New Report: The 9 Best Cruise Lines for the Money

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With wave season upon us, it’s a good time to start considering some time on the open seas. Can you save money on a cruise right now?

Money expert Clark Howard usually takes a cruise every year and he always looks to save when he’s planning a trip.

U.S. News & World Report recently released a ranking of the best cruise lines for your money. The publication says it ranked the cruise lines based on several factors including:

  • Expert rating (30%), which weighs the editors’ analysis of the ship’s atmosphere, cuisine and more.
  • Traveler rating (50%), which considers how satisfied the passengers were with the accommodations.
  • Health rating (20%), which takes into account the ship’s sanitation inspection scores, which are published by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and other agencies.

What Are the Best Cruise Lines for Your Money?

Here are the best cruise lines for the money, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Make sure you visit the website of the respective cruise lines to check for updated fares or deals to other destinations.

1. Virgin Voyages
2. Carnival Cruises
3. Celebrity Cruises
4. MSC Cruises
5. Princess Cruises
6. Royal Caribbean International
7. Holland America Line
8. Norwegian Cruise Line
9. Costa Cruises

Before You Book a Cruise, Read This

In the trip-planning process, Clark wants you to do your homework and research the cancellation policy of the cruise line you’re thinking about booking.

Although the cruise lines have largely relaxed their COVID vaccination policies, many of them ask that for the longer voyages you be fully caught up on your shots. Some destinations may have restrictions that limit who can disembark based on their vaccination status.

Here are some tips on how to score a cruise for less:

Search Travel Deals

While we’ve handpicked some cruises for you above, we want you to comparison shop to find travel deals that may be out there waiting for you.

Team Clark Travel Editor Clara Bosonetto recommends, as a great starting place to catch some cruise deals. She says once you sign up, you’ll find Daily Deals (promotions) on the right of the page.


“You’ll want to play with all combinations of available filters, and there are plenty of them,” she adds.

Read how Clara finds deals on Vacations To Go.

Consider Travel Insurance

If you find that your cruise’s cancellation policy doesn’t suit your needs, Clark wants you to consider getting travel insurance.

Clark recommends that you get travel insurance for your cruise if it matches one of the following criteria:

  • Your trip is non-refundable.
  • It requires you to pay thousands of dollars in advance.
  • It includes a special tour as part of the trip.

To make sure your trip is covered for all instances, Clark advises that you get Cancel for Any Reason coverage with your trip insurance.

Read our guide on Cancel for Any Reason coverage.

Pay for Your Cruise the Right Way

While some cruise lines offer discounts if you pay with e-checks, which work like electronic debit cards, Clark cautions against it when booking travel. For one thing, Clark is not a fan of debit cards because they don’t offer the same protections as credit cards

“I always want you to pay for a cruise with a credit card, never with a debit card,” Clark says.

Final Thoughts

With so many cruise lines vying for your dollars, Clark wants you to be strategic about booking your next trip on the seas.

Remember the following cruise travel tips:

  • Search for travel deals.
  • Consider trip insurance.
  • Pay the right way.

Want to see more travel deals? Read about the latest travel bargains on ClarkDeals.


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