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OpinionWhat Is the Best Cruise Line? (25 Compared)

What Is the Best Cruise Line? (25 Compared)

“What is the best cruise line?” is one of the most asked questions we hear when someone is looking to take a cruise.

In this article, we compare over 20 different cruise lines.  We will look at everything from price points to what each ones offers so you can find the best cruise line and ship for your vacation.

cruise ships docked in Costa Maya, Mexico

How do you even begin to choose the best cruise line for you? Well, first you need to know what kind of vacation you want, and then find out what each cruise line offers that suits your needs. The right cruise category will depend on your individual preferences and priorities.

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So we broke down the main points of each cruise line and gave it a designation as to whom that cruise line might be a perfect fit. This is your vacation, after all, and one size does not fit all. Here are a few things to consider when selecting a cruise line:

  1. Destination: Consider where you want to go and which cruise lines offer itineraries to those destinations. Some cruise lines specialize in certain regions, such as the Caribbean or the Mediterranean, while others offer a wider range of destinations.
  2. Ship size: Different cruise lines offer ships of different sizes, which can have a big impact on the overall cruise experience. Larger ships tend to offer more amenities and activities, while smaller ships may offer a more intimate and personalized experience.
  3. Style of cruise: Different cruise lines offer different styles of cruising, from more casual and laid-back to more formal and upscale. Consider what kind of atmosphere you prefer when selecting a cruise line.
  4. Price: Cruises can vary widely in price, so it’s important to consider your budget when selecting a cruise line.
  5. Itinerary: Look at the itinerary and consider the ports of call and excursions offered. Make sure the cruise line and itinerary align with your interests and preferences.
  6. Reputation: Look for a cruise line with a good reputation for safety, customer service, and overall satisfaction. You can check online reviews and ratings to get a sense of how different cruise lines are perceived by past passengers.
cruise line logos from many different companies on white background
These are the cruise lines we will look at in this article.

Ok, let’s get dig in and look at each cruise to find the top cruise lines for you.

The cruise lines below are listed in alphabetical order.

 

Azamara

Best cruise line for those looking for a premium experience with the most time in port

Azamara is a luxury cruise line with four small cruise ships in their fleet. They offer more time in port than just about any other cruise line and their cruises are focused on destinations. Includes many overnight port stays so you can take in awe-inspiring destinations and actually export the places that you visit.

AzAmazing evenings offer an authentic travel experience that will bring you closer to your destination, its culture, and its people. There is one AzAmazing evening on all cruises that are seven nights and longer (except Transatlantic sailings).  These one of a kind experiences include a night out at the St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra, watching Maori culture come alive with a performance at the Te Papa Museum, or see acrobats soar in Monaco.

Because of the size of their cruise ships, they can visit many ports that larger ships can not visit. They can also get better docking locations at many European ports due to their smaller size.

Quick Facts:

  • Number of Cruise Ships: 4
  • Size of Ships in Gross Tonnage: 30,277 GT
  • Passenger Capacity of Ships: 694
  • Latest Ship: Azamara Onward
  • Destinations: Europe, Caribbean, Asia, Mediterranean, South America
  • General Age Group: 55+
  • Date Company Started: 2007
  • Cost Category: Premium/Luxury
  • View Prices on Cruises on Azamara

 

Carnival Cruise Line

Best cruise line for budget-conscious adventure seekers, families, and first-timers

Carnival Cruise Line sails some of the most recognizable cruise ships at sea. With the iconic “whale-tail” funnels on their ships, the cruise line offers sailings all over the world.  First-time cruisers and families with kids who want an affordable vacation often chose Carnival, especially for shorter itineraries to the Bahamas and Caribbean.

Many will have their “first time cruise” experience on one of these ships as they can be very affordable. Carnival also sails from more than a dozen U.S. cruise ports, making a sailing near you even more likely. You can expect a casual and sometime vibrant party-vibe on a Carnival cruise (especially during sailaway) , although quiet areas like Serenity (the adult only area) and the Cloud 9 Spa provide a quiet retreat.

The cruise line is best for those young and young at heart who have a focus on “fun” during their cruise. While the affordability of many sailings make for a wide array of demographics onboard, the line provides tons of entertainment and activities for families and young couples.

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You can even find roller coasters (Bolt) and ropes courses on some of their ships. Some popular activities and amenities on board include: movie night on the pool deck (Dive-In Movies), Family Feud Live, Deal or No Deal, Waterworks water park, Seuss at Sea, Sky Zone, mini-golf, a sports court, and more. Keep in mind that some amenities vary by ship. There are comedy clubs on Carnival ships as well and even family-friendly performances.

Carnival Celebration cruise ship

See every ship in Carnival’s fleet

Quick Facts:

  • Number of Cruise Ships: 24
  • Size of Ships in Gross Tonnage: 71,900 – 183,521 GT
  • Passenger Capacity of Ships: 2,124 – 5,282
  • Latest Ship: Carnival Celebration
  • Destinations: Caribbean, Alaska, Australia, Bahamas, Bermuda, Hawaii, Mexico
  • General Age Group: All ages
  • Age of Youngest Allowed: 6 months (12 months for transatlantic cruises)
  • Date Company Started: 1972
  • Cost Category: Budget Friendly
  • View Prices on Cruises on Carnival

 

Celebrity Cruises

Best cruise line for premium experience with innovation, serenity and enriching programs

Celebrity Cruises is a premium cruise line owned by Royal Caribbean Group.  The cruise line offers many inclusive amenities and dining options on it’s trendy, stylish ships.  The feel of a Celebrity cruise is more relaxed and classy.  You won’t find water parks, roller coasters, and ropes courses on these ships.  But that’s how passengers who are loyal to the line prefer it.

It’s newest ships are state-of-the-art with contemporary designs and never-seen-before features.  One of these features found on Edge-class ships is the Magic Carpet, a cantilevered platform that can travel all 13 decks and offer great views and venue space.  It’s also used to help cruisers board tenders as it takes passengers all the way down to the water level.

Celebrity cruise ships can be categorized into three classes: Millennium-class, Solstice-class, and Edge-class, with Edge being the newest in the fleet.  While many ships have been in the mid-sized category the latest Edge-class ships push the gross tonnage over 140,000 and service over 3,000 passengers.

The company also operates several expedition vessels, some of which sail along the Galapagos Islands.  The cruise line is diverse in its sailings, as its ships travel all over the world, even offering some itineraries to Antarctica.

With menus put together by Michelin-starred chefs you can expect world-class dining at the restaurants onboard.  Broadway-style shows are performed after dinner and there’s a high-energy atmosphere around the ship in the evenings.

Hip and sophisticated, Celebrity sailings offer a blend of innovation and style, with many spaces designed for relaxed and serene vacationing as well.

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celebrity beyond

See every Celebrity cruise ship in the fleet

Quick Facts:

  • Number of Cruise Ships:  11
  • Size of Ships in Gross Tonnage:   91,000 – 140,600
  • Passenger Capacity of Ships:   2,137 – 3,260
  • Latest Ship:   Celebrity Beyond
  • Destinations:   Alaska, Antarctica, Asia, Australia, Bahamas, Caribbean, Europe, Mediterranean, Galapagos, Hawaii, Mexico, South America, Trans-ocean
  • General Age Group:  30 – 60
  • Age of Youngest Allowed:  6 months (12 months for transatlantic cruises)
  • Date Company Started:  1988
  • Cost Category:  Premium/Value
  • See prices on Celebrity Cruises

Costa Cruises

Best cruise line for budget conscious families cruising in Europe

Costa Cruises is an Italian cruise line from Carnival Corporation that offers budget friendly cruises for families sailing in and around Europe, the Middle East, and the Caribbean. They are one of the world’s oldest cruise lines and will be celebrating their 170th anniversary in 2024.

Many of their cruise ships share the same layouts as Carnival cruise ships including the Vista class and Excel class.

One unique feature about Costa’s cruises in Europe is that you can often embark at different ports during the cruise and then stay on for a week.

Quick Facts:

  • Number of Cruise Ships: 11
  • Size of Ships in Gross Tonnage:   92,720 – 185,010
  • Passenger Capacity of Ships:   2,260 – 5,224
  • Latest Ship:   Costa Toscana
  • Destinations:   Africa, Caribbean, Europe (Baltic Sea, British Isles, Greek Isles, Mediterranean, Norway), Middle East, South America, Transatlantic, World Cruises
  • General Age Group:  All ages
  • Age of Youngest Allowed:  6 months (12 months for transatlantic cruises)
  • Date Company Started:  1854
  • Cost Category:  Budget-friendly
  • See prices on Costa Cruises

 

Cunard

Best cruise line for Transatlantic cruises, British Isles, and sophisticated travelers

Cunard is a luxury cruise line that has been in operation for over 180 years (originally founded as the British and North American Royal Mail Steam Packet Company). The company is known for its iconic transatlantic crossings, as well as its grand and elegant ships, which include the Queen Mary 2, the Queen Victoria, Queen Elizabeth.  Queen Anne will be the latest Cunard ship and is due to debut in 2024.

The cruise line is owned by Carnival Corporation and operated by Carnival UK.

Cunard’s ocean liners offer a wide range of amenities and facilities, including multiple dining options, entertainment venues, spas, fitness centers, and pools. The company’s itineraries include destinations all around the world, including the Caribbean, Europe, the Mediterranean, Australia, and more.

Cunard is known for its high-end, traditional cruise experience and attracts a mostly older, more affluent clientele. The company is known for its exceptional service, and its ships are often seen as floating luxury hotels. Cunard’s voyages are typically longer and more expensive than those offered by other cruise lines, but they offer a unique and memorable experience for those looking for a luxurious and sophisticated vacation at sea.

Quick Facts:

  • Number of Cruise Ships:  3
  • Size of Ships in Gross Tonnage:   90,901 – 149,215
  • Passenger Capacity of Ships:   2,061 – 2,695
  • Latest Ship:   Queen Elizabeth (Queen Anne coming in 2024)
  • Destinations:   Alaska, Asia, Australia, Caribbean, Europe (British Isles, Mediterranean, Norwegian Fjords), Middle East, Panama Canal, Trans-ocean, World Cruises
  • General Age Group:  30 – 65
  • Age of Youngest Allowed:  6 months (12 months for transatlantic cruises)
  • Date Company Started:  1840
  • Cost Category:  Premium/Luxury
  • See prices on cruises on Cunard

 

Disney Cruise Line

Best cruise line for family vacations to the Caribbean and premium service

Disney Cruise Line offers the ultimate, premium family vacation that brings that magic of Disney to the sea.  Disney’s most beloved characters come to life on their cruise ships and offer an experience that is unrivaled compared to other mainstream cruise lines.

Special days that take place on Disney cruise ships include Marvel Day at Sea and Pixar Day at Sea. Pirate Night offers the best deck party at sea that concludes with a fireworks show.

There is something for everyone on a Disney cruise ship. There are currently five cruise ships in Disney Cruise Line’s fleet with three more ships being added over the next few years.  One of these three ships will be the former Global Dream and will be one of the largest cruise ships in the world when it finally enters service.

Cabins on Disney ships have split bathrooms to make it easy for families traveling together.

Disney Cruise Line also operates the award winning private island in the Bahamas, Castaway Cay.  Disney cruise ships leaving from Florida stop at Castaway Cay on every cruise.

Quick Facts:

  • Number of Cruise Ships:  5
  • Size of Ships in Gross Tonnage:   83,969 – 144,000
  • Passenger Capacity of Ships:   2,700 – 4,000
  • Latest Ship:   Disney Wish (2022)
  • Destinations:   Alaska, Australia, Bahamas, Bermuda, Caribbean, Europe, Mexico
  • General Age Group:  20 – 60
  • Age of Youngest Allowed:  6 months (12 months for transatlantic cruises)
  • Date Company Started:  1995
  • Cost Category:  Premium
  • See Prices on Disney Cruises

 

Holland America Line

Best cruise line for seasoned travelers, music lovers, and Alaska

Holland America Line is owned by Carnival Corporation and has a long history of sailing destination-rich voyages all over the world.  The elegant ships in the fleet offer a relaxed but refined atmosphere paired with timeless music, shows, and cooking demonstrations.

The cruise line that caters to somewhat of a more mature audience has won many awards in its prestigious history.  Besides winning “Best in Alaska” and “Best for Hawaii sailings”, Holland America’s Half Moon Cay was voted best private island for 20 years in a row by Porthole Magazine’s Reader’s Choice Awards.

The size of Holland America ships can be categorized as mid-sized and they have a classic, maritime feel that dates back to the dawn of ocean liners.  But that doesn’t mean they don’t have the latest digital enhancements.  The newest ships in the fleet are equipped with innovative technology, like the 2-story, panoramic LED screen on the World Stage theater.  This large theater is used for educational talks, concerts, and even live virtuosos that are enhanced by programs by BBC that has partnered with the cruise line.

Billboard Onboard is also a popular activity with cruise passengers.  The piano bar consists of 2 pianos and talented pianists that play all the favorites of the last 60 years as travelers sing along.  For an evening of live classical music Lincoln Center Stage is the spot for live virtuosos onboard.

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While the cruise line does typically cater to a more mature audience there are kids programs available for families.

 

Quick Facts:

  • Number of Cruise Ships:  11
  • Size of Ships in Gross Tonnage:   61,214 – 99,863
  • Passenger Capacity of Ships: 1,432 – 2,650
  • Latest Ship: MS Rotterdam
  • Destinations:   Alaska, Arctic, Bahamas, Caribbean, Europe, Mediterranean, Hawaii, Mexico, Panama Canal, Trans Ocean, World Cruises
  • General Age Group:  40 – 75
  • Age of Youngest Allowed:  6 months
  • Date Company Started:  1873 (purchased by Carnival Corp. in 1989)
  • Cost Category:  Premium/Value
  • See prices on Holland America cruises

 

Hurtigruten

Best cruise line for expedition cruises around Norway, Galapagos, and polar regions

Hurtigruten is a Norwegian cruise line that operates a fleet of ships that offer cruises along the coast of Norway and in other parts of the world. The company was founded in 1893 and is known for its regular voyages along the Norwegian coast, which are often referred to as the “Coastal Express.” These cruises offer passengers the opportunity to experience the natural beauty and culture of Norway, with stops in cities, towns, and villages along the way.

In addition to its Norwegian coastal cruises, Hurtigruten also offers a variety of other cruises to destinations such as Antarctica, the Arctic, and even the Galapagos Islands. These cruises offer a mix of adventure, exploration, and cultural experiences, and often include activities such as hiking, kayaking, and wildlife viewing.

Hurtigruten’s ships have a Scandinavian design and are comfortable and well-equipped with restaurants, bars, lounges, fitness centers, spas and staterooms with balconies and suites.  Instead of arcades and casinos you will find a science center and state-of-the-art lab.  Passengers can also enjoy lectures from onboard experts about culture and nature during their voyage.

While many excursions in each port are included there are extra-cost excursions as well depending on the location.  For cruises to Antarctica most all excursions are included in the price of the cruise.

Overall, Hurtigruten cruises are a great way to explore Norway and other destinations in a comfortable and convenient way, while also experiencing the natural beauty and culture of the region.

Quick Facts:

  • Number of Cruise Ships:  10
  • Size of Ships in Gross Tonnage:  2,621 – 20,889
  • Passenger Capacity of Ships:  400 – 1,018
  • Latest Ship:  MS Fridtjof Nansen  (2020)
  • Destinations:  Alaska, Baltic Sea, Northern Europe, Norwegian Fjords, Galapagos, Panama Canal, South America
  • General Age Group:  30 – 60
  • Age of Youngest Allowed:  For Antarctica sailings children must be at least 5. For safety, the captain decides at each landing, whether children under 12 can go ashore.
  • Date Company Started:  1893
  • Cost Category:  Premium
  • See prices on cruises on Hurtigruten

 

Margaritaville at Sea

Best cruise line for budget friendly travelers, short getaways, and Parrot Heads

Margaritaville at Sea has one cruise ship that sails from the Port of Palm Beach and offers short two night cruises to the Bahamas. This Jimmy Buffet themed cruise line offers some of the best nightly rates that you’ll find on any cruise line. It’s the perfect getaway for anyone living in South Florida who wants a quick trip away.

One of the most unique features offered by Margaritaville at Sea is that you can combine your cruise with a resort stay in the Bahamas. You take a one night cruise to Freeport, Bahamas, get off the ship and stay in an all-inclusive resort, and then take a one night cruise back to Florida after your resort stay.

margaritaville at sea

 

Quick Facts:

  • Number of Cruise Ships: 1
  • Size of Ships in Gross Tonnage: 52,926 GT
  • Passenger Capacity of Ships: 1,308
  • Latest Ship: Margaritaville at Sea
  • Destinations: Bahamas
  • General Age Group: 21 – 75
  • Age of Youngest Allowed: 6 months
  • Date Company Started: 2022 (formerly Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line)
  • Cost Category: Budget Friendly

 

MSC Cruises

Best cruise line for families, budget travel, European cruises, diverse itineraries

MSC Cruises is one of the fastest growing cruise lines in the world, and although they are somewhat new to the industry the company has been sailing vessels around the world for decades.

This is one of the most affordable cruise lines for the money, but don’t let that fool you.  The privately held cruise company has some gorgeous ships with Swarovski crystal stairs, elegant features, innovative technology, and some of the best pizza at sea.  After all, it is an Italian cruise line.

Although the company historically has offered cruises mainly offered to European passengers, MSC’s foray into the American cruise market made a big splash with Meraviglia and Seaside class ships.   And today you can sail to almost any continent in the world on an MSC ship.

The line recently developed their own private island at Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve that offers over 2 miles of white sandy beaches.

MSC Yacht Club is the company’s own version of the ship-within-a-ship experience with a luxurious and exclusive restaurant, pool, and lounge for those who want an elevated cruise vacation.   This includes a 24-hour butler service as well.

See all MSC cruise ships in the fleet

Quick Facts:

  • Number of Cruise Ships:  21
  • Size of Ships in Gross Tonnage:  65,452 – 171,598
  • Passenger Capacity of Ships:  1,984 – 4,500
  • Latest Ship:  MSC Seascape
  • Destinations:   Bahamas, Caribbean, Europe, Mediterranean, Mexico, Middle East, South America, South Africa, Trans-ocean, World Cruises
  • General Age Group:  All ages
  • Age of Youngest Allowed:  6 months
  • Date Company Started:  1989
  • Cost Category:  Budget-friendly
  • See prices on MSC Cruises

 

Norwegian Cruise Line

Best cruise line for budget-friendly travel, families, care-free explorers, and Hawaii

This is the cruise line that brought us the ultra luxurious Haven and also the first Go-Kart track at sea. From award-winning dining options and entertainment to spacious spas and waterfront promenades, Norwegian offers a lot of value in their innovative ships.

Norwegian Cruise Line is perfect for travelers looking for a schedule-free kind of vacation.   The company prides itself on offering a freestyle experience that allows its passengers to be versatile.  Both included and extra-cost dining options are available, and the line supplies quite a few options on their ships.

What kind of amenities and activities can you expect on a Norwegian ship?  Everything from laser tag and go-kart racing to ropes courses and bowling can be found on some cruise ships.  Families will find this a good option with a blend of fun things to do and relaxing spaces as well.  The thermal suite in Mandara Spa has hot tubs, heated ceramic loungers, saunas and even a snow room to cool off.  Thermal suites can be found on all ships in the fleet except for Joy, Sky, Sun, and Pride of America.

For those who want a more exclusive and premium vacation there is “The Haven”, the ship-within-a-ship enclave that has its own restaurant, lounge, indoor pool area, and even a 24-hour dedicated butler.  Be mindful, not every NCL ship has a Haven so check out the ship first if this is an option you’re considering.

Note:  Norwegian is the only cruise line with a dedicated U.S. registered ship for cruises all around Hawaii.  The Pride of America never leaves U.S. waters and is a great option for a Hawaii cruise with no sea days.

See every Norwegian cruise ship here

Quick Facts:

  • Number of Cruise Ships:  18
  • Size of Ships in Gross Tonnage:  77,104 – 169,116
  • Passenger Capacity of Ships:  1,928 – 4,100
  • Latest Ship:  Norwegian Prima
  • Destinations:  Alaska, Canada/New England, Bahamas, Caribbean, Central America, Europe, Mediterranean, Hawaii, Mexico, South Africa
  • General Age Group:  All ages
  • Age of Youngest Allowed: 6 months (12 months if 3 or more sea days on itinerary)
  • Date Company Started:  1966
  • Cost Category:  Budget-friendly
  • See prices on Norwegian cruises

 

Oceania Cruises

Best cruise line for luxury cruise ship value, fine dining, and world cruises

Oceania Cruises is a small-ship premium/luxury cruise line that offers 7-14 night cruises in addition to it’s acclaimed 200-night world cruises.  Competitors of this line include cruise lines like Viking Ocean and Azamara.

There are two types of ships within Oceania’s family of vessels. Four 30,000 gross ton ships make up the R-class, and Marina and Riviera make up the Oceania-class at 66,000 gross tons. Another Oceania-class ship (Vista) will be added to the fleet in 2023.

Some have claimed the two different classes of ships provide a very different and unique experience, so whether you want a more intimate cruise with limited options or a cruise with more specialty dining options and activities you can get it all with one line.

If you’re a foodie this might be a good choice for you. Oceania has trademarked the slogan “The Finest cuisine at sea.” Of course this is subjective but Oceania fans are ardent believers in this motto. All dining is included in the fare and you can dine at each specialty restaurant once during your cruise.

A program called OLife Choice let’s you choose from 3 different packages depending on what you’d like included in your cruise fare. Free shore excursions, a beverage package or onboard credit are the choices available. Free Wifi is included with any of these options.

The onboard experience is very relaxed and the crew to passenger ratio is about 1:1.

Oceania is owned by Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd.

Photo Credit: Oceania Cruises

Quick Facts:

  • Number of Cruise Ships:  6
  • Size of Ships in Gross Tonnage:  30,277 – 66,084
  • Passenger Capacity of Ships:  698 – 1,250
  • Latest Ship:  Riviera (Vista coming in 2023)
  • Destinations:   Alaska, Arctic, Asia, Australia, Bermuda, Canada, Caribbean, Europe, Mediterranean, Mexico, Middle East, Panama Canal, South America, South Pacific, Trans-ocean, World Cruises
  • General Age Group:  30 – 65
  • Date Company Started:  2002
  • Cost Category:  Premium/Luxury
  • See Prices on Oceania Cruises here

Paul Gauguin Cruises

Best for cruises to Tahiti, Bora Bora, and the French Polynesia

Paul Gauguin Cruises offers luxury sailings in the French Polynesia on their one ship, Paul Gauguin. Due to the small size of their ship, they are able to visit some of the most idyllic, unspoiled beaches in the area.

Paul Gauguin Cruises offers an extraordinary luxury cruise experience uniquely tailored to the unparalleled wonders of Tahiti, French Polynesia, and the South Pacific. The cruise line has won numerous “World’s Best” awards demonstrating a dedication to guest satisfaction, excellence, quality and value.

Cruises range from seven to 16 nights with destinations in Fiji, Tahiti, Bora Bora, and the Cook Islands.

The cruise ship features cultural activities aboard led by Les Gauguines and Les Gauguins, the ship’s troupe of Tahitian ambassadors and entertainers.

Quick Facts:

  • Number of Cruise Ships:  1
  • Size of Ships in Gross Tonnage:  19,200
  • Passenger Capacity of Ships:  332
  • Latest Ship:  The Paul Gauguin
  • Destinations:   Tahiti, Bora Bora, and the French Polynesia
  • General Age Group:  40-70
  • Date Company Started:  1998
  • Cost Category:  Luxury
  • View Prices on Cruises on Paul Gaugin

 

P&O Cruises

Best cruise line for UK residents looking to explore destinations around the world while enjoying British traditions

P&O Cruises is a decidedly British cruise line that caters to a UK audience, and that is felt throughout the cruise experience.  British traditions and culture are woven into almost every aspect of the decor and activities, and even the main currency on the ship is the British Pound.

Things like afternoons tea, fish and chips, and British entertainers can be found on P&O ships across the fleet.  Additionally, formal nights are not only expected but required and are enforced.  Nationalities outside of the UK can go on a P&O cruise but it’s a little more difficult as the line really focuses on the British traveler.

The company has a rich history, dating  back to the late 1830’s when the company first transported British passengers from England to the Iberian Peninsular.  Today, the newest ships are loaded with technology and innovation and have a plethora of eateries onboard.

P&O cruises is owned by Carnival Corporation & plc.  P&O Cruises Australia is a sister company of the cruise line and operates 3 ships sailing out of Australia and New Zealand.

Quick Facts:

  • Number of Cruise Ships:  7
  • Size of Ships in Gross Tonnage:  76,152 – 185,206
  • Passenger Capacity of Ships:  1,878 – 5,200
  • Latest Ship:  Arvia (2022)
  • Destinations:  Canary Islands, Caribbean, Mediterranean, Northern Europe, Scandinavia, Norway, Spain, British Isles, World Cruises
  • General Age Group:  20 – 65
  • Age of Youngest Allowed: 6 months (12 months if 3 or more sea days on itinerary)
  • Date Company Started:  1977 as P&O Cruises (In 1840 after a merger the company became the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company or P&O)
  • Cost Category:  Budget-friendly

 

Princess Cruises

Best cruise line for multi-generational families, couples, and cruises to Alaska

Princess is owned by Carnival Corporation and offers sailings all around the world on its elegant ships. The line provides a more upscale experience for a reasonable price. While a diverse range of ages can be found on Princess ships the majority will be between 30 – 70 years-old, with families and retirees alike enjoying these ocean cruises.

The line known for its connection to the popular TV series “The Love Boat” pays homage to it’s heritage still today. The iconic first few notes of the TV show’s theme song still ring out as Princess cruise ships set out on a voyage.

One important feature of Princess cruises is the Medallion, a quarter-sized device that allows guests to forgo their cruise card. The Medallion can be worn around your neck or around your wrist like a watch and allows you to perform many functions around the ship. You can gain access to your stateroom, pay for services on board, get on and off the ship, and even find where family members are currently located on the ship, all with this unique device. The MedallionClass App lets you unlock the full potential of the Medallion and even allows you to play games and participate in pool deck trivia.

Let’s look at some of the activities and events you can expect on a Princess cruise. Princess offers all kinds of enrichment programs at sea. Since the line partnered with Discovery, guests can participate in activities inspired by shows like Shark Week and Deadliest Catch. Some shore excursions are even recommended by Animal Planet. Murder mysteries your thing? The High Seas Heist with Detective Joe Kenda might be perfect for you. The entertainment includes music, movies, magic, and comedy in the main theater.

Princess has won multiple awards from several travel companies for best cruise line to Alaska, best shore excursions, best cruise line for multi-generational families and more. The line does cater to a wide range of ages, and puts an emphasis on health, quality dining, and even romance, just in case you’re wanting to get married on a cruise ship.  This is a great option for a couples cruise.

There are currently 3 types of ship classes in Princess’s fleet. These include Coral-class, Grand-class, and the latest Royal-class.

sky princess pool deck

See every Princess ship in the fleet

Quick Facts:

  • Number of Cruise Ships: 15
  • Size of Ships in Gross Tonnage: 91,627 – 145,281
  • Passenger Capacity of Ships: 1,970 – 3,660
  • Latest Ship: Discovery Princess
  • Destinations: Alaska, Australia, Bahamas, Caribbean, Central America, Europe, Mediterranean, Hawaii, Mexico, Pacific Northwest, Panama Canal, Trans-ocean, South America, World cruises
  • General Age Group: 30 – 70
  • Age of Youngest Allowed: 6 months (12 months for transatlantic cruises)
  • Date Company Started: 1965
  • Cost Category: Somewhere between budget-friendly and premium
  • View prices on Princess Cruises

 

Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Best cruise line for seasoned travelers who want all-inclusive luxury on a medium-size ship

Regent Seven Seas Cruises offers an ultra luxury cruise experience on their ships.  Even the newest 55,000 gross ton ships only accommodate 750 passengers so it’s never crowded, and there’s always a spacious feeling onboard.

Every ship in the fleet offers suite-only accommodations and there is almost a 1:1 passenger to crew ratio.  Voyages can range anywhere from 7 night to 150-night and 168-night world cruises.

What’s included with your fare?  Flights, transfers, specialty dining, all beverages, gratuities, Wi-Fi, and shore excursions are all included.  Yes, you read that right.  Unlimited shore excursions are included in the price of your cruise.

If you want a luxury cruise experience that is elegant but understated and casual this line might be for you.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises is wholly owned by Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings.

Quick Facts:

  • Number of Cruise Ships:  5
  • Size of Ships in Gross Tonnage:   28,550 – 55,254
  • Passenger Capacity of Ships:   490 – 750
  • Latest Ship:   Seven Seas Splendor  (2020)
  • Destinations:   Africa, Alaska, Asia, Australia, Bermuda, Canada, Caribbean, Central America, Europe (Baltic Sea, British Isles, Greek Isles, Mediterranean, Norway), Mexico, Middle East, Panama Canal, South America, Trans-ocean, World Cruises
  • Age of Youngest Allowed:  1 year
  • Date Company Started:   1992
  • Cost Category:  Ultra Luxury
  • See prices on cruises on Regent

 

Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection

Best cruise line for relaxed luxury, personal service, and spacious accommodations

The concept behind the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection is to take the luxury and refinement of Ritz-Carlton and transport it to the sea.

There is just one ship currently in the fleet with the next two coming in 2024 and 2025. The current super-yacht has 148 suites, some of which offer over 1,000 square feet of space. With 298 passengers and 246 crew these yachts will have some of the best crew and space ratios at sea.

What’s included in the fare? Included with the price is a personal concierge, gratuities, 24-hour in-suite dining, all beverages, entertainment, Wi-Fi, and watersports activities when the yacht is anchored.

Voyages range from 7-10 nights and destinations range from the Mediterranean and Northern Europe to Canada and the Caribbean. There are even a few “crossing” voyages that will take passengers across the Atlantic on 12 and 13 night voyages.

Quick Facts:

  • Number of Cruise Ships:  1
  • Size of Ships in Gross Tonnage:   24,500
  • Passenger Capacity of Ships:   298
  • Latest Ship:   Evrima
  • Destinations:  Caribbean, Canada, Europe, Mediterranean
  • General Age Group: 30 – 60
  • Age of Youngest Allowed: 6 months
  • Date Company Started: 2017
  • Cost Category:  Ultra Luxury
  • See prices on cruises on Ritz

 

Royal Caribbean International

Best cruise line for thrill-seekers, families, groups, and value-focused travelers

Royal Caribbean is the largest cruise line in the world and also has the largest cruise ships in the world.  These floating cities offer a variety of experiences for both young and old.  The company has not been afraid to push the envelope in its technology and activities aboard these ground-breaking ships.

Perfect for families and thrill-seekers, some of the features and activities you may find on a Royal Caribbean ship could include an ice-skating rink, rock climbing walls, laser tag, an aqua theater, Flowrider surfing, a sports court, mini-golf, a zip-line, a waterpark and so much more.  Quantum-class ships even have a skydiving simulator.

Of course for those who want a more relaxed vacation there are quiet spaces as well.  Oasis-class ships offer the peaceful Central Park, and there’s always a serene and sunny spot in the solarium.  The line is a good fit for couples as well.

Diverse dining options and spectacular shows in the theaters allow for fun-filled evenings while spacious promenades with shops, lounges, and events make every part of a Royal Caribbean ship something unique to experience.

For 20 years in a row Travel weekly has named Royal Caribbean the best cruise line overall, including best cruise line in the Caribbean.  If you like large ships and cutting edge innovation this might be the option for you.

Odyssey of the seas and allure of the seas at cococay
Odyssey of the Seas and Symphony of the Seas at Perfect Day at Cococay.

See current fleet of Royal Caribbean ships

Quick Facts:

  • Number of Cruise Ships:  26
  • Size of Ships in Gross Tonnage:  73,817 – 236,857
  • Passenger Capacity of Ships:  1,992 – 5,734
  • Latest Ship:  Wonder of the Seas
  • Destinations:   Alaska, Asia, Australia, Bahamas, Caribbean, Central America, Europe, Mediterranean, Mexico, South Pacific
  • General Age Group:  All ages
  • Age of Youngest Allowed:  6 months (12 months if 3 or more sea days on itinerary)
  • Date Company Started:  1968
  • Cost Category:  Budget/Value
  • See prices on Royal Caribbean cruises

 

Seabourn Cruise Line

Best cruise line for affluent travelers focused on service and remote destinations

Seabourn offers an ultra luxury cruising experience that is also relaxed and friendly rather than stuffy and pretentious.  Gratuities are included and tipping is neither required or expected.

Being an official cruise partner of UNESCO, Seabourn offers excursions of UNESCO World Heritage Sites with unparalleled access.  Excursions may include an expert who is associated with UNESCO and can provide even more in-depth information about historic sites.

Every stateroom on Odyssey-class vessels (Seabourn Encore and Seabourn Ovation) are suites with balconies and about 90% of the staterooms on the other ships in the fleet are also suites.

Whether it’s aboard the 41,864 gross ton Ovation-class ships or the smaller 32,000 gross ton vessels, passengers can expect about a 1:1 passenger to crew ratio and one of the best space to passenger ratios at sea.

In July of 2022 Seabourn also debuted its first expedition ship Seabourn Venture.  The 23,000 gross ton ship will be joined by a sister ship in 2023.  Both are designed for voyages to the polar regions of the world.  From the icy waters of Greenland, Iceland, and Norway to Alaska and Antarctica these ships are well-equipped to handle frigid conditions with ease.

All food and drinks are included in the cruise fare of a Seabourn cruise. This includes The Restaurant for main dining, The Colonnade for informal dining,  and The Grill with Thomas Keller at which you can eat once during a cruise. There’s also a Sushi restaurant on the ship.

A few things are not included in the cruise fare. The Retreat area which is complete with cabanas, loungers, a hot tub, and a massage area is available for extra cost, and WiFi fast enough for streaming must be paid for separately, except for Penthouse guests.

Seabourn is a wholly owned subsidiary of Carnival Corporation.

Quick Facts:

  • Number of Cruise Ships: 6
  • Size of Ships in Gross Tonnage:  23,000 – 41,865
  • Passenger Capacity of Ships:  264 – 604
  • Latest Ship: Seabourn Venture (Seabourn Pursuit coming in April of 2023)
  • Destinations:  Alaska, Amazon, Antartica, Africa Arctic, Asia, Australia & South Pacific, Caribbean, Northern Europe, Mediterranean, Northwest Passage, Panama Canal, Transatlantic, World Cruise
  • General Age Group: 35-65
  • Date Company Started:  1986
  • Cost Category:  Ultra Luxury
  • See prices on cruises on Seabourn

 

SeaDream Yacht Club

Best cruise line for an intimate luxury yachting experience and private charters

The slogan of SeaDream is that “it’s yachting, not cruising”.  The aim of a voyage on SeaDream is for you to feel like it’s your yacht and you can customize your vacation however you would like.

The founder of SeaDream Yacht Club, Atle Brynestad, also founded Seabourn Cruise Line, and he’s taken his experience and attention to detail to this family-owned company.

There are just two ships in the fleet and each was built in the mid 1980’s.  With ships that accommodate 112 passengers and carry 95 crew members, personalized service is always on point with each voyage.

Quick Facts:

  • Number of Cruise Ships:   2
  • Size of Ships in Gross Tonnage:  4,333
  • Passenger Capacity of Ships:   112
  • Latest Ship:  SeaDream II
  • Destinations:   Caribbean, Mediterranean, Transatlantic
  • General Age Group:  40 and up
  • Date Company Started:  2001
  • Cost Category:  Ultra Luxury
  • View prices on cruises on SeaDream

 

Silversea Cruises

Best cruise line for ultra-luxurious, all-inclusive vacations on small ships to all 7 continents

Whether it’s a luxury cruise to the Galapagos Islands, Antarctica, the Mediterranean, or remote parts of the world inaccessible by larger ships, Silversea is the choice for affluent world travelers.

While the ships may be small compared to the mega ships of today, they are very spacious, as even the largest ship in the fleet only carries 596 guests.  And with over 400 crew members on the newest vessels there is close to a 1:1 guest to crew ratio for unparalleled service.

This is truly an all-inclusive cruise experience.  Whether it’s WiFi, pre and post cruise hotels, transfer services, drinks, gratuities, excursions, and even airfare, it’s all included in the price.   There’s no need to show your cruise card either.

Every stateroom on a Silversea’s ship is a suite and comes with a butler who is professionally trained.

Within its fleet Silversea has traditional cruise ships and expedition vessels.  Expedition ships will sail to polar regions like Greenland and Antarctica and remote areas like the Galapagos and South Pacific islands.  With the company boasting over 900 destinations of choice for its travelers, there are a myriad of options for a cruise vacation.

Silversea has been owned by Royal Caribbean Group since 2020 and has won several awards for best luxury cruise line.

Quick Facts:

  • Number of Cruise Ships:  6 cruise ships, 4 expedition ships
  • Size of Ships in Gross Tonnage:  6,072 – 40,844
  • Passenger Capacity of Ships:  144 – 596
  • Latest Ship: Silver Endeavour
  • Destinations:  Africa, Alaska, Antartica, Asia, Australia, Canada, Caribbean, Europe (Baltic Sea, British Isles, Mediterranean, Norway), Galapagos, Middle East, Panama Canal, South Pacific, Trans-ocean, World Cruise
  • General Age Group: 45 – 70
  • Date Company Started:  1994
  • Cost Category:  Ultra Luxury
  • See prices on cruises on Silversea

 

Viking Cruises

Best cruise line for European ocean and river cruises, cultural immersion, the thinking person’s cruise

There are 3 distinct parts of the Viking Cruises family: Viking Ocean Cruises, Viking River Cruises, and Viking Expeditions. Viking’s motto is to “travel the world in comfort” and their cruise ships do just that. When you step on board, you feel like you’re home.

One unique feature about Viking is that all of the Longships and ocean ships are pretty much identical.

Ever since the launch of their first ocean cruise ship back in 2015, Viking has been named the Best Ocean Cruise Line by Travel + Leisure.

Viking has a focus on destinations and offers more time in port than just about every other cruise line.  Also included in cruise fares is one shore excursion in every port of the itinerary.

All of the cabins on their ocean and expedition cruise ships have a private veranda.

Viking is not just known for what their ships offer, but also for what’s not on their vessels.  Things you won’t find on their cruise ships include: anyone under the age of 18, photographers, extra charges for specialty restaurants, casinos, art auctions, nickel-and-diming, umbrella drinks, formal nights, and inside staterooms.

viking sky cruise ship

Quick Facts:

  • Number of Cruise Ships:  8 ocean, 80 river, 2 expedition
  • Size of Ships in Gross Tonnage:  Ocean: 47,842, River: 2,000 – 5,000, Expedition: 30,150
  • Passenger Capacity of Ships:  378 – 930
  • Latest Ship:  Viking Neptune
  • Destinations:   Alaska, Asia, Australia, Canada, Caribbean, Europe (Baltic Sea, British Isles, Mediterranean, Norway), Panama Canal, South America, Trans-ocean, United States, World Cruises
  • General Age Group: 50 – 80
  • Age of Youngest Allowed:  18
  • Date Company Started:  1997
  • Cost Category:  Premium/Luxury
  • See prices on Viking ocean cruises

 

Virgin Voyages

Best cruise line for couples who want an adults only experience

Virgin Voyages is an adults only cruise line based in the Cruise Capital of the World, PortMiami.  This newer cruise line offers an adults only experience where you have to be at least 18 years old to sail.

Virgin is geared towards those who have never been interested in a cruise before.  The cruise line does things a bit differently than other cruise lines and offers a unique, adults only vacation. Virgin is not a cruise, it’s a voyage.

Included in cruise fares are WiFi, all dining restaurants, soft drinks, gratuities, and fitness classes.

All Virgin cruises leaving from Miami visit the cruise line’s private Beach Club in the Bahamas.

Related: 7 reasons to take a cruise on Virgin Voyages

virgin voyages cruise ship from top deck

Quick Facts:

  • Number of Cruise Ships: 2
  • Size of Ships in Gross Tonnage: 110,000 GT
  • Passenger Capacity of Ships: 2,700
  • Latest Ship: Valiant Lady
  • Destinations: Caribbean, Bahamas, Europe
  • General Age Group: 35-65
  • Age of Youngest Allowed: 18 years
  • Date Company Started: 2021
  • Cost Category: Premium offering an almost all-inclusive experience
  • See prices on Virgin Voyages

 

Windstar Cruises

Best cruise line for luxury travel on small ships, unique destinations, and local immersion

There are six ships currently in Windstar’s fleet.  Three of these luxury super yachts are motor sailing vessels with up to 200 ft. high masts that are iconic for the company.  The three ships that are not Wind yachts were previously owned by Seabourn and were purchased by Windstar in 2013.

The philosophy of this cruise line is that bigger is not better.  Personal service is a key ingredient with the company and is a perfect choice for those who want a more intimate, all-inclusive experience while dining in the lap of luxury.

Windstar cruise ships carry fewer than 350 passengers on every vessel. Not only does this allow the crew to really get to know their passengers but it also allows these smaller ships to reach destinations larger ships cannot. The shallow-draft vessels allow the cruise line to take guests to out-of-the-way locations whether by sea or river.

Each ship also has a water sports platform that is lowered when the ship is anchored. Passengers can use paddle boards and other types of equipment to explore exquisite bays along the journey.

Windstar also has an open bridge policy that allows guests to come to the bridge and ask all kinds of questions from their current location to how the radar works, and the crew is more than happy to accommodate.

Quick Facts:

  • Number of Cruise Ships:   6
  • Size of Ships in Gross Tonnage:   5,307 – 14,745
  • Passenger Capacity of Ships:  148 – 342
  • Latest Ship:   Star Legend (previously Seabourn Legend)
  • Destinations:   Alaska, Asia, Australia, Canada, Panama Canal, Greece, Middle East, Italy, Mexico, South Pacific, Trans-ocean
  • General Age Group:  30 – 60
  • Age of Youngest Allowed:  8
  • Date Company Started:  1984 (ss Windstar Sail Cruises)
  • Cost Category:  Luxury
  • See prices on cruises on Windstar

In Summary

We hope this helps you determine which cruise line is best for you.  To summarize here is a list of the cruise lines mentioned and for whom we think they are best suited.

  • Azamara  – Best for those looking for a premium experience with the most time in port
  • Carnival Cruise Line – For budget-conscious adventure seekers, families, and first-timers
  • Celebrity Cruises – Best cruise line for premium experience with innovation, serenity and enriching programs
  • Costa Cruises – Best line for budget conscious families cruising in Europe
  • Cunard –  Best for Transatlantic cruises, British Isles, and sophisticated travelers
  • Disney Cruise Line – Best cruise line for family vacations to the Caribbean and premium service
  • Holland America Line – Best for seasoned travelers, music lovers, and Alaska
  • Hurtigruten – For expedition cruises around Norway, Galapagos, and polar regions
  • Margaritaville at Sea – For budget friendly travelers, short getaways, and Parrot Heads
  • MSC Cruises – Best cruise line for families, budget travel, European cruises, diverse itineraries
  • Norwegian Cruise Line – Best cruise line for budget-friendly travel, families, care-free explorers, and Hawaii
  • Oceania Cruises –  Best line for luxury cruise ship value, fine dining, and world cruises
  • Paul Gaugin Cruises – Best for cruises to Tahiti, Bora Bora, and the French Polynesia
  • P&O Cruises – For UK residents looking to explore destinations around the world while enjoying British traditions
  • Princess Cruises –  Best cruise line for multi-generational families, couples, and cruises to Alaska
  • Regent Seven Seas Cruises – Best for seasoned travelers who want all-inclusive luxury on a medium-size ship
  • Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection – For relaxed luxury, personal service, and spacious accommodations
  • Royal Caribbean International –  Best cruise line for thrill-seekers, families, groups, and value-focused travelers
  • Seabourn Cruise Line –  Best cruise travel for affluent travelers focused on service and remote destinations
  • SeaDream Yacht Club – For an intimate luxury yachting experience and private charters
  • Silversea Cruises –  Best cruise line for ultra-luxurious, all-inclusive vacations on small ships to all 7 continents
  • Viking Cruises –  Best cruise line for European ocean and river cruises, cultural immersion, the thinking person’s cruise
  • Virgin Voyages – Best cruise travel for couples who want an adults only experience
  • Windstar Cruises –  Best for luxury travel on small ships, unique destinations, and local immersion

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J. Souza
J. Souza
Jon got hooked on cruising after his first cruise on his honeymoon, and today he is always looking for cruise deals and reading information about the cruise industry. Jon lives in the foothills of North Carolina and wishes there were a cruise port that far inland. Jon can be reached at [email protected]
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