If you’re looking to book a cruise on a budget, consider Miami, where you’ll find plenty of year-round bargains. As the busiest cruise port in Florida, Miami is home to four major lines offering value fares: Carnival Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International, and MSC Cruises — offering value fares.
Its southern Florida location allows for easy access to the Bahamas (including the lines’ resort-like private islands), the Eastern and Western Caribbean, and Mexico on sailings of two to seven nights. Here is everything you need to know about finding and booking cheap cruises from Miami.
1. Cruise in an inside cabin.
Most cheap cruise fares will be for an inside or interior cabin. Aside from a sea view and some square footage, you won’t give up much — and your savings will allow you to take excursions or enjoy the spa. But do check out ocean view and even balcony fares as they sometimes dip into the $459-$599 per person range.
2. Sail on older ships.
Often, the trade-off for a cheap cruise deal is that the ship was built 15-20 years ago and lacks the polished décor and latest bells and whistles — such as huge waterslides, ropes courses, and celebrity chef restaurants — of the lines’ mega ships. Carnival and Royal Caribbean recently updated many of their older ships with some of their cool new features, but a refit can only go so far. That said, search diligently and you can find cheap fares from Miami on new ships, such as Norwegian Escape, Carnival Vista, and MSC Divina.
3. Consider a short sailing.
The cheapest getaway from Miami is a three- or four-night cruise to the Bahamas (Carnival and Norwegian even have two-night sailings). A quick search on a cruise deals site, such as ShermansCruise.com, will turn up fares in the $179-$249 per person range.
Five- or six-night cruises also provide tremendous value — as in five nights out of Miami to the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos on Carnival Sensation for $284 per person in September or a six-night Western Caribbean cruise on brand-new Carnival Vista in early January for $379.
4. Watch for last-minute bargains.
With just two weeks’ notice, you can generally snag a cheap cruise from Miami — especially in summer and fall.
5. Roll with the vibe — and it can vary.
Cheap cruises attract a wide array of passengers — from bargain-hunting families with young kids to party-at-the-pool singles who rack up buckets of bottled beers as the afternoon stretches on. But the common denominator on these cruises is they are generally very lively.
6. Expect your onboard bill to be more than your cruise fare.
That $249 cruise fare will cover your cabin and three meals per day in the complimentary restaurants. But add a few cocktails a day, a shore excursion or two, and daily crew gratuities, and you’ll easily shell out that much over four or five days on board.
7. Search for inaugural specials.
When new ships arrive in Miami, cruise lines want to fill them up immediately, so they offer great fares. Check which ships are debuting and search for deals on them well in advance.
8. Look for deals with onboard credit.
To offset your bar bill or the cost of shore excursions, some deals websites and cruise lines bundle cheap fares with onboard credit as an added incentive. You can use this credit for Wi-Fi, specialty restaurants, or spa treatments.