10 Amazing Budget Cruises (That Don’t Feel Like Budget Cruises)


(Photo: Robert Harding World Imagery/Alamy)

Cruising is usually seen as an expensive vacation choice but with the new generation of “Mega-Ships” and increased competition in the market, the cruise line industry actually now has plenty of options for travelers on a budget.

The Caribbean, Alaska, The Mediterranean — some of the world’s most spectacular vacation destinations can be seen at an affordable price, with many seven-day trips available for under $1,000. And that could be for everything: Taking a cruise usually means a set price for all of the major expenses – accommodation, meals, entertainment and activities. Or at least paying for it all up front, taking the worry out of additional costs. Some even provide a completely all-inclusive experience where drinks (alcohol and otherwise) gratuities and off boat excursions are involved in the price.

Try these tips for even more savings: travel early or late in the season, book last minute, or try a shorter cruise — many places offer three- or five-day voyages.

With all that in mind, here are the best budget cruises that, despite the low cost, will give you the trip of a lifetime.

Disney Dream


(Photo: Blaire Harrington III/Alamy)

Launched in 2011, the Disney Dream is the largest in the Disney fleet with a passenger capacity of over 4,000 people. This giant floating resort has six restaurants, three swimming pools, five nightclubs, basketball courts, an AquaTheatre, and a 765-foot water slide. Cruising solely in the Caribbean, you can get a four-night cruise through the Bahamas for less than $700 a person, leaving from Port Canaveral, Fla. All meals and drinks are included except for alcohol.

Norwegian Epic


(Photo: Polly Thomas/Alamy)

On a seven to 12-day Mediterranean cruise aboard the Norwegian Epic you can visit ports such as Naples, Rome, Florence, Cannes, and Mallorca — all for around $1,000. The ship, which splits its time between the Med and the Caribbean, has been voted one of the World’s best cruise ships thanks to its 23 restaurants, award winning live entertainment, and vast array of sports and fitness amenities. All dining is complimentary but drinks are an additional cost.

Celebrity Solstice


(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The Celebrity Solstice spends its days cruising the Pacific Islands and the Western seaboard of the U.S. giving its passengers access to Hawaii, Fiji, Tahiti, and Canada. But it’s most popular, and affordable route is the one it takes along the Alaskan coast. A seven-night cruise in May can be as cheap as $799 if you are willing to stay in an inside room. The ship provides its guests with the luxury of the Canyon Ranch Spa Club, a unique ‘Lawn Club’ (where guests can play croquet), multiple restaurants, and even a hot-glass show (where experts display the centuries old art of glass blowing).

Nile Legacy

(Photo: Nile Legacy)

This eight-day adults-only Nile river Cruise will take you on a journey to all the ancient wonders of Egypt from the comfort of the peaceful and spacious Nile Legacy river boat. With a pool on the sundeck, tow bars, and an internationally themed restaurant, guests can lounge in luxury between their excursions to Luxor, Kom Ombo, Aswan, Denderah, and the West bank. Full board includes three daily meals buffet-style and local alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks with meals — all for around $660 per person. Excursions are also included in the price. A full all-inclusive option is also available for an extra cost.

Regal Princess


(Photo: Caribbean/Alamy)

Launched just last year, this brand new ship is Princess Cruises new generation of cruise liner. The ship has the biggest ever deck-top pool and is making a huge feature of it by hosting nightly water and light shows as well as movie screenings under the stars. The ship looks like a Vegas hotel on water, with a giant ornate atrium as the center feature of the entertainment space and it has 12 different dining options. A seven-day Caribbean Cruise starting in Florida and that stops in the Bahamas, Cayman Islands, and Mexico, starts at around $600 per person. The package is exclusive of dining and beverage options which cost $49 per person per day for all-inclusive.

Related: 8 Cruise Ship Pools That Make You Say “Wow!”

Quantum Of The Seas


(Photo: Roderick Eime/Flickr)

This boat first set sail in November, so it really is the newest cruise ship on the ocean. And not only is it the newest, but it could be the most groundbreaking. Featuring a sky diving simulator, bumper cars, a mechanical viewing pod, state of the art fitness centre, a 220-foot outdoor movie screen, rock climbing walls, Flow rider surf simulators, a roller skating rink, a casino, and 21 restaurants (yes, 21!), the cruise ship is more like an amusement park than a boat. A seven-night cruise of the Bahamas (leaving from New Jersey in December) will cost you $833 and up.

MSC Divina


(Photo: K B/Flickr)

MSC Divina, a formerly Mediterranean-based boat now calls the Caribbean home and sails year-round out of Miami. With fun European inspired features like an Espresso Bar, a Formula 1 racing simulator, a live string quartet in the lobby, over 150 fountains, and a spectacular infinity pool, this ship feels less budget and more luxury. It is also the only cruise line to offer six different shows on a seven-night cruise. The seven-night, seven-port cruise of the south Caribbean starts at $899 a person.

Queen Elizabeth


(Photo: Cunard Line)

If you can stretch your budget just a little bit beyond $1000 (to $1149), you can get seven nights aboard Cunard’s famous Queen Elizabeth for its Pearls Of The Adriatic cruise, stopping in Rome, Corfu, Kotor, Dubrovnik, and Venice. Good for cruisers looking for a more sophisticated experience, the facilities are aimed more at adults and include a croquet lawn, paddle tennis courts, a boutique shopping arcade, a spa, a Grand Ballroom, and several formal dining options.

Related: Epic Cruise Voyages You Can Actually Afford

Holland America’s Oosterdam


(Photo: Ron Niebrugge/Alamy)

The 10-day Denali cruise aboard the Oosterdam sets sail from Vancouver, stopping at six different Alaskan ports and involves two separate one-night stays inland so you can experience all Alaska has to offer – for the bargain price of $849 per person when staying in an interior room. The ship has five formal dining options but also provides 24-hour complimentary room service. There is a spa, a casino, a pool deck, and a state-of-the-art fitness centre.

Carnival Miracle


(Photo: TripAdvisor)

If a party atmosphere on board is what you are seeking, look no further than the Carnival Miracle’s seven-day Mexican Riviera cruise. Setting sail from the Port of Los Angeles and taking in Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas, this voyage is one of sun, sand, and cocktails. The trip includes shore excursions to the fun-filled Mexican tourist hubs where passengers can do everything from zip lining, sport fishing, and swimming with dolphins to Salsa dancing lessons and snorkeling. The ship has an onboard comedy club, spa, two huge pools, multiple bars, including a traditional pub, a shopping plaza, 10 restaurants, and an adults-only “retreat” complete with hammocks, cabanas, and its own bar. All this for $998 for the seven days. Most of the dining options are included with drinks and premium dining options at an additional charge.

Related: The Year’s Quirkiest Cruise Destinations

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