River Cruising On An Ocean Cruise Budget: Yes, You Can

In this series, River Cruising On An Ocean Cruise Budget, we began by suggesting that it is possible to experience a Viking River Cruise in mid-range accommodations for what one might spend on the upper end stateroom of most major ocean cruise lines.  Total price.  That caught your attention, so we continued the illustration by defining who would (and would not) be a good fit for a river cruise.  Afterall, who cares how much the price is if the experience is not enjoyable?  Today we look at the numbers.

If we were comparing two ships on seven day Caribbean cruises, this would be easy.  We would pick comparable cabin categories (say, standard balcony staterooms), similar itineraries, etc.  We would probably also break that down to a cost per person, per day.   But common to this type of comparison, the total price including all funds spent during the sailing is diluted by only considering the cruise fare cost.   Frankly: Who cares about the cruise fare cost?  Let’s talk total price, out the door, considering all usual and customary expenses.

We begin with the largest cruise ship in the world, Royal Caribbean International‘s Allure Of The Seas.  We chose this popular ship because it carries more people than any other ship on the planet.

Allure of the Seas- 7 day Caribbean cruise itinerary
$2100.00 Category D4 Balcony cabin
$  280.00 Select Beverage Package
$  280.00 Sightseeing Tours in each port
$  125.00  Internet Package
$  250.00 Airfare
$   72.00  Transfers

$3143 Total Per Passenger, double occupancy


Viking Odin 8-day Romantic Danube itinerary
$1856 Category F Standard Stateroom
$ 900 Airfare

$2756 Total Per Passenger, double occupancy

Obviously, there are variables in this illustration that can skew these results either way.  But the more inclusive reality of a river cruise stacks up very nicely to the inclusive nature of an ocean cruise in the Caribbean.  A Viking River Cruise includes wine, beer and soft drinks during meal times.  Buy air from Viking and transfers are part of the deal.

But we tried to make it a fair comparison by using the average price for a Royal Caribbean City and Sightseeing tour at the four ports Allure of the Seas visits. On a Viking River Cruise, there is one of those every day. Free internet on Viking is tough to compare to any ocean line where we pay based on usage.  Airfare added to the Allure booking would  obviously not be needed if driving to the port.

Still, the thought that a river cruise on a new Viking longship is just too expensive compared to a Caribbean itinerary on a popular ocean ship has its flaws.  Sure, for those travelers who are choosing the $499 Caribbean bargain, this illustration has little value.

But for 50+ travelers without kids along who normally book a balcony or higher and are curious about the rest of the world, a Viking River Cruise is surely one to think about.   Run the numbers yourself and don’t forget the one element of it that we have not talked about here today: the experience.

Arguably one of the best parts of shoreside-focused river cruising, Viking is taking the river cruise experience to the next level.  That focus has served them well, as we saw recently as the Viking Longships of 2014 were christened in Amsterdam, Rostock, Germany and Avignon, France.

This new video tells the story: