- 3 Night Bahamas & Perfect Day
01/22-01/24/2021#3 in Cruise DealsMiami, Florida | Perfect Day At Coco Cay, Bahamas | Nassau, Bahamas
- $160$54/nightGreat Deal
- Ocean View
- $211$83/nightFair Deal
- $314$130/nightGood Deal
Best Cruise Deals
Imagine a vacation where you can visit multiple destinations and only unpack once; a trip where one fare covers your lodging, dining and, in some cases, as many fruity drinks as your heart desires. These are the perks of a cruise vacation – and it's a trip option that doesn't have to cost you an arm and a leg.
Cruises can be an excellent value proposition compared to other types of getaways. That said, sailing away to paradise as uncertainty remains around the coronavirus pandemic may make you uneasy. Be sure to check with your specific cruise line, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other organizations before booking your trip for the most up-to-date guidance on cruising in the time of the coronavirus.
To make sure you are getting a good deal on your next cruise vacation, you have to know what to look for. The easiest way to save money on a cruise is to consider a short itinerary on a budget-friendly cruise line. Still, paying less money doesn't always guarantee a great value. It's important to weigh the experience you will have with the amount paid to know whether or not you are getting a good deal.
To choose a cruise line, you should think about what matters most to you for your vacation. Consider: Do you care more about a pampering onboard experience or interesting stops and shore excursions? Would you rather purchase an inside stateroom to enjoy the benefits of a pricier cruise line (like included fine dining and butler service), or go with a budget line and stay in a more spacious balcony room overlooking the ocean?
You should also consider time of year if you're intent on scoring the best cruise deals. Though peak season varies by destination and cruise line, Christmastime, spring break season (usually during the months of March and April) and summer are typically when you'll see the highest prices for cruise fares. If you opt to travel outside of the busy season for your selected itinerary, you may be able to snag a deal on the cruise line of your dreams. For example, hurricane season in the Atlantic (June through November) brings cancellation risks, but it can be a great time to find discounts on Caribbean cruises. Additionally, many cruise lines highlight deals during "wave season" (named for the abundance of promotions that roll through like a wave) between January and March.
Some cruise lines also offer more deals than others. Typically, luxury cruise lines list their best prices up front, when the itineraries are first published. Planning ahead and jumping on these fares can save you money rather than waiting for additional deals to pop up. Meanwhile, bargain cruise lines often have consistent deals year-round, even during the busy season, to entice travelers to book a trip. In some cases, waiting until the last minute can score you a deep discount or other promotional value on one of the more affordable cruise lines.
If you'd like to take a cruise but aren't sure where to start, we are here to help. Read on for U.S. News' guide to finding the best cruise deals. (You can also browse the Best Cruise Lines rankings to learn more about specific cruise ships and lines.)
How Do You Know If You're Getting a Good Deal?
To know if you're getting a good deal on a cruise, you should consider a few different factors. First, you should determine when your preferred cruise lines are at their busiest and most expensive. Cruise lines that attract families, such as Disney Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International and Carnival Cruise Line, tend to see a lot of customers during the summer when school is out. As a result, prices spike during these months. In comparison, luxury lines like Seabourn Cruise Line may raise their prices around Christmas and New Year's. If you are traveling during these peak times, you may not be securing as good of a deal as you could at another time of year.
The popularity of certain destinations themselves also varies depending on the time of year, which can affect cruise prices. For example, travelers often opt to take Caribbean cruises during the winter and early spring to escape the cold weather where they live. Because of this, Caribbean cruise rates at this time may be higher than at other times of year. On the other hand, Mediterranean cruises are typically less expensive during late fall and early spring months and more expensive once the weather starts to warm up and conditions in Europe are more favorable.
Another factor to consider when looking for a good cruise deal is the ship. Newer ships with all the bells and whistles often mean higher fares than older ships that have been in service for longer. If new, exciting features and modern staterooms are important to you, you must be willing to accept potentially higher costs. If not, search for a similar itinerary on an older ship to find a better deal.
How to Get Last-Minute Cruise Deals
If your schedule allows, another great way to get a deal on a cruise is to wait until the last minute to book your trip. As cruise ships fill up approaching their embarkation dates, cruise lines typically discount cabin rates in an attempt to fill any remaining staterooms. Rates usually start dropping about 60 to 90 days prior to the sail date, when many penalty-free passenger cancellation policies expire. Prices often continue to decrease as the date of departure gets closer, so the most daring of travelers may decide to wait until a couple of weeks out to book. Just remember that cabins can sell out – as can flights, for those who need to hop on a plane to get to their embarkation destination. You'll need to keep a close eye on all the moving parts of your trip if you plan to pull the trigger at the last minute.
To stay in the loop about last-minute cruise deals, sign up for email price drop alerts or consistently check fares on cruise line websites or third-party booking sites like Priceline, Cruise Critic and Cruiseline.com. Even a last-minute discount on an alcohol package or shore excursions will save you some money over the base cost. Still, travelers should keep in mind that luxury cruise lines are usually an exception to this rule. You will often get the best deal on a premium cruise by booking early – sometimes as far as a year out.
How to Find Cheap Cruise Deals
When considering what constitutes a cheap cruise deal, you should think about what you're getting for the price you are paying. For example, if the prices for a five-night itinerary aboard a new ship on a ritzier line and a seven-day cruise on an older ship with a more budget-centered line are in a similar ballpark, you may opt for the shorter vacation to get a more luxurious experience.
Still, if saving money is a bigger concern than getting more value or a higher-end experience, opt for less expensive cruise lines – like Carnival Cruise Line or Norwegian Cruise Line – with short itineraries to score the cheapest deals. Depending on the cruise line you choose and the time of year you book, you may be able to find rates for less than $200 per person. To save extra money, look for cruise promotions and discounts, and also consider bundling any flights and necessary hotel stays together if the cruise line offers that as a package.
Cruises Under $200
Having a small vacation budget doesn't mean you have to miss out on taking a cruise. In fact, some cruise deals can dip below $200 per person. When you see a deal this cheap, you should keep in mind that it will likely be for an inside cabin (no windows) on a short, two- or three-night cruise.
If you're looking for cruise rates under $200, check lines like Carnival Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean International since these cruise lines often advertise sailings at that price point. Keep in mind, these low prices tend to apply to itineraries in the Bahamas and other areas of the Caribbean. If you're within driving distance of a port, you also won't need to worry about paying for airfare on top of what you're spending on your cruise.
Best Cruise Deals by Region:
See the Best Caribbean Cruise Deals »
See the Best Bahamas Cruise Deals »
See the Best Alaska Cruise Deals »
See the Best Hawaii Cruise Deals »
See the Best Mexico Cruise Deals »
See the Best Europe Cruise Deals »
If you make a purchase from our site, we may earn a commission. This does not affect the quality or independence of our editorial content.