Going on a cruise is often seen as a high-end, luxury vacation. When it comes down to it, however, cruise vacations are highly economical and have the potential to be a better overall vacation than a trip somewhere. Let’s look at the overall value of what you get on a cruise compared to a similar vacation. To account for potential differences in price due to time period and location we’ll look at the same time period and the hotel prices of the ports of departure will be used for the non-cruise vacations.
The cruises we’ll look at were found by searching for 3-6 night Caribbean-East cruises for December 2011 on www.travelocity.com. Two results came up. The first is a 5 day Carnival cruise leaving out of Miami. It costs $579 total for an inside cabin which breaks down to $116 per night. It makes stops at Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos; Half Moon Cay, Bahamas; and Nassau, Bahamas. The second is a 6 day Carnival cruise out of San Juan, Puerto Rico. At $599 for an inside cabin, it comes out to around $100 per night and stops at Bridgetown, Barbados; St. Lucia, St. Lucia; Sint Maarten, Netherlands Antilles; and Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, USVI. It should also be noted that on the high majority of cruises, food comes with the package, and most also offer deal where you can pay a flat rate to get complimentary non-alcoholic beverages for the entire trip. So, to wrap up the cruises, you get to spend your time on board a ship with a number of activities designed for your relaxation and pleasure, you get to stop off at various exotic ports of call and are not obligated to spend money there, you get lodging every night, your meals are taken care of and plus you get to spend all your free time at sea.
Compare this to a 5 day vacation to Miami or a 6 day vacation to San Juan. Airfare to these cities will be discounted as this would be the same for the cruises (although it is possible to find cruises out of almost any coastal city). Searching for a hotel only for December 26th-31st in Miami for 1 adult on travelocity.com the lowest hotel rate available is $87 per night. There are a total of 8 results which are lower than the $116 per night rate of the above mentioned Carnival Cruise out of Miami. The second vacation is the San Juan vacation. Searching for a hotel only in San Juan for 1 adult from December 26th to January 1st we find the following. The cheapest option comes in at $78 per night and there are only three options lower than the $100 per night cruise option.
Assuming you travel alone and spend under $20 a day on food (a difficult proposition in Miami or San Juan unless you cook for yourself) then you would end up paying less per night for that vacation. Remember, however, that cruise ships have more perks than hotels, and that on a cruise you get to spend time in multiple different cities. And if you are near enough a coastal city to drive there and save the cost of airfare and find a cruise that sails out of there, even better. A cruise is not out of your reach! And it is a fantastic time! I highly recommend it to anyone planning a vacation in the near future.