Cruise and Beach Destinations
in the Caribbean, Mexico & Beyond
Mexican Riviera

What Does a Mexican Riviera Cruise Cost?

Cruise ship costs depend on many factors
Cruise ship costs depend on many factors

What does the typical Mexican Riviera cruise cost?

We spent $1,552 on our first Mexican Riviera cruise thanks in part to tight spending and a lot of effort in keeping expenses low.

For people who have never cruised before, the average cost they expect to pay is more complex than it first appears. That’s because some costs just aren’t obvious right away.

For example, anyone who does an online search on a major travel booking site may see prices like these for a six-day, seven-night cruise that goes to Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlán and Puerto Vallarta:

  • $574 per person for an interior cabin and no ocean view.
  • $839 for a slightly larger cabin with a porthole or window.
  • $989 for a cabin with a private balcony.
  • $1,464 for a spacious suite with separate living and sleeping areas.

Clicking on the $574 interior cabin may reveal a variety of prices for individual cabins depending on their location on the ship. For example, cabins on the upper decks always cost more than cabins on lower decks because upper deck cabins are closer to restaurants, pools and the open-air decks where people lay out in the sun.

These actual prices will likely change within days or even hours because they fluctuate according to supply and demand.

In our case, we spent months watching prices and got a cabin at a deep discount.

Cabin Prices Per Night

Just like with hotels, it pays to look at the prices per night for Mexican Riviera cruises to see which ones offer a better rate for the same cabin type.

In the example above, the interior cabin at $574 costs $82 a night per person—and it’s all-inclusive because meals are part of the price. For two people, the total cost is $1,148. It’s a good deal compared to a typical hotel.

Unlike hotels, some cruise prices per night decline on longer trips than on shorter trips. Also unlike hotels, cruises have “hidden” fees that may not appear on the travel booking site until the end of the booking process—or until the bill arrives.

“Hidden” Cabin Costs

What these prices don’t show right away are three standard fees on every cruise: fees, taxes, port expenses and tips for cruise staff.

On our first six-day, seven-night Mexican Riviera cruise, we paid $111 per person for fees, taxes and port expenses. We also paid a $24.95 “processing fee”. So the total fees for the two of us was $246.95.

The cruise line also charged us $14.50 per night per person at the end of the trip for staff tips. The total was $203. Altogether, those fees were $450 on top of the cabin price.

The cruise that first appeared to cost $574 per person (this is only an example; we paid less) ends up costing $1,598 for two people or $114 per night per person. It’s still a good deal compared to a hotel on a Caribbean beach because meals are included.

That being said, we objected to our staff tips for reasons that are too complex to explain here, and the cruise line reduced them. Keep in mind that a cruise line will reduce tips only for good reasons, and some won’t reduce them for any reason.

Other Onboard Expenses

Port Canaveral
Some cruise passengers stay overnight in the embarkation ports.
Although some onboard entertainment is free, cruise lines have all kinds of ways of convincing passengers to hand over more money. They include:
  • Casinos
  • Bingo games
  • Internet access
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Specialty restaurants
  • Boutique shopping
  • Classes including yoga, fitness and meditation

Disciplined passengers can avoid spending any money on board, as we did with the exception of Internet access, which I needed for work. It cost me $40 for two days.

Cruise Port Expenses

Again, cruise ship passengers can avoid spending any money at all when they visit a cruise port. But there are many ways of spending money for anyone who wants the following:

  • Eating lunch at a beachfront restaurant.
  • Buying alcohol that is much cheaper in port than on the ship.
  • Buying any number of souvenirs in the many port shops.
  • Going on shore excursions, which usually cost from $50 to $150 per person.
  • Renting a lounge chair and umbrella on a public beach.
  • Taking a taxi or bus to an attraction, as we did to the historic El Centro in Puerto Vallarta.

Overnight Hotel Stays

We have taken cruises in which we flew into port in the morning, left on the cruise in the afternoon, returned to port in the morning and flew out again that afternoon.

With other cruises, we have spent time in the embarkation port to take advantage of what the port has to offer.

Overnight stays in a hotel can add quite a bit of cost or no cost at all. Anyone who stays overnight also will pay for meals at a restaurant. So overnight stays can add hundreds of dollars to the total trip cost.

Parking and Transportation

Parking is a cost that new cruisers often overlook. If they drive to an airport and leave their car there, they will have nightly parking expenses.

If they drive straight to the port and leave their car at the cruise terminal, they also will have nightly parking expenses. In our case, we paid $77 for our week-long cruise.

Getting to the cruise port depends on where people live. Many people on our cruise lived in San Diego, which was our port of embarkation. We flew there from Virginia, but we paid nothing for the tickets because we used points.

Total Costs

Our Mexican Riviera cruise for two people cost $1,552 thanks to careful spending, airline points, a reduction in staff tips and getting a cabin at a deep discount. This total cost is consistent with other cruises we have taken using the same methods for keeping costs down.

Some budget-minded cruise passengers may do better, but most people will find that a six-day, seven-night cruise to the Mexican Riviera for two people will cost at least $1,500 to $2,000 or much more depending on cabin size and many other factors.