Cruises are becoming increasingly popular vacation choices, combining lodging, entertainment, and travel all in one. For a set price, guests can enjoy an all-inclusive experience perfect for the whole family. In fact, an average of 28 million people embark on a cruise every single year!
This article will cover some of the best cruise lines in the world, comparing pricing, amenities, and respective destinations. Read on to learn everything you need to know about the best of the best cruise lines.
Indulge in Delicious Eats With Princess Cruises
Established in 1965, Princess Cruises is an international cruise line serving more than a million passengers each year. The line often finds itself on lists of the best cruise lines, including US News’s “8 Best Cruise Lines for the Money.” Princess Cruises is also the second-largest cruise line in terms of revenue.
There is a smorgasbord of entertainment aboard the Princess Cruise fleet. Onboard, guests can enjoy a myriad of different activities such as:
- Dance Classes
- Art Galleries
- Live Music
Princess Cruises’ ships also offer a spa, fitness center, and a variety of exercise classes. For those traveling as couples, the line offers ballroom dancing lessons and private romantic dining options. As for families? Children can enjoy immersive experiences such as Discovery at Sea’s Voyage to the Stars.
The cruise line didn’t win “Healthiest Cruise” in Shape Magazine for nothing! Guests can enjoy fresh, delicious flavors prepared by Chef Curtis Stone, whose restaurant SHARE is his only eatery aboard a cruise ship.
The Salty Dog Gastropub offers gourmet bites and alcohols crafted by Chef Ernesto Uchimura. Guests who crave comfort food without the flair can enjoy tasty plates in the ship’s main dining room.
Princess Cruises sails all across the world, including popular vacation destinations such as:
- The Caribbean
Guests can also enjoy a cruise around the United States with stops in Alaska and California. If you can imagine it, Princess Cruises will take you there.
There’s even an option for those with extreme wanderlust: guests can spend up to half a year sailing across the world and stopping in just about every port imaginable. It’s a great choice for those who want to travel without the headache of putting together an itinerary.
Fares vary depending on the destination and length of the trip, but you can expect to get the most bang out of your buck when sailing with Princess Cruises. Spend as low as $270 per person for a three-day trip to the Eastern Caribbean, or splurge a little bit on a thirty-day adventure through Scandinavia, Iceland, and Russia for just under $5,300 per person.
Set Sail in Luxury Aboard Crystal Cruises
For the ultimate luxury experience, set sail with Crystal Cruises. Named the best cruise line in Condé Nast Traveler’s 2020 Reader’s Choice Awards, guests can enjoy five-star service, dining, and amenities at a fair price.
Crystal Cruises offers several different expeditions including:
With only a few ships designated for each expedition, guests are sure to have an intimate experience unlike any other.
Ocean cruisers are likely to find themselves aboard the Crystal Serenity, a 980-guest capacity ship with eight decks, including two decks complete with penthouse suites. Onboard, guests can relax in several different lounges including:
- Avenue Saloon
- Palm Court
- Stardust Club
- Galaxy Lounge
Activity resources include a bridge room, library, and computer lab so that you can enrich your mind while traveling across the globe.
Boasting some of the most impressive cuisine choices on this list, Crystal Cruises offers something for every individual taste. Guests can enjoy classic flavors in the Trident Grill, or feast on Asian specialties at Umi Uma Sushi and Silk Kitchen & Bar. There’s even a Parisian-style bistro and Italian kitchen for European cuisine lovers.
After your meal, be sure to visit Scoops Ice Cream Bar for a bit of dessert. The line also offers 24-hour in-suite dining for those relaxing too hard to leave their staterooms.
Crystal Cruises sails across the entire world with options to cruise along European rivers or discover the globe by ship. Classic cruise lovers can find their way to the Caribbean while more adventurous travelers can journey to the edge of Antarctica for a trip they’ll never forget.
Each route’s fare varies depending on the destination and length of the trip, but due to Crystal Cruises’ lavish lifestyle, guests can expect to pay a little more than your average cruise line. The cheapest option is a six-day round-trip sail from London, at $1,800 per person, while the most expensive option is a 100-day world trip departing from Los Angeles, at $46,000 per person.
Take a Family Vacation with Disney Cruise Line
Disney Cruise Line is the perfect line for families traveling with young children. Established in 1995, the cruise company combines the magic of the theme park with tropical destinations and onboard entertainment even Mom and Dad can enjoy. Disney Cruise Line was even voted #1 for families in a handful of different publications!
Guests will board one of four different ships, each including a special tribute to the beloved characters and films.
There is certainly no shortage of entertainment aboard the Disney Cruise ships. Options include live performances and character meet-and-greets, to name a few. The ships are also equipped with swimming pools, fitness centers, and spas.
Depending on your route, you may experience one of Disney’s deck parties, which combines dancing, music, and characters for a night your little ones will remember for years to come!
Disney knows picky eaters like nobody else! Guests can expect to find a myriad of different eateries all equipped with kid-friendly bites. Some themed options include:
- Rapunzel’s Royal Table
- Duck-in Diner
- Pinocchio’s Pizzeria
For the adults, Disney Cruises offers slightly more formal options including:
- Royal Palace
Of course, there are plenty of different dessert options to choose from for a sweet and magical treat after dinner!
Disney Cruises sails to a handful of locations in the Caribbean and Europe including the Bahamas, Mediterranean, and Bermuda. Guests interested in staying within the United States can journey to Alaska to learn about Native American traditions or island-hop in Hawaii.
Pricing for your Disney cruise all depends on your destination. While per-person pricing may seem a bit steep, quite a few amenities are included such as:
- Onboard dining
- Disney’s Private Island (in the Bahamas and Caribbean)
The cheapest option currently offered by Disney Cruises is a two-night journey to Baja California from San Diego, for $1,400 per person. As for the most expensive? Guests interested in splurging can enjoy an eleven-night tour from Rome to Barcelona for $9,200 per person.
Catch a Broadway Musical Abord Norwegian Cruise Line
With over 450 destinations to choose from, Norwegian Cruise Line operates as the third-largest cruise line in the world based solely off of the number of passengers that sail each year. Norwegian has won several awards including one of the 2018 Top-Rated Cruise Lines by CruiseCritic.
Guests will board one of seventeen available ships, each recently refurbished and equipped with state-of-the-art rooms and amenities. Guests can even journey to the cruise company’s private island, Great Stirrup Cay, located in the Bahamas.
Norwegian Cruise Line packs some of the best available entertainment on the list, including productions of Broadway musicals such as Six and Kinky Boots. Guests can also enjoy live music, deck parties, and comedy shows.
Families can also enjoy onboard activities including:
- Fitness Center
- Water slides
Guests can choose from a myriad of dining options that are both fancy and casual, perfect for the whole family or great for just adults. Complimentary dining options include the main dining rooms, buffets, and a handful of Asian Fusion eateries.
Specialty dining options include a handful of different cuisines to choose from, such as:
- Texas BBQ
Norwegian boasts freestyle dining, meaning that options are available 24/7 without preassigned seating. That way, guests can tailor their schedules based on when they’re hungry and what they feel like eating!
Norwegian Cruise Line sails to over 450 destinations across the globe, centered around sixteen regions:
- Pacific Coast
- Mexican Riviera
- Panama Canal
- South America
- Canada & New England
- Northern Europe
While it may seem like a lot of options to choose from, Norwegian offers a plethora of routes, meaning you’re sure to find the perfect cruise for you.
Norwegian’s fares are surprisingly affordable, making this a great option for families. Ticket prices also include free specialty dining, wifi, and the ability to bring along two children for no extra cost.
The cheapest trip currently offered is a three-day cruise along the Pacific Coast for $230 per person, while the most expensive is an eleven-day excursion through Hawaii and French Polynesia, for just under $3,000 per person.
Soar Through the Sky with Carnival Cruise Line
If you’ve ever spent time researching cruises, you’ve likely come across Carnival Cruise Line, which serves as one of the most popular options for cruise vacations. The company offers affordable fares complete with onboard entertainment perfect for the entire family.
Carnival’s fleet currently consists of 25 ships, all complete with spacious staterooms. Guests can choose between interior, ocean view, balcony, and suite staterooms for varying costs.
For immersive activities both kids and adults will love, Carnival is the way to go. Thrill-seekers can fly through the air with Skyride or enjoy the Sky Zone trampoline park. Waterworks offers a handful of exhilarating water slides, while onboard mini golf allows guests to test their skills.
Guests can also enjoy live entertainment, spas, fitness centers, and a casino, just to name a few. The best way to fully experience what Carnival has to offer is to book a cruise today!
Carnival may win the award for most celebrity-owned restaurants onboard: guests can visit favorites such as Guy’s Burger Joint and Shaq’s Big Chicken. Regardless of your tastes, there’s something onboard the Carnival fleet for you.
Some specialty dining options aboard the Carnival ships include:
- Cucina del Capitano
- Blue Iguana Cantina
- Jiji Asian Kitchen
- Seafood Shack
Guests can order pizza to be delivered to their staterooms, or indulge in 24-hour room service!
Carnival sails to a plethora of destinations in eighteen regions, including popular favorites such as the Bahamas, Caribbean, and Europe. Those wishing to stay within the United States can travel to Alaska or Hawaii, while adventurous guests can sail to Tasmania, Papua New Guinea, and the Great Barrier Reef.
Visit Carnival’s official website for a full list of every destination currently offered by the cruise line!
Carnival boasts incredibly affordable prices for their cruises, with the cheapest option serving as a two-day excursion to the Bahamas for only $130 per person. Looking for something a little fancier? Carnival also offers a luxurious fifteen-day trip between San Diego and Hawaii for a whopping $1,800 per person.
Sail the Award-Winning Holland America Line
Last on the list is the British-owned Holland America Line, boasting over 500 sailings a year across the entire globe. The company has also won several awards with CruiseCritics for its range of destinations, including Best in Alaska, Best in Mexican Riviera, and Best in Panama Canal & Central America!
Guests will board one of eleven ships to stay in elegant staterooms complete with free room service, daily housekeeping, and a nightly turndown service. Some rooms even include a large dining and living area!
The cruise line offers several activities for guests to partake in, including a fitness center, arcade, and onboard shopping center. Ample live music opportunities allow guests to enjoy the entertainment at their own speed, while a handful of bars and lounges offer places to relax and take in the view.
Additionally, kids can enjoy Club HAL, Holland America’s youth program for ages 3 to 17. Here, kids can spend time doing arts and crafts, scavenger hunts, and team games, all while meeting other travelers their age! Families traveling with young children should register prior to their departure, but all fees for Club HAL are included in ticket prices.
Guests can choose between fine dining and casual dining aboard Holland America. The sophisticated dining room, along with a pizzeria, grill, and casual market are included in the fare. Fancier options, available for an additional cost, include:
- Rudi’s Sel de Mer
- Nami Sushi
- Pinnacle Grill
Additionally, Holland America’s Culinary Council consists of eight celebrity chefs, ensuring that each and every dining experience is fresh, delicious, and unforgettable!
Similar to other cruise lines on this list, Holland America sails to a variety of different destinations spread across a handful of regions. In fact, guests have the option to visit 473 different ports across the globe!
For a truly immersive experience, guests can sail across the entire globe for 128 days. However, this should be reserved for those who can spare the money; each ticket costs a whopping $22,000!
Trips with Holland America are moderately priced, with the current cheapest option being a three-day sail to the Bahamas for $350 per person. The current priciest option offered by Holland America is the world cruise, followed closely by a 74-day excursion around South America and Antarctica, for $9,500 per person.
Holland America falls somewhere in the middle of this list: not too expensive, but still a bit pricier for some guests’ budgets!
What Is the Best Rated Cruise Line?
After examining some of the best cruise lines in the world, we can now look at which is the best rated. Ratings often apply to different categories, such as best cruise for families or best cruise for the money, so it’s impossible to state overall which line is the best rated.
However, according to US News, Disney Cruise Line ranks as the number-one option both for families and voyages to the Caribbean. While other lines on this list ranked within the top three for different categories, none were ranked as highly as Disney Cruise Line.
Other rankings on this list according to US News include:
- Norwegian Cruise Line as #3 in Best Cruise Lines for the Money
- Crystal Cruises as #3 for Best Luxury Cruise Lines
- Carnival Cruise Line for #3 in Best Cruises for Families
Ultimately, the best rated cruise line comes down to personal preference. By comparing amenities, pricing, and destinations, you can decide which cruise line offers everything you’re looking for in the perfect vacation.
Choosing a cruise line can be overwhelming, with the many different companies offering thousands of prospective routes, a myriad of onboard activities, and delicious dining options. Knowing the differences in prices and amenities can help you to narrow down your decision. We hope that this list has served as inspiration for planning your next cruise!