We compared the prices and amenities of standard rooms on Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, and Carnival cruise lines — here's the one with the best bang for your buck

Vintagepix/ShutterstockHow much does a cruise cost?
  • The cost of a cruise depends on what room you get and where you’re going.
  • We compared the cost of an inside stateroom – the standard, most affordable stateroom – and its amenities on a cruise to the western Caribbean at three major cruise lines: Norwegian,Carnival, and Royal Caribbean.
  • Carnival is the most expensive, but offers more room, while Royal Caribbean is the most affordable overall.

How much does a cruise cost?

Well, that depends on what room you get.

We took a look at the standard inside stateroom – the most affordable room on a cruise ship – at three major cruise lines: Norwegian, Carnival, and Royal Caribbean. To keep things consistent, we chose a similar itinerary for each, selecting a five-day western Caribbean cruise in early April 2019 for two passengers embarking from Miami.

Carnival is the most expensive per room, but offers more square footage for your money. Meanwhile, Norwegian is the second most affordable per room, but costliest per square foot. Royal Caribbean is the most affordable overall, both by cost and per square foot.

Royal caribbean norwegian carnival cruise line comparisonShayanne Gal/Business Insider

However, there’s more to a room than the cost – you also have to think about what you’re paying for, like sleeping provisions and amenities. The size and arrangement of beds (or sofa beds) can vary, and while most cabins have basic amenities like a TV, closet, vanity, desk, couch, dresser, some don’t have them all.

So, we took a closer look at the inside stateroom in each of the three cruise lines. Keep in mind that these specifics can change depending on cruise line’s ship, as well as itinerary and season, and all featured staterooms have private bathrooms and showers.

Scroll through below to see which ones really offer more bang for your buck.

Norwegian: $US399 at $US2.80 per square foot

Norwegian Cruise Line

Square footage: 135-291

Number of beds: 3-4

Type of bed: Two lower twin beds that convert to a queen and two Pullman beds

Basic amenities: TV, closet, vanity

Norwegian offers a bargain package upgrade.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Inside staterooms on Norwegian cruise line range from 135 to 291 square feet. At 142 square feet, the Sail Away stateroom on the Norwegian Dawn (the sailing ship for the selected itinerary) is large enough to accommodate two to four guests.

Prices start at $US399 and range up to $US569 depending on interior location. For an extra $US110, you can choose one offer among a variety for a special package: unlimited open bar, shore excursion credits, specialty dining, WiFi, or friends and family (adding one to two extra guests in your stateroom for free).

In addition to a TV, closet, and vanity, the stateroom also comes with a hair dryer, telephone, and refrigerator.

Carnival: $US414 at $US2.23 per square foot

Carnival Cruise Lines

Square footage: 185

Number of beds: 2-4

Type of bed: Two twin beds that convert to a king; some cabins have pull-down beds for three or four people

Basic amenities: TV, closet, vanity, desk, couch, dresser

Carnival offers ample amenities.

Carnival Cruise Lines

Carnival’s inside staterooms are 185 square feet on average, beginning at $US414 per person. For $US7 more per person a day, you can upgrade to a porthole stateroom with an ocean view. Some also come with connecting rooms and sleep up to five guests.

The staterooms include a few more amenities than Norwegian: desk, TV, closet, dresser, vanity, and sofa, depending on the room. It also includes a 24-hour room steward, television, telephone, and individual climate control.

Royal Caribbean: $US353 at $US2.20 per square foot

Royal Caribbean

Square footage: 160

Number of beds: 2-4

Type of bed: Two twin beds that convert to a king; some cabins have a double sofa bed

Basic amenities: TV, closet, vanity, couch, dresser

Royal Caribbean offers various room upgrades with window options.

Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean has three different inside staterooms. For $US353, the standard stateroom has two twin beds, a vanity, and sitting area. Inside staterooms that accommodate up to four guests have a double sofa bed in the sitting area.

For $US30 more, at $US383, you can upgrade to an interior room with a virtual balcony – a high-definition 80-inch screen connected to a live camera with audio outside the ship – or an interior room with an extra seven square feet and a view facing the inside of the ship. For this itinerary, the view is of the Royal Promenade.

In addition to a flat screen TV, it has a hair dryer and ample drawer and closet space.

Which one is the best?


Norwegian, Carnival, and Royal Caribbean all have their strengths, but some outweigh others.

Carnival may be the priciest on the list, but when you look at it from the perspective of price per square foot, the cost of an interior stateroom on board is only three cents more than Royal Caribbean and Carnival – and you’re getting more square footage and standard amenities than the other two. With Carnival, you’re getting a lot more bang for your buck.

However, if you’re looking for a more cost-effective option, Royal Caribbean is more affordable than both Carnival and Norwegian. While it doesn’t have as many rooms or amenities as Carnival, it does have more than the room on Norwegian Dawn, at the second most affordable price. And that remains true even if you upgrade to a room with a virtual balcony or promenade view window.

At the end of the day, it really depends on what’s most important to you when it comes to your cruise room.

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