Large Ship Line #: Cunard
For those longing for the romantic nostalgia of bygone transatlantic sailings, Cunard is your go-to. The legendary cruise line was established in 1840 and has had dozens of ships in its fleet, though today, there are just three active vessels: the Queen Mary 2, the worlds only true transatlantic ocean liner, designed specifically for ocean crossings, as well as the worlds only pet-friendly ship the Queen Elizabeth and the Queen Victoria. Activities havent changed all too much in the last 180 yearstheres still a proper afternoon tea, black-tie dinners, and galas in the ballrooms. Its quite like a step back in time, with all the modern safety measures, of course. Cunards next ship is scheduled to be christened in 2022.
Best For Cabin Choice
Royal Caribbean: Royal Caribbean features a large selection of cabin types. Whether you’re traveling alone, as a couple, with family or as part of a large group, there’s a cabin to accommodate you and your budget. Those with the highest price tags offer jaw-dropping amenities like two decks of space and private kids’ play areas.
Disney: Disney Cruise Line gets a nod for the sheer functionality and thoughtfulness of its staterooms. Done up in nautical decor, they include touches like virtual portholes that make inside cabins feel more open and curtains that can separate kids’ sleeping areas from those of their parents.
Celebrity: With its large number of stateroom choices, dedicated spa suites and chic style, Celebrity offers some of the most well-appointed and functional cabins at sea.
Large Ship Line #: Holland America Line
As its name indicates, Holland America is a cruise line that was established in 1873 to primarily ferry passengers, many of whom were emigrants, between the Netherlands and the United States. Of course, these days, the cruise line sails more broadly to more than 470 ports around the world on its 11 shipsand its highly regarded for its Alaska itineraries. While passengers can enjoy classic cruise activities like swimming, sports, and gambling, Holland America is particularly noted for its culinary and musical programs: it has a partnership with the TV show Americas Test Kitchen for cooking demonstrations, cooking classes, and a number of live music venues , and stage productions dedicated to the history of music on many of its ships. It also partners with O, The Oprah Magazine, on lifestyle programming, like daily meditation classes. The next addition to Holland Americas fleet will be the Rotterdam, which is due to set sail in 2021, with a capacity of 2,650 passengers.
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Medium Ship Line #: Celebrity Cruises
Celebritys Millennium-class shipsCelebrity Millennium, Infinity, Summit, and Constellationare the smallest in the fleet, each with a capacity between 2,100 and 2,200 passengers. The ships just got a bevy of both new and upgraded staterooms as part of Celebrity’s fleet-wide modernization, and when they launched in the early aughts were some of the first ships to use more eco-friendly engines that combined gas and steam power. The four ships sail from home ports around the world, from Europe to North America to Asia.
Best And Worst Cruise Lines
Whether you’re a complete novice, or an experienced cruiser keen to get back to the seas following the coronavirus pandemic, it always pays to do your research into the best and worst cruise lines.
Our ratings are driven by thousands of cruise line guests rating their experience of the facilities onboard, the cabin, food and drink and customer service so you can avoid finding yourself queuing for the restaurant every morning or being ripped off over tips.
From luxury small-ship cruises to big name brands with full entertainment and leisure facilities we know from guests that the cruise lines rated best are always those that have the best passenger to space ratio onboard something that will be more important than ever as cruise lines look to recover from the coronavirus pandemic. See the full results below to find out which cruise lines give you room and which ones pack holidaymakers onboard.
Find out how to find the best cruise deals.
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Small Ship Line #: Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Sailing with only 490 guests, the Seven Seas Navigator takes its all-inclusive promise seriously, offering unlimited shore excursions, open bars with premium wines , unlimited Wi-Fi, and dining in specialty restaurants. The ship sails all over the world, spending time in Asia Pacific, North America, and Europe on week-long to three-month-long sailings.
River Ship Line #: American Queen Steamboat Company
If nostalgias the name of your game, book a trip with the American Queen Steamboat Company, whose four paddlewheelers sail the Mississippi, Columbia, Snake, Ohio, Tennessee, and Cumberland Rivers. These are leisurely sailings: most are nine days long, with some outliers like the 15- or 16-day journey from Minneapolis to New Orleans.
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Large Ship Line #: Carnival Cruise Line
Carnival Cruise Lines is all about good family fun at a pretty affordable price point. The largest cruise line in the world in terms of number of annual passengers as well as fleet count, it has 24 ships that sail North America and Europe, with about half of them having a capacity between 2,500 and 3,900 guests. Carnival is known for its fun upper decks that are akin to an amusement park at sea, between water slides, ropes courses, mini-golf, and attractions like SkyRide, where guests pedal a hanging vehicle around a suspended track.
Best Modern Cruise: Celebrity
- Ship Name: Celebrity Solstice
- Itinerary: Seattle, Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Alaska Inside Passage, Victoria
For an upscale Alaska cruise without the luxury price tag, Celebrity is a fantastic option. The award-winning, Celebrity Solstice is a dignified ship that focuses on modern well-being. Activities include culinary classes, silent discos, and educational lectures. Theres also a half-acre of fresh grass with hot glass demonstrations, private cabanas, and outdoor movies. The ship also has a fabulous fitness center and programs, and the Canyon Ranch Spa situated right next to the Aqua Class cabins. These cabins include access to a health-conscious restaurant as well as the relaxation room and other spa perks. This voyage includes a full day cruising Endicott Arm for fabulous views before concluding in Victoria.
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Best Holiday Cruise: Azamara Club Cruises
Courtesy of Azamara Club Cruises
- Duration: 15 nights
- Ship Name: Azamara Pursuit
- Itinerary: Montevideo, Uruguay Santos, Brazil Ilhabela, Brazil Paraty, Brazil Buzios, Brazil Rio De Janeiro, Brazil Copacabana Beach Brazil, Punta Del Este, Uruguay Buenos Aires, Argentina
Azamara Club Cruises operates smaller, upscale vessels that travel one-off itineraries around the globe calling in smaller, less-visited ports that others don’t stop at. The company puts an emphasis on destination immersion, and appeal to adults who want to go deeper into the local culture with shore excursions. Azamara is one of the few companies that stays in port overnight, and in doing so they bundle evening excursions in the price . The newest ship, Azamara Pursuit, debuts this year and is offering a winter holiday cruise that spends New Years Eve at Copacabana Beach in Brazil.
River Ship Line #: Crystal River Cruises
Crystal River Cruises launched in 2016 with custom-built river ships. The company is dead-set on matching the top-of-the-line service of its ocean ships in this offeringand it’s certainly got readers convinced. The fleet has five river shipsfour of which, Crystal Bach, Mahler, Debussy, and Ravel, are Europes only all-suite, all-balcony river shipssailing the Moselle, Rhine, Danube, and Main rivers. Guests enjoy an all-inclusive experience, with free butler service, unlimited drinks , WiFi, and fitness classes.
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Small Ship Line #1: Seadream Yacht Club
Sailing through the Caribbean, around Europe, or across the Atlantic on either of SeaDreams two 112-passenger yachts means quickly getting to know your fellow guests. Facilities on the six decks include a pool, whirlpool, and casino, but the real highlight is the watersports marina that can be lowered down to the waves for easy ocean swimming, kayaking, and more. The ships often overnight in port, allowing guests the opportunity to experience the local nightlife before taking off for their next destination. In 2021, SeaDream will launch a 110-cabin luxury expedition yacht, SeaDream Innovation, that will sail to all seven continents.
Medium Ship Line #1: Bahama Paradise Cruise Line
You mightve already guessed from its name, but the Bahama Paradise Cruise Line operates cruises to the Bahamas, sailing two-day itineraries from West Palm Beach, Florida. It has just two ships in its fleet, neither of which is necessarily a showstopper, but thats not what the crowd is here forthis is a relatively no-frills cruise line for those interested in quick, affordable getaways. Many passengers opt to extend their experience with a multi-night stay in the Bahamas, which the cruise line organizes for its guests.
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The Best Cruise Lines In The World 2020
2. Norwegian Cruise Line 87.801. Royal Caribbean International 90.06
9. P& O Cruises 82.178. Carnival Cruise Line 84.337. Royal Caribbean International 84.586. Norwegian Cruise Line 86.415. Holland America Line 87.464. Princess Cruises 88.011. Disney Cruise Line 94.25
15. Norwegian Cruise Line 82.9014. Marella Cruises 84.2113. Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line 84.3912. MSC Cruises 85.1711. P& O Cruises 85.3810. Celebrity Cruises 86.108. Holland America Line 87.387. Azamara Club Cruises 87.906. Silversea Cruises 87.924. Regent Seven Seas Cruises 92.103. Seabourn Cruise Line 93.292. Viking Ocean Cruises 95.141. Crystal Cruises 96.06
Best Cruise Experience: Holland America
Courtesy of Holland America
- Ship Name: MS Koningsdam
- Itinerary: Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta
Holland Americas mid-sized fleet offers a more sophisticated cruise experience than most mainstream vessels, and although not adults-only, the MS Koningsdam offers a musically-themed cruise voyage that appeals to an older demographic. In the evening, there are instrumental concerts at Lincoln Center Stage, the BB King Blues Club, the two-story World Stage to Music Walk, Rolling Stone Rock Room, and Billboard Onboard an interactive setting for rock music. The ship also focuses on food and drink with live cooking demonstrations in Americas Test Kitchen and at Blend, a hands-on cocktail class. The 2,650-passenger Koningsdam sails to several destinations from the U.S., including sun-filled itineraries to the Mexican Riviera.
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Best Overall: P& o Cruise
Courtesy of P& O Cruise
- Ship Name: Aurora
- Itinerary: Andalsnes, Norway Romsdalsfjord, Norway Tromso, Norway Alta, Norway Stavanger, Norway Southampton, UK
After undergoing a refurbishment in early 2019, the 1,874-passenger Aurora is now one of three adults-only vessels that sail under P& O cruises . Aurora is ideal for cruisers who enjoy ocean cruising on a mid-sized ship, with an array of dining options and several cabin choices ranging from interior to spacious suites. Dance classes, a full-service spa, a theater, movie cinema, casino, and a number of bars and lounges including the bustling, four-story central atrium are all available onboard the vessel. For a chance to see the northern lights, Aurora sails round-trip on a breathtaking voyage through Norwegian fjords and dramatic scenery.
Best Luxury Cruise Lines Rankings
Looking to research and book a luxury cruise vacation? U.S. News found the cruise lines that consistently land on top.
Luxury cruise lines have long enticed travelers seeking a superior experience.
U.S. News & World Report, publisher of Best Hotels, Best Vacations and Best Travel Rewards Programs, announced the 2022 Best Cruise Lines rankings,designed to provide up-to-date information on the leading cruise lines.
With much of the world reopening to international travel, U.S. News surveyed travelers to understand the effects of COVID-19 on cruiser sentiments. U.S. News unveiled the survey results at the Seatrade Global Conference in October which found that cruisers both first-time and longtime are booked at higher levels than before the pandemic. The survey data also revealed that of the frequent travelers who indicated that they would cruise again, 20% are already signed up for their next sailing.
Though most avenues of travel have been impacted throughout the coronavirus pandemic, the cruise industry has seen the most challenges, said Nicola Wood, travel editor at U.S. News. U.S. News is excited to once again highlight the leading cruise lines and provide in-depth information on ships, onboard activities and itineraries to travelers looking to research and book a cruise vacation.
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Best Large Cruise: Royal Caribbean
Courtesy of Royal Caribbean
- Ship: Ovation of the Seas
- Duration: 7 nights
- Itinerary: Alaska Inside Passage, Juneau, Skagway, Victoria
If youre looking for a cruise to Alaska with all the theme-park-like attractions, then the Ovation of the Seas will not disappoint. Built in 2016, Ovation is currently ranked as one of the 10 largest cruise ships in the world with onboard features like a skydiving simulator, a cocktail bar tended by robots, aerial performances in the theater, and the North Star, a moving observation pod with surreal views. The first two days of the voyage are spent at sea so theres plenty of time to explore the ship and try different activities. Or, dine at specialty restaurants like Chops Grille, Royal Caribbeans iconic steakhouse Wonderland, an eclectic array of dishes, or Giovannis table, a favorite Italian restaurant.
Large Ship Line #: Norwegian Cruise Line
Things escalated quickly for Norwegian: the cruise line jumped from medium-size ships to mega-ships practically overnight , with just three ships in its current fleet sized somewhere in between. But thats soon about to change. Norwegian currently has six ships on order as part of Project Leonardo, each of which will hold about 3,300 passengers. Its interesting to see a cruise line scale back from its mega-ships and opt for a more manageable size for such a large order. Details about the new ships are scarce, though the first is expected to launch in 2022.
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Medium Ship Line #1: Princess Cruises
Of Princess Cruises 17-ship fleet, its five smallest include the Coral Princess, Island Princess, Sun Princess, Sea Princess, and the infamous Pacific Princess, which was the star of the TV show The Love Boat. The Pacific Princess is by far the smallest, holding just 680 passengers. The four other ships carry around 2,000 passengers and are the perfect size to sail through the Panama Canal.
Small Ship Line #: Seabourn Cruise Line
Seabourns five ships feature fewer than 300 suites eachbut they leverage that small size into access at some of the worlds most beloved yacht ports: St. Tropez in the south of France the Greek island of Kos and popular large ports like Dubrovnik and Monte Carlo. Michelin-starred chef Thomas Keller designs specialty menus on the ships, and a partnership with UNESCO ensures shore excursions and sustainable tourism practices at some of the wildest and most wonderful destinations around the world. In 2021, the line will debut its first expedition ship, Seabourn Venture.
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Mega Ship Line #: Norwegian Cruise Line
Known for its colorful ships, Norwegian Cruise Line first broke into the mega-ship category in 2010 with the launch of Norwegian Epic, which can carry just over 5,000 passengers at full occupancy, and have since introduced five others in the Breakaway and Breakaway-Plus classes. The crowd aboard these vessels, which primarily sail in North America, the Caribbean, and the Mediterranean, often consists of families who take advantage of amenities like waterparks, virtual-reality gaming, and go-kart racing, though the cruise lines newest ship, Norwegian Bliss, has a decidedly more mature atmosphere. In November 2019, Norwegian launched the newest member of its fleet, Norwegian Encore, which is the most luxurious of its mega-ships.
River Ship Line #: Amawaterways
AmaWaterways cruises the waters of Europe, Africa, Vietnam, and Cambodia, with a handful of new ships debuting in the past few years. In 2019, the line launched AmaMagna, a double-wide river cruise on the Danube that features massive 710-square-foot suitesa size unheard of on a river-going vessel. Despite the ship being so much larger than its sisters, the passenger count only increased by 20 percent to 196 guests, ensuring an intimate experience.
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How To See What Your Cruise Ship Scored
Headed on a cruise soon and want to know what your specific ship scored on its latest inspection? You can search the VSP database by ship using this page. Simply find your ship in the list and then click search. It will also allow you to see reports, which you can read to see the specific violations found on the ship.
Medium Ship Line #: Holland America Line
Of Holland Americas 10 ships, eight of them fall into the medium-size category, carrying between 1,400 and 2,500 passengers. The refined ships sail to destinations across the world, but one of the most popular destinations for the cruise line is Alaska. When cruising resumes, we think you should check out the Noordam, which was refurbished in 2019, as it sails itineraries around the Japanese archipelago, China, and Southeast Asia.
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Medium Ship Line #: Seabourn Cruise Lines
Dont think of Seabourn as a typical cruiseit ships are much more akin to mega-yachts, with ultra-luxurious decor, service, and dining. The fleet currently has five vessels, the largest of which carry 600 passengers. Their small size allows the vessels to dock in small ports all around the world . Many of the cruise lines guests are lifelong learners, and they flock to the nightly Seabourn Conversation program, which brings all sorts of intriguing figures, from Steve Wozniak to Elaine Paige, on board for lectures and casual chats. In 2015, Seabourn announced a partnership with celebrity chef Thomas Keller, who crafted new menus for the three existing ships and spearheaded new restaurants on the two newest ships, Seabourn Encore and Seabourn Ovation.