Sun, spa and sisterhood: Why a cruise makes the perfect bachelorette party


My hometown of Nashville is known for being the bachelorette party capital of the world as much as it is for being home to country music, so encountering groups of screaming girls in matching outfits walking around downtown is something I’ve grown used to. When I found myself maid of honor in my best friend’s wedding and needed to plan a party, I braced myself to don a glittery cowboy hat and sing Shania karaoke.

So I was surprised when my friend announced that she wanted us to take a cruise for her bachelorette party.

At first, I was hesitant. I assumed such a trip would be expensive, and I generally avoid travel that I can’t pay for with points and miles. Plus, I’ve been known to get motion sick riding a subway, so committing to multiple days on a ship felt like tempting fate.

But the bride gets what the bride wants, so we booked a three-day cruise aboard Carnival Cruise Line‘s Carnival Liberty, scheduled to sail round-trip from Port Canaveral, Florida, with a stop in Nassau, Bahamas. A few months later I found myself boarding my very own skyscraper of the sea, Dramamine shoved into all my pockets.

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The prenuptial celebration begins. KLAUS VEDFELT/GETTY IMAGES

One amazing party weekend later, I think Nashville is at risk of losing its top spot as the bachelorette party go-to destination.

My friends and I loved our bachelorette party cruise and discovered that a cruise is a perfect way to celebrate any bride. Here’s why.

Why a cruise is the perfect bachelorette party

The bride was the only one in our group who wasn’t a cruise newbie, so the rest of us were in for a treat when we realized how affordable, fun and stress-free a group cruise could be.

Affordable rates

Anyone who has spent a long weekend sharing an Airbnb with a group of girls and going out for every meal knows that you can drop some serious cash on food, lodging, transportation and activities for a bachelorette party. One website advises that bachelorette partygoers should expect to spend $250 per day.

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Anticipating expenses for a bridesmaids’ getaway. TWENTY47STUDIO/GETTY IMAGES

In contrast, our base fare for our three-day cruise was under $300 per person. The six of us stayed in three cabins, two to a room, and only upgraded to have a window in our rooms but not a private balcony. (I didn’t realize you could book more than two people to a room, but discovered later that some Carnival cabins can sleep three or four, which could have saved us money.)

We each also paid for transportation to and from the port and were charged gratuities, but even these additional charges kept each of us around $400 for the entire trip, well below the average bachelorette party cost.

Related: How to book a cruise using points and miles

Beyond these costs, everyone was free to decide which extras, if any, they wanted to add to the trip. We could have booked shore excursions or added packages for Wi-Fi or unlimited drinks to our reservation, but no one was obligated. The fact that we could each attach a credit card to our cruise card (used for all onboard purchases) made splitting costs easy because we only paid for what we personally spent.

The only added complication would have been if someone had wanted to upgrade to a suite or room with a balcony. In that case, they would have had to convince someone to pay for the upgrade and room with them or pay a supplement to stay in a double-occupancy room on their own.

Even so, the flexibility of the cruise options meant that, beyond the base affordable trip cost, everyone could spend as much or as little as they chose, based on their personal budget. We didn’t have to navigate booking a bachelorette party trip that accommodated everyone’s various financial situations.

Variety of activity options

One of the biggest challenges of any group trip is finding activities everyone is willing to do. This is where the cruise really shined for us, even beyond the reasonable cost.

Plentiful onboard activity options meant that we were each free to lie out by the pool and read, hit the gym, take a class or gamble in the casino — either solo or as a group. We all got along well and alternated between hanging out together and breaking off into pairs, but the flexibility would have been especially welcome if there had been more distinct subgroups or if some people in our group hadn’t gotten along well with others.

To balance out the flexibility of our group itinerary during the day, we loved gathering for dinner at the ship’s restaurant each evening. It made every night feel like a special occasion and ensured that we spent time together as a group.

We stayed together for after-dinner fun, but we also could have split into smaller groups at night if some of us had preferred to see a show while the rest of us sang karaoke.

Related: Which cruise activities should you book ahead of time?

Celebratory vibe

Carnival has been described as “the party cruise line” and our sailing lived up to that reputation. The dancing and pervasive high energy made for the perfect environment for a bachelorette party.


Our particular group was pretty laid back, so we hopped into some of the dance parties and watched others singing karaoke, but spent most of our time hanging out by the pool. Had we been more of a party-minded group, we still would have had plenty of fun options between the casino, comedy shows, clubs and piano bar.

We also encountered multiple groups on our cruise celebrating different things: another bachelorette party, some birthday and family reunion groups and even a divorce party, so we didn’t feel out of place as a celebratory group.

Related: How to pick a cruise line

Minimal decisions

Another way a cruise was superior to other group trips was that we barely had to make any decisions.

The bride chose the cruise, so everyone knew up front what the experience and cost would be and could decide whether it worked for them.

Beyond that, we didn’t have to make any plans before the cruise for what to do or where to eat while we were on the ship. Carnival gave us our list of options upon departure, and we were free to do what we wanted without the need for extensive restaurant research on Yelp or figuring out the best way to get between dinner and other activities in an unfamiliar city.

Once we were on the ship, we agreed to meet up for breakfast each morning at a specific place (the restaurant one morning, the buffet the next two) to get our day started together. We ate lunch on our own, eating or snacking however fit best with the day’s activities. We set a time to meet for dinner each night in the ship’s restaurant and chose an after-dinner group activity, like karaoke, each evening.

We loved that we didn’t have to research options ahead of time, buy tickets or arrange transportation for the things we wanted to do. We just had to book the cruise, figure out what to pack and decide which additional packages we wanted to add to our reservations. All the other decisions were minimal and didn’t have to be made until we were aboard.

Built-in dress code

The ship’s pre-planned formal night ensured that we dressed up one night without everyone’s having to agree on how dressy we should go for evenings. We already knew to bring a cocktail dress and which night we would wear it. Plus, we had a built-in photo opp that didn’t require any negotiations within our group.

Related: What to wear on a cruise

Things to consider

Cruising is a fun and stress-free way to celebrate your bride, but you do need to think through a few things before booking your bachelorette party cruise.


If your engagement timeline and work schedules allow, research the best time for weather in your cruise destination and use it to guide your dates for your bachelorette trip.

Relaxing with cocktails at the pool. ALL INCLUSIVE PROJECT/CELEBRITY CRUISES

Our celebration was over a holiday weekend in January because that timing worked best, but the weather wasn’t as ideal as we had hoped. We happened to have cool and stormy weather that weekend, so we spent more time huddling under towel blankets to shield us from the wind and trying to avoid seasickness than luxuriating in the warm sun.

The risk of bad weather isn’t unique to a cruise, so it’s unfair to list it as a specific cruise drawback. We could have just as easily booked a beach trip or a long weekend in Nashville and been disappointed by a cold snap and rain. The issue is that stormy weather on a cruise adds another complication: rough seas, which can lead to seasickness.

Though we all came prepared with medicine and nausea patches, which helped, we had a rough time during the storm. Everyone we talked to since has told us that most cruises aren’t like the one we experienced, but the reality is there is always a risk of hitting a storm and being trapped on a rocking boat when you go on a cruise. Before you book, remind everyone of this possibility, so they have time to speak up if they’re motion sensitive and not willing to risk seasickness.

Related: The best time to cruise to the Caribbean

Additional costs

The cruise itself was a great deal and our price included our lodging, food and activities for our three days on board. However, there are some additional costs to consider before you commit to a bachelorette party cruise.

The most substantial additional cost is transportation to and from the port. If you live nearby, this may not be an issue. But if you and the rest of the party live far enough away, you’ll also need to purchase flights for your trip. Because you’re limited to the cruise timeline, you might have a hard time finding great flight deals. For example, if you’re traveling over a popular vacation time such as a holiday weekend, like we were, flight prices are likely to be high and can quickly run up your party expenses.

If you follow TPG’s first-time cruiser tips and arrive at your departure port a day early, you’ll also need to add in the cost of your lodging for that additional night.

And of course, many amenities are not included in your cruise booking and come at an additional cost. If you’re planning to drink cocktails by the pool, enjoy any spa treatments or take a workout class, plan to pay extra for those things, as well.

Related: What to do about extra charges on cruise ships

Lack of flexibility

When booking your cruise bachelorette party, you’re limited to the destinations, dates and number of days offered by your chosen cruise line. Many cruise lines offer such an abundance of options that you won’t have an issue finding an itinerary that works, but you’re still more limited than if you were planning your own weekend getaway on land.


Additionally, a cruise is inherently an “all-or-nothing” trip. If one person’s flight is delayed or if someone gets sick, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to join the party late. Especially with a quick weekend cruise, if you miss the ship’s departure, you’ll be forced to miss the whole event.

Bottom line

A cruise’s budget-friendly prices and wide range of activities make it the perfect choice for any group trip. Next time you find yourself needing to plan a bachelorette party, consider cruising with your girls. We think it’s the perfect way to celebrate your bride as she sails into her new season of life.

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