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Top 5 Best Cruise Lines for the Money

Looking for the best cruise lines for the money? Porthole Cruise readers shared their favorites for RCA 2020!

Who said your next vacation has to break the bank? Cruising is one of the most affordable vacations, particularly for families, thanks to all-inclusive dining, entertainment and amenities as well as constant deals, perks and promotions offered by cruise lines all over the world. Some cruise lines even cater to cruisers on a budget so they get to enjoy all the fun and excitement of a cruise vacation without spending a fortune doing so. 

Porthole Cruise readers voted for the best cruise lines for the money and the results are in. Click the link below to jump to each cruise line!

  1. Carnival Cruise Line
  2. Royal Caribbean International
  3. Norwegian Cruise Line
  4. Princess Cruises
  5. MSC Cruises 

Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival Cruise Line has long been popular with Porthole Cruise readers thanks to their budget-friendly options on cruises all over the world. From offering reduced deposits to interior staterooms that go for a fraction of the price of a balcony, Carnival’s goal is to make sure everyone is able to afford a cruise vacation no matter their means. Even the suites on board Carnival Cruise ships are more affordable than other lines so cruisers can choose what value best suits their needs. With dining options, activities and entertainment included in the cost of the fare, it’s easy to get on board a Carnival Cruise ship and not spend another penny. There are options to spend more on board if you wish, but it’s entirely up to the cruiser! 

Good morning, Baltimore!

Photo: Carnival Cruise Line

Royal Caribbean International

Royal Caribbean’s fleet features more than 20 ships and each one has options for a budget-conscious cruiser. Larger ships with more passengers help keep costs down when it comes to the initial fare, and options like bringing your own beverages and using Royal Caribbean-branded credit cards help cruisers save money as well. Regular promotional deals like upgraded staterooms, free drinks, free wifi and more help reduce the overall cost of a Royal Caribbean cruise without limiting the experience in any way. If you’re able to accommodate last-minute travel plans, Royal Caribbean is always trying to fill up their ships in the weeks before a sailing which presents an opportunity for more savings! 

Photo: Royal Caribbean International

Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Cruise Line has long eschewed the formal nature of cruises in the past with a much more casual and laid back style, and that has saved their guests a lot of money over the years. While they do feature a number of extra-charge restaurants on board their newer ships, the main dining rooms receive rave reviews and are included in the fare along with many of the onboard activities and entertainment. Cruisers can bring their own bottles of wine for a nominal corking fee, while 3rd and 4th guests can take advantage of sail-free promotions, which means saving money as a group. Norwegian Cruise Line offers a number of stateroom options including catering to solo travelers so there’s no need to pay extra for a room for two. Luxury accommodation options like The Haven have additional included features which allow cruisers to choose their level of service and value. The cost may be higher with the luxury amenities, but many cruisers find it worthwhile for an improved experience. 

Norwegian Cruise Line

Photo: Norwegian Cruise Line

Princess Cruises

A subsidiary of Carnival Corporation, Princess Cruises offers a slightly different experience but one which can still save cruisers a lot of money. With longer itineraries and a focus on enrichment experiences, there’s a lot of added value on a Princess cruise that you might not find elsewhere. Some examples of included activities are cooking classes and demonstrations, history lessons of the regions, art galleries and even the Princess Book Club. Interior and oceanview staterooms are far cheaper than balcony rooms but include many of the same amenities and access to the ship’s activities and entertainment. There’s an upcharge for specialty restaurants, but Porthole Cruise readers give high marks to the dining options included with the fare.

Princess Cruises

Photo: Princess Cruises

MSC Cruises

Considering how new many of MSC Cruises ships are, their ability to keep fares low for their guests is unprecedented. Most cruise lines charge significantly more for brand new ships, but MSC’s commitment to deals and promotions can save cruisers a ton. Not only do they offer an MSC Voyager Club discount, but they frequently offer deals like kids cruise free and free perks like drinks and wifi included. The main dining room and other eateries are included in the fare, but guests do have the option to enjoy specialty dining for a small upcharge. Visits to their private island resort are also included on most itineraries in the Bahamas and Caribbean. The cruise line is also offering an up to 50% off deal for healthcare workers through April 30, 2021 as a thank you for all their hard work!

Photo: MSC Cruises

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