Would it sound crazy if I told you that you could take a cruise from the United States to Europe for less money than a one-way flight?
Sure, it would take a little longer –and by longer I mean 11-14 days longer. But which of these one way trips would be more enjoyable, not to mention have better food?
Believe it or not, it can actually be cheaper to take a cruise across the Atlantic than to take an airplane.
I looked at some of cheapest cruises from the United States to Europe and then looked up airfare on Google Flights for comparison.
What I found was too surprising not to share with our readers.
The criteria I used for this data: I stuck with some of the major airlines like Delta, American Air, United Airlines, and a few others that are commonly known to American travelers. There was an occasional flight from a more obscure airline that was a little cheaper that I mention as well.
Also, you can only book a flight within 11 months of the flight date, and many of these cruise dates are more than a year away, so that comparison is not perfectly aligned.
And lastly, I only looked for non-stop flights. I found some rather cheap flights from New York to Rome but the 16-hour layover would be a deal-breaker for most.
Also, note that the pricing for these cruises is per person for interior staterooms in most cases and is without taxes and fees.
So, let’s take a look at some of these low cost cruises from the United States to Europe.
MSC Divina from New York to Rome – $499
It’s pretty unbelievable that you can take a cruise from the Big Apple to one of the world’s most amazing cities in Europe for about $500 per person. This is one of MSC Cruises’ Grand Voyages, and $499 is the starting price for an interior stateroom plus taxes and fees.
Not only will you get to visit Rome at the end of the cruise, but iconic cities like Lisbon and Barcelona are on the itinerary as well.
Date: April 24, 2024
Itinerary: New York, sea day, 2 days in Bermuda, 4 sea days, Ponta Delgada (Portugal), sea day, 2 days in Lisbon (Portugal), sea day, Barcelona (Spain), sea day, Rome (Italy)
Duration: 16 nights
Ship: MSC Divina
Price per day: $31 (plus taxes, fees, other charges)
How much is a flight from New York to Rome?
Most direct flights from NYC to Rome with Delta, American, and United were anywhere from $518 to $923 one-way. The most expensive flights were during the summer months, but in November of 2024 I found some flights for $455 with Delta.
Norse Atlantic Airways had the absolute cheapest flight I found from NYC to Rome at $258 but this budget line also charges $25 for a carry-on and $70 for a checked-bag among just a few of the “extra” charges you would incur.
Check out this sailing on MSC’s website here.
Tampa, Florida to Barcelona, Spain – $546
This cruise sails on one of Celebrity Cruises’ classic ships, Celebrity Constellation. Besides being one of my favorite “older” cruise ships, Constellation makes stops in Bermuda, Portugal, and a couple more in Spain before arriving in Barcelona.
This itinerary has 10 sea days to enjoy the smaller ship and is about as affordable as can be. And Barcelona is one of my all-time favorite cruise destinations. For $546 per person for an interior stateroom this works out to about $36 per day on the 15 night voyage.
(editor’s note: between writing this and publishing it I found the price has gone up to $898 on Celebrity’s website although it’s still $546 on several cruise websites. Prices often fluctuate, especially when the sail date is so close.)
Date: April 17, 2023
Itinerary: Tampa, 3 sea days, Bermuda, 5 sea days, Maderia (Portugal), sea day, Seville (Spain), Malaga (Spain), sea day, Barcelona
Duration: 15 nights
Ship: Celebrity Constellation
Price per day: $36 (plus taxes, fees, other charges)
Check out this sailing with Celebrity Cruises.
How much is a flight from Tampa to Barcelona?
There are actually no non-stop flights from Tampa to Barcelona, so all of the flights I looked at had at least one stop along the way.
Some of the absolute cheapest flights I could find were for $379 but had 2 stops and were over 40 hours long.
The cheapest flights between Delta, American, and United were $549 and most had at least 2 stops.
On average most flights across all airlines ranged from $400 to $600 on the low end.
Azamara Onward from Miami to Canary Islands – $583
This one is pretty exciting, but it sails pretty soon. Azamara is a luxury cruise line with many inclusions on its small fleet of four ships. Sailing from Miami to Europe for less than $600 per person on a small luxury vessel like this should be very tempting.
This itinerary technically takes you to Europe, although Las Palmas is closer to Africa, being on one of the Canary Islands.
Date: February 28, 2023
Itinerary: Miami, 2 sea days, Bermuda, 7 sea days, Las Palmas, Spain (Gran Canaria on Canary Islands)
Duration: 11 nights
Ship: Azamara Onward
Price per day: $53 (plus taxes, fees, other charges)
Check out this voyage with Azamara here.
How much is a flight from Miami to the Canary Islands?
I could not find any non-stop flights from Miami. Most 1-stop and 2-stop flights were anywhere from $350 to $700 with the average price being about $550.
Norwegian Epic from New York to Barcelona – $589
This sailing on Norwegian Epic not only offers a cheap transatlantic cruise to Europe but also plenty of port time in Spain. With 5 port stops in Spain and a final destination in Barcelona, paying $589 per person is hard to beat with a flight.
Date: April 22, 2023
Itinerary: New York, sea day, Bermuda, 4 sea days, Ponta Delgada (Portugal), sea day, Madeira (Portugal), sea day, Seville (Spain), Motril (Spain), Ibiza (Spain), Palma de Mallorca (Spain), Barcelona (Spain)
Duration: 15 nights
Ship: Norwegian Epic
Price per day: $39 (plus taxes, fees, other charges)
Check out this cruise on Norwegian’s website here.
How much is a flight from New York to Barcelona?
Discount airlines like Vueling and Iberia offered some of the lowest rates on nonstop flights from New York to Barcelona for $250 – $350 one-way. To fly in April with American Airlines would cost $630, with Delta $630 and with United $854. Average cost for flights on this route are around $500.
Miami to Rome on Royal Caribbean Ship – $599
We’ll round out our list with another Miami to Rome itinerary. This one sails on Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas and is just barely under $600 per person for an interior stateroom, again not adding in taxes in fees.
This itinerary has a few more port stops in Europe, with port of calls in Portugal, Spain, France, and finally in Italy. For $599 per person in an interior stateroom you can sail to Rome in style.
Date: April 23, 2023
Itinerary: Miami, 6 sea days, Ponta Delgada (Portugal), 2 sea days, Malaga (Spain), Cartagena (Spain), Barceona (Spain), Toulon (France), Ajaccio (France), Rome
Duration: 15 nights
Ship: Explorer of the Seas
Price per day: $40 (plus taxes, fees, other charges)
Check out this cruise on iCruise here.
How much is a flight from New York to Rome?
We already looked at the cost of a flight to Rome in our first entry to this list, but since this one is only a month away we can compare exact dates.
ITA Airways and Delta are the only two airlines with non-stop flights to Rome out of NYC for April 23rd, and the cost is about the same at $519. If stops weren’t an issue you can fly this route as cheap as $284 on discount airline Tap Air Portugal.
American Airlines has tickets for this date for $608 and United will cost you $771 at the time of this writing.
Many times these transatlantic cruises are what’s known as repositioning cruises, sailings where the cruise lines need to move a ship to a new homeport for the season. This can offer up some very good deals as you can see above.
Keep in mind these are one-way sailings so you would still need to figure out transportation for the way back.
This was not a scientific study but just a fun experiment to compare the cost of a cruise versus the cost of a flight for the same kind of route. Even if you have no plans on sailing one of these itineraries any time soon I hope it gave you some “Cruise Fever” in wanting to book an affordable cruise soon. Thanks for reading.