Is there anything more relaxing than a cruise over pristine blue waters? Incredible ocean views, a drink in hand, and a lounge chair on deck sound like the perfect recipe for relaxing and seeing the world.
Cruising is one of the best ways to see a lot of destinations in a short amount of time. You're basically traveling on a large, all-inclusive resort with all the food you can eat and entertainment you can absorb.
Contrary to popular belief, cruising is actually one of the most affordable ways to travel - if you choose the right destination. Your lodging, food, and entertainment are all included in the initial price. If you choose to go on excursions when you hit port, it costs extra, but it's easy to have a great time without spending a lot of money.
Cruising isn't always affordable. Some cruise lines are more expensive than others as are some destinations. Additionally, not all cruises are designed for young people. Not only are Mediterranean, New England, and Alaskan cruises significantly more expensive than beach cruises, they're also more geared to a more mature audience.
There are a number of affordable, incredible cruises designed for young people if you know where to look. Here are some of the top affordable destinations with you in mind.
The Riviera refers to about 20 cities and lagoons that make up the western coast of Mexico. They're extremely popular among tourists thanks to the clear blue water, white sandy beaches, and vibrant culture.
Some of the most popular cruise destinations in the Riviera include Puerto Vallarta, Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan, Acapulco, and Puerto Escondido. Natives line the beaches in these cities to sell their wares and food. When you're not relaxing on the beach, you can experience Mexico in its native element.
A Riviera cruise from Long Beach is an affordable option for anyone at an average of $300 for a 4-day cruise in the Riviera.
Cape Liberty, the port in New Jersey, can be an expensive starting point, especially if you're seeking a Caribbean destination. But Bermuda is just a four-hour flight from New Jersey, which makes it perfect cruising distance.
Bermuda is known for its incredible pink sand and clear blue water. The history and beauty of this breathtaking destination are unparalleled, and it's an affordable cruise option if you're going for three or four days.
An indoor cabin costs around $300 if you go at the right time. Go during September or early October if you want to beat the crowds and peak pricing, but still have great weather.
The island of Key West is one of the easiest affordable vacations, especially if you only need a weekend getaway. When leaving Miami, you can get to Key West and back in less than three days, and if you book on an affordable cruise line like Carnival, you can find destinations for less than $200.
You'll spend a lot of time lounging on the beach and participating in water sports while at port, but there's more to Key West than just the beach. There are also historical sites like the Ernest Hemingway House, shopping at Mallory Square, and nature reserves like the butterfly conservatory.
Not bad for a $200, all-inclusive weekend!
Baja Mexico is another name for the Baja California Peninsula, the peninsula in northwest Mexico that nearly touches California. The most popular cruise destinations include Tijuana, Ensenada, Tecate, and Cabo San Lucas. Interior cruises can be as affordable as $150 per person depending on the time you go, the length of the journey, and the cruise line you take.
This cruise from Long Beach is one of the most affordable weekend cruise trips around, and there's plenty to do for young people. Along with lounging on white sandy beaches and swimming in crystal-clear, buoyant salt water, you can wander through the city and enjoy Mexico without going too far from home.
It's pretty rare to find untouched land on the eastern coast of Mexico, but Cozumel comes close. It's a mostly undeveloped island covered in green jungle and white sand, and surrounded by crystal clear water.
Cozumel is a beautiful island designed for cruise ships and their many tourists. There are affordable resorts where you can lounge in swimming pools and order as much as you want.
There's also lively island culture including shows to showcase some of the island's Mayan history. The excursions, including trips to Mayan ruins like Chichen Itza, swimming with dolphins, hiking between jungle trees, and diving in underground freshwater caves, are some of the best around the world.
Cozumel is a relatively inexpensive trip if you go out of New Orleans. A four-day cruise averages about $250 a person for an interior cabin.
Half Moon Cay (Bay) is one of the most popular Bahamas destinations coming out of Florida. You can take a long weekend for a three or four-day cruise at an affordable price of $300 per person.
Half Moon Cay is aptly named for the crescent shape of the island, which is lined with white sandy beaches. The deep blue water and perfect weather have been attracting cruise ships for years.
The island is a low-tech destination, so you can easily tune out the real world if you need a little stress relief. If you get tired of lying on the beach, you can always take a nature hike and enjoy birding and the natural beauty of the island.
Baltimore is another expensive cruise starting point, but if you're heading to Bermuda, the price is reasonable. While a Disney cruise could set you back a thousand dollars or more for an indoor cabin, you can take a Carnival or Princess cruise for close to $400 a person.
Bermuda is famous for its pink sandy beaches, but there's a lot more to the destination than its stunning blue waters. There's also the Crystal Caves, which is one of the world's largest island caves.
The best time of year to visit Bermuda is between May and August, but going just before or after the peak season will guarantee better pricing.
Naussau makes up one of the largest and most populated Bahamas islands, which has earned it the title of the capital. It's best known for it's rolling hill landscape and, of course, the beaches.
There's also a large coral reef system offshore that's perfect for snorkeling and diving. You can spend hours with your face underwater, observing the unique ecosystems of fish and sea creatures. You might even spot a sea turtle!
Port Canaveral, which is near Palm Beach, is a great starting point for budget cruisers.
You can hit two or three Bahamas islands, including Naussau, for $200 or less if you go at the right time of year.
Princess Cays is a tiny, mostly uninhabited island for which the sole purpose is entertaining cruise guests. It's a private island owned and operated by Princess Cruises, so if you want to visit this little slice of heaven, you'll need to board a Princess-owned cruise ship. (That includes Holland America and Carnival ships.)
The island offers incredible sandy beaches, clear water for what looks like miles, and lounge chairs shaded by palm trees. It's an all-inclusive resort, so the food, drinks, chairs, towels, and more are all included in the price of your cruise ticket. The cost of this trip starts at the low price of $199.
Tampa is a fun place to start your cruise. Tampa Bay is one of the nicest beaches in the United States. If you can, arrive a few days early to enjoy the beach, shopping, museums, aquariums, and all that the city has to offer.
Once you set sail, you'll be on your way to the rural island of Cozumel. If you get tired of hanging out at the resort on this island, go on one of many excursions that take you into the heart of the Yucatan.
There are also a number of beach excursions available for this cruise, including catamaran sailing, swimming with turtles and dolphins, and windsurfing. While these excursions cost extra, the cruise itself will only set you back $225 for the cheapest package.
On the eastern side of the Yucatan Peninsula rests the port Progreso, which is near the large beach city of Merida. It's located in Yucatan, Mexico, so you'll have access to more rich, Mayan history.
You'll dock at a long pier lined with thatch-roof restaurants and shopping. You'll find more of the same along the white sandy beaches of this coastal destination, making it the perfect place to relax or enjoy water sports.
The island port of Galveston is the perfect starting point for budget travelers who live closer to the midwest. It has a lovely beach as well as all the attractions of a popular Gulf Coast city. When you start from this cruise port, your cruise to Progreso will start at $275.
When taking a cruise that leaves from San Juan, Puerto Rico, you must arrive early to enjoy the beauties and culture of the city. The beach is stunning, and the cobblestone streets are lined with shops and restaurants you'll want to try.
The beauty of Puerto Rico doesn't quite compare to that of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, however. Magen's Bay in St. Thomas is one of the world's seven most beautiful beaches.
After you've taken your fill of stunning pictures in Magen's Bay, check out the coral reefs, ocean parks, and historic Blackbeard's Castle. This cruise is a little pricier at $365 per person, but it's worth every penny!
Rather than leaving from Puerto Rico, make it your primary destination. You could spend days exploring the colorful adobe shops, relaxing at a beachside bar, or swimming in the clear, blue water.
Puerto Rico is also home to two of the world's largest standing military forts. It's a short walk to Castillo San de Cristobal or Castillo San Felipe del Morro, and the coastal views from the fort lookouts are spectacular.
You could also take a trip inland to El Yunque National Forest, a rain forest that promises everything you've seen in the movies. Take a hike to La Mina waterfalls where you can swim in the freshwater stream.
Cape Liberty is an affordable starting point for this cruise at $330 a ticket, but it does mean you'll be taking a one-way cruise because this cruise only happens when ships move for the season. That means you'll need to get a return flight out of San Juan, because you won't be returning to New Jersey.
Because of its close proximity to Los Angeles, Catalina Island is one of the most affordable not to mention quickest, cruises you can take. While the beaches are fantastic, the island is known more for its wildlife, dive sites, and hiking.
Catalina Island is home to Mt. Orizaba, a tall mountain peak with gorgeous views of the Pacific Ocean. The weather is perfect on the island, so hiking is a great pastime.
However, if you're more into shopping and nightlife, move inland towards the city of Avalon. There are also cabanas on Descanso Beach like you wouldn't believe, surrounded by palm trees and cool Pacific breezes.
This 2-4 day trip won't cost you more than $150 per person.
Belize, a nation on the eastern coast of Central America, is one of a few cruise destinations you can take out of Galveston. It's also one of the more affordable starting points if you're headed to Belize at around $400 per person.
This cruise is usually 6-8 days, and you'll probably stop off at a few other destinations like Roatan and Costa Maya, making the higher price tag well worth it.
Once in Belize City, you'll have more than enough to keep you busy. Offshore lies the massive Belize Barrier Reef, an intricate ecosystem of colorful fish and aquatic species. There are few places in the Atlantic that offer better snorkeling and diving than this.
There's also historical ruins, museums, and nearby islands you can sail to for the day. Whether you're interested in history, sightseeing, aquatic experiences, or luxurious relaxation, Belize is the perfect cruise spot for the young and adventurous.
Grand Cayman is the largest of the Cayman Islands, and as such, it's a very popular cruise port located on the western side of the Caribbean sea. It's best known for its beach resorts, scuba diving, and snorkeling, all at a low price of $269 for a five-day cruise.
If you can only afford to buy one excursion while on this cruise, snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef should be the priority. You could spend hours with your face submerged, taking in the colorful undersea life. You might even see a sea turtle!
There's also the turtle farm located slightly inland that's worth a visit. You can hold and swim with sea turtles born and bred on the island. Take a tour of the small island on your way there, and enjoy the rich history and stunning coastal views.
Half Moon Cay has a number of virtues, primarily the secluded beach experience. It's a quick trip from the east coast, and the white sand and cerulean waters go for miles. The cabanas lining the beach allow for lavish relaxation while the waves whoosh on the shore.
Charleston, South Carolina is a fun starting point for this particular cruise. Not only is it affordable at just under $300, but it's also a beautiful place to begin your vacation. If you arrive a day or two before embarkation, you can enjoy all that Charleston has to offer.
The city was established in 1670, so there's plenty of history to take in as you walk along cobblestone streets and take a tour via horse-drawn carriage. You can also visit the city market, Fort Sumter, Magnolia Plantation, and go shopping.
Get a head start on your tan on one of Charleston's many beaches. It's also just a two-hour drive from Myrtle Beach, one of the most popular destinations on the eastern seaboard.
A popular destination in the Florida Keys archipelago, Key West is designed for cruise ships. It's a great weekend trip with three-day cruises starting at less than $300.
Located just 90 miles north of Cuba and at the southernmost tip of Florida, the island of Key West offers all the best of the Atlantic Ocean. Although you can get to the island by way of the Overseas Highway, a cruise ship, and all its inclusive benefits, is a lot more fun.
The beaches are lovely here, but not quite as beautiful as you would see in Naples or Miami. Key West is more renowned for its snorkeling and scuba diving opportunities. You can experience an incredible undersea world like that of Grand Cayman a lot closer to home.
Costa Maya, a region on the Yucatan Peninsula, has a lot to offer by way of adventure. Most cruise ships dock in the village of Mahahual.
To one side of the village lies incredible beaches. The sand is white and you can see through the water for miles. There's also a huge coral reef system that's swimming with colorful fish, dolphins, turtles, and sharks.
To the other side of the village is a jungle where you can go hiking and find freshwater waterfalls. Wild animals do live in this jungle, including jaguars, so it's best to take a guided tour.
When traveling from New Orleans, the trip to Costa Maya is pretty affordable.
A seven-day cruise, including stops at other locations on the Yucatan Peninsula, starts at just $450 a person.
You can take a trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico via many different cruises, but San Diego is a great starting point if you're looking for a more direct route.
It's a quick trip, so depending on how many stops in between, the cruise can last anywhere from three to seven days. It's also an affordable cruise starting at under $300.
Cabo San Lucas is a favorite destination in the Riviera, thanks to its beaches lined with thatch-roof restaurants. It's also home to the famous rock formations off the coast, which are part of private beaches that you can pay to visit.
You have to take a bay tour while docked in Cabo so you can get up close and personal with these famous rock formations. Then, head back to the beach to relax, swim, and enjoy the beautiful sunshine.
References: carnival, cruisecritic, expedia, priceline