How Much Does a Carnival Cruise Cost?

While Carnival Cruise Line is considered an affordable family choice, you might be wondering, "How much does a Carnival cruise really cost?".

How Much Does a Carnival Cruise Cost?

When many Americans think of a cruise, a Carnival ship with a red “whale tail” funnel is probably one of the first images to come to mind. Self-proclaimed as “America’s cruise line,” Carnival is one of the U.S.’s most popular and affordable options when it comes to taking a cruise vacation.

“So it’s an affordable line,” you may be thinking, “but how much does it actually cost?”. While we can’t provide a concrete answer to how much a Carnival cruise costs since every itinerary, ship, and individual cruiser’s situation is different, we can go over the basics. This will give you a better idea of how much you’ll spend both ahead of time and once onboard.

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How Much Does a Carnival Cruise Cost?

What are the Carnival cruise costs for my family?

Instead of having a set nightly price like a hotel room — regardless of how many people are staying there — cruises are priced per person. This is because you’re not just getting accommodations; you’re getting food, entertainment, and activities with your cruise fare as well.

To give you a rough idea of the average cost you’re looking at for a Carnival cruise, here are some estimates based on two people in a cabin including taxes and port fees: $100 to $140 per person, per night for an interior cabin and $150 to $190 per person, per night for a balcony cabin.

Complete Guide to Carnival Cruise Ships By Size

These numbers do not include gratuities, shore excursions, travel insurance, or any other extras on the ship. Keep in mind that these are estimates based on the average cost for Carnival’s currently-published cruises. Many voyages are much cheaper or more expensive than this.

The first two guests in a stateroom pay the full published cruise fare, regardless of their age. If a cabin is accommodating more than two people, the additional guests will be charged a discounted fare. This means that whether you’re traveling as a friend group, with your young children, or with your adult children, if everyone is staying in the same cabin the total cost will be cheaper than the full per-person published fare.

In addition, babies and toddlers under two years old are not charged the daily gratuity fee on Carnival. We’ll discuss daily gratuities more below.

Transportation, Port Fees, and Travel Insurance

Alongside the cruise fare, the other major cost of your vacation is going to be transportation to get to your ship unless you live close by. Whether you fly, drive, or take a train, make sure to factor in how much getting to the homeport will cost you when considering your total trip budget.

Also, when searching for a cruise, don’t forget that taxes and port fees are usually added on top of the base per-person fare that you’ll see on the cruise line’s (or a third-party’s) website. In the section above where we outlined the average cost of an interior and balcony cabin, we included these additional fees. But when searching around for your cruise, keep in mind that you’ll have extra fees on top of the per-person price — sometimes up to a few hundred dollars more.

We also want to touch on travel insurance. Carnival doesn’t require that its guests have travel insurance, but we recommend that you do. Most health insurance plans don’t cover medical expenses in other countries. This means if there’s an accident or you get sick while on the ship or in port, you’ll have to pay for your medical bills out-of-pocket. Travel insurance also covers things such as trip interruptions and lost luggage.

Carnival Cruise Costs By Ship

As is the case with most cruise lines, Carnival’s newest and largest ships generally command a premium over its smaller, older ones. Pricing for middle aged vessels should fall somewhere in between, unless they’re operating highly sought-after or rarer itineraries.

Carnival currently has a massive fleet of 25 ships with a 26th, Carnival Jubilee, scheduled to debut this December. The current newest vessels in the fleet are Excel-class ship Carnival Celebration and Vista-class vessel Carnival Venezia.

Together with Celebration, Mardi Gras and Carnival Jubilee make up Carnival’s Excel-class. This class usually commands a premium thanks to their massive size and abundance of restaurants and amenities, including the first roller coaster at sea. You’ll find better deals, though less amenities, on smaller older ships like Carnival Elation, Splendor, Conquest, and Miracle.

Carnival Cruise Costs By Destination

Certain cruising regions and destinations are more coveted and/or expensive to operate in than others. This means another big factor in the cost of your cruise will be the itinerary and length of the sailing.

The Caribbean and Bahamas, for example, are easy to get to from a variety of southern and east coast ports and an abundance of cruise lines have ships sailing in that region. The convenience of location and high competition make cruises in that area generally more affordable. In addition, many Americans can easily drive to a port that sails to the Caribbean, making it cost-effective since it can eliminate the cost for airfare.

Carnival cruises to the Mexican Riviera from California can also be a less expensive option thanks to the high numbers of people that live near one of those homeports and a large variety of ships in the area.

On the flipside, Alaska is an extremely popular cruise destination but also has a very limited cruising season each year. This means these voyages command a premium — especially during the peak months of June through August.

Carnival Cruise Line Gets Ready for Busy Alaska Season

Other less-common Carnival cruise destinations such as the Panama Canal, Hawaii, and Europe cost more because of their limited availability and unique port calls. Transatlantic or transpacific crossings are often cheaper because they lack the convenience of starting and ending in the same port and have a very large number of sea days vs. port days.

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Carnival Cruise Costs By Cabin Type

Once you’ve figured out which ship and itinerary you want to sail, the next factor that greatly impacts the cost of your cruise is the type of stateroom you choose. Just like with most cruise lines, Carnival has four basic categories that then break down into further specific types of cabins: interior, oceanview, balcony, and suites.

Of course, based on desirability, they are priced cheapest to most expensive in that order. When you’re pricing a cruise, the base starting fare is the cost of an interior cabin. If you’re going for a higher category, you’ll pay more than what you initially see.

Within these four standard categories are other special categories on select Carnival ships such as Cloud 9 Spa staterooms with perks such as included fitness classes and access to the spa thermal suite. Havana staterooms provide exclusive access to the Havana sundeck and pool. Family Harbor staterooms are designed for families and include access to a special family lounge. Excel Suites feature unlimited access to the Loft 19 sundeck, priority boarding and debarkation, and complimentary laundry service.

Carnival tips and tricks

The difference in cost between the stateroom categories varies depending on factors we’ve already discussed, like the particular ship and itinerary that it’s sailing as well as current availability.

Here are some examples of the differences you might encounter between stateroom categories based on three random sailings. (Prices are per person, including taxes and fees.):

Four-night Western Caribbean from Miami on Carnival Sunrise – April 25-29, 2024

  • Interior: $437
  • Oceanview: $522
  • Balcony: $662
  • Suite: $1,382

Seven-day Alaska from Seattle on Carnival Luminosa – July 18-25, 2024

  • Interior: $1,253
  • Oceanview: $1,563
  • Balcony: $2,033
  • Suite: $2,986

Seven-day Eastern Caribbean from Port Canaveral on Mardi Gras – January 20-27, 2024

  • Interior: $843
  • Oceanview: $1,103
  • Balcony: $1,203
  • Suite: $1,958

What costs extra on a Carnival cruise?

Once you’ve gotten the cruise fare, transportation to your homeport, and travel insurance out of the way, there are other expenses to keep in mind when budgeting for your Carnival cruise. While a lot is part of the standard cruise fare, here’s a breakdown on what will cost you extra.

Note: You can easily have an amazing cruise without purchasing extras. This list is just a guide to show you what’s available if you do decide to spend extra to enhance your experience.

Shore Excursions

Shore excursions are completely optional. You’re not obligated to do any specific activities or tours in any port on your itinerary. However, if you do want to take shore excursions, make sure to budget for them. Many cruisers opt for a mix during their cruise vacation. They take excursions in some ports and explore others on their own. Whatever your plan is for a port day, factor that into your vacation cost.

Cruise Shore Excursions


Aside from the use of its HUB app, internet is not free on a Carnival cruise. The line offers three plans to choose from: the Social plan which costs $12.75 per person, per day and includes access to social media, airline websites, and iMessage; the Value plan which costs $17 per person, per day and includes the Social plan plus access to email and most websites; and the Premium plan which costs $18.70 per person, per day and includes everything from the other two plans at the fastest possible connection, plus access to video calling such as FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, and Teams.


An automatic daily gratuity of $16 per person for a standard cabin ($18 for those staying in suites) is automatically added to your bill at the end of the cruise. This can also be pre-paid ahead of the voyage. These gratuities go towards guest-facing crew members including servers in the dining room and stateroom attendants, as well as behind-the-scenes staff like those who work in the laundry room.

Passengers can visit guest services to remove daily gratuities from their account or adjust the amount given, but this is discouraged. Additional cash tips for crew members who you feel deserve it are also welcomed. You also may want to bring cash to tip porters and tour guides.


Carnival cruises include basic beverages in the fare like juice, lemonade, milk, coffee, tea, and hot chocolate. Soda, alcoholic drinks, smoothies, specialty beverages, and bottled water come at an additional cost.

drink packages on Carnival - Carnival tips and tricks

Here’s an idea of how much drinks cost on Carnival:

  • Beer starts at $6.50
  • Wine by the glass starts at $9.50
  • Standard cocktails start at $7.50
  • Specialty cocktails start at $10.50
  • Bottled water costs $1.50
  • Soda, specialty coffees, and energy drinks range from $2.50 to $5

The line offers an unlimited soda package called Bottomless Bubbles. This costs $6.95 per day for kids and $9.50 per day for adults. There’s also the Cheers Package. This includes alcohol, soda, specialty coffees, bottled water, and energy drinks for $59.95 per person, per day. If one adult purchases the Cheers package, all other adults 21 and older in the same cabin must also purchase Cheers.

Before making a decision about whether to purchase a drink package, break down how much you actually think you’ll drink on board. Be sure to factor in the time you plan to spend in port and won’t be using your package when deciding whether it will be cost-effective for you.

Do you plan to drink a fair amount on sea days but don’t think you’ll have more than a cocktail or two on port days? Is your itinerary port-intensive? Then, it may be cheaper to go a la carte. If you like the idea of paying a per-day fee to not have to worry about how much you’re spending each time you order a drink, go for the package. If you drink but your spouse doesn’t, it might be better to go a la carte since the Cheers package is required for all 21+ adults in the cabin. Be mindful of the expense and do what makes the most sense for you.

Specialty Dining

Carnival Cruise Line has a wide variety of specialty restaurants to choose from, especially on its larger ships. Guests can choose from venues like Fahrenheit 555 steakhouse ($48 per adult), Bonsai Teppanyaki ($38 per adult), Rudi’s Seagrill ($48 per adult), and Cucina Del Capitano Italian restaurant ($18 per adult), among others.

Many specialty restaurants offer a smaller menu for lunch that’s either free or costs less than the dinnertime price. They also welcome kids for a much smaller fee than the charge for adults at dinner. Take a look at which specialty restaurants are on your ship and decide which (if any) you want to try. Then, be sure to include the cost in your overall budget.

How Much Does a Carnival Cruise Cost?


For many vacationers, a trip isn’t complete without a magnet, pin, or Christmas ornament to commemorate the occasion. You can get these — and much more — at the shops on board your ship. In addition to Carnival logo and destination-specific merchandise, Carnival vessels also have shops where you can purchase things like fine jewelry, perfume, makeup, name-brand clothing, and bottles of liquor.

You also may want to purchase souvenirs in different ports. We recommend setting a souvenir budget slightly higher than what you expect you’ll purchase, then do your best to stick to it.

Spa & Salon

There are many services and treatments available at Carnival’s onboard spa and salon. These include massages, facials, mani-pedis, haircuts, hair styling, and much more. Prices may vary depending on your cruise, but to give you an idea, a 50-minute Swedish massage starts at $104.30 and an aroma stone massage starts at $125.30. A traditional manicure starts at $59, while styling for long hair starts at $55.30.

In addition, most Carnival ships also feature a thermal suite. This is a space within the spa that includes things like a sauna, aromatic showers, a hot tub, a steam room, and a hydrotherapy pool. Cloud 9 Spa cabins and select suite accommodations come with included access to the thermal suite, but otherwise you’ll have to pay to get in. A day pass starts at $30 per person, or $50 per couple. Full-cruise passes are also available for a discounted per-day price.

Top Things to Do on Carnival Panorama


In addition to what’s already been mentioned, build some wiggle room in your budget for other miscellaneous onboard expenses. For example, Carnival offers a whimsical Dr. Seuss-inspired event called Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast for $10 per adult and $8 per child. It includes fun menu items like — of course — Green Eggs and Ham, Truffula Tree Pancakes, Horton’s Cereal-Crusted French Toast, and Fox in Socks Steak and Eggs.

Other various things that will cost you extra around the ship include bingo, photos at Pixels photo gallery, the arcade, BOLT roller coaster, room service, and sweet treats from JavaBlue Café or the onboard candy shop, Cherry on Top.

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Does Carnival offer any deals or discounts?

Carnival Cruise Line frequently runs sales and promotions. So, if you’re looking to book a cruise be sure to keep an eye on their website and social media platforms. Some sales revolve around a specific holiday or occasion, such as Labor Day or Black Friday/Cyber Monday.

Others aren’t attached to any particular occasion or time of year. At the time of writing, Carnival is running its ‘Sail Together Sales Event,’ which includes up to 40 percent off cruise rates and reduced deposits starting at $50 per person. These are common sale perks for Carnival. Other promotions that we see occasionally include things such as free onboard credit and free cabin upgrades.


With the cruise fare, taxes and port fees, gratuities, and some on board extras added in, we estimate that you should plan to spend a minimum of $150 to $200 per person, per day on Carnival if staying in an interior or oceanview cabin. Of course, if you plan to book a balcony cabin or suite, take shore excursions in most ports, purchase a drink package, eat in specialty restaurants, etc., your cost will likely be higher.

The average for most Carnival guests falls somewhere between $200 and $300 per person, per day. Remember, these are just estimations. There are many voyages available that are much cheaper or much more expensive than this. So, be sure to do your research to find the best sailing for both your budget and preferences.


Do you agree with our assessment of how much a Carnival cruise costs? Do you look for the cheapest cruise fare or often budget extra money for all the add-ons? Drop us an anchor below to share your experiences cruising with Carnival.

Sarah has been writing about the cruise industry since 2015, and in that time has taken a dozen cruises and counting. Her favorite onboard activities include trying the casual dining options, spending time in the spa’s thermal suite, and attending the love & marriage show. You can keep up with her on Instagram at @IAmSarahJaneB.
Sarah Bretz, Contributor
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  1. I love cruising . I cruise only carnival . I say two out of 11 were a nightmare . So odds are in your favor . This article doesn’t mention anything about parking , gasoline and proper clothing . So it adds up quick . There’s nothing mentioned about the great deals from the casino, the room credit or fun money . Cruises are much more affordable than this add . Don’t let these prices push you away . Book it yourself and get you a casino representation after your first cruise . Spend money in the casino and the deals can’t be beat on your next one . I will say carnival doesn’t communicate that good at all . Be sure and read everything before booking ! There are ultimate and elite cruises . Also casino cruises .

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