A family cruise is often one of the most affordable ways for parents to enjoying visiting gorgeous Caribbean islands with their kids. When planning and budgeting for your family's Caribbean vacation, it's important to consider the value of what is included in your cruise fare...
- All meals and snacks
- Complimentary, supervised daily child care for kids ages 2-3 years old to 17
- Shipboard activities
- Evening shows & entertainment
- Taxes and port fees
Cruise prices start around $79 per person per night...This price is based on a family of four, sharing an inside cabin (no windows) on a Carnival Cruise sailing during the summer months. So for a 7 night cruise - $79 per person x 7 nights x 4 people in your family - You're looking at a minimum price of @ $2200 for your family. That means your family is spending $315 per day for your accommodations, meals and ship board activities like water parks and broadway style shows!
Compare this to the price of a $150 hotel room in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Factor in $50 per adult and $35 per child average daily meal costs and you're looking at $322 per night without any entertainment costs. (...and that doesn't even include flights to get to Puerto Rico!).
So now that we have our baseline or starting price, what are some of the other factors that affect the price of what you ultimately pay for your family cruise to the Caribbean...
1. The Cruise Line you choose
The example here was for Carnival Cruise line which offers a fantastic, affordable cruise for families. That said, family friendly cruise sailing to the Caribbean are not all created equal. There are contemporary and premium cruise lines that offer different levels of service and features at different price points. When sailing to the Caribbean, it's important to choose the right family cruise that's best suited to the needs and wishes of your family. Here are some average prices for 7 night sailings on other cruise lines -
Disney Magic - $4785 Average cabin total - $1196.25 per person
Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas- $4369.88 Average cabin total - $1092.47 per person
Norwegian Escape - $4,047.56 Average cabin total - $879 per person
Carnival Glory - $2200.00 Average Cabin Total - $553 per person
By comparison, a Family Disney Cruise to the Caribbean costs more because it is considered a Premium cruise line compared to the other contemporary cruise lines listed here.
2. The Ship you Select
Newer ships are in higher demand and as a result come with a higher price tag. There are two reasons for this. There are some folks that are huge fans of cruising. They "collect" ships and want to sail on every ship on the 7 seas. This means new ships sailing in their inaugural season have a higher price tag. Also there seems to be a great competition amongst the family friendly cruise lines. Every new ship comes with more fun features, experiences, entertainment and amenities. Ships with lots of family friendly whistles & bells command higher price tags.
3. Cabin Accommodations
Most cruise ships offer 4 types of cabins that all come with private bathrooms. Cabin types are:
- Inside Cabins - no window
- Ocean view - offer windows or portholes
- Balcony cabin
- Suites - include balconies and usually extra services, perks, even private butlers
Bedding in most cabins consist of two twin beds that can be either connected together upon request to create one "king' bed or separated. Additional cabin bedding for 3rd or 4th passengers is either a fold out sofas, bunk beds or "berths" that are beds that fold out of the wall/ceiling areas to create bunk beds.
Every family friendly cruise ship offers cabins from the basic inside cabin which is simply a place to shower and sleep to the most extravagant of suites. Royal Caribbean's exclusive family suite in the video here prices from $45,000 to $85,000 for a 7 night cruise.
4. Time of Year
Notice the price range on Royal Caribbean's Family Suite noted above? That's a $40,000 price spread! WHEN you cruise is a huge factor when it comes to pricing. Pricing for the travel industry is based on supply and demand. Low season like September when most kids are heading back to school is when you can expect to find the lowest pricing. Christmas or Spring break week you can expect to pay 50-70% more.
5. When You Book Your Cruise
In the old days, the cruise lines used to offer plenty of last minute discount deals. What they discovered is that this trained the public to wait to make their reservations which in turn created HUGE financial risks for the cruise lines. Now the cruise lines offer the best deals and incentives early! This means you should plan to deposit your cruise approximately 2 years in advance. Planning ahead pays in many ways. First Vacationkids offers free vacation layaway which can save your family a ton in credit card interest. We can also "babysit" your reservations and apply and last minute deals or perks that you do qualify for to your existing reservation. Of course nobody has a crystal ball when it comes to the future, we can protect your investment with travel insurance.
6. Length of your Caribbean Cruise
Surprise!...Longer cruises actually cost less per night than shorter cruises. The cruise lines offer this incentive based on the idea that the longer they have you on board, the greater chance they have of getting you to spend money at their spa, gift shops etc. The same is true with Theme parks. A one day admission is far more expensive per day than a week pass.
Now that you have an idea of how much a family Caribbean Cruise costs and what factors can affect the price that you pay, in the second part of this two part post, we'll discuss how to properly prepare a vacation budget for your family Caribbean Cruise.