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The Best Ways to Book a Cruise

Lee Huffman

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This influences which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money .

Not all cruise sites are created equal. While you may find comparable prices on different sites, each site has its own benefits, offers and cancellation policies. 

So, what's the best way to book a cruise? From our findings, here are the top cruise booking sites for your next vacation, plus the pros and cons they offer travelers.

The best cruise websites and how they sweeten the deal 

For sailings across the caribbean, mexico or central america: cheapcaribbean.

CheapCaribbean.com is the best cruise website for the Caribbean, Mexico or Central America. It offers a best-price guarantee plus limited-time offers and discounts.

If you find a better deal within 24 hours of booking, CheapCaribbean will price match and beat it by $25. The company's customer service is available seven days a week, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET.

Best-price guarantee.

Customer service is available seven days a week.

Charges a $24.99 processing fee on reservations.

Must provide an email address to receive the best deals and promos.

» Learn more: The best cruise lines

For reviews from other cruisers: Cruise Critic

Cruise Critic is an independent website that encourages community members to post reviews and share tips.

Its message boards offer ways for website visitors to ask questions and share feedback with others based on their personal experiences and opinions. The site also acts as a metasearch for cruise deals, pulling in prices from multiple cruise websites.

Read cruise reviews from travelers who've been on that itinerary before.

"Deal Score" ranks deals to find the best value.

Price tracker shows 90-day trends for cruise prices.

Must click through the deal to book your cruise on other websites.

Prices are not guaranteed and can change before booking due to fees and restrictions on the sites where the cruises are being sold.

To review several cruise prices at once: CruiseDirect

CruiseDirect is the best cruise website when all you want are cruise prices. It doesn't offer hotels, flights, rental cars or other reservations you may want for your next vacation. CruiseDirect does, however, offer bonuses for travelers booking through its site.

Travelers can filter search results by destination, cruise line or departure port on various ships. This site offers cruises for every type of traveler, from budget to luxury, and every type of ship, from riverboats to mega-ships.

Bonus offers on every reservation provide extra value.

Best-price guarantee and free reservation holds.

Buy now, pay later financing options.

Promos offered by cruise lines aren't exclusive to CruiseDirect.

Customer service can be unfriendly.

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» Learn more: Should you insure your cruise?

For budget-friendly options: Priceline

Priceline was originally known for its "Name Your Own Price" promotions, but has grown into a full-service online travel agency offering flights, hotels, rental cars and cruises, saving consumers more than $1 billion dollars per year.

Travelers who book a cruise with Priceline receive up to $2,000 to spend at sea, plus waived deposits on their reservations.

Up to $2,000 to spend on board.

Waived deposits of up to $500 when booking your cruise.

110% best-price guarantee within 48 hours of booking.

Ability to book flights, hotels, rental cars and more from the same site.

Must call Priceline to get exclusive offers and unpublished fares.

Restrictions make the best-price guarantee harder to benefit from.

» Learn more: Tips for getting the best cruise deals

For booking travel experiences beyond the cruise: TripAdvisor

TripAdvisor is an online reviewer community where travelers share their experiences, pictures and ratings of hotels, suggested activities and more. This honest feedback and travel inspiration also make it one of the best websites to book a cruise.

Search over 70,000 cruise deals from more than 60 sites at once.

Dedicated ship pages share details, reviews, photos and itineraries.

Too many search results make it harder to narrow down your choices.

» Learn more: Are cruises all-inclusive?

To match with a vacation planner: Avoya Travel

Avoya Travel is a family-owned website that matches travelers with a vacation planner based on their preferences. It's the best way to book a cruise using a travel planner because it offers a low-price guarantee without charging extra fees for the planner.

The downside is that online pricing is not "live." Therefore, you must speak with a travel planner to get the latest prices and book your cruise.

Match with cruise planners according to your needs.

Does not charge Avoya fees for booking, changes or cancellations.

Get a low-price guarantee and the expertise of a vacation planner without extra fees.

Must become a member to unlock the best deals.

Pricing on the website is not "live" pricing, so actual cost may vary.

Cannot book a cruise online. You must speak with an independent vacation planner.

» Learn more: The best cruise insurance right now

To book a vacation package with an airline or hotel

American airlines cruises.

American Airlines AAdvantage members can earn airline miles when booking cruises at BookAACruises.com . All members earn one mile for every dollar they spend on cruise reservations, up to 10,000 miles. Some cruise specials offer up to 100,000 miles based on your selected cruise.

If you have an American Airlines credit card, you'll earn 2x miles, up to 20,000 miles. These miles and Loyalty Points count toward airline elite status. Additionally, trips booked through this site are eligible for promotions offered by the cruise lines.

Earn miles and Loyalty Points toward travel and elite status.

Cardholders earn 2x miles, up to 20,000 miles on cruises.

Cruise experts are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Cruise reservations are offered by a third party, so customer service issues can be a challenge.

» Learn more: The best travel credit cards right now

Delta SkyMiles Cruises

Delta Air Lines is another airline that allows members to earn airline miles when booking cruises through its portal. Booking through SkyMilesCruises.com helps you earn Delta SkyMiles on your purchase.

Members get up to 10,000 miles on most cruises and up to 100,000 miles on luxury cruises. Plus, the site waives deposits on eligible cruise reservations.

Can earn up to 100,000 miles when booking a cruise.

Waives deposits when booking eligible cruises.

110% price guarantee within 48 hours of booking.

Most cruise awards are capped at 10,000 miles.

Miles earned are based on the length of the cruise, not the amount spent.

United Airlines Cruises

United Airlines MileagePlus members can earn up to 25,000 miles when booking a cruise through United at Cruises.United.com .

When you have a United Airlines credit card, you'll earn up to 45,000 miles. By offering up to 4x miles per dollar spent (or 7x as a cardholder), this site is the best way to book a cruise and earn airline miles on your purchase. If you have Premier status, you receive additional perks on select cruise lines, like wine and onboard credits.

Earn up to 7x miles on cruises.

United MileagePlus Premier members receive additional perks.

Can redeem miles to pay for some or all of your trip.

Not all cruises can be booked online.

Prices do not include a nonrefundable $24.99 processing fee.

Marriott Bonvoy Cruises

If you want to earn hotel points on your cruise, Marriott Cruise with Points is the best cruise website for you. You'll earn up to 6x points on your cruise purchase, or you can redeem Marriott Bonvoy points to pay for your trip.

Plus, Marriott cardholders can earn an extra 2x points when they use that card for their purchase. While most cruises max out at 25,000 Bonvoy points earned, some luxury cruise lines offer up to 250,000 Marriott points.

Earn up to 6x points on your cruise, up to 250,000 Marriott points.

Marriott cardholders receive an extra 2x points when paying with their cards.

Can use Bonvoy points to pay for your cruise.

Redemption value of Bonvoy points is only 0.4 cent.

Must call to book cruises using points.

Processing fee of $24.99 per reservation.

» Learn more: Airline credit cards vs. hotel credit cards

For cruise package deals: Costco Travel

Costco is a retailer that offers exclusive products and pricing to its members. Through its Costco Travel website , members receive exclusive prices and benefits when booking hotels, rental cars, cruises and travel packages.

Executive Members earn 2% back on Costco Travel purchases and receive additional benefits on select packages. Plus, Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi cardholders earn 3% cash back rewards on Costco Travel purchases.

Earn 2% rewards and extra perks with Executive Membership.

Some cruises offer Costco gift cards or onboard credit.

Must be a member to book reservations with Costco Travel.

Directly with the Cruise Line

In some cases, booking directly with the cruise line can be best because it eliminates a third party. If there's a problem with your reservation or you need to make a change, you don't have to worry about the booking site and the cruise line pointing fingers at each other.

This may be the best approach if you know which cruise line you want to book and which cities you want to visit. However, you may miss out on promotions offered by third-party sites.

Simple search functions.

No hassles with third parties for problems, changes or cancellations.

Less likely to get scammed by fraudulent sites.

Miss out on deals offered by third-party sites.

Harder to compare prices, benefits and routes from multiple cruise lines.

Comparing cruise prices across websites

Without being able to compare prices, it can be a challenge to determine the best site for booking a cruise. To make it easier to compare, we priced out a 7-night Caribbean cruise for two adults. 

We selected the lowest-priced balcony room on Royal Caribbean departing from Miami in August 2023. Here are the results:

Mitigate cancellation policy risks with travel insurance

If you're worried your trip plans being disrupted by bad weather or a change of plans, travel insurance might help. This optional standalone insurance can be purchased separately from your cruise bookings.

But you might not even need to pay out-of-pocket for trip insurance because many credit cards offer travel insurance as a built-in benefit to customers who pay for travel expenses on that card.

» Learn more: The best credit cards for cruises

Booking a cruise recapped

When looking for the best way to book a cruise, the price is virtually the same on every website. The difference lies in how each seller sweetens the deal.

Several cruise booking sites set themselves apart from the competition by offering additional benefits to encourage booking through them. Additionally, being able to book other parts of your trip — like flight and excursions — on the same site, or offering access to a travel agent, distinguishes some of the best cruise websites. 

When prices are the same, we recommend cruise bookers compare the perks being offered, then book on the site with the most appealing bonuses, like onboard credits, airline miles, hotel points or cash back.

If you're searching for cruises on a third-party website, you may question the legitimacy of that site. This is especially true if the site doesn't look professional or some of the information is outdated.

For this reason, you should stick with one of the best cruise booking sites on this list because they've been vetted for legitimacy and have a good track record with travelers.

Yes, last-minute deals can be the best way to book a cruise. If your travel plans are flexible, these deals can save you a lot of money. Keep in mind that you may not be able to book your preferred destination or routing if it is sold out.

Unfortunately, most cruise lines do not offer free cancellations or changes to take advantage of price drops after you book. Passengers can always negotiate with a booking site or cruise line, but they aren't obligated to refund the difference. Instead, they may offer you onboard credit, complimentary excursions or credit toward another cruise booking.

How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2024 , including those best for:

Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express

Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

on Chase's website

1x-5x Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.

60,000 Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Credit Card

on Bank of America's website

1.5x-2x Earn unlimited 2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases and unlimited 1.5 points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

60,000 Receive 60,000 online bonus points - a $600 value - after you make at least $4,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.

U.S. Bank Altitude® Connect Visa Signature® Card

on US Bank's website

1x-5x 5X points on prepaid hotels and car rentals booked directly in the Altitude Rewards Center. 4X points on travel, gas stations, and EV charging stations. 2X points on streaming services. 2X points at grocery stores, grocery delivery, and dining. 1X point on all other eligible purchases. Points never expire.

50,000 Earn 50,000 bonus points when you spend $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first 120 days of account opening. That's a $500 value redeemable towards travel, gift cards, cash back, merchandise and more.

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Cruise Lines

Best Cruise Lines

Browse by cruise line.

Cruises are offered throughout the world and for each destination there are a number of cruise lines to choose from. From contemporary cruise lines to luxury cruise lines each cruise line offers different itineraries, features and options.

Select your cruise line and find everything you need to plan your cruise including deck plans, ship details, features and highlights as well as cabin images and descriptions. When you are ready, search the internet's largest cruise database to find the perfect cruise line for your next cruise vacation.

Contemporary Cruise Lines

Bahamas Paradise Cruises

Bahamas Paradise Cruises offers exciting two-night getaway sailings from the Port of Palm Beach and set sail every day of the week. The line's ships are packed full of fabulous amenities and activities for everyone in the family to enjoy.

Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival Cruise Line was established in 1972 and is the world's largest cruise line. A Carnival cruise is all about creating a fun, memorable vacation and their "Fun Ships" were designed to keep the fun going.

Celestyal Cruises

Celestyal Cruises offers cruises throughout Greece departing from Athens. They offer longer stays in many ports to provide true insights into the local regions.

Costa Cruises

Costa Cruises offers cruises to worldwide destinations including Europe, the Caribbean, Canada & New England, Dubai, South America, the Indian Ocean and the Far East. Cruising on Costa Cruises is Cruising Italian Style!

Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line knows how to make a cruise vacation a magical experience. A Disney cruise offers exceptional service, great itineraries and world class entertainment that only Disney can provide.

MSC Cruises

MSC welcomes you on board with their magnificent ships, European charm, and true Italian hospitality. MSC Cruises sail throughout Europe, the Caribbean, as well as South and Central America, and beyond.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Cruise Line boasts the youngest fleet on the planet and the freedom of choice known as Freestyle Cruising®. Norwegian Cruise Line ships sail worldwide offering guests the ability to have the cruise vacation of their dreams.

Princess Cruises

Princess Cruise Line offers a vast array of cruises to worldwide destinations providing incredible adventures close to home and beyond. Their 16 ships, ranging in size from fewer than 700 guests to over 3,000 guests, offer an intimate and personal experience combined with a broad range of entertainment and dining options.

Royal Caribbean International

Sailing from the Caribbean to Alaska and from Europe to Australia Royal Caribbean's ships are some of the most innovative in the world. Their friendly and personal service offers an exceptional cruise experience for travelers of all ages.

Virgin Voyages Cruise Deals

Virgin Voyages offers exceptional value to beautiful destinations. Sail in unique style on Virgin's ships designed with your well-being in mind. You'll discover a great selection of amenities, including a fitness center, a spa, a tattoo parlor, exciting entertainment, a casino, stunning staterooms and suites.

Premium Cruise Lines

Azamara Club Cruises

Azamara Cruises sail to over 187 ports in 58 countries on smaller, more intimate ships. Their destination rich itineraries offer travelers longer stays and more overnights creating a deep cultural understanding and a unique cruise experience.

Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Cruises offers a sophisticated cruise experience with world-class dining, exceptional on-board service and unique worldwide itineraries. The Celebrity ships are chic and modern and consistently rank among the best in the world.

Holland America Line

Holland America Line delivers a premium cruise experience on mid-sized ships that will exceed your expectations. Their award winning restaurants, elegant staterooms and outstanding service provide a timeless cruising experience.

Oceania Cruises

Oceania Cruises are known for their highly acclaimed country club casual on-board cruise experience. Their five star dining, exceptional wines and handsomely appointed accommodations provide an oasis as you sail to unique ports worldwide.

Viking Ocean Cruises

Viking Ocean Cruises provides a luxury portal to visit the cities, meet the people, explore the cultures and savor the cuisine of the world. The beauty of small ship cruises is the opportunity to dock directly in the exotic smaller ports allowing for more time ashore. Tours and excursions include many private experiences, early entry and behind-the-curtain glimpses into events, museums and performances. With a selection of onboard cultural enrichment programs, Scandinavian-inspired spas, regional dining experiences, award-winning service and sumptuous decor guests will relish the voyage as well as the destinations. In addition a menu of inclusions ranges from one complimentary shore excursion in each port of call, included Wi-Fi, in-room infotainment, soft drinks, beer and wine with onboard meals, no charge for specialty coffees, teas, or bottled water, alternate restaurant dining and more.

Luxury Cruise Lines

Crystal Cruises

Crystal Cruises represents the ultimate in luxury cruising with exceptional service, spacious and contemporary staterooms, and the finest amenities. Dining on a Crystal Cruise offers inventive menus inspired by internationally acclaimed chefs.

Cunard Line

Cunard ships feature the grandeur of the golden age of ocean liner travel. Cunard offers their guests a regal cruise experience combined with an airy, contemporary ambience, exceptional dining and luxurious amenities on itineraries worldwide.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Regent Seven Seas Cruises is the only luxury cruise line featuring an all suite, all inclusive cruise experience. The Regent ships offer over 119 itineraries worldwide sailing to over 300 ports. Sailing on a Regent Seven Seas cruise is luxury at its best.

Scenic Luxury Cruises

Experience an all-inclusive and true luxury cruise experience as you sail on Scenic Luxury Cruises. You will be spoiled with a variety of amenities including complimentary gratuities, personal butler service, complimentary unlimited drinks, and complimentary excursions and more.

Seabourn

Consistently named as one of the best small ship cruise lines, Seabourn's yacht-like vessels are unmatched in elegance and grace. Their all-suite ultra-luxury ships offer cruises to over 300 itineraries worldwide.

SeaDream Yacht Club

Cruising on SeaDream is a unique experience offering 5-star service and gourmet cuisine on yachts with a maximum of 112 guests. A SeaDream Yacht Club cruise is known for its casual, intimate experience where no detail is overlooked.

Silversea

Silversea is renowned for its all-inclusive, ultra-luxury cruise experience. Silversea's intimate, elegant ships offer luxurious accommodations and attentive service that will exceed the expectations of even the most discerning world traveler.

Swan Hellenic

Swan Hellenic offers luxury expedition cruising to unique location including the Arctic, the Antarctis, South America and beyond. Their two ships, sailing with a maximum of 152 guests, offer exceptional service. Their expedition team provides unique insights and shares their extensive knowledge of the regions.

The Moorings

Set sail on a private yacht and charter your course from island to island in a variety of destinations. Complete with a captain and a personal chef, these state-of-the-art private yachts accommodate from 6 to 10 guests, offer elevate cruising to a whole new level.

Windstar Cruises

Windstar Cruises' intimate yachts offer a unique cruise experience with a casual and elegant atmosphere. Windstar Cruises will take you far from the crowds for the ultimate romantic adventure at sea.

River Cruises & Unique Cruise Lines

AmaWaterways

AmaWaterways feature deluxe river cruises and cruisetours throughout Europe, Russia and Asia. Their state-of-the-art ships feature modern amenities, gourmet dining and complimentary shore excursions.

American Cruise Lines

American Cruise Lines feature fascinating itineraries on small ships sailing on America's rivers and inland waterways. Guests experience ports up close and personal with expert naturalists and historians that bring the history, nature and culture alive.

Avalon Waterways

Avalon Waterways offers cruises on the rivers of Europe, Asia, Egypt and the Galapagos. Their ships are designed to entice the senses and allow the traveler to immerse themselves in history and culture as they sail from village to village.

CroisiEurope River Cruises

CroisiEurope Cruises offers river cruises throughout almost all of Europe's rivers as well as on the Mekong and Irrawaddy Rivers in Asia. CroisiEurope also features intimate barge cruises on some of France's most beautiful canals as well as an ocean going ship sailing in the stunning Mediterranean Sea.

Emerald Cruises

Emerald cruises brings Europe, the Caribbean and South America to your doorstep. On an Emerald cruise you will visit enchanting villages, cities and towns while experience the local culture and stunning scenery combined with exceptional service aboard intimate, contemporary river ships and yachts.

Hurtigruten Cruises

Explore some of the world's most fascinating regions on the expedition ships of Hurtigruten. Discover the many wonders of Norway, Svalbard, Antarctica, Iceland and Greenland, North America, Mexico, Central and South America, among others.

Lindblad Expeditions

Embark on thrilling journeys of discovery into the most awe-inspiring regions in the world on the innovative and beautiful ships of Lindblad Expeditions. Immerse yourself in the magic and mysteries of Asia, Europe, Africa, North America, South America and Australia as you explore the seven continents with experts.

Riviera River Cruises

Riviera River Cruises offers exceptional cruises on more than 12 European rivers. Their comfortable world-class ships boast friendly, personal service, spectacular views and wonderful dining experiences and provide a cultural immersive experience.

Star Clippers

Star Clippers' luxury sailing ships offer the amenities and atmosphere of a private yacht. Enjoy informal elegance and the finest culinary delights while sailing worldwide to ports untouched by most of the larger luxury cruise ships.

Uniworld River Cruises

Uniworld River Cruises offers a luxury cruise experience on the rivers in Europe, Russia, Egypt, China, Cambodia and Vietnam. Uniworld River Cruises boast luxurious accommodations and Zagat rated dining experience that set them apart from the rest.

Viking River Cruises

Viking River Cruises offers an all inclusive cruise experience featuring gourmet dining and exceptional itineraries on elegant, comfortable ships. The experienced guides provide guests with in-depth cultural experiences on rivers worldwide.

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Best Cruise Lines for the Money

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Best Cruise Lines for Families

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Best Cruise Lines for Couples

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  • # 3 Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Best Cruise Lines in the Caribbean

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Best Cruise Lines in the Mediterranean

  • # 3 Celebrity Cruises

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Compare Major Cruise Lines – A Guide To Choosing The Perfect Cruise Brand

Cruise lines compared – the difference in major cruise lines explained..

Choosing a cruise is a complex task matching dates, excursions, ports, and destinations with a brand that is likely to deliver the experience you want. Many first-time cruisers don’t understand the difference in what each cruise line & brand can offer, so we’re breaking it down by major cruise line and doing the work to compare cruise lines based on our experience cruising for over 20 years!

Comparison of the major cruise lines – our guide.

The differences in cruise lines can be substantial and contribute to how much you enjoy your vacation!

We’ll list each major mass-market brand cruise brand along with an overview of their target demographic and some pros & cons of each cruise line.

Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL):

Norwegian Cruise Line , founded in 1966 is most commonly associated with “Freestyle Cruising”, a concept where there are set seating times in restaurants, no formal nights, and an overall casual atmosphere. This concept is so popular among NCL loyal cruisers that other brands such as Celebrity Cruises have started to add options for open dining times.

The fleet of ships that NCL has is also considered one of the newest and most modern. With each ship, they push the boundaries with “thrills at sea” which include unique activities like go-carts, laser tag, water slides, and more.

Norwegian Cruises is also known for its vast selection of specialty restaurants on its ships and is generally regarded by cruisers as some of the best food of all cruise lines.

NCL also offers generous promotions on a regular basis with their “Free At Sea” program where you can select an open bar (Free Beverage Package), specialty dining, internet, and more.

  • Continue Reading: First Time Cruise Tips – A guide for your first cruise.

What is Norwegian’s target market & demographic?

As with every cruise, the clientele varies widely, but NCL. For shorter cruises, especially in the Caribbean, there tend to be a lot of families and young couples. On longer cruises, European itineraries, and Transatlantic cruises , there are fewer children and the age tends to be 50’s+ on average. Keep in mind that NCL is one of those cruise lines that try to have something for everyone.

Pros of Norwegian Cruise Line

  • Casual atmosphere
  • No assigned dining times
  • A very modern & updated fleet
  • Generous promotions such as “Free At See” open bar
  • Generally very good entertainment in the theaters including some Broadway-quality performances
  • A huge number of dining options
  • Food quality

Cons of Norwegian Cruise Line

  • Time in port is often too short
  • Excursions are expensive
  • The embarkation process is sometimes long and disorganized
  • Gratuities and fees add up fast
  • Some cruisers comment how onboard activities are limited
  • Without a drink package, the prices of beverages are eye-watering
  • Achieving status in the loyalty program ( Lattitudes Rewards ) has become more difficult

Norwegian (NCL) Encore Interior Phots : compare cruise lines

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Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival isn’t the world’s largest or most popular cruise line for no reason. They provide an experience many people want for a vacation and appeal to just about every walk of life.

Carnival is synonymous with having fun! This is why they are called “Fun Ships”! If you ask any experienced cruiser their opinion about Carnival, they’ll either LOVE it or HATE it. Taking a cruise on Carnival is a relatively unique experience when compared to traditional cruise lines. Admittedly, I normally enjoy a more traditional cruise, but I always have a lot of fun on a short or last-minute cruise with Carnival.

Among the main reasons that Carnival is so popular is their affordable options to take a cruise and visit some amazing sunny locations in the Caribbean. This often lures first-time cruisers looking to try a cruise and see if it’s right for them.

Carnival does one of the best jobs in entertaining passengers throughout the day that I’ve ever experienced on a cruise. There’s always SOMETHING going on somewhere on the ship whether it’s Bingo, a cooking demonstration, a mixology class, or karaoke – you’ll find something entertaining. A lot of it is pretty “cheezy”, but certainly still fun!

Unlike some cruise lines, Cunard, for example, a Carnival cruise is not the vacation you want if you’re seeing a cultural experience or enrichment programs.

Pros of Carnival Cruise Line

  • Enthusiastic crew
  • A diverse passenger type
  • Affordable (Usually)
  • Something for everyone
  • Great for multi-generational families
  • It’s not at all stuffy like some traditional cruise lines
  • More free dining options than many other cruise lines

Cons of Carnival Cruise Line

  • Older fleet in general
  • Sometimes passengers push the “fun” in “fun ship” a little too far by over-imbibing and causing problems.
  • The entertainment can be less than impressive
  • Dining is average

Who is Carnival’s target market & demographic?

Carnival Cruise Line does an amazing job of catering to people of all demographics and ages. You’ll be hard-pressed to explain to someone what the “majority” of the passengers are like on a Carnival cruise. It’s impossible. You’ll see young people, solo cruisers, the elderly, all races and socioeconomic levels represented.

The great thing about Carnival is its family-friendly approach when it comes to Cruising, so you’ll often see multi-generational family groups. No matter who you are, you’ll enjoy yourself as long as you are ok with being in a mixed environment of all types of people from different cultures and backgrounds having a lot of fun.

Royal Caribbean International

Royal Caribbean does a great job of bridging the gap between a more traditional cruise experience and the ultra-casual cruise experience offered on Carnival (or even NCL). The focus is on the biggest and most innovative ships at sea. A year can barely pass before you hear about Royal Caribbean launching even a newer, bigger ship. Seeing some of their mega-ships is truly mindblowing.

Royal Caribbean pioneered the wild experiences on board and made these experiences as much of a reason to cruise with them as the actual ports and itineraries. The innovative onboard activities are so unique that other cruise lines have tried to one-up Royal Caribbean with their own insane ideas of onboard activities (for example NCL’s go-karts on the Encore).

On a modern Royal Caribbean ship, you’ll see crazy things like a surf pool, ice skating, the world’s tallest slide at sea, and even rollercoasters.

The atmosphere is decidedly more upscale than other lines such as Carnival but not stuffy. It’s still casual with plenty of fun to be had albeit slightly more reserved.

For Caribbean destinations, a stop at their private island is often part of the itinerary. The private island is widely regarded as one of the best private destinations any cruise line has to offer which includes a huge waterpark, freshwater pools a bunch of eating options, and bars.

Pros of Royal Caribbean

  • Friendly crew
  • Wide range of itineraries and prices
  • Huge and amazing ships.
  • Upscale feeling
  • Private Island of CocoCay

Cons of Royal Caribbean

  • Expensive drink packages
  • Infrequent promotions
  • Slightly more reserved entertainment options

Royal Caribbean’s target market & clientele

Royal Caribbean Cruises are known to be a hit, especially with families. They have designed the largest cruise ships in the world that mimic small floating cities. Within these cities, there are water parks, slides, arcades, and fun for passengers of all ages.

A more casual and laid-back environment makes it a pleasure for vacationers who just want to have a good time and not worry about elaborate dress codes (though they do have dress-up nights as well). The bottom line is they cater to a wide variety of clientele, but families will appreciate these ships the most!

Virgin Voyages

Virgin Voyages is the newest and most exciting cruise line to launch in decades. With its adult-only theme (18+), it creates an environment where entertainment is unrestrained and uncensored. The new cruise line has 2 newly built ships in its fleet, with two more on the way, with a capacity of approximately 2,700 passengers. The two current ships are the Scarlet Lady and Valiant Lady with the Brilliant Lady and Resilient Lady due to arrive next year (2023).

  • Read : Virgin Voyages, a Guide to Everything You Need to Know

The Virgin ships are designed to be more like megayachts than they are traditional cruise ships. Spaces on the ships are designed around a more adult atmosphere which includes activities like tattoos and piercings and a nightclub that is far superior to any “club” on a more typical cruise ship.

Virgin has chosen to target a more active and modern clientele (think GenX / GenZ) that tends to get into more fitness and yoga-related classes. Additionally, there is an emphasis on the food served throughout the ships.

Virgin Voyages is MOSTLY all-inclusive. They make a big point of where tips are included in all of the pricing, so you’ll never see extra items on a bill for daily gratuities or an additional mandatory tip added to your services on board. That said, the biggest thing NOT included on Virgin is alcohol, and there’s not an option to buy a drink package. But the prices are reasonable and compared to on land restaurants & bars.

Their answer to a drink package is a “Bar Tab” sold in $300 increments and often includes an incentive for purchasing a bar tab (i.e. $50 extra for the bar tab for every $300 or on occasion up to $125 extra bar tab with a $300 purchase). It’s important to note that the bar tab can only be used for drinks and unused balances at the end of the trip are not refunded.

Pros of Virgin Voyages

  • Diverse & Engaging crew
  • New luxury ships with a unique theme
  • Adults Only
  • Overnight itineraries
  • Affordable drinks
  • Huge option of specialty dining, all included

Cons of Virgin Voyages

  • No drink packages
  • Limited entertainment options
  • Older cruisers may feel out of their element
  • Small pool areas

What kind of passengers are Virgin Voyages hoping for?

Virgin has reimagined the cruise experience by targeting a group of people like Gen X that value experiences including health & wellness. Foodies are in heaven and Virgin wants to point that out with their variety of specialty dining options, all included in the price. Virgin is targeting a traveler type that can’t be bothered by kids on their vacation, wants an experience where they’re not nickel and dimed, and has a very adult theme. It’s not for everyone, but most people who have tried Virgin seem to really enjoy it!

Holland America Line

Holland America cruises can most accurately be called “classic”. The atmosphere, experience, and overall operations are what you would think of as a modern version of the good old days of cruising. Holland America Line usually attracts a slightly older crowd who appreciates finer things about going on a cruise like good food, impeccable service, and formal nights.

TIP : Let me be clear on ONE misconception about the demographics of Holland America. I’m in my 40s and think it’s one of the best options of upscale cruising. Never do I feel as if I’m too young or the other passengers are “too old”. Everyone is having a great time, regardless of age. In fact, many passengers who were my seniors, were able to have more fun than *I* was!

So if you’re not sure whether or not you should try Holland America because of your age, you really shouldn’t worry – give it a try, it’s pretty amazing.

Entertainment that includes live music and activities that include educational programs & enrichment programs attract a loyal and arguably more refined clientele. Some of these programs include cooking demonstrations, wine tastings, and various classes.

The ships of Holland America Line are beautiful, elegant, and modern without being over the top. Food choices are abundant and the quality is superior to most mass-market cruise lines. For this experience, however, you’ll pay more than you might on similar cruise lines.

You rarely hear any pros & cons when it comes to Holland America. The choice to sail on this type of ship rarely includes any downside. People who really enjoy this brand of cruising, appreciate that the experience isn’t geared toward having children everywhere. So while it’s not an “Adult” cruise, the lack of rowdy children on most voyages is appreciated by Holland America cruisers.

  • Read : Holland America Rotterdam Cruise Ship – Reviewed

Pros of Holland America Line

  • Beautiful classic ships with a modern feel
  • Great food options & quality
  • Nearly All-inclusive options available
  • Better itineraries than many lines
  • A generally higher-end clientele
  • Affordable add-ons and up-charges when they exist
  • Reasonable drink and specialty dining prices

Cons of Holland America Line

  • Tend to be more expensive
  • The line is making voyages longer and fewer shorter itineraries

Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Cruises has been one of our favorite cruise lines in the past. Celebrity blends a mix of a modern experience, beautiful ships, and an upscale vibe across their entire fleet. The cruise line has ships to fit just about any demographic and taste including older, but incredibly well-maintained ships for the classic cruise experience to the newer mega ships that attract people who go on a cruise for the “big ship” experience.

People also tend to agree that Celebrity has some of the best food options in their included main dining rooms. To enjoy some of the highest quality food, visiting (and paying for) a specialty restaurant is often required. With Celebrity, passengers rave about the food throughout the ships (and I used to agree!)

Note : On the last couple of Celebrity voyages, I feel like the brand has had the biggest decline in overall experience due to cutbacks.

Speaking of food and restaurant options, Celebrity has also introduced a dine-any-time concept rather than a strict time slot for your meals. This is available on a limited basis, presumably, so they can accommodate the open dining request without sacrificing service quality. Following NCL’s “Freestyle Dining” concept which is popular among Norwegian clientele.

While Celebrity has family-friendly activities and accommodations for children, the cruises are rarely overrun by kids as you find on a Royal Caribbean or Carnival cruise. The absence of water parks, slides, and other kid-oriented activities usually has families with children looking elsewhere for a cruise. This might change, however. Celebrity has started marketing more towards families and the newer ships have much more to offer passengers of all ages, even the young ones.

Even though Celebrity Cruises has a relaxed vibe, they still have dress-up nights and events that are dressier.

Another selling point of Celebrity is having a nearly all-inclusive option for their bookings. This is a rarity among the mass market cruise lines. In 2020, fares were introduced that included unlimited drinks, Wi-Fi, and daily gratuities (as of mid-2023, gratuities are no longer included in the All Included fares). There are also options for a “cruise only” rate for those who don’t need the perks of the all-inclusive rate.

Pros of Celebrity Cruises

  • Incredibly maintained and luxurious ships with cutting-edge design.
  • Known for amazing food quality
  • (nearly) All-inclusive options available
  • A feeling of being posh without a snob vibe
  • Amazing spa facilities (on most ships)

Cons of Celebrity Cruises

  • All-inclusive fares have a very basic drink package included

What kind of passengers are Celebrity Cruises targeting?

In short, passengers who enjoy a premium experience with value make up the majority of the travel demographic. Many millennials and “GEN X” ages find that when it comes to cruising, Celebrity fits their expectations perfectly. Travelers who want a nice, upscale experience without breaking the bank rule the Celebrity demographic.

MSC Cruises

MSC Cruises are unique as they have recently made a push into the North American market after originating in Europe (originally as a shipping company). MSC has done an amazing job of designing big and beautiful new cruise ships and making them accessible with more friendly pricing models for a wider variety of consumers. However, with those pricing models comes some confusion.

MSC breaks down their fares by “experience” such as ‘Bella’ which is the base fare and most affordable to the Area which is more inclusive and allows for open dining rather than fixed times with the Fantastica experience being in between these which is what you would expect for most general booking types on other cruise lines. The reality is, that having to go through a grid of what’s included, especially if you’re a first-time cruiser, can be daunting and take away from the overall vacation excitement.

That said, the ships, once on board, are generally very nice and friendly to all types of cruisers from first-timers to experienced cruisers and people who enjoy traveling with family. Our experience with MSC definitely pointed out that the European origination of the cruise line has seen nearly the entire ship full of multi-generational family groups taking large group vacations together.

MSC is catching up to what other cruise lines are making a part of the modern cruise experience including a focus on wellness, specialty dining, suites, entertainment, and a plethora of nice bars with drink packages.

When it comes to food options most travelers consider the food “average” and you never hear much about how amazing the food is on MSC like you do on Celebrity or Norwegian.

The best way to describe MSC is “You get what you pay for”. You can have an affordable and amazing family vacation, but don’t expect to be wowed by the food, service, or general experience. But the reality is, sailing on MSC is going to be enjoyable, at least as enjoyable as you make it.

Pros of MSC Cruises

  • Modern & well-designed ships
  • Wellness-focused programs are available

Cons of MSC Cruises

  • Food is average
  • The service level isn’t quite what you’d expect from a large cruise line
  • Expect to see a wide variety of travelers and international travelers which may be difficult to understand (in both language and behavior)
  • Upcharges for many things on the ships (including the ability to choose your cabin)
  • Confusing “experience” options to choose from

Who would enjoy MSC Cruises? What is their target market?

MSC is great for a family that wants to try a cruise and isn’t sure if the experience of cruising is for them. It provides a range of options for the frugal traveler or even for the experienced cruiser who enjoys the higher end of travel such as Yacht Club Suites and concierge service. Travelers who want to try a cruise with multiple families or multi-generational travel groups will enjoy an MSC Cruise.

MSC Meraviglia Pool Deck - Cruise Gear

Princess Cruises

Princess became famous and a household brand name with the series “The Love Boat”. Princess Cruises is the epitome of traditional cruising and lives up to the tradition of what a traveler would expect if they had been on a cruise 20 or 30 years ago. While Princess Cruises has evolved to match some of the more modern cruise expectations like open dining times and drink packages, it still maintains the classic spirit of what a cruise should be. What makes Princess Cruises special is the ambiance and services. In general, the clientele still enjoys dressing nicely for dinners and appreciates a high level of service.

In recent years, Princess has added more and more specialty dining options to their ships with prices in line with most other cruise lines that offer specialty dining. For foodies booking a cruise, it’s important to know that each ship may be different with dining options, so check carefully to make sure what you expect, in fact, exists on the ship you’re planning on booking.

Like MSC, Princess has taken a package or “experience” approach to their bookings. Simply a “good, better, best” approach – there are three ways to book your voyage. Essentially there is a Cruise Only fare, there is a fare that includes basic drinks (up to $12), and a “Premier” experience fare which includes premium beverages, wifi, specialty dining (depending on the length of the cruise), and photography packages. Compared to how other mainstream cruise lines price dining and beverage packages, the 3 tiers of Princess Cruises make a great value.

Pros of Princess Cruises

  • Classic cruising experience
  • Appeals to new and experienced cruisers
  • A wide variety of itineraries
  • Complimentary Room Service

Cons of Princess Cruises

  • The highest fare level can get expensive fast
  • Ships vary making it difficult to determine what features may be on some ships versus others. (Makes choosing hard!)

Princess Cruises - Pool decks and sun areas

Cunard Line

Mention taking a transatlantic crossing/cruise on the Queen Mary 2 to anyone, and nearly all the time the topic of the Titanic comes up! Other than the sinking part, the experience is as glamorous as you’d imagine the Titanic was.

Cunard ships (Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria, and Queen Elizabeth) are not just cruise ships, but luxury ocean liners meant to traverse the globe and cut through high seas with elegance. (QM2 and the upcoming Queen Anne are TRUE ocean liners with reinforced hulls, etc.).

Taking a cruise with Cunard is a unique experience where well-dressed passengers dominate dining rooms and multiple formal nights occur on every voyage. The experience on board these ships while elegant also has an accessible vibe. Passengers appreciate the old-world luxury cruising standards while also enjoying lounging around pools in shorts. The idea of a Cunard cruise may turn people off who aren’t into formal nights and sailing on ships that lack the modern crazy facilities like race tracks and water slides at sea.

What makes Cunard unique, aside from being the only cruise line with regularly scheduled transatlantic crossings, is the enrichment and entertainment programs offered on the ships. Being a transportation method for many decades, Cunard has nailed down how to keep people entertained for 7 days at sea with unique programs that focus on different topics, guest speakers, performances, etc. Enrichment programs include authors, journalists, musicians, designers, and scientists who conduct sessions and speaking performances on intriguing topics.

Service is top-notch on all Cunard ships and the cabins are sophisticated but not overdone or ‘stuffy’.

Pros of Cunard Line Cruises

  • Beautiful classic ships
  • Elegant without being pretentious
  • Amazing service
  • Unique programs and entertainment
  • You’ll meet people of all types including Royalty and Movie Stars!

Cons of Cunard Line Cruises

  • Traditions that may not suit all travelers such as true formal nights
  • Small pools
  • Limited specialty dining options
  • Group seating in the main dining rooms

Queen Mary 2 - QM2 main corridor at Christmas PHOTO

Disney Cruises

Disney! Well, there isn’t much to say about it because it’s the happiest place ON THE SEA. We’re putting Disney on the list here because it’s on our bucket list to try and give a full review. Until then, check out this amazing review of what to expect on a Disney cruise .

Do you have a suggestion?

Did we miss something? Do you want to add an idea? Just submit a comment below!

Phil Crane

Cruise Gear Editor

I'm a global nomad at heart, and the dedicated editor behind CruiseGear. For the past two decades, I've experienced exciting voyages across the world, discovering countless ports from the decks of dozens of ships, visiting 40+ countries (and living in some of them for years). It's been an exhilarating journey to say the least! I want to share everything I've learned and hope to make your next cruise vacation as enjoyable as possible.

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cruise line prices compared

The 9 best luxury cruise lines for elegance and exclusivity

Fran Golden

Like fine European hotels or the fanciest boutique properties, the ships of the best luxury cruise lines are designed to appeal to people who seek — and can afford — an elegant style of travel.

Champagne flows. You can snack on caviar. Exquisite cuisine is prepared a la minute and accompanied by pours of fine wines. Onboard lounges are wonderfully intimate, with no mass-market anything. When you rest your head, it's on a luxury mattress topped with the finest linens.

For more cruise guides, news and tips, sign up for TPG's cruise newsletter .

The byword is exclusivity. Perks included in the cruise fare may include beverages, Wi-Fi, fresh flowers, extraordinary pampering and, in some cases, butler service.

The price to get on board could be $1,000 per person, per day. For top suites, it could be much, much more.

Here are our picks for the top nine luxury cruise lines currently operating.

Atlas Ocean Voyages

cruise line prices compared

Catering to adventurous luxury cruise travelers with money to spend, the new cruise line Atlas Ocean Voyages , which debuted in the summer of 2021, offers upscale experiences on small ships that carry just 196 passengers.

World Navigator, World Traveller and World Voyager, the first three of five planned vessels in the fleet, carry their own landing craft, Jet Skis, kayaks and paddleboards, all of which can be used by passengers wishing for some adventure while exploring the world on itineraries that include the Mediterranean, Portugal and the British Isles, as well as more remote locales like the Arctic and Antarctica.

Although the onboard dress code is casual, the ships are anything but, featuring elegant, retro-chic decor and marble floors.

In addition to including Wi-Fi, crew gratuities, alcohol and some shore excursions in its fares, Atlas provides all passengers with emergency medical evacuation insurance to handle unexpected illness or injury in the remote locations its ships sail.

Overall, Atlas has found a way to seamlessly meld swank and leisure, making it one of our favorite luxury cruise lines.

Related: 5 fabulous destinations for luxury cruise fans

Silversea Cruises

cruise line prices compared

Silversea , with a dozen 100- to 728-passenger ships, has some of the most diverse geographic itineraries of any line, bringing guests to destinations around the world, including such remote places as the Arctic and Antarctica.

Now owned by Royal Caribbean Group (the same company that owns Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises ), the luxury cruise line delivers stylish, contemporary luxury — more streamlined than opulent — complemented by pleasantly extreme pampering.

Every Silversea ship passenger stays in a suite with a butler delivering superb service — even on the 100-passenger Silver Origin in the remote Galapagos, where your butler might take extraordinary care to get a spot off your hiking boots. Suite niceties include Bulgari bath products and marble bathrooms with both tubs and showers.

Silversea ships offer a wide choice of dining venues (some with a fee) designed to satisfy many tastes, whether you prefer sushi, foie gras or a great, thin-crust pizza.

Drinks are on the house, including a long list of fine wine pours. S.A.L.T., a new dining and culinary education concept, brings local tastes on board together with experts who share insight into each dish and beverage. The program also features culinary-focused excursions ashore.

Silversea's expedition ships are equipped for polar locales. On sailings in those regions, each passenger receives a free jacket to keep them warm and cozy.

Related: Why Silversea's new Silver Nova is a game-changer

Regent Seven Seas Cruises

cruise line prices compared

Another of our top luxury cruise lines, Regent Seven Seas Cruises is proudly opulent. Floating palaces are its calling card, along with the most inclusive fares of all the luxury lines. Business-class airfare, pre-cruise luxury hotel stays and shore excursions in every port are on the long list of perks.

The goal is knock-you-off-your-feet luxury. If you don't get that point at first, look down at the many yards of Carrara marble under your feet, then gaze up at the Czech crystal chandeliers. Or spot the Picassos and Chagalls among your ship's stunning, mostly Latin-focused art collections.

The six 490- to 750-passenger ships in the Regent fleet get fancier as they get larger. On the three newest, Seven Seas Explorer, Seven Seas Splendor and Seven Seas Grandeur everyone stays in a roomy suite with an oversized balcony and marble bathroom.

The top Regent Suites on these new ships are mansions at sea and come with solariums, private spas with saunas and steam rooms and Steinway pianos in their living rooms. They also have handmade beds that cost up to $200,000 apiece.

Lavishly decked-out restaurants, with cushy bars nearby, include Prime 7, a fan favorite for its classic steakhouse menu, including jumbo lump crab cakes, U.S.D.A. prime-aged beef and Alaskan king crab legs.

Related: 5 secrets to getting a luxury cruise for less

cruise line prices compared

Long considered one of the great luxury lines, if not the greatest, Crystal just resumed operations in 2023 after shutting down during the COVID-19 pandemic. And as we wrote about recently, it's as good as ever .

In the wake of its comeback, Crystal is operating just the two biggest ocean ships from its past: the 606-passenger Crystal Symphony and 740-passenger Crystal Serenity (though it already has plans for an expansion ). Both of the vessels, which globetrot around the world, are all-inclusive and on the glitzy side — perfect for a crowd looking for a throwback. Passengers make appearances walking down grand staircases dressed to the nines, meet for afternoon tea and dance the night away.

Everything operates in the upper-tier way, from the spa and expansive fitness offerings to the restaurants — which include a Nobu eatery.

Those booked in penthouses and higher-category suites receive service from a tuxedo-clad butler who will do everything from unpacking your luggage to helping you set up a private cocktail party. A particular perk is having the butler bring Nobu sushi on a silver tray.

cruise line prices compared

Owned by Carnival Corporation, Seabourn 's top-of-the-line, 264- to 600-passenger ships deliver comfortable, modern luxury that can be as fancy or casual as you like.

If you want to show off your heirloom jewels, go ahead, but on most nights, a jacket is optional in the ship's restaurants. If you prefer not to dress up for formal night, you can still eat well at casual alternatives.

High service is a trademark of this luxury cruise line. Your suite steward will draw you a bath scented with your choice of bath oil. For a snack, order the complimentary caviar.

Dining is over the top at the restaurants, such as the retro-chic steakhouses with menus created by famed chef Thomas Keller (of French Laundry fame). When you tire of prime beef, order lobster thermidor or sink into the delicious comfort of Keller's roast chicken. All dining is included in your fare.

Throughout the ship, complimentary spirits, fine wines and house Champagne flow freely. This leads to easy socializing in the bars and lounges on board.

The line's two newest ships, the 264-passenger Seabourn Venture and Seabourn Pursuit, are built with a tough "polar class" design to operate in the ice-filled waters of the Arctic and Antarctica. They're equipped with state-of-the-art submarines for undersea views.

A 26-person expedition team runs the two dozen Zodiacs that get you up close to glaciers and icebergs.

Paul Gauguin Cruises

cruise line prices compared

Looking to sail through romantic French Polynesia in complete luxury? Look to South Pacific-based Paul Gauguin for an all-inclusive, high-end home base.

The ship is immersed in all things Polynesian, with a troupe of local performers on board to entertain guests with local song, dance and craft lessons.

Couples can embrace the romance of the region by participating in a Polynesian blessing ceremony. Paul Gauguin gives its guests special access to a secluded beach on Bora Bora and a private island off the coast of Taha'a, where you can indulge in water sports, a gourmet barbecue and bar service.

To make the most of the aquamarine waters, complimentary water sports, such as paddleboarding and kayaking, are available straight from the ship's marina and every guest receives snorkel gear for use during the cruise, free of charge.

On board, guests enjoy five-star French and Polynesian cuisine, with all beverages complimentary throughout the ship and in your in-room minifridge.

With 209 crew members on hand to serve 330 passengers, service is top-notch and full of Polynesian hospitality, but all gratuities are already included in your fare.

Not all cabins are suites, but the top suites on the ship come with butler service. Also, should you dare to consider the outside world, you can connect with friends and family back home with complimentary Wi-Fi throughout the ship.

Related: 7 things to do in French Polynesia that don't involve romance or over-water bungalows

Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours

cruise line prices compared

Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours puts the elegance into adventure with its two 228-passenger expedition yachts, Scenic Eclipse and Scenic Eclipse II.

Sure, its ships have reinforced hulls capable of breaking through ice, but they also feature chic bars serving 130 different kinds of whiskey (all included in your fare) and high-end onboard spas (treatments cost extra, alas).

For small ships, Scenic's yachts still manage to offer five gourmet dining venues, plus additional private dining options (such as a chef's table or teppanyaki grill), room service and culinary masterclasses in a show kitchen.

Sample candied foie gras, daily risottos or sushi made with fish flown from Japan, all while sailing through remote waters. Wash it down with whatever you like because all but the most premium beverages are included.

After a long day of Zodiac, submersible or helicopter rides (yes, all these high-tech exploration toys are on board), you can retreat to your well-appointed suite, with distinct sleeping and living areas, plus a balcony.

Thoughtful touches include Illy coffee machines, Dyson hair dryers, remote-control adjustable beds, plentiful outlets and USB ports, and umbrellas and binoculars for use on your vacation. Did we mention you also have access to a butler for all your onboard needs?

Scenic's all-inclusive fares include dining and drinks, Wi-Fi, gratuities, airport transfers and shore excursions led by the line's knowledgeable expedition leaders.

Related: I didn't think I'd like my first Arctic expedition cruise; here's what proved me wrong

Oceania Cruises

Sometimes luxury means more space to spread out and multiple onboard options for a truly outstanding meal.

That's the approach upscale cruise line Oceania Cruises takes with its fleet of seven 648- to 1,238-passenger ships (the last of which, Oceania Vista , just debuted in May 2023 and is its most elegant yet).

Foodies will drool over menus overseen by Master Chef Jacques Pepin in all-included venues specializing in French, Italian, Asian and steakhouse cuisine.

Cruisers truly passionate about food and wine will want to splurge on wine-paired dinners at La Reserve by Wine Spectator or enjoy a gourmet, multi-course menu with an intimate group at Privee.

Get hands-on cooking experience with a class in The Culinary Center or explore the food culture ashore with a Culinary Discovery Tour.

Oceania also embraces wellness with its Aquamar Spa and Vitality Center. Treat yourself to a decadent spa treatment or wellness-themed shore excursion, or take care of your body with complimentary fitness classes and plant-based menus at onboard restaurants.

Oceania's fares are not as inclusive as some of the small-ship lines mentioned above, but guests can choose a higher-priced fare that is more inclusive with the line's "simply MORE" promotion. These fares include free airfare and airport transfers, complimentary Wi-Fi and a choice of a select number of free excursions, as well as free specialty dining reservations, Champagne and wine.

cruise line prices compared

Viking does not like to call itself a luxury cruise line, but we'd definitely put it in that category for the inclusive fares, fine dining and smart design of its ocean-going ships.

Its 10 traditional cruise ships are nearly identical, each carrying 930 guests, while two expedition vessels carry 378 guests and combine elegant design with the latest technology in polar exploration.

Viking's fares are inclusive but not all-inclusive, and its ships sport clean Scandinavian design rather than opulent decor. Necessities such as Wi-Fi and self-serve laundry are complimentary, as are all nonalcoholic beverages and beer and wine with lunch and dinner.

Guests can enjoy dining in multiple onboard venues, plus room service, for no extra cost. Don't miss the Italian Manfredi's or a gorgeous afternoon tea spread in the glass-enclosed Wintergarden.

Cabins may not have an overtly opulent feel, but they have all the right touches, including balconies in every room, quiet-closing drawers, heated bathroom floors and plentiful USB ports and outlets.

The destination-focused cruise line adds as many days in port as it can to each itinerary and offers a free shore excursion in every port.

Viking ships have a large presence in Europe, sailing the Mediterranean and in northern Europe, but also explore the world from Alaska and the Caribbean to Asia and Australia.

Related: The 5 best destinations you can visit on a Viking ship

Its expedition ships, Viking Polaris and Viking Octantis, explore Antarctica, as well as the Great Lakes and Canada.

The ships boast several expedition cruising firsts, including a boarding area for excursion craft that's inside the ship (rather than docked outside it) and cabins with floor-to-ceiling glass windows that slide open to let in the fresh air.

Like the ocean ships, they feature Scandinavian design, a glass-walled Explorers' Lounge and signature Viking restaurants Manfredi's and Mamsen's (offering Norwegian specialties).

Planning a cruise? Start with these stories:

  • The ultimate guide to picking a cruise line
  • The 5 most desirable cabin locations on any cruise ship
  • The 8 worst cabin locations on any cruise ship
  • A quick guide to the most popular cruise lines
  • 21 tips and tricks that will make your cruise go smoothly
  • 15 ways cruisers waste money
  • 15 best cruise ships for people who never want to grow up
  • What to pack for a cruise
  • Guide to picking a cruise

U.S. News Announces the 2023 Best Cruise Lines

Virgin Voyages earns its first No. 1 ranking in the Best for the Money category.

U.S. News 2023 Best Cruise Lines

Washington, D.C. – U.S. News & World Report, publisher of Best Hotels , Best Vacations and Best Travel Rewards Programs , today released its annual rankings of the Best Cruise Lines .

The 2023 rankings highlight 17 cruise lines to help every type of traveler find the cruise that’s right for them. For the first time, Virgin Voyages takes the No. 1 spot in the Best Cruise Lines for the Money ranking, offering the best value among cruise lines. U.S. News considered the overall cruise line quality and average base fare per night, as well as extra benefits such as free gratuities, Wi-Fi access and all-inclusive package options. Carnival Cruise Line, known for its budget-friendly fares and frequent sales, and Celebrity Cruises, which offers a more upscale experience at reasonable rates, rank No. 2 and No. 3, respectively.

For the ninth consecutive year, Disney Cruise Line is the Best Cruise Line for Families . The family-oriented line offers ships with character meet-and-greets, themed dinners, nighttime fireworks, waterslides and more. Royal Caribbean International comes in at No. 2, thanks to its onboard amenities that cater to guests of all ages, while Carnival Cruise Line ranks No. 3, offering family-friendly perks like water parks, basketball courts and ropes courses on its ships.

"After more than two years of sailing restrictions and limited voyage options due to the coronavirus pandemic, cruisers and cruise lines are excited to be on the seas again,'' said Nicola Wood, senior travel editor at U.S. News. "The Best Cruise Lines rankings evaluate a variety of cruise types, making it easy for travelers to find the best options that fit their budgets, cruising styles and desired destinations."

U.S. News ranks cruise lines in six categories: Best Cruise Lines for the Money, Best Cruise Lines for Families, Best Cruise Lines for Couples, Best Cruise Lines in the Caribbean, Best Cruise Lines in the Mediterranean and Best Luxury Cruise Lines. The rankings follow a comprehensive, transparent methodology that factors in expert evaluations of ship quality, traveler ratings, health assessment results and more.

This year's rankings are accompanied by editorial roundups of the top gay cruises for 2023, the top cruise lines for solo travelers and the best cruise insurance ; each piece aims to provide helpful advice and planning information to a wide community of cruisers. U.S. News also offers additional cruise tips and recommendations, such as what to pack on a cruise , the top river cruise lines , fun adults-only cruises and more.

2023 Best Cruise Lines Rankings

See the full rankings here .

Best Cruise Lines for the Money 1. Virgin Voyages 2. Carnival Cruise Line 3. Celebrity Cruises

Best Cruise Lines for Families 1. Disney Cruise Line 2. Royal Caribbean International 3. Carnival Cruise Line

Best Cruise Lines for Couples 1. Viking Ocean Cruises 2. Seabourn Cruise Line 3. Azamara

Best Cruise Lines in the Caribbean 1. Disney Cruise Line 2. Virgin Voyages 3. Celebrity Cruises

Best Cruise Lines in the Mediterranean 1. Viking Ocean Cruises 2. Seabourn Cruise Line 3. Azamara

Best Luxury Cruise Lines 1. Viking Ocean Cruises 2. Seabourn Cruise Line 3. Regent Seven Seas Cruises

For more information on the Best Cruise Lines , explore Facebook , Twitter and Instagram using #BestCruises.

Media Contact: Michelle Day, [email protected] , 202-955-2212

About U.S. News & World Report U.S. News & World Report is the global leader in quality rankings that empower consumers, business leaders and policy officials to make better, more informed decisions about important issues affecting their lives and communities. A multifaceted digital media company with Education, Health, Money, Travel, Cars, News, Real Estate and 360 Reviews platforms, U.S. News provides rankings, independent reporting, data journalism, consumer advice and U.S. News Live events. More than 40 million people visit USNews.com each month for research and guidance. Founded in 1933, U.S. News is headquartered in Washington, D.C.

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Find the best cruise vacation for you

How can i find a cheap cruise.

Cheap cruise deals are fairly easy to find in most cases, and you can begin by considering what kind of features and itinerary you want. The more simplistic the experience is, the cheaper it is in general. On Expedia.com, you can filter for specific features and sort your results by price. By mixing and matching certain features, unforgettable experiences may be available with discount cruises. For example, booking a cruise with stunning restaurants and live performances while opting for an inside cabin without an ocean view window or balcony could be ideal for a traveler who doesn't plan on spending much time in their cabin anyways

What is the cheapest month to take a cruise?

The cheapest month to take a cruise varies based on your destination and the cruise line company that runs the ship. A Caribbean cruise , for example, is generally cheapest in the late summer and early fall since it's the local hurricane season.

Can I cancel my cruise booking?

Yes, you can cancel, but there may be fees for canceling depending on how far in advance you cancel and what kind of booking you have. You can check the specific cruise lines’ cancellation policies in your itinerary on Expedia.com.

Are river cruises worth the money?

River cruises are quite relaxing, with much more varied scenery than you'd experience on an ocean cruise. These ships often also feature several stops along the river, so passengers can enjoy a greater variety of destinations to explore. Viking river cruises are especially adept at providing this unforgettable experience.

What cruises are best for families?

The best family cruises in 2024 / 2025 tend to be Disney cruises with plenty of offerings for kids and adults alike, though MSC cruises are known for their iconic Children Cruise Free promotion. Disney cruises, specifically, are essentially a Disney theme park on a boat with live shows, rides, and attractions with your kids' favorite characters.

How much does a cruise ship cost?

Cruise prices can vary quite a bit, with cheap cruises and especially luxurious all-inclusive cruises available. Budget lines can offer cruise tickets as low as $50 per night in some cases, while the more high-end experiences can reach up to $1,000 per night and more.

What are some of the best cruise lines?

Several different cruise lines have a lot to offer, such as Viking cruises , which are known for traversing oceans and rivers with a style that blends outdoor and indoor splendor. Celebrity cruise line is more upscale with luxurious features like WiFi, included beverages, champagne, and suites with panoramic views. Other top cruise lines include Royal Caribbean International , Carnival Cruise , Disney Cruise , and Norwegian Cruise .

How far in advance do you need to book a cruise?

It's generally best to book a cruise about 6 to 12 months before your cruise departure. That's the safest way to balance availability and affordability. Technically, you can book earlier or later than that, with some last-minute cruise deals occasionally available up to a weekbefore cruise departure.

Are cruise trips affordable?

They can be, and it's especially simple to search for more affordable cruises with Expedia.com. Not only can you filter by cruise length, cruise line, and cabin experience, but you may also sort your results by price to put the more affordable options first on your search results page.

What is it like to go on a cruise?

A cruise is generally designed to offer the most relaxing experience possible. Despite the size of the ship, it's possible to feel the wave. Many passengers report that the movements help them sleep. Additionally, many fun cruises offer live stage performances, several restaurants, and shopping opportunities. When the ship is in international waters, you may even be able to enjoy a bit of tax-free shopping.

Are cruises a good way to travel?

Cruise travel is great if you're looking for some varied fun. Compared to a plane or a train, cruises have their own attractions and can be considered an integral part of cruise vacations. Plus, a cruise can hit several different destinations as well, with plenty of time to enjoy the cruise and scenic locales. It's certainly worth it for a unique experience no other method of travel can match.

Which cruise line is the cheapest?

The actual cheapest cruise available depends on a variety of different factors. Still, Carnival Cruise tends to be very affordable overall, most of the time with great options like the Carnival Sunrise and Carnival Horizon . Royal Caribbean is also another fantastic cruise line offering great deals if you are watching your budget.

How can I get the best cruise deals in 2024 / 2025?

If you're looking for some of the best cruise deals, booking through Expedia.com makes it easy since you can sort your cruise search results by price and have access to special deals. One Key members can earn  OneKeyCash  on all eligible bookings and get instant discounts with Member Prices. Sign up today!

What do I need to know when I book a cruise?

To book a cruise, you'll need to know where you'll be setting off from and where you'll be going, in addition to how many people will be with you and the features of the specific cruise you book. Keep in mind that you'll want to factor in spending money in your budget for the cruise's restaurants and shops in most cases.

Where should I go on a cruise in 2024 / 2025?

Plenty of incredible cruise destinations are accessible such as cruises to the Bahamas and cruises to Mexico . You may also be interested in cruises to Alaska or cruises to Europe for something outside of the Caribbean.

What countries are best to visit by cruise ship?

A lot of countries are accessible via a cruise, but the best include a cruise to Australia . However, a cruise to Australia is quite a long trip at sea and really allows you to take in everything the cruise ship has to offer.

Can I get last-minute cruise deals?

Yes, last-minute cruise deals are often available, and you can find them on Expedia.com by inputting your travel dates in your search and sorting your results by price. The deals will automatically be applied to the price estimates so that the cheapest estimates will show up first on your search results page.

Are cruises all-inclusive?

Cruises aren't always all-inclusive, but they can be. If you're interested in all-inclusive cruises, you can activate a search filter for it to ensure your search results only show cruises that meet your all-inclusive standard.

Is food free on a cruise?

Food is sometimes free on a cruise, but there are often specialty restaurants that aren't included with the general booking that you'll have to pay for separately. Check the details of each cruise before you book in the "What's included" section after clicking the cruise on your search results page.

What cruise lines are adults only?

Several lines offer adults-only cruise experiences, including Viking cruises , Carnival cruises , and Princess cruises . With an adults-only cruise, you can relax in a tranquil and laid-back setting without kids running around and enjoy all the cocktails you want.

What cruise lines are considered to be the most luxurious?

Viking cruises are considered exceptionally luxurious, with smaller ships and larger cabins that make them feel more exclusive, but Celebrity cruises offer luxury cruise lines too. Booking a luxury cruise means you can expect high-end amenities including gourmet restaurants, sizable suites, top-tier performances, massive pools, and much more.

What are the best cruises for couples?

Viking Cruises have much to offer for a more romantic experience. Holland America Line cruises can be quite refined and romantic as well, with an adult-oriented experience that's sophisticated rather than rowdy. Romantic cruises offer exceptional service as well as cozy suites for you and your partner to enjoy that's complemented by delicious food often themed around the cruise destination.

Why should I go on a cruise for my honeymoon?

Going on a cruise is a great way for you and your new spouse to be pampered with luxury while also being able to explore a new destination. Whether you're taking a cruise to Hawaii or a cruise to Bermuda , a particularly romantic experience is almost guaranteed thanks to the sheer number of things to do.

Are there any Christmas cruises?

Yes, quite a few cruise lines operate around Christmas, and you can find them easily by entering travel dates around Christmas into your 2024 cruise search. Some of the most popular Christmas cruises are available with Carnival and Disney.

Do I need a passport to go on a cruise?

Whether or not you need a passport depends on where you're going and the kind of cruise it is. Any US territory like Bermuda and Puerto Rico won't require a passport, of course, but you also don't need one if you're on a closed-loop cruise. This is a cruise that begins and ends at a US cruise terminal, even if there are stops in other countries on the way.

Why should I book a cruise with Expedia.com?

Booking a cruise with Expedia.com makes it easy to find a cruise type that works best for you. You can use the cruise finder and sort by cruise line, type, destination, length, and itinerary. One Key members also earn OneKeyCash on all eligible bookings that can be used to save on future eligible trips.

What happens if a cruise is canceled?

Every cruise has a different cancellation policy, but generally, passengers are entitled to either a full refund or a credit for a future cruise at a later date. Remember that they may automatically change your booking to their rescheduled date, so you may have to contact them if that date doesn't work for your schedule.

*OneKeyCash is not redeemable for cash and can only be used on Expedia,  Hotels.com  and Vrbo.

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Best Carnival Cruises

Find the Best Carnival Cruises for you. Easily compare prices and find out when to book your Carnival Cruise Lines dream vacation with our cruise search.

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How To Use Price Comparison Sites To Book Your Cruise

M ost of us wouldn't dream of booking anything without comparison shopping when it comes to getting a flight, hopping the rails, and reserving a car — not to mention securing a hotel room — but cruising doesn't usually bring up convos about best deals or comparison shopping. Why is that? Cruises are often thought of as non-essential and even luxury travel, but that wasn't always the case. They started as an extension of mail-carrying ships in the 1840s.

Fast forward to now when cruising has bounced back and is synonymous with much-looked-forward vacations and unique holidays. It is no longer a practical mode of travel for business or must-get-there-fast emergencies. However, travelers often confirm a booking without scrolling sites or research. Comparison shopping for cruises doesn't take up much time and can leave more money in your vacation fund. You may also encounter great perks and rewards for future sea vacations and have fun while looking into your options.

Know What You're Looking For

When you know your cruise must-haves for your ideal trip, as well as where you're flexible (destination, date, duration, amenities, cabin ops), you can peruse your options with confidence, knowing you're exploring the best prices while sticking to your list of essentials. Just like when you're set on flying non-stop, you may be firm on a nine-day ship getaway, and you'll want to know what you wish to do up front before you comparison shop. While a trending specialty cruise, like the Hallmark Channel Christmas Cruise , may entice you, keep in mind there are a lot of fun and relaxing options if you want to compare and get the best deal.

Late spring to early fall is considered prime time for a sea vacation, with winter as the best time to book, but deals abound if you're open to the off-season and repositioned cruises . Of course, different destinations and weather also dictate cruise schedules, and you may be coming in below your travel budget if you're open to other routes. 

Unlike air travel, where tickets climb as departure dates are near, cruise prices will sometimes drop closer to departure dates. Although highly desired destinations are booked quickly, cabin options may be limited for later reservations. If you're flexible on dates and destinations, you can compare and find deep discounted fares, sometimes at over 80% off, through online booking sites.

Know Where To Look

Whether you're a newcomer to the seas or an avid cruiser, you can comparison shop for a cruise and take advantage of deals if you know where to find them. Start with popular booking search sites, such as Expedia, Priceline, and Trip Advisor. Input data for your desired destination, departure month and date ranges, cruise line, trip duration, and departure port to see a list of priced options. You can also search via cruise-specific sites, like CruiseDirect. Some cruisers use travel agents or book directly. Even if you choose one of those options, you can know what you're getting with comparison shopping before purchasing. 

While there's no shortage of air travel comparison sites, sea vacation planning sites don't dominate the web yet, but apps, including My Kind of Cruise, are a good option. While you may not be able to book on all apps, you can check out destinations, prices, and deals. Many cruise lines have their own apps where you can get an insider view and access to incredible technical and recreational features once you're a member. Cruise magazines, including Cruise & Travel, are chockful of inspiration and resources. They often have newsletters with up-to-date information to help you as you embark on your journey of comparison shopping.

Read this next: The Ultimate Guide To Perfectly Packing For Your Cruise Vacation

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Cruise Spotlight

Helping you find cruise ships you'll love

Compare Cruise Ships

One of our favorite parts of a cruise vacation is the ship itself. We love checking out the different layouts, amenities and features, but it’s hard to do. That’s why we made this cruise comparison tool.

Choose two ships below to see how they compare to each other.

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Where You Can Find Cruises on the Cheap

Picking an older, smaller ship might make for less fancy travel, but it comes with advantages

Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas , a cruise ship over five times as large as the Titanic, is preparing for its inaugural voyage in late January. A subset of die-hard passengers are saying they would much prefer the opposite of that mammoth boat and book older ships . Here's why :

Royal Caribbean

1. Fewer People

Passengers have said that they enjoy greater attention from crew members on smaller and older ships without feeling so crowded.

Royal Caribbean's Rhapsody of the Seas originally entered service in 1997. Photo: Royal Caribbean

Icon of the Seas

The amount of passengers Icon of the Seas can hold . It is the largest cruise ship in the world and comes with everything from an ice-skating arena to six waterslides.

Vision of the Seas

The amount of passengers the less-heralded Vision of the Seas , which has been in service since 1998, can hold . Guests described that they were less overwhelmed by crowds and could do the activities that they wanted.

2. Big-Deal Savings

A cruise’s cost generally depends on factors including the length of the trip and demand for the itinerary, travel advisers say. But the ship’s age can also factor in.

Grandeur of the Seas is Royal Caribbean’s oldest ship. Its maiden voyage was in December 1996. Photo: Royal Caribbean

The starting price per person , before applying discounts, for a seven - night sailing on the Icon of the Seas , according to a recent search for an interior stateroom.

Utopia of the Seas

The starting price per person , before applying discounts, for a three - night cruise on Royal Caribbean ’ s Utopia of the Seas . Its maiden voyage is in July.

Grandeur of the Seas

The starting price , per person, before applying discounts, of a four-night cruise on Royal Caribbean ’ s Grandeur of the Seas , the cruise line’s oldest ship.

3. More Exotic Itineraries

Keeping older ships in a fleet enables cruise lines to serve a wider array of destinations. Newer megaships can be too big to dock in certain harbors, including Tahiti.

Suliane Favennec/AFP/Getty

4. Updates on Dry Land

When booking cruises, instead of looking at when a ship first sailed, check when it was last refurbished during what is known as a dry dock . A cruise ship can start to show its age at around 15 years.

Phil Perrey

Carnival uses the dry-dock process to install features on its more-mature ships , such as the adult-only Serenity section. The Carnival Sunshine originally entered service in 1996 as the Carnival Destiny and was renamed following an extensive renovation in 2013.

Older ships can come with drawbacks, even if they are recently renovated. They tend to have smaller rooms and fewer cabins with balconies, says Rob Clabbers, president of Q Cruise and Travel in Chicago.

An ocean-view balcony room aboard Rhapsody of the Seas. Photo: Royal Caribbean

Produced by Leah Latella Photo Editor: Daisy Korpics Cover Image: Adam Carnevale

READ MORE: Billionaires Love This Tiny Bahamas Island. A Travel Guide for the Rest of Us.

The Trick to a Great Marriage: Vacation Without Your Partner

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I was one of the first guests on Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas — these are the 9 things you should know about what it's like on the world's largest cruise ship

  • Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas will begin its first seven-night sailings in January 
  • The new world's largest cruise ship has unprecedented features like a six-slide water park.
  • These are the nine things travelers should know about what it's like on the new mega-ship.

Insider Today

I was one of the first guests to sail on Royal Caribbean's newest vessel: The $2 billion Icon of the Seas , the world's largest cruise ship.

Yes, it was giant. Yes, I've never seen anything like it. And yes, it was a sensory overload. (I think I need a vacation from this vacation.)

The Icon of the Seas ship is unlike any existing floating resort. As the first ship in Royal Caribbean's new Icon class, the 250,800-gross-ton vessel overshadows virtually all of its predecessors — in size and in the number of water slides, pools, dining venues, and stateroom options.

Ahead of its January 27 debut, Royal Caribbean invited me on a complimentary, three-night preview sailing. Unfortunately, I spent most of my time lost and overwhelmed.

To prevent this for yourself, these are the nine things you should know before your 2024 Icon of the Seas vacation .

1. If you have a dinner or show reservation, start heading over much earlier than expected.

cruise line prices compared

Crossing a 1,198-foot-long, 20-deck ship takes time, especially with the crowds of up to 7,600 guests, slow elevators, and inevitable distractions.

As an often punctual person, I was shamelessly late to almost every event. It turns out I can't walk the length of the world's largest cruise ship in two minutes.

2. Thankfully, the most coveted activities are located in the same section.

cruise line prices compared

Thrill Island is home to the Icon of the Seas' best amenities .

Adrenaline addicts can get their fix at the water park's six slides, surf simulator, and Crown's Edge rope course that suspends participants more than 150 feet above the water.

For more nervous travelers, this area also has a sports court, mini-golf course, and rock climbing wall.

3. You’re probably underestimating the number of children you’ll see on the ship.

cruise line prices compared

About 25% to 30% of cabins on Royal Caribbean's Oasis-class vessels — which includes the previous world's largest Wonder of the Seas — were designed for families, Michael Bayley, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International, told reporters during the sailing.

On this new ship, a cool 80% of its 2,805 cabins can accommodate parents and their children.

If you fear young children, steer clear of Surfside.

cruise line prices compared

Surfside was designed for families with children six years old and younger.

This colorful getaway — complete with a giant pink flamingo and an eclectic carousel — is where the youngest guests can seek out daytime romps around the water playground and nighttime story readings.

4. The ship has a handful of adult-only spaces.

cruise line prices compared

Reprieve from the army of screaming children can be found in no-kid zones like the DJ-helmed Hideaway. Here, adults can luxuriate in a beach club-like suspended infinity pool with a cocktail in hand and no kids in sight.

5. Some of Icon’s amenities have a luxury price tag.

cruise line prices compared

The most expensive two-story Ultimate Family Townhouse is being booked for between $100,000 to $200,000 a week, according to a Royal Caribbean worker stationed at the cabin.

Despite this hefty cost, the eight-guest cabin is already reserved for most of 2024.

If you have the cash to ball out on the 1,772-square-foot townhouse, why not splurge a bit more for the $200-per-person dinner?

cruise line prices compared

"Ya like jazz?" Good. Empire Supper Club's multi-course meal pairs options like rabbit and oysters Rockefeller with cocktails and live jazz.

6. You could still blow past your vacation budget without splurging on these luxuries.

cruise line prices compared

Only about half of the ship's 21 dining venues are complimentary.

The days of unlimited lobsters on cruises are gone: The coveted crustacean costs extra in the main dining room. So does dinner at the sushi, steakhouse, seafood, and Italian restaurants, to name a few options.

If you’re a drinker, you’ll be buzzing to see Icon’s 20 bars and nightlife venues.

cruise line prices compared

But without a beverage package, the cost of these drinks could quickly add up.

And they're hard to avoid: There are opportunities to booze it up everywhere you go. One neighborhood — the watering hole-lined Royal Promenade — practically becomes a bar crawl at night.

7. Speaking of — booze plus cruise no longer equals piña coladas and mai tais by the pool.

cruise line prices compared

The Icon flexes a unique list of watering holes, including a dueling piano venue and a swim-up bar.

Young adults will also be delighted to see their beloved espresso martini at Rye and Bean, which puts a boozy spin on teas and coffee.

8. Your cabin could be smaller than expected.

cruise line prices compared

Royal Caribbean assigned me an ocean-view balcony cabin during the three-night cruise.

As a solo traveler, the 204-square-foot interior was surprisingly cramped.

I’m not sure a family of four could peacefully coexist in this little stateroom.

cruise line prices compared

I should've packed elbow pads: The bathroom was so small, I accidentally hit the walls more frequently than I'd like to admit.

One more small gripe: I hate two-in-one body wash and shampoo. And I would've loved some conditioner for my chlorine-soaked hair.

9. The nighttime entertainment is diverse for a cruise line that follows the typical “dinner-and-a-show" model.

cruise line prices compared

Icon's shows include an ice skating performance and a water-based spectacular with nine-foot-tall robotic arms and high divers.

For Broadway enthusiasts, the ship also hosts a rendition of "The Wizard of Oz." As an anti-cruise, anti-musical cynic, the musical was, I hate to admit, impressive and entertaining. Hard not to be childishly delighted by the sight of Dorothy and Toto flying around the theater in a large suspended bed.

cruise line prices compared

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IMAGES

  1. Cruise Cost Breakdown: Comparing a Luxury Cruise to a Premium Cruise

    cruise line prices compared

  2. How Much Does A Cruise Cost

    cruise line prices compared

  3. Prices of 7 Cruise Lines Compared

    cruise line prices compared

  4. The best time to book your cruise for maximum discounts

    cruise line prices compared

  5. January discounts up to 31% compared to 2018

    cruise line prices compared

  6. Average Cruise Ship Cost

    cruise line prices compared

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    They offer longer stays in many ports to provide true insights into the local regions. Costa Cruise. Costa Cruises offers cruises to worldwide destinations including Europe, the Caribbean, Canada & New England, Dubai, South America, the Indian Ocean and the Far East. Cruising on Costa Cruises is Cruising Italian Style! Disney Cruise Line.

  11. Best Cruises 2024: See Photos, Reviews and Start Planning

    U.S. News has made it easier to find the cruise that's right for you with our Best Cruise Lines rankings, which identify the best cruise lines for a variety of traveler types in a range...

  12. COMPARE CRUISE Lines! 10 Cruise brands compared

    Cruise lines compared - the difference in major cruise lines explained. Comparison of the major cruise lines - our guide. Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL): Carnival Cruise Line Royal Caribbean International Virgin Voyages Holland America Line Celebrity Cruises MSC Cruises Princess Cruises Cunard Line Disney Cruises

  13. Differences Between Major Cruise Lines

    Differences Between Major Cruise Lines - Which Is Best for You? Cruise Tips First Time Cruisers Differences Between Major Cruise Lines - Which Is Best for You? Find out the differences...

  14. The 9 best luxury cruise lines for elegance and exclusivity

    Compare the cost in points or miles to cash, and see which option is best. CardMatch. ... The price to get on board could be $1,000 per person, per day. For top suites, it could be much, much more. ... That's the approach upscale cruise line Oceania Cruises takes with its fleet of seven 648- to 1,238-passenger ships ...

  15. U.S. News Announces the 2023 Best Cruise Lines

    Nov. 15, 2022, at 12:01 a.m. U.S. News 2023 Best Cruise Lines. Washington, D.C. - U.S. News & World Report, publisher of Best Hotels, Best Vacations and Best Travel Rewards Programs, today ...

  16. How to Choose a Cruise Line: Pros and Cons of Each One

    Here are my recommendations based on my personal cruise experiences with some of the world's most popular cruise lines. How we chose these cruise lines: Read our methodology for selecting family cruise vacations. 1. Disney Cruise Line. Disney Cruise Line (DCL) pioneered the concept of family-friendly cruises.

  17. CHEAP Last Minute Cruise Deals (2024)

    Caribbean. Royal Caribbean International. Last-Minute Deal. $749 pp. — 4-Nt. Keys & Bahamas w/ Exclusive up to $200 to spend, 70% Off 2nd Guest Plus up to $600 Bar Tab, Free Wi-Fi, Gratuities ...

  18. Cruise Critic announced the 2023 Best Cruise Lines of The Year

    Silversea Cruises topped the list as Best Luxury Cruise Line for the second year in a row. The line's newest ship, Silver Nova, which holds 728 passengers was ranked as the Best New Luxury Ship ...

  19. Norwegian and Regent Seven Seas Cruise Ships Compared: Review

    Travel. I sailed on two Norwegian cruises — one that's $685 a night and one that's $130. Here's how I think they compare. Brittany Chang. Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings' traditional Norweigan ...

  20. Find Cheap Cruises & Last Minute Cruise Deals (2024/2025)

    Budget lines can offer cruise tickets as low as $50 per night in some cases, while the more high-end experiences can reach up to $1,000 per night and more. What are some of the best cruise lines?

  21. Compare Carnival Cruise Lines Cruise Prices And Find Best Sailings on

    Find the best Carnival Cruise Lines cruise for you at cruisewatch.com. Easily compare prices and find out when to book your Carnival Cruise Lines dream vacation for the best price. Best Carnival Cruises 3532 Cruises found. Selected filters: Reset all filters. Carnival Cruise Lines.

  22. How To Use Price Comparison Sites To Book Your Cruise

    Comparison shopping for cruises doesn't take up much time and can leave more money in your vacation fund. ... prices, and deals. Many cruise lines have their own apps where you can get an insider ...

  23. Compare Cruise Ships

    First ship: Second ship: Compare Easily compare two cruise ships to see how they differ.

  24. Where You Can Find Cruises on the Cheap

    The starting price, per person, before applying discounts, of a four-night cruise on Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas, the cruise line's oldest ship. Royal Caribbean 3.

  25. How does a standard interior stateroom on Norwegian compare to a family

    Norwegian Cruise Line offers a variety of stateroom accommodations for groups of all sizes, including families, couples, and solo travelers. ... my standard interior cabin on Norwegian Sun was 9145 and located at the clear aft of the ship. Size Comparison. Image ... I checked five different cruises and compared the prices between a standard ...

  26. The World's Largest Cruise Ship Is a Climate Liability

    The world's largest cruise ship, the Icon is over 1,000 feet long (360 meters) and weighs in around 250,000 gross registered tons. It boasts 20 different decks; 40 restaurants, bars and lounges ...

  27. What to Know About Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas Cruise Ship: Photos

    1. If you have a dinner or show reservation, start heading over much earlier than expected. The Icon of the Seas can accommodate almost 10,000 people including crew. Crossing a 1,198-foot-long, 20 ...

  28. Can the world's biggest cruise ship really be sustainable?

    ICCT tallied up the emissions for a five-night 2,000-kilometre trip in the US on the most efficient cruise line and compared it to a round-trip flight and same length stay in a hotel.