Get Daily Travel Tips & Deals!

By proceeding, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use .

Cruise ship on tropical island

The 9 Best Sites to Book a Cruise

'  data-srcset=

Avital Andrews

Avital Andrews, SmarterTravel's editor-at-large, is a travel and lifestyle journalist who is also a contributing editor for AAA's Via magazine. Her stories have been among the 10 most emailed or viewed on the Los Angeles Times, Outside, Sierra, and SmarterTravel websites, and have also appeared in USA Today, HuffPost, Apple News, Business Insider, and many other nationwide outlets. Her travel book , sold at bookstores and on Amazon, is in its fourth edition, and her journalism gets national media attention, including from The New York Times , The Atlantic , Time , NPR, and MTV. She's currently working on her first children's book. Follow her on Twitter @avitalb .

The Handy Item I Always Pack: My laptop—the lightweight and stylish HP Spectre x360—since I'm almost always on deadline.

Ultimate Bucket List Experience: A round-the-world cruise that makes stops to experience Aurora Borealis, the Olympics opening ceremony, Borneo, Madagascar, the Jerusalem Festival of Light, the Bolivian salt flats, Kenya's Giraffe Manor, the Galapagos, the Maldives, Bora Bora, the Seychelles, and every Disney park. (That itinerary definitely exists, right?)

Travel Motto: I'll steal Saint Augustine's: "The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page."

Aisle, Window, or Middle Seat: Window, always. For the views and also the naps.

Travel Smarter! Sign up for our free newsletter.

Booking a cruise isn’t always simple. It can be a complicated, time-consuming process that involves dozens of open tabs and maybe a spreadsheet or two. But knowing the best site to book a cruise can help a lot.

And while would-be travelers are accustomed to clicking around on travel search engines to find the best deals on flights , hotels , and rental cars , many people don’t realize that they can use these same types of sites to book cruises, too.

But is there one best site to book a cruise? That depends on what you’re looking for. Sometimes the best cruise website is actually a cruise line’s own site—since technically, cruise booking websites aren’t allowed to undercut the prices that the cruise lines set.

Often, though, the best cruise search engines are indispensable for locating incredible deals, including ones that throw in booking incentives worth hundreds of dollars—in Amazon gift cards, complimentary shore excursions, onboard freebies, and so on.

To save you the hassle, SmarterTravel investigated the glutted space of cheap cruise sites to determine which are worthy of listing as the best cruise websites; below are a few that come highly recommended.

The Best Sites to Book a Cruise

  • Expedia (including Travelocity and Orbitz )
  • TripAdvisor

Avoya Travel

Cheapcaribbean.com, cruisedirect, cruise critic, costco travel, cruisewatch.

Laptop showing the cruise search homepage of Expedia

Expedia is an obvious first mention in a list of the best cruise booking sites, in part because it’s an absolute juggernaut (Expedia also owns Travelocity and Orbitz ). Its cruise-booking interface is simple and straightforward, only requiring you to enter your preferred sailing destination and date range, as well as how many passengers you’ll be bringing along. Then Expedia does the heavy lifting for you, with comprehensive results that make it one of the best cruise search engines.

On Expedia, it’s common to find bookable cruises for 70 percent off face value, with the ability to sort by price so the best cruise deals come up at the top of the list, saving you the scrolling. A sample search for a mid-June cruise to Alaska, for example, quickly came up with a seven-night itinerary starting at $389 per person—that’s less than $56 per person, per night for a mostly inclusive weeklong vacation.

Expedia’s cruise deals tend to come paired with other enticing offers, including steep discounts on pre-departure hotels when you book both your cruise and hotel through Expedia. There’s also a dedicated 800 number that lets you speak to Expedia’s cruise experts and, often but not always, a generous amount of onboard credit thrown in for good measure.

Best feature: Sheer search power. Expedia’s easy-to-use cruise search engine generates a useful and well-ordered list of the best cruise deals, without much effort required from the user. Also, Expedia’s prices frequently match what the cruise lines themselves offer.

Check out Expedia

Laptop showing the cruise search homepage of Priceline

Priceline is another powerhouse among cheap cruise websites. The initial interface comes off a bit clunkier than, say, Expedia’s or Kayak’s, but the tradeoff is that you can quickly search by cruise line, both standard and luxury, as well as by cruise length and departure port.

Using the seven-night Alaska example, Priceline brought up an itinerary aboard Royal Caribbean International’s Radiance of the Seas that starts at just $374 for the full week—roughly $53 per night. Hard-to-believe cruise deals like this show up on Priceline with regularity, which is part of what solidifies it as one of the best cruise websites.

Also adding to the appeal: deals exclusive to Priceline, plenty of bonus amenities (examples include $50 in onboard credit, third and fourth guests sailing free, and free specialty dinners for two), no money down to book certain sailings, frequent onboard credit sales, an 800 number to call should you need assistance while booking, and a loyalty club that’s ties in with every cruise line’s loyalty program. Priceline also lets you click a “senior discount” box if that applies to you.

Best feature: Priceline’s “ 110% Best Price Guarantee ” promises that if you find your cruise listed at a lower price on another website within 48 hours of booking, then Priceline will refund you 110 percent of the cost difference, including port charges.

Check out Priceline

Tripadvisor

Laptop showing the cruise search homepage of Tripadvisor

Many people think of Tripadvisor mainly as a travel review site, where you go to get real talk on hotels and attractions, and to see non-glamorized photos of places as seen through actual travelers’ eyes. But Tripadvisor is also an excellent site for travel deals, including on cruises.

Tripadvisor Cruise , which launched in April 2019, is among the best websites for cruise deals—it lets you nab the lowest price by comparing more than 70,000 ocean and river cruises from some 60 of the best cruise websites. It’s got an attractive, inspiring landing page, and its newest function, “Explore Ship-tinerary pages,” lets you browse full ship profiles, details, photos, and itineraries.

Though Tripadvisor is technically a meta-search site for cruises, which means that it will send you elsewhere to actually book, its search engine lets users sort by destination, length, cruise line, and month of travel. The default search results are ordered by “best value”, unless you specifically click that you’d rather see the results organized by price, cruise length, departure date, or cruise ship. Even when you click on “price,” the lowest-priced offering doesn’t always come up first, though it only takes a few seconds of scanning to determine which itinerary has the lowest price—that seven-night Royal Caribbean International trip to Alaska came up on Tripadvisor starting at $365.

Best feature: What makes Tripadvisor one of the best sites to book a cruise? In addition to having one of the best cruise search engines, Tripadvisor lets you read other cruisers’ candid reviews of the cruise that you’re considering, so that you get the non-sugarcoated truth about each sailing.

Check out Tripadvisor

7 Things You Should Never Do on a Cruise Ship

Laptop showing the cruise search homepage of Avoya Travel

A rarity on the internet, Avoya Travel is a family-owned company that has been dealing in travel for more than 55 years. Avoya is one of the best sites to book a cruise in part because of its patented technology that lets travelers search cruises by destination, date range, cruise line, and last-minute status—and then get matched up, in real time, with one of Avoya’s expert vacation planners, who use that algorithm to customize a cruise booking to your specific preferences. (From Avoya’s website: “…we combine the ease of online search, with the expertise and personalized service of Independent Vacation Planners, plus secure exclusive deals and extras so you get more out of every vacation.”)

Avoya’s team of staffers and wide network of independent agencies make for a cruise booking website that’s a bit different from the rest. Its front page shows the “Best Travel Deals,” which might include half-off cruise fares, onboard credit, prepaid gratuities, and free or reduced airfare.

Like several of the other best cruise websites, Avoya offers a low-price guarantee; if you book a cruise with Avoya and then find a lower rate on another website within 24 hours of booking, Avoya will refund the difference.

Best feature: Avoya offers free membership, and members get exclusive deals and discounts, access to unpublished fares, first dibs on promotions, the ability to save favorite searches, and the right to book, change, or cancel travel without incurring any Avoya fees.

Check out Avoya Travel

Laptop showing the cruise search homepage of CheapCaribbean.com

When looking for the best site to book a cruise, don’t be put off by CheapCaribbean.com ’s overly specific moniker. Despite the site’s name, it offers cruises all over the world. The site’s vibe is beach-oriented and a bit cheeky, with a front page that can overwhelm—but click on the “Cruises” tab, and a cleaner interface appears. There you can search by cruise line, ship, destination, departure date, and departure port.

CheapCaribbean.com offers refunds on 24-hour cancellations (within certain parameters) and a “ 110 percent best price guarantee, ” a promise that if you find a lower price on the same cruise within 48 hours of booking, the company will refund you 110 percent of the difference. The site also lists traveler reviews about each cruise ship (as supplied by Cruiseline), though the reviews often include comments about the ship’s destinations other than the one you’re considering, which isn’t entirely helpful. There’s also a live chat widget if questions come up while booking.

Best feature: Helping to make CheapCaribbean.com one of the best cruise search engines is the fact that it lets you check boxes for additional discounts, including a senior discount, discounts by state (just enter your ZIP code), and past guest discounts if you’ve previously sailed with, say, Princess, Norwegian, or Disney.

Check out CheapCaribbean.com

Laptop showing the cruise search homepage of CruiseDirect

Its front page is clunky and sort of in your face, but CruiseDirect is still one of the best cruise sites for a variety of reasons. As a cruise-only company, CruiseDirect doesn’t deal in flights, hotels, or rental cars, allowing it to focus its full capacity on helping you find the best cruise deal possible. On the site, you can search by destination, departure port, month, length of cruise, and cruise line. There’s real-time online chat and a contact number for support from a cruise expert. If you aren’t quite ready to buy, you can “heart” cruises to save them as favorites to refer back to later.

CruiseDirect offers perks on most sailings, like onboard credit, free drinks, free Wi-Fi, free gratuities, free travel insurance, or a free specialty dining experience—check out the “Bonus” box on the cruise listing you’re considering to see what extras it comes with.

Best feature: Like some of the other cruise websites on this list, CruiseDirect offers a “ best price guarantee ,” which means that if you find a lower price on another cruise booking website within 24 hours of your initial booking, you’ll get refunded the difference. But one key difference between CruiseDirect and the other cruise sites is that you don’t have to pay the cost of your cruise up front, just a deposit—and then if your cruise fare drops before you’ve made your final payment, CruiseDirect will readjust your rate accordingly.

Check out CruiseDirect

5 Crazy Themed Cruises You Can Take in 2022 and 2023

Laptop showing the cruise search homepage of Cruise Critic

A subsidiary of Tripadvisor, Cruise Critic has similar search results to that site, but it offers a bit more comprehensive information for seasoned cruisers who want more details before they book. Cruise Critic has tons of filters and sort options to help you find what you want, including everything from cruise line to cruise style (family cruises, luxury cruises, cruises for the disabled). Each itinerary clearly lists what is and isn’t included in the fare; Wi-Fi, alcoholic drinks, gratuities, and port taxes and fees are among the common exclusions.

Certain itineraries are marked with graphics declaring that the ship has won one of the site’s “Cruisers’ Choice” awards, denoting vessels that Cruise Critic members declare to be the among the best in categories such as cabins, entertainment, and family-friendly features.

You can sign up for price alerts, which will notify you by email when the fare on your selected itinerary drops.

Once you’re ready to book, Cruise Critic shows you a variety of offers from some of the best cruise booking sites, including bonuses such as onboard credit and prepaid gratuities. Then you click off to the site of your choice to make your purchase. Prices generally match what’s advertised on Cruise Critic.

Best feature: Under each search result is a tab for “reviews” where you can read reviews from Cruise Critic members who’ve previously traveled on the ship. On certain cruises you can click over to a full-length write-up of the ship by one of the experts on the Cruise Critic editorial team, including detailed information on dining options, cabins, entertainment, dress code, and more.

Check out Cruise Critic

Laptop showing the cruise search homepage of Costco Travel

When you think of Costco, you probably think of bulk food and toilet paper. But the next time you’re booking a cruise, it’ll be worthwhile to pull up Costco Travel , which is, unexpectedly, one of the best cruise websites.

The site doesn’t look fancy—it’s pretty bare-bones, visually—but the upside of going with a no-frills cruise-booking website is that Costco Travel offers extremely competitive prices, as well as some of the most attractive incentives, usually in the form of Costco Cash delivered to you after you get home from your cruise.

Though there’s no single point of contact if you need to call and discuss your cruise booking, Costco Travel’s call center is staffed with helpful agents from early morning until evening, seven days a week, and passengers can rest assured that Costco won’t go out of business before they set sail. Note that a Costco membership (starting at $60 per year) is required to book with Costco Travel, and that Costco doesn’t accept American Express.

Best feature: Rock-bottom prices—plus lots of cash back if you play your cards right: Costco Citi cardholders earn 3 percent cash back on cruise purchases, which can combine with the 2 percent Costco Reward for Costco Executive Members for a total of 5 percent back on Costco Travel’s already super low cruise rates.

Check out Costco Travel

Laptop showing the cruise search homepage of Cruisewatch

Pondering which is the best site to book a cruise? Keep Cruisewatch in strong consideration—more than a typical cruise booking website, Cruisewatch bills itself as a “digital cruise advisor” that couples data power with personalization.

As an artificial intelligence cruise advisor, Crusewatch created technology that makes searching and booking a cruise more efficient—the first, it calls “Cruise Price Prediction.” In short, Cruisewatch collected and stored the daily price for each ship and cabin over a span of five years, resulting in millions of data points—and a massive database that informs exactly when cruise prices are lowest, and when the greatest saving potential exists.

Thanks to this comprehensive price history, Cruisewatch can predict cruise prices and drops with an accuracy rate of around 80 percent. Using the site’s cruise price prediction alerts, travelers can save up to 71 percent just by booking at the right time.

In addition to being able to predict prices, Cruisewatch tailors user search results to match their established preferences through customizable profiles and other similar features. This means you won’t waste time wading through cruises that may be cheap but don’t align with your vacation goals.

Best feature: Cruisewatch’s easy-to-set price alerts, based on tons of data, allow users to be notified in real time of the best new cruise deals the minute they come online.

Check out Cruisewatch

Book a Stay With SmarterTravel Hotels

Need a place to stay the night before you set sail? Search SmarterTravel Hotels for great accommodations in your port of call.

SmarterTravel Logo

Some of the links featured in this story are affiliate links, and SmarterTravel may collect a commission (at no cost to you) if you shop through them.

Follow Avital Andrews on Twitter  @avitalb  or on  Facebook .

Editor’s note: Sarah Schlichter contributed to this story.

You Might Also Like:

We hand-pick everything we recommend and select items through testing and reviews. Some products are sent to us free of charge with no incentive to offer a favorable review. We offer our unbiased opinions and do not accept compensation to review products. All items are in stock and prices are accurate at the time of publication. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

Top Fares From

best place to book cruise online

Don't see a fare you like? View all flight deals from your city.

Today's top travel deals.

Brought to you by ShermansTravel

Ireland: Wild Atlantic Way Trips w/Air...

Great Value Vacations

best place to book cruise online

10-Night Mediterranean Cruise From Barcelona to...

Norwegian Cruise Line

best place to book cruise online

Ohio: Daily Car Rentals from Cincinnati

best place to book cruise online

Trending on SmarterTravel

  • Credit cards
  • View all credit cards
  • Banking guide
  • Loans guide
  • Insurance guide
  • Personal finance
  • View all personal finance
  • Small business
  • Small business guide
  • View all taxes

You’re our first priority. Every time.

We believe everyone should be able to make financial decisions with confidence. And while our site doesn’t feature every company or financial product available on the market, we’re proud that the guidance we offer, the information we provide and the tools we create are objective, independent, straightforward — and free.

So how do we make money? Our partners compensate us. This may influence which products we review and write about (and where those products appear on the site), but it in no way affects our recommendations or advice, which are grounded in thousands of hours of research. Our partners cannot pay us to guarantee favorable reviews of their products or services. Here is a list of our partners .

The Best Ways to Book a Cruise

Profile photo of Lee Huffman

Lee is a freelance travel writer and podcast host based in Nashville, Tennessee. He loves to travel with his wife and two children using miles and points. Lee has held the Southwest Companion Pass since 2007 and enjoys being spoiled thanks to his Kimpton Inner Circle status.

Profile photo of Giselle M. Cancio

Giselle M. Cancio is an editor for the travel rewards team at NerdWallet. She has traveled to over 30 states and 20 countries, redeeming points and miles for almost a decade. She has over eight years of experience in journalism and content development across many topics.

She has juggled many roles in her career: writer, editor, social media manager, producer, on-camera host, videographer and photographer. She has been published in several media outlets and was selected to report from the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

She frequents national parks and is on her way to checking all 30 Major League Baseball parks off her list. When she's not on a plane or planning her next trip, she's crafting, reading, playing board games, watching sports or trying new recipes.

She is based in Miami.

best place to book cruise online

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This influences which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money .

Not all cruise sites are created equal. While you may find comparable prices on different sites, each site has its own benefits, offers and cancellation policies. 

Before you book, though, have a look at these credit cards that come with cruise benefits to sweeten the pot even more.

What is the best way to book a cruise?

The best place to book a cruise will vary depending on what you're looking for out of the experience. We've broken out cruise booking sites based on common booking goals.

From our findings, here are the top cruise booking sites for your next vacation, plus the pros and cons they offer travelers.

For sailings across the Caribbean, Mexico or Central America: CheapCaribbean

CheapCaribbean.com is the best cruise website for the Caribbean, Mexico or Central America. It offers a best-price guarantee plus limited-time offers and discounts.

If you find a better deal within 24 hours of booking, CheapCaribbean will price match and beat it by $25. The company's customer service is available seven days a week, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET.

Best-price guarantee.

Customer service is available seven days a week.

Charges a $24.99 processing fee on reservations.

Must provide an email address to receive the best deals and promos.

» Learn more: The best cruise lines

For consulting reviews from other cruisers: Cruise Critic

Cruise Critic is an independent website that encourages community members to post reviews and share tips.

Its message boards offer ways for website visitors to ask questions and share feedback with others based on their personal experiences and opinions. The site also acts as a metasearch for cruise deals, pulling in prices from multiple cruise websites.

Read cruise reviews from travelers who've been on that itinerary before.

"Deal Score" ranks deals to find the best value.

Price tracker shows 90-day trends for cruise prices.

Must click through the deal to book your cruise on other websites.

Prices are not guaranteed and can change before booking due to fees and restrictions on the sites where the cruises are being sold.

To review several cruise prices at once: CruiseDirect

CruiseDirect is the best cruise website when all you want are cruise prices. It doesn't offer hotels, flights, rental cars or other reservations you may want for your next vacation. CruiseDirect does, however, offer bonuses for travelers booking through its site.

Travelers can filter search results by destination, cruise line or departure port on various ships. This site offers cruises for every type of traveler, from budget to luxury, and every type of ship, from riverboats to mega-ships.

Bonus offers on every reservation provide extra value.

Best-price guarantee and free reservation holds.

Buy now, pay later financing options.

Promos offered by cruise lines aren't exclusive to CruiseDirect.

Customer service can be unfriendly.

Video preview image

» Learn more: Should you insure your cruise?

For budget-friendly options: Priceline

Priceline was originally known for its "Name Your Own Price" promotions, but has grown into a full-service online travel agency offering flights, hotels, rental cars and cruises, saving consumers more than $1 billion dollars per year.

Travelers who book a cruise with Priceline receive up to $2,000 to spend at sea, plus waived deposits on their reservations.

Up to $2,000 to spend on board.

Waived deposits of up to $500 when booking your cruise.

110% best-price guarantee within 48 hours of booking.

Ability to book flights, hotels, rental cars and more from the same site.

Must call Priceline to get exclusive offers and unpublished fares.

Restrictions make the best-price guarantee harder to benefit from.

» Learn more: Tips for getting the best cruise deals

For booking travel experiences beyond the cruise: TripAdvisor

TripAdvisor is an online reviewer community where travelers share their experiences, pictures and ratings of hotels, suggested activities and more. This honest feedback and travel inspiration also make it one of the best websites to book a cruise.

Search over 70,000 cruise deals from more than 60 sites at once.

Dedicated ship pages share details, reviews, photos and itineraries.

Too many search results make it harder to narrow down your choices.

» Learn more: Are cruises all-inclusive?

To match with a vacation planner: Avoya Travel

Avoya Travel is a family-owned website that matches travelers with a vacation planner based on their preferences. It's the best way to book a cruise using a travel planner because it offers a low-price guarantee without charging extra fees for the planner.

The downside is that online pricing is not "live." Therefore, you must speak with a travel planner to get the latest prices and book your cruise.

Match with cruise planners according to your needs.

Does not charge Avoya fees for booking, changes or cancellations.

Get a low-price guarantee and the expertise of a vacation planner without extra fees.

Must become a member to unlock the best deals.

Pricing on the website is not "live" pricing, so actual cost may vary.

Cannot book a cruise online. You must speak with an independent vacation planner.

» Learn more: The best cruise insurance right now

To book a vacation package with an airline or hotel

American airlines cruises.

American Airlines AAdvantage members can earn airline miles when booking cruises at BookAACruises.com . All members earn one mile for every dollar they spend on cruise reservations, up to 10,000 miles. Some cruise specials offer up to 100,000 miles based on your selected cruise.

If you have an American Airlines credit card, you'll earn 2x miles, up to 20,000 miles. These miles and Loyalty Points count toward airline elite status. Additionally, trips booked through this site are eligible for promotions offered by the cruise lines.

Earn miles and Loyalty Points toward travel and elite status.

Cardholders earn 2x miles, up to 20,000 miles on cruises.

Cruise experts are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Cruise reservations are offered by a third party, so customer service issues can be a challenge.

» Learn more: The best travel credit cards right now

Delta SkyMiles Cruises

Delta Air Lines is another airline that allows members to earn airline miles when booking cruises through its portal. Booking through SkyMilesCruises.com helps you earn Delta SkyMiles on your purchase.

Members get up to 10,000 miles on most cruises and up to 100,000 miles on luxury cruises. Plus, the site waives deposits on eligible cruise reservations.

Can earn up to 100,000 miles when booking a cruise.

Waives deposits when booking eligible cruises.

110% price guarantee within 48 hours of booking.

Most cruise awards are capped at 10,000 miles.

Miles earned are based on the length of the cruise, not the amount spent.

United Airlines Cruises

United Airlines MileagePlus members can earn up to 25,000 miles when booking a cruise through United at Cruises.United.com .

When you have a United Airlines credit card, you'll earn up to 45,000 miles. By offering up to 4x miles per dollar spent (or 7x as a cardholder), this site is the best way to book a cruise and earn airline miles on your purchase. If you have Premier status, you receive additional perks on select cruise lines, like wine and onboard credits.

Earn up to 7x miles on cruises.

United MileagePlus Premier members receive additional perks.

Can redeem miles to pay for some or all of your trip.

Not all cruises can be booked online.

Prices do not include a nonrefundable $24.99 processing fee.

Marriott Bonvoy Cruises

If you want to earn hotel points on your cruise, Marriott Cruise with Points is the best cruise website for you. You'll earn up to 6x points on your cruise purchase, or you can redeem Marriott Bonvoy points to pay for your trip.

Plus, Marriott cardholders can earn an extra 2x points when they use that card for their purchase. While most cruises max out at 25,000 Bonvoy points earned, some luxury cruise lines offer up to 250,000 Marriott points.

Earn up to 6x points on your cruise, up to 250,000 Marriott points.

Marriott cardholders receive an extra 2x points when paying with their cards.

Can use Bonvoy points to pay for your cruise.

Redemption value of Bonvoy points is only 0.4 cent.

Must call to book cruises using points.

Processing fee of $24.99 per reservation.

» Learn more: Airline credit cards vs. hotel credit cards

For cruise package deals: Costco Travel

Costco is a retailer that offers exclusive products and pricing to its members. Through its Costco Travel website , members receive exclusive prices and benefits when booking hotels, rental cars, cruises and travel packages.

Executive Members earn 2% back on Costco Travel purchases and receive additional benefits on select packages. Plus, Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi cardholders earn 3% cash back rewards on Costco Travel purchases.

Earn 2% rewards and extra perks with Executive Membership.

Some cruises offer Costco gift cards or onboard credit.

Must be a member to book reservations with Costco Travel.

Directly with the Cruise Line

In some cases, booking directly with the cruise line can be best because it eliminates a third party. If there's a problem with your reservation or you need to make a change, you don't have to worry about the booking site and the cruise line pointing fingers at each other.

This may be the best approach if you know which cruise line you want to book and which cities you want to visit. However, you may miss out on promotions offered by third-party sites.

Simple search functions.

No hassles with third parties for problems, changes or cancellations.

Less likely to get scammed by fraudulent sites.

Miss out on deals offered by third-party sites.

Harder to compare prices, benefits and routes from multiple cruise lines.

Comparing cruise prices across websites

Without being able to compare prices, it can be a challenge to determine the best site for booking a cruise. To make it easier to compare, we priced out a 7-night Caribbean cruise for two adults. 

We selected the lowest-priced balcony room on Royal Caribbean departing from Miami in August 2023. Here are the results:

Mitigate cancellation policy risks with travel insurance

If you're worried your trip plans being disrupted by bad weather or a change of plans, travel insurance might help. This optional standalone insurance can be purchased separately from your cruise bookings.

But you might not even need to pay out-of-pocket for trip insurance because many credit cards offer travel insurance as a built-in benefit to customers who pay for travel expenses on that card.

» Learn more: The best credit cards for cruises

Travel cards with cruise benefits

You can get even more perks by booking your cruise with the right card.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

on Chase's website

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

on Bank of America's website

The Platinum Card® from American Express

on American Express' website

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel.

Receive 60,000 online bonus points - a $600 value - after you make at least $4,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.

Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $8,000 on eligible purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.

Get 25% more value out of your points when you book cruises through Chase.

Book with your card to get automatic travel protections for your cruise.

Redeem miles as a statement credit to cover spending on cruises.

Book with your card to get automatic travel insurance coverage for your cruise.

Earn 2x points on travel spending, including cruises and some ship excursions.

Book with your card to get trip delay reimbursement, trip cancellation coverage and other travel assistance services.

Get American Express Cruise Privileges Program benefits when you book at least five nights with eligible cruise lines. Terms apply.

Cruise program benefits include $300 credit redeemable toward dining and spa services plus amenities like wine, chocolates and champagne. Terms apply.

Booking a cruise recapped

When looking for the best way to book a cruise, the price is virtually the same on every website. The difference lies in how each seller sweetens the deal.

Several cruise booking sites set themselves apart from the competition by offering additional benefits to encourage booking through them. Additionally, being able to book other parts of your trip — like flight and excursions — on the same site, or offering access to a travel agent, distinguishes some of the best cruise websites. 

When prices are the same, we recommend cruise bookers compare the perks being offered, then book on the site with the most appealing bonuses, like onboard credits, airline miles, hotel points or cash back.

If you're searching for cruises on a third-party website, you may question the legitimacy of that site. This is especially true if the site doesn't look professional or some of the information is outdated.

For this reason, you should stick with one of the best cruise booking sites on this list because they've been vetted for legitimacy and have a good track record with travelers.

Yes, last-minute deals can be the best way to book a cruise. If your travel plans are flexible, these deals can save you a lot of money. Keep in mind that you may not be able to book your preferred destination or routing if it is sold out.

Unfortunately, most cruise lines do not offer free cancellations or changes to take advantage of price drops after you book. Passengers can always negotiate with a booking site or cruise line, but they aren't obligated to refund the difference. Instead, they may offer you onboard credit, complimentary excursions or credit toward another cruise booking.

How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are some of the best travel credit cards of 2024 :

Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express

Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

1x-5x 5x on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2x on all other travel purchases, 1x on all other purchases.

60,000 Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card

1.5%-5% Enjoy 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.

Up to $300 Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!

on Capital One's website

2x-5x Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options.

75,000 Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel.

best place to book cruise online

Advertiser Disclosure

Many of the credit card offers that appear on this site are from credit card companies from which we receive financial compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). However, the credit card information that we publish has been written and evaluated by experts who know these products inside out. We only recommend products we either use ourselves or endorse. This site does not include all credit card companies or all available credit card offers that are on the market.  See our advertising policy here where we list advertisers that we work with, and how we make money. You can also review our  credit card rating methodology .

The 17 Best Websites To Book Cruises at the Cheapest Prices [2024]

Katie Seemann's image

Katie Seemann

Senior Content Contributor and News Editor

361 Published Articles 59 Edited Articles

Countries Visited: 28 U.S. States Visited: 29

Juan Ruiz's image

Senior Editor & Content Contributor

120 Published Articles 728 Edited Articles

Countries Visited: 41 U.S. States Visited: 28

Keri Stooksbury's image

Keri Stooksbury

Editor-in-Chief

37 Published Articles 3306 Edited Articles

Countries Visited: 47 U.S. States Visited: 28

The 17 Best Websites To Book Cruises at the Cheapest Prices [2024]

Table of Contents

1. cruise line’s website, 2. cheapcaribbean.com, 3. cruise critic, 4. cruisedirect, 5. priceline, 6. tripadvisor, 7. cruisesonly, 10. cruises.com, 11. american airlines cruises, 12. delta skymiles cruises, 13. united cruises, 14. marriott bonvoy cruises, 15. costco travel, 16. cruise.com, 17. travelocity, price comparisons, final thoughts.

We may be compensated when you click on product links, such as credit cards, from one or more of our advertising partners. Terms apply to the offers below. See our  Advertising Policy for more about our partners, how we make money, and our rating methodology. Opinions and recommendations are ours alone.

So, you’ve decided you want to go on a cruise. Great news! But, do you know where to book it to get the best price?

There’s no shortage of websites out there that can help you book a cruise. There may even be more options to book cruises than hotels or flights. In addition to the traditional online travel agencies, there are a bunch of cruise-only sites that you can choose from, too.

So how do you know which site offers the best price? That’s where we come in. We combed through the most popular websites used to book cruises to look at their pros and cons and to do some head-to-head price comparisons.

If you’re only concerned about finding the cheapest price, scroll down to the price comparison section at the bottom of this post to see how all of these sites stack up against each other.

Your first instinct when booking a cruise may be to go directly to the cruise line’s website, especially if you have elite status with a specific cruise line. There are definitely some benefits to this — it’s simple and there are fewer hassles if you have to make any changes .

If you’re sure of the cruise line you want to take, it makes your search a little easier because you’re just looking at one specific line.

The big drawback when booking directly on a cruise line’s website is that you can miss out on extra deals that online travel agencies (OTAs) may offer.

Pros and Cons of Booking Directly with the Cruise Line

  • Simpler search functions make it easier to locate specific cruises.
  • There’s no middleman (another website) to deal with if there is a problem.
  • You might miss out on extra deals offered by other sites.

Bottom Line: No matter where you choose to book your cruise, be sure to use the right credit card — refer to our list of best credit cards for cruises to get you started.

CheapCaribbean.com is an OTA that specializes in travel to the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America. It was founded in 2000 and prides itself on offering the best prices and great U.S.-based customer service . The site’s sales agents are available 7 days a week to help you plan your ultimate Caribbean vacation.

Despite the name, you can book cruises to destinations other than the Caribbean through CheapCaribbean.com, including Europe, Canada, Hawaii, and Alaska.

Cheap Caribbean cruise booking

CheapCaribbean.com sometimes offers extra bonuses, like extra onboard spending credit. Plus it offers a 110% best price guarantee — if you find the exact same cruise for a cheaper price (available to the general public) on another website, CheapCaribbean.com will refund 110% of the price difference.

The not-so-great thing about CheapCaribbean.com is that it charges a $24.99 processing fee on each booking. It’s lumped into the taxes and fees, so you may not realize it unless you read the fine print.

CheapCaribbean.com processing fee

Pros and Cons of CheapCaribbean.com

  • Occasional special deals like extra onboard credit may be offered.
  • 110% best price guarantee.
  • There’s a $24.99 processing fee on each booking.
  • You need to sign up for emails or call in to book a cruise if you want to access exclusive deals.

Hot Tip: Want to save more? CheapCaribbean.com offers exclusive deals to email subscribers and offers unpublished fares and exclusive offers if you call in to book your cruise. 

Cruise Critic is a cruise-focused website that features reviews, tips, and advice for a huge community of cruisers. The Cruise Critic forums provide a place to ask questions, give advice, and get help booking your next cruise.

The site also acts as a metasearch engine for cruises, allowing you to compare prices from lots of other websites . You can search for your perfect cruise and when it’s time to book, Cruise Critic will transfer you to another site to complete your booking.

Cruise Critic

Pros and Cons of Cruise Critic

  • The site offers lots of cruise reviews, plus cruise tips and a travel forum to help you plan your trip.
  • You can sign up for email alerts so you’re notified when the price of a cruise drops.
  • The prices you see are not guaranteed and may be subject to other fees or restrictions depending on what website they are from.

CruiseDirect is a website that specializes only in cruises. The site allows you to quickly search cruises by destination, cruise line, departure port, or last-minute deals . You’ll find lots of different types of cruises, from budget to luxury and from mega-ships to riverboats.

With each cruise listing, you’ll see bonus details next to each sailing date — just click on each icon for details. Some of these are already reflected in the price and some are extras like onboard ship credit or discounts on shore excursions.

CruiseDirect.com perks

Pros and Cons of CruiseDirect

  • Bonuses are offered with each cruise ranging from discounts, shipboard credit, or discounts on shore excursions.
  • The bonuses offered are often from the cruise line and not exclusive to CruiseDirect, so you can get them regardless of where you book.
  • The site is a bit cluttered and can be hard to navigate.

Kayak is a popular online travel agency but the site doesn’t support cruise searches anymore.

Priceline gained fame from its “Name Your Own Price” feature but has since transformed into a more traditional OTA. In addition to hotels, flights, and rental cars, you can use this site to book cruises, too.

Priceline often offers deals above and beyond what’s being offered through the cruise line. At the time of writing, a few different deals offered perks like $1,000 in onboard credit or 30% off every guest .

Priceline Cruise Deals

Plus, Priceline offers a 110% best price guarantee — if you find a lower, publicly available price for the exact same cruise within 48 hours of booking, you’ll be refunded 110% of the price difference.

Pros and Cons of Priceline

  • Extra deals like onboard credit or room upgrades are sometimes offered.
  • The site offers a 110% best-price guarantee.
  • Some offers, including the one for up to $1,000 in shipboard credit can be confusing. Once you read the fine print, you’ll realize you need to spend $20,000 to get the full $1,000 credit.

Hot Tip: For more information, check out our detailed guide on booking travel with Priceline .

While you might think of Tripadvisor as just a place to get reviews and photos of hotels, restaurants, and activities, it’s actually much more than that. In addition to reviews and traveler forums, Tripadvisor acts as a metasearch engine , comparing prices on lots of other websites.

When you’re searching for a cruise, just click on the drop-down arrow that tells you how many deals there are — then you’ll be able to see that cruise’s price on many sites.

Tripadvisor Cruises

Pros and Cons of Tripadvisor

  • It offers lots of great ship reviews and travel forums.
  • It’s a great site to quickly compare prices on many sites at once.
  • You may not be able to see all the deals being offered on each site.

Hot Tip: For more information, check out our detailed guide to booking travel on Tripadvisor .

CruisesOnly claims to be “the best” because each of its call center agents has an average of 5+ years of experience plus professional training.

While that might be helpful if you’re new to cruising or need some advice about which cruise line, ship, or destination you should choose, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re getting the best price (scroll down to the Price Comparison section to see how CruisesOnly stacks up against other websites).

CruisesOnly also has its own loyalty program. The V.I.P. Customer Loyalty Club is free, and you’re signed up automatically if you have booked with CruisesOnly at least once before. Benefits include things like shore excursion credits and onboard spending credits.

CruisesOnly loyalty program

The V.I.P. Customer Loyalty Club only applies to cruises on these cruise lines:

  • Holland America
  • Royal Caribbean

CruisesOnly’s best price guarantee is similar to other sites — a refund of 110% of the price difference if you find a lower price on an identical cruise within 48 hours of booking.

Pros and Cons of CruisesOnly

  • The V.I.P. Customer Loyalty Club is free and offers plenty of benefits.
  • The site offers a 110% best price guarantee.
  • The site, like many other OTAs, can be very busy, making it hard to narrow down the cruise you really want to take.
  • The loyalty program only applies to 6 cruise lines.

When booking a cruise through an OTA, be sure to use a card that earns bonus points on travel purchases, such as the  Chase Sapphire Reserve ®  which earns 3x Ultimate Rewards points on cruises purchased from any website or travel agency.

Expedia might be one of the first websites you visit to search for flights or hotels (and it’s probably a site you have used for a long time), but did you know that you can book a cruise through Expedia as well?

The site is straightforward, easy to use, and offers cruises from all the major cruise lines . While Expedia doesn’t charge any booking fees, it also doesn’t offer any price guarantees. However, you can sometimes find additional bonuses for booking your cruise through Expedia.

It also does a nice job of showing exactly what’s included and what might cost extra.

Expedia Cruises

Pros and Cons of Expedia

  • The site sometimes offers extra bonuses like onboard credit.
  • It’s easy to use and is very clear about what’s included in the price.
  • No price guarantee is offered

Hot Tip: For more information check out our complete guide to using Expedia .

Orbitz is a typical OTA that offers flights, hotels, car rentals, vacation packages, and cruises. There are no booking fees on cruises and a price guarantee is offered . However, the price guarantee isn’t as strong as some of the other sites — you’ll need to find a lower price within 24 hours to receive the difference in price as a refund.

Like Expedia, Orbitz does a good job at displaying prices clearly so there’s no confusion.

Orbitz cruises breakdown

One of the nice things about Orbitz is that it offers a rewards program, but, unfortunately, cruises are not eligible for Orbitz Rewards.

Pros and Cons of Orbitz

  • It offers a best price guarantee.
  • There are no booking, change, or cancellation fees.
  • Cruises aren’t eligible for Orbitz Rewards

Hot Tip: For more information, check out our complete guide to using Orbitz to book travel .

Cruises.com is another site that claims to be the best place to book your cruise. It can offer some impressive deals, but once you read the fine print, well, you realize there’s a lot of fine print.

For example, a deal was offered for up to $2,000 cashback, $1,500 to spend onboard, or a Visa gift card. However, after reading the fine print you’ll notice that in order to get the full bonus you’d have to spend $20,000+ on a cruise. To top it off, the bonus is only available for select cruise lines.

Cruises.com 2000 offer

So while the deals offered could be lucrative, they aren’t necessarily a slam dunk.

Cruises.com also has its own loyalty program. It’s free and you’re signed up automatically if you have booked with Cruises.com at least once before. Benefits include things like shore excursion credits, onboard spending credits, or deposit waivers. Benefits are identical to those offered through the CruisesOnly loyalty program.

Pros and Cons of Cruises.com

  • A loyalty program is offered for past guests.
  • There are sometimes extra bonuses beyond what’s offered by the cruise line.
  • There is a lot of fine print with its offers.

Hot Tip: Cruises.com and CruisesOnly are both owned by World Travel Holdings, along with other websites, including Cruise411.com. These sites offer the same loyalty program and similar perks, however, their prices can be different.

Did you know that you can book a cruise through American Airlines ? The best part is that when you do, you’ll earn American Airlines AAdvantage miles for your purchase (in addition to any points or miles you will earn from your credit card).

  • Earn 1 AAdvantage mile per $1 spent on cruises booked through American Airlines (up to 10,000 miles)
  • American Airlines credit cardholders will earn 2 AAdvantage miles per $1 spent on cruises booked through American Airlines (up to 20,000 miles)
  • Occasionally, additional bonus points will be offered for select cruises

Hot Tip: Base miles earned by booking a cruise through American Airlines will also count as Loyalty Points that help you earn American Airlines elite status .

American Airlines Cruises also offers a 110% best price guarantee — if you find the exact same cruise priced lower within 48 hours of booking, you’ll be refunded 110% of the price difference.

The bad news is that you’re charged a $24.99 processing fee on every booking.

Pros and Cons of American Airlines Cruises

  • AAdvantage members have the ability to earn lots of American Airlines miles and Loyalty Points.
  • There is a $24.99 processing fee on every booking.

Bottom Line: While you can book a cruise through American Airlines, you can’t use AAdvantage miles to pay for it.

In addition to flights, you can book cruises through Delta Air Lines’ SkyMiles Cruises and earn Delta SkyMiles at the same time.

Currently, you’ll earn 2 SkyMiles per $1 spent on a cruise , excluding the taxes, fees, and port charges.

SkyMiles Cruises also offers a 110% best price guarantee — if you find the exact same cruise priced lower within 48 hours of booking, you’ll be refunded 110% of the price difference.

Pros and Cons of Delta SkyMiles Cruises

  • Earn extra Delta SkyMiles.

Bottom Line: While you can book a cruise through SkyMiles Cruises, you can’t pay for your cruise with Delta SkyMiles.

When you book a cruise with United Cruises you can choose to either earn United MileagePlus miles for your purchase or you can use MileagePlus miles to pay for your cruise !

United Cruises offers different ways to earn miles on your next cruise:

  • Earn 2 MileagePlus miles per $1 spent on an interior or oceanview stateroom
  • Earn 4 MileagePlus miles per $1 spent on a balcony stateroom or suite
  • Any United MileagePlus credit cardholder will earn 4 MileagePlus miles per $1 spent on an interior or oceanview stateroom
  • Any United MileagePlus credit cardholder will earn 7 MileagePlus miles per $1 spent on a balcony or suite stateroom

Additionally, there are sometimes opportunities to earn even more miles.

United Cruises offers a 110% best price guarantee — if you find the exact same cruise priced lower within 48 hours of booking, you’ll be refunded 110% of the price difference.

Unfortunately, United Cruises charges a $24.99 processing fee on every booking.

Bonuses for United Premier Members

If you have any Premier status with United Airlines you’ll also receive onboard extras with select cruise lines:

  • A bottle of wine and chocolate-covered strawberries in your stateroom
  • $100 spa credit
  • $200 onboard credit
  • $250 onboard credit

Use United MileagePlus Miles To Pay for Your Cruise

Paying for your cruise with miles is a great option to have. Unfortunately, you’ll lose out on some value if you do so .

When you book a cruise using United Miles, you’ll get about 0.7 to 0.8 cents per mile in value. United miles are generally worth around 1.3 cents per mile (or more if you’re booking business or first class flights), so you’re getting less value than you could get if you used your miles for a flight.

However, if you have a bundle of United miles and prefer cruising to flying, it might be a good redemption for you.

Pros and Cons of United Cruises

  • MileagePlus members have the ability to earn lots of extra miles.
  • United Premier members receive extra perks with Norwegian, Oceania, and Regent Seven Seas Cruise Lines.

Bottom Line: When you choose to book your cruise through United Cruises, you can either earn United MileagePlus miles on your purchase, or you can pay for your cruise using your United MileagePlus miles.

Marriott Bonvoy Cruises allows you to earn Marriott Bonvoy points on your cruise or you can choose to pay for your cruise with Marriott Bonvoy points !

When you book a cruise through Marriott , you’ll earn up to 3 points per $1 spent . Chase Marriott Bonvoy credit cardholders will earn an extra 2 Marriott Bonvoy points per $1 spent on a cruise booked through Marriott Bonvoy Cruises.

Marriott Bonvoy also offers a 110% best price guarantee — if you find the exact same cruise priced lower within 48 hours of booking, you’ll be refunded 110% of the price difference.

Hot Tip: If you book a cruise through Marriott Bonvoy, know that you’ll be charged a non-refundable processing fee of $24.99. That’s a pretty hefty fee considering many other sites don’t charge any fees.

Use Marriott Bonvoy Points To Pay for Your Cruise

It’s a great option to be able to pay for your cruise with points , and Marriott Bonvoy makes that possible. However, it’s not the best way to use your Marriott Bonvoy points.

When booking a cruise with Marriott Bonvoy points, you’ll only get 0.4 cents per point in value. Since Marriott Bonvoy points are generally worth about 0.7 cents each, you’ll be missing out on some value, so you might want to look into other ways to redeem your Marriott Bonvoy for hotels or flights .

Pros and Cons of Marriott Bonvoy Cruises

  • Members can earn extra Marriott Bonvoy points.
  • You can pay for your cruise with Marriott Bonvoy points.
  • The site offers a 110% best price guarantee
  • You’ll be charged a non-refundable processing fee of $24.99 per reservation.
  • Marriott cruises can only be booked with Marriott Bonvoy points over the phone.

Bottom Line: When you book a cruise through Marriott Bonvoy, you can pay for your cruise with points or you can choose to pay cash (I mean, credit card!) and earn Marriott Bonvoy points on your purchase.

Costco Travel is an in-house travel agency that’s only available to Costco members . Costco offers 2 levels of membership: Gold Star for $60 per year and Executive for $120 per year. Executive membership comes with a valuable extra perk for travelers — 2% back on your purchases through Costco Travel (up to $1,000)!

Another great thing about Costco Travel is that you’ll sometimes find deals that offer extra shipboard credit or a Costco shop card as a bonus.

Costco Travel is easy to use and offers all of the search and filter functions found on any other website.

Pros and Cons of Costco Travel

  • Executive members receive 2% back on purchases through Costco Travel.
  • Costco shop cards or onboard credit are sometimes offered as a bonus.
  • Costco Travel is for members only.

Hot Tip: For more information, check out our detailed post on using Costco Travel .

Cruise.com  is a cluttered website and can be overwhelming when you’re searching for a cruise (especially if you’re a first-time cruiser and not quite sure how everything works). It offers lots of deals and discounts, but many of those are actually offered through the cruise line, so it can be hard to tell which bonuses are actually coming from Cruise.com.

Cruise.com offers

Pros and Cons of Cruise.com

  • Lots of deals for a variety of cruise lines are offered.
  • The website is very busy and cluttered.
  • No price guarantee is offered.
  • You may be contacted by cruise.com after searching for a cruise on the site.

Hot Tip: Don’t be confused — Cruise.com and Cruises.com are 2 separate websites!

Travelocity is a website that many travelers use to book flights, hotels, rental cars, and cruises. The simple interface and the fact that there are no booking fees will make this a good choice for many travelers.

While Travelocity doesn’t advertise as many deals and savings as other sites, the price still manages to come out about the same as other websites.

Pros and Cons of Travelocity

  • There are no booking fees.
  • It’s simple to use.
  • No rewards program or extra bonus points.

Hot Tip: For more information, check out our complete guide to booking travel with Travelocity .

Let’s get to the important part — price comparisons! We priced out a 7-night Eastern Caribbean cruise from Miami on Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas. Prices are for 2 adults in an Infinite Central Park View Balcony room.

As you can see, most websites offer the same price . The difference comes in the extras like onboard credit, free specialty dinners, free gratuities, or bonus miles.

The exception in this example was Cruise.com, which offered a savings of $50 on the price of the cruise. However, some of the extras offered by other sites could be worth more than that, so it’s always a good idea to price your cruise on multiple websites before booking.

Bottom Line: The base cost of a cruise is generally the same across most websites. The big difference comes in the extras — onboard credit, specialty dinners, cash-back, or bonus miles. 

No matter where you book your cruise, you’ll be paying the same base price 9 times out of 10. Even though a website might be offering “the best prices” or a “50% discount,” when you actually look at the numbers they’ll usually be the same as every other website.

To get a great deal, you’ll need to look for bonuses that a particular website is offering, such as onboard credit, free specialty dinners, cash-back, or bonus airline miles.

The higher the room category you’re booking, the more bonuses you’ll be able to get. Keep in mind that lots of the bonuses you may see advertised won’t kick in unless you book a balcony stateroom or a suite. Cashback and onboard spending bonuses are generally tied to your stateroom level as well which means you’re not going to get anywhere near the amount advertised if you’re booking an interior or ocean-view cabin.

No matter where you book your cruise, be sure to check out our post with cruise tips and a downloadable packing guide !

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you get the best deals on cruises.

To get the best deals on a cruise, it’s important to know which website is offering the most bonuses. The base price of your cruise will be the same from website to website 9 times out of 10, so you’ll need to find the website that’s offering the best bonuses like onboard credit or free specialty dinners.

Is it better to book directly with the cruise line?

Surprisingly, you’ll usually get a better deal when you book your cruise through an OTA (think Cruise.com, Expedia, or United Cruises). When you book through these types of sites you’ll get any deals that are being offered directly by the cruise line plus any extras offered by the OTA.

Is it better to book cruises last minute?

While you can find some great deals on last-minute cruises, it’s not a guarantee. If you have any preference about your cabin type or location, you’ll want to book as early as possible to make sure you get exactly what you want. If you’re traveling with a group and want to book cabins that are next door to each other, you’ll also want to book ahead of time. However, if you’re super flexible and don’t care what type of cabin you’re in, where it’s located, or even what cruise you’re on, you can often find some good deals at the last minute.

What is the best website for booking cruises?

Unfortunately, there’s no one site that always offers the best cruise deals. Most of the OTAs like CheapCaribbean.com, Cruises.com, or Priceline offer the same prices. The difference usually comes when you factor in extras like onboard credit or free gratuities.

Was this page helpful?

About Katie Seemann

Katie has been in the points and miles game since 2015 and started her own blog in 2016. She’s been freelance writing since then and her work has been featured in publications like Travel + Leisure, Forbes Advisor, and Fortune Recommends.

Discover the exact steps we use to get into  1,400+ airport lounges worldwide, for free   (even if you’re flying economy!) .

We respect your privacy . This site is protected by reCAPTCHA. Google's  privacy policy  and  terms of service  apply.

playbook cover

Related Posts

How to Use the Cathay Pacific Asia Miles iShop to Earn More Miles

UP's Bonus Valuation

This bonus value is an estimated valuation  calculated by UP after analyzing redemption options, transfer partners, award availability and how much UP would pay to buy these points.

  • Hotels & Resorts
  • Travel Guides
  • Credit Cards
  • Airplane Seat Switch Etiquette
  • American Airlines Baggage Fees & Allowance
  • Amex Centurion Lounges
  • Best & Worst Days to Fly
  • Best & Worst Days to Fly & Travel for Christmas & New Year's 2024
  • Best & Worst Times to Fly
  • Best Days & Times to Book Flights
  • Best Seats On a Plane
  • Best Websites to Book Cheap Flights
  • Capital One Lounges
  • Chase Sapphire Lounges
  • Delayed, Lost, or Damaged Luggage (Steps to Take)
  • Delta Baggage Fees & Allowance
  • How to Avoid Airline Flight Delays & Cancellations in 2024
  • How to Cancel an American Airlines Flight
  • How to Cancel a Delta Air Lines Flight
  • How to Earn Delta SkyMiles
  • How to Earn United MileagePlus Miles
  • How to Find Cheap Flight Deals
  • How to Find Cheaper Summer Flights for 2024
  • How to Get Through TSA Airport Security Faster
  • How to Use Google Flights
  • When to Book Christmas Flights - Best Travel Days for 2024
  • When to Book Thanksgiving Flights - Best Travel Days for 2024
  • United Airlines Baggage Fees & Allowance
  • What to Do if Your Airline Cancels or Delays Your Flight
  • Worst Seats on a Plane
  • Best Atlanta Airport Car Rental Companies
  • Best Denver Airport Car Rental Companies
  • Best Los Angeles Airport (LAX) Car rental Companies
  • Best Miami Airport Car Rental Companies
  • Best Orlando Airport Car Rental Companies
  • Best Phoenix Airport Car Rental Companies
  • Best Websites to Book Cheap Car Rentals
  • How to Find Cheap Car Rentals
  • Best All-Inclusive Cruise Lines
  • Can You Bring Food, Alcohol, & Snacks on a Cruise Ship?
  • Best Websites to Book Cheap Cruises
  • Where Can I Cruise Without a Passport?
  • What is Cruise Ship Tendering?
  • What is Port Side on a Cruise Ship?
  • Best Economy & Budget-Friendly Hotel Brands
  • Best Mid-Tier Hotel Brands
  • Best Websites to Book Cheap Hotels
  • Choice Privileges Loyalty Program Review
  • Hilton Honors Loyalty Program Review
  • Hostel Booking Tips
  • Hotels.com Booking Guide
  • How to Find Cheap Hotel Deals
  • IHG One Rewards Loyalty Program Review
  • Marriott Bonvoy Loyalty Program Review
  • World of Hyatt Loyalty Program Review
  • Wyndham Rewards Loyalty Program Review
  • Best Travel Products
  • Destinations
  • Family Travel
  • Beach Vacation Packing List
  • Best Beaches in Florida
  • Best Ticket Websites for Tours & Activities
  • Best Travel Tips
  • Global Entry Program Guide
  • How to Check Your Passport Application Status
  • How to Make a Travel Budget
  • How to Take Your Own Passport Photo at Home
  • Passport Processing Times - Current Wait in 2024
  • Summer Travel Survey & Trends 2024
  • Sustainable Travel Survey 2023
  • TSA PreCheck Program Guide
  • Travel Insurance Buying Guide
  • Ultimate Travel Packing List
  • Travel Credit Card Reviews
  • Travel Credit Card Strategies & Tips
  • Amex Platinum Card Benefits
  • Amex Gold Card Benefits
  • Best Starter Travel Credit Cards for Beginners
  • Capital One Venture Card Benefits
  • Capital One Venture X Card Benefits
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred Card Benefits
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve Card Benefits
  • How to Use CardMatch
  • Ink Business Unlimited Card Benefits

Get The Vacationer Newsletter

Get highlights of the most important news delivered to your email inbox

Advertiser Disclosure

Amazon Affiliate Disclosure : Jones-Dengler Marketing, LLC via The Vacationer is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates.

The Vacationer • Cruises • Cruise Guides

20 of the Best Websites for Booking Cheap Cruises in 2024

Best Websites for Finding Cheap Cruises

Think that the only place to go for booking a cruise is directly via the cruise line’s website? Or through a travel agent? Think again. You can also find cheap cruises through a bevy of affordable travel booking websites. Here are 20 of our favorites, as well as the pros and cons of each option, so you can book your next cruise for the best price possible.

Table of Contents

Cruise-Specific Booking Websites

While you could go to an online travel agency that offers flights, hotels, and cruises, why not try a cruise-specific booking website first? After all, these are the pros that specialize in cruising, so they know what you’re looking for and how to give it.

1. CruiseDirect

CruiseDirect.com

Screenshot: cruisedirect.com

Yeah, CruiseDirect’s website looks a little outdated, but that’s only because this cruise booking provider has been around for about two decades. You know they know their stuff. 

One of the coolest features on this website? As you’re searching around for a cruise, you can “heart” the cruises you like, so you can go back later and reconsider them. Additionally, the website doesn’t require you to pay the full cost of your cruise at the time of booking — just a deposit.

  • Booking incentives such as free dining experiences and travel insurance
  • No need to pay up-front

Cons: 

  • Price matching is only available for the first 24 hours after you book
  • Clunky website

Click Here to See Cheap Cruise Deals at CruiseDirect

2. Cruise Critic

Cruise Critic

Screenshot: cruisecritic.com

Cruise Critic is a great little corner of the internet for those who love all things cruising. Here, you can find tons of information about your favorite cruise lines, cruise ships, routes, and more. Get in-depth reviews, cruising tips — it’s all there. But, beyond providing all of this extra info, Cruise Critic also allows you to book cruises. Unfortunately, it’s not Cruise Critic offering those cruises for sale. Cruise Critic just aggregates all of the pricing info and then presents it to you. You have to go to another website to book your cruise.

  • Tons of information about any and every cruise
  • Robust forum community of cruisers
  • You’ll have to go to another website to purchase your cruise fare

Click Here to See Cheap Cruise Deals at Cruise Critic

3. Cruisewatch

Cruisewatch

Screenshot: cruisewatch.com

If you love the power of data, though, Cruisewatch might be the perfect cruise-booking platform for you. The website uses a compilation of data points to predict the best time for you to book your cruise based on price — allowing you to get the best deal, not just the best deal that the website decides to push that day. Additionally, it uses a handy algorithm to better suit the website’s recommendations to your tastes. As you “like” or “dislike” certain cruise features, the website learns your preferences and makes its recommendations accordingly.

  • Tech-savvy search capabilities and personalization
  • Real-time price drop alerts
  • Search functions don’t go as in-depth as some of the others on our list
  • Doesn’t show all the prices for all of the cruises available unless you hand over your personal info

4. CruisesOnly

CruisesOnly

Screenshot: cruisesonly.com

CruisesOnly offers … you guessed it: only cruises. What makes it a little different from other cruise-booking platforms on this list is its unparalleled level of customer service, with on-demand agents available to answer any of your cruising or cruise booking questions. The website also has a loyalty program, allowing you to earn extra bonuses and perks the more you book. For example, after just two bookings, you can get vouchers for shore excursions, cash back, and/or an Amazon gift card.

  • Free loyalty program
  • On-call booking agents
  • Doesn’t always offer the lowest prices

5. Cruise.com

Cruise.com

Screenshot: cruise.com

Cruise.com is just about as specific and simple as you can get. It’s a website, named after exactly what you want to book — a cruise! Unfortunately, while the name is simple, the website isn’t always as simple as it could be. This is a site that’s a little more catered toward the seasoned cruiser. It gives you a lot of information and a lot of options, meaning newbie cruisers could feel a little overwhelmed. One great thing, though, that this site offers that some of the other cruise-specific booking websites don’t? The ability to bundle your cruise fare with airfare.

  • Book your airfare and cruise fare in one place, for one price
  • Find a lot of extra offers, packages, and rates, all in one spot
  • Lots of information in what can be a confusing interface
  • This site is not newbie-friendly.

6. Cruises.com

Cruises.com

Screenshot: cruises.com

So what about Cruises.com? Yes, cruise.com and cruises.com are two separate things. While the former is known primarily as a site that offers deals you won’t necessarily find elsewhere and gives you a lot of extra info, cruises.com is known for potentially lucrative deals. The only downside to these deals is that you have to be careful to read the fine print. If not, you could feel like you didn’t get your money’s worth or you could find yourself, unfortunately, scammed. That’s not to say it happens every time, though, so just do your due diligence.

  • Find lucrative cruise deals
  • Sometimes those deals aren’t as good as they seem

7. Vacations To Go

Vacations To Go

Screenshot: vacationstogo.com

Okay, so Vacations To Go sounds like it would give you the option to book everything you might need for an entire vacation. But, one quick look at the website’s homepage shows that it bills itself as an online cruise agency. It boasts that it’s the largest cruise agency in the world. It also says it can save you over 80% on cruise fares, but that’s not proven. 

Vacations To Go’s website may seem a little outdated, but it does have some nice features. It allows you to search for cruises with certain port stops. You can also search for cruises with particular themes, such as a singles cruise or cruises for emergency personnel. There’s also a 90-day ticker feature that shows you last-minute available cruises. 

The big downside to this website, though, is that you have to call the brand’s number to book. The only thing you can do online is ask for a quote. You’ll have to speak with someone to reserve your cruise.

  • The website offers a robust search function
  • You can find last-minute cruise deals, for cruises departing in 90 days or sooner
  • You can’t book your cruise directly on the website
  • You have to call a Vacations to Go representative to book

Online Travel Agencies (OTAs)

But if you’re a frequent traveler, you’re probably already pretty familiar with the very popular online travel agencies out there. Priceline , Expedia — it’s incredibly common that you’ll find your best hotel and flight deals with one of these websites. But many of these online travel agencies likewise offer deals on cruises.

8. CheapCaribbean.com

CheapCaribbean.com

Screenshot: cheapcaribbean.com

CheapCaribbean.com is technically a Caribbean-specific travel booking platform, but don’t let the name fool you. Rather, you can find cruises for all around the world here, not just Caribbean cruises. The nice thing about this booking platform is that it allows you to search via a few extra categories (like cruise themes) that you won’t find on the other platforms above. Additionally, CheapCaribbean gives you plenty of incentives to book on the platform, with discounts, credits, and even a loyalty club.

  • Free, 24-hour cancellations
  • Lots of booking perks, from spa credits to cash back
  • Lots of search functionality
  • Not 100% focused on cruises
  • Reviewers report poor customer service
  • Not as cheap as the name would suggest

Click Here to See Cheap Cruise Deals at CheapCaribbean.com

Expedia

Screenshot: expedia.com

Comparatively, Expedia is one of the larger travel booking platforms out there. From vacation rentals to flights, rental cars to cruises, Expedia offers a little bit of it all. The site is easy to use, making it a top pick for those who want a hassle-free cruise-booking experience. The only downside, though, is that the cruise-booking experience is so simple on Expedia that you don’t have the chance to get down into the nitty-gritty of what you want from your cruise when searching. That could be either a pro or a con, depending on what you’re looking for.

  • Some of the best cruise-booking deals available 
  • Large, reputable platform
  • Simple-to-use interface
  • Conversely, the site could be considered too simple, and it doesn’t include all the search features an avid cruiser might want

Click Here to See Cheap Cruise Deals at Expedia

10. Priceline

Priceline

Screenshot: hopper.com

Similarly, Priceline is another well-known travel booking platform, with just as much clout as Expedia. However, where Expedia fails in allowing for in-depth searches, Priceline shines. You can search for a range of cruising experiences, whether you want a balcony cabin, a luxury cruise, or even a cruise with a certain theme. You can also search for cruises with particular discounts, such as a senior discount. This makes Priceline quite competitive with CheapCaribbean when it comes to search features.

  • Lots of ways to search for your perfect cruise 
  • Bonus incentives for booking through Priceline, such as credits and shore excursion savings
  • Priceline’s famed “name your own price” feature doesn’t apply to cruises

Click Here to See Cheap Cruise Deals at Priceline

Kayak

Screenshot: kayak.com

Kayak is more of a travel deal aggregator than a legitimate online travel agency, but that’s precisely why Kayak aficionados prefer the site. It brings together travel deals from around the web and then even compares them to the deals you’ll find with competitors like Expedia and Priceline, so there are fewer websites you’ll need to scroll through, to find your best cruise deal. Further reading: see our complete guide to using Kayak to book cheap travel .

  • Find more prices in one place
  • Great user experience via the Kayak app 
  • Unfortunately, Kayak pushes “suggested,” higher-cost cruises over the legitimately cheaper fares

Click Here to See Cheap Cruise Deals at Kayak

12. TripAdvisor

TripAdvisor

Screenshot: tripadvisor.com

Like Cruise Critic, TripAdvisor is a great place to go to find reviews and cruising information, but did you know that you can also book cruises via this website? You can find cruise deals from a wide array of sources, for cruises all over the world. However, also like Cruise Critic, TripAdvisor won’t allow you to actively book your cruise on the site. Instead, it’ll send you elsewhere to do that. But, it’s a nice feature if you’re already frequently on the site, reading up ahead of your next cruise.

  • Real reviews and info plus booking and deal recommendations all in one spot
  • You’ll be redirected to a different website for booking

Click Here to See Cheap Cruise Deals at TripAdvisor

13. Avoya Travel

Avoya Travel

Screenshot: avoyatravel.com

Next up, Avoya Travel is a unique option, as it combines online search features and travel agent know-how to give you what it calls a superior cruise-booking experience. You enter some info about what kind of cruise you want, and then a planner uses your information to show you the best cruises for you. Better yet, a website membership gets you access to unpublished deals, as well as free cruise booking changes and cancellations.

  • Personalized service and cruise recommendations 
  • Free membership comes with exclusive deals and perks
  • The low-price guarantee is only available for 24 hours after booking 
  • Not ideal for those who want a hands-off, DIY booking experience

Click Here to See Cheap Cruise Deals at Avoya Travel

Orbitz

Screenshot: orbitz.com

Another online travel agency where you might frequently book your other travel, Orbitz also offers cruises — and there are a lot of reasons why you might want to book with Orbitz. The site offers a loyalty program for frequent travel bookers (and it’s very possible to frequently book with Orbitz since the site offers entire vacation packages, rental cars, activities, etc.). It also offers deals and savings you might not find elsewhere. And, if you do find a better price on your cruise on another site, within 24 hours, you can take advantage of Orbitz’s best price guarantee.

  • If you prefer to streamline your travel booking and do it all in one place, Orbitz will allow you to do that, with its wealth of options
  • You only have 24 hours to take advantage of the best price guarantee
  • Cruise bookings don’t qualify for the Orbitz loyalty program rewards

Click Here to See Cheap Cruise Deals at Orbitz

15. Travelocity

Travelocity

Screenshot: travelocity.com

Much like Orbitz, Travelocity is another online travel agency where you’re most likely to book a cruise only if you use the site for all of your other travel bookings. If you already book your flights, hotel rooms, and car rentals on Travelocity, it’s worth checking out their cruise deals. 

However, you might find the cruise booking portion of the agency’s website a bit clunky. For this reason, some users just use the website to browse their cruise options and then they call Travelocity directly to book their chosen option.

  • Cruises offered in the same spot you potentially book all your other travel, for a streamlined experience
  • Users find a poor website design (at least for the cruising portion)
  • It’s sometimes easier to book over the phone

Click Here to See Cheap Cruise Deals at Travelocity

Airline, Hotel, and Other Brands

But sometimes, you can also purchase cruises through providers who aren’t online travel agents, or cruise lines, or even anything close. Airlines, hotels, and other brands also offer deals on cruises for their most loyal customers.

16. Costco Travel

Costco Travel

Screenshot: costcotravel.com

Costco members can purchase cruises, hotels, airfare, and car rental packages all online. While the cruise fares aren’t necessarily cheaper through Costco than what you might get with some of the other providers on our list, the incentives are what make booking through Costco worth it for some. The favorite incentive? Hefty Costco gift cards.

  • Incentives include Costco gift cards that can really add up
  • The prices aren’t always cheaper than what you’ll find elsewhere
  • A Costco membership is necessary to book

Click Here to See Cheap Cruise Deals at Costco Travel

17. American Airlines Cruises

American Airlines Cruises

Screenshot: bookaacruises.com

If you’re an American Airlines AAdvantage member, you may want to book your cruise through your existing American Airlines loyalty membership. Doing so allows you to earn airline miles, while also taking advantage of savings. Just like many of the above booking platforms, American Airlines Cruises promises a 110% best price guarantee, meaning they’ll refund you 110% of the difference if you find your cruise offered at a lower price within 48 hours of your initial booking.

  • Earn up to 10,000 AAdvantage miles per cruise 
  • Earn even more miles if you have an American Airlines credit card
  • You’ll be charged an extra processing fee for your booking

18. Delta SkyMiles Cruises

Delta SkyMiles Cruises

Screenshot: skymilescruises.com

Very similarly, if you’re a SkyMiles member versus an AAdvantage member, you can earn miles for your cruising when you book with Delta SkyMiles Cruises. Rather than receiving a certain number of miles for which cruise line you cruise with, you’ll receive miles based on how long you cruise, up to 10,000 SkyMiles. You also get extra perks if you book more luxurious rooms.

  • Earn up to 10,000 SkyMiles per cruise
  • Receive extra cruise amenities based on your Delta Medallion status

19. United Cruises

United Cruises

Screenshot: cruises.united.com

Likewise, you can earn United MileagePlus miles if you book your cruise through United Cruises. Rather than base the number of miles you earn on nights cruised or cruise line, though, United Cruises bases your miles earning on the type of stateroom you book. You can earn up to 100,000 bonus miles on select cruises.

  • Earn up to 100,000 MileagePlus miles per cruise
  • Receive extra cruise amenities if you have Premier status

20. Marriott Cruises

Marriott Cruises

Screenshot: cruise-with-points.marriott.com

But what if you’re not a member of any frequent flyer program? You can still earn points for an existing loyalty program if you’re a member of Marriott Bonvoy . Earn points based on how much money you spend for a cruise booking, via Marriott Cruises. 

You can earn up to 8 points per $1 spent on a cruise, putting you that much closer to a free night at your favorite Marriott-owned hotel. You can also use Marriott points to pay for your cruise if you so wish.

  • Earn up to 8 points per $1 spent on a cruise
  • Pay for your cruise using Marriott Bonvoy points

Booking Direct

Read all of the above and still tempted to book direct? We don’t blame you. There are reasons why you might. It’s easy. You know exactly what you’re getting. All the information about the line, its routes, and the individual ships is right there at your fingertips. However, despite this, you could still be missing out on some great deals. 

So what’s your best course of action? Before booking any cruise, look around at the various prices offered in a range of places. After all, you never know where an awesome deal could be lurking!

Further Reading: Can You Bring Food, Alcohol, Water, & Snacks on a Cruise Ship? , the Best All-Inclusive Cruise Lines , and the Best Credit Cards for Booking Cruises .

It all depends on what you’re after. If you want the most affordable cruise fare possible, you can usually find great deals the closer you get to a cruise date, as the cruise line tries to fill up cabins. However, waiting until the last minute could mean you end up with fewer choices in terms of cabin and amenities.

If you’re looking at a specific cruise across a swathe of websites, you’ll usually find that the base price is the same across a handful of sites. From there, you’ll have to look at the various “extras” the site is offering — drink packages, shore excursions, room upgrades, etcetera — to see which is providing the most value for that lowest price.

It’s a good question! Many cruise booking websites, even some of those we’ve listed above, look a little sketch. But don’t let an outdated website put you off. If it’s listed above, you can trust it. Just make sure to always read the fine print before you book any sort of travel online.

It does make sense that a cruise line might drop its prices to sell out cabins right before a cruise is set to launch. However, even having empty cabins on a cruise is a lot less common than you might think. Most cruises are full when they set sail. So, if you thought you might wait around and take a last-minute cruise that’s half-off the week before sailing, you might just want to abandon that idea.

Often, cruise lines will offer sales and deals in the late winter-early spring, January through March. These months are popularly known as “wave season.”

Most cruise lines will allow you to book a cruise as much as a year and a half in advance. If you decide to book this far out, just make sure that your cruise of choice offers some sort of travel booking insurance or a cancellation policy that allows you to adjust your schedule as needed without losing the entire cost of your cruise fare.

The Vacationer’s Final Thoughts

Cruise-specific booking websites are great resources to find your next trip at sea. However, OTAs can often have cheaper prices and worthy reward programs. Also, consider booking through a specific airline or hotel brand. This can help you maintain or gain status on an airline or with a hotel brand you use regularly. Additionally, booking with a cash back credit card such as the Chase Freedom Unlimited® can put 1.5% or more back in your wallet. Lastly, stacking these savings with another cash back program such as BeFrugal or Rakuten will further increase your savings. See also our guides on the best websites for booking cheap flights , the best websites for booking cheap hotels , and the best websites for booking cheap car rentals .

Holly Riddle Headshot

By Holly Riddle

Holly Riddle is a freelance travel, food, and lifestyle journalist who also dabbles in ghostwriting and fiction. Her work appears in publications ranging from Global Traveler to Golf Magazine, Mashed to Forbes, and Bloomberg. When she’s not writing, you can find her exploring the mountains near her home in the Adirondacks. Her favorite travel destinations include Chicago and New Orleans.

Cruise Lines Food Alcohol Policys

Can You Bring Food, Alcohol, Water, & Snacks on a Cruise Ship in 2024?

Best All-Inclusive Cruise Lines

9 Best All-Inclusive Cruise Lines — Options for Ocean and River Cruises Across the World in 2024

Best Websites to Book Cheap Hotel Rooms

17 of the Best Websites to Book Cheap Hotels in 2024

Cruise Mummy

The Best Way To Book A Cruise (Online, Phone or In-Person)

This post may contain affiliate links. if you click one, i may earn a commission at no cost to you. as an amazon associate, i earn from qualifying purchases..

Years ago, booking a cruise meant a trip into town to your local travel agent who would make the booking for you while you sat on the other side of their desk. Nowadays, however, most of us are used to booking all of our flights, hotels and car hire online. 

book cruise online

But what about cruises? A cruise is a much more complicated product than your standard vacation, with lots of extra things to think about, like cabin types, dining times and drinks packages . So, should you book a cruise online? This article explains the pros and cons.

If you decide that booking your cruise online is the best option for you, then read on for tips about how to book your cruise online for the best price, whilst avoiding the common pitfalls.

Can You Book a Cruise Online?

Most cruises can be booked online, either on the cruise line’s official website or via a third-party website. Some cruises, however, can only be booked with the help of a real person.

Examples of cruises that typically can’t be booked online include ‘cruise and land tour’ packages, back-to-back cruises, cruises for large groups and cruises requiring wheelchair-accessible cabins.

There are three ways to book a cruise:

  • Over the phone
  • Face to face

Which method is the best will depend on the cruise that you are booking and your own personal circumstances.

booking cruise for family online

Should You Book a Cruise With a Travel Agent or Online?

A very common question that I get asked is – ‘Is it best to book a cruise with a travel agent or online?’

It’s a common misconception that booking online means booking directly with the cruise line and booking over the phone means using a travel agent. In fact, both cruise lines and travel agents offer options of online and telephone bookings.

The 9 different ways that you can book your cruise…

Booking directly with a cruise line:

  • Online – On the cruise line’s website
  • By phone – Call the cruise line
  • In-person – When on-board a cruise ship

Booking with a travel agent:

  • Online – One a specialist cruise travel agent’s websites
  • By phone – Call the travel agent or fill in a form to request a callback
  • By email – Some travel agents allow you to pay via a secure link
  • In-person – In a high street shop or at a travel agent’s head office

Booking with a third-party:

  • Online – If you live in the US, you can book cruises on sites like Expedia 
  • By phone – A call centre worker can complete your booking

Which Is the Best Way to Book a Cruise?

If you’ve never cruised before, or have only a few times, then I would always recommend booking over the phone or face-to-face with a trusted cruise travel agent . They will have experience of many different cruise lines and can talk you through each decision to help you to choose and book the very best cruise for your family.

If you’re an experienced cruiser or have done enough research to know exactly what you want, then booking online could be a good idea.

Ask yourself – Have you done enough research to know what you want better than a cruise expert? If so, go ahead and book your cruise online.

Should You Book a Cruise Online?

If you’re considering booking a cruise online, there are a few things that you should consider…

Pros of booking a cruise online

  • Can book at any time of the day or night
  • Compare fares in your own time
  • There’s no pressure to book
  • Can take your time to look at the details
  • No hidden booking fees

Cons of booking a cruise online

  • No personalised advice
  • You need to do your own research
  • You’re responsible for any mistakes
  • You cannot hold cabins
  • No chance to haggle
  • Fly-cruise packages may be more expensive

Booking a cruise online offers a better experience for some people than others. For example, if you’re hard of hearing or have anxiety about speaking to people, then booking online could be a great option.

However, if you don’t have lots of spare time to spend on researching all the different options, then it may be better to hand this task over to an expert.

You might find that some websites try to drive you down the online booking option, including cruise lines’ official sites. They might only offer a “book cruise online” button, and not make it clear you can call.

That’s because it tends to be cheaper for them to get bookings online instead of having a packed call centre. But you can always choose the telephone option – don’t be put off if that’s what you prefer.

Where Can You Book a Cruise Online?

There are three places where you can book a cruise online:

  • Cruise line website
  • Cruise travel agent website
  • Aggregator website

Not every option is available in every country. Aggregator websites like Expedia, Orbitz, Kayak and Priceline tend to be based in the US, with the cruises priced in dollars. Whilst you can book your cruise via a US-based company if you live in the UK and vice versa, I wouldn’t advise this. 

Firstly, paying for your cruise in a foreign currency means that you’ll probably pay more because of the exchange rate and bank fees. Also, if you need to speak to a real person at any point before your cruise, you’ll have to telephone overseas, which could be expensive, particularly if you have to wait on hold.

If you live in the UK, the options to consider are booking with the cruise line or a travel agent .

What’s the Best Site to Book a Cruise Online?

When booking a cruise online, most people go straight to the cruise line’s website. However, this isn’t always the best option. 

If you’re not loyal to one particular cruise line, then searching on a travel agent or aggregator website will allow you to compare all the different options side by side.

Most good cruise travel agents will offer lower prices than you would get from booking directly with the cruise line. They can do this because they are given preferential rates, so even after they have taken a commission, the price that you pay will be less.

Cruise lines often offer incentives to book, such as free onboard credit or free gratuities, but some cruise travel agents will offer extra incentives on top of this.

The best place to book a cruise online will depend on where in the world you live and which cruise you want to book. It’s wise to compare the online prices from a few different websites before you decide.

book cruise on phone

What To Look for in a Good Travel Agent

Not all travel agents are equal – and this applies to both telephone and online bookings. Here are some tips you can use on where to book a cruise if you want the best help…

The Best Travel Agents for Telephone Bookings

There are specialist cruise travel agents who will spend as long as is needed on the phone to help you to plan the perfect cruise. If you don’t know exactly what you want, they will ask you questions to help you to decide.

These guys are highly experienced, have been onboard lots of cruise ships and have a good knowledge of lots of different cruise lines. They will work alongside you to help you to plan your perfect cruise.

Travel Agents To Avoid

Some travel agents are just call-centre workers who are trained to input orders. You tell them exactly what you want and they tick the boxes on their computer.

These guys want to do as many bookings as possible to meet their targets. If you call them and you don’t already know what you want, they will offer you whatever makes them the most commission. They’re instructed to try to upsell you to a balcony, without considering if you would be actually happier with the cheaper inside cabin. 

NEW DEALS JUST RELEASED!

Don’t miss these hot cruise offers…

The Best Online Booking Systems

The best online booking systems are easy to use. They have tips to help you make decisions throughout your booking journey. For example, if you’re asked to choose ‘Select Fare’ or ‘Saver Fare’, it will explain exactly what’s included with each. There will be a telephone number to call should you need to query anything.

I have attempted to book cruises using several different travel agents websites and have found that the Pure Holidays website is very user-friendly, making it easy to compare prices for the various fare categories and cabin grades.

Online Booking Systems To Avoid

Some systems offer a frustrating user experience for booking cruises online. They may be slow to load or crash. You may see the price change with no explanation or see codes that you don’t understand.

Some third-party and travel agent websites can be tricky to use to complete an online booking. Unlike cruise line websites, third-party websites have to handle bookings with several different cruise lines. They have to pull data from different places and in different formats, so they sometimes struggle to clearly communicate all the options.

How to Book a Cruise Online

If you want to book a cruise online, you’ll first need to choose your cruise in terms of the ship, the date and the itinerary. Then, you’ll need to know the answers to the following questions:

1. What fare do you want?

Certain cruise lines like P&O Cruises and Cunard offer a choice of different fares. Some fares let you choose your cabin number and give you free perks, but you’ll pay for the privilege. You may have the option of a ‘Saver’ fare, which is cheaper, but your cabin number will be assigned to you.

If you get a choice of free perks with your cruise, you’ll need to decide which is the most valuable to you. Do you want a free coach transfer to the port, free car parking or some on-board spending money?

2. What is your cruise loyalty number?

Most cruise lines have loyalty programs which offer discounts and perks for repeat cruisers. If you’ve sailed with your chosen cruise line before, you’ll need to enter your loyalty number when you book your cruise online.

The easiest way to find your loyalty number is to search your emails for a message from the cruise line that has it in. If this doesn’t work, take a look at these cruise line specific instructions .

3. What cabin do you want?

As a minimum, you’ll have to know if you want an inside cabin , outside cabin, balcony or suite . Unless you go for the ‘guarantee’ option, where your cabin number is assigned to you, you’ll be expected to select exactly which cabin number you want.

To do this, take a careful look at the deck plan and make sure you don’t pick a bad location like right above the nightclub! I have a handy checklist to help you pick a good cabin location.

4. What dining time do you want?

Depending on your cruise, you may have an option of early, late or flexible dining. There are pros and cons to each, which you can read here . 

Personally, I would always go for the flexible dining time as this avoids having to either rush to get ready or wait around with hungry children. I also like to meet new people each evening on shared tables, although this may not be an option for the immediate future due to social distancing requirements.

dining room

The Bottom Line

Booking a cruise online can be a great idea, but it’s not for everyone. If you don’t need any help with choosing your cruise, then booking online can be a quick and easy way to book your cruise without having to wait on hold or speak to anyone.

Using a specialist cruise travel agent is generally a good idea and this should be cheaper than booking your cruise directly with the cruise line. Some travel agents have better online booking systems than others, but if you run into difficulties, there will be a telephone number that you can call to complete your booking.

Related Posts:

  • The Ultimate Guide to Cruise Drink Packages
  • How To Get Cheap Cruises: An Insider Guide
  • How To Pay for a Cruise in Instalments

best place to book cruise online

If you found this interesting, please share!

Cruise Mummy

Jenni Fielding is the founder of Cruise Mummy. She has worked in the cruise industry since 2015 and has taken over 30 cruises. Now, she helps over 1 million people per month to plan their perfect cruise holidays.

Read more about me

3 thoughts on “The Best Way To Book A Cruise (Online, Phone or In-Person)”

Always informative good advice and tips. Would love to know if there are any cruises that do no single supplement as it’s so unfair to pay the same as a couple.

A little disappointed that you don’t recognize that Canadian cruisers should not to be totally submerged into the “American” market.

Thanks for the feedback, I appreciate that. I apologise and will consider my wording more carefully for future articles.

Leave a comment Cancel reply

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

Expedia Rewards is now One Key™

Aerial view of a promenade deck of a cruise ship.

Wind in your hair

Head out on the water, look to new thrills, and cruise your way to adventure. Lounge on deck, discover new destinations, or just enjoy having everything a vacation could need all in one floating place.

Find your voyage

Explore all the different ways you can set sail.

Princess Cruises

Ports of the world

See the best cruise destinations from up on deck and explore popular journeys

Find popular ports

Couple relaxing at the spa

Choose your getaway

Save on your next cruise with these deals and have extra to spend on board or on land

Enjoying the sunset

Departing soon

Be tempted by a cruise setting sail in the next few months and grab a last-minute deal*.

Plan an escape

Breakfast at sea

Hop aboard with Member Prices

Sail more for less. Members can save an average of 10% on select cruises from top brands

Explore the deals

Enjoying the spa at sea

Cruise with extras

Trips made easy with all-inclusive cruise options—from dining inclusions to excursions

Shop your trip

Sunset at sea

Family fun at sea

A combination of premium cruising with a taste of luxury

See the options

Have somewhere in mind? Let's go

For expert cruise advice, call 1-800-916-8586.

Travelers in the cabin

*Sail more for less. Members can save an average of 10% on select cruises from top brands.

COVID-19 travel alert: Please remember to check government advisories before booking and travelling.

Everything to Know Before Booking Your First Cruise

How to Book a Cruise 2021 NCL Bliss Endicott Arm Alaska 2018

Approaching how to book a cruise for the first time has always been somewhat daunting, with a dizzying assortment of itineraries, companies, destinations, and ships to choose from. How can first-timers  book a cruise without going wrong? We asked three  Traveler -approved experts for their seasoned advice: Gene Sloan is cruise editor for  The Points Guy ; Jason Leppert is cruise editor for  TravelAge West ; Carolyn Spencer Brown is  Cruise Media’s chief content officer. All three are industry experts that have decades of experience across various types of cruises.

What’s the ideal cruise length for a first-timer?

A week or so is the  sweet spot for most first-time cruisers , which will offer three to six ports. Three-day sampler itineraries won’t allow you to explore more than one or two destinations, and you can’t decompress as thoroughly, either. Still, Leppert suggests a weekend trip could be enough for those that just want to try out cruising for the first time to see if you like it. 

While that’s  a good idea for some, Sloan also points out that cruise lines don’t always put their best ships on shorter runs. The ships on these itineraries can sometimes be older and have fewer of the bells and whistles that draw people to cruising in the first place. He says it is not exactly representative of the latest cruising has to offer, and the destinations on super-short cruises are not always the most unique offerings.

What’s the best way to book a cruise?

Many may wonder: Is it cheaper to book a cruise direct? Sure, you can  book a cruise online—but it’s a rookie mistake. Smart cruisers know the best place to book a cruise is with a  travel agent . Though agents’ roles have diminished in the mass-market travel biz, they remain crucial for cruising. Not only can specialists offer seasoned advice, but they can also wrangle deals and promos: Ask them about shipboard credit, which is the ocean equivalent of a gift card to spend onboard—$100 or so is a standard bonus. They may also have access to group rates, according to Sloan. Even if their prices are similar to those when booking direct, the volume of business agents do with cruise lines means you are more likely to score perks like a cabin upgrade or welcome bottle of Champagne when using one.

As the industry reinvents itself in the wake of the pandemic, it’s never been more important to have expert counsel, adds Spencer Brown. “At the end of the day, you’re going on this trip to relax, have fun, learn something, and get away from your everyday world. I want that support system.”

If something goes wrong, an agent can help rectify the situation faster than you may be able to if you go it alone. You won’t be paying more for their service, either. Most make their money via commissions from the cruise lines. Leppert calls it “the best of the best” advice to go with a travel advisor. 

What’s the best time to book a cruise?

If you're looking to leverage new cruise deals, the best way to  book a cruise is by starting early since prices continue to be robust. “There’s so much pent-up demand. People haven’t traveled for a year or more, so they’re spending more money on the trips they’re going on—upgrading to a nicer suite, perhaps,” says Spencer Brown. This could make it harder to secure the cabin you want on the sailing you want.

Leppert highlights  Wave Season (January through March) for booking a future cruise since this is when cruise lines typically announce their best deals although last-minute bargains always pop up. Like Spencer Brown, he says that demand is outpacing inventory so it is best to book as soon as possible.

Sloan agrees and says people  book cruises much further in advance than a hotel or flight, which means that inventory can get gobbled up quickly. Many cruise lines open up their reservation window as far as two years in advance, which means certain cabins can get snatched up. Don’t forget that many travelers are looking to use leftover credits they have from the pandemic, which further compounds the demand.

Most major cruise lines offer the equivalent of a price adjustment—if the cost of your cruise drops after you pay a deposit, but before the final payment, you’ll be protected, and refunded the difference. This means there is little penalty to reserving as early as possible.

What are the best types of cruises for first-timers?

Opt for a winter sun trip in the  Caribbean . It’s easy and affordable to reach the boarding port, and shuttling between the clusters of islands offers a compact, convenient way to experience a multitude of cultures. “Think of a cruise as a tapas menu,” says Spencer Brown—it allows you to sample destinations to which you might later return for a longer visit. Even handier, when on a Caribbean cruise almost every island accepts payment in dollars, so there’s no need to juggle currencies. The waters also are largely calm, keeping seasickness to a minimum.

River cruising is another smart first-time choice, adds Spencer Brown. “You can literally walk off the ship into town, go to a park or ride a bike, or just sit on the top deck breathing the air—it’s marvelous,” she says. 

Sloan offers another take saying that your travel budget should lead the way. If you are prepared to drop $1,000 a night on a cruise, start out on an upscale line with smaller ships like Silversea Cruises or Seabourn. These will give you a taste of cruising with fewer passengers, and often to smaller, less-frequented ports. 

If the budget leans more toward the $100 per-day price point, try one of the newer mega-ships from Norwegian Cruise Line or Royal Caribbean. These newer ships can have a bustling resort vibe that will keep you busy no matter what your cabin type.

How to Book a Cruise 2021 MSC Sinfonia Le Piscine pool area

Seasoned cruisers know that ship amenities are often less buys while at port.

Understanding cabin categories

There’s a dizzying array of options (and pricing) for staterooms, especially on larger ships. First-timers who simply want a place to crash often book the cheapest category, an interior cabin with no window or balcony. 

The Best Airbnbs in Lisbon

If you fall for the trappings of a bargain-basement deal, that cheapie stateroom might be right across from the service area, with a door slamming shut 24/7 or underneath the kitchen, with heavy carts rolling at 6 a.m. Avoid cabins below frequently used passageways on the top decks where footsteps and the sound of deck chairs moving frequently can be annoying. Even higher category cabins can be one deck below the main deck so it is wise to ask about this when reserving.

There are several websites with exhaustive cruise deck plan maps that offer advice and user-generated feedback, almost like a sea-going counterpart to SeatGuru’s airline seat maps. These can be a lifesaver when choosing a cabin type.

The scoop on shore excursions

For a first-timer, these can be confusing. Details aren’t often added to an itinerary until six months or so before sail date; check back regularly, snap up a place on any excursions that are of interest, and book early—popular options can reach capacity long before sailing. 

Still, some travelers choose to go off-menu and arrange private excursions, using independent companies, which can often be cheaper than the line's options. Just keep in mind that when taking an independent excursion, the ship won’t wait for you if you’re late. Staying with the cruise line’s jaunts may be more expensive, but is a safer bet if you are not sure of a new destination.

Sloan says that it really depends where the ship is going. In some ports like Barcelona or Venice, it is easy to venture off on your own without an excursion. Others, however, may require longer drives or special access passes making excursions a safer bet.

Another consideration is to use port days to spend more time on the ship. Leppert notes that onboard amenities like pools, buffets and waterslides are less crowded when most people are ashore. If a particular destination doesn’t appeal to you (or perhaps you have been many times before), it’s ok to enjoy the ship instead.

What is a sea day?

Transits, when the ship is en route between ports, are known as sea days (like the term shore excursions, it's more  cruise lingo ); passengers, obviously, remain on board. Many newbies fret about wasting time at sea rather than exploring, but they’re often a fun chance to explore the ship itself, as well as decompress between ports. Some travelers actually  book cruises that have at least one or two sea days, especially if it’s a larger ship with loads of amenities like water parks, race car tracks, zip lining, and multiple shows. 

What's the best first cruise for a family?

The mega ships are always primed to be the best first choice for families, whether Norwegian’s 4,200-passenger  Escape or the newest Oasis class of ships beginning with the  new  Wonder of the Seas . Their emphasis is on activities like adrenaline-rushing water slides, surf simulators, and three-tiered race tracks.

Disney Cruise Line is an obvious place to start for families, but it has a surprising number of activities and experiences for adults, too, including adults-only areas on board. Still, this isn’t the line for an adult-only vacation unless you’re a hard-core Disney fan.

How much does it cost to book a cruise?

You may be wondering how much does a 7-day cruise usually cost? The answer is that it depends. The time of year you travel (avoid school holidays, for example), the destination, and the ports of call can affect the overall cost. 

Many travelers enjoy, for example, taking repositioning cruises. These happen typically as the seasons change and cruise lines move their ships from one region to another (between the Mediterranean and the Caribbean, for example). Sometimes, these cruises visit islands that are rarely frequented making them more expensive. Many experts say that they are not ideal for first-time cruisers, however, as there may be many sea days. 

Shorter cruises that rely on drive-market travelers typically come with a lower price point than those in far-flung destinations. Special deals and repeat traveler discounts can also affect the overall cost.

What is the cheapest cruise ship to go on?

These are generally the shorter sailings from Miami or Port Canaveral, for instance, using the larger brands like Carnival, Princess Cruises, or Royal Caribbean, according to Sloan. The best deals are generally in the fall (the low season for Florida departures). Cruises to the Bahamas or the Caribbean tend to be more affordable than those to places like Europe or Alaska.

West Coast travelers can find great bargain deals on cruises to Mexico, too, adds Leppert.

What to know about cruise insurance

Don’t skimp on  cruise insurance . Cruise vacations can easily fall prey to flight disruptions or storms that can snarl plans. Check online for insurance policies from places like VisitorsCoverage and Seven Corners, which have reasonable prices for comprehensive coverage.

If you’re flying to the embarkation point, plan to arrive the day before—even the most perfect cruise won’t wait if you’re stuck in air traffic congestion all morning. Yet another reason to ensure you’re insured.

best place to book cruise online

Members can access discounts and special features

Exclusive deals on select cruise lines.

For expert cruise advice, call 1-855-257-1605.

Featured travel

best place to book cruise online

All-Inclusive Resorts 

Get More Bang for Less Buck.

best place to book cruise online

Set sail on a whim

Find amazing deals on voyages to the Bahamas, Mexico and beyond.

best place to book cruise online

Looking for a great hotel deal? 

Book a hotel under $99.

Travel advice and inspiration

best place to book cruise online

How to pick the perfect cruise ship stateroom

Here are a few top things to consider to help you pick the perfect stateroom.

best place to book cruise online

5 amazing expedition cruises

Expedition cruising makes exotic destinations easier to reach than ever before.

best place to book cruise online

10 things to do on a Disney cruise

Taking a Disney Cruise is a fun experience for everyone in the family - you won't want to miss a thing!

Deals designed for you

best place to book cruise online

Last minute

best place to book cruise online

All-inclusive

best place to book cruise online

Pet-friendly

best place to book cruise online

Solo traveler

Destination ideas to plan your next trip, north american and caribbean cruises.

  • Cruises to Alaska
  • Cruises to Bahamas
  • Cruises to Bermuda
  • Cruises to Canada / New England
  • Cruises to Caribbean
  • Cruises to Cuba
  • Cruises to Hawaii

International cruises

  • Cruises to Africa
  • Cruises to Arctic / Antarctic
  • Cruises to Asia
  • Cruises to Australia / New Zealand
  • Cruises to Central America
  • Cruises to Europe
  • Cruises to Galapagos Islands
  • Cruises to Mexico
  • Cruises to Middle East
  • Cruises to Panama Canal
  • Cruises to South America
  • Cruises to South Pacific

Cruise lines

  • Celebrity cruises
  • Princess cruises
  • Norwegian Cruise Line

Should I book a cruise online? Here's what to know.

best place to book cruise online

  • Travelers can book cruises online through the cruise line or third-party sites.
  • Booking online offers convenience, but there can be some drawbacks.
  • Travelers who need help with their booking may have to contact the cruise line or third-party site.

Travelers can buy almost anything they need for a cruise online, from flip-flops to sunscreen to the trip itself.

Many travelers book cruises through travel agents, but that’s not necessarily the right move for everyone. “Some people don't want to deal with people,” said Joanna Kuther, a New York City-based travel agent and owner of Port Side Travel Consultants. “They want to go online. They don't want to have one conversation.”

But with seemingly endless search results and websites vying for prospective guests’ attention in ads, the experience can be overwhelming. And while booking online offers convenience, there can be some drawbacks. 

What are the best websites to book a cruise online?

When booking online, Kuther recommended going directly through the cruise line – if you know which one you want to sail with.

Travelers can easily browse itineraries, the line’s ships and their layouts, and other add-ons and promotions offered. If customers reserve other aspects of their trip, like flights, directly through the line, they will also have greater protection in the event of disruptions.

Cruise booking tips: There's more to it than picking your travel dates

“So if there's a cancellation or a delay, it's their job to get you to that ship,” Kuther said. “That's their commitment.” However, she noted that travelers may not have as many choices as when booking their flights themselves. (Cruise lines often have in-house vacation planners who are familiar with the brand.)

Travelers can book cruises via third-party sites as well and may be able to find deals doing so. Booking.com introduced a cruise option late last year, allowing travelers to book sailings, flights and hotels in one place. Other sites like Expedia and Orbitz also offer the category, and there are cruise-specific sites as well like Cruisebound.com and Cruise.com.

Those can also offer a comprehensive way to see what cruises are out there. Brandon O. Smith, who runs the YouTube channel The Weekend Cruiser , said Vacations To Go’s search function is particularly good. Many travelers also like Costco Travel because it’s “kind of built into their ecosystem,” he added.

Travelers booking through online travel agencies may have to pay fees that cruise lines do not charge, however, Smith said.

What if I need help with my booking?

Customers who book online on their own may have to contact the cruise line or third-party site when they have questions or issues, and the customer representative’s familiarity with the kind of trip they’re taking might vary. “And I think that's one of the big shortcomings,” Smith said.

Some travelers who have used third-party booking sites have had to jump through hoops to get help when their plans have gone awry.

Should first-time cruisers book a cruise online?

There is a wide range of lines and ships that cater to different types of vacations.

( click here for USA TODAY’s cruise line guide).

Smith recommended new cruisers work with a travel agent who can help them determine what kind of voyage is right for them. “Word of mouth is a great way to find people, and finding people who know your style of cruising,” he said. “So, if you're a family of five, you want to find somebody that's familiar with looking for larger families.”

If a traveler is looking for highly personalized advice, he said, “You're not going to get that through an online booking tool.”

Nathan Diller is a consumer travel reporter for USA TODAY based in Nashville. You can reach him at [email protected].

The Key Points at the top of this article were created with the assistance of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and reviewed by a journalist before publication. No other parts of the article were generated using AI. Learn more .

  • Port Overview
  • Transportation to the Port
  • Uber & Lyft to the Port
  • Dropping Off at the Port
  • Cruise Parking
  • Cruise Hotels
  • Hotels with Parking Deals
  • Uber & Lyft to the Ports
  • Things to Do
  • Cozumel Taxi Rates
  • Free Things to Do
  • Restaurants Near the Cruise Port
  • Hotels & Resorts With Day Passes
  • Closest Beaches to the Cruise Port
  • Tips For Visiting
  • Shore Excursions
  • Cruise Parking Discounts
  • Hotels with Shuttles
  • Which Airport Should I Use?
  • Transportation to the Ports
  • Dropping Off at the Ports
  • Fort Lauderdale Airport to Miami
  • Inexpensive Hotels
  • Hotels near the Port
  • Hotels With Shuttles
  • Budget Hotels
  • Carnival Tips
  • Drink Packages
  • Specialty Restaurants
  • Faster to the Fun
  • More Articles
  • CocoCay Tips
  • Norwegian Tips
  • Great Stirrup Cay
  • Harvest Caye
  • How to Get the Best Cruise Deal
  • Best Time to Book a Cruise
  • Best Websites to Book a Cruise
  • Cruises Under $300
  • Cruises Under $500
  • Spring Break Cruise Deals
  • Summer Cruise Deals
  • Alaskan Cruise Deals
  • 107 Cruise Secrets & Tips
  • Tips for First-Time Cruisers
  • What to Pack for a Cruise
  • What to Pack (Alaska)
  • Packing Checklist
  • Cruising with Kids
  • Passports & Birth Certificates
  • Bringing Alcohol
  • Cruising with a Disability
  • Duty-Free Shopping
  • Cruise Travel Insurance
  • Things to Do on a Cruise Ship
  • What Not to Do on a Ship
  • News & Articles

Cruzely.com | Everything Cruising

We Checked 10 Websites… Here’s the Cheapest Site to Buy a Cruise

Looking for the best deal on a cruise? Considering that the majority of people report spending over $2,000 on their cruise vacation , finding even a small discount is welcome.

That’s why we wanted to find out once and for all which website has the cheapest cruise deals. Truth be told, the answer surprised us for a couple of reasons.

We’ve outlined before the best sites to buy a cruise . But that focused mainly on the ease of searching and finding a trip that matched both your schedule and your budget. This was the first time we’ve looked at several sites individually to see exactly which has the best offer.

What’s somewhat surprising is that when it comes to the headline price, nearly every site has the same offer. So if a cruise is $569 per person on one site, then usually every other site will have the same price.

Does that mean it’s worthless to shop around? No way. Since most sites have the same prices, many offer incentives such as onboard credit to get you to book with them. On some trips, these incentives can be worth hundreds of dollars.

However, searching every single site can take hours. That’s why we did the work for you — searching 10 different websites to see who had the absolute best deal on a cruise. Check out our results below…

To make sure we’re comparing apples to apples, we selected a popular cruise that should be available on every site searched. We selected a 7-day cruise aboard the Carnival Glory. The cruise in question departs July 7, 2018, with stops in Grand Turk, St. Thomas, San Juan, and Amber Cove, before returning to Miami . For our search we looked for the cheapest  balcony cabin .

Carnival.com

Being that we were searching for a Carnival cruise, it made sense to begin our search with Carnival.com . Searching the site, we found our cruise listed for $1,194 per person. On Carnival’s site, the cruise was labeled as “Extra Value” which offered $50 in onboard credit, half off the deposit, and choice of room location.

Price per person (before taxes and fees): $1,194 per person Incentives: $50 onboard credit per cabin, half deposit

Expedia.com

Expedia is well-known in online travel, although you may not realize you can also book cruises there.

Searching for our 7-night cruise, we found it for $1,194 for the balcony room — the exact same price found on Carnival’s website. In addition, the incentives offered by Expedia were the same. Booking through the site offered $50 in onboard credit and 50% off the normal deposit amount.

If Orbitz and Expedia look similar to you, it’s not your imagination. Expedia owns Orbitz. As such, you would expect them to have the same prices… and they do.

A search on Orbitz found the same $1,194 price tag for a balcony cabin as found elsewhere. The site also offered the same reduced deposit and $50 in onboard credit.

Travelocity.com

Most people don’t know it, but Travelocity is owned by Expedia (which also owns Orbitz). In other words, all three of these major travel websites will give you the same results for your cruise.

Sure enough, Travelocity has a fare of $1,194 for our balcony cabin and the same $50 in onboard credit and 50% deposit as found elsewhere.

Seahub is one of the newest booking engines and perhaps the nicest to use. The site offers a lot of options to find the perfect cruise and because it’s focused solely on cruises (unlike other travel sites), it’s much more user friendly.

The one issue is that right now prices seem higher than what’s found elsewhere. In this case, we found the balcony cabin for $1,234 per person — $40 higher than found elsewhere. As well, we couldn’t find other incentives like onboard credit or reduced deposits.

Price per person (before taxes and fees): $1,234 per person Incentives:  None found

With a name like Cruise.com , the site has to be good, right? While the site isn’t as slick and inviting as some other search portals, it turns out that the incentives for using Cruise.com are pretty good.

Our search found a balcony cabin for the 7-day cruise at the expected rate of $1,194. In addition, the site offered the 50% reduced deposit. What’s more, it also offered a cash back incentive for booking.

According to the terms, the amount of cash back would be $100 per cabin. The amount increases with a higher fare and decreases with lower fares. Keep in mind this incentive is a special ongoing at the time we searched and subject to change.

Price per person (before taxes and fees): $1,194 per person Incentives: $100 cash back per cabin, half deposit

CruisesOnly.com

CruisesOnly.com bills itself as “America’s Largest Cruise Agency”. A search of the site for the 7-day Carnival cruise found it selling for $1,194 — perfectly in line with what most other sites show.

In addition, the site offered several different bonus incentives, including upgrades, no deposit required, or $50 in onboard credit. While all of these incentives sound great, not all of them are available to be used together. For instance, if you select the $50 in onboard credit, then you can’t also book with no deposit. Other incentives required you to call in and talk to an agent to receive them.

Also, you should note that CruisesOnly.com charges a $25 processing fee to book through their site.

Price per person (before taxes and fees): $1,194 per person Incentives: $50 per cabin onboard credit or no deposit required Note: $25 processing fee is additional

Priceline.com

While Priceline may be famous for naming your price on hotel rooms, that’s not the case for cruises, unfortunately. Their rates are in line with competitors, charging $1,194 for a balcony room on the cruise in question.

Like CruisesOnly.com, you also have the option of $50 in onboard credit or no deposit required. The company also has an offer of “double cruise cash,” however, we couldn’t find any details on what exactly this offer entailed.

Smart buyers should also note that Priceline charges a $25 processing fee for booking on their site.

CruiseDirect.com

CruiseDirect.com boldly states they have a “100% Best Price Guarantee”. In fact, a search for our cruise shows a price that matches what’s found in most other places — $1,194 for a balcony room.

What’s more is that this price comes with some pretty strong incentives. First, the site offers 10% off shore excursions, and up to $1,000 in onboard credit. This onboard credit amount will vary with how much the cruise costs. In this case, the onboard credit was $100.

Price per person (before taxes and fees): $1,194 per person Incentives: $100 per cabin onboard credit and 10% off shore excursions

CostcoTravel.com

Everyone knows that the discount warehouse Costco has some amazing deals. Most people don’t know that you can also book travel. The store’s CostcoTravel website actually has some great deals.

For this cruise, we found a rate of $1,234 for the balcony stateroom. That’s $40 higher than found on most sites, but here’s the kicker — that price includes a $190 Costco Cash Card that can be used at the store. So for $80 more per cabin ($40 x 2 passengers), you are saving $190 — for a net of $110.

Price per person (before taxes and fees): $1,234 per person Incentives: $190 per cabin Costco Cash Card Note: Requires a Costco membership to book travel

Final Recommendation

For our cruise, we found prices varied from a low of $1,194 per person to $1,234 per person. Meanwhile, incentives ranged from nothing to $190 back. Below, we’ve summarized the results.

In this case, CostcoTravel turned out to be the best deal to book, although it wasn’t the cheapest headline price. Still, you will almost always pay a similar price elsewhere so it pays to shop around to see the particular incentives offered by each.

For more on saving on buying your cruise, see our 10 Rules to Getting the Best Deal on a Cruise .

Popular: 39 Useful Things to Pack (17 You Wouldn't Think Of)

Read next: park & cruise hotels for every port in america, popular: 107 best cruise tips, secrets, tricks, and freebies, related articles more from author, answered: what is a good price for a cruise (caribbean, alaska, & europe), 12 cruises under $300 per person (updated), everything about buying discount cruise gift cards via aarp (carnival, royal caribbean, & more), 107 best cruise tips, tricks, secrets, and freebies, what’s the best length of time for a cruise, why cheap cruises are dead (for right now).

I have used Vacations To Go almost exclusively & love it. I just booked with cruise.com & after putting deposit down, saw a $25 booking fee disclosed in the fine print. So far they are not responsive to email questions so doubt I will use them again, after this trip.

Just happened on this article and thought i would chime in too…..we’ve used Vacations to Go.com( headquarters -Houston, TX) for years. My family started with them over 10 years ago. Terrific customer service and great prices too! Highly recommend them. My work colleagues use them as well.

We always use Vacations to Go! Love them!

Thank you! This is just the info I was looking for, where to start. Ther eis so much out there and this really pin-points where to look. Thanks again!

I would definitely consider Superior Cruise & Travel as well. I’ve used them for years and they have offered me some of the best travel deals.

You never mentioned Vacations to go. That is where I have found the best deals. We did however find that Costco was a few bucks cheaper last year.

We’ll have to check that one out too. Haven’t tried it yet.

LEAVE A REPLY Cancel reply

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

Cruise Etiquette That You HAVE to Know (Read Before Sailing)

Cococay: 21+ tips & things to know for royal caribbean’s island (prices, what to do, and more), how alaskan cruises differ from caribbean cruises (hint: it’s not just colder), hotels with cruise shuttles for every major port in america, 39 useful things to pack for your cruise (including 17 you’d never think of).

  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms & Conditions

logotype

Look. Book. Cruise.

All the best cruise deals in one place

Mediterranean Sale!

All packages include return flights, a pre-cruise hotel stay, plus, free drinks & tips! Ends 31/07.

Book your Princess Cruise with just £1pp deposit!

Plus, receive up to $500 onboard spending money per cabin. Ends 09/07.

MSC Summer Sale

Deposits from £75pp, free kids places & balcony upgrades, & all-inclusive from £28pp per night! Ends 30/09.

Up to £450pp onboard spend with P&O Cruises

Plus, save 10% on your upgrade to Classic Drinks! Ends 02/09.

Up to 40% off cruise fares with Carnival!

Plus, free stateroom upgrades, reduced deposits & more.

Book your Costa Cruise with just £50pp deposit

Plus, upgrade to Comfort Plus from just £30pp per day.

30% off 1st & 2nd guests with Celebrity Cruises

Plus, receive up to $200 onboard credit per stateroom! Ends 15/07.

Seascanner Super Six

The very best cruise deals hand picked by us every week.

EURO 2024 Sale

Enter EUROS at checkout to save an extra £25 off your cruise! Ends 08/07.

Today's Top Deals

Last minute spain & portugal.

MSC Cruises - MSC Virtuosa - 27th July 2024 - 14 Nights.

Rotterdam & Bruges

P&O Cruises - Iona - 13th March 2025 - 5 Nights

Norwegian Fjords

MSC Cruises - MSC Virtuosa - 31st August 2024 - 7 Nights

Gems of North Europe

P&O Cruises - Iona - 2nd November 2024 - 7 Nights

Best of the Fjords

Princess Cruises - Sky Princess - 26th April 2025 - 7 Nights

British Isles Mini Cruise

MSC Cruises - MSC Virtuosa - 12th October 2024 - 4 Nights

Oh My Gaudi

Costa Cruises - Costa Toscana - 9th February 2025 - 8 Nights

Pacific Coast & Mexico

Carnival Cruises - Carnival Panorama - 19th January 2025 - 6 Nights

Seascanner Price Promise

Found your cruise cheaper elsewhere? We promise to match the price or refund you the difference! Terms and conditions apply.

Where do you want to go?

Explore our most popular cruising destinations

Mediterranean

North europe, south america, australia & new zealand, what type of cruise do you fancy.

Whether you want some adventure in your next trip or you want to spend some quality time with the whole family, there's a cruise to suit everyone's tastes and interest.

Family Cruises

With lots of activities onboard, they're a great place for families to have a great holiday.

Cruises from Southampton

Forget the extra hassle of flights, cruise straight out of Southampton.

Mini Cruises

Mini cruises pack the joys of a longer cruise all into a few days.

Want to check out our top cruise deals?

Upgrades, discounts, benefits & more - we’ve picked our top cruise deals right now

Effective July 1st. Due to new regulations, prices now include all taxes and fees. Learn more

Cruise Deals

best place to book cruise online

.css-5378hu{display:inline;font-weight:var(--chakra-fontWeights-bold);} $1,456 .css-18q6iyp{color:var(--chakra-colors-gray-base);font-size:var(--chakra-fontSizes-sm);padding-top:0.875rem;} pp — 7-Nt. Alaska w/ Exclusive $25-$1,500 bonus, 60% off 2nd guest & more

Alaska , from .css-nd89np{transition-property:var(--chakra-transition-property-common);transition-duration:var(--chakra-transition-duration-fast);transition-timing-function:var(--chakra-transition-easing-ease-out);-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;outline:2px solid transparent;outline-offset:2px;color:var(--chakra-colors-blue-base);cursor:pointer;}.css-nd89np:hover,.css-nd89np[data-hover]{-webkit-text-decoration:underline;text-decoration:underline;}.css-nd89np:focus-visible,.css-nd89np[data-focus-visible]{box-shadow:var(--chakra-shadows-outline);} seattle, may 30, 2025, anthem of the seas, deal details.

Cruises.com

$1,620 pp — 12-Nt. Portugal to Florida – Up to $2,000 in Savings + Free Drinks

Nov 13, 2024, azamara onward.

CruiseWise

$739 pp — 4-Nt. Caribbean w/ Exclusive Bonus of $25-$1,500 + up to $75 to spend

Caribbean - western , from galveston, nov 14, 2024, carnival breeze.

CheapCruises.com

$2,210 pp — 15-Nt Caribbean Oceanview Cabin w/ 72% Off Fares, 2-for-1 Cruise Fares, $800 Shore Excursion Credit, Free Specialty Dining, a Free Beverage Package + More

Caribbean , from aruba, nov 27, 2024.

Avoya Travel

$1,252 pp — 7-Nt. Caribbean w/ Exclusive $25-$1,500 bonus, 60% off 2nd guest & more

Caribbean , from port canaveral (orlando), sep 22, 2024, wonder of the seas.

best place to book cruise online

$1,759 pp — 7nt Canada/NE Balcony in Late Summer: exclusive $75 OBC, free drinks, dining, Wifi, tips & 40% off

Canada & new england , from new york (manhattan), aug 31, 2024, enchanted princess.

CruisesOnly.com

$1,425 pp — 10-Nt Caribbean w/ 73% Off Fares, 2-for-1 Cruise Fares, $600 Free Shore Excursion Credit + Free Specialty Dining, Beverages, & WiFi!

Caribbean , from miami, dec 11, 2024.

best place to book cruise online

$704 pp — 5nt Caribbean Balcony in December: exclusive $25 OBC and exclusive low rate

Caribbean , from fort lauderdale (port everglades), dec 18, 2024.

best place to book cruise online

$1,479 pp — 7nt Luxe 2025 Alaska Balcony: exclusive $125 bonus, up to $300 OBC & reduced deposit

Alaska , from seattle, jul 3, 2025, queen elizabeth.

LuxuryOnly.com

$3,399 pp — 10nt Luxe Mediterranean Balcony in Fall: $400 bonus, free tips, drinks, excursions & more

Mediterranean , from rome (civitavecchia), nov 4, 2024.

best place to book cruise online

$3,675 pp — 12-Nt Mediterranean Balcony Cabin w/ 71% Off Fares, 2-for-1 Cruise Fares, $600 Excursion Credit, Free Specialty Dining, a Free Beverage Package, & Unlimited WiFi

Oct 30, 2024, oceania vista.

Cruises

$746 pp — 4nt Bahamas Balcony in Sept: exclusive $25 OBC + free drinks, Wifi, 75% off 2nd guest

Sep 9, 2024, celebrity reflection.

best place to book cruise online

$2,838 pp — 15nt Luxe South Africa Balcony at Xmas: $400 bonus, $2,000 off, $1000 toward air + free tips, drinks

South africa , from cape town, dec 20, 2024, azamara quest.

best place to book cruise online

$1,186 pp — 10nt Caribbean Christmas Balcony: exclusive $200 OBC, free specialty dinner + 60% off 2nd, kids free

Caribbean , from galveston, dec 16, 2024, jewel of the seas.

best place to book cruise online

$1,193 pp — 7nt Fall Mediterranean Balcony: exclusive $250 OBC + 2nd 70% off, free drinks, excursions, Wifi

Mediterranean , from athens (piraeus), sep 29, 2024, norwegian getaway, explore more deals.

Cruises

.css-1oh8jer{line-height:1.45;}@media screen and (min-width: 576px){.css-1oh8jer{line-height:1.45;}}@media screen and (min-width: 768px){.css-1oh8jer{line-height:1.3;}}@media screen and (min-width: 1024px){.css-1oh8jer{line-height:1.45;}} .css-19okzv9{display:block;font-weight:700;}@media screen and (min-width: 576px){.css-19okzv9{display:block;}}@media screen and (min-width: 768px){.css-19okzv9{display:inline-block;}} $1,320 pp .css-tcgipa{display:none;}@media screen and (min-width: 576px){.css-tcgipa{display:none;}}@media screen and (min-width: 768px){.css-tcgipa{display:inline-block;}} — .css-dq6lip{display:-webkit-box;overflow:hidden;text-overflow:ellipsis;-webkit-box-orient:vertical;-webkit-line-clamp:var(--chakra-line-clamp);--chakra-line-clamp:2;}@media screen and (min-width: 576px){.css-dq6lip{display:block;--chakra-line-clamp:2;}}@media screen and (min-width: 768px){.css-dq6lip{display:inline;--chakra-line-clamp:4;}} 7-Nt. Caribbean w/ Exclusive $25-$1,500 bonus, up to $400 to spend, free drinks, free wi-fi & more

CheapCruises.com

$1,028 pp — 7-Nt. Glacier Voyage – Up to $1,000 to Spend + No Payment Due Today

CruiseWise

$854 pp — 5-Nt. Bahamas w/ Exclusive $25-$1,500 bonus, free drinks, free wi-fi & more

Cruises

$859 pp — 5-Nt. Bahamas w/ Exclusive $25-$1,500 bonus, free upgrades & more

Cruises.com

$769 pp — 6nt Caribbean Balcony in December from Mobile: exclusive $75 OBC & no deposit

CruisesOnly.com

$609 pp — 4-Nt. Bahamas w/ Exclusive Bonus of $25-$1,500 + Free Upgrade & more

Cruises

$1,588 pp — 7-Nt. Alaska w/ Exclusive $25-$1,500 bonus, up to $400 to spend, free drinks, free wi-fi & more

Cruises

$1,056 pp — 7-Nt Caribbean Oceanview Cabin w/ BOGO 60% Off Cruise Fares, up to $500 Onboard Credit, 30% Extra Guest Savings, up to $300 Instant Savings, PLUS Kids Sail Free!

Avoya Travel

$1,701 pp — 9nt Alaska Balcony: exclusive $275 OBC, no deposit + drinks, excursions, 70% off 2nd & more

Cruises

$8,899 pp — 10-Nt. Europe Suite – Up to $200 to Spend & Transportation Credit

About cruise critic's cruise deals.

Cruise deals are your key to scoring a perfect vacation at sea without breaking your budget. Whether you're looking for a last-minute deal , discounts on a luxury cruise or family-friendly cruise deal , or extra onboard credit, finding real deals on cruises can take a lot of work. Cruise lines and travel agents offer a huge variety of confusing extras -- some that are an amazing value and others that aren't.

So how do you know whether or not a cruise deal is worth your hard-earned cash? Cruise Critic's Deal Score is a data-based tool that measures inclusions and extras with itinerary length and nightly fare discounts to help you understand how much of a deal you're actually getting.

Use Cruise Critic's Deal Score to see if those Carnival cruise deals really are amazing. At the same time, you can check out deals with Royal Caribbean , MSC , or Celebrity Cruises (or even a proper all-inclusive cruise deal like you'll find on Viking Ocean Cruises ). If you have a specific destination in mind, you can search cruise deals to places like the Caribbean and Alaska too. Trust us: The cruise of your dreams is out there, and it's more affordable than you think.

Cruise Critic is not a booking agent and does not charge any service fees to users of our site. Our partners who list cruise pricing on Cruise Critic are required to provide prices for cruise only , per person, double occupancy, and are based on specific cabin types and sailing dates, and may not be available for all cabin types/sailings. Taxes, fees and port expenses not included. Rates are in USD and valid for US and Canadian residents only. Fuel supplement may apply. When you book with one of our partners, please be sure to check their site for a full disclosure of all applicable fees as required by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

For any cruises listed, Cruise Critic does not guarantee any specific rates or prices. In addition, average cruise prices are updated nightly.

Furthermore, Cruise Critic makes no guarantees for availability of prices advertised on our site. Listed prices may have blackout dates, qualifications or restrictions.

Cruise Critic is not responsible for content on external web sites.

More Filters

Destination, departure months, departure city, cruise line.

© 1995— 2024 , The Independent Traveler, Inc.

best place to book cruise online

Caribbean cruise guide: Best itineraries, planning tips and things to do

Erica Silverstein

"All the leaves are brown, and the sky is gray ..." When the weather turns cold, you could be California dreamin', but doesn't a Caribbean cruise sound so much more relaxing?

Many people would agree with me that a Caribbean cruise is the perfect antidote to the winter doldrums and work stress. Plus, it's a wonderful way to reconnect with friends and loved ones. The ship takes care of everything — transportation, accommodation, meals and entertainment — so you can skip much of the daily planning drama and simply enjoy your vacation and travel companions. Every day you wake up to warm weather, sunny skies (well, most of the time) and a new destination promising white sand beaches, fun activities and memories to be made.

The biggest decision you have to make is between a pina colada and a strawberry daiquiri.

For cruise news, reviews and tips, sign up for TPG's cruise newsletter .

Before you go, however, you have lots of choices to make: Which is the best cruise line? Which are the best Caribbean cruise ports for the activities you most enjoy? What time of year should you travel?

Don't let planning a rejuvenating vacation add more stress to your life. This Caribbean cruise guide gives you the lowdown on everything you need to know to plan the perfect island getaway.

Why cruise to the Caribbean?

best place to book cruise online

Sun, sand and sea are what most travelers want when they book a cruise to the Caribbean. If you want to trade chilly weather at home for warm, sunny days spent relaxing on a beach or swimming in clear blue waters, a Caribbean cruise is an ideal vacation. Unlike a resort stay, your cruise will offer the chance to sample multiple beaches in various destinations, as well as the pool life on board the ship.

Many people choose Caribbean cruises because they're affordable getaways to tropical destinations. The sailings depart from several U.S. home ports — from Galveston, Texas, to Boston — so many Americans can drive to their departure ports and avoid paying for airfare.

Plus, cruise ships can change course to avoid bad weather, such as hurricanes, so you can salvage your beach vacation when a storm is headed toward a particular island by cruising to a different one. If you booked a land-based stay, you'd be forced to cancel — or hunker down and wait for the rain and winds to pass.

When do cruises go to the Caribbean?

Caribbean cruises sail year-round, so you can plan your trip for the winter holidays, spring break or summer vacation. However, more ships sail this region of the world in winter when other destinations (such as the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, Canada and New England, and Bermuda) are too chilly for vacations at sea.

The luxury and upscale cruise lines especially tend to only base ships in the Caribbean during winter because their fleets are too small to base a ship there year-round — and their passengers want to explore bucket-list destinations around the world.

Related: The best time to cruise to the Caribbean

Best Caribbean itineraries

best place to book cruise online

Cruise lines divide the Caribbean into three regions: Eastern, Western and Southern. Itineraries tend to concentrate on one area, but longer itineraries might include islands in two or all of the regions, as well as ports in the Bahamas and Florida.

Which itinerary is best for you will depend primarily on which port you want to depart from and how long of a vacation you can take. Once you see the options that fit your parameters, you'll want to consider how many port stops versus sea days an itinerary has and which specific islands you'll visit.

The best Caribbean itineraries for first-time cruisers are often the seven-night Eastern or seven-night Western Caribbean cruises out of Florida home ports, such as Miami , Fort Lauderdale and Port Canaveral (near Orlando).

Western Caribbean

You'll find two main types of Western Caribbean cruises, and both are fabulous introductions to Caribbean culture and attractions. The classic Western Caribbean itinerary visits Mexico (typically Cozumel or Costa Maya), Jamaica, Grand Cayman and a cruise line's private island, which is typically in the Bahamas.

However, some ships sail a Western Caribbean itinerary that's more focused on Central America, with stops in Mexico, Belize and Honduras. These itineraries are great for travelers who are interested in Mayan or Mexican culture in addition to beaches and water sports.

Western Caribbean itineraries are typically a week but can be as short as four nights (with just one stop in Mexico) or as long as 11 nights (though these might include stops in the Bahamas, too). You can find departures from ports all along the East Coast, the Gulf Coast and Florida.

Related: Planning a Western Caribbean cruise with kids? Budget for shore excursions

Eastern Caribbean

Another popular itinerary for first-timers is the Eastern Caribbean, with visits to St. Thomas, St. Maarten, Grand Turk, the Dominican Republic and/or San Juan, Puerto Rico . Private island and Bahamas stops are common. Longer cruises or smaller-ship itineraries might stop elsewhere in the U.S. and the British Virgin Islands, St. Barts, Antigua or St. Kitts.

These itineraries are slightly more targeted toward beach time and water sports, with fewer options for historical or cultural attractions than their Western Caribbean counterparts.

As with the Western Caribbean, seven-night Eastern Caribbean cruises are the most common itinerary length. The shortest options are four nights, typically visiting only Grand Turk or Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. The longest, around 10 to 12 nights, will often include Southern Caribbean ports or start from more northerly home ports.

You can find departures from ports as far west as Galveston and as far north as Boston, but most true Eastern Caribbean cruises set sail from Florida or Puerto Rico.

Related: Eastern Caribbean vs. Western Caribbean cruises: Which itinerary will I like more?

Southern Caribbean

Southern Caribbean cruises tend to attract luxury travelers and repeat cruisers. That's because these islands are farther from U.S. shores, meaning you'll need to fly to an island to catch your cruise ship or need more than a week's vacation to get from Florida all the way south to ports in Aruba or St. Lucia and back. The islands themselves tend to be more exclusive, with fewer ships visiting on any given day.

Common destinations on Southern Caribbean cruise itineraries include Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Barbados, Trinidad, St. Lucia, Dominica, Martinique and Grenada. You'll find everything from gorgeous beaches and diving destinations to lush rainforests and flowing waterfalls.

The shortest Southern Caribbean cruises are five or six days and leave from places such as Barbados, San Juan and St. Thomas. You can find weeklong sailings from Florida, but more commonly, they're eight nights or longer.

The Bahamas and Florida

Yes, I know that the Bahamas is technically located in the Atlantic, but it's an easy mistake to think the balmy islands are found in the Caribbean. Besides, many cruises add stops in the Bahamas to a Caribbean cruise. The majority of the cruise line private islands are located in the Bahamas, and these appear regularly on all Caribbean itineraries. The Bahamian ports of Nassau and Freeport, and even Florida's Key West, often appear on Caribbean-centric cruises.

Why? They're close to the U.S., and cruise lines use these ports to break up the multiple days at sea needed to sail farther south into the Caribbean proper.

Related: Caribbean vs. Bahamas cruises: Which itinerary will I like better?

Best Caribbean cruise lines

best place to book cruise online

You'll be hard-pressed to find a cruise line that does not sail to the Caribbean for at least a few months a year. The big ship lines will station multiple ships in this region year-round, with additional ships swinging by during the colder months.

If you consider the best Caribbean cruise lines to be the ones with the most ship and itinerary choices, look to the big-ship lines such as Carnival , Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line .

These lines offer a range of itinerary lengths, port combinations and departure cities from the Gulf Coast to the East Coast. Their biggest and newest ships are often deployed to the Caribbean, so you can find all the latest celebrity-backed restaurants, exhilarating top-deck attractions (like waterslides, climbing walls and roller coaster rides) and expanded cabin choices. These lines cater to all ages, including older couples and families with children.

Related: The best Caribbean cruise for every type of traveler

If you're looking for an adults-only option, Virgin Voyages caters to the young at heart with its edgy new ships. It offers five- to 11-night Caribbean cruises from Miami and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Viking takes an entirely different approach to no-kids cruises, catering to mature travelers craving culture and educational vacations. It offers wintertime (October to March) Caribbean cruises, though many are paired with a Panama Canal crossing.

Luxury lovers should look at the smaller ships of the Crystal , Explora Journeys, Seabourn , Silversea , Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection and Regent Seven Seas Cruises fleets for opulent accommodations and fine dining while sailing the tropics. Oceania , Azamara and Windstar Cruises are less inclusive but still high-end.

For something a little different, try SeaDream Yacht Club for a super-small ship that feels like a private yacht, complete with an emphasis on alfresco recreation and dining. Star Clippers appeals to sailing enthusiasts with its masted ships, simple entertainment and emphasis on water sports.

Related: 5 best luxury Caribbean cruises for next winter's getaway

Things to do in the Caribbean

White sand beaches and crystal-clear turquoise waters are the biggest attractions for most Caribbean cruisers. You'll be hard-pressed to find a Caribbean cruise port that does not offer beach access. Whether you enjoy a cruise line's private beach or a public beach lined with bars, or you opt to get a day pass to a resort or beach club, you can rarely go wrong with a beach day in the Caribbean.

Water sports are also quintessential Caribbean attractions. Cruisers can not only swim, snorkel and scuba dive, but they can also kayak, scuba, Jet Ski, sail and parasail. Sometimes, you can do these things right from whatever beach is your destination for the day. Otherwise, book a tour to the best spots or for a guided activity. Or, book a leisurely sunset sail or high-octane party cruise to get on the water, not necessarily in it.

Shopping is a popular diversion, from high-end French stores in Martinique and St. Barts to crafts markets and souvenir shops. Historical attractions range from forts erected to protect against pirates to Mayan temples. Cultural tours focus on local cuisine, wine and spirits, and dancing. (Yes, even you can learn to salsa.) Active travelers will find plenty of hiking, biking, zip lining and all-terrain-vehicle tours.

Related: Best Caribbean shore excursions

Best Caribbean cruise ports

best place to book cruise online

A single cruise line might call at 20 to 30 different ports in the Caribbean. Although you might think they all look like stock photos of white sand beaches with palm trees and blue skies, each island has its own look, culture and vibe. I've sailed to a large number of those ports and would be hard-pressed to pick a favorite. They all have their charms for different reasons.

The following Caribbean cruise ports are generally standouts, no matter your travel style.

Cozumel, Mexico

Cozumel is an island in the Caribbean just offshore from Playa del Carmen and south of Cancun. It truly offers something for everyone. You can beeline to the beach, go scuba diving or snorkeling, or head to the mainland to see Mayan cultural sites like Tulum and Chichen Itza. Stick around town to find cheap drinks at Senor Frog's or shop for souvenirs.

Cruise ships call at a number of ports in Jamaica: Ocho Rios, Montego Bay, Kingston and Falmouth. Many folks spend the day on the beach, often at one of the resorts, but climbing up Dunn's River Falls is a unique experience not to be missed. Cruisers seeking a thrill can find bobsled, zip line, river tubing and ATV tours. And, yes, reggae fans — there is a Bob Marley tour you can take.

San Juan, Puerto Rico

San Juan is both a popular departure port and a port of call on Eastern and Southern Caribbean cruise itineraries. Its Old Town and historic fort overlooking the water are top attractions, but cruisers have the opportunity to visit El Yunque National Forest (the only tropical rainforest on U.S. soil) or head to the beach.

Belize City, Belize

Travelers don't tend to spend much time in Belize City itself, but it's a great jumping-off point for all Belize has to offer. Visit the Altun Ha Mayan ruins, go river tubing and spelunking in caves, zip line through the jungle or go snorkeling or diving along Belize's famous barrier reef (the Northern Hemisphere's largest).

St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands

This island is known for its gorgeous Magens Bay beach. However, if you'd rather not share the beach with several ships' worth of cruisers, take the ferry to nearby St. John for the day and find a U.S. national park and a more chill beach experience. Take the kids to the Coral World Ocean Park, your sweetie on a catamaran sail or snorkel trip, and your adventurous friends on a helmet dive or BOSS underwater scooter adventure.

You'll recognize St. Lucia for its lush green twin peaks known as the Pitons. The island entices travelers with postcard-worthy beaches set against jungle scenery. It even has its own volcano with sulfur springs to visit. You can explore its rainforest via zip line or aerial tram, book a relaxing day at a beach or resort, or take to the sea for a catamaran, snorkel trip or fishing trip.

Beach, beach and more beach — Aruba is definitely a port to be in, on or near the water. It's one of the southernmost Caribbean islands, found just off the coast of Venezuela, and its location protects it from the summer and fall hurricanes that can hammer the islands to its north and east. Animal lovers might want to check out its ostrich farm — not something you usually find in a Caribbean cruise port.

Related: Best Caribbean cruise tips to help you make the most of your time aboard and ashore

When to book a Caribbean cruise

best place to book cruise online

The best time to book a Caribbean cruise is clearly right now! Seriously, you can almost always find a deal on a Caribbean cruise if you're flexible enough with your travel dates and cabin types.

If you want to book a popular sail date (such as a Christmas and New Year's Eve sailing) or are looking for a cabin type that's in limited supply (connecting cabins or studio rooms for solo travelers), book as far in advance as you can, at least nine months out, if not longer. If you're retired and can drive to a port, you can likely find an inside cabin to book just a few weeks prior to sailing — at least during nonpeak travel times.

The first few months of the year, known as wave season in the cruise industry, is a time when cruise lines all offer some kind of booking promotion, and you can often find discounted fares or free booking perks on Caribbean cruises. Many cruise lines also run sales at the end of summer or during Black Friday and/or Cyber Monday, and Caribbean sailings are almost always included.

What to bring on a Caribbean cruise

Swimsuits and warm-weather clothing should top your Caribbean cruise packing list , but don't forget the sunscreen. The sun is stronger than you might expect in this part of the world, and you can easily burn during a long day at the beach if you don't apply and reapply plenty of sunscreen. Hats, sunglasses, moisture-wicking athletic clothing, and your favorite cover-ups and sundresses are all must-pack items.

I also recommend that all passengers bring a passport on their Caribbean sailing. If you're cruising round-trip from a U.S. port, a passport is not required by law — but it's a good idea to pack one in case of an unexpected medical emergency or mechanical problem that forces you to debark the ship in a foreign country.

Bottom line

Whether you're new to cruising or a hardy sailor, the Caribbean is the perfect place for a cruise vacation. If you've never been, any of the islands will delight. If you've sailed before, there's always some destination you've never visited or an activity you haven't tried.

When winter in your hometown drags on, or the stress of the workweek gets you down, a Caribbean cruise is often just what the doctor ordered to lift the weight of the world from your shoulders and let you escape to a tropical paradise for a few days.

Planning a cruise? Start with these stories:

  • The 5 most desirable cabin locations on any cruise ship
  • A beginners guide to picking a cruise line
  • The 8 worst cabin locations on any cruise ship
  • The ultimate guide to what to pack for a cruise
  • A quick guide to the most popular cruise lines
  • 21 tips and tricks that will make your cruise go smoothly
  • Top ways cruisers waste money
  • The ultimate guide to choosing a cruise ship cabin

Reader's Digest

Reader's Digest

7 Most Affordable Cruise Lines That’ll Make Your Cruising Dreams Come True

Posted: June 25, 2024 | Last updated: June 25, 2024

<p>Cruising is often described as the ultimate relaxing vacation. You only unpack once, yet you wake up in a new country or island every morning. You also never have to worry about where to eat, there are nonstop activities onboard that keep everyone entertained—and most everything is included in the price. So you don't have to worry much about overspending once you're on board if you book on one of the most affordable cruise lines.</p> <p>Of course, <em>everything</em> is more expensive these days, leaving some travelers to wonder if there are still affordable cruises available to meet their vacation budgets. Thankfully, that answer is yes, and there are several brands that still provide exceptional value aboard their floating cities. Many are among the <a href="https://www.rd.com/list/best-cruise-lines/" rel="noopener noreferrer">best cruise lines</a>, and some are even frequent cruisers' <a href="https://www.rd.com/article/favorite-cruises/" rel="noopener noreferrer">favorite cruises</a>. In fact, you might be surprised to learn that <a href="https://www.rd.com/article/live-on-a-cruise-ship/" rel="noopener noreferrer">living on a cruise ship can be cheaper than a mortgage</a>, in case you decide you never want to return from your vacation.</p> <p>So follow these <a href="https://www.rd.com/list/cruise-tips/" rel="noopener noreferrer">cruise tips</a> for <a href="https://www.rd.com/list/how-to-save-money-on-a-cruise/" rel="noopener noreferrer">how to save money on a cruise</a> by booking the most affordable cruise lines. You may even be able to sneak in an extra vacation this year with all your savings.</p> <h2>How much does a cheap cruise cost?</h2> <p>Cheap cruises usually range in price from $40 to $100 per night per person. To put that deal in perspective, imagine having your accommodations, food and entertainment covered for roughly $50 a day on a traditional land-based trip—you'd be hard-pressed to stay within that budget just for your meals. It's truly impressive that these all-inclusive cruises can charge so little.</p> <p>But before you get too excited over these low prices, don't forget to factor in the cost of the extras when calculating your total expenses—that's one of the <a href="https://www.rd.com/list/cruise-advice/" rel="noopener noreferrer">secrets cruise lines won't tell you</a>. Things like drinks, shore excursions, gratuities, spa treatments, specialty dining, airfare, photos, taxes and port fees aren't included and can add up quickly.</p> <p>Finally, keep in mind that the best deals will always be for an inside cabin, which means you won't have a porthole (let alone a balcony) for natural light. The good news? You'll sleep like a baby in total darkness, especially during an afternoon nap.</p> <p><strong>Get <em>Reader's <b><i>Digest</i></b></em><b>’s</b> </strong><a href="https://www.rd.com/newsletter/?int_source=direct&int_medium=rd.com&int_campaign=nlrda_20221001_topperformingcontentnlsignup&int_placement=incontent" rel="noopener noreferrer"><strong>Read Up newsletter</strong></a><strong> for more travel, humor, cleaning, tech and fun facts all week long.</strong></p>

The cheapest cruise lines

Cruising is often described as the ultimate relaxing vacation. You only unpack once, yet you wake up in a new country or island every morning. You also never have to worry about where to eat, there are nonstop activities onboard that keep everyone entertained—and most everything is included in the price. So you don't have to worry much about overspending once you're on board if you book on one of the most affordable cruise lines.

Of course, everything is more expensive these days, leaving some travelers to wonder if there are still affordable cruises available to meet their vacation budgets. Thankfully, that answer is yes, and there are several brands that still provide exceptional value aboard their floating cities. Many are among the best cruise lines , and some are even frequent cruisers' favorite cruises . In fact, you might be surprised to learn that living on a cruise ship can be cheaper than a mortgage , in case you decide you never want to return from your vacation.

So follow these cruise tips for how to save money on a cruise by booking the most affordable cruise lines. You may even be able to sneak in an extra vacation this year with all your savings. Here's what to pack for a cruise .

How much does a cheap cruise cost?

Cheap cruises usually range in price from $40 to $100 per night per person. To put that deal in perspective, imagine having your accommodations, food and entertainment covered for roughly $50 a day on a traditional land-based trip—you'd be hard-pressed to stay within that budget just for your meals. It's truly impressive that these all-inclusive cruises can charge so little.

But before you get too excited over these low prices, don't forget to factor in the cost of the extras when calculating your total expenses—that's one of the secrets cruise lines won't tell you . Things like drinks, shore excursions, gratuities, spa treatments, specialty dining, airfare, photos, taxes and port fees aren't included and can add up quickly.

Finally, keep in mind that the best deals will always be for an inside cabin, which means you won't have a porthole (let alone a balcony) for natural light. The good news? You'll sleep like a baby in total darkness, especially during an afternoon nap.

Get Reader's Digest ’s   Read Up newsletter for more travel, humor, cleaning, tech and fun facts all week long.

<p>It's important to pay attention to the <a href="https://www.rd.com/list/cheapest-days-of-the-week-to-do-anything/" rel="noopener noreferrer">cheapest times</a> to book a cruise if you want to save even more. Wave season, which is from January to March, is a promotional time of year when cruise lines run their most competitive sales. These sales are designed to encourage bookings for later in the year. You can also keep an eye on sites like MSC's <a title="https://www.msccruisesusa.com/cruise-deals" href="https://www.msccruisesusa.com/cruise-deals" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cruise Deals</a> to find great prices.</p> <p>There are great deals at other times of the year too. Generally speaking, the further in advance you book, the better prices you'll find. But the opposite is also true, because cruise lines will happily sell unused inventory at a significantly reduced rate in the form of last-minute deals. You'll need a flexible schedule to pull this off, and you may find airfare is too costly at that point.</p> <p>Beyond wave season, planning far in advance or nabbing last-minute cruise deals, it's also wise to consider booking your cruises for the off-season. For instance, for the Caribbean and Mexico, that would mean summer sailings or during <a href="https://www.rd.com/article/shoulder-season/" rel="noopener noreferrer">shoulder season</a> (the month before and after high season—for example, in the case of Alaska, this would be in May or September). Just know that you are taking a bit of a risk with the weather during these off-peak times.</p>

When is the cheapest time to book a cruise?

It's important to pay attention to the cheapest times to book a cruise if you want to save even more. Wave season, which is from January to March, is a promotional time of year when cruise lines run their most competitive sales. These sales are designed to encourage bookings for later in the year. You can also keep an eye on sites like MSC's Cruise Deals to find great prices.

There are great deals at other times of the year too. Generally speaking, the further in advance you book, the better prices you'll find. But the opposite is also true, because cruise lines will happily sell unused inventory at a significantly reduced rate in the form of last-minute deals. You'll need a flexible schedule to pull this off, and you may find airfare is too costly at that point.

Beyond wave season, planning far in advance or nabbing last-minute cruise deals, it's also wise to consider booking your cruises for the off-season. For instance, for the Caribbean and Mexico, that would mean summer sailings or during shoulder season (the month before and after high season—for example, in the case of Alaska, this would be in May or September). Just know that you are taking a bit of a risk with the weather during these off-peak times.

<p><a href="https://www.tripadvisor.com/Cruise_Review-d15691642-Reviews-MSC_Seaside" rel="noopener noreferrer">MSC Cruises</a> offers sailings out of the U.S. (New York, Miami and Orlando) to the Caribbean, the Bahamas, Bermuda, New England and Canada. It also offers sailings to Northern Europe, the Mediterranean, Egypt, Dubai, South Africa and more.</p> <p><strong>Cost:</strong> Cruises on MSC start as low as $129 per person.</p> <p><strong>Specials to watch for:</strong> MSC offers such limited-time specials as free drinks and Wi-Fi plus up to $200 onboard credit (which can be used to book extras like shore excursions or spa treatments).</p> <p><strong>Other savings to consider:</strong> You won't find an <a href="https://www.rd.com/list/adult-only-cruises/" rel="noopener noreferrer">adults-only cruise</a> here, however this cruise line does offer a Kids Sail Free program, which means that all children under 18 traveling in the same cabin as their parents travel free all year-round. Port taxes, registration costs, insurance, flights and transfers (where required) are excluded from the offer, but it still goes a long way toward making this one of the most affordable cruise lines.</p> <p><strong>Affordable cruises:</strong> We've seen a 6-night southern Caribbean cruise for as low as $219 total per person.</p> <p class="listicle-page__cta-button-shop"><a class="shop-btn" href="https://www.tripadvisor.com/Cruise_Review-d15691642-Reviews-MSC_Seaside">Book Now</a></p>

MSC Cruises

MSC Cruises offers sailings out of the U.S. (New York, Miami and Orlando) to the Caribbean, the Bahamas, Bermuda, New England and Canada. It also offers sailings to Northern Europe, the Mediterranean, Egypt, Dubai, South Africa and more.

Cost: Cruises on MSC start as low as $129 per person.

Specials to watch for: MSC offers such limited-time specials as free drinks and Wi-Fi plus up to $200 onboard credit (which can be used to book extras like shore excursions or spa treatments).

Other savings to consider: You won't find an adults-only cruise here, however this cruise line does offer a Kids Sail Free program, which means that all children under 18 traveling in the same cabin as their parents travel free all year-round. Port taxes, registration costs, insurance, flights and transfers (where required) are excluded from the offer, but it still goes a long way toward making this one of the most affordable cruise lines.

Affordable cruises: We've seen a 6-night southern Caribbean cruise for as low as $219 total per person.

<p><a href="https://www.tripadvisor.com/Cruise_Review-d15691342-Reviews-Carnival_Conquest" rel="noopener noreferrer">Carnival Cruise Line</a>—known as one of the most affordable cruise lines—was founded in 1972 and now carries millions of guests every year aboard its 24 ships. It sails to Alaska, the Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada and New England, the Caribbean, Europe, Greenland, Hawaii, Mexico, Panama Canal, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and the South Pacific.</p> <p><strong>Cost: </strong>Cruises on Carnival start as low as $169 per person.</p> <p><strong>Specials to watch for: </strong>Carnival celebrates dates like National Tourism Day with up to 40% off cruise rates, plus $50 onboard credits and reduced deposit rates from $50 per person. Other limited-time promotions include free cabin upgrades and "Early Saver" rates with price protection that provide peace of mind for early bookings.</p> <p><strong>Other savings to consider:</strong> One of the things that makes Carnival Cruise Lines even more affordable is that it has 14 home ports in the United States (Baltimore, Charleston, Galveston, Jacksonville, Long Beach, Miami, Mobile, New Orleans, New York, Norfolk, Orlando, San Francisco, Seattle and Tampa), making it easier for Americans to drive to their ship and <a href="https://www.rd.com/article/budget-airlines/" rel="noopener noreferrer">avoid booking pricey flights</a>.</p> <p><strong>Affordable cruises: </strong>We've seen a 5-day Mexican Riviera cruise for as low as $234 per person.</p> <p class="listicle-page__cta-button-shop"><a class="shop-btn" href="https://www.tripadvisor.com/Cruise_Review-d15691342-Reviews-Carnival_Conquest">Book Now</a></p>

Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival Cruise Line —known as one of the most affordable cruise lines—was founded in 1972 and now carries millions of guests every year aboard its 24 ships. It sails to Alaska, the Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada and New England, the Caribbean, Europe, Greenland, Hawaii, Mexico, Panama Canal, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and the South Pacific.

Cost: Cruises on Carnival start as low as $169 per person.

Specials to watch for: Carnival celebrates dates like National Tourism Day with up to 40% off cruise rates, plus $50 onboard credits and reduced deposit rates from $50 per person. Other limited-time promotions include free cabin upgrades and "Early Saver" rates with price protection that provide peace of mind for early bookings.

Other savings to consider: One of the things that makes Carnival Cruise Lines even more affordable is that it has 14 home ports in the United States (Baltimore, Charleston, Galveston, Jacksonville, Long Beach, Miami, Mobile, New Orleans, New York, Norfolk, Orlando, San Francisco, Seattle and Tampa), making it easier for Americans to drive to their ship and avoid booking pricey flights .

Affordable cruises: We've seen a 5-day Mexican Riviera cruise for as low as $234 per person.

<p><a href="https://www.tripadvisor.com/Cruise_Review-d15691727-Reviews-Royal_Caribbean_Radiance_of_the_Seas" rel="noopener noreferrer">Royal Caribbean</a> offers itineraries to 240 destinations in 61 countries on six continents, including Royal Caribbean's private island destination in The Bahamas, Perfect Day at CocoCay. The innovative brand is known for many firsts at sea, including an ice-skating rink, bumper cars, zip-line, rock climbing wall, robotic bartenders and the Flowrider surf simulator. Its latest ship, the Icon of the Seas, which is set to begin sailing in January 2024, will be the world's largest cruise ship.</p> <p><strong>Cost: </strong>Cruises on Royal Caribbean start as low as $172 per person.</p> <p><strong>Specials to watch for: </strong>Royal Caribbean occasionally offers promotions like "30% Off Every Guest" (provides 30% savings off the cruise fare for all guests in the stateroom), flash deals like "Up to $550 Off" (provides instant savings of up to $550 USD per stateroom) and "Kids Sail Free" promos, during which the third and fourth guests who are 12 years or younger are eligible for free cruise fare.</p> <p><strong>Other savings to consider: </strong>Royal Caribbean offers exclusive access to pre-cruise savings and discounts that won't be available once you're onboard for things like shore excursions, beverage packages, food packages and Wi-Fi packages.</p> <p><strong>Affordable cruises: </strong>We've seen a 6-night Pacific Coast cruise for $250 per person.</p> <p class="listicle-page__cta-button-shop"><a class="shop-btn" href="https://www.tripadvisor.com/Cruise_Review-d15691727-Reviews-Royal_Caribbean_Radiance_of_the_Seas">Book Now</a></p>

Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean offers itineraries to 240 destinations in 61 countries on six continents, including Royal Caribbean's private island destination in The Bahamas, Perfect Day at CocoCay. The innovative brand is known for many firsts at sea, including an ice-skating rink, bumper cars, zip-line, rock climbing wall, robotic bartenders and the Flowrider surf simulator. Its latest ship, the Icon of the Seas , which is set to begin sailing in January 2024, will be the world's largest cruise ship.

Cost: Cruises on Royal Caribbean start as low as $172 per person.

Specials to watch for: Royal Caribbean occasionally offers promotions like "30% Off Every Guest" (provides 30% savings off the cruise fare for all guests in the stateroom), flash deals like "Up to $550 Off" (provides instant savings of up to $550 USD per stateroom) and "Kids Sail Free" promos, during which the third and fourth guests who are 12 years or younger are eligible for free cruise fare.

Other savings to consider: Royal Caribbean offers exclusive access to pre-cruise savings and discounts that won't be available once you're onboard for things like shore excursions, beverage packages, food packages and Wi-Fi packages.

Affordable cruises: We've seen a 6-night Pacific Coast cruise for $250 per person.

<p><a href="https://www.tripadvisor.com/Cruise_Review-d15691585-Reviews-Majestic_Princess" rel="noopener noreferrer">Princess Cruises</a> is a premium cruise line with award-winning itineraries around the globe, sailing to Alaska, the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, British Isles, South America, Japan, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, the Caribbean, Panama Canal, Mexico, Hawaii, the South Pacific and the California Coast. It's an excellent choice for a <a href="https://www.rd.com/list/best-cruises-for-couples/" rel="noopener noreferrer">couples cruise</a> (they host a lot of weddings and vow renewals), but it's also family-friendly.</p> <p><strong>Cost: </strong>Hundreds of sailings on Princess are priced under $100 per day; 60 sailings under $60 per day.</p> <p><strong>Specials to watch for:</strong> Princess regularly offers promotions, such as a 40% savings and low $100 deposit specials.</p> <p><strong>Other savings to consider: </strong>Upgrade to the Princess Plus or Princess Premier packages, which roll in the price of extras like Wi-Fi, drinks, gratuities and more for a savings of up to 66% vs. purchasing them separately.</p> <p><strong>Affordable cruises:</strong> Everyone dreams of booking the <a href="https://www.rd.com/list/best-alaska-cruise/" rel="noopener noreferrer">best Alaska cruise</a>, and we've seen 7-night Alaska cruises for as low as $349 per person.</p> <p class="listicle-page__cta-button-shop"><a class="shop-btn" href="https://www.tripadvisor.com/Cruise_Review-d15691585-Reviews-Majestic_Princess">Book Now</a></p>

Princess Cruises

Princess Cruises is a premium cruise line with award-winning itineraries around the globe, sailing to Alaska, the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, British Isles, South America, Japan, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, the Caribbean, Panama Canal, Mexico, Hawaii, the South Pacific and the California Coast. It's an excellent choice for a couples cruise (they host a lot of weddings and vow renewals), but it's also family-friendly.

Cost: Hundreds of sailings on Princess are priced under $100 per day; 60 sailings under $60 per day.

Specials to watch for: Princess regularly offers promotions, such as a 40% savings and low $100 deposit specials.

Other savings to consider: Upgrade to the Princess Plus or Princess Premier packages, which roll in the price of extras like Wi-Fi, drinks, gratuities and more for a savings of up to 66% vs. purchasing them separately.

Affordable cruises: Everyone dreams of booking the best Alaska cruise , and we've seen 7-night Alaska cruises for as low as $349 per person.

<p><a href="https://www.tripadvisor.com/Cruise_Review-d15691682-Reviews-Norwegian_Spirit" rel="noopener noreferrer">Norwegian Cruise Line</a>'s fleet of 18 ships sails to 400 of the world's most desirable destinations—such as Asia, Africa, Alaska, Australia and New Zealand, Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada, New England, Caribbean, Hawaii, the Mediterranean, Mexico, the Baltic, South America and more.</p> <p><strong>Cost: </strong>Cruises on Norwegian start as low as $249 per person.</p> <p><strong>Specials to watch for: </strong>NCL offers various deals throughout the year. One recent special was 70% off, plus free airfare for the second guest, plus the third and fourth guests sailed for free.</p> <p><strong>Other savings to consider: </strong>Part of what makes Norwegian one of the best and most affordable cruise lines is that all cruise offerings may be combined with the company's ongoing "Free at Sea" promotion, which includes unlimited open bar, specialty dining, Wi-Fi and excursions. (Want to find out more about <a href="https://www.rd.com/list/hidden-cruise-features/">hidden features on cruise ships</a> that you never knew existed?)</p> <p><strong>Affordable cruises: </strong>We've seen 7-day Alaska cruises for as low as $279 per person.</p> <p class="listicle-page__cta-button-shop"><a class="shop-btn" href="https://www.tripadvisor.com/Cruise_Review-d15691682-Reviews-Norwegian_Spirit">Book Now</a></p>

Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Cruise Line 's fleet of 18 ships sails to 400 of the world's most desirable destinations—such as Asia, Africa, Alaska, Australia and New Zealand, Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada, New England, Caribbean, Hawaii, the Mediterranean, Mexico, the Baltic, South America and more.

Cost: Cruises on Norwegian start as low as $249 per person.

Specials to watch for: NCL offers various deals throughout the year. One recent special was 70% off, plus free airfare for the second guest, plus the third and fourth guests sailed for free.

Other savings to consider: Part of what makes Norwegian one of the best and most affordable cruise lines is that all cruise offerings may be combined with the company's ongoing "Free at Sea" promotion, which includes unlimited open bar, specialty dining, Wi-Fi and excursions. (Want to find out more about hidden features on cruise ships  that you never knew existed?)

Affordable cruises: We've seen 7-day Alaska cruises for as low as $279 per person.

<p><a href="https://www.tripadvisor.com/Cruise_Review-d15691662-Reviews-Holland_America_Nieuw_Amsterdam" rel="noopener noreferrer">Holland America Line</a> has been cruising both popular and less-traveled ports in the Caribbean, Alaska, Mexico, Europe, South America, the Panama Canal, Australia, New Zealand and Asia for 150 years. It has a fleet of 11 classic ships and does more than 500 sailings a year, visiting all seven continents.</p> <p><strong>Cost: </strong>Cruises on Holland start as low as $89 per person.</p> <p><strong>Specials to watch for: </strong>Having recently celebrated its 150th anniversary, Holland America has been offering 45% off cruise fares, up to $300 in onboard credit and reduced deposits of only $150. The brand typically offers other specials throughout the year.</p> <p><strong>Other savings to consider: </strong>For <a href="https://www.rd.com/list/best-cruises-for-kids/" rel="noopener noreferrer">family cruise travelers</a>, Holland America Line provides a Kids Cruise Free offer, allowing guests ages 18 and under to travel free to Alaska, Europe and the Caribbean when booked as a third or fourth guest on select cruises. And when booked directly on Holland America Line's site, travelers can take advantage of the Have It All Cruise Package, which includes shore excursion credits, drink package, specialty dining and Wi-Fi.</p> <p><strong>Affordable cruises: </strong>We've seen 7-day Alaska cruises as low as $329 per person.</p> <p class="listicle-page__cta-button-shop"><a class="shop-btn" href="https://www.tripadvisor.com/Cruise_Review-d15691662-Reviews-Holland_America_Nieuw_Amsterdam">Book Now</a></p>

Holland America Line

Holland America Line has been cruising both popular and less-traveled ports in the Caribbean, Alaska, Mexico, Europe, South America, the Panama Canal, Australia, New Zealand and Asia for 150 years. It has a fleet of 11 classic ships and does more than 500 sailings a year, visiting all seven continents.

Cost: Cruises on Holland start as low as $89 per person.

Specials to watch for: Having recently celebrated its 150th anniversary, Holland America has been offering 45% off cruise fares, up to $300 in onboard credit and reduced deposits of only $150. The brand typically offers other specials throughout the year.

Other savings to consider: For family cruise travelers , Holland America Line provides a Kids Cruise Free offer, allowing guests ages 18 and under to travel free to Alaska, Europe and the Caribbean when booked as a third or fourth guest on select cruises. And when booked directly on Holland America Line's site, travelers can take advantage of the Have It All Cruise Package, which includes shore excursion credits, drink package, specialty dining and Wi-Fi.

Affordable cruises: We've seen 7-day Alaska cruises as low as $329 per person.

<p><a href="https://www.tripadvisor.com/Cruise_Review-d15691378-Reviews-Celebrity_Millennium" rel="noopener noreferrer">Celebrity</a> has 15 award-winning ships that take guests to more than 300 destinations in 79 countries on all seven continents, including the Caribbean, Alaska, Europe, South America, Asia, Australia and the South Pacific, Galapagos and Canada.</p> <p><strong>Cost: </strong>Cruises on Celebrity start as low as $288 per person.</p> <p><strong>Specials to watch for: </strong>Celebrity offers various specials, like a spring sale that takes 75% off a second guest's fare and saves up to $800 per stateroom with up to $800 to spend on board. Also look for promotions like Alaska weekend flash sales (second guest sails for free plus $250 onboard credit) and 20% off Galapagos vacations (round-trip airfare included).</p> <p><strong>Other savings to consider: </strong>Choose the <a href="https://www.rd.com/list/best-all-inclusive-cruises/" rel="noopener noreferrer">all-inclusive options</a> of prepackaged drinks, Wi-Fi and tips to save up to 45% on these individual items.</p> <p><strong>Affordable cruises: </strong>We've seen 7-night Alaska cruises for as low as $299 per person.</p> <p class="listicle-page__cta-button-shop"><a class="shop-btn" href="https://www.tripadvisor.com/Cruise_Review-d15691378-Reviews-Celebrity_Millennium">Book Now</a></p>

Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity has 15 award-winning ships that take guests to more than 300 destinations in 79 countries on all seven continents, including the Caribbean, Alaska, Europe, South America, Asia, Australia and the South Pacific, Galapagos and Canada.

Cost: Cruises on Celebrity start as low as $288 per person.

Specials to watch for: Celebrity offers various specials, like a spring sale that takes 75% off a second guest's fare and saves up to $800 per stateroom with up to $800 to spend on board. Also look for promotions like Alaska weekend flash sales (second guest sails for free plus $250 onboard credit) and 20% off Galapagos vacations (round-trip airfare included).

Other savings to consider: Choose the all-inclusive options of prepackaged drinks, Wi-Fi and tips to save up to 45% on these individual items.

Affordable cruises: We've seen 7-night Alaska cruises for as low as $299 per person.

More for You

Top 20 ‘rudest’ cities in America – is yours on the list?

Top 20 ‘rudest’ cities in America – is yours on the list?

Woman demonstrates simple cleaning tip for defogging headlights at home: 'It works so well'

Woman demonstrates simple cleaning tip for defogging headlights at home: 'It works so well'

Stop Adding This Ingredient to Scrambled Eggs

Stop Adding This Ingredient to Scrambled Eggs

Man takes out garbage and puts in trash bin

You could get in big trouble for throwing these items in trash

scottie-pippen-and-michael-jordan-rift

“If it were him, he, too, would be upset” - Jordan apologized to Scottie Pippen over 'The Last Dance' controversial scene

USC-News_Vidale-Earth-Cutaway_Final.jpg

Earth’s core has slowed so much it’s moving backward, scientists confirm. Here’s what it could mean

Here's What a $5 Million Retirement Looks Like in America

Here's What a $5 Million Retirement Looks Like in America

A new COVID variant is on the rise in the US. What are its most common symptoms?

A new COVID variant is on the rise in the US. What are its most common symptoms?

Bed bugs crawl around in a container on display during the National Bed Bug Conference in Washington, D.C., in 2011.

How do you get bed bugs? Here's where you might have gotten them from.

Gracie Hunt and Taylor Swift

Meet Taylor Swift's beauty queen pal Gracie Hunt — the Chiefs striking heiress

costco rotisserie chickens under heat

Here's What Happens To Costco's Rotisserie Chickens After Their 2-Hour Shelf Life

Coffee pot on brown wood counter

Ditch The Vinegar When Cleaning Your Coffee Machine & Try This Instead

Massive crabs lifted by cranes in Chipiona, Spain

Massive crabs lifted by cranes in Chipiona, Spain

Meet one of the world's most advanced humanoids

Meet one of the world's most advanced humanoids

Donald Trump Holds Media Op At His Mar-A-Lago Estate

Trump throws a Clarence Thomas-sized wrench into Mar-a-Lago case after Supreme Court immunity ruling

Officials Issue Dangerous Warning Lake Powell

Officials Issue 'Dangerous' Warning for Lake Powell

Doctor shares what happens to our bodies moments before we die

Doctor shares what happens to our bodies moments before we die

13 things to get rid of in your bathroom, according to interior designers

13 things to get rid of in your bathroom, according to interior designers

Constant Runny Nose? It Might Not Be Allergies

Constant Runny Nose? It Might Not Be Allergies

The Only Way You Should Store Mustard, According to French’s

The Only Way You Should Store Mustard, According to French’s

Get Daily Travel Tips & Deals!

By proceeding, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use .

Cruise ship on tropical island

The 9 Best Sites to Book a Cruise

'  data-srcset=

Avital Andrews

Avital Andrews, SmarterTravel's editor-at-large, is a travel and lifestyle journalist who is also a contributing editor for AAA's Via magazine. Her stories have been among the 10 most emailed or viewed on the Los Angeles Times, Outside, Sierra, and SmarterTravel websites, and have also appeared in USA Today, HuffPost, Apple News, Business Insider, and many other nationwide outlets. Her travel book , sold at bookstores and on Amazon, is in its fourth edition, and her journalism gets national media attention, including from The New York Times , The Atlantic , Time , NPR, and MTV. She's currently working on her first children's book. Follow her on Twitter @avitalb .

The Handy Item I Always Pack: My laptop—the lightweight and stylish HP Spectre x360—since I'm almost always on deadline.

Ultimate Bucket List Experience: A round-the-world cruise that makes stops to experience Aurora Borealis, the Olympics opening ceremony, Borneo, Madagascar, the Jerusalem Festival of Light, the Bolivian salt flats, Kenya's Giraffe Manor, the Galapagos, the Maldives, Bora Bora, the Seychelles, and every Disney park. (That itinerary definitely exists, right?)

Travel Motto: I'll steal Saint Augustine's: "The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page."

Aisle, Window, or Middle Seat: Window, always. For the views and also the naps.

Travel Smarter! Sign up for our free newsletter.

Booking a cruise isn’t always simple. It can be a complicated, time-consuming process that involves dozens of open tabs and maybe a spreadsheet or two. But knowing the best site to book a cruise can help a lot.

And while would-be travelers are accustomed to clicking around on travel search engines to find the best deals on flights , hotels , and rental cars , many people don’t realize that they can use these same types of sites to book cruises, too.

But is there one best site to book a cruise? That depends on what you’re looking for. Sometimes the best cruise website is actually a cruise line’s own site—since technically, cruise booking websites aren’t allowed to undercut the prices that the cruise lines set.

Often, though, the best cruise search engines are indispensable for locating incredible deals, including ones that throw in booking incentives worth hundreds of dollars—in Amazon gift cards, complimentary shore excursions, onboard freebies, and so on.

To save you the hassle, SmarterTravel investigated the glutted space of cheap cruise sites to determine which are worthy of listing as the best cruise websites; below are a few that come highly recommended.

The Best Sites to Book a Cruise

  • Expedia (including Travelocity and Orbitz )
  • TripAdvisor

Avoya Travel

Cheapcaribbean.com, cruisedirect, cruise critic, costco travel, cruisewatch.

Laptop showing the cruise search homepage of Expedia

Expedia is an obvious first mention in a list of the best cruise booking sites, in part because it’s an absolute juggernaut (Expedia also owns Travelocity and Orbitz ). Its cruise-booking interface is simple and straightforward, only requiring you to enter your preferred sailing destination and date range, as well as how many passengers you’ll be bringing along. Then Expedia does the heavy lifting for you, with comprehensive results that make it one of the best cruise search engines.

On Expedia, it’s common to find bookable cruises for 70 percent off face value, with the ability to sort by price so the best cruise deals come up at the top of the list, saving you the scrolling. A sample search for a mid-June cruise to Alaska, for example, quickly came up with a seven-night itinerary starting at $389 per person—that’s less than $56 per person, per night for a mostly inclusive weeklong vacation.

Expedia’s cruise deals tend to come paired with other enticing offers, including steep discounts on pre-departure hotels when you book both your cruise and hotel through Expedia. There’s also a dedicated 800 number that lets you speak to Expedia’s cruise experts and, often but not always, a generous amount of onboard credit thrown in for good measure.

Best feature: Sheer search power. Expedia’s easy-to-use cruise search engine generates a useful and well-ordered list of the best cruise deals, without much effort required from the user. Also, Expedia’s prices frequently match what the cruise lines themselves offer.

Check out Expedia

Laptop showing the cruise search homepage of Priceline

Priceline is another powerhouse among cheap cruise websites. The initial interface comes off a bit clunkier than, say, Expedia’s or Kayak’s, but the tradeoff is that you can quickly search by cruise line, both standard and luxury, as well as by cruise length and departure port.

Using the seven-night Alaska example, Priceline brought up an itinerary aboard Royal Caribbean International’s Radiance of the Seas that starts at just $374 for the full week—roughly $53 per night. Hard-to-believe cruise deals like this show up on Priceline with regularity, which is part of what solidifies it as one of the best cruise websites.

Also adding to the appeal: deals exclusive to Priceline, plenty of bonus amenities (examples include $50 in onboard credit, third and fourth guests sailing free, and free specialty dinners for two), no money down to book certain sailings, frequent onboard credit sales, an 800 number to call should you need assistance while booking, and a loyalty club that’s ties in with every cruise line’s loyalty program. Priceline also lets you click a “senior discount” box if that applies to you.

Best feature: Priceline’s “ 110% Best Price Guarantee ” promises that if you find your cruise listed at a lower price on another website within 48 hours of booking, then Priceline will refund you 110 percent of the cost difference, including port charges.

Check out Priceline

Tripadvisor

Laptop showing the cruise search homepage of Tripadvisor

Many people think of Tripadvisor mainly as a travel review site, where you go to get real talk on hotels and attractions, and to see non-glamorized photos of places as seen through actual travelers’ eyes. But Tripadvisor is also an excellent site for travel deals, including on cruises.

Tripadvisor Cruise , which launched in April 2019, is among the best websites for cruise deals—it lets you nab the lowest price by comparing more than 70,000 ocean and river cruises from some 60 of the best cruise websites. It’s got an attractive, inspiring landing page, and its newest function, “Explore Ship-tinerary pages,” lets you browse full ship profiles, details, photos, and itineraries.

Though Tripadvisor is technically a meta-search site for cruises, which means that it will send you elsewhere to actually book, its search engine lets users sort by destination, length, cruise line, and month of travel. The default search results are ordered by “best value”, unless you specifically click that you’d rather see the results organized by price, cruise length, departure date, or cruise ship. Even when you click on “price,” the lowest-priced offering doesn’t always come up first, though it only takes a few seconds of scanning to determine which itinerary has the lowest price—that seven-night Royal Caribbean International trip to Alaska came up on Tripadvisor starting at $365.

Best feature: What makes Tripadvisor one of the best sites to book a cruise? In addition to having one of the best cruise search engines, Tripadvisor lets you read other cruisers’ candid reviews of the cruise that you’re considering, so that you get the non-sugarcoated truth about each sailing.

Check out Tripadvisor

7 Things You Should Never Do on a Cruise Ship

Laptop showing the cruise search homepage of Avoya Travel

A rarity on the internet, Avoya Travel is a family-owned company that has been dealing in travel for more than 55 years. Avoya is one of the best sites to book a cruise in part because of its patented technology that lets travelers search cruises by destination, date range, cruise line, and last-minute status—and then get matched up, in real time, with one of Avoya’s expert vacation planners, who use that algorithm to customize a cruise booking to your specific preferences. (From Avoya’s website: “…we combine the ease of online search, with the expertise and personalized service of Independent Vacation Planners, plus secure exclusive deals and extras so you get more out of every vacation.”)

Avoya’s team of staffers and wide network of independent agencies make for a cruise booking website that’s a bit different from the rest. Its front page shows the “Best Travel Deals,” which might include half-off cruise fares, onboard credit, prepaid gratuities, and free or reduced airfare.

Like several of the other best cruise websites, Avoya offers a low-price guarantee; if you book a cruise with Avoya and then find a lower rate on another website within 24 hours of booking, Avoya will refund the difference.

Best feature: Avoya offers free membership, and members get exclusive deals and discounts, access to unpublished fares, first dibs on promotions, the ability to save favorite searches, and the right to book, change, or cancel travel without incurring any Avoya fees.

Check out Avoya Travel

Laptop showing the cruise search homepage of CheapCaribbean.com

When looking for the best site to book a cruise, don’t be put off by CheapCaribbean.com ’s overly specific moniker. Despite the site’s name, it offers cruises all over the world. The site’s vibe is beach-oriented and a bit cheeky, with a front page that can overwhelm—but click on the “Cruises” tab, and a cleaner interface appears. There you can search by cruise line, ship, destination, departure date, and departure port.

CheapCaribbean.com offers refunds on 24-hour cancellations (within certain parameters) and a “ 110 percent best price guarantee, ” a promise that if you find a lower price on the same cruise within 48 hours of booking, the company will refund you 110 percent of the difference. The site also lists traveler reviews about each cruise ship (as supplied by Cruiseline), though the reviews often include comments about the ship’s destinations other than the one you’re considering, which isn’t entirely helpful. There’s also a live chat widget if questions come up while booking.

Best feature: Helping to make CheapCaribbean.com one of the best cruise search engines is the fact that it lets you check boxes for additional discounts, including a senior discount, discounts by state (just enter your ZIP code), and past guest discounts if you’ve previously sailed with, say, Princess, Norwegian, or Disney.

Check out CheapCaribbean.com

Laptop showing the cruise search homepage of CruiseDirect

Its front page is clunky and sort of in your face, but CruiseDirect is still one of the best cruise sites for a variety of reasons. As a cruise-only company, CruiseDirect doesn’t deal in flights, hotels, or rental cars, allowing it to focus its full capacity on helping you find the best cruise deal possible. On the site, you can search by destination, departure port, month, length of cruise, and cruise line. There’s real-time online chat and a contact number for support from a cruise expert. If you aren’t quite ready to buy, you can “heart” cruises to save them as favorites to refer back to later.

CruiseDirect offers perks on most sailings, like onboard credit, free drinks, free Wi-Fi, free gratuities, free travel insurance, or a free specialty dining experience—check out the “Bonus” box on the cruise listing you’re considering to see what extras it comes with.

Best feature: Like some of the other cruise websites on this list, CruiseDirect offers a “ best price guarantee ,” which means that if you find a lower price on another cruise booking website within 24 hours of your initial booking, you’ll get refunded the difference. But one key difference between CruiseDirect and the other cruise sites is that you don’t have to pay the cost of your cruise up front, just a deposit—and then if your cruise fare drops before you’ve made your final payment, CruiseDirect will readjust your rate accordingly.

Check out CruiseDirect

5 Crazy Themed Cruises You Can Take in 2022 and 2023

Laptop showing the cruise search homepage of Cruise Critic

A subsidiary of Tripadvisor, Cruise Critic has similar search results to that site, but it offers a bit more comprehensive information for seasoned cruisers who want more details before they book. Cruise Critic has tons of filters and sort options to help you find what you want, including everything from cruise line to cruise style (family cruises, luxury cruises, cruises for the disabled). Each itinerary clearly lists what is and isn’t included in the fare; Wi-Fi, alcoholic drinks, gratuities, and port taxes and fees are among the common exclusions.

Certain itineraries are marked with graphics declaring that the ship has won one of the site’s “Cruisers’ Choice” awards, denoting vessels that Cruise Critic members declare to be the among the best in categories such as cabins, entertainment, and family-friendly features.

You can sign up for price alerts, which will notify you by email when the fare on your selected itinerary drops.

Once you’re ready to book, Cruise Critic shows you a variety of offers from some of the best cruise booking sites, including bonuses such as onboard credit and prepaid gratuities. Then you click off to the site of your choice to make your purchase. Prices generally match what’s advertised on Cruise Critic.

Best feature: Under each search result is a tab for “reviews” where you can read reviews from Cruise Critic members who’ve previously traveled on the ship. On certain cruises you can click over to a full-length write-up of the ship by one of the experts on the Cruise Critic editorial team, including detailed information on dining options, cabins, entertainment, dress code, and more.

Check out Cruise Critic

Laptop showing the cruise search homepage of Costco Travel

When you think of Costco, you probably think of bulk food and toilet paper. But the next time you’re booking a cruise, it’ll be worthwhile to pull up Costco Travel , which is, unexpectedly, one of the best cruise websites.

The site doesn’t look fancy—it’s pretty bare-bones, visually—but the upside of going with a no-frills cruise-booking website is that Costco Travel offers extremely competitive prices, as well as some of the most attractive incentives, usually in the form of Costco Cash delivered to you after you get home from your cruise.

Though there’s no single point of contact if you need to call and discuss your cruise booking, Costco Travel’s call center is staffed with helpful agents from early morning until evening, seven days a week, and passengers can rest assured that Costco won’t go out of business before they set sail. Note that a Costco membership (starting at $60 per year) is required to book with Costco Travel, and that Costco doesn’t accept American Express.

Best feature: Rock-bottom prices—plus lots of cash back if you play your cards right: Costco Citi cardholders earn 3 percent cash back on cruise purchases, which can combine with the 2 percent Costco Reward for Costco Executive Members for a total of 5 percent back on Costco Travel’s already super low cruise rates.

Check out Costco Travel

Laptop showing the cruise search homepage of Cruisewatch

Pondering which is the best site to book a cruise? Keep Cruisewatch in strong consideration—more than a typical cruise booking website, Cruisewatch bills itself as a “digital cruise advisor” that couples data power with personalization.

As an artificial intelligence cruise advisor, Crusewatch created technology that makes searching and booking a cruise more efficient—the first, it calls “Cruise Price Prediction.” In short, Cruisewatch collected and stored the daily price for each ship and cabin over a span of five years, resulting in millions of data points—and a massive database that informs exactly when cruise prices are lowest, and when the greatest saving potential exists.

Thanks to this comprehensive price history, Cruisewatch can predict cruise prices and drops with an accuracy rate of around 80 percent. Using the site’s cruise price prediction alerts, travelers can save up to 71 percent just by booking at the right time.

In addition to being able to predict prices, Cruisewatch tailors user search results to match their established preferences through customizable profiles and other similar features. This means you won’t waste time wading through cruises that may be cheap but don’t align with your vacation goals.

Best feature: Cruisewatch’s easy-to-set price alerts, based on tons of data, allow users to be notified in real time of the best new cruise deals the minute they come online.

Check out Cruisewatch

Book a Stay With SmarterTravel Hotels

Need a place to stay the night before you set sail? Search SmarterTravel Hotels for great accommodations in your port of call.

SmarterTravel Logo

Some of the links featured in this story are affiliate links, and SmarterTravel may collect a commission (at no cost to you) if you shop through them.

Follow Avital Andrews on Twitter  @avitalb  or on  Facebook .

Editor’s note: Sarah Schlichter contributed to this story.

You Might Also Like:

We hand-pick everything we recommend and select items through testing and reviews. Some products are sent to us free of charge with no incentive to offer a favorable review. We offer our unbiased opinions and do not accept compensation to review products. All items are in stock and prices are accurate at the time of publication. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

Top Fares From

best place to book cruise online

Don't see a fare you like? View all flight deals from your city.

Today's top travel deals.

Brought to you by ShermansTravel

Ireland: Wild Atlantic Way Trips w/Air...

Great Value Vacations

best place to book cruise online

10-Night Mediterranean Cruise From Barcelona to...

Norwegian Cruise Line

best place to book cruise online

Ohio: Daily Car Rentals from Cincinnati

best place to book cruise online

Trending on SmarterTravel

scenic luxury cruises and tours veranda luxury cruise lines

10 Luxury Cruise Lines That Will Make You Want to Ditch Plane Travel Forever

Explore cruise lines that embody the VERANDA spirit, offering luxury and well-appointed design around every corner.

silversea veranda luxury cruise lines

Silversea is the “jewel in the crown” of the Royal Caribbean Group, not to mention the original luxury cruise line, first entering the space in 1994. The company touts 12 all-inclusive ships with destinations all over the world. Whether you want to explore the American West Coast, South America, Northern Europe and the British Isles, Africa, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, or even Antarctica, Silversea has a cruise to fit your fancy.

Speaking of fancy, the most luxurious cruise that Silversea offers is its 125-Day Chile to Norway sail, which rings up at $94,700. You don’t have to invest that much to enjoy a Silversea cruise, though. No matter which type of suite you book, you can expect butler service, optional 24/7 in-suite dining, endless access to premium beverages and craft cocktails, and complimentary caviar around the clock.

Paul Gauguin

paul gauguin cruises veranda luxury cruise lines

Paul Gaugin stands out for its single-ship escapade into the luxury cruise space. With a variety of cruises that explore French Polynesia and the South Pacific, Paul Gauguin is a small-ship cruise line with 7-, 10-, 11-, and 14-night itineraries that focus on intimate experiences, delectable cuisine, stunning stateroom balcony views, butler service, and more. With a 1:1.5 crew-to-guest ratio, you can rest assured knowing that all of your needs will be met aboard the m/s Paul Gauguin.

Explore Paul Gauguin Cruises

Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours

scenic luxury cruises and tours veranda luxury cruise lines

Scenic is unique in that it not only offers luxury ocean cruises but river cruises, too. The brand prides itself on operating and innovating with guest experience in mind. As such, all of its cruises have so much to offer voyagers, from extensive dining, leisure, and wellness options to striking design elements that will make you want to stay aboard for much longer than your itinerary.

Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours has nine ships with oceanic destinations spanning from the Arctic and Europe to the Caribbean and Australia. Meanwhile, if you find yourself in France, you may want to check out Scenic’s beloved river cruises, in which you can tour the Seine in the utmost style.

Explore Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours

ponant veranda luxury cruise lines

Ponant has a fleet of 13 luxury cruise ships with destinations dotting the globe. The award-winning French cruise line is beloved for its tailor-made voyages, in which guests have access to myriad bespoke experiences both on and off board, from in-room dining to once-in-a-lifetime immersive excursions.

Since Ponant ships offer smaller capacity—more akin to a private yacht experience—they’re able to navigate private ports and preserved locations that large-scale cruise ships are unable to access. While aboard Ponant’s all-inclusive ships, you can anticipate exceptional French cuisine, delicious fine wines, complimentary Champagne and spirits, room service, and more.

Of course, if you need further inspiration to look into the cruise line, perhaps the fact that three-mast yacht, Le Ponant, is part of the Relais & Châteaux portfolio will do the trick.

Explore Ponant Cruises

crystal cruises veranda luxury cruise lines

Crystal is renowned for its personalized voyages all over the world, not to mention its palatial suites that will leave you picking your jaw up off the floor. In addition to well-appointed design, the cruise line offers an impressive dining experience, with authentic cuisines from all over the world. So whether you’re in the mood for American, Italian, Peruvian, or Japanese food, you’ll have ample options to choose from.

It’s also worth mentioning that the luxury cruise line took it to the next level with its spa, Aurora Spa. The gorgeous, sea-view spa offers a variety of face, body, salon, and healing treatments, including massages, facials, acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, and even IV drip therapy—so you won’t have to worry about feeling hung over at sea (especially considering the cruise line offers complimentary Champagne, fine wines, and premium spirits).

Explore Crystal

Windstar Cruises

windstar cruises veranda luxury cruise lines

Windstar Cruises operates a six-ship fleet dedicated to extraordinary sailing experiences. With small ships that carry less than 350 passengers, Windstar prides itself on offering guests intimate, aesthetic, unforgettable voyages spanning from Asia and Australia to Italy and Iceland.

While the staterooms and suites are stunning and the shore excursions are aplenty, it’s the food that really stands out aboard Windstar. As the official cruise line of the James Beard Foundation, Windstar offers a number of themed culinary cruises with food and bev from some of the most notable chefs of today, including Maxime Bilet (The Cooking Lab) and Jose Mendin (Pubbelly Noodle Bar, Habitat, Baja Bao).

Explore Windstar Cruises

The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection

the ritz carlton yacht collection veranda luxury cruise lines

The Ritz-Carlton is synonymous with luxury, so it’s no surprise that the company extended into oceanic adventures with a fleet of three superyachts. Where the Evrima was built in 2021, the Ilma and Luminara yachts are forthcoming in 2024 and 2025.

While classic cruise lines have a capacity in the thousands, often edging upward of 4,000, the Ritz-Carlton superyachts offer a more curated experience to 500 passengers or less. From the outside, the yachts are sleek and serene, fitting in beautifully with the sea. Within Evrima’s walls, though, moody modern interiors with magnificent ocean views await.

Guests can look forward to soaking tubs, expansive private balconies complete with sun beds and a whirlpool, walk-in wardrobes, and more. As far as destinations are concerned, The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection embarks on oceanic adventures in the Mediterranean and Caribbean.

Explore The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection Cruises

seabourn veranda luxury cruise lines

Seabourn is a luxury cruise line that speaks to our soul—and for more reasons than the simple fact that it touts a “Veranda Suite Upgrade.” The luxury cruise line sets sail in the Arctic, Canada and New England, the Amazon, Arabia, Africa, and India, and more.

Each of the fleet’s yachts, which carry between 458 and 600 guests, is outfitted with ocean-view suites only, so no matter what excursion you book, you can anticipate traveling in luxury style with a picturesque backdrop. You can also look forward to mouth-watering cuisine courtesy of renowned chef Thomas Keller.

Explore Seabourn Cruises

cunard veranda luxury cruise lines

Cunard is known for its iconic black funnels, yes, but more so for its unparalleled large-scale onboard experiences. Although each of the cruise line’s ships carries upwards of 1,500 passengers, the four-ship fleet is adored for its luxury itineraries, stylish design, tranquil spa offerings, delectable cuisine, and unmatched comfort at sea.

Truly, if your goal is to book an unforgettable, Instagram-worthy cruise, Cunard is the way to go. From the stunning suites (decked out in pops of rich color, sumptuous textiles, and spectacular lighting) to the picturesque destinations, Cunard has it all.

Explore Cunard Cruises

Regent Seven Seas Cruises

regent seven seas cruises veranda luxury cruise lines

If you want to get the most bang for your buck when booking a luxury cruise, Regent Seven Seas Cruises is a prime pick. The all-inclusive cruise line crafts a new definition of the category with complimentary roundtrip airfare, free unlimited shore excursions, include 2- to 3-night land programs, on-the-house bar and lounge experiences, and more.

The six-fleet cruise line is also known for its gorgeous interiors, complete with modern aesthetics, Art Deco embellishments, stunning chandeliers, and more. When traveling with Regent Seven Seas Cruises, guests can traverse the seven seas, with destinations in Africa and Arabia, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, the Caribbean and more. And if you don’t want to pick a single destination, there’s always the option to book a grand voyage or world cruise, which can last up to 168 days and cost upwards of $100,000.

Explore Regent Seven Seas Cruises

preview for HDM All sections playlist - Veranda US:

The 14 Dreamiest Hotels in Napa Valley

aerial view of sullivans island south carolina

The 15 Most Incredible Beaches in South Carolina

a cell phone in a case

The 3 Best Luggage Trackers to Shop Now

a tropical island with yachts and houses in bermuda

The 15 Best Places to Travel This August

waterfront homes and boats in the water

How to Spend a Perfect Weekend in Nantucket

montgomery, alabama, usa with the state capitol at dawn

11 Places in the U.S. to Learn About Black History

a tropical island with yachts and houses in bermuda

A Design Lover's Guide to Bermuda

best gardens to visit in mexico

The 11 Most Beautiful Gardens to Visit in Mexico

mexico city's downtown at twilight

The Perfect Art and Design Weekend in Mexico City

merida san idefonso cathedral yucatan

What to Do in Mérida, México, According to a Local

best museums in mexico city

The 10 Best Museums and Galleries in Mexico City

COMMENTS

  1. The 9 BEST Websites to Book a Cruise (2023)

    Expedia. guteksk7 | Adobe Stock & Expedia. Expedia is an obvious first mention in a list of the best cruise booking sites, in part because it's an absolute juggernaut (Expedia also owns ...

  2. The Best Ways to Book a Cruise

    Avoya Travel is a family-owned website that matches travelers with a vacation planner based on their preferences. It's the best way to book a cruise using a travel planner because it offers a low ...

  3. The 17 Best Websites To Book Cruises at the Cheapest Prices

    Kayak is a popular online travel agency but the site doesn't support cruise searches anymore. 5. Priceline. Priceline gained fame from its "Name Your Own Price" feature but has since transformed into a more traditional OTA. In addition to hotels, flights, and rental cars, you can use this site to book cruises, too.

  4. The Best Site to Book a Cruise Online

    Book a Cruise Online with the Best Cruise Finder and Cruise Booking Website. CruiseDirect is a leading online cruise travel company dedicated to providing customers with better deals than any other cruise website and access to great deals on cruise vacations. Offering special rates and savings on cruise bookings with some of the most popular ...

  5. The Best Websites to Book a Cruise in 2024

    RoyalCaribbean.com. DisneyCruises.com. MSCCruisesUSA.com. Princess.com. NCL.com. Each of these cruise line websites will allow you to be as narrow or as broad with your search as you wish. You can search all cruises, or search for trips on a specific ship, leaving a specific date, and from a specific port.

  6. Find Cheap Cruises & Last Minute Cruise Deals (2024/2025)

    Find affordable cruise deals to popular destinations like Bahamas, Mexico, Hawaii cruises & more. Conveniently find cruise ports out to your favourite destinations. Get cheap cruise deals now!

  7. 20 of the Best Websites for Booking Cheap Cruises in 2024

    9. Expedia. Screenshot: expedia.com. Comparatively, Expedia is one of the larger travel booking platforms out there. From vacation rentals to flights, rental cars to cruises, Expedia offers a little bit of it all. The site is easy to use, making it a top pick for those who want a hassle-free cruise-booking experience.

  8. BEST Cruise Deals (2024 + 2025): Cheap & Discount Cruises

    Up to 20% Savings to Explore North America in 2023. Explore North America with American Queen Voyages and enjoy up to 20% Early Booking Savings on select voyages in 2023. Plus, pay-in-full at the ...

  9. Find Cruises (with Prices)

    Find Cruises: Find and plan your next cruise with Cruise Critic's Cruise Finder Tool. Effective July 1st. Due to new regulations, prices now include all taxes and fees. ... MSC Cruises. Book Now ...

  10. The Best Way To Book A Cruise (Online, Phone or In-Person)

    The 9 different ways that you can book your cruise…. Booking directly with a cruise line: Online - On the cruise line's website. By phone - Call the cruise line. In-person - When on-board a cruise ship. Booking with a travel agent: Online - One a specialist cruise travel agent's websites. By phone - Call the travel agent or fill ...

  11. Book a cruise

    For expert cruise advice, call 1-800-916-8586. 2 travelers. We have plenty of amazing cruise ideas and deals at Expedia. Find your perfect cruise from the top brands and book your trip now.

  12. Unbeatable Royal Caribbean Cruise Deals: Guaranteed Lowest Prices on

    Book a Royal Caribbean cruise online today and get in on the excitement! SeaPlex Entertainment Center: Royal Caribbean is the only cruise line with the SeaPlex, the largest indoor activity space at sea! With a full-size basketball court, bumper cars, and so much more, there's fun for all ages.

  13. How to Book a Cruise for the First Time: 11 Expert Tips That Newbies

    Smart cruisers know the best place to book a cruise is with a travel agent. Though agents' roles have diminished in the mass-market travel biz, they remain crucial for cruising.

  14. Top Cruises in 2024/2025

    Looking for the Top Cruises in 2024/2025? Enjoy Free Cabin Upgrades, Unlimited WiFi & other Great Deals on the World's Best Cruise Lines. Book Today & Sail Away!

  15. 5 Best Cruise Line Websites for Researching and Booking

    When it's time to book, potential passengers simply plug standard information -- month/year, destination, departure port and cruise length -- into the finder tool on the Princess homepage. 4 ...

  16. Discover the Best Cruise Destinations and Book Your Trip for Less

    Explore the best places to go on a cruise, find the best itinerary for you, then book with us to get the best-priced cruise deals: We guarantee the lowest prices you'll find! And our flexible payment plans make dream vacations to the best cruise destinations even easier to afford. Take advantage of our cruise travel deals today!

  17. Should I book a cruise online? Here's what to know

    Booking.com introduced a cruise option late last year, allowing travelers to book sailings, flights and hotels in one place. Other sites like Expedia and Orbitz also offer the category, and there ...

  18. We Checked 10 Websites… Here's the Cheapest Site to Buy a Cruise

    For our cruise, we found prices varied from a low of $1,194 per person to $1,234 per person. Meanwhile, incentives ranged from nothing to $190 back. Below, we've summarized the results. In this case, CostcoTravel turned out to be the best deal to book, although it wasn't the cheapest headline price.

  19. Best websites to book a cheap cruise

    If you spend $500, you will only receive $25, while those who spend $20,000 will get the advertised $1,500. Regardless, even if your total fare cost around $1,500, the extra $100 is essentially free cruise money! A pro to booking with Cruises.com is that they offer a Best Price Guarantee program.

  20. Cruise deals

    Book your Princess Cruise with just £1pp deposit! Plus, receive up to $500 onboard spending money per cabin. Ends 09/07. MSC Summer Sale. Deposits from £75pp, free kids places & balcony upgrades, & all-inclusive from £28pp per night! Ends 30/09. Up to £450pp onboard spend with P&O Cruises.

  21. BEST Cruise Deals: Cheap & Discount Cruises (2024)

    Norwegian Cruise Line. View Deal. $1,005 pp. — 5nt Bermuda Balcony in October: exclusive $150 OBC, kids free & 60% off 2nd. Bermuda, from Bayonne (Cape Liberty) Oct 5, 2024. Liberty of the Seas ...

  22. How do YOU book your cruises? Looking for booking recommendations

    Yes some do group bookings, and they get a better price, but for the most part the prices are the same. I hate locking my booking down to an online agent, just to get $50 in OBC. With Princess, we typically book via Expedia Crusieship centers to get the extra OBC and the once a year "all extras" included sale.

  23. Caribbean cruise guide: Best itineraries, planning tips and things to

    Sun, sand and sea are what most travelers want when they book a cruise to the Caribbean. If you want to trade chilly weather at home for warm, sunny days spent relaxing on a beach or swimming in clear blue waters, a Caribbean cruise is an ideal vacation. ... The shortest Southern Caribbean cruises are five or six days and leave from places such ...

  24. 7 Most Affordable Cruise Lines That'll Make Your Cruising ...

    Carnival Cruise Line—known as one of the most affordable cruise lines—was founded in 1972 and now carries millions of guests every year aboard its 24 ships.It sails to Alaska, the Bahamas ...

  25. The 9 BEST Websites to Book a Cruise (2023)

    guteksk7 | Adobe Stock & Priceline. Priceline is another powerhouse among cheap cruise websites. The initial interface comes off a bit clunkier than, say, Expedia's or Kayak's, but the tradeoff is that you can quickly search by cruise line, both standard and luxury, as well as by cruise length and departure port.

  26. The 10 Most Luxurious Cruises You Can Take Around the World

    Paul Gaugin stands out for its single-ship escapade into the luxury cruise space. With a variety of cruises that explore French Polynesia and the South Pacific, Paul Gauguin is a small-ship cruise line with 7-, 10-, 11-, and 14-night itineraries that focus on intimate experiences, delectable cuisine, stunning stateroom balcony views, butler service, and more.

  27. ET Vault Unlocked: Taylor Swift

    ET looks back at Taylor Swift's rise to global superstar in unseen interviews, highlighting her record-breaking career.