs the Royal Caribbean credit card worth it?

Use points to bring vacation cost down

If none of these options seem to be a great fit, you can always fall back on using your credit card points to help bring down the overall cost of your cruise vacation.

If you have to fly to your cruise, you can redeem your points for flights and reduce another significant cost.  

You could use credit card points towards individual purchases, such as cruise add-ons, like shore excursions or drink packages.

These add-ons can be purchased through Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner website before the cruise begins.

Read moreShould you buy pre-cruise purchases now or wait to buy it onboard?

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