Budgeting, Cruising

How much does a Caribbean Cruise really cost?

Over the past two and a half years, my husband and I have taken six cruises.  Yep, you might say we had caught the cruising ‘bug’ and went a bit crazy.  Our first cruise was in November, 2016 to the Western Caribbean and our most recent cruise was this past November to the Southern Caribbean.  We’ve cruised the Eastern Caribbean twice, and took a cruise from NYC to Canada. (It’s amazing how much money gets freed up when you are done paying for college! 🙂 )IMG_2627

My husband and I had a blast on these trips.  They were amazing.  But they weren’t cheap.


We’ve discovered that there are many ‘hidden’ costs to cruising — everything from insurance, gratuities, and drinks to hotel stays, excursions and airline tickets.   In fact, my mind was blown when I realized I could have hired a cleaning lady every week for a year for the price we paid for one week in the Caribbean on a cruise.  Ouch. 

Below is a typical budget for an 8 day, 7 night Caribbean cruise on a mid priced cruise line for a balcony cabin for two.  I’ve included air fare and a one night hotel stay, because it’s always recommended to go a day early just in case something happens with your flight.  (The ship won’t wait for you.)  If you can drive to the port, lucky you! 🙂


A Sample Caribbean Cruise Budget

8 days, 7 nights – Balcony Cabin MidShip on Royal Caribbean’s  Harmony of the Seas in April.

  • Cruise for two/taxes:  $2,800.00
  • Gratuities ($14.50x2x7): $203.00
  • Insurance for two: $400.00
  • Roundtrip airfare for two (Coach): $1,100.00 (from DCA-MIA)
  • Hotel in Fl.: $150 – 250 (mid range)
  • Uber/Taxi/Tips: $50.00
  • Meals in Fl.: $50 – $100
  • Specialty Restaurants: $100 (You will want to try one of them, trust me)
  • Excursions: $100-$300 (This is on the low side if there are more than 2 ports)
  • Drinks on ship: $200 (This is what we’ve spent for sodas, water, mixed drinks)
  • Misc. tips: $50-$100
  • Spending money: $250-$500 (depending on how much you like to shop and/or gamble 😉 ).

                           TOTAL:  $6,103.00

(I haven’t included all the clothes, accessories, luggage, etc. you purchase before you go on the cruise, so figure another $250).

Are you shocked?  We were.  We usually pay for everything separately which gave us the illusion that the trip cost less than it actually did.

Of course you can cruise less expensively.  You can choose to cruise off-season.  You can cruise with another less expensive cruise line (i.e. Carnival).  You can drive to the port, get an inside cabin, never take an excursion, never eat in a specialty dining room or never purchase a souvenir. You can skip the insurance and stiff the help by not tipping.  Or something in between.  Your trip will still most likely cost $2,000.00 – $4,000.00.

So, is it worth the price? Only you can decide.


For us, it was.  The time spent together and the memories that we made will be cherished forever.

The only difference is that now (since we know the true cost of cruising) we are being much more selective with our future cruising plans.

If you have cruised, please share! Did any expenses or the final cost surprise you?


4 thoughts on “How much does a Caribbean Cruise really cost?”

  1. I’ve never been on a cruise, but I can tell you that i’ve NEVER regretted $$$ dropped on “experiences”… trips, concerts, live theatre, etc…

  2. Wow Sharon- I have never been on a cruise, but I had an idea that they could be expensive. . So you spent about $35,000 on travel in 2.5 years – yikes. We are heading down to Florida next week, rented a house for 3 weeks, total for food, house, etc. will probably be $11,000, but that is 3 weeks. We are driving, so that will be inexpensive and allow us to have our car. I think in the past we have spent about $6,000 a year on travel, so this year we are really going a bit crazy. However, part of the reason we are doing this is to scope out potential towns for retirement. My husband is a physician and we have a fairly high income, but we just tend to spend it on either tuition or savings. We have a high savings rate, and I guess up until now that was the priority. Only this year have we loosened the purse strings a bit.
    I know life is short and “experiences” are important, but I think we are just natural born savers, and worried about our future lives. I actually think we will wind up spending more in retirement- will see.

    1. Yep, but not quite that much. Canada was only $2000 because it was a short cruise and we paid practically nothing for transportation and no hotel. We were gifted from my parents two of those trips. But I imagine we spent almost $20,000. That is much less than what we had been spending on college tuition (which averaged $42,000/year). We also hadn’t taken many vacations over the years, so I think we were just ready. I like the idea of 3 weeks in Florida during the ugly winter months. We are considering doing two weeks next February instead of a cruise. BUT, we have one booked for Alaska in May. 🙂

  3. P.S. I have had a cleaning person every 2 weeks for the past 30 years, so I guess that was my travel budget! Never thought about it that way!

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