Cruise prices tend to rise in the summer. Not only is demand higher when the kids are out of school, but summer is also peak travel season for many popular cruise destinations, according to Colleen McDaniel, managing editor of CruiseCritic.com. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t find an affordable cruise for this summer, if you know where to look.
“We’re entering prime time for finding last-minute cruise deals for the summer, so now is a great time to compare fares and see what kind of deals are available,” McDaniel said. “If you can also take advantage of add-on perks — like complimentary shore excursions, gratuities or alternative dining — it can save you even more.”
On average, cruise travelers spend $1,635 for fares and another $565 for onboard and shore expenses, according to the most recent figures from Cruise Lines International Association. However, we found several cruises well below those rates.
Here are 10 vacations to take this summer, if you’re looking for an affordable cruise.
1. Carnival: Baja Mexico
- Date: July 10 to July 14, 2016
- Price: $369 per person
- Ship Name: Imagination
- Stops: Long Beach, Catalina Island, Ensenada
For just $369 per person, you can book an interior stateroom on this four-night Carnival cruise that departs from Long Beach, Calif., and makes stops at Catalina Island, Calif., and Ensenada, Mexico. The price includes meals and access to onboard entertainment, including Camp Ocean and Hasbro, The Game Show, featuring giant onstage versions of popular Hasbro board games. Additionally, guests can visit a nightclub and sing karaoke.
On-shore excursion options include a Hummer adventure on Catalina Island for $79.99 per adult, $69.99 per child, and a kayak tour in Ensenada for $89.99. An automatic 15 percent gratuity is added to beverage purchases on Carnival cruises, and it’s recommended that guests tip $12 per day.
2. Royal Caribbean: The Bahamas
- Date: July 15 to July 18, 2016
- Price: $388.50 per person
- Ship Name: Majesty of the Seas
- Stops: Orlando, Nassau, CocoCay
This three-night cruise sets sail from Orlando, Fla., and makes stops in Nassau and CocoCay, Bahamas. Prices start at $388.50 per person for an interior stateroom and cover dining and entertainment. Send the kids to the Adventure Ocean Youth Program during the day and enjoy access to live bands, salsa dancing and piano sing-alongs at night.
Shore excursions include jet skiing in CocoCay for $33 per person and a glass-bottom boat tour of Nassau for $34 per adult, $24 per child. Guests should note that Royal Caribbean adds a $13.50 gratuity per guest per day for standard staterooms.
3. Carnival: Western Caribbean
- Date: July 4 to July 8, 2016
- Price: $429 per person
- Ship Name: Fantasy
- Stops: Miami, Key West, Cozumel
This four-night Carnival cruise, which sets sail from Miami and makes stops in Key West, Fla., and Cozumel, Mexico, starts at just $429 per person for an interior stateroom. Adults and kids alike can take advantage of great entertainment options, such as an onboard water park and free musical productions. Kids can also enjoy seeing Dr. Seuss characters come to life in Seuss at Sea, while their parents relax in the Serenity adults-only retreat.
While off ship, enjoy parasailing in Key West for $79.99 per person or take a Jeep and snorkeling tour in Cozumel for $96.99 per adult, $88.99 per child.
4. Norwegian: The Bahamas
- Date: July 1 to July 4, 2016
- Price: $449 per person
- Ship Name: Norwegian Sky
- Stops: Miami, Nassau, Great Stirrup Cay
Fares for this three-night cruise that departs from Miami and stops in Nassau and Great Stirrup Cay start at $449 per person for an interior stateroom. Not only does the price include meals and onboard entertainment, but guests can also take advantage of the free open bar.
While in Nassau, enjoy a sailing and snorkeling excursion for $65 per adult, $55 per child. During your visit to Great Stirrup Cay, consider taking part in a a stingray encounter for $55 per adult, $35 per child. Guests should remember that an 18 percent gratuity will be added to their spa services.
5. Royal Caribbean: Western Caribbean
- Date: July 4 to July 9, 2016
- Price: $489 per person
- Ship Name: Empress of the Seas
- Stops: Miami, George Town, Key West
Fares start at $489 per person for an interior stateroom on this Royal Caribbean cruise that sets sail from Miami and makes stops in George Town, Cayman Islands, and Key West, Fla. The price includes dining as well as access to the Adventure Ocean Youth Program and a rock climbing wall. Additionally, guests can enjoy a live orchestra, theme nights and showgirl performances.
Onshore excursions include a glass-bottom boat tour of George Town for $69 per adult, $39 per child. You can also take a kayak tour in Key West for $59 per person.
6. Carnival: The Bahamas
- Date: July 14 to July 18, 2016
- Price: $459 per person
- Ship Name: Ecstasy
- Stops: Charleston, Nassau
With fares starting at $459 per person for an interior stateroom, this four-night Carnival cruise departs from Charleston, S.C., and sails to Nassau, Bahamas. The price includes meals and access to great onboard entertainment, including a water park, piano bar and comedy club.
Shore excursions include a catamaran sail and snorkel trip for $59.99 per adult, $54.99 per child. You can also experience a dolphin encounter for $98.99 per adult, $79.99 per child.
7. Carnival: Canada
- Date: July 28 to Aug. 1, 2016
- Price: $469 per person
- Ship Name: Sunshine
- Stops: New York City, Saint John
You can travel up the New England coast from New York City to Saint John, Canada, on this four-night Carnival cruise that starts at $469 per person for an interior stateroom. The price covers dining and entertainment, as well.
Shore excursions in Saint John include a boat ride to view the rapids of Reversing Falls and a city trolley tour, all for $68.99 per adult, $65.99 per child.
8. Royal Caribbean: Western Caribbean
- Date: Aug. 28 to Sept. 4, 2016
- Price: $499 per person
- Ship Name: Liberty of the Seas
- Stops: Galveston, Roatan, Puerto Costa Maya, Cozumel
Fares start at $499 for this seven-night cruise departing from Galveston, Texas, and stopping in Roatan, Honduras; and Puerto Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico. The price includes dining and access to water parks, fitness classes, ice skating and Broadway shows, among other entertainment options.
Guests can also take advantage of great shore excursions, such as a snorkel and tequila tasting tour in Cozumel for $39 per adult and zip lining in Puerto Costa Maya for $50 per adult, $40 per child.
9. Norwegian: Mediterranean
- Date: June 26 to July 3, 2016
- Price: $599 per person
- Ship Name: Epic
- Stops: Barcelona, Naples, Rome, Florence, Cannes, Provence
This seven-night Norwegian cruise departs from Barcelona, Spain, and makes stops in Naples, Rome and Florence, Italy; and Cannes and Provence, France. Prices start at $599 for an interior stateroom and include dining, live music, comedy and Broadway shows.
Shore excursions include a Cannes walking tour for $55 per person and a tour of Nice for $65 per adult, $45 per child.
10. Princess: Greece and Turkey
- Date: July 23 to July 30, 2016
- Price: $649 per person
- Ship Name: Royal Princess
- Stops: Rome, Naples, Crete, Kusadasi, Istanbul, Mykonos, Athens
This seven-night cruise sets sail from Rome, Italy, and makes stops in Naples, Italy; Kusadasi and Istanbul, Turkey; and Crete, Mykonos and Athens, Greece. Fares start at $649 per person for an interior stateroom, but the third and fourth guests in a room pay just $399 each. This cruise deal also includes dining and entertainment. Watch a live show or enjoy a film at the Movies Under the Stars outdoor theater.
Shore excursions include a tour of Naples for $49.95 per person and a guided walking tour of Istanbul for $69.95 per person. Princess adds a gratuity of $12.95 per person per day for staterooms and a 15 percent gratuity for bar charges and spa services.