The 2017 Best Cruise Lines for the Money

U.S. News ranks cruise lines that offer the best values and experiences.

By Erin Shields, Staff WriterNov. 15, 2016
By Erin Shields, Staff WriterNov. 15, 2016, at 12:01 a.m.
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Norwegian Cruise Line.
Credit

(Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line)

Save big on these budget-friendly cruise lines.

With accommodations, meals and entertainment all covered in one rate, a cruise makes an excellent choice for any budget-minded traveler. Couple that with the fact that you can explore not just one but multiple places, and it's easy to see why travelers love to cruise. But with so many options, it can be difficult to determine which cruise lines offer the best value and make the most of your vacation budget. To help you get the best rate and experience on your next cruise, U.S. News ranked the Best Cruise Lines for the Money based on a methodology that factors in price class, health ratings and reputation among experts and travelers.
MSC Cruises.
Credit

(Courtesy of MSC Cruises)

8. MSC Cruises

MSC Cruises caters primarily to European cruisers, but the line's rates are much more affordable than the typical European land-based vacation. MSC offers especially cost-effective cruise options for families – kids 11 and younger sharing a cabin with their parents can sail for free. That means you can save your cash for fun shore excursions or treat the kids to a meal at a specialty restaurant. What's more, gratuities, activities and entertainment are covered in the cruise rate.
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Save big on these budget-friendly cruise lines.

With accommodations, meals and entertainment all covered in one rate, a cruise makes an excellent choice for any budget-minded traveler. Couple that with the fact that you can explore not just one but multiple places, and it's easy to see why travelers love to cruise. But with so many options, it can be difficult to determine which cruise lines offer the best value and make the most of your vacation budget. To help you get the best rate and experience on your next cruise, U.S. News ranked the Best Cruise Lines for the Money based on a methodology that factors in price class, health ratings and reputation among experts and travelers.

8. MSC Cruises

MSC Cruises caters primarily to European cruisers, but the line's rates are much more affordable than the typical European land-based vacation. MSC offers especially cost-effective cruise options for families – kids 11 and younger sharing a cabin with their parents can sail for free. That means you can save your cash for fun shore excursions or treat the kids to a meal at a specialty restaurant. What's more, gratuities, activities and entertainment are covered in the cruise rate.

7. Costa Cruises

Another Europe-based cruise line, Costa Cruises woos travelers with its rock-bottom rates on itineraries throughout the Mediterranean, Asia and South America, among other locales. Compared to other cruise lines sailing to those destinations, Costa often advertises better deals and online discounts. And aboard Costa's ships, travelers can enjoy access to pools, 4-D movies, nightclubs, casinos, 24-hour room service and more.

6. Holland American Line

With a multitude of adult-oriented ships and kid-friendly options, Holland America Line caters to a variety of travelers and offers year-round bargains. Holland America sails everywhere from the Caribbean and Bermuda to Europe and Asia, and offers a variety of short and longer voyages at affordable prices. Plus, the cruise rate covers meals at several restaurants, nighttime entertainment and enrichment activities such as cooking and photography classes.

5. Princess Cruises

You might have to shell out slightly more to take a cruise on this line compared to other Carnival-owned cruise lines, but you can still find deals on Princess itineraries. The ships within the Princess Cruises fleet visit destinations around the world, including Alaska, Hawaii, Europe and the Caribbean. Taxes and fees are covered in the cruise fare, in addition to experiences such as Broadway-style performances and comedy shows, as well as meals at most restaurants on board.

4. Carnival Cruise Lines

Carnival has been offering low-cost fun aboard its fleet of "Fun Ships" for years. With seasonal sales and advance booking discounts, it's easy to find a cruise to fit within your budget. Once you're on board, you'll enjoy access to water parks, pools, kids clubs, musical performances and game shows. The variety of dining options covered in the fare is another hit with money-conscious cruisers: Carnival's ships have a main dining room, a buffet, a few casual eateries and a 24-hour pizza and ice cream bar.

3. Norwegian Cruise Line

In addition to offering a large fleet, Norwegian provides several types of cabins for cruisers on different budgets. Solo travelers can save some coin by booking a studio stateroom, while multigenerational families can split the cost of a balcony cabin or mini-suite. Additionally, Norwegian offers deals and promotions throughout the year, so snagging a low-cost cruise is an easy feat. While on board, travelers can enjoy unique features such as ropes courses, rock climbing walls and bowling, plus youth programs, pools with water slides and more.

2. Royal Caribbean International

Dropping from the top spot to No. 2 for 2017, Royal Caribbean is a perennial competitor in the affordable cruising space thanks to its multitude of itineraries and bargain rates. Travelers can find cruises that cost less than $150 a night per person and include everything from meals and basic drinks to onboard activities, such as zip lining, mini golf and age-appropriate kids clubs. Nightly entertainment, including ice skating shows, orchestral performances and musicals, are also covered in the cruise rate.

1. Celebrity Cruises

For the first time, Celebrity Cruises is the No. 1 Best Cruise Line for the Money. Even though this line has a smaller fleet compared to its mainstream competitors, Celebrity offers a wide roster of activities for kids and teens and refined experiences like food and wine pairing workshops for adults on its ships. What's more, thanks to package deals and seasonal discounts, travelers can book a Celebrity cruise for less than $150 per person per night. And while meals at the main restaurant and casual eateries are included, Celebrity offers cost-saving packages for specialty restaurants so cruisers can sample gourmet fare at a budget-friendly price.
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Erin Shields, Staff Writer

Erin Shields is the Assistant Managing Editor of Travel at U.S. News, where she oversees a ...  Read more

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