The San Diego cruise ship terminal is not the busiest cruise ship terminal in Southern California but it does have a fine selection of cheap cruises to Baja California. Periodically throughout the year more expensive and longer term cruises leave the San Diego port to destinations like the Panama canal, Hawaii, or French Polynesia just to name a few but the typical run of the mill cruises that depart San Diego happen week in and week out. They are for the most part short cruises lasting a week or less and depending on when you want to cruise you can sometimes get some bargain prices far lower than you might expect.
Of all the major cruise ships you can travel on the most common cruises that depart from San Diego are some of the shorter hauls by Carnival Cruise Lines and Holland America. Both Carnival and HA offer shorter cruises lasting just a few days and only going as far south as Ensenada Mexico or Cabo San Lucas. They both also have some slightly longer cruises going as far south as Puerta Vallerta, Mazatlan, and La Paz.
One of Holland America’s longer cruises leaves San Diego and returns 11 days later having visited some less traveled ports in Manzanillo, Acapulco, Huatulco, and Zihuatanejo (Ixtapa). This is obviously a bit more expensive than the shorter five night cruises to Cabo offered by Carnival but relative to other 10-15 day cruises is quite affordable.
The Cheapest Cruises To Mexico
If you really want to spend as little as possible the cheapest cruise to Mexico is from Los Angeles. The Long Beach cruise ship terminal has some weekend cruises that depart on a Friday and return on a Monday. They travel to Ensenada and back and spend a full day at sea. These are great bargain cruises for last minute get-a-ways or for people who don’t like being “away” for very long. They are also often known as party cruises as they are cheap enough to draw a different kind of crowd than many longer luxury cruises.
From San Diego the cheapest cruises are in the four to five night range. Sometimes Carnival does a 3 night cruise to Ensenada from San Diego’s terminal which is almost exactly like the aforementioned cruise from Long Beach but this itinerary changes from year to year. Currently the five night cruise from San Diego to Cabo and back is the shortest and cheapest option available. Like Holland America cruise options Carnival also offers a few cruises to the Mexican Riviera which are a both longer than a week but their sail dates are less often and they cost a bit more; although they are cheaper on a per night cost basis.
When To Find the Cheapest Mexican Cruise From Southern California
On the whole the short week long cruises or less out of Long Beach are a little cheaper than those out of San Diego but they are both comparable, especially if you are located in San Diego and don’t have to drive and park long term near the Lon Beach port. What you will also find however is that prices on these short weekend and week long cruises out of San Diego are priced vastly differently depending on the time of the year you are traveling.
One excellent rule of thumb is that cruises which span major holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, 4th of July, etc. are always going to be a big higher priced than those that span the dates just before or after those holidays. In fact you can usually bet that cruise itineraries which fall roughly two weeks before or after a major holiday are typically less expensive than average for the season.
In addition to planning your cruise around the holidays planning your cruise around the seasons will be another major tool in keeping your costs low. Summer cruises to Baja Mexico or the Mexican Riviera are simply more expensive than similar cruises in the Fall, Winter and Spring. It may seem better to cruise in the summer but remember than Baja Mexico and especially Cabo San Lucas and the Mexican Riviera to the south are closer to the tropics meaning they are comfortable vacation spots year round.
This is important to remember because the cost of a cruise can easily be half off in the winter months than the same cruise in the summer months and your destination will not feel very different no matter which month you travel in. In Cabo San Lucas for instance the average temperature zone for the month of February is a low of 57 degrees and a high of 78. Compare that to average July temps of 78 degrees as a low and 91 degrees as a high. Yes, there is a difference but a low of 57 in February is hardly winter weather to avoid.
Exceptions to the rules will always apply but on the average your lowest cost cruises from San Diego to Mexico are going to fall in the late Fall in early November and early December followed by low fares at the end of January and the end of February. As you go further into March you typically see some higher fares for the spring break crowd however some sales will pop out to draw in these crowds.
As always remember that the lowest fares are rarely published at all times. You can see the trends in price for all the standard cruises by simply looking at a single cruise fares throughout the year but sales can almost be found and booked if you look for them diligently. Sites like CruiseDirect.com focus specifically on helping people find the right cruise for the right price. If you plan in advance for the inexpensive part of the cruise season then you can wait for these sales to book.
If you are looking for inside state rooms which are typically the cheapest you can usually find sales periodically throughout the year bringing the single passenger cruise total before taxes down o the $350 range or less. Some of the even shorter cruises when they are available can drop in price below $200 a person. It pays to look often and get to know the price range of each type of cruise depending on the time of the year.