3 Caribbean Cruises in 2024 That Will Cost You Less Than Booking a Resort

You might be surprised to discover that it's possible to travel to the Caribbean without breaking the bank by booking a cruise instead of an all-inclusive resort or hotel stay.

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caribbean cruise 2024

Set sail for an affordable Caribbean adventure! You might be surprised to discover that it's possible to travel to the Caribbean without breaking the bank by booking a cruise instead of an all-inclusive resort or hotel stay.

Some cruises offer budget-friendly options for a tropical escape. By island-hopping, you'll also have the opportunity to explore a variety of enchanting destinations while keeping your expenses in check. 

Which Caribbean cruises in 2024 are best for your travel style?

When you think of a Caribbean cruise, you probably associate it with floating resorts like Royal Caribbean, MSC Cruises and Norwegian. These giants welcome thousands of passengers with spectacular entertainment, ranging from water parks and wave pools to laser tag courses and go-kart tracks.

But pause for a moment; there are companies like Princess, Holland America, and Celebrity that take a different tack. They create an ambiance of timeless elegance and traditional experiences, perfect for those who prefer to avoid the bustle of floating cities.

For an affordable sail, Carnival stands out as an economical option, offering similar entertainment to mega resorts but at a significantly lower price.

If you're looking for an adults-only option, Virgin Voyages caters to the young at heart with bold new ships.

Disney Cruise Line reigns supreme in the family cruise category, offering unparalleled children's attractions and family-friendly cabins. To give you an idea, in terms of size, Disney only accommodates one-tenth of the passengers of Royal Caribbean—so it’s considered a "small" cruise ship, though still massive!

Basic rates are getting cheaper: a benefit for you!

You'll be pleased to learn that cruises are increasingly adopting the strategy of low-cost airlines, offering very cheap base fares but charging extra fees for many services and amenities.

Be prepared to pay extra for extras such as excursions, internet, special meals, onboard activities, drinks, and other services not included in the base fare.

Top 3 affordable cruises in the Caribbean

To concretely demonstrate that it's possible to book a Caribbean vacation on a budget, here are three Caribbean cruises in 2024 that cost less than staying at a hotel:

1. Margaritaville at Sea

If you fancy a weekend getaway, Margaritaville at Sea offers a unique chance to set sail from the port of Palm Beach. This cruise company offers two-night voyages to Freeport in the Bahamas, with a return every two days.

To give you an idea, you can find ads online offering rates starting from $59 USD per person for 2 nights. Adding fees and taxes brings the total to $154 USD per person, or $77 USD per person per night when booked in advance.

This rate includes accommodation, meals, and 5 cocktails. All other services, such as a cabin with a window and balcony, are available for an additional fee.

You have the choice between a 2-night or 3-night cruise, each offering its advantages.

In all honesty, the ship may seem a bit outdated, but the fare is unbeatable. After all, you'll enjoy a trip to the Bahamas with turquoise waters and a sunny experience in a positive atmosphere, in the spirit of Jimmy Buffett.

2. Holland America Line

Get ready for an unforgettable adventure aboard the Rotterdam ship with Holland America Line. This exceptional journey offers a 6-night cruise in the Western Caribbean, starting and ending in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

The stops include fascinating destinations such as Belize City, Costa Maya, and Cozumel. All of this is available starting from $349 USD per person, offering an exceptional experience. 

The total cost, including fees, amounts to $524 USD per person for a 6-night cruise, or only $87 USD per person per night. This all-inclusive rate includes all meals onboard.

Travel tip: NOT selecting your cabin when booking a cruise can be a strategic decision similar to choosing seats on a plane; it allows you to save money!

Despite some drawbacks such as overly reserved poolside chairs and crowded buffets at times, the ship's condition remains impeccable. The French seafood restaurant Rudi's Sel De Mer offers an exquisite experience, as does the live music from the Rolling Stones Rock Room band.

It's an opportunity to experience a sea adventure at an affordable price, offering the best of both worlds between comfort and savings.

3. Carnival Cruise

It's impossible not to mention Carnival in the top 3 affordable Caribbean cruises in 2024!

Imagine going on a 4-night cruise departing from Miami, Florida. Onboard the Carnival Conquest ship, explore enchanting destinations such as the company's beautiful private island, Half Moon Cay.

Interior rates start at $249 USD, making this maritime adventure incredibly affordable. With taxes included, the total cost is $414 USD per person for 4 nights, or $103 USD per night, offering an exceptional experience at a truly advantageous price.

To top it off, Carnival spoils you with exclusive offers: up to $100 drink credit to liven up your evenings and even the possibility of getting up to $1,000 to spend onboard.

When to go on a cruise in the Caribbean?

You can go on a Caribbean cruise all year round! This offers flexibility for winter, spring, or summer vacations. However, the months from December to April are considered the high season, offering pleasant temperatures and minimal risk of rain.

Where to go on a cruise in the Caribbean in 2024?

You can choose from three cruise itinerary regions.

Eastern Caribbean Cruise:

  • Main destinations: The Bahamas, the Virgin Islands, Saint Martin, the Turks and Caicos Islands, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico.
  • Features: Focused on beach time and water sports. Fewer historical or cultural attractions than in the Western Caribbean.
  • Typical duration: Seven-night cruises are common. Shorter (four nights) and longer (10 to 12 nights) options are available.

You'll notice that the Bahamas are technically located in the Atlantic rather than the Caribbean, but many cruises include stops in the Bahamas on their Caribbean itinerary.

Southern Caribbean Cruise:

  • Main destinations: Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Barbados, Trinidad, Saint Lucia, Dominica, Martinique, and Grenada.
  • Features: Attractive to luxury travellers. Islands are more distant, and destinations are more exclusive.
  • Typical duration: Often longer cruises, requiring more than a week.

Western Caribbean Cruise:

  • Main destinations: Mexico, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, Belize, and Honduras.
  • Features: More focused on land activities, such as exploring Mayan ruins. More options for cultural experiences.
  • Typical duration: Seven-night cruises are common. Shorter and longer options available.

Other insider tips for finding affordable cruises in the Caribbean in 2024

If you want to find cruises at more affordable prices than hotel stays, early booking is often the key to enjoying the most advantageous rates.

Regularly monitor promotions and special offers from cruise companies to unlock significant savings.

Subscribe to newsletters from each company to stay informed about specials like "75% off the second passenger - Celebrity® Semi-Annual Sale" or "Norwegian 50% off all cruises." Celebrity Cruises and Royal Caribbean even offer a $50 discount by signing up for their newsletter.

Opt for an inside cabin without an ocean view as a savvy strategy to save money, especially if you plan to spend most of your time exploring destinations.

Additionally, limit extras such as excursions, special meals, and paid onboard activities to help control your budget.

If you're looking for THE foolproof secret to finding budget-friendly cruises while experiencing exceptional adventures, look no further: cruise company loyalty programs. Start with a company like Norwegian, stay loyal, and you'll be on the verge of scoring enormous discounts and breathtaking benefits.

Set sail with peace of mind!

Regardless of the ship you choose for your vacation, going on a cruise can influence the type of travel insurance you'll need

A cruise vacation may require more specialized coverage, such as in the case of medical evacuation at sea. Discuss your situation with a soNomad agent to find the best insurance for this type of trip.

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