Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.
Cruises can be so expensive at all times. First, cruise lines will lure you in with a “cheap” room and onboard credit. But they blow you around with high-priced drinks, non-included restaurants, and dollar-a-minute Internet.
Booking a cheap cruise is quite easy and needs only one thing: flexibility. The closer it gets to the departure date, the cheaper the journey becomes. You will see that cruise pricing is like tour pricing.
Cruise ships don’t want to leave with a half-empty fleet. Thus, they tend to drop prices until the departure since having empty cabins means less money.
You can also try booking early, but last-minute bookings are the best. And since you are booking close to the departure date, you need to be flexible with where you want to go. It doesn’t matter whether your flight is scheduled.
Traveling while everyone does is not a great idea. It is true in traveling that cruising is cheaper during the school days because it is such a family activity. If you go during peak season, you won’t find the best rates. Book in advance or try last-minute booking for the best fares.
This list below comprises the best available rates for four and 7-night cruises for April and May. Prices depend on various factors, but they all turn to move together. So the rankings below don’t change much or at all.
The fares below are per person based on double occupancy. It also includes taxes, fees, and port expenses for all guests.
Carnival Cruise Line
If you want to leave one of the Florida ports near a major airport, Carnival Cruise Lines is a great low-price pick. The 4-night cruise is on the Carnival Conquest.
Carnival and its Fun Ship slogan are very popular with first-time cruise passengers. The same goes for younger people and families, the majority of whom are from the United States and Canada.
Holland America Line
With a reputation as a most traditional cruise line, Holland America Line is a somewhat upscale part of the Carnival family.
These cruises are on five different ships that carry between 1,200 and 2,000 passengers. They also boast modern and Asian dining and culture options.
Holland America is generally known for catering to older and more sophisticated crowds, and this cruise is no exception. Most of the passengers were older Americans and Canadians with a handful of families with kids.
Started in Italy, MSC entered the North American cruise market with its winter Caribbean excursions.
In the rest of the world, Europeans tend to dominate MSC cruises. But with their Miami-based cruises, they now also attract North American crowd.
They used to have two formal nights per cruise with a casual buffet restaurant at all times, although the main dining room is a bit more formal. This sailing is on the MSC Seaside, which can carry as many as 5,179 passengers.
Even with their Caribbean journeys, the crowds on the MSC ships are very international. That’s because it is a mix of Europeans, Americans, and Canadians.
You won’t see as many families on this cruise as it’s more suited to the adult crowd.
Norwegian Cruise Line
The Norwegian Cruise Line is famous for pioneering the “freestyle cruising” concept. This is where passengers can select from a wide range of restaurants and activities and go whenever they like.
This is better than booking an uncompromising schedule.
This cruise is on the Norwegian Breakaway, carrying 3,963 passengers at most. It is outfitted with more than 20 freestyle-dining restaurants on board. This massive ship also has extensive children’s programs, branded by Nickelodeon.
Freestyle cruising attracts a wide range of passengers, including some who prefer to dress up for formal nights. Thus, expect families and older folks and a lot of romantic couples from the US and Canada.
A slightly upscale section of Carnival, the Princess Cruises leaves Fort Lauderdale to explore Mexico and Central America rather than the more common islands to their east.
The Caribbean Princess can carry 3,140 passengers and is one of the newest cruise ships added in the line. This is why it is comparable to the Regal Princess.
Not as casual and fun as the other Caribbean cruises, the Princess sailings attract a more formal and upscale passengers. Yet, families with children are still welcome onboard.
The majority of their passengers are Americans and Canadians, although there are also Brits and other Europeans.
Royal Caribbean International
While Tampa is not always the first pick for a departure point, the Royal Caribbean cruises that leave from this port are a great choice. This is while aboard the Rhapsody of the Seas.
It carries up to 2,416 passengers and has been refitted in 2012 with updated cabins, more dining options, and an outdoor movie screen.
As you would expect from cruises in this price range, the dress tends to be casual, and the ship attracts a mix of younger and older passengers. There are also families and couples from the United States and Canada, particularly from Texas and Louisiana.
The cruise line is updating many of its ships in compliance with modern demands. Thus, their Celebrity Equinox on this 7-night journey was recently refitted.
With a maximum capacity of 2,850 passengers, this ship feels more upmarket than the other fleet. It is also meant to appeal to a younger and more chic audience.
The departures from Puerto Rico are popular with passengers from Latin America and Spain. The more expensive Fort Lauderdale departures attract mostly Americans and Canadians.
Things to Remember When Booking Cheap Cruises
Try booking a repositioning cruise. These cruises are a great way to cross an ocean or sail down a continent’s coast at a low price. Luckily, you can find such cruises on any booking websites.
Also, look for smaller boats as they are less expensive. That’s because they offer fewer amenities and attractions.
You can also opt to travel during the off-season. Doing so lets you find and book cruises at more affordable prices.