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The Best Cruise Lines

Which Cruise Line is the Best?

Cruising is a popular way of traveling for many people, offering a unique experience that combines the convenience of a floating hotel with the excitement of visiting multiple destinations in one trip. In an average year, over fifteen million people say "all aboard" and set sail on an amazing vacation.

There are many different cruise lines to choose from, and each one offers a different type of experience. Some are geared towards families, while others are more focused on luxury or adventure. What would you like to see and do while you're onboard? Is a casino a must-have or a rather-avoid? Would a Broadway-caliber show tip the scales for you? Do you need a wide range of activities to keep the kiddos happy while the adults live it up or relax? The onboard activities and amenities can really make or break your vacation, so be sure you know what you're getting.

Monday, June 24th

2024 Cruise Line Reviews

Royal Caribbean Review Top Consumer Reviews Best-In-Class Blue Ribbon Award 5 Star Rating

Royal Caribbean

5 Star Rating Top Consumer Reviews Best-In-Class Blue Ribbon Award

Royal Caribbean International is a cruise line headquartered in Miami, Florida, operating a fleet of 27 ships that sail to destinations worldwide, including the Caribbean, Europe, Asia, Australia, and Alaska. The company offers innovative onboard experiences, such as Broadway-style shows, the Bionic Bar, and Virtual Balcony cabins, as well as a wide range of activities like ice skating and rock climbing while at sea. Royal Caribbean is suitable for guests of all ages and is well known for having some of the largest ships in the cruise industry, 300+ ports of call, and two private islands: CocoCay and Perfect Day. The company is also known for great last-minute cruise deals and having an excellent safety record. We recommend Royal Caribbean as one of the first places to search for your next cruise.

Disney Cruise Line Review 4.5 Star Rating

Disney Cruise Line

4.5 Star Rating

It's no surprise that Disney cruises are the #1 pick for families traveling with children, but it's an excellent choice for the young at heart too. The attention to detail and service provided onboard are legendary, from the rotational themed dining and Broadway-caliber shows to the pirate deck party complete with fireworks. Whether you want to relax on Disney's private islands or catch the world premiere of the latest Marvel movie while at sea, there's no shortage of magic when you sail with DCL. This is one of our favorite cruise lines, with or without kids in the travel party.

Celebrity Cruises Review 4.5 Star Rating

Celebrity Cruises

4.5 Star Rating

Celebrity Cruises offers a variety of cruise experiences for all ages and to various destinations, with a fleet of over a dozen ships ranging in size from 16 to 3,260 passengers. Celebrity's dining options are renowned for their quality and variety, and the company offers both Cruise-Only and All-Inclusive fares. The cruise line has a strong commitment to safety and has never experienced a major incident, earning recognition as the Best Premium Cruise Line by Travel Weekly's Readers' Choice Awards for 14 consecutive years. Celebrity is an excellent choice for guests of all ages and interests.

Virgin Voyages Review 4.5 Star Rating

Virgin Voyages

4.5 Star Rating

Virgin Voyages is one of the newest cruise lines in the industry, getting its start in 2020. They offer a unique, fun, and modern experience strictly for adults, but there's nothing outdated or stodgy about these sailings. From the exciting onboard entertainment to the balconies with hammocks, Virgin Voyages does cruising differently. The amenities are tech-forward and eco-friendly, sailings are available that won't charge the dreaded "single supplement" , and you'll get a lot of premium perks at no extra charge (like WiFi and gratuities). For adults-only fun and relaxation, Virgin Voyages is a perfect choice.

Viking Cruises Review 4 Star Rating

Viking Cruises

4 Star Rating

Viking Cruises is a luxury cruise line known for its sophisticated and immersive travel experiences. With a fleet of more than 60 river and ocean-going vessels, Viking offers river cruises in Europe, Russia, Ukraine, Asia, and Egypt, as well as ocean cruises to destinations including Scandinavia, the Baltic, the Mediterranean, North America, the Caribbean, and the Arctic. The company is well-loved for its all-inclusive pricing, which covers everything from onboard meals and drinks to shore excursions and WiFi (but not gratuities, FYI). Viking is also known for its emphasis on cultural immersion and enrichment, with onshore experiences designed to help travelers connect with local people, history, and traditions. With an emphasis on comfort, relaxation, and exploration, Viking offers a high-end cruise experience for adult travelers seeking a refined and enriching vacation.

Regent Seven Seas Review 4 Star Rating

Regent Seven Seas

4 Star Rating

Regent Seven Seas Cruises is a luxury cruise line that operates six ships with a focus on exceptional service, gourmet dining options, and all-inclusive sailings with most "extras" at no extra cost (like beverages, WiFi, gratuities, and so on). The line offers a wide range of onboard activities and entertainment, as well as unique and immersive shore excursions in some of the most sought-after ports of call worldwide. Regent Seven Seas Cruises is committed to sustainability and responsible tourism, and prides itself on its exceptional service and personalization options. For luxury cruisers, this should be one of the first cruise lines you consider.

Norwegian Cruise Line Review 4 Star Rating

Norwegian Cruise Line

4 Star Rating

Norwegian Cruise Line, or NCL, offers sailings to destinations around the world plus exciting entertainment and flexible amenities. NCL is suitable for cruisers of all ages and adventure levels, and it's one of the only non-luxury class cruise lines that doesn't require gratuities (or even recommend them at any particular amount). While being on a ship with 2,000-4,000 other passengers might not appeal to some vacationers, NCL's large ships make it easy to eat, play, and relax in any way you want.

Princess Cruises Review 4 Star Rating

Princess Cruises

4 Star Rating

Princess Cruises tends to attract older guests on its sailings to destinations around the world. The 16 ships on this cruise line range from intimately-sized to large, from the petite Pacific Princess to the super-sized Royal Princess. The company offers Standard and Princess Plus fares, with the latter including a drink package, Wi-Fi, and gratuities. Princess Cruises is known for its excellent food and beverage offerings, with a variety of dining options to suit all tastes and preferences. While families with children are certainly welcome on Princess sailings, the onboard activities are definitely geared towards the more "seasoned" guests. However, this cruise line is still a reliable option with many desirable itineraries to choose from.

Holland America Review 4 Star Rating

Holland America

4 Star Rating

Holland America Line is a premium cruise line with a fleet of 11 mid-sized ships, offering over 500 itineraries with stops in 100+ countries. The line is known for its exceptional service, exquisite cuisine, and sophisticated onboard experience, making it a popular choice for older travelers seeking luxury and elegance. Overall, Holland America Line offers a relaxed and classy vacation experience to the world's most sought-after ports of call, especially for those ages 55+.

Cunard Review 3.5 Star Rating

Cunard

3.5 Star Rating

Cunard is a British luxury cruise line with a rich history dating back to 1840. The company operates three ocean liners (soon to be four), including the flagship Queen Mary 2, which is the only ship in the world to regularly make transatlantic crossings. One of the unique features of Cunard is its formal evenings, where guests are expected to dress up in their finest attire. Although not all-inclusive, Cunard offers a wide range of itineraries for vacationers looking to cruise in exotic locations around the world, including World Voyages lasting up to 100+ nights. Neither ultra-luxury nor on-a-budget cruisers will find Cunard to be a good match, but it's a trustworthy cruise line overall.

Seabourn Review 3.5 Star Rating

Seabourn

3.5 Star Rating

Seabourn is a small-ship, luxury cruise line with destinations in all seven continents. Their cruises are described as all-inclusive, with complimentary dining venues, open bars and fine wines, unlimited WiFi, and no gratuities required. However, some features like shore excursions are fee-based. For the adventurous types, Seabourn has Ventures by Seabourn, optional shore excursions that help you get up close and personal with your destinations. Because some travelers have felt that the ships seemed a bit outdated, and the all-inclusive features of Seabourn weren't as robust as what comparable luxury lines offered, we give this cruise line a just-above-average rating.

Azamara Review 3.5 Star Rating

Azamara

3.5 Star Rating

Azamara is a luxury cruise line that focuses on destination immersion, offering a variety of shore excursions and longer stays in port. The ships have a capacity of around 700 guests each, providing a more personalized experience with exceptional service. Dining is a highlight of the Azamara experience, with a focus on fresh and locally-sourced ingredients, and complimentary wine, beer, and spirits with meals. Although this isn't an all-inclusive cruise line, Azamara offers unique destinations not served by larger cruise ships, and is a good option for those who enjoy exploring cultures in their ports of call.

MSC Cruises Review 3 Star Rating

MSC Cruises

3 Star Rating

MSC Cruises is an Italian-themed, family-oriented cruise line with a fleet of 23 ships that sail to destinations worldwide. They offer a wide range of itineraries, from short Caribbean cruises to longer world cruises. Caribbean sailings are one of their specialties, with budget-friendly fares often starting at $139 per person for a three-night Bahamas cruise. However, guests should be aware of additional costs for gratuities, drinks, and dining packages, and even for basics like choosing the stateroom or dining room seating time. While the low initial fares may seem like a bargain, fees for "extras" can add up quickly, so it's worth comparing MSC to other cruise lines before booking your sailing.

Costa Review 2.5 Star Rating

Costa

2.5 Star Rating

Costa Cruises is an Italian-based cruise line that offers a variety of itineraries to destinations worldwide. On the nine ships in the fleet, Costa Cruises emphasizes Italian style and culture, with a focus on art, music, and cuisine. The cruise line offers some perks to all cruisers, such as the ability to choose your cabin and dining time, but all beverages except water come with an additional cost, and Costa's mandatory service charges are spendy and can't be modified. Most influential to our ranking, the company has a below-average safety record with several high-profile incidents, making it less favorable compared with other options you have for cruising in Europe, the Caribbean, and elsewhere.

Carnival Cruises Review 2 Star Rating

Carnival Cruises

2 Star Rating

Carnival Cruise Line is a popular and affordable American cruise line that operates 24 ships sailing to destinations all over the world, catering to families, couples, and groups of friends. The defining characteristic of Carnival is its focus on fun and entertainment, all for less money than its rivals in the industry. However, Carnival cruises have a party atmosphere - great for some adults, not as desirable for cruising with children - and lower safety rankings, with several incidents involving Carnival ships, including fires, power outages, and mechanical failures. You'll get more for your money, and a better overall onboard experience, with a higher-ranked cruise line.

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Continued from above...

Another factor that can influence which cruise line you choose is the itinerary. Cruise ships travel all over the world, but some cruise lines may not have destinations available where you're hoping to go. You should also consider the size of the ship: larger ships offer more amenities, but smaller ships can access ports that bigger ships can't.

Speaking of amenities, make sure you understand what you'll get as part of your fare and which extras will come with an additional cost. For example, most cruises offer drink packages for alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, but a few have drink stations where you can get complimentary lemonade, coffee and tea. Other amenities that might be important to you are Wi-Fi, spa services, babysitting, fitness classes, and upgraded dining experiences. You can usually get a decent discount if you sign up for an amenities package before you sail, so keep an eye out for promotions in the months leading up to your sailing.

When you take a cruise, it's almost always expected that you'll tip the crew members who have attended to your needs while onboard: your cabin steward (who probably leaves your towels folded into fun shapes every night), your servers at your nightly meals, and the head waiter. Cruise lines have a recommended gratuity to cover all three of those staff members, usually $15-$20 per traveler, per day; the total gratuity amount may be charged automatically to your account, or you may be given envelopes to make cash payments.

While it usually isn't mandatory to pay those gratuities - you can ask to have them removed if they're applied automatically, especially if you've received poor service - it's typically considered in poor taste not to tip at the suggested levels (because crew members' salaries, much like servers at your local restaurant, are based on the expectation of tips paid by guests). And, if you receive service that goes above and beyond, adding to the recommended gratuity is always appreciated. Be aware that tips for bartenders, poolside servers, and professional services provided in the spa or elsewhere are not included in the daily suggested gratuity and may be charged automatically at the time of service.

Now that you have a good overview of the cruising experience, which cruise line should you choose? Beyond the points we already covered, here are a few additional criteria that might make it easier to pick:

  • Embarkation port. You could get a great deal on a cruise, but what will it cost you to get to the port? That could involve airfare, an overnight stay or two in a nearby hotel (so that you're less likely to be affected by travel delays), and transportation from the airport or hotel to the port. This is especially true if you're taking a cruise that departs from an international destination.
  • Perks for repeat cruisers. Like frequent flyer programs on airlines, most cruise lines offer benefits the more you sail. If you find yourself absolutely loving cruise vacations, it can be advantageous to put all of your eggs in one basket, so to speak. Rewards programs can include casino benefits, complimentary meals at the upgraded dining experiences, exclusive sail-away parties with free cocktails and tchotchkes, early-access booking on future cruises, and much more.
  • Reputation. It's a really smart idea to see what other travelers have said about their overall experience with a cruise line before booking your trip. The ads on TV may make that private island look amazing, but someone who's been there might point out that you'll pay extra to get on that waterslide. Or, previous cruisers could tell you that despite having several formal nights on the schedule, a particular cruise line has no problem with people showing up to dinner in flip-flops and swimsuit coverups. Find out if the cruise line you're considering lines up in reality with what they advertise.

Here at Top Consumer Reviews, cruising is one of our favorite ways to travel and experience new things. And with so many different cruise lines to choose from, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. But, don't worry: take a look at our in-depth analysis of today's most popular options, find the one that's the best match for your vacation ideas and your travel party, and book that trip you've been dreaming of. Bon voyage!

The Best Cruise Lines Compare Cruise Lines Compare Cruise Line Reviews What are the best Cruise Lines Best Cruise Line Reviews

Cruise Line FAQ

While there's no one cruise line that can be called "the best" , there's definitely a right one for you. Are you looking for a wholesome family vacation with something fun for everyone, or are you planning a wild-and-crazy bachelor party / girls' trip? Most cruise lines are known for catering to a particular demographic, so all you have to do is find the one that matches your vacay goals.
The cost of a cruise typically includes accommodation, meals, onboard entertainment and activities, and access to amenities such as pools and fitness centers. However, some cruise lines charge additional fees for certain activities, dining options, and beverages, among other things. You should also expect to pay gratuities to your cabin attendant, your dining room servers, and the head waiter; the recommended amount varies by cruise line and may be charged to your onboard account automatically.
The minimum age to cruise varies by cruise line and itinerary. Some cruise lines require passengers to be at least 18 years old, while others allow passengers as young as 6 months old. However, most cruise lines have age restrictions for certain activities, such as access to the casino or bars.
Most cruise ships offer a variety of dining options, including formal restaurants, casual buffets, and specialty restaurants. Some cruise lines also offer 24-hour room service. You'll typically choose a seating time when you reserve your sailing - early, main, or late, depending on what the cruise line offers. This usually gives people flexibility for staying longer in port, for getting the kids to bed at a reasonable time, and so on. But, in recent years, some cruise lines have introduced truly flexible seating that allows you to eat when you please in the formal dining rooms.
Many people feel nervous about taking a cruise because they picture being packed in with up to 6,000 passengers. Fortunately, even on the biggest-capacity ships, it's rare to feel crowded on a day-to-day basis: dining times are spaced out in the formal dining rooms, shows are staggered at different times, and cruisers are usually occupied with lots of activities. The only times that you might feel a little pressed for space are during embarkation and debarkation (getting on and off) and deck parties.
For the most part, that's up to you. If you love wearing a tux or evening gown, most cruise lines offer at least one formal night (with professional photographers to capture the moment). Not your style? No problem. While some cruise lines require formalwear on designated evenings, or have dress codes that ask for collared shirts and dresses/skirts on other nights, those requirements usually apply to the main dining rooms only and not to the other areas of the ship. Just check out the information provided by the cruise line and read previous travelers' comments to get a feel for what to expect.
Typically, no. Those are usually referred to as "shore excursions" , and most cruise lines don't offer any as part of your fare. You always have the option to disembark and take a stroll around the port's surroundings, and that won't cost anything. You can also arrange with private companies to take a tour, do something adventurous like ziplining or driving ATVs, or take a cooking class. However, the safest bet is to book your shore excursions through the cruise line itself: they're guaranteed to get you back to the ship on time, and the ship won't leave until all of its shore excursion guests have checked back in. The most popular excursions fill up quickly, so don't wait until you get on board to decide what you want to do.
Most cruise lines do not allow passengers to bring their own alcohol. However, some allow passengers to bring a limited amount of wine or champagne onboard for special occasions. Be sure to check with your cruise line's policy on alcohol before you pack.

Compare Cruise Lines

Select any 2 Cruise Lines to compare them head to head

best-cruise-lines
  • Royal Caribbean
  • Disney Cruise Line
  • Celebrity Cruises
  • Virgin Voyages
  • Viking Cruises
  • Regent Seven Seas
  • Norwegian Cruise Line
  • Princess Cruises
  • Holland America
  • Cunard
  • Seabourn
  • Azamara
  • MSC Cruises
  • Costa
  • Carnival Cruises
Royal Caribbean vs Disney Cruise Line Royal Caribbean vs Celebrity Cruises Royal Caribbean vs Virgin Voyages Royal Caribbean vs Viking Cruises Royal Caribbean vs Regent Seven Seas Royal Caribbean vs Norwegian Cruise Line Royal Caribbean vs Princess Cruises Royal Caribbean vs Holland America Royal Caribbean vs Cunard Royal Caribbean vs Seabourn Royal Caribbean vs Azamara Royal Caribbean vs MSC Cruises Royal Caribbean vs Costa Royal Caribbean vs Carnival Cruises Disney Cruise Line vs Celebrity Cruises Disney Cruise Line vs Virgin Voyages Disney Cruise Line vs Viking Cruises Disney Cruise Line vs Regent Seven Seas Disney Cruise Line vs Norwegian Cruise Line Disney Cruise Line vs Princess Cruises Disney Cruise Line vs Holland America Disney Cruise Line vs Cunard Disney Cruise Line vs Seabourn Disney Cruise Line vs Azamara Disney Cruise Line vs MSC Cruises Disney Cruise Line vs Costa Disney Cruise Line vs Carnival Cruises Celebrity Cruises vs Virgin Voyages Celebrity Cruises vs Viking Cruises Celebrity Cruises vs Regent Seven Seas Celebrity Cruises vs Norwegian Cruise Line Celebrity Cruises vs Princess Cruises Celebrity Cruises vs Holland America Celebrity Cruises vs Cunard Celebrity Cruises vs Seabourn Celebrity Cruises vs Azamara Celebrity Cruises vs MSC Cruises Celebrity Cruises vs Costa Celebrity Cruises vs Carnival Cruises Virgin Voyages vs Viking Cruises Virgin Voyages vs Regent Seven Seas Virgin Voyages vs Norwegian Cruise Line Virgin Voyages vs Princess Cruises Virgin Voyages vs Holland America Virgin Voyages vs Cunard Virgin Voyages vs Seabourn Virgin Voyages vs Azamara Virgin Voyages vs MSC Cruises Virgin Voyages vs Costa Virgin Voyages vs Carnival Cruises Viking Cruises vs Regent Seven Seas Viking Cruises vs Norwegian Cruise Line Viking Cruises vs Princess Cruises Viking Cruises vs Holland America Viking Cruises vs Cunard Viking Cruises vs Seabourn Viking Cruises vs Azamara Viking Cruises vs MSC Cruises Viking Cruises vs Costa Viking Cruises vs Carnival Cruises Regent Seven Seas vs Norwegian Cruise Line Regent Seven Seas vs Princess Cruises Regent Seven Seas vs Holland America Regent Seven Seas vs Cunard Regent Seven Seas vs Seabourn Regent Seven Seas vs Azamara Regent Seven Seas vs MSC Cruises Regent Seven Seas vs Costa Regent Seven Seas vs Carnival Cruises Norwegian Cruise Line vs Princess Cruises Norwegian Cruise Line vs Holland America Norwegian Cruise Line vs Cunard Norwegian Cruise Line vs Seabourn Norwegian Cruise Line vs Azamara Norwegian Cruise Line vs MSC Cruises Norwegian Cruise Line vs Costa Norwegian Cruise Line vs Carnival Cruises Princess Cruises vs Holland America Princess Cruises vs Cunard Princess Cruises vs Seabourn Princess Cruises vs Azamara Princess Cruises vs MSC Cruises Princess Cruises vs Costa Princess Cruises vs Carnival Cruises Holland America vs Cunard Holland America vs Seabourn Holland America vs Azamara Holland America vs MSC Cruises Holland America vs Costa Holland America vs Carnival Cruises Cunard vs Seabourn Cunard vs Azamara Cunard vs MSC Cruises Cunard vs Costa Cunard vs Carnival Cruises Seabourn vs Azamara Seabourn vs MSC Cruises Seabourn vs Costa Seabourn vs Carnival Cruises Azamara vs MSC Cruises Azamara vs Costa Azamara vs Carnival Cruises MSC Cruises vs Costa MSC Cruises vs Carnival Cruises Costa vs Carnival Cruises
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