Updated Jul 11, 2022 - Economy & Business

Cruising is cheaper than staying at a motel

illustration of Ben Franklin wearing a hat and sunglasses sipping on a tropical drink
Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Getaways have become costlier than ever — except maybe for travelers looking to cruise

Why it matters: Cruise lines are still rebuilding from an industry wide shutdown in 2020.

State of play: The average daily rate for a U.S. hotel room was $153.32 between June 26 and July — up 19.7% from 2019, hospitality data and analytics company STR tells Axios. 

  • Meanwhile, airfares have climbed about 30% higher.
  • But average cruise prices for the month between June 11 and July 11 were 17% lower, according to Tynan Smith of Cruisesheet.

Driving the deals: Older travelers (a core chunk of cruisers) have been harder to lure back, Smith tells Axios. 

  • Cruise operators have also increased capacity on their ships as they’ve loosened COVID protocols. 

By the numbers: There are 230 cruises under $60, including taxes, including for some higher end routes, according to Cruisesheet.

  • The price difference for inside cabins and balcony rooms has fallen to just 50%, down from 150%.

What they’re saying: “I wouldn't say that these are the best prices I've ever seen .. there's more excellent deals than I've ever seen,” said Smith, who has been cruising for over 20 years. 

What to watch: Despite fears of a recession, cruise executives have been optimistic recently that an all-inclusive service model will still seem like good value to consumers.

  • “[W]hile not recession-proof, our business has proven to be recession-resilient … [E]ven in downturns, employed people take vacations,” Arnold Donald, ex-CEO at Carnival, said on the company’s last earnings call.
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