I Took a 4 Day Budget Cruise… Would I Do It Again?(Under $100)

I took a budget cruise - 4 day Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas

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I took a four-day budget cruise on an older Royal Caribbean cruise ship. Since this cruise cost only $378 per person (not including taxes and port fees), I felt like I couldn’t go wrong!

Over the years, I’ve encountered a wide range of opinions about budget cruises. They’re often advertised as a fantastic value and a convenient way to explore new destinations. However, they also carry the stigma of being outdated and attracting a lively party crowd.

When it comes to planning a budget vacation, the choice of cruise ship can make or break the experience. Knowing this, I set my sights on Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas.

Although the Freedom of the Seas was built in 2006, it had been updated in early 2020. This vessel underwent 116 million dollars in renovations, including the addition of new restaurants, waterslides, and an updated pool deck. 

With a size of over 156,000 tons, it’s one of the larger cruise ships and features plenty of amazing attractions and activities. With so much to offer, Freedom of the Seas was the perfect choice for a budget cruise.

With that being said, here are the pros and cons to taking a budget cruise!

Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas

Pros of a Budget Cruise

Pricing and Value

When it comes to a budget cruise, there’s no denying that they are a great value. Compared to pricier cruises or land vacations, it’s hard to beat the value you get with a cheaper cruise vacation.

This cruise had so much to offer for just under $100 per person, per day. My food, activities, entertainment, and ocean view cabin were all included, showcasing how much you get when you take an economical cruise.

Quality Entertainment

Ice Skating Show

The sheer variety of entertainment options onboard the Freedom of the Seas left me pleasantly surprised. From hilarious comedy shows to grand production shows in the theater and even a thrilling ice skating show, there was a wide variety of entertainment options to enjoy every night of the cruise.

Although this is a cheaper cruise, it doesn’t mean that Royal Caribbean’s quality of entertainment goes down. They still offer some of the best entertainment at sea, and we were very impressed by the shows during our cruise vacation.

If you’re worried that a budget cruise might compromise on entertainment, let me put your mind at ease. Mainstream cruise lines, including those offering budget options, consistently deliver top-notch entertainment across their fleet, regardless of the price.

Fun Activities


Although the Freedom of the Seas first set sail almost 20 years ago, it still has great activities. This cruise ship had a rock climbing wall, water slides, Flowrider Surf Simulator, a sports court, and mini golf.

As a water slide enthusiast, the fact that many of these activities were added to the cruise ship’s refurbishment in 2020 immediately piqued my interest. It’s a testament to the Royal Caribbean’s commitment to providing a fun-filled experience for all its guests.

When we consider the price we paid for this cruise vacation, it’s truly remarkable that they offered all these complimentary activities. This not only enhances the value of our experience but also assures us that we’re getting the most out of our cruise vacation. 

Furthermore, embarking on a cruise with included activities is a smart way to manage your budget without compromising on the fun.

Included Food Quality and Choices

Oasis of the Seas Sorrentos in Promenade

One thing that surprised me about Freedom of the Seas was the quality and variety of included food and dining. Although this is an older cruise ship, there was no shortage of options.

Food options like Windjammer Café (buffet), Sorrento’s Pizza, the Main Dining Room, and Café Promenade are all included in your cruise fare.

I enjoyed the variety of food options available throughout the day. Furthermore, the food and service in the main dining room was terrific. This included menus options like prime rib, shrimp cocktail and New York style cheesecake.

Considering this was a budget cruise, we were impressed by what they had to offer, and it was a delightful experience.

Ports and Itinerary

Nassau-Bahamas-Junkanoo Beach

Just because a cruise is cheaper doesn’t mean that it won’t have amazing itineraries. In fact, older cruise ships often have more interesting itineraries.

Although our itinerary was pretty standard, we still had a great time. It included a Perfect Day at CocoCay and Nassau, Bahamas.

Perfect Day at CocoCay includes many activities, beaches, and a complimentary lunch. Nassau, Bahamas, has free museums and public beaches that are very walkable from the cruise port.

If you’re on a tight budget, these are some of the best cruise ports of call you can visit. CocoCay and Nassau have plenty of free or budget-friendly activities for cruise travelers.

Overall, booking a cheaper cruise was a great way to visit multiple destinations and enjoy a budget vacation.

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Cons of a Budget Cruise


cabin freedom of the seas older cruise ship

One of the drawbacks of opting for a more economical cruise ship is the state of the cabins. Given that budget cruise ships are often older, the cabins can leave a lot to be desired. This can be disappointing those expecting a more modern experience.

Despite Freedom of the Seas getting refurbished in 2020, my ocean view stateroom remained untouched. As we walked into the cabin, the decor, bathroom, and overall cabin felt neglected and needed to be updated.

Furthermore, the Wi-Fi did not work in our cabin, and there is a lack of electrical outlets.

Luckily, we didn’t spend much time in our cabin. However, it’s important to know that the cabins on cheaper cruise ships will likely feel old, outdated, and very worn.

Related: 13 Things You NEED to Know Before Cruising on an Older Ship

Party Crowd

Oasis of the seas 70s party

The reality of booking a cheaper cruise is that it will likely attract a party crowd. Shorter cruise itineraries and budget cruises often attract a booze cruise crowd or families with young children.

Although there’s nothing wrong with these crowds, it’s important to understand what to expect when you book a shorter cruise.

When planning this budget-friendly cruise vacation, we figured it would be a quieter sailing because it was after the holidays. However, this was not the case.

There were thousands of children onboard, and the cruise sometimes got quite rowdy. Personally, I didn’t have any issues with this since it was a 4-day cruise. However, it did make me value the relaxation you get on a 7-day cruise with a quieter cruise line.

Dated Cruise Ship

freedom of the seas older cruise ship

When you book a budget cruise, certain areas will likely feel dated. For instance, even though Freedom of the Seas underwent a 116 million dollar renovation, certain areas remained untouched.

For example, the stateroom hallways, public washrooms, and cabins felt extremely dated and needed some TLC. Sure, the amplified areas had a revamped look. However, it is different from what you’d find on a brand new cruise ship.

Overall, the fact that the cruise ship looks and feels dated is one of the drawbacks of a cheap cruise. This wasn’t a deal breaker for me, as there were still plenty of nice areas onboard Freedom of the Seas, but it is worth noting.

Video: Pros & Cons of an Older Cruise Ship

Fewer Dining Choices


Don’t get me wrong, Freedom of the Seas has plenty of included dining options. However, there are fewer dining choices on a budget cruise ship compared to newer cruise ships.

For instance, Royal Caribbean’s newest cruise ship, Icon of the Seas, boasts an impressive array of over 40 dining venues and bars onboard.

The reality is that there will never be the same variety of dining options onboard an older, budget-friendly cruise. However, the dining venues onboard a budget cruise ship will still be good.

Potential Add-Ons and Extras


Although you chose a cheaper cruise, you will still be tempted to purchase extras. From Wi-Fi packages that can cost up to $30 per day to specialty dining and beverage packages that can add hundreds to your cruise fare, these add-ons have the potential to blow your budget out of the water.

If you’re trying to stick to a budget, avoid cruise extras and take advantage of the included options. For example, eat at the included dining venues instead of paying for specialty dining.

Furthermore, consider if the beverage package is worth it for you. Many first time cruisers don’t always think about the fact that you won’t be using your beverage package much on port days.

Remember, many cruise lines allow each adult guest to bring one bottle of wine onboard. In our case, we took advantage each brought a bottle of wine, which proved to be a smart and cost-effective choice for our cruise vacation.

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Final Thoughts on Pros and Cons of a Budget Cruise

Travel has become more expensive in the last couple of years. While cruising can be a luxury experience, it can aslso be an affordable vacation if you’re on a tighter budget.

On my recent cruise, I found that a budget cruise was a great value and a wonderful way to visit multiple destinations on one trip. Although cruising on a budget may not be for everyone, it certainly is a great way to travel.

Sure, cheaper cruises may not have the most modern cabins, dining options, and certain areas may feel dated. However, the fun activities, included food, good entertainment, and interesting itineraries make cruising on a budget a good value holiday.

Would you take a short, budget-friendly cruise? Please let me know your thought in the comments below.

Happy Cruising!


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Author Bio: Ethan Schattauer has been cruising with his family since he was four years old and has been on more than 30 cruises. As a frequent traveler, Ethan shares his unique perspective on what cruising is like from a young person’s perspective. Ethan also writes about men’s fashion, travel and college advice on the website WhatToWearMen.com.


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