How to Save Thousands of Dollars on Your Dream Vacation

What do you imagine when you think of your dream vacation?

Exotic destinations and ancient ruins? Sun-soaked beaches and fine dining? Entertainment, enlightenment, and escape?

That all sounds perfect…and expensive. Unless your dream vacation is on a cruise, that is.

With a cruise vacation, you can have your dream vacation while saving a boatload of money (pun intended). You can visit multiple international destinations in the same trip, and eat like royalty at every meal.

Then there’s the shore excursions. The activities available at a cruise’s ports of call are endless. From scuba diving and hiking through Mayan ruins to wine tastings in the Italian countryside, there’s truly something for everyone.

And that doesn’t even get into the options for entertainment. Cruise ships, on top of everything else, are floating theaters, offering daily shows featuring live music, plays, musicals, comedy, and film.

The kicker? Most of the above is included in the price of your ticket. That’s where the biggest savings come in.

If you’re wondering just how much you could save by taking a cruise, you’ve come to the right place. Read on for a breakdown of just how much you can save by cruising instead of taking a traditional vacation.

How Much a Cruise Will Save You on the Vacation of Your Dreams

Here are the main features of a dream vacation and how much they each cost on a cruise versus planning it all yourself as part of a non-cruise trip.

International Travel

A cruise is the safest, easiest, and most affordable way to visit multiple international destinations in one trip. And we’re seeing more dream vacation cruise itineraries being announced this year than ever before.

Here are two examples of international cruises with price comparisons if you were to take each trip without the ship:

2 Weeks on the Mediterranean:

The Cost of the Cruise

  • Your cruise ship ticket: $500-$1800
  • Your plane ticket: $500-$1000
  • Misc. travel expenses: $500
  • Total: $1500-$3300

The Cost of the Non-Cruise Trip

Your cruise savings: Anywhere from $700 to $2500 by cruising

2 Weeks in Southeast Asia:

The Cost of the Cruise:

  • Your cruise ship ticket: $500-$2000
  • Your plane ticket: $1000-$1500
  • Misc. travel expenses: $500
  • Total: $2000-$4000

The Cost of the Non-Cruise Trip

Your cruise savings: You can save anywhere from $200 to $2100 by cruising

You can also save by cruising other destinations in Europe, South America, Australia, and beyond.

Average savings on international travel: $1375


Modern cruise ships do not disappoint when it comes to food, and that includes vegetarian and vegan options, as well as offerings for those with dietary restrictions.

Whatever your taste, you can find it on a cruise. And the best thing about eating on a cruise? Nearly everything is included in the price of your cruise ticket.* Even room service.

If you’re fending for yourself on vacation, it’s a whole different story. A cheap meal is going to cost you $10-$15 pretty much anywhere you travel.

But that’s not even a fair comparison, because on a cruise you can eat gourmet quality food and choose from an endless array of options at all hours of the day. A high-quality multi-course meal at a restaurant not on a cruise shop is going to cost you a lot more than $10. Think more like $15-$75 per person.

Assuming you eat a mix of cheap, casual meals and nicer dinners on your non-cruise vacation, you can expect to spend about $1000 on food on a 2-week vacation.

On a cruise? $0. That’s right. You’ll spend zero dollars on food.

Average savings on dining: $1000

*Most cruise ships have restaurants whose food is not included in your ticket — if you opt to dine at these locations, your savings will be somewhat less than the above estimate.

Shore Excursions

Part of what makes a vacation memorable are the unique experiences you find along the way.

On a cruise, you can make new memories every day with shore excursions at each port of call. These vary widely depending on where you’re traveling and the cruise line you’re on.

Some excursions you might find on a cruise include snorkeling amongst coral reef, walking on top of a glacier, putting your Indiana Jones hat on and peering into ancient Roman ruins, or shopping for gifts at a thousand-year-old market.

An excursion booked through your cruise line is not necessarily cheaper than prices you’ll find independently if you were traveling on a non-cruise trip. You will find big time and energy savings, though.

When you book your cruise through a travel agency like CloudBlue, we do all the work for you, and it won’t cost you a penny extra.

Other benefits of booking excursions through your cruise line include:

  • You know the activity provider is licensed and has a good reputation
  • The cruise line provides shuttle transportation to the activity and back again
  • You don’t risk being late back to your ship — cruise-organized excursions run on ship time
  • You can make friends with other passengers during excursions and continue spending time together once back on board

Average savings on shore excursions: Lots of time, energy, and stress.



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Most entertainment on cruise ships, from comedy and live music to theatre and more, is fee-free. That means entry to shows is included in the cost of your cruise ticket.

What does that mean in dollars and cents? Let’s look at the average cost of tickets to some of these forms of entertainment for comparison.

  • Average price of a comedy ticket: $85
  • Average price of a live concert ticket: $96
  • Average price of a theatre ticket: $40

If you made one of each of those forms of entertainment part of your non-cruise vacation, you’d spend over $200. On a cruise, you’d spend nothing. And you could go to a show every night, which means even more savings.

And that doesn’t even include all the fun entertainment for kids on a cruise ship: go-karts, mini-golf, water parks, movies and much, much more are all included in the price tag of a cruise.

Average savings on entertainment: $220

Time to Do the Math: How Much Can You Save By Cruising?

Why sink your savings into your next trip when you could float away to paradise on a cruise vacation?

At the very least, you can expect to save over $2500 per person on a 2-week vacation if you do it on a cruise. That means a trip for two could leave you with $5000 burning a hole in your pocket.

And you could find even more savings if you’re smart about how you plan your trip. It all starts by knowing the tricks of the trade. Learn about how to get the best deals on cruises »

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