Let's face it, Titanic spoiled us about our perceptions of luxury cruises. Tragic fate notwithstanding, the epic flick about the legendary White Star liner opened people's eyes to lifestyles of the upper-crust in first class and the downtrodden in steerage.
More than a century later, those class lines have long since blurred, since you can land a decent cruise at a bargain with most of the amenities, if you look hard enough.
Fortunately, here are five options to cut down on that research.
Advance Booking: Carnival And Norwegian Cruise Ships
Cruising Mexico's eastern shoreline for four nights can be yours for $184 a ticket, but you'll have to wait until December 2020 to get onboard the Carnival Inspiration for the experience. It's a chance to set sail from Los Angeles to destinations that include Catalina and Ensenada, while folks lounge by the pool, splash around in the waterpark, let it ride at the casino or bite into what's reported some of the best burgers ever served on a cruise.
One four-nighter on board the Carnival Conquest goes for $189 a pop, but you might have to book nearly a year in advance. The liner, departing from Miami, offers a cruise of the Caribbean with stops in Key West and Cozumel. Between stops, folks can relax at a high-end burger joint, a sports bar or get your share of yuks at a comedy club on the seafaring premises.
Starting in February, the Norwegian Pearl offers a three-night round trip of the Caribbean, launching from Key West for as little as $189 a passenger. It's a steal, given that guests have access to a wide array of dining opportunities ranging from steakhouses and sushi bars to a French bistro and an Italian eatery. There's also a relaxation spa and an outdoor bar with a swimming pool.
The Bahamas is such a popular cruise destination that liner competition can drive the price down to something rather affordable. That's the case here with a three-night trip on board the MSC Divina, which takes thrifty passengers who paid $139 to visit Freeport in the Bahamas. Booking an interior cabin instead of one with an ocean view certainly helps, and you'll still have access to four pools and even a 4-D theater.
Finally, if budget is your prime directive, you can't go much cheaper than the Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line, which has a fleet of more seasoned vessels that can take passengers for two-day junkets from Florida to your choice of Grand Bahama or Nassau. The cheapest cabin goes for as low as $99 per person before you tack on port fees and taxes.
Fare Thee Well...
Still not enough? There are plenty of other cruises available, and if you've been looking long enough, you might find some patterns when it comes to cost. Timing is everything, especially if you book early. Just as significant, fares are lower during periods when the kids are in school, if you think risking the youngsters skipping a few days is worth the venture. Additionally, older ships sailing from less-frequently-used ports will not only result in cheaper fares but lower dockage fees. And you'll save even more if you take a shorter cruise and book a more interior cabin.