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7 Best Cruise Lines for The Money

The best for your buck.
Last Updated
:
February 7, 2024
by
Editorial Staff
Aerial view of luxury cruise liner in port. Top view of swimming pool with sunbeds, umbrellas and deck chairs, wooden deck on the cruise ship, cars and buildings in summer. View from above
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Adobe Stock
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Unless you’ve recently won the lottery or have been blessed with a surprise inheritance from a long-lost aunt, chances are you don’t have money falling out of your pockets to splurge on a luxury cruise. But does scaling back on your vacation budget mean you have to put up with tiny cabins the size of broom closets, bland buffets full of lukewarm food, and so-called “entertainment” that makes watching paint dry seem riveting? Absolutely not! Just because you’re a savvy spender doesn’t mean you have to compromise on comfort.

Contrary to what images of crowded pool decks and grumpy dining room stewards might come to mind when you think “budget cruise,” there are actually some surprisingly fabulous options out there for frugal travelers that won’t make you feel like you’re roughing it. In fact, you’ll be pleasantly delighted with the great service and activities many affordable cruise lines still manage to deliver. Between catching a live show that would put Broadway to shame or watching the sunset over the ocean from your own private balcony while sipping a pre-dinner cocktail, the budget doesn’t have to be synonymous with boring.

Stick with us while we shine the spotlight on some of my picks for the best cruise lines that won’t break the bank – or your spirit! With a little savvy planning, you’ll be on your way to fabulous memories without blowing your vacation budget faster than you can say “bon voyage.” Just don’t blame us if you have so much fun you start planning your next cruise before you even disembark!

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Celebrity Cruises

celebrity constellation cruise ship
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Celebrity Cruises pride itself on providing a high level of service to its guests. On board, you will find that there is one crew member for every two guests, which makes for an excellent experience. There are entertainment on board and a wide variety of shore excursions.

Celebrity cruise ships vary in size and style, but all are elegant and feature excellent dining and onboard entertainment. The largest ships, the Solstice and Edge Classes have the best onboard venues. Celebrity also has smaller ships, including Galapagos-based ships.

The cost of a cruise is dependent on the duration and itinerary, and you should consider all of these factors when making your decision. For example, a four-day cruise from Miami to the Bahamas will cost around $440 per person, including taxes. However, the prices may vary depending on the current promotions available.

Celebrity Cruises operates 10 ships, each featuring uncompromising service and amenities. The fleet includes ships that sail to exotic destinations in Asia, the Caribbean, and Europe. The cruise line also offers culinary options and experiences in diverse regions.

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Holland America Line

holland america line cruise ship
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One of the most upscale cruise lines, Holland America is known for its elegant and relaxing atmosphere. The cruises offer a range of amenities and activities, including five-star restaurants and award-winning service. The ships are comfortable, and spacious and offer something for every age group. For instance, there are a variety of activities for children, as well as a kids club.

The company’s fleet of ships boasts 14 ships, and its itinerary includes voyages to every continent. This includes trips to Antarctica, South America, and the exotic Asia and Australia/New Zealand regions. It also offers four Grand Voyages each year, as well as popular sailings to the Caribbean, Mexico, Bermuda, and Europe. It also offers cruises through the Panama Canal. The company also recently added two new ships, including ms Koningsdam, which is a 2,650-guest ship.

Holland America offers an impressive range of amenities, including luxurious beds and Egyptian cotton towels. Additionally, all cabins on the ship come with complimentary room service. Guests can even dress up for formal nights. Guests can also enjoy the gym facilities on the ships or participate in athletic shore excursions.

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Royal Caribbean International

Icon of The Seas cruise ship from Royal Caribbean International
Royal Caribbean International

When it comes to cruising, Royal Caribbean International has it all. The company boasts an impressive fleet of more than 20 ships that can accommodate thousands of people. They have four of the largest ships in the world, and they continue to refine their itineraries and reinvent their onboard entertainment and facilities.

Onboard, you’ll have a range of dining options, from buffets to specialty restaurants. For example, you can dine at Jamie’s Italian featuring celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, or try one of the many Japanese restaurants. Other specialty restaurants include Sabor, which offers modern Mexican cuisine, and Wonderland, which serves whimsical fare. And for those who like to snack on ice cream and candy, the cruise line offers plenty of options. And if you’re looking for some fast food while on board, there are Johnny Rockets diners and doughnut shops on several Royal Caribbean ships.

As for the cost, you’ll find cruises to be much cheaper than land-based getaways. Unlike land-based hotels, cruises also offer more freedom. Depending on your preferences, you can choose your preferred itinerary. Some cruise lines have lower prices than others, so it’s important to be flexible when planning your vacation.

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Norwegian Cruise Line

norwegian cruise line prima ship
@stevedasilva77, @sensationalcruises / Instagram

If you’re in the market for a cruise, you may want to look into Norwegian Cruise Line, because of its incredibly affordable prices and many inclusive amenities. In addition to a variety of onboard activities, Norwegian offers great dining options and a full-service spa. It also offers many opportunities for family fun, such as free kids’ clubs and deck-top attractions.

Norwegian is a good choice for families, honeymooners, and other vacationers seeking an unstructured vacation. Onboard, you’ll find kids’ activities, teen-friendly activities, and even go-kart tracks in the water. The cruise ships’ amenities make them particularly attractive to families, which makes them a popular choice.

As a traveler, you can also check out one-way cruises and repositioning cruises. These are great ways to try out new ships and exotic itineraries. Also, consider cruising during shoulder seasons, when prices are lower. Both Norwegian and Royal Caribbean offer great deals on older ships.

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Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival Jubilee cruise ship from Carnival Cruise Line
Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival Cruise Line is one of the most affordable cruise lines. This company has a variety of itineraries and ships to choose from, offering the perfect trip for any family. The company is also known for its warm atmosphere, which encourages guests to relax and reconnect. The staff is trained to provide a positive experience for each guest, making the trip more enjoyable. This cruise line has received multiple awards for its top quality and value.

The cruise line recently won the award for the best value out of all ocean cruise lines. The company received the award for ‘Best Service’ for the third year in a row. This accolade was selected by a panel of experts with first-hand experience of the company’s service. The company employs 40,000 team members across its fleet, serving approximately six million passengers a year.

Aside from its great value, Carnival is also one of the most affordable cruise lines in the Caribbean. Prices are usually lower during shoulder seasons when the ship is not as busy. Additionally, a number of west coast cruises are available at discounted rates. Typically, an interior cabin costs $50 per night or less per person.

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Costa Cruises

Costa Toscana cruise ship from Costa Cruises
Costa Cruises

Based in Italy, Costa Cruises is a popular choice among budget-conscious cruisers. Its ships visit more than 260 ports worldwide, and last year carried more than 1.5 million passengers. You can choose from four to twelve-night itineraries, and the ships offer an array of activities. You can enjoy excursions in Athens or snorkeling in Aruba. There are also options for those who prefer a more intimate cruising experience.

Costa Cruises is a good option for families with kids. It offers a variety of activities for the little ones, including swimming pools and special kid’s clubs. In addition to the activities, Costa Cruises has a casino, live shows, shops, and specialty restaurants. Although some amenities and activities are canceled during COVID-19, the price of cabins and cruise fares is very reasonable.

Costa Cruises requires that passengers have a valid passport to board the ship. However, they will also accept a valid photo ID for those who are traveling without a passport. Moreover, some countries require cruisers to have visas. Also, check out the World Health Organization’s website to check whether you need to get vaccinated against certain diseases. Also, make sure you’ve gotten a COVID-19 vaccination and/or a negative test before embarking on your cruise.

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MSC Cruises

MSC Seaside cruise ship from MSC Cruises
MSC Cruises

MSC Cruises is one of the best lines to go on when you’re looking for the best value for your money. Their ships are modern and elegant, and there are plenty of activities to keep everyone entertained. They are also family-friendly, with kids’ clubs and babysitting services available.

The MSC website lets you check in online 48 hours before embarkation. When packing your suitcase, make sure you label it with your name, cabin number, and date of departure. You’ll also need to make sure you pack all of your travel documents. You’re allowed two suitcases and two handheld pieces of luggage.

MSC Cruises offers family-friendly amenities like Family Super cabins, LEGO-themed activities, and special promotions for kids. The company is also making strides in North America, with new ships coming on board every year.

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