Why Are Some Cruises So Cheap Right Now?

Increasing air fares got you down? Maybe it’s time to relax and take a cruise.

According to several members on the Cruise Critic forums, current cruise ticket prices are amongst the lowest they have ever seen – as low as $199 for a 7-day cruise in some instances.

But why are cruise prices so low, particularly when airline prices seem to be moving in the opposite direction? Theories abound.

People without jobs, adequate paying jobs, cannot afford even $200 (actually $400 for 2 or with single supplement) plus transportation to/from the port plus on board expenses (a minimum of about $80 each for HSC) – and they certainly cannot afford to take time off work. … Vacations are one of the first casualties ~bcd2010

I think the worthless media created a perfect storm right before the election with their over the top ebola coverage. People were afraid to get on a plane and/or cruise ship. When the fervor died (immediately after the election) airfares for holiday travel were skyrocketing. ~pamelabrown53

I’m in the camp of too much supply. Airline prices are going up, hotel prices are going up. Why not cruise ships? Too much capacity/competition. ~cruisemom42

I think the price of air travel is a big issue here. We snagged an unbelievable price for a holiday cruise but almost had to mortgage the house to arrange our air. In fact, due to the price of air we actually chose our second choice itinerary. ~arzz

Though I must admit limited knowledge when it comes to the cruise industry (though I have read the very interesting book, “Devils on the Deep Blue Sea“, and I have stayed at Holiday Inn Express’s before), my money would be on cruisemom42’s hypothesis – over supply.

Then again, some cruisers seem to think these super-low prices are unique to Holland America Line (HAL), which begs the question; what’s wrong with Holland America?

HAL is overpricing their cruises for those of us that do advance book and not dropping them soon enough. Thus they end up with folks who live in Florida or are retirees with greater flexibility. As a result, they’re perpetuating their reputation of catering towards an older demographic and dis-incentivizing continued loyalty for those of us coming from a distance or with more limited vacation time.


I’m not sure who is managing their pricing or marketing, but the executive management may want to reappraise their performance and continued employment in that role. Their data analytics appear a bit faulty as well. ~maraena

Whatever the reason, with cruise prices this low it’s all the more tempting to give one a try, particularly if you have the flexibility to travel on short notice. And if you can use miles to book the ticket then the overall trip expense is reduced even further. And if you’re lucky you might get the ship practically to yourself (of course, the accuracy of that statement depends on your definition of “lucky”).

Not that I’m recommending getting away from the family for the holidays, but if you’re looking for an excuse anyway, “We found a once-in-a-lifetime cruise offer” isn’t the worst I have heard.

Read the thread in its entirety: Bad Economy Or Too Many Ships?


  1. It’s a combination of things. The airfares are killing them the negative press and hostile media are killing them. So they are starting to figure out if we can just get them on the boat then we can rack up liquor, fees, gratuities (you didn’t actually think those all go to the crew did you). I don’t blame them. I’m a huge cruise fan and I understand the game. What I do mind is when I book a $200 cruise and then end up with another $180 in port fees and taxes.

    Cruise $200 pp
    Taxes $180 pp
    Grat. $ 84 (7x$12)
    Subtotal $464

    Then add parking or airfare, liquor, shore excursions, optional restaurants, duty free revenue, casino and overpriced photos. There you go.

    Again I’m not being negative but there is fee creep going on. That $200 cruise is now $500’ish minimum per person. High yes but still cheaper than hotels or resorts with included food.

  2. I think its a generational thing. I am a 21 year old college student and I wouldn’t be caught dead on a cruise. Reminds me of vacations my grandmother would take. On the other hand, I will have racked up about 135,000 miles this year flying. While a full time student. It’s just not cool to cruise

  3. Thanks for the added insight Dan. And Tyler, while I’m somewhere north of 21 (think Arctic Circle) I tend to agree with you on the perception problem of cruising. Having said that, I found these low prices interesting because they are pretty close to low enough to entice me to give the experience a try. If I found I liked it, it wouldn’t be the first time my pre-conceived notions were proven wrong.

  4. I just booked a “cheap” cruise today, advertised as $124 for an ocean-view 3-day cruise. After it was all said and done (mid-ship, picked my rooms on U deck and got a separate room for the kids) it’s $296.25 per person! I had a nice surprise to see a $500 travel credit from a Barclay bonus so that made my decision for privacy and extra space easy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.