Cruises can be one of the most affordable ways to explore an area, or one of the most luxe and indulgent. It all comes down to the trip you choose. There are cruises at all price points, and there are even different rates on the same boat depending on your stateroom choice.
What Do Caribbean Cruises Cost?
Cruise prices can also vary throughout the year. “Shoulder season,” the slow season, often brings better rates than the high season will. Last-minute deals can sometimes pop up if there are too many empty rooms before a ship departs.
I’ve done the research on a few example cruises to the Caribbean. Here’s what you can expect to pay for trips like these.
In my experience, you’re likely to get a well-appointed boat with an attentive staff and good food at most price points. The differences tend to come out in the number of people on board and how thin staff has to spread themselves to handle them.
Higher-end cruise ships have a lower staff ratio per guest, while the bargain cruise lines make their profits by putting more guests on board with fewer crew members.
Carnival is well known for offering lower priced deals on their cruises, and their Caribbean offerings are no exception. Four-day cruises start at $249 per person with a two-person booking leaving from Miami or Tampa.
This is for a bare-bones interior room. If you want an ocean view, expect to pay about $100 more. A room with a balcony will cost anywhere from $600 to $800, depending on the time of year you cruise.
At the other end of the spectrum, a 14-day Southern Caribbean cruise leaving from Port Canaveral Starts at $1,500 for an interior room. The price goes up about $1,000 to have a balcony. If you want to splurge on a suite, expect to pay around $5,500 per person.
- Base price: $249 for four days
- Number of passengers: 3,000 to 5,000
- Number of crew: 1,100 to 1,800
Caribbean is right in their name, and they have a number of offerings in the region. People generally consider Royal Caribbean a step up from Carnival Cruises. But, many people will be surprised to learn that, in a recent search, the cruise lines’ prices were pretty close.
RC’s ships are massive floating cities, with the largest of them housing 7,000 guests. Because of the large size, they tend to have a higher guest to crew ratio than other cruise lines.
A four-day Caribbean cruise starts around $250 for an inside stateroom. The seven-night cruise going to the Eastern Caribbean starts at $2,400 per person. This cruise includes stops at St. Kitts, St. Thomas, and RC’s private island, Perfect Day.
- Base price: $250 for four days
- Number of passengers: 6,500 to 7,000
- Number of crew: around 2,000
Holland America is considered a more traditional cruise line. They tend to attract an older, more sedate clientele. Having cruised on both Carnival and Holland America, I’d say that the ships are similar in quality.
The difference lies in the number of passengers on board and the number of staff available to serve each section of the ship. The ships are small by modern standards, which also means they can get into ports that mega cruise ships cannot.
The five-night Tropical Caribbean cruise starts at $349 per person for interior rooms.
Holland America also offers one of the longer cruise options. They have multiple 21-day cruises, with routes that include the Eastern Caribbean, Western Caribbean, and a transit of the Panama Canal. These start at $2,500 per person for a basic interior room.
- Base price: $349 for five days
- Number of passengers: 1,500 to 2,500
- Number of crew: 1,000
Norwegian Cruise Lines
Norwegian is another middle of the pack line that offers an experience a step above basic without veering into high priced luxury territory. The offer cruises that range in length from a single night to a couple of weeks.
Their least expensive Caribbean cruise is a three-day jaunt for about $180 per person for an interior stateroom. This cruise departs from Miami and has two stops in destinations in the Dominican Republic.
At the pricier end, the offer a 12-day voyage that leaves from New York and hits eight ports of call in the Caribbean. Their base stateroom cost on this trip is $2,400.
- Base price: $180 for three days
- Number of passengers: 2,000 to 4,500
- Number of crew: 1,000 to 2,000
Celebrity specializes in short, low cost cruises. They’ll take you to just a couple of ports, but they could be just the thing if you are looking for a quick, cheap getaway.
Their Key West and Bahamas three and four day cruises start at around $200 per person for an interior stateroom. This is one of the cruise lines where an upgrade to a balcony room does not come with a huge upcharge.
On a three-day cruise, a balcony/veranda room is only $300 per person. Their most expensive option, The Retreat, is a suite with exclusive venue access and amenities for under $2,000 per person.
- Base price: $300 for three days
- Number of passengers: 2,000 to 3,000
- Number of crew: 1,250
This lesser known cruise line specializes in smaller, well-appointed ships. You won’t find water slides on board, but you will find an environment akin to a boutique luxury hotel. This cruise line also focuses on longer, more relaxed vacations.
Their Caribbean offerings range from nine to 16 nights. Given the length of the cruises, this is a surprisingly affordable option. Their nine day cruise starts at $1,500. Tickets to their 16-day Caribbean Holiday Voyage start at $4,500 per person.
- Base price: $1,500 for nine days
- Number of passengers: 700
- Number of crew: 400
Additional Costs of a Cruise
The base fare is just eh beginning when it comes to determining how much a cruise will cost. And, the experience you have on board will vary greatly depending on your preferences and what the ship offers.
Typically, there will be charges above the cost of the room itself. Port fees are a typical add-on and vary by the ship. Port fees are made up of a few different fees that can include a pilot fee, a per-passenger fee (also known as a head tax), and a docking fee.
Most food is included in your total price. However, some cruise ships also have fee-based restaurants you can attend for an extra charge. Tea, coffee, and water are generally available at no charge.
You can typically bring a small amount of wine or champagne, usually a 750 mL bottle per guest. Some cruise lines allow you to bring soda or bottled water. If you want to consume cocktails, you’ll have to buy those in port or on board.
Many cruise lines also have daily drink specials or unlimited beverage packages. Compare prices to determine whether the beverage package is a better deal than buying drinks one by one. Gratuities are often automatically added to the total cost of your trip. These are typically a set per day cost.
Should You Go with the Ship’s Excursions?
One of the best parts of cruising is getting off the boat to enjoy experiences at the ports along the way. Excursions can be purchased through the ship, but they will typically cost a lot more than booking the same experience independently.
There are arguments for booking on your own and also for going with what the ship provides. Booking through the ship means your provider is vetted by the cruise line. Plus, you know that, even if you are held up by weather or traffic, the ship won’t leave without you if you book through them.
If you feel comfortable doing your own research and giving yourself plenty of time to get back when you are done, though, you can find greater flexibility and lower prices by contacting activity providers on your own in each port.
Ways to Cut the Cost of a Cruise
If you do a bit of research and planning, you can probably cut the cost of a cruise. First, see if you qualify for any discounts. Many cruise lines have discounted rates for senior citizens. AAA memberships and some rewards credit cards can also get you a lower price on some cruises.
Military service or residence in specific states can also yield discounts. Looking for bundled deals or promotions to lower costs. Some cruise lines, for instance, can offer a discount on airfare to your port if you book with them.
Keep an eye on prices after you book. If the price of your room goes down for later buyers, ask for a price drop credit.
Planning a trip with friends? See if you can find group discounts. Norwegian, for instance, offers a free booking for every 10 passengers in your group. Loyalty also pays when it comes to cruise lines.
Passengers earn perks for every day spent at sea, and they never expire. I got an invitation to a special breakfast on my last Caribbean cruise based on points I’d acquired as a teenager.
Read Next: What to Bring on a Caribbean Cruise in 2023
Frequently Asked Questions
Still have questions? These are answers to some of the most frequent ones:
What is the average cost of a 7-day Caribbean cruise?
You can find Caribbean cruises from $400 to $8,000 in price, all depending on the stateroom you choose, your cruise line, and other factors. Taking into account all these factors, the Cruise Line Industry Association (CLIA) says the average price is $1,700.
Do you need a passport for a cruise?
Some “closed loop” cruises do not technically require a passport. However, it’s a good idea to have yours along with you in any case. You never know when an emergency, such as the ship docking at an alternate port or a medical evacuation, might happen. Having yours along removes uncertainties.
Is alcohol free on cruises?
You will almost always have to pay for alcoholic drinks on your cruise. Many ships offer drink packages or deals on bottles of liquor that are sent to your room. You can also usually bring a bottle of wine and your own soda with you. Water, tea, and coffee, are usually offered free of charge.
How much does a cruise cost for 2?
Your costs are going to depend on the length of your cruise, your chosen stateroom, and the cruise line you pick.
The Bottom Line: How much does a Caribbean cruise cost?
How much you’ll pay depends on the cruise line you choose, the length of your trip, and what time of year. Play around with a few itineraries and cruise lines to figure out a trip that hits the ports you want to see and offers the on board features that will make your trip. Happy travels!