Spring for a Cruise
jimfeng/istockphoto

15 Low-Cost Cruises to Take This Spring

View Slideshow
Spring for a Cruise
jimfeng/istockphoto

Spring for a Cruise

Snagging a bargain cruise in the spring can be challenging at best, thanks to spring break crowds and the associated price increases. But there are deals to be had if you do your research carefully to sail before or after the party crowd and book well in advance — especially since prices can change daily. For those daydreaming about a sun-filled cruise getaway, here are some of the rare budget-friendly options at $100 per night or less for March, April, and early May. Don't waste time locking in these deals.

Prices and availability were researched in early February and are subject to change.

Princess Cruises: Panama Canal, Costa Rica, and the Caribbean
garytog/istockphoto

Carnival: Panama Canal

Departure: March 5
Starting Price: $904 (About $65 per night) 
For a memorable way to travel from the East Coast to the West Coast this spring, Carnival offers a one-way journey from Miami to San Francisco through the Panama Canal. In addition to the canal transit, the 14-night trip offers a visit to such notable destinations as Cartagena, Colombia; Puntarenas, Costa Rica; Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala, and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. The journey is aboard the Carnival Miracle, a relatively new ship that offers numerous dining options, lounges featuring Broadway-style productions, a casino, and a full-service spa.

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
emperorcosar/shutterstock

Holland America: Mexico

Departure: March 7
Starting Price: $529 (About $76 per night)
Another popular itinerary, Holland America's Oosterdam heads to the Mexican Riviera from San Diego (a place you could easily spend a few days exploring as well), stopping in Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, and Cabo San Lucas, all highly regarded ports. On the beautiful Oosterdam, guests are treated to outstanding service and numerous entertainment options, including a three-story Broadway-style theater space, casino, spa, fitness center, art gallery, and swimming pools. There are ship facilities just for young travelers, including a lounge for teens.

Princess: Panama Canal, Ocean to Ocean
dimarik/istockphoto

Princess: Panama Canal, Ocean to Ocean

Departure: March 15
Starting Price: $1,199 (About $80 per night)
A unique, one-way itinerary, this cruise departs from Fort Lauderdale and ends in Los Angeles. In between are stops in such notable ports as Cartagena, Colombia; Fuerte Amador, Panama; Puntarenas, Costa Rica; San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua; Huatulco, Mexico; and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; as well as a full transit of the Panama Canal. On the Emerald Princess, cruisers will find multiple bars, nightclubs, a teen center, casino, spa, and numerous pools.

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
ferrantraite/istockphoto

Princess Cruises: Mexico

Departure: March 28
Starting Price: $929 (About $93 per night)
In another take on the popular Mexico itinerary, the Star Princess departs from Los Angeles and spends two days in Cabo San Lucas (an engaging destination where even two days may not feel like enough) before moving on to La Paz, Loreto, and Puerto Vallarta. The itinerary includes three relaxing days at sea. The Star Princess went through renovations in 2011 that added windowed suites and a casino facelift. Additional ship features include movies under the stars, a full-service spa, a wine and caviar bar, library, video arcade, and a 24-hour internet café.

Related: 24 Secluded Beach Paradises Around the World

Philipsburg, St. Maarten
Sean Pavone/shutterstock

Princess Cruises: Eastern Caribbean

Departure: March 29
Starting Price: $518 (About $74 per night)
A seven-night Caribbean cruise over spring break for just over $500? Yes, please. Princess Cruises takes travelers from Fort Lauderdale to such popular destinations as St. Thomas and St. Maarten, as well as to the cruise line's own private island of Princess Cays. The getaway takes place aboard the Regal Princess, which features such amenities as a spa, outdoor jogging track, and several pools, including a fountain pool, plunge pool, retreat pool for adults only, and a terrace pool. There are also shows, boutiques, and Camp Discovery for the kids, which features destination themed programming.

Basseterre, St. Kitts
Nellmac/istockphoto

Carnival: Southern Caribbean

Departure: March 29
Starting Price: $419 (About $60 per night)
If you don't mind springing for a flight to Puerto Rico to catch a cruise, Carnival offers an alternative take on the Caribbean that includes many of the region's loveliest ports. Departing from San Juan, the Carnival Fascination visits St. Thomas, St. Maarten, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, and Barbados. This attractive itinerary includes one day at sea.

Related: 30 Things You Didn't Know About Puerto Rico

Bahamas, Nassau
tomalu/istockphoto

Carnival: Bahamas

Departure: March 30
Starting Price: $339 (About $85 per night)
A cruise line known for being more budget friendly, Carnival offers a quick getaway to the Bahamas in late March that departs from Orlando, Florida, and visits such sun-drenched ports as Nassau, Bahamas, and Princess Cays. The itinerary includes one day at sea to lounge poolside or enjoy some of the many other offerings and amenities aboard the Carnival Liberty, a ship that received "Fun Ship 2.0" upgrades in 2011. Highlights include a variety of bars and restaurants; a spa; a three-level show lounge; casino; a teens-only club; and a camp for younger travelers.

Related: 27 Craziest Cruise Ship Amenities

Royal Caribbean: Southern Caribbean
Sean Pavone/istockphoto

Royal Caribbean: Southern Caribbean

Departure: April 3
Starting Price: $866 per night (About $87 per night)
As April approaches, prices start to creep up — but it's still possible to find some enticing but inexpensive offerings. Royal Caribbean offers a particularly noteworthy southern Caribbean itinerary that includes stops in Haiti, Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, Antigua, St. Kitts, and St. Maarten. The trip takes place on the Serenade of the Seas, a Radiance class ship that underwent upgrades in 2012. Amenities include an outdoor movie screen, new restaurants, Wi-Fi throughout, and glass elevators facing the sea.

Princess Cruises: Pacific Wine Country
Ron and Patty Thomas/istockphoto

Princess Cruises: Pacific Wine Country

Departure: April 7
Starting Price: $529 (About $76 per night)
Calling all wine lovers! Princess has designed a tempting cruise with you in mind. Departing from Los Angeles, the Star Princess does a slow wine crawl up the West Coast, stopping in such notable wine and foodie destinations as Santa Barbara, California; San Francisco; Astoria, Oregon; and Victoria, British Columbia; before concluding in Vancouver. Amenities on the Star Princess include four pools, a spa, numerous restaurants, casino, nightclub, and a variety of programming for kids, including a teen center.

Carnival: Western Caribbean
YinYang/istockphoto

Carnival: Western Caribbean

Departure: April 13
Starting Price: $349 (About $70 per night)
Sailing from Mobile, Alabama, the Carnival Fantasy visits Cozumel and Yucatan, Mexico, with two days at sea. The Carnival Fantasy is among the cruise line's ships that have undergone that “Fun Ship 2.0” upgrade with new bars, restaurants, and onboard programming. The ship includes a large water park and a Serenity adult-only retreat area.

MSC: Eastern Caribbean
SeanPavonePhoto/istockphoto

MSC: Eastern Caribbean

Departure: April 18
Starting Price: $429 (About $61 per night)
Spend two full days exploring Puerto Rico as part of this seven-night cruise that begins and ends in Miami. Additional stops include Charlotte Amalie, Virgin Islands, and Nassau, Bahamas. There‘s one day docking at Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, the cruise line's private Bahamian island. The island gets rave reviews from visitors, who describe it as clean and beautiful, with many lagoons to explore.

Nassau, Bahamas
Costin Constantinescu/shutterstock

Royal Caribbean: Bahamas

Departure: April 25
Starting Price: $492 (About $70 per night)
Offering the alternative departure port of New Orleans, Royal Caribbean's Majesty of the Seas visits Key West, Florida, and Coco Cay and Nassau in the Bahamas before heading back to the Big Easy. The Majesty of the Seas is a favorite among cruisers. Amenities include numerous bars, a teen area, casino, spa, fitness center, rock climbing wall, and several pools (and an aqua park for the kids). The ship is known for contests and tournaments during cruises, including for pingpong, trivia, shuffleboard, basketball, and volleyball.

Roatán, Honduras
Jolie-G/istockphoto

Norwegian: Panama Canal

Departure: April 30
Starting Price: $720 (About $65 per night)
For those who have the time, Norwegian offers an intriguing 11-night, round-trip itinerary from Miami that focuses on exploring a variety of colorful Central and South American ports. Journey highlights include stops in Cartagena, Colombia; Colon, Panama; Puerto Limon, Costa Rica; Roatan, Honduras; Harvest Caye, Belize, and Costa Maya, Mexico. The Norwegian Pearl also passes through the Panama Canal.

Royal Caribbean: Bermuda
shunyufan/istockphoto

Royal Caribbean: Bermuda

Departure: May 4
Starting Price: $431 (About $72 per night)
Budget-friendly spring cruises to Bermuda are not easy to find. But those who act fast may be able to snatch up this highly rated cruise from Royal Caribbean. The itinerary includes departing from New Jersey and visiting Hamilton and St. George's, Bermuda. The ship spends two days in each of the ports for a total of four days exploring the island, a British territory known for its picturesque, pink-sand beaches and colorful, pastel homes. Spending so much time in one destination is a somewhat unusual treat, but the six-night cruise also includes two days at sea.

Carnival: Mexican Riviera
Rob Atherton/istockphoto

Carnival: Mexican Riviera

Departure: May 9
Starting Price: $584 (About $83 per night)
Spend early May exploring the Mexican Riviera with Carnival. Departing from Los Angeles, the Carnival Panorama visits the best of the region including Cabo San Lucas, Mexico; Mazatlan; and Puerto Vallarta. The seven-night itinerary includes three full days at sea to catch up on your reading list or enjoy the amenities onboard, including bars, a casino, lounges, a spa, and teen clubs. There’s also a Carnival WaterWorks, which includes a water tube attraction, tide pool, beach pool, and whirlpools.