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9 reasons why cruises are a better value for your next vacation


If you've never considered a cruise, now is the best time! With the cost of basic necessities increasing, it's no surprise that people want to feel they're getting the most value out of their vacations. Even if you cannot drop thousands of dollars on a summer trip, there are ways to maximize your experience without breaking the break. 

Rather than stress over planning every detail of a 7-night land-based vacation, cruises provide a more inclusive pricing model. When you browse available itineraries, the advertised price covers unlimited food, entertainment, select beverages, accommodations, and transportation between ports of call, whereas when planning a land-based trip, you have to account for meals, entertainment, lodging, and more. 

Though not all-inclusive, cruise passengers do not have to worry about individual expenses adding up. Instead, once you're onboard, it's easy to stick to what's included to make the most of the base fare. 

Here are 9 reasons cruises might be a better value for your next vacation. 

From unlimited dining to world-class entertainment, there's so much included in the base fare


Cruise ships have a wide range of activities for passengers to choose from, providing more entertainment options without extra costs. 

Let's say you were thinking about planning a vacation to New York City. In addition to the cost of accommodations, you'd have to factor in the price of meals, transportation throughout the city, and Broadway shows, which aren't known for being cheap. 

If Broadway-style shows aren't your thing, you can enjoy daily trivia, live music, variety performances, deck parties, and more. Though some activities come with an extra cost, you will be surprised by how much is included. Whether you want to race down the waterslides on a sunny day at sea or play a game of basketball at the sports court, there's something for everyone to enjoy. 


Plus, while ships have specialty restaurants, you don't have to worry about paying extra for food onboard. From the all-you-can-eat buffet to indulgent three-course meals in the Main Dining Room and late-night pizza, you'd have to try pretty hard to go hungry. 

Read more: Top 10 Cruise Dining Mistakes

You can visit multiple bucket list destinations during a single trip 

Greece (celebrity)

Though cruises to The Bahamas and Caribbean are among some of the most popular itineraries, ships operate globally, allowing you to visit bucket list-worthy destinations like Santorini, Mykonos, and Athens on a single trip without the hassle of packing and unpacking. Moreover, having the cruise ship act as your primary mode of transportation is typically more affordable than trying to bounce between destinations yourself. 

Not only are cruises a convenient way to travel the world, but they also provide more variety and exploration opportunities within a short timeframe. If you were trying to squeeze in 3+ destinations in a week, you'd probably be exhausted from the constant traveling. On cruises, however, you get to sit back, relax, and let the ship do the work. 

Do not limit yourself to sailings departing from the East Coast. Instead, broaden your horizons and search for itineraries visiting places you've always hoped to visit one day. From Asia to the South Pacific, Alaska, Northern Europe, Hawaii, and more, there's bound to be the perfect itinerary to meet your needs and preferences. 

Read more: Here's How to Choose a Cruise Destination

Different cruise lines cater to different clientele


Looking for an energetic getaway with an overall party atmosphere? You'll want to look for a sailing on one of Carnival's many "fun ships." Alternatively, perhaps you want an upscale getaway with fewer children around. If that's the case, you're better off sailing with Celebrity or Princess. 

Multi-generational families will love Royal Caribbean's newest ships, as they offer amenities to appease an array of travelers, from adrenaline-seeking teenagers to foodie adults, whereas families with younger children might appreciate Disney's themed experiences and child-friendly activities. 

There isn't a one-size-fits-all approach to cruising. Instead, evaluating what kind of experience you're looking for is important. Otherwise, you may be on a line that doesn't quite match your expectations. Researching the different cruise lines in advance ensures you're vacation aligns with your preferences. 

Read more: What are the different cruise lines known for

You can choose from the cheapest stateroom onboard or splurge on a lavish suite 


Cruise ships have an array of stateroom options to appease travelers of different budgets. If you have money to burn, consider one of the upscale suites. On the other hand, if you're trying to stretch your budget as far as possible, an interior room will be just fine. In fact, it's one of the easiest ways to save money on your cruise vacation. 

In August 2025, the cheapest cabin onboard Carnival Celebration starts at $749 per person, whereas the most affordable balcony costs $200 more, or $949 per guest. Though not a huge difference, a couple traveling together would have an extra $400 in their wallet, with the savings increasing for a family of four. The money saved on accommodations can be put toward other expenses, such as shore excursions, airfare, and more. 

Guests staying in standard cabins (i.e., interior, ocean view, and balcony rooms) have access to the same amenities in their cabin and around the ship, from ensuite bathrooms to an in-cabin television and safe, nightly entertainment, complimentary meals, and more.  

Read more: Best rooms on a cruise ship: Deck, location, & category

If you can drive to your embarkation terminal, you can save hundreds of dollars on airfare

taking off airplane

Not everyone is lucky enough to live near PortMiami, Port Canaveral (Orlando), or Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale). Rather than shelling out hundreds or thousands of dollars on airfare, consider choosing a port within driving distance

For example, if you live in New England, look for cruises departing from Boston or New York/Cape Liberty, or maybe you live in California and could sail out of San Diego, Los Angeles, or San Francisco. Though your itinerary choices may be more limited, opting to cruise from a port close to home can help reduce your overall travel costs and allow you to visit beautiful destinations for less. 

As someone in North Carolina, I can drive to Norfolk and Charleston within five and a half hours, though cruises from the latter aren't offered past December 2024. A 6-day Bahamas cruise onboard Carnival Magic from Norfolk in February 2025 starts at $500 per person, whereas flights to Nassau from Charlotte cost around $460 for the same dates. The cruise is a far better deal, including transportation to The Bahamas from Virginia, dining, entertainment, and more. 

Luxury cruise lines tend to nickel and dime passengers far less than mainstream ones


Individuals seeking a more inclusive experience will want to divert their focus to luxury lines. While there's no denying that mainstream cruise lines include a lot of amenities in their base fares, there are plenty of opportunities to spend extra money, from shore excursions to drink and Wi-Fi packages, specialty dining, and more. 

Though the initial fares of lines like Seabourn, Regent Seven Seas, Silversea, Viking, and Oceania are often much higher than mainstream cruise lines, you will find that more is included. Viking Cruises, for example, includes one complimentary shore excursion in each port of call, and all of the cabins on their ocean cruises have private verandahs, so you don't have to worry about staying in a tiny inside stateroom that lacks natural light. 

Explora Journeys, while a relatively new cruise line, prides itself on including "...everything you would expect from the most uniquely luxurious experience at sea," such as an in-suite welcome bottle of champagne, unlimited fine beverages, eight culinary experiences, thermal spa access, gratuities, internet, and more. 

Read more: I tried my first luxury cruise. Here's what surprised me and what I loved about this kind of cruising

Even if you sail on a mainstream cruise line, you can take advantage of the complimentary amenities and avoid racking up a large onboard tab


While nobody wants to constantly cut corners on vacation, you will feel less like you're on a budget when traveling on a cruise than when on a land-based trip. 

Nightly dinners, for instance, in the Main Dining Room won't have to be budgeted for, making it easier to estimate the total cost of your vacation well in advance. While many cruisers purchase a few add-ons, the inclusivity of the base fare helps families stick to their vacation budget. 

According to Upgraded Points, the average nightly cost of an ocean-view hotel room in Pawley's Island, South Carolina is about $325 per night. For a weeklong stay, you can expect to spend at least $2,200 on accommodations before adding meals, entertainment, and more. 

Pool deck

In comparison, if you see a cruise fare of $700 per person, you won't have to worry about constantly monitoring your spending during the vacation, as most necessities have been accounted for. $2,800 would cover a family of four's meals, onboard amenities, accommodation, and transportation between ports of call. 

Parents can enjoy much-needed alone time knowing children are safe in the complimentary youth facilities


Sometimes, leaving the kids with grandma and grandpa isn't possible. Even if your young ones have to tag along, adult-only time is nearly guaranteed. Mainstream cruise lines have fantastic childcare services. Plus, it's complimentary for children ages 3 and up! 

Be sure to register your children on embarkation day, so they can partake in the activities as soon as the youth clubs open. From scavenger hunts to arts & crafts and video game tournaments, they may want to spend more time away from you than with you! 

You won't have to feel guilty about enjoying a child-free afternoon by the pool with your favorite cocktail in hand since you know they'll be having a blast with other kids their age! 

Read more: 5 Kids' Cruise Lines the Whole Family Will Love

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