How Much Does a Cruise Ship Cost? | Ultimate Breakdown Guide

 February 11, 2020

Would you like to know how much does a cruise ship cost? Well, that’s the topic of this blog, where we’ll answer:

  • How much does it cost to build a cruise ship?
  • How much does a cruise ship cost to operate?
  • How much does it cost to make a cruise ship?
  • How much does it cost to fuel a cruise ship?

Purchase price, construction cost, operating cost, and fuel cost all inform the cost to own and operate a cruise ship. We discuss the financing component of how much does a cruise ship cost. Next we provide examples of how much does a cruise ship cost.

Then we answer frequently asked questions about how much does a cruise ship cost. Finally, we’ll conclude by summarizing cruise ship loans and lending. Please read on to find out how much does a cruise ship cost.

10 Best New Cruise Ships in 2020

How Assets America® Can Help

Assets America® can arrange cruise ship financing starting at a minimum of $20 million.  Even if you want to acquire a cruise ship for more than $1 billion, we can handle the financing. Call us today at (206) 622-3000 for a private consultation, or simply fill out the form below for a prompt response!

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How Much Does a Cruise Ship Cost?

How much does a cruise ship cost? To answer, let’s look at purchase price, upfront costs, operation cost, and the annual cost of ownership.

Purchase Price and Upfront Costs

In this section, we’ll answer how much does it cost to build a cruise ship, including upfront costs. Indeed, the average cost of a cruise ship with a capacity of up to 500 passengers is around $260 million. However, if you’re interested in larger cruise ships, check out these average costs:

Number of PassengersAverage Cost
501-1000 $394 million
1001-2000 $442 million
2001-3000 $555 million
3001-4000 $734 million
4001-5000 $937 million
5000+$1.31 billion

To be clear, these are the prices of new cruise ships. However, you can buy a used ship for about 50-75% of the new purchase price, although pricing varies depending on age and amenities. Older ships cost less unless they have been extensively refit.

Cost Factors

The factors that help determine how much does it cost to build a cruise ship include:

  • Tonnage: This is a ship’s volume, a standard way to compare ships. Naturally, prices rise directly with tonnage.
  • Berths: Berths, or beds, determine the maximum number of passengers a cruise ship can accommodate. Cost depends on the number of births, but also the number of cabins in each class.
  • Features: Smaller ships can compete by including extravagant features usually found only on larger ships. These features include palatial design, expensive art, oversized suites, health services, complimentary goodies, entertainment, and non-stop food and drink.

There are additional upfront costs besides building costs. For example, these include various permits, licenses, and registrations. If you commission a cruise ship, you’ll need to place a down-payment before construction can begin. Typically, down payments are in the 5% range.

How Much Does a Cruise Ship Cost to Operate?

The costs of operating a cruise ship depend on the size and features of the ship. Specifically, the operating costs for an average cruise ship with 1,000 passengers and 700 crew are as follows:

  • Fuel: Expect to consume about 30 tons of fuel per day while cruising. At an average cost of $500 per ton of fuel, the daily fuel cost is $15,000. Naturally, larger ships will spend significantly more on fuel.
  • Crew: The daily cost of labor is approximately $150 per crew member. Therefore, a 700-crew ship has labor costs of about $105,000 per day.
  • Finance: If you finance $300 million at 5%, expect a daily asset finance charge of $41,096.
  • Overhead: It costs about $214/day for marketing, selling, and administrative expenses.
  • Food: Expect food to cost about $86 per day per person.
  • Depreciation and amortization: About $170 per day.
  • Commissions, transportation, and other: $236 daily.

Naturally, these costs are just estimates and vary greatly ship to ship. In this example, the daily cost to operate a cruise ship is $161,802.

Annual Cost of Owning a Cruise Ship

The annual costs include finance and operating expenses. Following the example above, the annual cost to operate a cruise ship is over $59 million per year. Obviously, this cost will be considerably higher for larger cruise ships. To make a return on investment of 10%, the ship would require an annual income of $65.6 million.

Financing for a Cruise Ship

The overall cost of a cruise ship can exceed $1 billion. A 5% loan on $950 million (after a 5% down payment) will run about $47.5 million a year. Of course, you must double that for a 10% loan. Happily, this kind of financing is one of the strengths of Assets America®.

We are a commercial finance brokerage with a syndicate of private lenders, banks and other commercial funding sources. We offer loans of any size, starting at $10 million.

Whether you need $400 million, $600 million, or $5 billion+, Assets America® has the necessary financial contacts and resources. When the time comes to finance your next cruise ship, think Assets America®!

How Much Does a Cruise Ship Cost? — Specific Examples

We have some examples of how much does it cost to make a cruise ship:

Allure of the Seas

The Allure of the Seas cost $1.43 billion to build, or $240,000 per berth. Its maiden voyage from Port Everglades, Florida began on December 1, 2010. The ship weighs in at 225,282 gross tons, with a length of 1,187 feet. Royal Caribbean is the owner and operator. The ship is undergoing an Amplified Overhaul costing $165 million.

Allure of the Seas features 18 decks, of which 16 are for passengers. It has a maximum capacity of 6,780 passengers and 2,200 crew members. The ship boasts a 1,380-seat theater, a two-deck dance hall, 7 neighborhoods and 25 places to eat. The shopping district runs on an 80kW solar array costing $600,000.


The cruise ship AIDAnova launched in 2018 by Carnival Cruises at a cost of $950 million. Indeed, the cost per berth was $144,000. Specifically, the ship measures 1,106 feet long and weighs 183,858 gross tons. Astonishingly, the maximum passenger capacity is 6,654, plus a crew complement of 1,646. Importantly, it is the world’s first cruise ship that operates completely on liquified natural gas.

The ship has 20 passenger decks, a jungle-themed water park, and two private islands. Also, it boasts three waterslides, 40 bars and restaurants, a live TV studio, and a high-ropes course. Moreover, there are 21 types of staterooms, from single rooms to penthouse suites.

MSC Grandiosa

MSC Cruises launched the $950 million Grandiosa in 2019. The cost per berth was $150,000. Quite impressively, the ship holds 6,334 passengers and 1,704 crew members. Grandiosa weighs in at 181,541 gross tons and measures 1,087 feet long. Its port of registry is in Malta.

The ship has 18 decks, of which 14 are open to passengers. In addition, it has 20 lounges, 12 restaurants, 14 Jacuzzis, 4 swimming pools, and 39 elevators. Technically, the ship has a selective catalytic system that reduce NOx emissions by 90%,

Norwegian Epic

The Norwegian Epic cost $1.2 billion to build, with a per-berth cost of $230,000. Historically, Norwegian Cruise Line had the maiden voyage of the Bahamas-based Epic in 2010. Remarkably, the ship is 1,081 feet long and weighs 155,873 gross tons. Furthermore, it has 4,100 passenger berths. To be sure, STX Europe built the Epic in France with 15 decks that host passengers.

The ship offers 20 dining options, include two main dining rooms, all-you-can-eat buffet, pubs, grilles, and cafes. Also, it boasts award-winning shows, an aqua park with multiple slides, a fitness center, and a spa.

Celebrity Edge

Celebrity Cruises launched the $1 billion Celebrity Edge in 2018. The cost per berth was $296,800. Indeed, the ship weighs 130,818 gross tons and has a length of 1,004 feet. Note that STX France built the ship, registered in Malta. The ship holds 2,918 passengers and 1,377 crew members.

The ship has 14 passenger decks and features a “Magic Carpet” platform that hangs along the ship’s starboard. Stunningly, this feature facilitates entry and egress while at port and offers dining and lounge space at sea. You’ll find features like balcony staterooms, a parabolic bow, private Jacuzzis in each suite, and private plunge pools.

Cruise ShipTotal CostCost Per BerthTonnageLength (Meters/Feet)
Allure of the Seas$1.43 billion$240,000225,282362 / 1187
AIDAnova$950 million$144,000183,858337 / 1106
MSC Grandiosa$950 million$150,000181,541331 / 1087
Norwegian Epic$1.2 billion$230,000155,873329 / 1081
Celebrity Edge$1 billion$296,800130,818306 / 1004

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does a Carnival Cruise ship cost?

There is a wide range of construction costs for Carnival Cruise ships. For example, at the low end is the Carnival Celebration at a mere $130 million. Conversely, the most expensive Carnival ship is Carnival Mardi Gras, clocking in at $950 million. Nine Carnival ships cost $500,000 or more.

What are the costs of renting a cruise ship (high-end yacht)?

The cost depends on the ship and the length of the rental. Generally, a good benchmark is about $500,000 per week. However, high-end luxury cruise ships may cost up to $1 million per week.

How much does it cost to charter a cruise ship?

A cruise charter occurs when a group or company books some or all of a ship for the duration of the cruise. Obviously, prices vary greatly. Indeed, a 7-night charter on an Oasis-class cruise ship will run from $6.5 million to $11 million or more.

What are the costs of retiring on a cruise ship?

If you’d like to retire on a cruise ship, we salute you! The cost is approximately $46,000 per year. For an 18-year retirement period, that works out $828,000. Naturally, the price can be much higher if you retire on a high-end luxury cruise ship.

Cruise Ship Loans and Lending

We have explored “How much does it cost to build a cruise ship?”. Cruise ships require hundreds of millions of dollars to build or acquire. They can be a lucrative investment, but you’ll need to line up sufficient funding. Expect to put down at least 5% to 20% and finance the rest.

Assets America® can arrange a cruise ship loan of any size. Even if you want to acquire a cruise ship for more than $1 billion, we can handle the financing. Call us today for a private consultation! 

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