Pinterest pin titled 'Best Cruises for Couples on a Budget' featuring a couple embracing on a ship deck at sunset with the website travelingfranklins.com mentioned.

Dreaming of a romantic couples cruise, but worried about the cost?

You’re in the right place! In this guide, I’ll help you find the best cruises on a budget for couples.

I’ve been on many cruises and have booked many more for couples as a travel agent, so I know exactly what to look for when booking a cruise especially if you’re on a budget.

From selecting the right cruise line and destination to uncovering hidden deals and maximizing savings, I’ll give you expert tips and practical advice to help you plan a romantic cruise getaway!

Once you book your cruise you’ll also want to check out my post on 25 Cool Things to Bring on a Cruise.

Some of the links contained in this post are affiliate links, meaning that at no cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Cruise on a Budget

Whether you’ve cruised before or it’s your first time you’ll want to consider the same factors before booking your cruise.

Destination: The destination plays an important role in determining the overall cost of your cruise. Some destinations are generally more affordable than others. Look for destinations that offer a wide range of activities as well as affordable ports of embarkation and disembarkation.

Cruise Line: Different cruise lines cater to different budgets and travel styles. Look for cruise lines that offer inclusive packages and special deals. Google the cruise line and watch videos about their customer service, onboard amenities, dining options, entertainment, and overall vibe to see if it’s a good fit.

Ship Size: You’d be surprised at how much the size of the ship affects the overall experience. Smaller ships tend to offer a more intimate atmosphere and may provide a more affordable experience. They may also visit ports that larger ships cannot access, providing unique and maybe even more budget friendly excursion options.

Travel Season: The timing of your cruise can greatly affect the cost. Consider traveling during the shoulder or off-peak seasons when cruise prices tend to be lower. Also, keep an eye out for promotions or discounted rates during specific times of the year.

Itinerary and Duration: Review the cruise itinerary and duration of the cruise. Longer cruises often come with a higher price tag but may have a cheaper per-day price than shorter cruises. Overall, shorter cruises may be the most cost-effective in total price.

Hidden Fees and Additional Costs: Be aware that the prices you usually see advertised are not even close to the final cost of the cruise. The prices you see advertised rarely include port fees and taxes. Most cruise lines also charge extra for gratuities, specialty dining, alcoholic beverages, internet access, onboard activities, and spa services. So definitely take these potential expenses into account when comparing cruise options.

Top Cruise Destinations for Couples on a Budget

If you’re looking for cruises on a budget then one of the most important factors is the destination. Depending on where you’re cruising from and where you’re cruising to the prices can fluctuate. So here are some of the most affordable destinations:

Caribbean

The Caribbean is a favorite for couples seeking a budget friendly cruise. It has crystal-clear turquoise waters, white-sand beaches and offers a wide range of affordable cruise options. Look for itineraries that visit multiple islands, allowing you to explore different destinations and experience diverse cultures to get the best bang for your buck.

Mexico

Mexico is another fantastic budget friendly cruise destination, especially for couples. There’s the stunning beaches of Cancun and Cozumel to the rich history of the Mayan ruins in Tulum, there’s something for everyone. Many cruise lines offer itineraries that include stops in popular Mexican ports such as Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, and Costa Maya, allowing you to experience the country’s beauty and vibrant culture at an affordable price.

Mediterranean

While the Mediterranean may not immediately come to mind as a budget friendly destination, there are ways to explore this amazing region without breaking your budget. Look for cruises that depart from ports in Southern Europe, such as Barcelona or Rome, as they may offer more affordable options. Consider itineraries that visit lesser-known ports and take advantage of shore excursions that provide cultural experiences at a fraction of the cost of major tourist destinations.

Southeast Asia

Cruising through destinations like Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Indonesia allows you to explore iconic landmarks, immerse in local traditions, and savor traditional cuisine—all within a reasonable budget. Look for cruises that depart from regional ports like Singapore or Hong Kong to find more affordable options.

A woman in a white lace top gazing out at the ocean from the railing of a cruise ship, her hair blowing in the wind.

Best Cruise Lines for Couples on a Budget

When planning a cruise on a budget, the destination is important, but the type of cruise line will ultimately determine the price.

Carnival Cruise Line: Known for its party atmosphere and affordable prices, Carnival Cruise Line offers a range of options. With a variety of ships and departure ports, Carnival provides budget friendly cruises to popular destinations such as the Caribbean, Mexico, and the Bahamas. You’ll enjoy onboard activities like themed trivia all day every day, live entertainment, and dining options while staying within your budget.

Royal Caribbean International: Royal Caribbean is a well-known cruise line that offers an array of activities and amenities suitable for couples on a budget. From onboard activities like rock climbing and surfing simulators to entertaining shows and a variety of dining options, Royal Caribbean ensures an enjoyable experience without sacrificing affordability. Look for special promotions and discounted rates to maximize your savings.

A couple lounging on blue-striped beach chairs, the woman in a straw hat and sunglasses smiling at the camera and the man in sunglasses reclining with a towel, with a sandy beach in the background

MSC Cruises: MSC Cruises combines affordability with European elegance, making it an attractive option for couples on a budget. With a diverse range of itineraries that include the Mediterranean, Caribbean, and Northern Europe, MSC Cruises offers excellent value for money.

Princess Cruises: Princess Cruises is renowned for its affordability and traditional cruising experiences. Princess Cruises offers a variety of itineraries to destinations worldwide, including Alaska, the Caribbean, and Europe. They also provide a range of amenities and activities that cater to different budgets.

Celestyal Cruises: Celestyal Cruises specializes in Mediterranean cruises and offers competitive pricing for couples on a budget. Their all-inclusive packages often include meals, drinks, entertainment, port charges, and gratuities providing great value for money.

These cruise lines are just a few examples of budget friendly options for couples. Each offers its unique features so you can find the perfect cruise experience that fits your budget and travel style. Remember to compare prices, itineraries, and amenities to choose the cruise line that offers the best value for your money.

A smiling couple takes a selfie on a cable car with a panoramic view of a coastal city and lush greenery in the background

How can I find the best deals on couple cruises?

Finding the best cruises for couples on a budget requires a bit of research and planning. Here are some tips for finding the best cruise deals:

Book Early

One of the most effective ways to find great deals on cruises is to book well in advance. Cruise lines often offer early booking discounts and promotions. By planning ahead and reserving your cruise several months in advance, you can take advantage of these early bird deals.

Be Flexible with Travel Dates

Flexibility with your travel dates can significantly impact the cost of your cruise. Consider traveling during the shoulder seasons or off-peak periods when cruise fares tend to be lower. Prices are typically higher during school holidays and peak travel seasons, so try to avoid those times if possible. Being open to different departure dates can help you find better deals and maximize your savings.

Subscribe to Cruise Line Newsletters and Alerts

Stay up to date about the latest deals and promotions by subscribing to newsletters and alerts from various cruise lines. They often send out exclusive offers, discounts, and early access to sales. By staying in the loop, you can be one of the first to know about limited-time deals, flash sales, or cabin upgrades that can help you save money on your cruise.

View from a window showing a close-up of the side of the Virgin Voyages cruise ship, revealing the ship's balconies and lifeboats

Utilize Travel Agent Expertise

Consider working with a travel agent who specializes in cruises. Travel agents have insider knowledge about deals and package options that can help you find the best deals on cruises. They can also provide personalized recommendations based on your preferences and budget, saving you time and effort in the research process.

Consider Repositioning Cruises or Last-Minute Deals

Repositioning cruises are when ships relocate from one region to another, often resulting in discounted fares. And if you have a flexible schedule, keep an eye out for last-minute deals. Cruise lines occasionally offer significant discounts on unsold cabins closer to the departure date.

Look for Inclusive Packages and Perks

Some cruise lines offer inclusive packages that bundle amenities such as beverage packages, Wi-Fi access, or specialty dining. Keep an eye out for perks like onboard credits, free upgrades, or discounted excursions.

Remember that most cruise pricing you see does not usually include these options so make sure you have the complete picture when comparing prices. One fare may look cheaper but when you add all in the extras, it’s the same or more than other cruise fares.

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Monitor Cruise Comparison Websites

You can compare prices, itineraries, and amenities across different cruise lines, making it easier to find the best deals for your cruise.

Vacations To Go

Vacations To Go is a popular website that specializes in cruise deals. They offer a wide range of discounted cruises. You can browse their website, compare prices, and take advantage of exclusive deals and promotions. You should also join their email list so you can get cruise deals in your inbox.

Credit Card Programs

Several credit card programs offer benefits and rewards that can help you save cruises. For example, American Express Pay with Points allows you to redeem the points you’ve earned towards booking cruises.

Additionally, the Amex Cruise Privileges Program provides exclusive benefits and perks for Amex cardholders, such as onboard credits, cabin upgrades, and additional amenities. Chase Ultimate Rewards and Citi ThankYou Portal also offer similar opportunities to use your points towards booking cruises.

American Airlines Cruises

American Airlines Cruises is a website that allows you to search and book cruises while earning American Airlines AAdvantage miles. By booking through their platform, you can earn miles towards future flights and elite status.

Costco Travel

Costco Travel is another excellent resource for finding budget friendly cruises. They offer a wide range of cruise options at discounted rates, and their packages often include additional perks such as onboard credits, beverage packages, or prepaid gratuities. Their competitive pricing and added value make it a worthwhile option to explore. You must be a Costco Member.

Booking a Budget Friendly Cruise FAQs

If you want to become a budget travel check out my post on how to travel on a budget!

Best Time to Book Budget Friendly Couple Cruises

The best time to book cruises is going to be during off-peak travel seasons, such as when schools are in session or outside major holidays. You can also check out the prices during the Wave Season, which is typically from January to March when cruise lines offer special promotions and discounts.

If you’re flexible, you can try to grab last-minute deals or try for access to early bird discounts. Ultimately, it’s up to you but once you find a price that you’re happy with that’s the best time to book your cruise.

The bright red hull of the Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady cruise ship docked at a port with the company's logo prominently displayed.

Are there any hidden costs to consider when booking a budget friendly cruise?

One thing that you’ll want to keep in mind is that the price that you see for cruises is rarely the final price. They will show you the base fare, but then some other fees and costs will get added to your final cruise price. Not to mention the costs that you’ll incur when you’re actually on the cruise.

Here are some examples of hidden costs so that you can be prepared and add them to your budget:

Port Fees and Taxes: Most cruise fares do not include port fees and taxes, which are charges imposed by the ports of call and local authorities. These fees can vary depending on the itinerary and the ports visited. When budgeting for your cruise, make sure to account for these additional expenses, which are typically listed separately from the base fare.

Gratuities: Gratuities, also known as service charges or tips, are customary on cruise ships to acknowledge the hard work and excellent service provided by the ship’s staff. While some luxury cruise lines may include gratuities in the upfront cost, many budget friendly cruises do not. Gratuities are typically charged per person, per day, and the amount varies depending on the cruise line.

Onboard Expenses: While some cruise amenities and activities are included in the base fare, there are additional onboard expenses to consider. These expenses can include specialty dining, alcoholic beverages, spa treatments, casino gambling, internet access, shore excursions, and onboard shopping. If you book a cruise that includes an onboard credit, you may be able to use this credit for some or all of these expenses.

Beverages: Most budget friendly cruises do not include alcoholic beverages in the base fare. If you and your partner enjoy alcoholic beverages, you may need to purchase beverage packages or pay for drinks individually. Be aware of the cruise line’s beverage policies and pricing and decide what’s the most cost effective option for your preferences. Some cruise lines will offer a food and beverage credit as an incentive for booking the cruise. Make sure you understand what charges are eligible to be covered with this credit.

Specialty Dining: While the main dining venues on a cruise ship are typically included in the base fare, specialty dining options often come with an additional charge. These specialty restaurants offer a more intimate and unique dining experience, and their fees can vary depending on the cruise line and restaurant. If you have an onboard credit, ask if you can use it for specialty dining.

Spa and Fitness Services: General use of the fitness center is usually complimentary, but specific classes, personal training sessions, and spa treatments likely come with an additional cost.

Wi-Fi and Internet Access: Staying connected while at sea often comes at an additional cost. Cruise ships typically offer internet packages, but these packages can be pricey, especially if you need high-speed internet.

A person's bare feet resting in a red hammock on a cruise ship deck, overlooking a calm blue ocean.

Can I still have a romantic experience on a budget-friendly cruise?

Absolutely! A budget friendly cruise doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a romantic experience. Romance doesn’t have a price tag! Many cruise lines, even those with affordable options, offer amenities and activities to ignite that romantic spark while onboard.

You can enjoy intimate dinners at specialty restaurants, indulge in couples’ spa treatments, or spend no extra money and find secluded spots to watch the sunsets. There will be plenty of included entertainment on board, such as live music or cozy lounges.

You and your partner can also explore the enchanting ports of call and have an intimate picnic with a glass of wine. Regardless of how much you paid for the cruise, what’s important is that you’re spending quality time with your partner.

What is the cheapest month to go on a cruise ship?

If you’re looking for the cheapest month to go on a cruise ship that’s going to depend on your destination and cruise line. Generally, you’ll find cheaper prices during off-peak travel seasons for the specific destination.

For example, if you’re looking for Caribbean cruises, months like September, October, and early November often offer more affordable prices because of hurricane season. If you want to go to the Mediterranean, the prices tend to be lower during the shoulder seasons of spring and fall.

But remember to factor in holidays, school vacations, and any big events, festivals or holidays for each destination.

The serene blue waters of the ocean viewed from a cruise ship balcony under a clear sky.

What is the cheapest time of year to book a cruise?

The cheapest time of year to book a cruise depends on a few factors. Generally, you can find more affordable cruises when you book during the off-peak seasons when demand is lower. These periods typically include times when kids are in school and outside major holidays when the demand is higher.

For example, you wouldn’t want to schedule a cruise during Spring Break. However, everyone wants to be home during Thanksgiving so that may be a good time to book a cruise on a budget that leaves from the US.

The cheapest cruises will also depend on the destination, the specific cruise line and special promotions going on. For tips check out my post about how to book a trip on a budget.

Want to Travel More for Less?

Become a Budget Traveler! Head over to my start here page and grab my free budget travel cheat sheet  – it’s packed with valuable tips to help you create your own winning budget travel strategy.

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