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Baltimore Cruise vs Ocean City Vacation

How does the cost of a cost of a cruise compare to a beach vacation? We compared the cost of cruises from Baltimore to vacations in Ocean City, Maryland. The results may surprise you.

Cruise and hotel prices used in our comparison are valid on May 3. They are subject to change, but are representative of what you can realistically expect to spend.

Carnival cruise from Baltimore
Ocean City Hampton Inn

Comparison 1: Carnival Cruise to Bahamas

For our first price comparison, we'll use a Carnival Cruise from Baltimore to the islands of the Bahamas. This 7-day trip is a very common and popular itinerary.

We selected the cruise departing Sunday August 7 and returning Sunday August 14. There are cheaper choices later in the year but we want one in the peak of summer vacation season.

The cruise leaves at 4:30PM on Sunday. It is at Port Canaveral/Orlando (Florida) from 7:00AM to 6:00PM on Wednesday. Nassau (Bahamas) Thursday 11:00AM to 8:00PM. Freeport (Bahamas) Friday 7:00AM to 1:30PM. Back in Baltimore at 9:00AM on Sunday the 14th.

This Bahamas cruise on Carnival costs $1718 total for a balcony stateroom for two people. An inside stateroom is cheaper but we decided to splurge on the balcony because it wasn't a whole lot more.

The cruise price also includes meals and entertainment, which will cost extra on a beach vacation.

Let's compare to an Ocean City hotel for the same 7 nights (August 7 to August 14). The Hampton Inn & Suites is a mid-priced hotel in Ocean City. There are more expensive options and cheaper ones too. It is the number 2 ranked hotel on TripAdvisor so we decided it represents good value.

The hotel is $335 per night, which is a total of $2345 for 7 nights. The cruise is more than $600 cheaper than the hotel room alone. Add in the cost of lunches and dinners for two and you'll easily spend another $450 at the beach. Meals are included on the cruise.

Conclusion: The Carnival cruise to the Bahamas is far cheaper than a vacation at the hotel in Ocean City for the same 7 nights.

Royal Caribbean cruise from Baltimore
Ocean City Princess Royale Resort

Comparison 2: Royal Caribbean Cruise to Bermuda

For our second price comparison, we're using a Royal Caribbean cruise from Baltimore to Bermuda. It is a classic summer cruise.

We picked a 5-night cruise departing Saturday July 16 and returning Thursday July 21. Again there are cheaper choices in other months but we want one in the peak summer season.

The cruise leaves at 4:00PM on Saturday. It arrives at King's Wharf on Bermuda at 1:00PM on Monday. Leaves Bermuda at 2:30PM on Tuesday. Back in Baltimore at 7:00AM on Thursday.

This Bermuda cruise on Royal Caribbean costs $1748 total for an outside stateroom for two people. Bermuda cruises are in demand so the price per day is higher than the Bahamas cruise.

We'll compare to an Ocean City hotel for the same 5 nights (July 16 to July 21). The Princess Royale Resort is another mid-priced hotel in Ocean City.

The hotel is available for $295 per night, which is a total of $1475 for 5 nights. The cruise is $273 more expensive than the hotel room. But if you buy 5 dinners for two at $50 an 5 lunches for two at $20, that's adds $350 to the total cost of Ocean City.

What is included on the Royal Caribbean cruise that isn't included on the Ocean City vacation? The Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas ship offers complimentary dining at your choice of the main dining room, Windjammer Cafe, Solarium Cafe, or Park Cafe. There are live musical shows, youth programs, pool-side outdoor movies, aerial acrobatics in the Centrum, a rock-climbing wall, and the Solarium adults-only retreat. All included at no charge.

Conclusion: At first glance, this Royal Caribbean cruise to Bermuda appears to be more expensive than a vacation at this hotel in Ocean City, but when you factor in the cost of meals the cruise is slightly cheaper.

One final note -- if you go to Ocean City you have to deal with the typical traffic jam on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. That's a hassle you avoid on a cruise out of Baltimore.

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