Cheapest cruise lines for 2024 Caribbean cruises – 8 lines ranked by price

Caribbean cruises are the most popular cruises in the world so there are more than a dozen cruise lines competing for your business. Once again we here at Price of Travel checked the numbers to determine which of the major cruise lines are the cheapest and which cost more than you might think. The list below will be surprising to many people who always assumed that Carnival and Royal Caribbean are the cheapest lines because neither of those even made the Top 3 this year.

We checked for 7-night cruises in the month of January, 2024, which is part of high season. If you have never cruised before it’s worth pointing out that each cruise line is surprisingly different from the others and for most people it’s worth paying at least a bit more to book on a ship that suits your budget AND personality.

Each cruise line tends to attract a different crowd

One of the more interesting things about the cruise market is that each line tends to attract a certain crowd, so passengers are most likely to enjoy themselves if they choose the one that suits their own preferences best. Unsurprisingly, the cheaper cruise lines tend to attract families and younger people, although Disney cruises are also obviously aimed at families and those start at about triple the price of Carnival.

Generally speaking, Carnival is most popular among younger cruisers and first-time cruisers. They have water slides and non-stop entertainment. Royal Caribbean is a bit more subdued and quality tends to be a bit higher along with higher prices. MSC cruises is an Italian company now known for very cheap cruises and very mediocre reviews. Norwegian is a mid-range line known for being informal and casual with many more included restaurants and no set dining schedules.

Princess, Holland America, and Celebrity are mid-range cruise lines with (mostly) smaller ships and higher quality. Celebrity is particularly famous for great food and drinks. Holland America has really great entertainment, and Princess is kind of between the two. Disney Cruises is expensive and obviously meant for families with kids, but many Disney-loving adults cruise with them as well.

How we compared the cruise lines

The list below compares prices of the cheapest 7-night Caribbean cruise for each of the major lines for cruises in January, 2024, which is high season. Cruises in April, May, and November should be somewhat cheaper, but the ranks will likely stay just about the same.

This article was originally published in 2012, and fully updated last in October, 2023.

>>>Check the latest Caribbean cruise deals

8 Caribbean cruise lines ranked by price

1 – MSC Cruises (Cheapest)

7 nights from: $529 (including all taxes and fees)

  • Itinerary: Port Canaveral, United States • Nassau, Bahamas • Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve (Private Island), Bahamas • Costa Maya, Mexico • Cozumel, Mexico • Port Canaveral, United States

Started in Italy, MSC only recently entered the North American cruise market with these winter Caribbean excursions. In the rest of the world, MSC cruises tend to be dominated by European guests, but now with their Florida-based cruises they attract mostly a North American crowd. They used to have 2 formal nights per cruise, and now the buffet restaurant is casual all the time, although the main dining room is a bit more formal. This sailing is on the MSC Seashore, which can carry as many as 5,877 passengers.

Even on these Caribbean journeys, the crowds on the MSC ships are very international, with a great number of Europeans mixed in with Americans and Canadians. You won’t see as many families on this cruise as it’s more suited to the adult crowd.

Honestly, MSC Cruises tend to get some of the lowest review scores in the business, which helps explain the low prices. If you are looking for a cheap cruise and aren’t too fussy then this could be a good choice, but if you are easily disappointed when things aren’t perfect, this is probably one to skip.

2 – Princess Cruises

7 nights from: $539 (including all taxes and fees)

  • Itinerary: Galveston, Texas • at sea • at sea • Costa Maya, Mexico • Roatan, Honduras • Cozumel, Mexico • at sea • Galveston, Texas

A slightly upscale division of Carnival, the Princess Cruises leaves from Galveston on this run and explores Mexico and Central America rather than the more common islands to their east. The Regal Princess can carry 3,560 passengers and is one of the newest cruise ships added to this line. Needless to say, the cheapest price listed is for an inside cabin and that will be true for every cruise line and every cruise.

Princess Cruises have a very good reputation overall and many dedicated fans (including my parents) who take them for every cruise in every region of the world. Normally they are a mid-priced line so it’s a bit surprising that they offer some of the cheapest cruises of the Caribbean in January.

Expect mostly Americans and Canadians on these cruises. Princess normally draws some Brits and other Europeans, but you probably won’t see many of them on this cruise out of Texas, as it’s much faster and easier for them to fly into Florida.

3 – Carnival Cruise Lines

7 nights from: $713 per person (including all taxes and fees)

  • Itinerary: New Orleans, United States • at sea • Mahogany Bay, Roatan, Honduras • Belize • Cozumel, Mexico • at sea • New Orleans, United States

Carnival is traditionally known as one of the two cheapest cruise lines in the United States (along with Royal Caribbean) so it’s a bit surprising that their cheapest Caribbean cruise is not all that cheap and leaves from New Orleans rather than Florida. The 7-night cruise is on the Carnival Glory, which is actually one of their smaller ships and can carry 2,980 passengers.

Carnival and its “Fun Ships” slogan are very popular with first-time cruise passengers, and especially younger people and families, primarily from the United States and Canada. They are a great option for people who aren’t sure they will like cruising because they are pretty non-traditional. This ship even has a water slide on it, which tells you more about the kind of passengers you’ll expect. If you are older and prefer not to be around many kids then this is not a great choice. Also, Carnival tends to get lower reviews than many other large cruise lines so read some reviews yourself for an individual ship before you book.

4 – Norwegian Cruise Line

7-nights from: $738 (including all taxes and fees)

  • Itinerary: Port Canaveral, United States • Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas • at sea • Falmouth, Jamaica • Georgetown, Grand Cayman • Cozumel, Mexico • at seas • Port Canaveral, United States

Norwegian Cruise Line is famous for pioneering the “freestyle cruising” concept, where passengers can select from a wide range of restaurants and activities and go whenever they like rather than on a rigid schedule. This cruise is on the Norwegian Epic, carrying a maximum of 4,100 passengers, which counts more than 14 freestyle-dining restaurants on board. This ship also has many solo cabins so it’s a good choice for single cruisers. Unfortunately the solo cabins are usually only a bit cheaper than a normal inside cabin with one guest.

The Freestyle Cruising thing ends up attracting a wide range of passengers, including some who prefer to dress formally on formal nights. So you can expect families and older folks along with a lot of romantic couples from all age ranges, primarily from the US and Canada.

5 – Royal Caribbean International

7 nights from: $750 (including all taxes and fees)
(Tampa, United States • Costa Maya, Mexico • Belize City, Belize • Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras • Cozumel, Mexico • Tampa, United States)

While Tampa usually isn’t the first pick for a departure point, the Royal Caribbean cruises leaving this port are a great choice. This is on the Enchantment of the Seas, which carries up to 2,446 passengers, and has recently been refurbished as of 2017 with updated cabins, additional dining options and an outdoor movie screen by the main pool.

Many people will be surprised to see Royal Caribbean so far down the list of Cheap Caribbean cruises, but at least in January of 2024, this is where they sit. Reviews of Royal Caribbean lately have been quite good so it seems possible they are moving more into the middle of price and service levels and leaving the lowest prices to MSC and the others above.

6 – Holland America Line 

7 nights from: $819 (including all taxes and fees)
(Fort Lauderdale, United States • at sea • Amber Cove, Dominican Republic • San Juan, Puerto Rico • St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands • at sea • Half Moon Cay, Bahamas • Fort Lauderdale, United States)

With a long history and a reputation as a most traditional cruise line, Holland America Line is now another somewhat upscale part of the Carnival family. This cruise is on the Nieuw Statendam, which holds 2,666 passengers making it one of the larger ships in the Holland America line. The itinerary looks interesting and you can expect the standard classical music concerts on board along with blues and many pop acts and shows.

Holland America in general is known for catering to an older and more sophisticated crowd, and this cruise is no exception. It will be mostly older Americans and Canadians with a sprinkling of families with kids.

7 – Celebrity Cruises

7 nights from: $845
(Fort Lauderdale, United States • Nassau, Bahamas • Cozumel, Mexico • Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands • Fort Lauderdale, United States)

Another in the more traditional and mid-market category, Celebrity Cruises is in the process of updating many of its ships to conform to modern demands, and the Celebrity Ascent just launched in 2023 and it is one of the “Edge Class” ships with the Magic Carpet. These new ships are getting rave reviews from just about all guests so it’s sort of amazing that you can book on one on their cheapest Caribbean cruises in January.

Celebrity famously changed to a system were alcohol and wifi and gratuities are included with every fare, but unfortunately they still DO offer a stripped-down version (helpful for people who don’t drink much or care about wi-fi) and this fare is for that version. Getting all of those other things included adds over US$600 per person to the fare, which still isn’t a bad deal if you are going to get those perks anyway.

8 – Disney Cruise Line

7 nights from: $1,482
(Port Canaveral, United States • Cozumel, Mexico • George Town, Grand Cayman Island, Cayman Islands • Falmouth, Jamaica • Castaway, Fiji • Port Canaveral, United States)

Considering the Disney is obviously aimed at the family market, it might be a bit surprising to see their cheapest Caribbean cruise at about triple the price of some competitors. But then again, nothing about Disney is cheap, and their ships are known for being first-class with plenty of room for families to move around and spread out a bit. This sailing is on the Disney Fantasy, which can carry 2,500 passengers and is loaded with branded entertainment options for kids. Not unlike its theme parks, the Disney Cruise Line ships aren’t cheap, but they deliver a very high quality product to the intended audience.

Needless to say, these cruises are dominated by families with younger children, but some with older children as well, and most will be Americans and Canadians.

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All Comments

  1. Jeram Patel says:

    Good & niece
    Trips Royal careibian cruise
    From Galveston to
    Costo maya maxico

    1. Roger Wade says:


      Unfortunately we are not travel agents so we can’t help you with this. I’d try if I were you as they have a very simple cruise planner and they show the same prices that you can get anywhere else. Best of luck. -Roger

  2. R. A. Smith says:

    I’ve been on 18 cruises, 12 Carnival, 1 Princess, 1 RCL, 1 NCL plus three others – All fine and I would return on any except NCL. Smallest cabin and least caring crew of any! Anything goes except Norwegian Cruise – did not enjoy!

    1. Roger Wade says:


      That is interesting. My first cruise was on Norwegian and I loved it. I’m now a regular on Celebrity, which I also really like. Thanks for the comment. -Roger

  3. Jessi says:

    I’m planning a cruise that leaves Barcelona, Spain and wondering if the Norwegian Cruise Line would be best? I adore the locations that will be going by and will be gone for 7 days

    1. Roger Wade says:


      Each cruise line seems to have its own personality so each person seems to prefer a different line. Personally, I’m a big Norwegian fan and I highly recommend them. They pioneered that “Freestyle dining” concept where passengers can choose from many smaller restaurants and eat any time they want, as opposed to the huge dining rooms with set tables and set times. I think that is the biggest difference between Norwegian and the others, and if that sounds good to you I think you’ll really enjoy it. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

  4. Gina says:

    Please is there no cruise coming to Africa ? Me and my friends we like to spend our Xmas holiday on a cruise. Please let me know what part of Africa we can bored

    1. Roger Wade says:


      I don’t know of any cruises to Africa. Good luck. -Roger

  5. tina vaughn says:

    We just sailed with MSC and after lots of research traveling with 2 kids under the age of 11 it was the best price out there. There were lots of families on the divina. My kids had a blast. Food and shows were awesome. Cruise for 4 in a balcony room with 12 drinKS each and 200 shipboard credit was 2400! Beat that on another cruise line for 7 days we will be cruising msc again

  6. David SAUNDERS says:

    We have been on four cruises in 14 months and visited 14 European countries and have always been with MSC, we have never been with any other line, but value for money I don’t see how they can be beaten.

  7. Tirun says:

    I think Royal Caribbean is first selection for lowest price cruise vacation

  8. Victoria says:

    I’ve only been on RC. This is a handy comparison for the other cruise companies though. I think I might try Celebrity next!

    1. Michelle Roppel says:

      Comment*I have been on many different cruise lines I love. Celebrity
      The edge class ships are beautiful
      I have also been on windstar and Viking. I love them also. Viking is more for seniors and it is more expensive along with windstar. It really depends what you are looking for in a cruise. I like to stay in the suites on a cruise I am a travel agent. I have also been on other cruise lines that I didn’t mention