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Cruise Cost Breakdown: Comparing a Luxury Cruise to a Premium Cruise

By The Cruise Web, Inc.

Cruise ShipThe experience of a luxury cruise is beyond compare. The service, the intimate ships and the ultra-fine amenities are something everyone should experience at least once. However, many people don’t give themselves the opportunity to experience a luxury cruise because the cost of such a trip seems too expensive. Well, get ready to have your mind blown, because we are here today to tell you that you shouldn’t be afraid of the cost of a luxury cruise. In fact, that price is a lot friendlier than you think.

As you read on we will compare the price of a luxury cruise to a cruise on a premium cruise line. We’ve compared two 7-night Alaska cruises that set sail in May 2013.  Before we even start comparing financials, there is the sheer size of the ships. With a premium ship you will be sailing with roughly 3,000 others. With a luxury ship you are sailing with between 200 to 500 other passengers. The intimacy of a smaller ship means less waiting in lines, more attention to your needs. The luxury ships also allow for a better guest-to-staff ratio. On luxury cruises you might find one staff member to every 1.4 passengers, whereas premium is about 1 staff member to every two guests. It may not sound like much, but it makes a huge difference on board.

Check our our value comparison below, and then continue reading for a more detailed breakdown of the costs.

Value Comparison: Luxury vs Premium

Cruise Fare and Taxes
Brace yourself, here comes that scary number, but keep reading to find out why it’s not as shocking as you think. For the purpose of this exercise, we compared suites on both a premium line and a luxury line. Both suites were over 300 square feet with balconies.

  • Premium cruise fare including taxes and fees: $1,979 per person.
  • Luxury cruise fare including taxes and fees: $4,699 per person.

Getting There
Alright, now before you get on the ship you have to make your way to the embarkation port. Many luxury cruise fares will include your roundtrip airfare, as well as one night in a hotel before the day of embarkation. Now, because people travel from all over the world to get on a cruise to Alaska, it’s hard to determine the price of a flight, so for our purposes we proposed a flight from the Washington, DC area to Seattle. We also found an average rate for a hotel near the port.

  • Premium
    • Roundtrip airfare between Seattle and Washington, DC: $600 per person.
    • Hotel for one night in Seattle: $150 per person.
    • Transfers to and from the airport: $58 per person.
    • Total cost of getting there: $808 per person.
  • Luxury
    • Airfare, one-night hotel stay and transfers are complimentary.

Onboard
drinksWhile you are on your ship, you have lots of options available to you. As you sail you can choose to relax and celebrate with a special beverage like champagne, a martini or even a beer. On a premium or contemporary cruise line, each of these drinks will cost you.

For those looking to explore all aspects of a ship, there are extra special treats you can purchase, including dinners at some of the ship’s specialty restaurants, or you can pay to have lobster at every meal.

The cruise lines also have a lot of fun onboard events: you can enjoy lounging by the pool, going to see a movie or playing sports, but many more in-depth activities have a small fee attached. For instance, computer classes, a round of golf, aerobics classes and even wine tastings are offered onboard for roughly $15 to $25 per activity.

Lastly, another fee that is often built into the luxury cruise fare is the gratuities. There are lots of staff and crew that work hard to give you a great experience. On premium cruise lines, it is recommended that each passenger staying in a suite, set aside $12 a day for gratuities.

  • Premium
    • Alcohol/Soda/Bottled Water: If you were to have a drink each night of your cruise, you will spend roughly $150 including drink gratuities.
    • If you ate at a specialty restaurant three nights while on your cruise, that would add up to $75 per person.
    • Onboard activities like wine tastings, gym classes and time hitting some golf balls would add up to roughly $100 per person.
    • Gratuities for 7 days: $84 per person.
    • Total onboard expenses: $409 per person.
  • Luxury
    • All drinks, gratuities and onboard amenities are complimentary.

Excursions
Flightseeing adventure in AlaskaSeeing the world is one of the major reasons for cruising, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility that travelers will be willing to spend money for excursions that will most definitely give them once-in-a-lifetime experiences. For an Alaska cruise, this would definitely include a flight-seeing adventure where you fly high above the clouds to really take in an eagle’s view of the “Last Frontier.” Travelers will also want to spend time visiting the glaciers and tasting some of the local crab and salmon. Each stop offers the chance to experience something new and exciting.

  • Premium
    • Five excursions could add up to $665 per person.
  • Luxury
    • Some luxury lines include complimentary excursions.

Summary and Grand Totals
To sum this comparison up, you can see that when you sail with a premium line you may pay a lower rate for your cruise fare, but once onboard, you will spend more money to make sure you have a vacation worthy of your time and effort. In our example, those onboard expenses close the price gap by $1,882.

  • Premium
    • Getting There, Onboard and Excursion expenses add up to $1,882 per person.
  • Luxury
    • Getting There, Onboard and Excursion expenses can all be complimentary.

The grand total for each cruise is as follows:

  • Premium: $3,861 per person, which comes out to $552 per day.
  • Luxury: $4,699 per person, which comes out to $671 per day.

As stated above, this is just one example of a typical cruise experience (exact costs and figures will vary based on itinerary, accommodations and cruise line). At The Cruise Web, we take pride in finding the perfect cruise for our clients, and that includes finding a cruise to match your budget, but also your personality. For those interested in luxury that  haven’t considered it solely based on the price, we hope this serves as a great example of how that number doesn’t tell the whole story.

Are you surprised by the actual value of a luxury cruise?

The Cruise Web, Inc.
The Cruise Web, Inc.
reply@cruiseweb.com
1-800-377-9383

2 comments

1 Carolyn { 02.20.13 at 10:29 pm }

You showed a cruise from Dubai but I couldn’t bring it up.

2 Kevin Walker - The Cruise Web { 02.21.13 at 10:16 am }

Hi Carolyn, This blog post was comparing two Alaska cruises, but we do have a selection of Dubai cruises available and I’d love to talk to you about them. I’ll give you a call this afternoon – Kevin