Finder makes money from featured partners, but editorial opinions are our own.

How much bang can cruises really give you for your buck?


Discover the true value of sailing into the sunset.

Sponsored by P&O Cruises. Sip Back and Relax on a P&O Cruise when you book a Value Fare today and receive a Premium Drinks Package included on any 7+ night cruise#. Be quick, sale ends 23 Nov 2021. T&Cs apply.

Ever wondered how much you save by booking a cruise over traditional holiday itineraries? Ponder no longer because we've broken down all the costs to see which comes out on top.

Cruise cabins vs hotel rooms

Let's kick things off with how much value comes with your room.

A sailing such as the P&O Cruises 3-night Sapphire Coast Food Festival offers a balcony-inclusive room that sleeps 4 from $556 and a quad-mini suite from $586.50. Keep in mind that these costs are for all 3 nights per person, rather than per night. These cabins come with access to free meals throughout the day, uninterrupted views of the water, an ensuite and free toiletries.

On the other hand, a balcony room with waterfront rooms at the Pier One Sydney Harbour sits upwards of $519 per night. For scope, these rooms accommodate 2 people and hold similar inclusions to those mentioned above.

With this in mind, the hotel works out to $259 per night, per person compared to the 3-day cruise which sits at $185 per person, per night. That's a saving of $74 on accommodation alone. And that doesn't include travel costs to destinations outside the city you may visit on your cruise.

Legs of couple laying on bed in hotel room

Onboard dining vs city restaurants

Unlike most hotels, your cruise will include 3 meals per day plus snacks in between and it's where your dollars really get stretched aboard a ship.

Some hotels come with complimentary breakfast, but that's where the free meals at hotels usually end. Expect to pay an additional $20–$30 for lunch and $30–$100 for dinner per head, at a standard restaurant depending on the city and venue.

While the included restaurants do offer a wide range in cuisine, just like a land-based holiday, you may want to splash out for something extra special. Good news is: Paid restaurants onboard still work out cheaper than most fine dining options in the cities.

Luke Mangan's Bar and Grill aboard some P&O ships is one example of getting more bang for your buck. Enjoy lunch for $49, dinner for $69 and high tea for $29 per person.

If you compare these prices to Mangan's land-based restaurants the savings are almost 40% less aboard the ship if choosing the best-value items from the menu.

If you're just fancying a high tea, the value is just as strong. A traditional high tea at Sydney's QVB Tea Rooms costs $65 a head, afternoon tea at Melbourne's Windsor Hotel starts from $79 and the Stamford Plaza in Brisbane hosts its Queensland-inspired tea from $64. Onboard P&O, high Tea at Salt Grill by Luke Mangan is only $25 per person.

Getting among the fine china is easily done onboard the 4-night Tangalooma – Moreton Island sailing.

Onboard itinerary vs standard entertainment

Finally, how does the all-important entertainment fare?

On any given cruise, your ticket includes free entry to a variety of recreational options. These include themed parties, night clubs, bars, comedy shows, theatrical performances, movie nights, live music and trivia evenings.

Crowd of people at concert waving arms in the air

To break that down, you have free entertainment available to you day or night. That saves you on club entry fees of up to $40, comedy show tickets that average $30 and a night at the theatre around $60 per person.

And, the entertainment doesn't stop at clubs and theatre for the adults. Cruise lines make sure travellers of all ages are kept busy throughout their holiday. The best part? It's all included in the price of your cruise.

Kids clubs aboard P&O's ships range from the toddler-friendly Turtle Cove (2-5 year olds) to HQ+ (14-17 year olds). Youth staff-run activities range from arts and crafts to Teen Jam band practice.

Where can you catch all the action? The 4-night Southern Getaway, 7-night Barrier Reef Discovery and 4-night Whitsundays Cruise all play host to tons of fun onboard.

Go to site