Everything You Need to Know About Cheap Cruises to Mexico

by  Donna Heiderstadt | Aug 12, 2016
El Arco
El Arco / iStock.com / jatrax

Whether you live on the East Coast, the West Coast, or somewhere in between, cheap cruises to Mexico have never been more accessible. If you’re looking to pay less than $500 for a cruise that visits Pacific ports on the Mexican Riviera or Cozumel, Progreso, and Costa Maya on the Caribbean side, a bit of research will net a wide range of sailings. Here’s everything you need to know about cheap cruises to Mexico.

1. Search for deals from these cruise lines.
Some lines known to regularly offer up to seven nights of Mexican sun for less than $500 per person.

Princess Cruises, which made a name for cruising the Mexican Riviera from Southern California during the “Love Boat” era (the TV series was filmed on its ships), remains the leader on these routes with four vessels offering four- to seven-night sailings starting at $349 per person.

Norwegian Cruise Line has some great deals. Norwegian Jewel, for example, has five- and seven-night cruises from Los Angeles to Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlán, and Cabo San Lucas through April 2017 (with fares as low as $399 and $499 per person), while six ships, including Norwegian Getaway and Norwegian Escape, cruise to Cozumel and Costa Maya with cheap fares ranging from $279 to $499 per person.

With three ships sailing two- to seven-night cruises to Ensenada, Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlán, and Cabo San Lucas, and 12 ships visiting Cozumel, Progreso, and Costa Maya, Carnival Cruise Line has plenty of cheap fares on its “Today’s Deals” page — such as four nights from Miami to Cozumel and Key West for $174 per person.

Royal Caribbean International cruises to Mexican ports in the Western Caribbean on 13 ships — with fares as low as $325 per person for a four-night Western Caribbean cruise from Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

MSC Cruises, which has homeported its mega ship MSC Divina in Miami for almost three years, regularly offers four- to seven-night Western Caribbean fares for $299 to $429 per person — and it has a Kids Sail Free program. A second ship, MSC Seaside, will join MSC Divina in late 2017.

2. Know your embarkation options.
You can find cheap cruises to Mexico from four cities on the West Coast and seven in Florida and along the Gulf Coast (known as Western Caribbean itineraries). Here are your choices:

Pacific Coast (Mexican Riviera) Itineraries: Ships visit Ensenada, Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, and Cabo San Lucas.

  • Los Angeles — Norwegian and Princess
  • Long Beach — Carnival
  • San Diego — Holland America Line (Fares generally don’t fall below $549 per person.)
  • San Francisco — Princess (Fares are generally more than $600 per person.)

Western Caribbean Itineraries: Ships visit Cozumel, Progreso, and Costa Maya.

  • Miami — Carnival, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, and MSC
  • Fort Lauderdale — Carnival and Royal Caribbean
  • Port Canaveral — Carnival, Norwegian, and Royal Caribbean
  • Tampa — Carnival, Norwegian, and Royal Caribbean
  • New Orleans — Carnival and Norwegian
  • Galveston — Carnival and Royal Caribbean
  • Mobile — Carnival

3. Settle for an inside cabin. 
Those cheap fares you see promoted are almost always for inside or interior cabins. Sure, they lack windows and may be a bit smaller than ocean view and balcony cabins, but how much time are you really going to spend there when you’re cruising sunny Mexico?

4. Test the waters with a short sailing.
Two to four days can be yours for as little as $149 per person. These short itineraries visit Cozumel in the Caribbean and Ensenada on the Pacific coast.

5. Five nights can be the sweet spot.
With a five-night cruise, you’ll visit two or three ports and really get your money’s worth — for as little as $244 per person on Carnival and $349 per person on Norwegian.

6. Older ships are the cheapest. 
Rock-bottom fares are often for sailings on ships built 15 to 25 years ago. These vessels lack the coolest amenities of their newer mega ship siblings (although both Carnival and Royal Caribbean have added some during refurbishments). If you don’t need to be wowed, the savings can be significant. Still, don’t ignore newer ships — sometimes seven-night sailings are priced at just less than $500 per person during promotions.

7.  Cruise in late summer or early fall.
Yes, this is hurricane season, so there’s that risk to consider. But cruise lines keep up-to-date on the weather, and ships can outmaneuver storms, making August to November a great time for cheap Western Caribbean cruises.

8. Get a post-holiday deal.
The first two weeks of the year — when it’s high season in Mexico but there’s a post-holiday lull in bookings — you can score some incredible fares on seven-night cruises. The same goes for the two weeks after Thanksgiving.

 9. Do some research during wave season.
The cruise lines offer some of their best promotions during wave season each January through March. This can be the best time to find deals for cheap cruises to Mexico — for both last-minute sailings and cruises as much as a year or more out.

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