Advice

Why Luxury Cruises Aren’t Nearly As Expensive As You Think

luxury cruise cost comparison regular mainstream
A luxury cruise may not be as far out of reach as you thought. - Photo by Seabourn

If you’ve ever shopped around for a cruise, you probably stumbled across a few luxury cruises at some point only to immediately hit the “Back” button after you saw that the fares were as high as $500 per night, compared to $100-$300 on more popular cruise lines like Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian.

Obviously, you’re never going to sail on a luxury line for the price of an inside or oceanview cabin — we’re good at finding cruise deals, but no one is that good. Still, when you compare the prices of similar accommodations (suites) on larger mainstream ships and add in all of the extra expenses premium and luxury lines include, you end up with a very surprising picture.

In the breakdown below, we’ve compared cruises from Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Oceania, and Regent. All sailings are roundtrips from Miami.

Note: Cruise fares can vary widely (even on the same line), but we found these cruises to be representative of the offerings from their respective lines. Onboard expenses are approximated based on the spending habits of a typical cruiser.

 
luxury cruise cost comparison caribbean

* Air pricing is from JFK airport.
** Roundtrip taxi from MIA to the cruise port.
*** Based on 1 excursion per port per day @ $150. Oceania includes 4 excursions.
**** Based on $35/night for 6 nights.
***** Celebrity offers $150 onboard credit, which we applied to the offset specialty dining cost.

Bet you didn’t see that coming, did you? To be honest, neither did we. For a comparable experience on Royal Caribbean, you’ll have to pay close to $50 more per night, and a whopping $400 more per night on Celebrity. While the base fares are somewhat comparable, the fact that premium and luxury lines include most (if not all) onboard expenses, airfare, and shore excursions makes them remarkably less expensive in the long run. Sure, some cruisers may be able to trim down the overall cost by purchasing cheaper shore excursions or not buying a WiFi or beverage package, but it’s not going to have a huge effect on the overall results.

To be thorough and make sure we weren't accused of cherry picking, we ran the numbers from a few Mediterranean cruises being offered by the same lines. All trips are sailings from Barcelona to Venice, except Royal Caribbean which is a roundtrip from Barcelona.

 

luxury cruise cost comparison caribbean

* Air pricing is from JFK airport.
** Based on 1 excursion per port per day @ $150. Oceania includes 4 excursions.
*** Based on $35/night for 6 nights.
**** Celebrity offers $150 onboard credit, which we applied to offset the specialty dining cost.

In this case, Regent is actually the cheapest line! With this in mind, it's not a stretch to say that if you’re looking at the higher-end options for cabins, there's a good chance it might be cheaper to sail on a luxury line.

Now, to be fair, it’s definitely worth noting that there is far more to do on your average Celebrity or Royal Caribbean ship. When you factor the sheer variety of dining options and onboard activities, plus extensive child care programs and Broadway-caliber entertainment, it makes sense that you might have to pay more for similar accommodations. But if you’re looking to sail in a suite (or even a balcony in concierge class) and you don’t need flashy stage shows or 30 different specialty restaurants, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be considering luxury and premium cruises.

 

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