Can You Cruise (On A Budget) This Summer?

The NCL Pearl's Onboard Waterpark

The traditional time for a family vacation is, of course, the summer.  The kids are out of school, the weather’s great, and mid-year is about the time everyone really gets the itch to take off and do something new.

With this thought in mind, Money Magazine recently published an informal poll that asked families what their summer travel budget is for 2011.  Here’s what the respondents had to say:

  • 27% won’t travel this summer.
  • 27% will spend under $1,000.
  • 35% will spend between $1,000 and $5,000.
  • 11% will spend more than $5,000.

According to these numbers, 73% of us are planning some sort of family vacation this summer.  We all know that cruises are great for families (here’s a list of things for families to do while on a cruise) but since budgets are tight for many households, can you still get a cruise for what you’re able to spend?

The answer is yes, and I’ll break down some options by category, but the numbers here depend on some assumptions/conditions (and please remember, pricing can change, so be sure to check with your agent):

1.)    You’re planning travel for a family of four; two adults, and two kids, both aged 12 or under.  If your kids are younger, you will likely pay less; if they’re older you may pay more.  But check the cruise line children’s policy- on many lines, kids cruise at a discounted rate or completely free of charge.

2.)    If your budget is under $5000, you’re living in the United States and have a port within reasonable driving distance, so no flights are necessary.  These cruises will leave from, and return to, the same port.

3.)     If you have more than $5000 to spend on a vacation, you’re open to departing from a variety of foreign or domestic ports.  In this circumstance, flights will likely be necessary, but the numbers below reflect cruise-only pricing.


If you want to spend under $1000It’s a tight budget…but it can be done (and fun!).

Consider Celebration Cruise Line’s 2-night Bahamas Celebration Cruise, departing from West Palm Beach, Florida on 8/1/2011.  This cruise includes ports in West Palm Beach and Grand Bahama Island, and  pricing is currently $119 pp for an interior cabin, $129 pp for an Oceanview and $259 for a suite.

Or look into Carnival Cruise Lines 4night Western Caribbean cruise on the Carnival Imagination. This cruise departs from Miami, Florida on 8/29/11.  Prices on an interior cabin are currently $239 pp, and the cruise visits Key West and Cozumel.

If you have a budget of $1000-$5000- This is where the majority of vacation budgets fall, and there are some great options here.

Investigate Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Pearl, which takes a 7-Night Alaska cruise (roundtrip Seattle), departing on 7/17/11.  An inside cabin runs $949 pp on this cruise, and it visits Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, and Victoria BC.

Or, take a look at Royal Caribbean International’s Enchantment Of The Seas, which has a 9-night Canada/New England cruise departing 8/11/11.  This voyage is round-trip Baltimore, and ports in Portland; Bar Harbor; Saint John NB (Bay of Fundy) and Halifax, Nova Scotia. An interior cabin on this ship runs $949 pp on this cruise as well.

If you have more than $5000 to spend on a cruise vacation, your choices are wide open.

Check out the 12 Night Alaska itinerary from Oceania Cruises on their ship the Regatta.  This voyage departs from Anchorage, Alaska on 7/23/11, and sails to Vancouver, BC.  Prices range from 2749 pp for an interior cabin, up to 5449 pp for a suite.  The ship ports in Homer, Seward, Juneau, Skagway, Icy Strait Point, Sitka, Wrangell, Ketchikan, and Vancouver BC.

If you want a cruise with true international flair, look to Azamara Club Cruises 7-night Europe cruise aboard the Azamara Quest. This cruise departs 8/13/11 from Venice, Italy, and visits Split, Croatia; Kotor, Montenegro; Corfu, Greece; Katakolon (Olympia), Greece; Chania, Greece; Santorini, Greece before ending in Piraeus (Athens), Greece.  Prices on this cruise range from 1849 pp for an interior cabin to 3649 pp for a suite.

So there you have it, a cruise for every budget!  And for the 27% of you who say you’re not vacationing at all this year…give it some thought.  There are many wonderful cruises out there that won’t break the budget, and even if it’s only for a weekend, a cruise makes for a great family getaway!

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