Which Is The Best Cruise Line For You?
With so many cruise line differences, which is the best cruise line for you? With such a wide variety of cruise lines based all over the world, and with almost 30 million passengers now sailing on a wide variety of itineraries to hundreds of different ports of call it seems like a daunting task to narrow down the cruise line differences but just as different ports all have their own unique histories and cultures, cruise lines also have distinct personalities. By understanding the differences between major cruise lines, you can choose the line that best suits your travel preferences, personal style, and vacation dreams for the perfect oceangoing getaway.
Cruise Line Differences-Which Is The Best Cruise Line For You?
So just where do you start when you’re comparing the various cruise lines and their differences to narrow down which is the best cruise line for you and your family or group? While each of the major cruise lines out there each offering similarities when it comes to the basic services and amenities offered, there are some big varieties among them. Are you looking for an upscale experience or a more laid-back, relaxed vacation? Do you need a cruise that is geared toward families or is an adults-only voyage the perfect cruise for you?
Do you love lots of activities and games and shows or are you more inclined to just stay in your lounge chair and do nothing at all except kick back and relax? At the end of the day, it’s not a matter of better or worse, but rather picking the cruise line that matches the type of experience you and your family are looking for.
Before you sail out and decide on your own personal best cruise line, and it may very well indeed be more than one depending on your upcoming voyage, let’s take a closer look and compare some of the major cruise choices that are out there and the differences that set them apart.
Carnival Cruise Line – The Fun Ships
The world’s largest cruise line with more than 25 ships in the fleet and still more under construction, is known worldwide as “The Fun Ships” and the name is well-deserved where they invite everyone to Choose Fun. With its affordable price point, on Carnival, you’re likely to find extended family, groups, bachelor and bachelorette parties, and beyond with the young all the way up to the young at heart filling the ship.
From the drink specials abound and karaoke bars, and days filled with trivia contests, dance parties, karaoke contests, game shows, and mixology lessons, with plenty of activities for children and teens from their extensive water parks, sports courts, and now roller coasters at sea along with other fast-paced features.
One of the highlights of each sailing is the Military Appreciation Ceremony and their deck party honoring and raising money with its Groove for St. Jude Deck Party. Carnival’s 24 ships and still growing fleet operate 2- to 30-day voyages, departing from every coast in the U.S. and while they’re probably best known for their cruises to the Caribbean, Bahamas, and Mexico, Carnival also sails to other exotic and amazing destinations such as Alaska, Europe, and Hawaii. Additionally, Carnival Cruise Line Australia has two ships and offers cruises from Sydney and Brisbane to New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.
Carnival Cruise Line sails all over the world to the most popular ports of call, with longer voyages focusing on slightly more in-depth visits. This broad scope of cruising gives every type of passenger an itinerary they can enjoy onboard a Carnival ship.
Celebrity Cruises – Journey Safe, Journey Wonderfull
With more than 12 ships in its fleet, Celebrity Cruises has plenty of options to offer passengers interested in a more upscale type of cruise experience featuring a more modern and trendy cruise experience.
This cruise line offers more upscale gastronomy and fine dining experiences including elite choices, such as wine tastings, wellness classes, glassblowing classes, and luxury experiences through its exclusive Lawn Club. With Celebrity Cruises, passengers have a wide variety of worldwide itineraries, including exotic and bucket-list destinations such as the Galapagos, Asia, Bermuda, and the Philippines.
Celebrity Cruises is less budget-friendly than many other lines, but the price is well worthwhile for the luxurious touches this cruise line provides and any passenger will feel like a star throughout their vacation.
Costa Cruises – Cruising Italian style
When scrolling through the vast array of cruise line differences, if you’re looking for a voyage with that European feel with all the delicious cuisine, rich history, and luxurious culture of Italy that goes with it, then Costa Cruises is the ship for you.
This line sails more than a dozen ships throughout the Mediterranean and on different itineraries worldwide, bringing its understated elegance above and beyond its Italian origins.
While Costa Cruises generally hosts fewer young cruisers and caters more to an adult audience, there are still children’s programs and a variety of activities suitable for all ages onboard, as well as more unique experiences such as small onboard dairies featuring luxurious cheeses. Adventurous passengers will be delighted with the tailored shore tours and multinational focus of Costa Cruises, who will find this the ideal line for anyone interested in a modern, refined cruise experience.
Disney Cruise Line – Where Magic Meets The Sea
For true family magic, there’s no equal to Disney Cruise Line which will be found from the moment you step onboard through the extensive storytelling that is synonymous with Disney. Each of the ships features different designs and deck plans, as well as distinctive restaurants, entertainment, activities, and pools on board to make every voyage a unique and memorable experience.
One of the unique dining features, when you’re sailing with Disney, is that you rotate through the different restaurants each night to allow you to experience them all and your wait staff goes with you so even before you’re seated all your favorites will be waiting for you! And while features may differ, all 5 Disney Cruise ships offer an unforgettable experience you won’t find on any other vacation: world-famous
Disney hospitality, enchantment, and family fun in an environment of unmatched onboard comfort, convenience, and safety. The five ships of Disney Cruise Line, with 2 more on the way, include extensive programming for children of all ages and many different attractions to appeal to everyone’s inner child. The various kid’s clubs are unparalleled when it comes to fun and in fact, it’s quite possible that your children will beg to spend their entire voyage there leaving you free to enjoy all the grown-up features each of the vessels have to offer.
From the spas to the adult-only restaurants, Broadway-style shows adults will never lack something to do, and no matter what your age, it just doesn’t get any better than sailing with Captain Mickey and Minnie, partying on the deck on Pirate Night as you take in the fireworks at sea. The attention to detail is unmatched, and Disney fans will find themselves immersed in all the magic of Disney’s worlds through character appearances, themed shows, exquisite restaurants, and other extensive Disney dreams onboard.
Because Disney Cruise Line is popular with families, the ships are often more crowded as extra berths in cabins are filled (rather than standard double occupancy). Yet there is much to distract passengers onboard, and even adults will enjoy the nostalgia of classic Disney in every detail.
Holland America Line – Traditional Modern Cruising
Foodies and music lovers alike will appreciate the classic vibes of Holland America Line, where the traditional cruising diversions of elegant repasts and superior live music are still highlighted on every voyage. Fewer activities are offered onboard so as not to overshadow the pleasures of socializing and the immersive itineraries Holland America Line offers in far-flung worldwide destinations such as Asia, Tahiti, New Zealand, and the Panama Canal.
This line is especially known for its impressive Alaskan voyages and offers a range of pre-and post-cruise adventures so passengers can get both land and sea experiences.
Passengers on Holland America Line are generally older and more seasoned cruisers who enjoy the wine tastings, on-deck yoga, cooking demonstrations, and similar activities onboard, though there are limited youth programs available as well.
MSC Cruises – Curious Cruising
MSC Cruises is home to more than 15 vessels that sail worldwide with two themes in mind, elegance, and discovery. This line prides itself on the diversity of its experiences and caters to an equally wide range of passengers.
On board MSC ships, passengers will find plenty of activities, from stunning Cirque du Soleil entertainment to zip lines, 4D cinemas, bowling alleys, and other innovative options that can suit all ages, but with fewer bawdy activities and more focus on engaging experiences.
MSC Cruises sails worldwide and offers some unusual itineraries, including voyages that visit Dubai, Asia, South America, southern Africa, and other exotic ports of call. This line is a great option for more adventurous travelers with a reasonable budget.
Norwegian Cruise Line – Freestyle Cruising
Norwegian Cruise Line offers the ultimate in flexibility at sea with its freestyle cruising approach, giving passengers more freedom to choose among different dining options, activities, and excursions than some traditional cruise lines. Norwegian offers a range of inclusive packages for travelers to pick the best deal that suits their interests, but some passengers may also find the extra surcharges and a-la-carte approach confusing. Still, the diversity on board appeals to many types of cruisers, and Norwegian Cruise Line’s more than 15 ships are often crowded and may be home to a variety of groups and gatherings.
This line sails worldwide with itineraries of different lengths, and the hull artwork of its ships makes each one distinctive and attractive for a memorable cruise vacation.
Princess Cruises – The Original Love Boat
Passengers get the royal treatment when they sail on any of the more than 15 ships that make up the Princess Cruises fleet.
These ships are somewhat upgraded from broader cruise lines and offer more upscale cuisine options combined with the traditional trappings of the golden age of cruising, such as more reserved dress codes. Princess Cruises also prides itself on its enrichment programs, and offers an array of lectures, presentations, and talks about ports of call and topics of interest on all its ships, often tied to its extensive Discovery program.
While at one time passengers tended to be slightly older overall on Princess Cruises all of that is now changing with something for everyone. Throughout the voyage, families will be able to find plenty of attractive and innovative options to appeal to younger cruisers.
Princess Cruises sails all over the world, offering diverse itineraries and often visiting ports of call that may be difficult to find on other cruise lines, while still visiting the most popular cruise travel must-sees and must-dos. The original love boat is back with the reimaged Princess Cruise Line combining the legacy of the Princess voyages with an eye on the future.
Royal Caribbean International – Fun Family Adventures
With its huge, innovative ships and large, ever-expanding fleet, Royal Caribbean International is a cruise line with an active vibe that can appeal to the whole family.
Their ever-growing fleet offers more than 25 ships to choose from in the Royal Caribbean family, and the line prides itself on new and unusual features such as ice rinks, robotic bartenders, skydiving chambers, surfing simulators, zip lines, escape rooms, climbing walls, and more right on board.
The new, larger ships even have distinct neighborhoods that bring unique themes, outstanding architecture, and personalized character to each part of the ship. Now you can hang out in Central Park all while sailing on the high seas.
Royal Caribbean International sails worldwide, offering a wide scope of itineraries and voyages of varying lengths. There are plenty of options for younger cruisers as well as seasoned passengers, and each ship offers vast entertainment options for everyone to enjoy.
Viking- The Thinking Person’s Cruise
Viking Cruise Lines tends to be a luxury cruise line that offers a unique and immersive travel experience for its passengers who are looking for unique and bucket list-type itineraries including voyages to Antarctica all done within an intimate atmosphere, and a high level of service.
Offering both river cruises as well as ocean sailings, one of the things you will notice is that Viking sets its focus on destination-focused itineraries, with an emphasis on exploring the culture, history, and natural beauty of the places it visits. Viking’s ships are designed to be more intimate and less crowded than other cruise ships, with a capacity of around 930 passengers.
In fact, all of Viking’s ocean ships are nearly identical, so if you’re interested in sailing with the line, you’ll have virtually the same experience no matter which of the vessels you choose. This allows for a more relaxed and comfortable atmosphere on board. The passenger demographic on Viking cruises tends to be older, well-educated, and well-traveled, with a strong interest in cultural experiences.
Passengers can expect a high level of service, with a crew that is dedicated to making sure their journey is as enjoyable as possible. With its fleet of 76 river vessels and six ocean ships, and the addition of their Viking Expedition cruises with initial itineraries focusing on
the polar regions of the Arctic Circle and Antarctica it is easy to see why the Viking destination-focused and culturally enriching voyages continue to make Viking the world’s leading small ship cruise line.
Virgin Voyages- Epic Sea Change for All
Virgin Voyages is the newest luxury cruise line to enter the world of cruising founded by Sir Richard Branson and his Virgin Group. Virgin Voyages offers a unique and modern cruising experience for adults, with a focus on sustainability, design, and entertainment. Quite simply, Virgin Voyages is the cruise you never knew you needed until you sail with them and then wonder how you ever sailed any other way.
This adults-only cruise line encourages travelers to enjoy a more grown-up atmosphere without any distractions which makes it an ideal choice for couples, friends, or solo travelers looking for a more sophisticated cruising experience. Changing the way you sail,
Virgin Voyages is redefining what a luxury cruise ship means by combining premium elements from favorites on land with the freedom and simplicity of a life well lived on the open ocean.
With a superior value proposition, Virgin Voyages will give their Sailors more for their money with dining at 20+ eateries, all gratuities covered, free wifi, basic beverages, and unlimited group fitness classes are all included-definitely a unique feature and much-welcomed change when looking at the wide variety of cruise line differences. Relaxed, flexible, and always authentic, their voyages are where laid-back tranquility meets exhilaration — seeing the world aboard our 4 stunning, game-changing ships at sea and are exclusively adult for a reason; so you can disconnect from routine and reconnect with yourself.
From unique restaurants with Michelin-star chef-curated menus to luxury inclusions you’re not used to having taken care of for you, Virgin Voyages is redefining what sea travel can look like.
Other Things To Think About
When choosing the best cruise line for you, it’s important to consider not only the overall differences between the major lines but also the individual characteristics of each ship. Research the various ships within a cruise line that interests you to understand the amenities, size, and age of each.
Keep in mind that newer ships may offer more advanced features, but may also be more expensive and book up faster, while older ships may have a more quaint charm and personalized atmosphere. Additionally, smaller ships may offer a more intimate experience, but larger ships typically have more options. Remember that older ships may have undergone recent renovations, and the newest ships may have unique features that are not yet widely known. By understanding the distinctions between cruise lines and their ships, you can plan a vacation that aligns with your preferences and needs. With so many options to choose from, it helps to do your research and know what some of the differences in cruise lines differences are when it comes to selecting the best cruise line for you.
This is where using a travel agent can make planning a trip and finding the best cruise line for you much easier and more enjoyable. A travel agent has access to a wide range of travel options and can help you find the best deals on flights, hotels, and activities. They can also offer valuable advice on destinations, travel dates, and travel documents.
Furthermore, travel agents often have relationships with travel providers, which can get you special perks and upgrades that you might not be able to get on your own. Additionally, if things go wrong during your trip, such as flight cancellations or travel document issues, a travel agent can help you navigate and solve these problems. They can also provide support and assistance in emergency situations. In short, a travel agent can save you time, money, and stress by handling the details of your trip and providing expert guidance and the best part is that their services are always free.
Now that you know some of the cruise line differences, which do you think is the best cruise line for you?