It’s officially wave season, which means millions of people around the world are gearing up to embark on an epic cruise vacation. (Quick note: Wave season happens during the first three months of the year, when cruise lines generously hand out onboard credits, fare reductions, and other perks.) However, with hundreds of itineraries out there to choose from, it can be overwhelming to find the one that’s best for you. In an effort to make your vacation planning that much easier (and as value-packed as possible), we’ve narrowed down our top five cruise picks — all under $500 per person.
Why it’s Great: Exploring the Pacific Northwest has never been more easier (or more budget-friendly). This cruise sails from San Francisco to Vancouver and makes stops in Oregon and Nanaimo, British Columbia. Passengers will sail onboard the Grand Princess, which was refurbished in December, 2016. For passengers sailing sans-kids, the ship features an adults-only oasis for some R&R, as well as movies by the pool, and offers a wide selection of restaurants to choose from each night.
Price: Interior cabins start at $299 per person; ocean view cabins from $399 per person.
Sail Date: May 5, 2019
2. Four-Night Cuba Cruise from Tampa on Carnival
Why it’s Great: With stops in Havana, Cozumel, and Key West, passengers can step out of their typical Caribbean comfort zones (in the best way possible) as they take in new sights, sample authentic Cuban cuisine, admire local artwork, and much more. This itinerary is perfect for art fanatics, beach-lovers, history buffs, and adventure-seekers alike. Passengers will be on board the recently-refurbished Carnival Paradise, which features new restaurants and bars (Guy Fieri’s Guy’s Burger Joint, BlueIguana Cantina, RedFrog RumBar), as well as two new children’s camps, updated staterooms, a waterpark, and more boutiques for shopping.
Price: Interior cabins from $444 per person, a steal considering the prices hike up to almost $800 for the same accommodation in February.
Sail Date: October 12, 2019
Why it’s Great: Take in the breathtaking sites of Southeast Asia abroad Royal Caribbean’s Voyager of the Seas, complete with plenty of dining options to choose from, tons of live entertainment, and lots of additional onboard attractions – from mini golf to rock-climbing and everything in between. Once you’re off the cruise, explore Singapore, visit traditional temples and museums in Malaysia, and relax on the famous beaches of Phuket.
Price: Interior cabins from $331 per person, or, upgrade to an ocean view for $366 per person.
Sail Date: February 18, 2019
Why it’s Great: After embarking in Miami, the ship heads to Key West where passengers can explore historical sites like the Shipwreck Treasure Museum as well as the home of literary great Ernest Hemingway. After that, the ship sails to Norwegian’s very own private island in the Bahamas, Great Stirrup Cay. Whether you choose to plant yourself on a beach chair for the entire day, or take to the turquoise waters to kayak or swim, this three-night itinerary is ideal for a long weekend getaway. Passengers will be cruising on the Norwegian Sky, where they can choose from 10 dining options as well as 11 bars and lounges, a casino, and a spa. And one big bonus: The ship offers a free open bar.
Price: Interior cabins from $399 per person, or upgrade to an ocean view for $449 per person.
Sail Date: September 5, 2019 or September 19, 2019
5. Eastern Caribbean Cruise on Celebrity
Why it’s Great: This six-night Caribbean cruise embarks from Port Liberty, New Jersey -- just across the river from NYC -- and makes stops in St. Maarten, St. Thomas, and Puerto Rico. As passengers sail to the Caribbean, they’ll be on board the Celebrity Summit, where they can indulge in upscale dining, enjoy the line’s signature nightlife, and sip martinis at the martini bar. In the Caribbean, passengers can enjoy snorkeling in St. Maarten, relax on the beach in St. Thomas, and get lost in the colorful cobblestone streets of San Juan. All in all, the three port stops make for distinct destinations for both beach-goers and history-lovers alike. Note: This cruise disembarks in Puerto Rico, so passengers will need to purchase airfare from San Juan to get home.
Price: Interior cabins from $349 per person.
Sail Date: October 20, 2019