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Find the best cruise for you

Featured cruise deals, cruising guide, why take a cruise vacation.

If you have a place on your bucket list, chances are, a cruise will get you there – provided the destination is along a coastline or inland waterway. Cruises cover the world, taking millions of passengers each year to regions such as the Caribbean, the Bahamas, Alaska, Europe, the Mediterranean and even Antarctica. Cruising offers a tremendous value, with trips that include your lodging, meals and entertainment – all rolled into one. Some luxury cruise lines even offer fully inclusive vacations, which cover drinks and tours ashore. And best of all, cruising means seeing the world conveniently after unpacking only once.

Cruises also provide a wonderful option for families, with many ships offering things like waterslides, mini-golf courses and fun clubs for kids, tweens and teens. While most are free, nursery programs can cost extra. Planning is easy: Pick your destination and the right ship (and line) for your travel style. The cruise line makes it simple, offering packages to help you save on extras like alcohol, shore tours or even airfare.

Travelers say they choose to cruise because cruising often costs less per night when compared with land vacations at a hotel, where they'll have to book -- and pay for -- every extra.

What are Tips for Finding Cheap Cruises?

If you're a flexible traveler, you'll have a better chance of finding cheap cruises. Take a cruise that doesn't sail over the summer or holidays, when prices are highest. Book an inside cabin, or take your chances with a "guarantee cabin," ideal for passengers who aren't picky about their stateroom location but really want the lowest price available. Book cabins on lower decks, which often come with lower prices than those rooms on higher floors – that is staterooms over suites.

Cruise brands such as Carnival Cruise Line, MSC Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean International offer rates that might drop as low as $75 per person per night -- and sometimes even lower.

If you want a real bargain, consider a transatlantic or repositioning cruise. These cruises are one-way or open-jaw trips, that start in one port and finish at another. You can score a deal sailing from Florida to Europe, for example, or even from New York to Florida. Just be aware, you'll probably have to pay a bit more for airfare to return.

What are Tips to Finding Last-Minute Cruise Deals?

While being flexible date wise will always get you the best last-minute cruise deals, it's particularly helpful if you live near a cruise port and can quickly drive there. That way you'll probably be able to jump on those deals that might pop up just a week or two before the ship is scheduled to sail.

Or if you don't have flexibility with either departure dates or embarkation locations, be willing to compromise on exact destinations. This will allow you to find a wider range of last-minute deals traveling to locations in their off-season or so-called shoulder season.

Do plenty of research and know what your ideal cruise is and costs on average, so both are already on your radar. When you see it drop, pounce! (Many cruise lines update pricing several times per day, so preparation is crucial.)

Best cruises in 2024

There's truly a cruise style and ship for everyone, and that has never been more the case than in 2024, as vessels continue to come in an array of sizes – from riverboats and expedition vessels to the largest-ever mega ships. And it's not an exaggeration to say some are loaded with so many activities that you couldn't possibly enjoy them all in a single sailing.

Families will find plenty of options and activities onboard big ships, which have transformed cruising, making the vessels as exciting as the destinations themselves. The Caribbean is always a great option for families, offering lots of sunshine, great beaches and culture. Alaska, famous for its incredible vistas and abundant wildlife, is also a solid family cruise option. Consider cruise brands such as Carnival Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, Norwegian Cruise Line, Disney Cruise Line, MSC Cruises and even Celebrity Cruises and Holland America Line for a great multi-generational voyage.

Or on the smaller side, by comparison, river cruising remains a hot ticket item this year, with exciting routes that send eager guests down the Danube or Rhine rivers in Europe or to lesser-frequented locations, like the Mekong River in Cambodia or Vietnam, or soon the Magdalena River in Colombia. Popular river cruises embark in timeless cities like Amsterdam, Budapest and Lisbon. River cruise lines to consider encompass Viking, AmaWaterways, Avalon Waterways, Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours, Emerald Cruises, Tauck, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises and Riverside Luxury Cruises, as well as American Cruise Lines for a domestic alternative.

If you're an adventurer at heart, an expedition cruise might be best for you. These voyages, often onboard small ships (only a few hundred passengers tops), offer an intimate experience that brings passengers right up next to glaciers, whales, penguins and iguanas. Ships visit tiny spots all over the world – from pole to pole – including the Arctic, Alaska, Australia, Greenland, the Galapagos and, of course, Antarctica. Passengers will spend their time zodiacing, kayaking, hiking, biking and exploring with expert guides and knowledgeable naturalists. Expedition travelers love cruise lines such as Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic, UnCruise Adventures, Silversea, HX (formerly Hurtigruten Expeditions), Ponant and Quark Expeditions, as well as an ever-expanding list that now even extends to Seabourn and Viking.

But for the most decadent form of travel, luxury cruises offer all-inclusive experiences onboard small to median-sized ships (usually under a thousand passengers) with perks like butlers, high-end amenities and personalized, intuitive service, not to mention the finest dining at sea. Ships often feature luxury touches like marble and crystal decor, intimate spaces and beautiful spas. Because luxury ships tend to be on the smaller size, they can often reach off-the-beaten-path destinations bigger ships simply cannot access -- ports like St. Tropez or Guadeloupe. If you're looking for a luxury cruise, consider Crystal, Seabourn, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Silversea, Explora Journeys, Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours, The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection and upcoming Four Seasons Yachts.

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Find the best cruise vacation for you

How can i find a cheap cruise.

Cheap cruise deals are fairly easy to find in most cases, and you can begin by considering what kind of features and itinerary you want. The more simplistic the experience is, the cheaper it is in general. On Expedia.com, you can filter for specific features and sort your results by price. By mixing and matching certain features, unforgettable experiences may be available with discount cruises. For example, booking a cruise with stunning restaurants and live performances while opting for an inside cabin without an ocean view window or balcony could be ideal for a traveler who doesn't plan on spending much time in their cabin anyways

What is the cheapest month to take a cruise?

The cheapest month to take a cruise varies based on your destination and the cruise line company that runs the ship. A Caribbean cruise , for example, is generally cheapest in the late summer and early fall since it's the local hurricane season.

Can I cancel my cruise booking?

Yes, you can cancel, but there may be fees for canceling depending on how far in advance you cancel and what kind of booking you have. You can check the specific cruise lines’ cancellation policies in your itinerary on Expedia.com.

Are river cruises worth the money?

River cruises are quite relaxing, with much more varied scenery than you'd experience on an ocean cruise. These ships often also feature several stops along the river, so passengers can enjoy a greater variety of destinations to explore. Viking river cruises are especially adept at providing this unforgettable experience.

What cruises are best for families?

The best family cruises in 2024 / 2025 tend to be Disney cruises with plenty of offerings for kids and adults alike, though MSC cruises are known for their iconic Children Cruise Free promotion. Disney cruises, specifically, are essentially a Disney theme park on a boat with live shows, rides, and attractions with your kids' favorite characters.

How much does a cruise ship cost?

Cruise prices can vary quite a bit, with cheap cruises and especially luxurious all-inclusive cruises available. Budget lines can offer cruise tickets as low as $50 per night in some cases, while the more high-end experiences can reach up to $1,000 per night and more.

What are some of the best cruise lines?

Several different cruise lines have a lot to offer, such as Viking cruises , which are known for traversing oceans and rivers with a style that blends outdoor and indoor splendor. Celebrity cruise line is more upscale with luxurious features like WiFi, included beverages, champagne, and suites with panoramic views. Other top cruise lines include Royal Caribbean International , Carnival Cruise , Disney Cruise , and Norwegian Cruise .

How far in advance do you need to book a cruise?

It's generally best to book a cruise about 6 to 12 months before your cruise departure. That's the safest way to balance availability and affordability. Technically, you can book earlier or later than that, with some last-minute cruise deals occasionally available up to a weekbefore cruise departure.

Are cruise trips affordable?

They can be, and it's especially simple to search for more affordable cruises with Expedia.com. Not only can you filter by cruise length, cruise line, and cabin experience, but you may also sort your results by price to put the more affordable options first on your search results page.

What is it like to go on a cruise?

A cruise is generally designed to offer the most relaxing experience possible. Despite the size of the ship, it's possible to feel the wave. Many passengers report that the movements help them sleep. Additionally, many fun cruises offer live stage performances, several restaurants, and shopping opportunities. When the ship is in international waters, you may even be able to enjoy a bit of tax-free shopping.

Are cruises a good way to travel?

Cruise travel is great if you're looking for some varied fun. Compared to a plane or a train, cruises have their own attractions and can be considered an integral part of cruise vacations. Plus, a cruise can hit several different destinations as well, with plenty of time to enjoy the cruise and scenic locales. It's certainly worth it for a unique experience no other method of travel can match.

Which cruise line is the cheapest?

The actual cheapest cruise available depends on a variety of different factors. Still, Carnival Cruise tends to be very affordable overall, most of the time with great options like the Carnival Sunrise and Carnival Horizon . Royal Caribbean is also another fantastic cruise line offering great deals if you are watching your budget.

How can I get the best cruise deals in 2024 / 2025?

If you're looking for some of the best cruise deals, booking through Expedia.com makes it easy since you can sort your cruise search results by price and have access to special deals. One Key members can earn  OneKeyCash  on all eligible bookings and get instant discounts with Member Prices. Sign up today!

What do I need to know when I book a cruise?

To book a cruise, you'll need to know where you'll be setting off from and where you'll be going, in addition to how many people will be with you and the features of the specific cruise you book. Keep in mind that you'll want to factor in spending money in your budget for the cruise's restaurants and shops in most cases.

Where should I go on a cruise in 2024 / 2025?

Plenty of incredible cruise destinations are accessible such as cruises to the Bahamas and cruises to Mexico . You may also be interested in cruises to Alaska or cruises to Europe for something outside of the Caribbean.

What countries are best to visit by cruise ship?

A lot of countries are accessible via a cruise, but the best include a cruise to Australia . However, a cruise to Australia is quite a long trip at sea and really allows you to take in everything the cruise ship has to offer.

Can I get last-minute cruise deals?

Yes, last-minute cruise deals are often available, and you can find them on Expedia.com by inputting your travel dates in your search and sorting your results by price. The deals will automatically be applied to the price estimates so that the cheapest estimates will show up first on your search results page.

Are cruises all-inclusive?

Cruises aren't always all-inclusive, but they can be. If you're interested in all-inclusive cruises, you can activate a search filter for it to ensure your search results only show cruises that meet your all-inclusive standard.

Is food free on a cruise?

Food is sometimes free on a cruise, but there are often specialty restaurants that aren't included with the general booking that you'll have to pay for separately. Check the details of each cruise before you book in the "What's included" section after clicking the cruise on your search results page.

What cruise lines are adults only?

Several lines offer adults-only cruise experiences, including Viking cruises , Carnival cruises , and Princess cruises . With an adults-only cruise, you can relax in a tranquil and laid-back setting without kids running around and enjoy all the cocktails you want.

What cruise lines are considered to be the most luxurious?

Viking cruises are considered exceptionally luxurious, with smaller ships and larger cabins that make them feel more exclusive, but Celebrity cruises offer luxury cruise lines too. Booking a luxury cruise means you can expect high-end amenities including gourmet restaurants, sizable suites, top-tier performances, massive pools, and much more.

What are the best cruises for couples?

Viking Cruises have much to offer for a more romantic experience. Holland America Line cruises can be quite refined and romantic as well, with an adult-oriented experience that's sophisticated rather than rowdy. Romantic cruises offer exceptional service as well as cozy suites for you and your partner to enjoy that's complemented by delicious food often themed around the cruise destination.

Why should I go on a cruise for my honeymoon?

Going on a cruise is a great way for you and your new spouse to be pampered with luxury while also being able to explore a new destination. Whether you're taking a cruise to Hawaii or a cruise to Bermuda , a particularly romantic experience is almost guaranteed thanks to the sheer number of things to do.

Are there any Christmas cruises?

Yes, quite a few cruise lines operate around Christmas, and you can find them easily by entering travel dates around Christmas into your 2024 cruise search. Some of the most popular Christmas cruises are available with Carnival and Disney.

Do I need a passport to go on a cruise?

Whether or not you need a passport depends on where you're going and the kind of cruise it is. Any US territory like Bermuda and Puerto Rico won't require a passport, of course, but you also don't need one if you're on a closed-loop cruise. This is a cruise that begins and ends at a US cruise terminal, even if there are stops in other countries on the way.

Why should I book a cruise with Expedia.com?

Booking a cruise with Expedia.com makes it easy to find a cruise type that works best for you. You can use the cruise finder and sort by cruise line, type, destination, length, and itinerary. One Key members also earn OneKeyCash on all eligible bookings that can be used to save on future eligible trips.

What happens if a cruise is canceled?

Every cruise has a different cancellation policy, but generally, passengers are entitled to either a full refund or a credit for a future cruise at a later date. Remember that they may automatically change your booking to their rescheduled date, so you may have to contact them if that date doesn't work for your schedule.

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Brand new ship the  American Jazz on Lower Mississippi just in time for the holidays Nov and Dec. Special offer $1500 off a cabin. Offer good until June 30th.

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Last but certainly not least: USA River Cruises takes the guesswork out of planning a trip in the first place. You’ll no longer have to fret over the cost of every little perk — because the perks are part of the all-inclusive experience aboard a USA River Cruise. No need to tally up the numbers when you order beer, a glass of wine, room service, soda, cappuccinos, or decide to take a shore excursion.

The world is waiting for you. Imagine your most wonderful journey. Then contact USA River Cruises to make it come true.

Ever thought about a VIP-style, front row seat to breathtaking waterfalls, rolling vineyards, and stunning mountain peaks? Try one of our Columbia River Cruises.

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Imagine exploring the ins and outs of the largest group of freshwater lakes on earth — and then hop aboard our Great Lakes River Cruises .

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Or maybe you’ve always wanted to experience Europe from a ship’s-eye view. Well USA River Cruises has those, too, with our sweet suite of European Cruises .

There’s so much for you to see and do. From the Great Lakes and the mighty Mississippi to the Columbia River and our Alaskan Cruises ports of call — all the way to our cruises throughout Europe and the Caribbean.

USA River Cruises has been making travel dreams come true since 1999. We’re experts at matching people with the experiences they seek. There’s something for everyone. There’s something for you.

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Lose yourself in the tones of Calypso steel drums and the majesty of Mayan ruins with a cruise to Caribbean.

Cruise to Caribbean and discover the cliff-diving, breeze-swaying, sand-between-your-toes, no-worries pace of island life. Hundreds of years of history have left jungle ruins from ancient times and vibrant colonial towns with brightly painted buildings reflecting a fascinating history. Discover the white-sand beaches and rugged cliffs of Barbados. See towering mountains like Petit Piton in St. Lucia, explore the lush rainforests of Belize, or boost your adrenaline as you zip-line through the treetops of Labadee or Honduras. If calm, contemplative nature is more your thing, spend the day admiring cascading waterfalls in Jamaica and the vivid coral reefs of Bonaire, home to manta rays and parrot fish. Discover the magic with a Caribbean cruise.

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The best Caribbean cruises will take you to dive into the aquamarine water and see the beautiful underwater life up close and personal with a snorkeling or scuba diving adventure and to discover captivating coral reefs and unique species of jellyfish like the orange Moochers, Loggerhead sea turtles and the red cushion sea star, which can be seen in shallow waters. 

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Immerse yourself in the culture in some of the oldest cities in the Americas — the Caribbean has been shaped by a diverse history, with Africans, Europeans and Asians all leaving their mark. See the cathedrals and Spanish colonial architecture of Santo Domingo, the lively street festivals of Barbados or the citadels and brightly colored buildings of San Juan with your cruise to the Caribbean. 

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Your Caribbean cruise will take you to beaches with unique features like pink and black sand, so make sure to pack organic and natural sunscreen so not only you can stay protected, but the coral reefs can too.

There are several UNESCO Heritage Sites located in the Caribbean that you can explore, ranging from missionary churches to rainforest national parks.

It's always wise to book your shore excursions in advance of your cruise to the Caribbean. You get the best deal and can plan your days easily.

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You will find your favorite Caribbean cruise ports no matter what direction you go. Travel the Southern side and wander down the colorful streets of San Juan, Puerto Rico. Or trek the rainforests of Saint Lucia. On the Western, dive into the crystal clear waters of Grand Cayman or explore the ruins of Tulum when arrive in Cozumel. Eastern Caribbean cruises will bring you to St. Thomas, where you can take in stunning panoramic views of the island at Government Hill or to St. Maarten, where you can dine on some of the region's best cuisine.

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5 Affordable Cruise Vacations to Book — Plus How to Find the Best Deals

Here's what you need to know to save money on your next cruise.

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Best Affordable Cruise Lines

How to find the best cruise deals, tips for saving money while on board.

Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line

Cruising has become increasingly popular in recent years, and it’s easy to see why. This form of travel is incredibly convenient (read: no need to pack and unpack), and everything you need can be found right on board — ultimately taking the stress out of trip planning. Plus, with hundreds of ships at sea across dozens of lines, there’s a cruise out here for every type of traveler. Fortunately, cruising doesn’t have to cost a small fortune, and many budget-conscious travelers may opt to set sail for their next trip. Below, we’ve rounded up the best cruise lines offering affordable fares coupled with value-packed inclusions to stretch your dollar further. We’ve also tapped some expert cruise specialists to share their top tips and tricks to help you save money both on and off the ship.

Here's everything you need to know to book an affordable cruise vacation.

Virgin Voyages

Courtesy of Virgin Voyages

This adults-only cruise line from Richard Branson — which also happens to be a Travel + Leisure World’s Best Award winner — offers excellent value. In fact, according to T+L A-list cruise advisor and Q Cruise + Travel founder and president Rob Clabbers, Virgin Voyages fares “include more than on most mainstream large-ship cruise lines.” For example, he says, “Virgin fares include internet access, gratuities, all meals — there are no cover charges for its restaurants that on most other lines would be considered specialty restaurants.” Beverages like soft drinks, coffee, and tea are also included, as are snacks, mezze at the aft terrace, and group workout classes. Best of all, there are no pricey beverage packages. “Instead,” says Clabbers, cruisers — or, as Virgin calls them, sailors — can buy their own reasonably priced drinks (think: beers from $6, $10 cocktails, and wines by the glass under $11) a la carte. Additionally, with some promotions , the cruise line throws in a “ bar tab ” credit that can be used towards drinks.

Princess Cruises

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Another World’s Best Award winner — and WBA Hall of Fame Honoree, no less — this fan-favorite ocean line is renowned for refined ships, serene ambiance, and exceptional service. Moreover, per Clabbers, passengers can choose from “optional packages to help customize a passenger’s trip that provide savings over buying things separately.” For an extra $60 per day, consider Princess Plus, which offers perks like Wi-Fi for one device per guest, gratuities, fitness classes (two per sailing), and beverages like bottled water, specialty coffee, soft drinks, and juice. Alternatively, for $80 per day, passengers can spring on the Princess Premier package, which features the same beverages plus specialty dining (two per sailing), unlimited fitness classes, premium desserts, reserved theater seating, and Wi-Fi (four devices per guest).

Norwegian Cruise Line 

Norwegian Cruise Line is a favorite among families of all ages for its over-the-top entertainment and activities (think: go-karting, Broadway-caliber productions, and so on). “While Norwegian Cruise Line may price slightly higher than some of its competitors, you need to consider the Free at Sea package,” says travel advisor Jennifer Travis of Marvelous Mouse Travels . She goes on to describe the promotion as a “game-changer when it comes to cruising” since it includes perks like a “free open bar (up to $1,400 in savings), free specialty dining (up to $180 in savings), free Wi-Fi (up to $200 in savings), and a $50 discount on excursions.” Other Free at Sea perks include 70 percent off second guests, free third and fourth guests (on select dates), and free airfare (per the cruise line’s website: “ Pay airfare for one guest, and you'll automatically lock in roundtrip flights for two ”). Also, you can’t go wrong with the Free at Sea Plus package, which includes a wider selection of beverages, more specialty dining, unlimited Wi-Fi, and additional shore excursion credits. Before booking, be sure to check the line’s full selection of deals , which run the gamut from half-off deposits to $150 cruise credits and more.

Royal Caribbean

Courtesy of Royal Caribbean

Zip lines, water slides, surfing simulators, ice skating, rock climbing walls: Find all this and more aboard (most) Royal Caribbean ships — and, best of all, they’re complimentary! Ideal for fun- and adventure-loving travelers of all ages — read: kids and kids-at-heart alike — it’s pretty much impossible to be bored while cruising on this World’s Best Award-winning mega-ship line . Additionally, according to Travis, Royal Caribbean “offers some of the best short itineraries,” some of which clock in at under $200 per person for two-night sailings. Longer itineraries, including a seven-night Bahamas sailing aboard one of the line’s newest ships, Odyssey of the Seas , clock in at under $600 per person. The line also offers an abundance of deals , including up to $600 off sailings, 60 percent off second guests, and more.

Carnival Cruise Line 

Courtesy of Carnival Cruises

“ Carnival Cruise Line is known for its competitive pricing without cutting back on the onboard activities or various dining options, thus making them an attractive option to budget-conscious cruisers,” explains Travis. For example, many itineraries, including a four-night Bahamas cruise from Miami , clock in at just over $150 per person. Additionally, says the travel advisor, “Carnival sails to a wide variety of destinations from so many local ports that you almost do not need to fly to your cruise ship anymore, which is another huge savings given the cost (and stress) flights can add to any vacation.” Keep an eye out for frequent flash sales for even more savings.

Booking early is an easy way to save on your next cruise vacation . “Typically,” says Travis, “the best pricing on a cruise is when the schedule is first released.” And, while you could wait for a last-minute deal, “you may not get the room category that you want.” Similarly, Clabbers says that flexibility is key when it comes to finding — and scoring — the best cruise deals . For example, he previously told T+L that if you are “very flexible and are looking for a standard room on a large ship on an itinerary that repeats week after week, you are more likely to find a promotional fare.”

Conversely, giving up some of that flexibility sometimes pays off. According to Clabbers, select cruise lines will offer lower fares to those who opt for a nonrefundable deposit instead of a refundable one. Finally, you may also consider cruising in shoulder season or even low season. Sure, the weather won’t be perfect, but the fewer crowds and cheaper fares more than make up for that, especially if you’re on a budget.

While your tab can quickly rack up once on board, there are several savvy ways to save money. For one, consider bringing your own booze. According to Travis, “Many cruise lines allow their guests to bring a specific amount of alcohol or nonalcoholic beverages onboard the ships, which can help save you money while you are on the ship.” Additionally, ​​Michele Benard , another travel advisor at Marvelous Mouse Travels, advises packing your own necessities from home — like Advil, Tums,  motion sickness medicine, and after-sun lotion — as opposed to buying them on board at a much higher price. You’ll also want to skip the souvenirs at the onboard gift shop, which tend to be more expensive than those you’d find in port.

Benard also recommends taking advantage of “all the free activities on the cruise ships,” which can include everything from water slides to trivia game shows. Pro tip: “Stay onboard during a port day, and the lines won’t be as long.” On a similar note, spa treatments tend to be less expensive on port days, so those craving some R&R — that is, sans breaking the bank — may consider booking a service during this time.

Finally, says Clabbers, save money on your next cruise by enlisting the help of an onboard cruise consultant to select your next sailing. “You will typically receive an onboard credit or savings on your next cruise, and your own travel advisor will be alerted so they can help you plan your vacation.”

Related Articles

One of the US's busiest cruise ports can't keep up with America's love for vacations at sea — but an urgent new terminal will help meet the demand for giant cruise ships

  • Port Canaveral announced new plans to build a seventh cruise terminal by 2026.
  • It scrapped its initial expansion plan because it would've taken longer to build.
  • This article is part of " Transforming Business: Infrastructure ," a series exploring the advancements reshaping US infrastructure.  

Insider Today

Florida — home to busy beaches, Disney World, and a cruise industry so successful that local ports simply can't keep up with demand.

The Sunshine State flexes seven cruise ports, three of which — Miami, Canaveral, and Everglades — are among the five busiest in the world.

The state may seem well stocked as far as cruise terminals go. But Port Canaveral is running out of space as demand for these vacation voyages continues to skyrocket.

In 2023 , the Florida port accommodated a record 6.8 million cruisers and 13 homeported ships, leading to an all-time-high revenue of $191 million — more than 80% of which came from its cruise operations.

In 2024, it expects to add another 500,000 passengers to that total.

The influx in demand has left Port Canaveral at "a point where we're starting to turn business away," John Murray, its CEO, said at a press conference earlier this month.

The proposed solution? Expand — and quickly. The port announced plans to build a seventh cruise terminal on its north side by 2026, scrapping its initial proposal for one farther south. The latter would've taken longer to build, but "we need it in two years," Murray said, adding: "Maybe sooner."

The proposed terminal would be at the port's "underutilized" North 8 berth. When complete, it could accommodate the world's largest cruise ships, including Royal Caribbean's new 1,198-foot-long, 9,950-person-capacity Icon of the Seas .

Murray said the project would be "self-funded." There's no word yet on the cost, but a spokesperson for Port Canaveral told Business Insider that the existing berth would make construction cheaper than that of previous cruise terminals. The most recent one, completed in 2020, cost $155 million.

Before unveiling these plans, Port Canaveral intended to build its next terminal in an area known as Bluepoints Marina, farther south. The project would've taken three to four years to complete — too long a timeline for Port Canaveral.

A new cruise terminal "has become more urgent and necessary now," Murray said.

Along with a seventh terminal, Port Canaveral plans to build a 3,000-car parking structure and improve the roads leading into and out of the parking lot.

Expanding parking on land is just as important as in the water: Cruise lines have been increasingly developing private islands and destinations in the Caribbean, often visited during three- and four-day cruises. Murray said these shorter sailings typically bring in more vehicular traffic than their five- to seven-day counterparts.

Wooing cruise lines operating on these itineraries could be especially important for Port Canaveral, which is farther north from the private Caribbean destinations than Miami's and Fort Lauderdale's popular ports.

Competition is stiff. In January, MSC Group announced that its cruise lines would move their operations to Miami. In late 2023, Disney Cruise Line unveiled a new terminal at Port Everglades.

"A place like Port Canaveral is continually thinking about retaining the business it has and, of course, capturing some of that business," Ross Klein, the founder of CruiseJunkie.com and a professor at Memorial University of Newfoundland, told BI.

But not everyone is excited

While an influx of travelers can be an economic windfall for nearby restaurants and hotels, not all locals are happy about the new cruise terminal.

The world's largest cruise ships can accommodate more than 7,000 guests. That's a lot of travelers — and traffic, which is a concern for Jamie Glasner, the owner of the Bluepoints Marina-based fishing charter Fin and Fly . (BI spoke with Glasner before Port Canaveral announced its terminal in the North 8 berth.)

"These cruise ships come in, and the traffic is backed up for miles," Glasner told BI, adding that other local business owners complained "about it all the time."

"The traffic is a nightmare. This is crazy," he said.

"It used to only take us 10 minutes to get home," Glasner said. "Now it's taking me an hour."

Cruise travelers accounted for roughly 840,000 cars at Port Canaveral last year, Murray said in late 2023. At the time, he said that updates such as a "pay-on-arrival" parking system and the increased use of facial recognition by US Customs and Border Protection helped improve the flow of traffic.

To lessen traffic stress, the port wants the state to widen the nearby freeway and replace the drawbridge connecting the north and south halves of Port Canaveral with a higher, fixed bridge. The latter often opens for passing ships, further jamming up the roads.

However, these proposals have yet to be included in the Florida Department of Transportation's budget, "so we will continue to make noise on that," Murray said during the announcement of the port's seventh cruise terminal. "We can't shut down operations at Port Canaveral because the state can't get the road infrastructure in a timely manner," he added.

But love it or hate it, the cruise industry continues to grow . And the sooner Port Canaveral can build a new terminal, the happier it, and cruise lines, will be.

"We're going to do what we have to do to get this up and running as quickly as possible," Murray told reporters.

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Whether you want to explore the dynamic cities and rocky shores of the East Coast, taste wines in the California sunshine, bask on Florida’s golden beaches, or see Alaska’s incredible wildlife, our United States cruises will deliver your dream vacation. Immerse yourself in Boston’s historic sites and exciting culinary scene. Ride the vintage cable cars in San Francisco and explore the dazzling colors of Seattle’s Pike Place Market.

Cruises to the United States take you to the heart of these iconic cities, as well as exploring some of the country’s most beautiful coastlines, from the icy peaks and forested inlets of Alaska to the lush landscapes of New England. The list of adventures in store is endless, from hiking, cycling, and kayaking to whale-watching, designer shopping, fine dining, and a rich, diverse culture. All this is yours, from the luxurious setting of one of our award-winning, contemporary ships.

USA Cruise Highlights

Cosmopolitan cities.

The USA can rightly claim to have some of the most exciting cities in the world. San Diego’s atmospheric Gaslamp Quarter is waiting to be explored, while in Boston, the Freedom Trail is a fascinating history lesson. Check out Pier 39 in San Francisco, and take a trip to Alcatraz. Discover Hemingway’s legacy in laid-back Key West, find your inner rock star in Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture, or explore the interesting mix of cultures in New Orleans.

Spectacular Nature

Wherever you sail in the USA, you’ll be captivated by the extraordinary beauty of the landscapes. Hawaii is a lush paradise of rainforest, volcanic peaks, and tumbling waterfalls, while Alaska is wild and untamed, a world of snowy mountains, glaciers, and old-growth forest. Sail the coast of New England in fall and take in the dazzling shades of scarlet and orange on the trees. Or head south to Key West for a setting of coconut palms, sandy beaches, and colorful coral reefs.

Exciting Cuisine

Whether you want to taste award-winning vintages in Napa Valley, feast on lobster rolls in New England, or sample gumbo in New Orleans, you’ll discover an incredibly varied culinary scene on your travels around the USA. Don’t miss a salmon bake or the chance to try reindeer sausages in Alaska. In San Francisco, head for Chinatown for tasty dim sum. Key West is famed for its tangy Key lime pie, while Seattle’s claim to fame is artisan-roast coffee—and those powerful Washington State wines.

United States Cruise Regions

The wild frontier of Alaska has some of the most awe-inspiring scenery in the USA, where you’ll find mile upon mile of jagged, snow-capped mountains and dense forest. On a cruise, you’ll be able to appreciate this wild beauty from both a land and sea perspective. You’ll see glaciers, rocky shorelines, historic gold rush towns, and flower-strewn mountain meadows. Along the way, you can hike, kayak, spot bears, go whale-watching, and feast on fresh salmon.

New England

New England has it all: cosmopolitan cities like Boston, arty seaside towns, windswept coasts, and verdant national parks. Follow the Freedom Trail in Boston, and explore Portland’s seafaring history under Maine’s vast skies. Hike the woodlands and glacier-scoured peaks of glorious Acadia National Park. Time your trip for the fall and admire the fiery colors of the foliage. Everywhere you go, there’s delicious seafood to taste, like lobster rolls, or claws dripping in melted butter.

Visit some of the most exciting cities on the Pacific Coast with Celebrity. See the graceful sweep of the Golden Gate Bridge in hilly San Francisco, and ride the historic cable cars. Whizz up the Space Needle in Seattle and take in the colors and buzz of Pike Place Market. In Los Angeles, browse the designer shops on Rodeo Drive and marvel at the stars’ homes. Catalina Island, meanwhile, is another world of rugged coastlines, diverse marine life, and hiking trails with sweeping views.

Indulge in a relaxing journey across the warm Pacific from Vancouver to the lush, volcanic islands of Hawaii, where waterfalls tumble from verdant peaks and the ocean is home to abundant whales and dolphins. Visit Rainbow Falls and Akaka Falls from Hilo, and admire the fiery antics of Mount Kilauea. Learn about history in Honolulu, the location of the only royal palace in the USA, and Pearl Harbor. Join a firelight luau in Lahaina, and visit a working pineapple plantation.

The Sunshine State is the perfect place to start your cruise. Admire the colorful Art Deco architecture of Miami’s South Beach, and taste Cuban cuisine in Little Havana. Browse the shops along Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale, and explore the canals by gondola. Take a boat ride through the watery Everglades in search of alligators. Treat your kids to a day in the theme parks around Orlando—and meet astronauts at the Kennedy Space Center. Make time to visit those glorious beaches, too.

USA Cruise Itineraries

Celebrity Cruises offers a vast range of USA cruise itineraries and departure ports. Sail from Boston, or Cape Liberty in New Jersey. In Florida, choose between Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, Orlando (Port Canaveral), and Miami. West Coast ports include Los Angeles, Seattle, and Seward. Cruises range from short getaways to Key West to 13-night voyages from Vancouver, Canada to Honolulu.

Itineraries

Why cruise to the usa with celebrity cruises.

There’s no more comfortable way to explore the exciting coastlines of the USA than with Celebrity Cruises. You’ll dock in the heart of some of the country’s most iconic cities and sail along exquisite coastlines, visiting multiple destinations and only having to unpack once.

As you sail, you’ll discover all the wonderful amenities that make a vacation on board our award-winning ships such a luxurious experience. Live life at your own pace, whether you want a workout in the Fitness Center or a private cabana by the pool. Unwind in the spa, take in the views from the Magic Carpet on Edge-series ships, or relax on the fragrant grass at the Lawn Club on Solstice-series ships. Savor world-class cuisine every day. Elevate your experience in The Retreat, where you’ll enjoy beautiful suite accommodation, an exclusive lounge, and the culinary delights of Luminae at The Retreat.

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Previewing: Promo Dashboard Campaigns

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Belmond Legends

New from belmond, l'observatoire carriage.

A carriage appears by the Doge's Palace in an installation called L’Observatoire by artist, JR, at the Venice Art Biennale.

VENICE SIMPLON-ORIENT-EXPRESS

L’Observatoire is an entire carriage for exclusive use, imagined by the pioneering French artist and photographer JR.

Inspired by Renaissance cabinets of curiosity, JR worked with both old masters and up-and-coming trailblazers to inject a level of detail never-before-seen in a train carriage.

Maroma Spa by Guerlain

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Step inside a serenity of ancient Mayan wellness at Guerlain's first spa in Latin America.

Located within Maroma, a Belmond Hotel, Riviera Maya, the spa is a haven of peace for body, mind and soul, through the rituals of the ancient Maya. The exclusive treatment menu is inspired by Guerlain’s signature methods of wellness, incorporating traditional holistic healing experiences linked to natural elements and ancient practices of the Riviera Maya.

Grand Champagne Voyage

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Moët Hennessy

JULY 21–28, 2024

This Summer, join us on our finest floating villa for a tranquil journey into the very soul of the Champagne region, courtesy of world-renowned wines and spirits house Moët Hennessy.

Onboard Coquelicot, revel in a picturesque six-night cruise with gourmet dining designed by your special chef and disembark for exclusive oenology workshops, unique wine-tasting sessions and private tours of the Maisons Ruinart, Krug, Dom Pérignon and Moët & Chandon.

Journey to the Land of the Sun

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Elle Brazil x Hiram Bingham

Embark on an exquisite journey to Machu Picchu aboard Hiram Bingham, A Belmond Train. As our train celebrates its 20-year anniversary, we've teamed up with Elle Brazil to honor two decades of vintage railway luxury – and now, you can be part of our story.

BREAKING BREAD WITH CURTIS STONE

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Culinary Mexico

To inaugurate our 'Breaking Bread' series with celebrated chefs, join Chef Curtis Stone at Woodend, his new restaurant at the heart of Maroma, A Belmond Hotel, Riviera Maya.

In the video, watch as the Michelin-starred restaurateur talks us through the birth of his new haute-cuisine-meets-wood-fire-grill restaurant in the heart of the Mayan jungle.

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At The Cadogan, spoil the ones you love with sensational quality time together as a family and savings for your second room.

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The Suite Life in the Riviera Maya

At our newly renovated oasis in Mexico, book this exclusive offer and receive $300 USD resort credit towards your stay.

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Receive a complimentary hotel night

Book a refined 3-night itinerary or 6-night luxury cruise in July or August and we’ll arrange a complimentary overnight stay in an elegant hotel, whether in Dijon, Reims, Paris or Geneva.

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To celebrate 150 years of Grand Hotel Timeo, we celebrate the rich wine heritage of Etna in Taormina, Sicily.

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Fourteen Millennia of Sicily

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A Guide to Bohemian Barranco

Follow our guide on how to explore Barranco—the beating, bohemian heart of South America’s only coastal capital.

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Chef Profile: Riccardo Canella

A new culinary era dawns in Venice as Riccardo Canella joins Hotel Cipriani. With his plans to boost local Lagoon traditions, discover what’s in store for this new Venice partnership.

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The Rise of Trainspotting

With trainspotting yet another trend that reinvents the humdrum hobby, is embracing the individuality of our quirky personal passions the key to joy?

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Curtain's Up at the Copa

On the eve of the hotel’s centenary year, Catherine Balston charts how the reopening of the Copacabana Palace Theatre puts a piece of Brazilian history back in the spotlight.

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Mexican Cuisine: Feast of the Gods

On a corn-popping road trip across the Yucatan Peninsula, Javier Arredondo celebrates the mamas who are paving the way forward.

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LOCAL CHAMPION: COLLECTIVA CONCEPCIÓN

Slow fashion brand Collectiva Concepción is dedicated to crafting luxury clothing while elevating and supporting the indigenous artisans its designs are dedicated to. The perfect partner, then, as we prepare to reopen the doors to our authentic Mexican sanctuary…

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Three Legendary Train Journeys with Veuve Clicquot

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Carnival cruise ship rescues 25 people stranded off the coast of Mexico

cruise vacation usa

A Carnival Cruise Line ship responded to a call from the U.S. Coast Guard and rescued 25 people stranded in a small boat off the coast of Mexico, the company announced Saturday.

The 2,984-passenger Carnival Radiance had left Long Beach, California, on Friday and was heading toward Ensenada Mexico for a three-day sailing when the cruise ship's officers were informed by the Coast Guard "about a distress call involving a small vessel," a news release said.

The ship immediately routed toward the location of the vessel, provided by the USCG, and "quickly" rescued all 25 people on board, including three children, the company said.

The U.S. Coast Guard did not immediately respond to USA TODAY's request for comment.

The rescued group was welcomed onto the cruise ship and given food, water, and medical assistance. Carnival coordinated with the Coast Guard to hand off the group.

Learn more: Best travel insurance

The incident did not disrupt the Carnival Radiance's schedule, the company announced.

A roller coaster in the ocean: What Carnival Cruise Line's BOLT ride is like

Another Carnival ship rescued a group of 28 Cuban nationals stuck at sea as it was sailing the Caribbean and saw people signaling for help in late April. The cruise ship was headed from Tampa, Florida, to Roatan in Honduras at the time. Also last month, a Celebrity Cruises ship sailing from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to multiple destinations in the Caribbean rescued a small vessel adrift between Mexico and Cuba.

Kathleen Wong is a travel reporter for USA TODAY based in Hawaii. You can reach her at [email protected]

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USA TODAY 10Best

How to rock single-parent vacations: A mom shares lessons learned

Lola Augustine Brown

May 28, 2024 // By Lola Augustine Brown

By Lola Augustine Brown May 28, 2024

Single-parent vacations can be challenging, but with some planning, they can be full of joy and adventure

As a single mom of three who has always traveled with kids — my firstborn required a passport at 4 weeks old — I've learned a lot about how to get the most out of family travel. Traveling solo with children isn't always fun for parents. At times, it can seem grueling. But it's always worthwhile in my experience (my kids are now 8, 11, and 17).

Here are my 10 best tips for making single-parent vacations a success.

Book a trip with built-in childcare

For rookie solo travelers with kids, booking yourself at a resort brimming with family-friendly activities and kids' clubs offering supervised activities is the easiest option. At the end of the day, you can hang out with your kids over dinner and maybe catch a show.

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Beaches resorts in the Caribbean are perfect for single-parent vacations, thanks to Sesame Street characters hanging at the kids' clubs (and cool teen clubs, too), waterparks, and kid-friendly and gourmet dining. Laying by the pool with a good book, sipping on a cocktail, and knowing that your children are having the best time ever makes a blissful trip for all of you. Also, it's good to note that all Beaches resorts are autism-certified and have staff trained to care for autistic children on-site.

Involve your kids in the planning

Kids should be a part of the planning (my Sasquatch-obsessed son and Bigfoot Discovery Museum founder Michael Rugg)

When your kids get a say in the destination and help choose the activities they're interested in, your itineraries can take exciting twists with unexpectedly awesome payouts. Last year, on a road trip through Northern California in a Mercedes Sprinter camper van, my 11-year-old son saw on Google Maps that a slight diversion would take us to the Bigfoot Discovery Museum in Felton.

My kid has been bigfoot-obsessed for years, and this quirky little museum was a real highlight of our trip. My son quizzed the museum owner about his bigfoot sightings. Indulging your kids' unique interests makes family travel all the more memorable.

Keep your itinerary light

As a veteran traveler, I still make mistakes, like trying to cram too much into each day we are away. A recent trip to Toronto started with an early morning flight into the city, followed by a visit to the fantastic Ripley's Aquarium of Canada , lunch at a sci-fi-themed bar, running around the town shopping with my teen, and a visit to Medieval Times, which blew my sons' minds.

That sounds great, right? But it was a scorching hot day, with many tears and complaints from my fellow travelers. I usually build downtime into each day, such as hanging at a playground or chilling at our hotel watching cable for a few hours so everyone can recharge and relax.

Always book a place with a pool

The pirate ship-themed splash park in the Florida Keys keeps the kids busy

If you have high-energy kids, a hotel pool can be a sanity-saver (and bonus points if it's a pool with a waterslide or, even better, an on-site water park) on single-parent vacations. I've been on trips with my kids where the hotel pool was the highlight of the entire holiday.

When my daughter was 4, they loved the pirate-themed waterpark at Hawks Cay Resort at Duck Key so much they never wanted to do anything else we had planned in the glorious Florida Keys. After a long, tiring day of single-parent travel, letting your kids wear themselves out at the hotel pool before bed is just the ticket for an easier bedtime.

Ditch the theme parks and do a kid-centric cruise

The long lines and constant demands to buy stuff at theme parks are hard enough for two-parent families to handle, let alone single parents. However, a self-contained cruise ship where you pay for most of your costs upfront and they have onboard childcare is a fantastic alternative.

Disney Cruise Line (a regular USA TODAY 10Best Readers' Choice Awards winner for Best Cruise Line for Families ) offers amazing single-parent vacations. You'll find character interactions, Broadway-quality shows, kids' clubs, fireworks at sea, pools with waterslides, and all the Disney magic of the parks.

Invest in a few travel accessories to make life easier

Kid-sized headphones are a must for plane rides — nobody wants to listen to your kid playing Minecraft or watching "Paw Patrol" — and for when you're having downtime or driving somewhere.

Also, I found Trunki ride-on suitcases invaluable when transiting through airports with little kids.

Another tip: Buy a few extra rechargeable battery packs than you think you'll need to avoid meltdowns when tech devices go kaput. And don't rely on planes having entertainment systems these days. Download a ton of kids' shows on your tablet or phone to tide everyone over.

Have realistic behavior expectations

Lots of breaks and moments of levity preserve everyone's sanity on single-parent vacations

Just because you've spent thousands of dollars taking your kids on the trip of a lifetime (or even a fun weekend away) doesn't mean they will suddenly behave like angels. They're going to squabble in the back of the car (or campervan around California), decide they won't eat the restaurant meal because "it tastes funny," and be just as annoying as they are at home.

Single-parent vacations can make it harder to stay positive when this is happening because there's nobody to trade off with, but you'll manage just fine, and it will all be worth it!

Plan for delays

As any frequent flyer knows, delays and cancellations are just part of flying these days. Prepare for this by always having plenty of snacks packed, having your kids take a change of clothes in their backpacks or hand luggage, and coloring and activity books to break the boredom of being stuck at a gate.

Consider splurging on a lounge pass or looking into credit card perks ; some passes allow you to bring dependents in for free. It may work out more cost-effective (and civilized) to spend a long delay eating and drinking in an airport lounge rather than congregating at the gate with other frustrated travelers.

Give yourself space

Always opt for accommodations that give you a separate sleeping space from your kid, whether a suite at a hotel or an apartment where you can spread out. Being able to close the door on your children and say goodnight so that you can have a few hours to yourself before waking up and starting all over again will mean that you have a much better trip. Sure, a room with two doubles will be cheaper, but you will pay for it in other ways. Believe me!

Go easy on yourself

Single-parent travel results in making memories of a lifetime

Parenting solo is challenging, and it can be incredibly frustrating when you're trying to show your kids a fantastic time and they are ungrateful. Forgive yourself for being snappy or yelling to keep your kids in line, and don't feel like you can't bail on an excursion if your kids are fussy. (That could be a sign that they are overstimulated and need a break anyway.)

Some of the trips I've taken with my kids that I thought went horribly because they complained so much are the ones they rave over the most! You're giving your children amazing opportunities when you travel with them, so focus on the bright moments and take lots of gorgeous pictures with you in the shot.

Lola Augustine Brown

About Lola Augustine Brown

Lola Augustine Brown is a travel writer who lives in Nova Scotia and is always looking for her next adventure.

Read more about Lola Augustine Brown here.

Connect with Lola Augustine via: Website | Instagram | Twitter

cruise vacation usa

'Cruise Ship Murder' Ending Explained: Olivia's dream vacation turns into a deadly quest for truth and justice

Contains spoilers for Lifetime's 'Cruise Ship Murder'

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA:  Lifetime's latest mystery-thriller, ' Cruise Ship Murder ', premiered on May 25, 2024, and has captivated audiences with its intricate plot and compelling performances.

Directed by Randy Carter, the film follows Olivia ( Skye Coyne ) on a dream vacation that turns into a nightmare when her beloved aunt is found murdered aboard a luxurious cruise ship. As Olivia delves deeper into the investigation, she uncovers a web of deceit and hidden truths that transforms her from a carefree traveler into a relentless investigator.

The film's gripping narrative, set against the idyllic backdrop of a cruise, masterfully utilizes its confined environment to heighten the suspense and create a hotbed of potential suspects. With each twist and turn, the stakes rise, leading to a thrilling and emotional climax that leaves viewers on the edge of their seats.

Let's break down the film's ending, analyzing the clues and revelations that lead to the shocking truth behind the murders.

Olivia plans to unmask the killer of her aunt in 'Cruise Ship Murder'

Olivia's (Skye Coyne) dream vacation takes a horrifying turn when her aunt, Theresa (Carly Reeves), is found murdered on the cruise ship. Determined to find the culprit, Olivia embarks on a solo investigation, unearthing a web of deceit and a shocking family secret.

Back on land, Olivia seeks information from a young woman who witnessed Theresa arguing with a man other than her husband. This clue leads Olivia to believe Theresa is hiding something.

Olivia confronts Donald, Cynthia's (Ian's first wife) father, who suspects Ian Jameson (Matthew Pohlkamp), Theresa's ex-husband, of the murder. Donald reveals a dark past: Ian killed his first wife, Cynthia, for her insurance money, with the help of an accomplice, Colin Barth (Ryan Carnes).

Olivia tracks down Barth in 'Cruise Ship Murder'

Driven by the truth, Olivia locates Colin and feigns interest in him. She maneuvers her way into his apartment, searching for evidence. While initially fooled, Colin eventually recognizes Olivia and confesses to both murders. He reveals an affair with Theresa and a desire for her money.

Olivia escapes Colin's clutches and reports him to the police. However, they can only charge him with assault due to a lack of concrete evidence. Back home, Colin kills the officer protecting Olivia, forcing her into a desperate fight for survival.

Her roommate, Cal (Tyler Price), arrives and recognizes Colin from Theresa's past photos. In the ensuing chaos, Olivia overpowers Colin, stabbing him in self-defense. The movie concludes with Olivia and Cal setting sail on a new cruise, honoring Theresa's memory. Olivia's relentless pursuit of the truth not only brought justice but also allowed her to move forward.

'Cruise Ship Murder' is available for streaming on Lifetime.

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'Cruise Ship Murder' Ending Explained: Olivia's dream vacation turns into a deadly quest for truth and justice

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Help! Our Cruise Operator Went Bankrupt and We Are Out $17,905.

A couple purchased an Arabian Sea voyage, but Vantage, the cruise company, went under. Their travel insurance was supposed to cover financial default, but the claim was repeatedly denied.

An illustration of a dollar bill folded up to resemble a boat sinking in a whirlpool in a sea of green.

By Seth Kugel

Dear Tripped Up,

In September 2022, I booked a 17-day Arabian Sea cruise through Vantage Travel Services to celebrate my 80th birthday with my wife. The cruise was to set sail in October 2023. I used my credit card to leave a $2,000 deposit and paid the remaining $17,905 shortly afterward by bank transfer. I also bought the Worldwide Trip Protector plan from Travel Insured International (for $1,954), in part because it covered financial default and bankruptcy of cruise lines. Vantage then canceled the cruise and offered me an alternative date I could not make; I also declined their offer of credit and asked for a refund, which they agreed to. But no refund ever came, and they stopped answering the phone. My credit card returned the $2,000, and I filed an insurance claim for $17,905. It was denied, as was my first appeal. Then Vantage filed for bankruptcy, and my second appeal was denied too. The reasons given by the insurer were outrageous. They cited a vague parenthetical phrase in the policy’s bankruptcy clause, claiming I wasn’t covered because I purchased the cruise directly from the cruise line (rather than, say, through a travel adviser). Then they said my policy lapsed when I canceled the trip. But I did not cancel; Vantage did. I also filed a complaint with the New York State Department of Financial Services, which was rejected. Can you help? Michael, Smithtown, N.Y.

Dear Michael,

When Boston-based Vantage filed for bankruptcy last year, it owed thousands of customers a total of $108 million for cruises and other travel products they had paid for but never received. The company’s former owner is facing lawsuits in New York and Pennsylvania. But you had purchased an insurance policy to cover just such a risk, a smart move. Or so you thought until the insurance company, Travel Insured International, denied your claim and then used exasperating logic to fend off your two appeals, first interpreting the policy’s financial default and bankruptcy clause in a maddening way and then twisting the meaning of the word “cancel.”

You made a few mistakes as well — most notably, by making a claim based on a financial default that had not yet happened. But after speaking with law professors, insurance experts and competing insurance companies, I believe Travel Insured International was wrong, at least by the time of your second appeal, and should pay up.

What does it have to say for itself? For nearly five months, Travel Insured International and its parent company, Crum & Forster, did not respond to my detailed inquiries. Days before publication, however, a spokeswoman, Amy Whilldin, sent the following statement:

“The claim was properly considered, and the correct determination was made based on the facts of this claim, which was to the satisfaction of both the New York Department of Financial Services and the New York State attorney general.”

Ms. Whilldin is correct about the state’s financial services department . An examiner with the department, which regulates the insurance industry, rejected your complaint. “After a review of the policy language," he wrote, “we do not find they are acting in an arbitrary or capricious manner,” referring to Travel Insured International. I disagree with that determination, as we are about to get into.

But the attorney general’s office was not satisfied. You had complained to its Department of Consumer Frauds and Protection, and they did not receive a response from the company. “Despite our repeated efforts,” an employee wrote, “they have failed to respond.” The letter goes on to recommend you consider suing the company.

I have a better idea. You should file a formal grievance with Travel Insured International, which under your policy allows you to submit new evidence, and if that fails even argue your case in person. (You told me you are not interested in a third option, to accept travel credits under the conditions offered by the Australian company that bought Vantage’s assets.)

In the meantime, your story provides great lessons on how travelers should choose the appropriate travel insurance policy, and what can go wrong even when they do.

In your initial claim to Travel Insured International, filed in late 2022, you cited Vantage’s “very poor record” in refunding its customers and your “assumption that the company is in default in making payments.”

This was an error: Your policy defines financial default as “the total cessation of operations,” and Vantage at the time was running at least some cruises. Travel Insured International’s response simply said that “your travel supplier canceling your trip is not a covered reason.” True.

When you first appealed in April, Vantage was two months short of declaring bankruptcy outright, and was not yet in financial default as defined by the policy. But it was teetering. (That one of its cruises left at all made headlines in The Boston Globe .) This time, Travel Insured International denied your claim, citing the bankruptcy clause, which protects policy holders in case of “Bankruptcy or default of an airline, cruise line, tour operator or other travel provider (other than the Travel Supplier, tour operator, travel agency, organization or firm from whom you purchased your travel arrangements).”

That parenthetical says you are not covered if the organization that sold you the cruise goes bankrupt. You purchased the cruise directly from Vantage, so you are not covered, according to the claims adjuster’s reasoning. (Why the company even cited this clause, if the cruise line was not yet in default, remains a mystery.)

Similar clauses appear in many travel policies, but that’s not what they’re supposed to mean, said Loretta Worters, vice president for media relations at the Insurance Information Institute , an industry group.

Such provisions, she explained, are intended to exclude coverage for an unscrupulous or financially flailing middleman that goes belly-up after collecting your money but before passing it along to the actual travel provider.

“Some of these are fly-by-night, travel-agencies-in-their-kitchen kinds of things,” Ms. Worters said. ( We encountered one such agency in a previous Tripped Up column .)

Guess who agreed with Ms. Worters: The agent who answered the phone when I called Travel Insured International’s customer care line as a potential customer. I asked about the clause and she agreed it was ambiguous, checking with a supervisor before saying: “If you are booking directly with the company and the company itself goes under default or bankruptcy, you would be able to file a claim for the nonrefundable portion of your trip.”

Ms. Whilldin, the spokeswoman for Travel Insured International, did not specifically answer my question about this apparent conflict. But it seems their claims adjuster made a mistake, aided by the ambiguous language of the underwriter who wrote the policy. (That’s United States Fire Insurance, another Crum & Forster company.)

Now, let’s discuss the second appeal. “Once you cancel your trip, the coverage under the plan ends,” Travel Insured International said. Your argument is that you did not cancel; Vantage did.

I think almost anyone who isn’t a lawyer would agree with you. But Oren Bar-Gill , a professor at Harvard Law School and the author of “Seduction by Contract: Law, Economics and Psychology in Consumer Markets,” explained to me the opposing argument. Vantage was contractually allowed to change the dates or offer credit, and you refused, the equivalent of canceling.

But, he added, when Vantage agreed to refund your cruise, it could be “considered a waiver of their contractual rights,” weakening the argument that you canceled your contract.

In a lawsuit New York State filed against the now-defunct Vantage and its former owner, Henry Lewis, the issue also comes up: The suit says Vantage “deceptively” mislabeled cancellations as “postponements.”

Even Travel Insured International admitted that Vantage had canceled, in its original letter rejecting your claim. “It is our understanding that your travel supplier, Vantage, canceled your cruise,” the claims adjuster wrote. Somehow, however, by the third response you had gone from cancelee to canceler.

You also missed a red flag when you chose your policy. Suzanne Morrow, the chief executive of InsureMyTrip , where you found your plan, told me you called the company within minutes of your purchase and asked an agent to point you to the bankruptcy clause. (You confirmed this to me.)

That means you’re not the typical insurance customer blindsided by small print you never read. If you were so concerned about the cruise line’s solvency, you could have canceled your plan during the insurer’s “free look” period and chosen one with more straightforward language — I found several on the InsureMyTrip website.

What lessons can we take away from your debacle?

To begin with, pay for everything with a credit card when your credit limit allows. Because of an odd quirk in a 1974 law , card issuers are required to reimburse you if the company you interacted with goes bankrupt.

Beyond that, the basic advice for travel insurance remains unchanged: Shop for a plan separately through a provider you trust or an aggregator like InsureMyTrip, rather than adding trip protection by checking a box just before you purchase a big-ticket item. Read the policy summaries fully and click through to the actual policy document to read fine print on issues that concern you most (say, bankruptcy protection or medical coverage for pre-existing conditions).

If you don’t understand anything, call the company. If it cannot answer satisfactorily and follow up in writing, choose another provider.

If you need advice about a best-laid travel plan that went awry, send an email to [email protected] .

Follow New York Times Travel on Instagram and sign up for our weekly Travel Dispatch newsletter to get expert tips on traveling smarter and inspiration for your next vacation. Dreaming up a future getaway or just armchair traveling? Check out our 52 Places to Go in 2024 .

Seth Kugel is the columnist for “ Tripped Up ,” an advice column that helps readers navigate the often confusing world of travel. More about Seth Kugel

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