The best cruise lines in the world: 2023 Readers' Choice Awards

By Condé Nast Traveller

The best cruise lines in the world 2023 Readers' Choice Awards

Cruises are booming right now, buoyed partly by the popularity of domestic seacations that hauled in first-time sailors. So much so that Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ 34,000-mile world trip for 2024 sold out in just over two hours, while the adults-only Virgin Voyages, which aims to throw cruise stereotypes overboard, rose to first place in Large Ships. And we’ve brought back last year's new category showcasing the expedition cruises – small, often sustainable vessels with a shoal of scientific experts onboard – that follow in the wake of adventurers such as Sir Ernest Shackleton.

These are the best cruise lines in the world, according to the 2023 Readers' Choice Awards .

Viking River Cruises

The best cruise lines in the world 2023

Mega ships (More than 4,000 passengers)

4. MSC Cruises. Score 83.42 3. Carnival Cruise Line. Score 85.35 2. Royal Caribbean International. Score 86.69 1. Norwegian Cruise Line. Score 86.72.

Large ships (2,500 to 4,000 passengers)

10. MSC Cruises. Score 83.77 9. Royal Caribbean International. Score 84.31 8. Norwegian Cruise Line. Score 86.41 7. Holland America Line. Score 87.79 6. Costa Cruises. Score 87.95 5. Celebrity Cruises. Score 88.57 4. Princess Cruises. Score 89.42 3. Cunard. Score 89.55 2. Disney Cruise Line. Score 92.21 1. Virgin Voyages. Score 94.07

Medium ships (500 to 2,500 passengers)

15. Carnival Cruise Line. Score 80.56 14. P&O Cruises. Score 83.29 13. Princess Cruises. Score 84.84 12. Marella Cruises. Score 85.60 11. Hurtigruten. Score 86.23 10. Cunard. Score 86.33 9. Holland America Line. Score 86.42 8. Celebrity Cruises. Score 86.68 7. Azamara. Score 87.50 6. Silversea Cruises. Score 87.74 5. Oceania Cruises. Score 87.99 4. Regent Seven Seas Cruises. Score 91.07 3. Seabourn. Score 91.67 2. Disney Cruise Line. Score 92.92 1. Viking. Score 94.98

Small ships (Fewer than 500 passengers)

10. Variety Cruises. Score 86.75 9. SeaDream Yacht Club. Score 89.66 8. Silversea. Score 89.93 7. Seabourn. Score 91.34 6. Ponant. Score 91.45 5. Windstar Cruises. Score 91.87 4. Sea Cloud Cruises. Score 91.94 3. American Cruise Lines. Score 92.88 2. Paul Gauguin Cruises. Score 92.94 1. Emerald Cruises. Score 95.27

10. AmaWaterways. Score 93.09 9. Sanctuary Retreats. Score 93.14 8. Uniworld River Cruises. Score 93.24 7. Pandaw. Score 95.28 6. Grand Circle Cruise Line. Score 95.69 5. Les Bateaux Belmond. Score 95.90 4. Oberoi Hotels & Resorts. Score 95.91 3. Tauck. Score 96.14 2. American Cruise Lines. Score 96.66 1. Viking. Score 97.32

Expedition ships

15. Alaskan Dream Cruises. Score 80.77 14. Lindblad Expeditions. Score 91.23 13. Silversea Cruises. Score 91.81 12. Hurtigruten. Score 91.87 11. Ponant. Score 92.25 10. Quark Expeditions. Score 93.15 9. Seabourn. Score 93.37 8. Metropolitan Touring. Score 94.71 7. Quasar Expeditions. Score 94.91 6. Celebrity Cruises. Score 95.38 5. Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours. Score 95.80 4. Ecoventura. Score 95.82 3. Aqua Expeditions. Score 95.97 2. UnCruise Adventures. Score 96.41 1. Viking. Score 96.52

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Around the World Cruise

The journey of a lifetime — best world cruise.

Voted “Best Cruise Itineraries” 12-Times

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Embark on a Princess World Cruise and experience the globe’s marquis ports and hidden gems. With carefully crafted itineraries to the most sought-after destinations, there’s no better escort to guide you through your travel bucket list than Princess Cruises.

2025 World Cruise From Los Angeles or Ft. Lauderdale

For a limited time, you’ll enjoy our Princess Plus package – at no extra cost when you book this World Cruise

Our longest voyage ever sets sails in January 2025 as Island Princess embarks on an epic 116-day roundtrip World Cruise from both Ft. Lauderdale and Los Angeles, visiting 51 destinations in 26 countries across 6 continents. This adventure includes our first ever visits to historic Bar, Montenegro, and Taranto, Italy. Also maiden for our North American World Cruises are stops to the idyllic Greek islands of Patmos and Volos – for the Monasteries of Meteora.

2024 World Cruise From Los Angeles or Ft. Lauderdale

Take a roundtrip 111-day world cruise from Fort Lauderdale or Los Angeles on Island Princess and experience the journey of a lifetime. With 51 destinations in 27 countries across six continents there is so much to explore. Enjoy More Ashore Late-Night stays in 11 ports and an overnight stay in Dubai. We've added 12 new ports including popular Bali (Benoa), Naples (for Capri & Pompeii), Genoa (for Milan), and Lisbon to expand the adventure.

2024 World Cruise From Sydney, Brisbane, and Auckland

Sail aboard the Coral Princess for our longest-ever Australia-based World Cruise! This six-continent and 110-day world adventure visits popular destinations including Scandinavia & Baltic, Iceland, South America and transits the historic Panama Canal. Make seven maiden calls including Aarhus, Crete (Heraklion) and Edinburgh (South Queensferry, visit 47 destinations in 32 countries including overnight stays in New York and Lima (Callao), and spend more time ashore with eight late night stays including Barcelona, Berlin (Warnemunde), Boston, Copenhagen and Tahiti (Papeete).

2025 World Cruise From Auckland, Brisbane and Sydney

Crown Princess® – our largest ship to ever host a World Cruise – will be your escort on a wondrous 113-day adventure, visiting 49 destinations in 28 countries across six continents. Explore Asia, Indonesia, the Mediterranean and Northern Europe – including two ports in Greenland – the Americas and South Pacific. The 2025 itinerary travels over 33,500 miles and features countless UNESCO World Heritage sites plus other bucket-list attractions.

Why Take a World Cruise?

Collect a world of countless stories as you sail from continent to continent

Adventure of a lifetime

Nothing can beat the experience of a World Cruise. The camaraderie among guests, the shared experiences in fascinating ports across the globe, and the parties and celebrations on board and ashore all make this a true adventure that everyone should embark on at least once in their lifetime.

Exclusive experiences

Enjoy special activities unique to this epic voyage. Over 50 international guest entertainers keep you smiling; attend cocktail parties and themed deck parties, watch local folkloric shows, savor special officer dinners, commemorative take-home menus, cooking classes with Princess Cruises Chefs and much more.

Fresh flavors & global tastes

Cuisine is designed for fresh — prepared from scratch, using regionally sourced ingredients. In addition to the delicious signature dishes that Princess® is known for, you'll be treated to flavors and influences from the traditional cuisines of the destinations you are visiting, bringing a bit of the tantalizing tastes of the world on board.

Unforgettable ports of call

Not only will you encounter some of the world’s most revered sites and cities from Dubai to Sydney, you’ll have the opportunity to step ashore in lesser frequented ports, maiden calls and first time ever calls for Princess. Encounter some of the world’s most revered sites and cities from Kuala Lumpur and Sri Lanka to Bali, and Singapore. Volos (Meteora), and Athens.

Now Available: 2025 World Cruises . Learn more

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11 epic around-the-world cruises that will check off all your bucket list travel destinations

Janice Wald Henderson

Imagine the joys of traveling seamlessly from one bucket list country to another without packing and unpacking, switching hotels, boarding countless flights or even doing laundry.

Think it's a fantasy? It's actually a world cruise, the nirvana of many ocean-going devotees. As a bonus, most of these around-the-world voyages include enviable perks, like pre-cruise hotel stays, alcohol, shipboard credit, exclusive-access shore excursions — and, yes, laundry service.

Retired, taking a job hiatus or working remotely? A world cruise is a safe, easy and exhilarating way to score a global adventure beyond compare. You might even make new lifelong friends sharing similar interests.

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

So, pull out your travel wish list and find an itinerary for those coveted destinations.

Here, you can learn more about what's involved in an around-the-world cruise and drool over 11 terrific choices across a range of fares for an incredible monthslong voyage at sea.

What is a world cruise?

Never mind the moniker, a world cruise may visit several continents but not circumnavigate the globe. Cruise lines usually designate one ship (a few offer two) to sail about 100 days or longer — some even sail more than 200 days — without repeating ports.

World cruises traditionally start in January and end around April or May. They sail round-trip from one American city, such as San Francisco or Miami, or offer a choice of starting points on both coasts, making access easy.

What to know about world cruises

With so few world cruises available, book far in advance. Bookings open roughly two years in advance, and some small-ship cruises sell out within hours. You'll need the extra time to make arrangements to leave your home for months. For that reason, this story will focus on 2025 world cruises.

Related: Hot cruises you'll need to book at least 1 year in advance — maybe even 2!

Around-the-world cruise cost

Such lengthy sailings cost plenty. The bigger ship lines offer the lowest fares, although extra fees for what's not included (such as shore excursions and alcohol) can add up quickly. If contemplating a big-ship voyage, read the inclusions carefully, as they vary among lines.

Luxury vessels bundle many costly amenities into the fare, like business- or first-class plane tickets and luxury hotel stays, and charge the most. They also deliver fine dining, pampering service, glam surroundings and impressive special events. (Silversea Cruises has previously rented out an entire island to entertain its world cruise guests.)

Thus, expect considerable price differences. Count on spending about $20,000 per person minimum to score an entry-level accommodation on the bigger ships and approximately $80,000 to $90,000 per person for an ultraluxury vessel.

Note that for the poshest lines, "entry-level" may mean a spacious, elegant suite with a veranda. For other lines, the most basic cabin is a small, windowless room.

Read on to discover where you can sail to in 2025 on a world cruise.

cruise lines worldwide

World Voyage

Thanks to an overwhelming response to its 2024 world cruise (which is currently waitlisted), Azamara announced itineraries for both 2025 and 2026, both aboard the 684-passenger Azamara Onward.

Azamara Onward is the newest ship to join the Miami-based line's four-vessel fleet. The ship's size provides an intimate experience and allows it to call on small towns bigger ships can't access.

For 2025, the 155-night, 37-country voyage begins in San Diego and ends in Southampton, England, with visits to exciting locales in French Polynesia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Italy, France and others.

Along the way, world cruisers can sample authentic Hawaiian cuisine; explore the unspoiled beaches and the lush rainforest on Stewart Island, New Zealand; and visit the world's largest Buddhist temple in Indonesia.

The itinerary will include a pre-sailing welcome party, exclusive cultural events, concierge service and other upscale perks.

The 2026 world cruise sets sail from Miami and concludes in Barcelona. The itinerary for this 155-night expedition features some of the world's most iconic landmarks and sites.

Cruisers will have the opportunity to explore the great pyramid of Kukulcan and other ancient Mayan sites in Chichen Itza, Mexico; wander among Rio de Janeiro's architectural gems and experience the awe of Iguazu Falls in Brazil; sample Peruvian cuisine and soak in the landscape of Machu Picchu in Cusco; scale the Great Wall of China; and enjoy other bucket-list worthy adventures.

The 2025 world cruise departs Jan. 6, 2025. Prices start from $89,001 per person.

The 2026 world cruise departs Jan. 6, 2026. Prices start from $85,141 per person.

cruise lines worldwide

World Cruise

If luxury and unparalleled personal service are important to you, consider Crystal 's 2025 world cruise aboard Crystal Serenity .

The beloved upscale line went bankrupt and stopped sailing in 2022. However, luxury tour operator Abercrombie & Kent acquired it and brought it back to life with a $150 million glow-up, starting with 740-passenger Crystal Serenity.

With newly renovated expansive suites, an array of social areas and nearly one staff member per guest, Crystal Serenity offers ultimate comfort, quality and personalization. Every cabin comes with a butler ready to assist with reservations, laundry and any other needs you have during your global odyssey.

Beginning in Fort Lauderdale and concluding in Barcelona, the sailing spans 123 nights with visits to 31 countries. The cruise kicks off with a welcome celebration, and guests can enjoy themed onboard and shoreside events and gala dinners throughout the sailing.

Exciting destinations along the way include Belize, Honduras, Argentina, Chile, South Africa, the Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Egypt and Jordan. Passengers can get a close-up look at Argentine tango through performances, enjoy street food in Sri Lanka's capital city and celebrate like a Greek god on Mount Olympus, among other events.

Custom excursions and pre- and post-cruise tours organized by Abercrombie & Kent are available along the way (for an additional cost).

Departs Jan. 7, 2025. Prices start from $66,200 per person.

Cunard Line

cruise lines worldwide

Be among the first to explore the world aboard Queen Anne, the line's first new ship in 12 years. Scheduled to launch in May 2024, the 2,996-passenger ship will take over Cunard 's world cruise duties in January 2025.

Queen Anne's maiden World Voyage in 2025 will span 111 nights, beginning and ending in Hamburg, Germany. Along the way, guests can explore historic churches in the Old Town of Lubeck, Germany, a UNESCO World Heritage site; visit the historic city of Antigua, Guatemala's original capital; and indulge in retail therapy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's bustling shopping hub.

Passengers will enjoy spectacular new elements on this ship. The vessel's main pool area, The Pavilion, is topped with a gorgeous retractable glass roof that will act as a showpiece and also a functional structure to keep poolgoers dry on rainy days.

If you're seeking the most luxurious accommodations and exclusive experiences on board, book Princess or Queens Grill suites. Fares include outstanding amenities such as private dining rooms, coffee and specialty tea service, priority boarding, and a private outdoor lounge area.

Queens Grill suite passengers receive butler service, too. However, many lovely inclusions, such as white-gloved servers presenting complimentary daily tea, are available for all guests.

Departs Jan. 7, 2025. Prices start from $17,799 per person.

Holland America

cruise lines worldwide

Grand World Voyage

Holland America 's 124-day Grand World Voyage on the 1,964-passenger Zuiderdam cruises round-trip from Fort Lauderdale. The enticing itinerary ventures far from Florida to must-visit cities such as Tokyo, Mumbai, Singapore and Istanbul. The ship will also traverse the Panama Canal.

Many included overnights allow opportunities to dive deep into local cultures and experiences. Spend extra time in Kobe, Japan; Hong Kong and Shanghai, China; and Singapore. As a bonus, Zuiderdam will take guests to incredibly remote locales, such as the Amazon.

On board, relish music venues like Billboard Onboard and BBC Earth in Concert, where a live orchestra plays before a huge backdrop of spectacular wildlife footage. Step One Dance Company presents works by noted choreographers. Count on a buzzy casino, fine dining at specialty restaurants and a professionally staffed fitness center.

Departs Jan. 4, 2025. Prices start from $24,999 per person.

Related: A beginners guide to picking a cruise line

MSC Cruises

cruise lines worldwide

MSC Cruises is doing something a little different with its 2025 world cruise. It's offering a choice of four embarkation ports — Rome and Genoa in Italy; Marseille, France; and Barcelona. Passengers will return to the same port they left from.

The 2,550-passenger MSC Magnifica is the home base for the 116-night journey. The itinerary features port calls at 50 destinations across 21 countries in the Mediterranean, South America, the South Pacific, Australia and Asia. Among the cities you'll explore are Puerto Madryn, Argentina; Rio de Janeiro; Casablanca, Morocco; Colombo, Sri Lanka; Phuket, Thailand; Broome, Australia; and Auckland.

Spend your port days ogling at Genoa's majestic Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint Lawrence and Doge's Palace; exploring the peaceful mountaintop monastery in Montserrat, Spain; and wandering through the restored ceremonial village of Orongo, Rapa Nui (Easter Island), a World Heritage Site.

Departs Jan. 4, 5, 6 and 7, 2025 (depending on your embarkation port). Prices start from $14,469 per person.

Oceania Cruises

cruise lines worldwide

Around the World Cruise

The lovely 656-passenger Insignia sails a whopping 200 days from Miami to New York for Oceania Cruises ' 2025 world cruise. It might seem a long way away, but inside cabins and some suites are already waitlisted for the sailing.

Prepare to tear up any bucket list on a cruise this long. The ship begins in the balmy Caribbean islands, ventures to the Brazilian Amazon, explores more of South America and then heads off to Africa and Asia. Australia and New Zealand, Hawaii and Latin America round out the itinerary before Insignia circles back to the Caribbean (different ports on this end) and sails triumphantly back to Miami.

Oceania Cruises is renowned for fine dining. Expect to eat and drink exceptionally well on board.

Departs Jan. 5, 2025. Prices start from $54,099 per person.

Princess Cruises

cruise lines worldwide

Princess Cruises promises an unforgettable journey on its 116-day world cruise sailing from Fort Lauderdale (or Los Angeles, as an alternative embarkation port) on the 2,200-passenger Island Princess.

This ship delivers many onboard activities like cooking and dance classes, trivia contests, enrichment programs and games of basketball, volleyball and tennis on the sports court. A putting green ensures golf games stay sharp.

You can also expect outdoor movies, original musical productions and onboard wellness features such as a spa and fitness center.

World cruisers can visit 26 countries with 51 destinations across six continents; the exciting port of call include Lisbon; Bali; Naples, Italy; Milan; and Haifa, Israel. With late-night stays in 11 ports of call and a Dubai overnight, you can relish multiple opportunities to wine, dine and enjoy the nightlife ashore.

For 2025, Princess offers two 116-day world cruise itinerary options on Island Princess, one round-trip from Fort Lauderdale and the other round-trip from Los Angeles.

From Fort Lauderdale: Departs Jan. 5, 2025. Prices start from $16,225 per person.

From Los Angeles: Departs Jan. 20, 2025. Prices start from $16,298 per person.

Related: Big vs. small cruise ships: Which will I like better?

Regent Seven Seas Cruises

cruise lines worldwide

Navigate the World

World cruises prove perpetually popular on this ultraluxe line. They often sell out in the blink of an eye.

Availability is limited on the 2025 150-night world cruise on the 700-passenger Seven Seas Mariner, sailing round-trip from Miami to San Francisco. This itinerary includes cruising in Antarctica, the Chilean fjords, French Polynesia, Taipei and Bali.

Perhaps because its 2025 sailing is nearly sold out, Regent Seven Seas Cruises is one of the first cruise lines to announce its 2026 world voyage, also on Seven Seas Mariner.

This journey will be the line's longest, sailing for 154 nights and visiting 77 ports in 41 countries across six continents. The itinerary includes three new ports of call for Regent, including Lifou Island and Mare of the Loyalty Islands in the New Caledonia archipelago. Count on visiting 47 UNESCO World Heritage sites, including Australia's Great Barrier Reef and Robben Island in South Africa.

For all its around-the-world cruises, Regent piles on primo inclusions — first-class flights, unlimited shore excursions, luggage service, an open bar and a visa package are among countless amenities.

The 2025 world cruise departs Jan. 7, 2025. Prices start from $87,999 per person.

The 2026 world cruise departs Jan. 10, 2026. Prices start from $94,999 per person.

Related: The 9 best luxury cruise lines for elegance and exclusivity

cruise lines worldwide

Grand Africa Voyage

Wander the majestic Grandmaster's Palace in Malta. Snorkel the pristine waters along the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt. Ogle the tropical beauty of the 115-island archipelago of the Seychelles. Soak up the beauty of Cape Town from atop Table Mountain.

You'll find many pinch-me moments on Seabourn 's 90-day, 26-country Grand Africa cruise in late 2024 and early 2025. It takes place onboard the 450-passenger all-suite Seabourn Sojourn and sails round-trip from Barcelona. (The line is not currently offering a more traditional world cruise in 2025.)

On the ultraluxurious vessel, you can expect exclusive VIP celebrations, like a Caviar in the Surf party. (Note that complimentary Champagne and caviar flow freely on board, too, adding to the happy vibe.)

There's much to love about Seabourn Sojourn. Its intimate size allows truly personalized service from a polished, attentive crew. Seabourn Square, a living room-like venue, is a magnet for affable passengers who quickly make new friends. Count on superb dining and 24-hour room service among a slew of upscale amenities.

Departs Nov. 30, 2024. Prices start from $38,999 per person.

Related: 7 extremely decadent things you can do on a luxury cruise vacation

Silversea Cruises

cruise lines worldwide

Controtempo

Silversea Cruises ' 2025 world cruise aboard the ultraluxurious, 596-passenger Silver Dawn looks amazing. The around-the-world cruise is designed to visit far-flung and more remote ports, often out of season, to avoid the touristy crowds.

This 136-day voyage sails from Tokyo to New York and explores 59 ports in 30 countries. Count on visiting enchanting cities, including Istanbul, Naples and Stockholm. Wonderfully remote ports, like Cochin, India; Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; and Nuuk, Greenland, tempt travelers to come aboard for the long haul.

Silversea's world cruises are known for showcasing exceptional special-access events, and this sailing is no different. On this cruise, applause goes to a private tour of Cairo's 500-room Abdeen Palace and an inimitable evening at Versailles in lavish Marie Antoinette style (pre-guillotine, of course).

Silver Dawn is a wowser with a game-changer spa , all-suite accommodations, tux-clad butlers for all passengers and complimentary caviar service anytime, anywhere. Expect many fare inclusions, such as business-class flights, shore excursions and private transfers.

Departs Jan. 13, 2025. Prices start from $81,900 per person.

cruise lines worldwide

Viking World Voyage II

Imagine the joy of ticking many bucket list boxes on Viking World Voyage II, Viking 's 163-day world cruise on board the 930-passenger Viking Sky in 2025. Book quickly; availability is extremely limited, with many suites and penthouses already sold out.

The Los Angeles-to-New York voyage visits 29 countries and 78 ports.

Palm-tree ports are plentiful, including Moorea, French Polynesia; Bay of Islands, New Zealand; and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. You'll cross many seas, such as the Tasman, Arafura and Arabian, and take your pick of a plethora of possible excursions, including a visit to a Balinese Hindu temple in Indonesia and a tour of the ancient Elephanta Caves in India. You can pretty much do it all on this world cruise.

Departs Jan. 5, 2025. Prices start from $74,995 per person.

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The 11 Best Luxury Cruise Lines, According to T+L's Experts

These luxury cruise lines offer stunning suites, fine dining, and exceptional itineraries.

Meena Thiruvengadam is a lifelong traveler and veteran journalist who has visited more than 50 countries across six continents. Her writing has appeared in The Wall Street Journal , Departures , TripSavvy , and other publications.

cruise lines worldwide

Cruising is back — and you might even say it's better than ever. "Vacations at sea are suddenly one of the biggest things in travel," Travel + Leisure cruise expert Paul Brady reported recently, as summer air travel is looking progressively messier but the cruise industry continues to stabilize post-pandemic. For those looking to plan a cruise, whether it's a last-minute trip for the summer or a 2024 around-the-world cruise, we've narrowed down the best luxury cruise lines to ferry you to some of the world's most mesmerizing destinations in comfort. Here, our favorite luxury cruise lines in the world.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises

When this luxury cruise line says it's all-inclusive, it's not overstating. Everything from shore excursions, Wi-Fi, and laundry to gratuities, top-shelf liquor, and business-class international flights are included with Regent Seven Seas Cruises ' fares. While each luxurious suite features ocean views, nothing beats the view from the epic 4,000-square-foot, two-bedroom Regent Suite, which has two wraparound balconies, three walk-in closets, two Picasso lithographs, and a grand piano.

For the best in-suite views, book a room at the back of the ship, Kelly Cochrane, executive chef of Regent Seven Seas Cruises tells T+L.

Oceania Cruises

Oceania Cruises has just seven ships, but the debut of the brand-new Oceania Vista catapults this cruise line into the luxury division. The cruise line's relatively new Go Local shore excursions for small groups bring travelers to under-the-radar destinations, T+L contributing editor and long-time cruiser Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon reported recently. Her 2022 cruise on Riviera included 70 excursions "from canoeing Croatia’s Cetina River to cooking classes in Athens."

If you've ever dreamed of having your own butler, Silversea is the luxury cruise line for you. In fact, Silversea's butlers take white-glove service to a whole new level — they'll handle your laundry with more care than you do, scour port towns to find your favorite tastes of home, and even help you pack and unpack your suitcase. Further, Silversea's new culinary program, nicknamed S.A.L.T. (for Sea and Land Taste), brings the taste of destinations on board through cooking classes. Of course, there's no need to cook for yourself aboard a Silversea ship, as each one features several restaurants with multi-course menus to whet your appetite every night.

Viking Cruises

Viking Cruises is a river and ocean cruise line that recently added expedition sailings and the Great Lakes trips to its repertoire. "T+L readers rave about the consistency of Viking's vessels and their Scandinavian design," cruise expert Fran Golden reported when Viking once again topped T+L's World's Best Awards last year. Viking came in at No. 1 in T+L's best mid-size ship category and river cruise category. Golden said the WBA Hall of Fame honoree's 50 river "longships" are "light-filled floating boutique hotels."

Laureen Robert / Courtesy of Ponant

French luxury cruise line Ponant aims to make passengers feel as if they're traveling on their own private yachts. Guests enjoy Ladurée macarons, Veuve Clicquot Champagne, and luxurious Hermès bath products on board. Each of the company's ships features an onboard spa with massage cabins and either a Turkish bath or sauna. Ponant's luxurious small ships sail to remote destinations like Antarctica, incorporating once-in-a-lifetime experiences such as eclipse spotting from the edge of the earth. The company also partners with Smithsonian and Disney on certain sailings.

Seabourn cruises to all seven continents, and most recently launched Seabourn Venture , "marking the first time the Carnival Corporation–owned luxury cruise line will offer adventurous sailings on an expedition ship built for extreme environments," Brady reported. (The sibling ship to Venture , Seabourn Pursuit arrives later this year.) The World's Best Award-winning cruise line has all-suite ships and "is known for its onboard service and over-the-top food including complimentary caviar and Thomas Keller steakhouses on ships such as the  Seabourn Ovation, " Brady said.

Windstar Cruises

Windstar Cruises ' luxury small ships call on 150 ports throughout Europe, Central America, the Caribbean, and the South Pacific, and there's no way you'll go hungry on the journey. Exquisite onboard menus have been designed by acclaimed chefs from Michelin-starred restaurants. (You'll have to pay extra for alcohol, but all meals and a Windstar signature onboard barbecue — a feast of whole suckling pig, shrimp brochette, and more — are included.) The cruise line is not only a T+L World's Best Awards Hall of Fame honoree, it has a "long-standing partnership with the James Beard Foundation ," Brady reported, and regularly brings chefs on board for culinary-focused sailings. Yes, chef.

Courtesy of Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours

Whether it's a river or an ocean you want to cruise, Scenic can take you there in style. The luxury cruise line operates river cruises in Europe and Asia, while ocean cruises on Scenic Eclipse (and the forthcoming Scenic Eclipse II ) can take guests to Antarctica, the Arctic, Australia, South America, and Greenland, among other coveted destinations. On board, you'll find fine dining, expansive spas and fitness facilities, and butler service.

Cunard Line

Jonathan Atkin / Courtesy of Cunard Line

This British luxury cruise line is known for its transatlantic service, which also transports pets between its headquarters in Southampton, England, and New York City. Cunard operates three ships with a fourth in the works, though only the Queen Mary 2 sails the transatlantic route. It's a cruise line that takes formality seriously; white-gloved waiters serve afternoon tea each day at 3:30 p.m. State rooms include 24-hour room service and evening turndown service with chocolates. Don't forget your tux, the gala nights are black tie.

Paul Gauguin Cruises

Roger Paperno / Courtesy of Paul Gauguin Cruises

Paul Gauguin Cruises operates just one ship, but it is exquisite, hosting 330 guests and sailing only in the South Pacific to destinations like Tahiti, Fiji, Tonga, and the Cook Islands. The ship is small enough to access private ports at remote beaches and take travelers well off the beaten path. Named the best small-ship ocean cruise line in T+L's 2022 World's Best Awards, Golden said the line is known for Tahitian-inspired massage techniques in the onboard spa and noted that cruisers particularly love the wonderful staff.

Celebrity Cruises

Steve Dunlop / Courtesy of Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Cruises ' new Edge Series ships are taking things up a notch. Celebrity's signature Iconic Suites on board the Celebrity Edge and Apex offer panoramic views from above the ship's bridge; each suite boasts more than 2,500 square feet of space, including expansive 690-square-foot terraces, and comes with two bedrooms and two bathrooms. Celebrity Beyond , which debuted in 2022, accommodates 3,260 guests has 32 bars and restaurants, like Le Voyage by chef Daniel Boulud, and two-story villas on board. Beyond 's sibling ship, Ascent , will be delivered later this year.

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These are the top 4 cruise lines in the world, according to travelers

thumbnail

It looks like more smooth sailing for the cruise industry .

An October survey from Condé Nast Traveler revealed that 47% of people said they would be interested in setting sail on a ship — only 27% of readers went on a cruise last year.

A recent report from the Cruise Lines International Association shows that traveling by cruise is becoming one of the fastest-growing tourism sectors.

Condé Nast Traveler released its top cruise lines ranking based on a two-month-long survey where readers voted on their favorite cruises by weighing them in several categories, including:

  • Accommodation
  • Sustainability

The cruises were scored on a 100-point scale. Mega ships have more than 4,000 passengers, while large ships were defined as those with 2,500 to 4,000 passengers.

The best cruise lines in 2023

Best Mega Ships

  • Norwegian Cruise Line: 86.72
  • Royal Caribbean International: 86.69
  • Carnival Cruise Line: 85.35
  • MSC Cruises: 83.42

Norwegian Cruise Line ranked as the top cruise line this year.

It is the third-largest cruise line in the world by passengers, according to Cruise Market Watch . As of 2021, it controls about 8.6% of the worldwide cruise market.

As of August 2023, Norwegian Cruise Line operates 19 cruise ships and owns two private islands in the Caribbean: Harvest Caye in Belize and Great Stirrup Cay in the Bahamas.

Royal Caribbean International ranked as the second-best cruise line in the world.

As of 2022, the cruise line operates 26 ships and two privately owned resorts: Labadee on the northern coast of Haiti and Coco Cay, a private island in the Bahamas.

In 2019, Royal Caribbean International announced it has plans to open a private island in the South Pacific .

Best Large Ships

  • Virgin Voyages: 94.07
  • Disney Cruise Line: 92.21
  • Cunard: 89.55
  • Princess Cruises: 89.42
  • Celebrity Cruises: 88.57
  • Costa Cruises: 87.95
  • Holland America Line: 87.79
  • Norwegian Cruise Line: 86.41
  • Royal Caribbean International: 84.31
  • MSC Cruises: 83.77

Virgin Voyages ranked as the top cruise in the large ships category. It was founded just eight years ago.

The cruise line currently has three ships and operates as an adults-only experience . It sails to popular Caribbean, European and South Pacific spots. According to U.S. News and World Report , Virgin Voyages ranked as the No. 1 best cruise line for money.

Disney Cruise Line ranked as the second top cruise line with a score of 92.21.

The cruise line currently operates five ships and as of 2021, Disney had a market share of 2.2% by passengers and 2.7% by revenue, according to Cruise Market Watch .

Disney Cruise Line also owns Castaway Cay, a private island in the Bahamas. According to U.S. News and World Report , Disney Cruise Line accounts for having approximately one crew member for every three passengers, no matter the vessel size.

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10 Best Cruises Lines in the World According To Our Readers

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Note: The Travel Awaits team regularly updates content to provide the latest, and most accurate information to our readers. The updated content in this article may not reflect the views or opinions of the original author.

These cruise lines have been recognized for their exceptional service, luxurious amenities, unforgettable experiences, and unparalleled customer satisfaction. So, without further ado, let’s embark on a journey to discover the best cruises lines, as chosen by our readers.

10 Best Cruises Lines According To Our Readers

1. royal caribbean international (winner).

Royal Caribbean International takes the top spot on our list and it’s no surprise why. With their innovative ships, thrilling onboard activities like rock climbing and surfing, Broadway-style entertainment, and world-class dining options, Royal Caribbean offers an unforgettable experience for all travelers. From Caribbean adventures to Mediterranean voyages , their itineraries cater to diverse interests, ensuring a truly remarkable cruise experience.

Book Now on Expedia

2. Viking Cruises

Viking Jupiter in Gdansk, Poland

Last year’s winner gets knocked down to #2. Renowned for its elegant ships and immersive cultural experiences, Viking Cruises takes cruising to a whole new level. Offering destination-focused itineraries and smaller vessels that can navigate through picturesque rivers and stunning coastlines, Viking Cruises provides a more intimate and enriching journey. Impeccable service, enriching onboard lectures, and exquisite regional cuisine make each voyage with Viking a true exploration of culture and history.

Taking a cruise with Viking? Here are 11 Viking Cruise Line Secrets No One Tells You and 5 Important Things To Do To Prepare For Your Viking Cruise .

3. Holland America Line

Coming in third place, Holland America Line combines timeless elegance with modern amenities, appealing to discerning travelers seeking refined experiences. With a fleet of mid-sized ships, Holland America Line provides an intimate atmosphere and personalized service. From Alaska’s breathtaking glaciers to Europe’s captivating ports, their carefully curated itineraries offer a mix of iconic destinations and hidden gems. Culinary delights, engaging enrichment programs, and an array of entertainment options further elevate the onboard experience.

4. Princess Cruises

The Crown Princess cruise ship in Aruba

Princess Cruises has been enchanting passengers for decades with its dedication to exceptional service and a diverse range of itineraries. Known for luxurious ships , Princess Cruises offers a plethora of onboard activities, including world-class entertainment, gourmet dining, and rejuvenating spa experiences. Whether you’re sailing through the stunning fjords of Norway or exploring the tropical paradise of the South Pacific, Princess Cruises ensures a seamless vacation filled with unforgettable moments.

5. Celebrity Cruises

For those seeking a sophisticated and upscale celebrity cruises, Celebrity Cruises is a perfect choice. Combining modern luxury, stylish design, and exceptional service, their ships redefine elegance on the high seas. For foodies, Celebrity Cruises offers a variety of specialty dining options and culinary-centric onboard activities, including cooking classes and wine tastings. From the stunning beaches of the Caribbean to the iconic landmarks of Europe, itineraries cater to both relaxation and exploration.

6. Disney Cruise Line

Mickey and Minnie in front of the Disney Wish

A favorite among families, Disney Cruise Line ensures a magical and unforgettable vacation for both children and adults alike. Combining Disney’s signature entertainment, character meet-and-greets, and Broadway-style shows with world-class dining and exciting deck parties, Disney Cruise Line creates an immersive experience that transports guests into a fairy-tale world. From the Caribbean to the Mediterranean, their itineraries offer enchanting destinations and exceptional service that keeps visitors coming back for more. So if you want to spend some quality time with your children, this Disney family cruise is definitely for you!

7. Norwegian Cruise Line

Synonymous with freedom and flexibility, Norwegian Cruise Line offers a Freestyle Cruising experience that allows passengers to create their own perfect vacation. With a wide range of dining options, exciting entertainment choices, and a multitude of onboard activities, Norwegian Cruise Line ensures that every guest can tailor their experience to suit their preferences. Whether you’re looking for a thrilling adventure on the water slides or a peaceful retreat at the spa, Norwegian Cruise Line has it all. Their diverse itineraries, which span from the Caribbean to Europe and beyond, provide ample opportunities for exploration and discovery.

8. Carnival Cruise Line

The Carnival Freedom in Cozumel, Mexico

Its lively and fun-filled atmosphere makes Carnival Cruise Line a top choice for those seeking a vibrant and energetic cruise experience. Carnival offers an array of exciting onboard activities, from water parks and thrilling waterslides to high-energy shows and lively nightclubs. Dining options cater to every taste and preference, ensuring a delightful culinary journey. Carnival Cruise Line’s itineraries cover a wide range of destinations, including the Caribbean, Mexico, and the Bahamas, promising sun-soaked adventures and unforgettable memories for all.

If you want to escape the crowd and are more into an intimate atmosphere, you could opt for a small ship cruise .

9. Virgin Voyages

Virgin Voyages’ trophy cabinet is not bursting with accolades in 2023 for nothing. Virgin Voyages ’ approach to sailing is winning hearts left and right. Whether you’re looking to just switch off and relax, or you want to party the night away, its ships do have something for everyone. Well, not for everyone as all Virgin Voyages’ cruises are for adults only. 

In addition to its presence in the Caribbean and the Bahamas, Virgin Voyages is now offering seasonal sailings in the Mediterranean and voyages to Australia and New Zealand. With its upscale atmosphere, Michelin-star chef-curated menus, and wellness activities, Virgin Voyages’ three-ship line stands out.

Book Now on Virgin Voyages

10. MSC Cruises

Being a major player in Europe for a while, MSC Cruises is growing fast in North America with a lineup of brand-new, mega-ships packed with amenities and activities tailored to woo more Americans. 

Known for its Mediterranean-inspired elegance and diverse itineraries, MSC Cruises offers a blend of modern amenities and cultural experiences on its stylish cruise ships.

You’ll feel right at home on MSC Cruises’ new World, Meraviglia, and Seaside Class vessels if you’re a megaresort lover. Their ships can rival the biggest ones from the Royal Caribbean and Norwegian for their array of onboard amusements.

They also offer some of the lowest pricing among the world’s biggest ships.  Book Now on Expedia

Honorable Mentions

  • Sea Cloud Cruises : Embodying the epitome of luxury executive sailing, Sea Cloud Cruises is renowned for its iconic tall ship, the Sea Cloud, offering a unique blend of timeless elegance, personalized service, and intimate voyages.
  • Grand Circle Cruise Line : Focused on cultural immersion and small-ship exploration, Grand Circle Cruise Line caters to mature travelers, providing in-depth experiences and educational opportunities.
  • Alaskan Dream Cruises : Offering intimate expedition cruises through Alaska’s scenic wilderness, Alaskan Dream Cruises provides small-ship adventures with a focus on wildlife, native culture, and personalized service.
  • Oceania Cruises : Renowned for its luxurious and mid-sized ships, Oceania Cruises delivers a sophisticated cruising experience with gourmet dining, diverse itineraries, and an emphasis on destination exploration.
  • Paul Gauguin Cruises : Specializing in celebrity cruises and South Pacific and French Polynesia voyages, Paul Gauguin Cruises provides a luxurious, all-inclusive experience on a smaller ship, blending comfort with exotic destinations.

Our readers have spoken, and these cruise lines have emerged as the top choices in the industry. Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, cultural immersion, or family fun, these cruise lines have proven their excellence in providing exceptional experiences.

With their diverse itineraries, luxurious amenities, attentive service, and commitment to guest satisfaction, these cruise lines offer the perfect getaway for travelers of all ages and interests. Embark on a journey with any of these cruise lines and prepare to create memories that will last a lifetime. Bon voyage!

Are Cruises Always ‘All-Inclusive’?

No, it depends on the cruise line and your specific deal. Although cruises are not always all-inclusive as standard, there are usually packages that you can purchase on top of your ticket which pretty much turn any cruise into an all-inclusive one. 

Is Cruising Expensive?

Cruise fares range from extremely cheap sale prices to premium rates for fancy suites on luxury lines. However, when you factor in all of the costs you’d incur on a land vacation, you’ll discover that you can often save money by booking the right cruise line.

What Should I Wear on a Cruise?

 It all depends on the length and type of your cruise. Casual sportswear is the order of the day both at sea and ashore in hotter climates. For evening dining, keep with what you would wear to a nice restaurant at home and at least one attire for a formal dining night.

What if I Get Seasick on a Cruise?

Today’s ships are extremely stable, which is why it’s unlikely you will get seasick. However, if you end up suffering from seasickness, there is always a medical center onboard stocked with motion sickness tablets, pressure bands, and injections if the feeling persists.

Which Cruise Destinations Are Most Popular?

The Caribbean and the Mediterranean remain hugely popular because of their accessible locations, predictable weather, and range of ports, but many possible destinations have seen a big increase in popularity in recent years. Namely Northern Europe, Alaska, and South America.

Image of Laura Ray

Laura Ray has lived in Atlanta, the Bay Area, SoCal, and Austin. After moving from Texas, she and her husband rambled about the Midwest in a camper for a couple of years before finally settling on 35 acres in their home state of Kentucky. When she isn't clacking around on the keyboard (cat in lap), you can find her practicing yoga, gardening, or playing the ukulele. This travel-lover's favorite destinations include Italy, the Greek isles, and Kentucky Lake.

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6 Best Cruise Lines for World Cruises

Huge cliffs, blue ocean, and spanning beaches with a little village in Normandy, France.

Considered one of the greatest modern journeys by many travelers, world cruises are the easiest, cost-effective, and most accessible way to literally circumnavigate the planet. Of course, flying is an option, too, but you won’t see anything along the way at all! On a world cruise, you’re able to check off dozens of your bucket list destinations, all during one extended once-in-a-lifetime trip.

World cruises are so amazing because they are so convenient. Instead of using all kinds of other means of transportation to travel around the world—cars, planes, trains, buses,…—you’re using only one. You embark on your world cruise ship and you’ll stay at the very same cabin for the entire journey. As you sail the world’s oceans and seas, you can make the ship your temporary home, get cozy and comfortable, and explore and discover as you please.

No matter the direction of your world cruise, you’ll have to cross the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. Many itineraries also include “minor” seas, such as the Mediterranean, Red, Coral and/or Caribbean Seas.

In short, world cruises take you to countless of the world’s greatest destinations, from the Americas to Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Southeast Asia and the Pacific, touching on most continents and sailing many major oceans.

7 Best Cruise Lines for Around the World Cruises

Although there currently are more than twenty major cruise lines in the world, only a select number of them are known for their amazing world cruises. So, if you’re looking for, or already planning, an unforgettable around the world cruise, we hereby present you the best cruise lines for world cruises.

Viking Ocean Cruises

  • Silversea World Cruises
  • Cunard World Cruises
  • Regent Seven Seas World Cruises
  • Princess World Cruises
  • Oceania World Cruises

Note : Although many do, not all world cruises actually sail around the whole planet, from and to the same port. Some are extended one-way cruises with a different departure and arrival port, while others focus on a specific, large region of the planet, for example, the entire Pacific Ocean. Please review each itinerary carefully with one of our agents.

Get abroad Viking Star for an epic cruise across the globe. As is custom on Viking Ocean Cruises , there’s a wealth of culture to be enjoyed and explored, both on and off the ship. The “Viking Difference” translates into real-life experiences that are among the very best in the cruise industry, from destination-focused itineraries and culturally enriching activities to superb on-board services. Viking prides itself on offering the “thinking person’s cruise”, featuring things like thought-provoking lectures, fun cooking classes, museum visits and resident historians.

In addition to historical and cultural immersion, there’s also plenty of time for relaxation and adventure. On a Viking world cruise, you’ll spend over 130 days sailing around the planet, visiting more than 25 countries on the way. This includes stops at iconic cities as varied as Sydney, Los Angeles, Singapore, Istanbul and Rome. You’ll visit six continents and sail the Caribbean, Tasman, South China and Mediterranean Seas, as well as the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. This is one of the cruise experiences of a lifetime.

One of the top luxury cruise lines , Silversea boasts world-class amenities, services and elegance. They’re one of our favorite world cruise lines because their small, ultra-luxury ships offer a more intimate cruise experience, while also being able to navigate to places where the larger ships simply can’t get. Silversea themselves are quite proud of their world cruise itineraries, too, stating that world cruises are “the jewel in our crown.”

Additionally, Silversea world cruises are all-inclusive, which makes them even more attractive. Small-group tours allow you to explore places in depth, up close and behind the scenes. A few around the world cruise itineraries are available, all of which have their own angle and purpose, whether it’s a north-south cruise around the world or a cruise around the Southern Hemisphere. Also worth noting is that Silversea have the first-ever expedition world cruise, an industry-changing itinerary that’s only possible thanks to this cruise line’s fantastic small luxury ships.

Cunard world cruises are generally regarded as one of the best in the industry—they’ve won their fair share of awards in the past. In fact, this luxury cruise line has been offering world cruises for almost 100 years! In 2023, they will celebrate their centenary of world voyages. They are one of the pioneers of world travel, which, being a cruise line, is incredibly impressive.

If you’ve always dreamed of circumnavigating the globe on a (cruise) ship, Cunard is a great cruise line to take a closer look at. Unlike many other world cruise lines featured here, however, Cunard uses huge cruise ships for their world voyages. While that does decrease the intimacy and personal service on board, on the other hand, it also means more, bigger and perhaps even better facilities, venues and activities on your ship.

In addition to phenomenal destinations all around the world, there’ll also be plenty to discover, enjoy and experience on board. And, of course, this British cruise line offers you the opportunity to relive the heydays of the renowned early-20 th -century ocean liners. Their flagship, the Queen Mary 2, sails around the world and is “the world’s only true ocean liner.”

Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Another industry leader when it comes to ultimate luxury, world-class services and unparalleled style, Regent Seven Seas Cruises are famous for their well-curated world cruises. On a world cruise with Regent Seven Seas, you can get to sail three major oceans, visit six different continents and more than 70 ports of call in over 40 countries. You’ll also be able to immerse yourself in the world’s diverse cultures, history and heritage at nearly 50 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Regent Seven Seas offers world travelers a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience, the opportunity to collect unforgettable memories during four glorious months at sea. Prices may be a bit higher for world cruises with Regent Seven Seas, but remember that their cruises are exceptionally inclusive. If you plan well, you may not even have to spend an extra penny on the ship. Additionally, you’ll also get unpretentious luxury, hundreds of excursion options and complimentary flights to and from your departure and arrival ports.

Princess Cruises

Princess Cruises encourage you to “conquer your travel bucket list in just a little more than 100 days and embark on an adventure of a lifetime.” By this, they obviously mean that you should consider going on an around the world cruise.

Their award-winning itineraries feature late-night port calls, which include overnight stays on land. This interesting perk is part of Princess Cruises’ More Ashore Program. Thanks to this, you’ll have the unique opportunity to discover the nighttime beauty of iconic cities like Dubai, Barcelona and Sydney, a highlight that’s often not possible to experience on other world cruises. Besides those famous world cities, Princess world cruises also include several less-frequented ports like Venice and Cape Verde, as well as numerous UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and countless excursions and activities.

Oceania Cruises

Looking for a voyage of epic proportions? Check out the world cruises offered by Oceania Cruises, one of the world’s largest cruise lines. Their round the world sailings take passengers to over 40 different countries on all continents except for Antarctica. The itineraries are thoughtfully created to cater to seasoned travelers who dream of visiting the globe’s farthest corners.

Aboard the recently refurbished, state-of-the-art Oceania Insignia, you can enjoy ultimate pampering and relaxation at the spa and vitality center, while several restaurants serve some of the best cuisine at sea.

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Dec 10th 2023 – Feb 11th 2024

Ultimate Americas Cruise

36 Destinations, 64 Nights

December 2023

Miami, Florida

Miami, Florida

Perfect Day at CocoCay, The Bahamas

Perfect Day at CocoCay, The Bahamas

Chichén Itzá, Cozumel, Mexico

Chichén Itzá, Cozumel, Mexico

Oranjestad, Aruba

Oranjestad, Aruba

Willemstad, Curaçao

Willemstad, Curaçao

Kralendijk, Bonaire

Kralendijk, Bonaire

Bridgetown, Barbados

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St. George's, Grenada

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Devil's Island, French Guiana

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Fortaleza, Brazil

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Recife, Brazil

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Christ the Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Christ the Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

January 2024

Copacabana Beach, Brazil

Copacabana Beach, Brazil

Montevideo, Uruguay

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Iguazú Falls, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Iguazú Falls, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Puerto Madryn, Argentina

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Port Stanley, Falkland Islands

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Gerlache Strait, Antarctica

Gerlache Strait, Antarctica

Dalhan Bay, Paradise Bay, Elephant Island, Antarctica

Dalhan Bay, Paradise Bay, Elephant Island, Antarctica

Cape Horn, Chile

Cape Horn, Chile

Ushuaia, Argentina

Ushuaia, Argentina

Ushuaia, Argentina

Punta Arenas, Chile

Straits of Magellan, Chile

Straits of Magellan, Chile

Fjords, Chile

Fjords, Chile

Valparaiso, Chile

Valparaiso, Chile

La Serena, Chile

La Serena, Chile

Arica, Chile

Arica, Chile

Pisco, Peru

Pisco, Peru

Machu Picchu, Lima, Peru

Machu Picchu, Lima, Peru

Lima, Peru

February 2024

Manta, Ecuador

Manta, Ecuador

Puntarenas, Costa Rica

Puntarenas, Costa Rica

San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua

San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Ensenada, Mexico

Ensenada, Mexico

Los Angeles, California

Los Angeles, California

Feb 11th 2024 - May 9th 2024

Ultimate Asia Pacific Cruise

40 Destinations, 87 nights

Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii

Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii

Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii

Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii

Mo’orea, French Polynesia

Mo’orea, French Polynesia

Papeete, Tahiti French Polynesia

Papeete, Tahiti French Polynesia

Auckland, New Zealand

Auckland, New Zealand

Bay of Islands, New Zealand

Bay of Islands, New Zealand

Sydney, Australia

Sydney, Australia

Newcastle, Australia

Newcastle, Australia

Brisbane, Australia

Brisbane, Australia

Airlie Beach, Australia

Airlie Beach, Australia

Great Barrier Reef, Cairns, Australia

Great Barrier Reef, Cairns, Australia

Lombok, Indonesia

Lombok, Indonesia

Benoa, Bali, Indonesia

Benoa, Bali, Indonesia

Manila, Philippines

Manila, Philippines

Subic Bay, Philippines

Subic Bay, Philippines

Hong Kong, China

Hong Kong, China

Hong Kong, China

Taipei, Taiwan, China

Ishigaki, Japan

Ishigaki, Japan

Okinawa, Japan

Okinawa, Japan

Busan, South Korea

Busan, South Korea

Jeju Island, South Korea

Jeju Island, South Korea

Seoul, South Korea

Seoul, South Korea

Great Wall of China, Beijing, China

Great Wall of China, Beijing, China

Beijing, China

Beijing, China

Nagasaki, Japan

Nagasaki, Japan

Kagoshima, Japan

Kagoshima, Japan

Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo, Japan

Mt. Fuji, Japan

Osaka, Japan

Osaka, Japan

Nha Trang, Vietnam

Nha Trang, Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Singapore

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Penang, Malaysia

Penang, Malaysia

Hambantota, Sri Lanka

Hambantota, Sri Lanka

Colombo, Sri Lanka

Colombo, Sri Lanka

The Taj Mahal, Cochin, India

The Taj Mahal, Cochin, India

Goa, India

Mumbai, India

Mumbai, India

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Dubai, UAE

May 9th 2024 - July 10th 2024

Ultimate Middle East & Med Cruise

44 Destinations, 63 Nights

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Salalah, Oman

Salalah, Oman

Petra, Jordan

Petra, Jordan

Safaga, Egypt

Safaga, Egypt

Great Pyramid of Giza, Alexandria, Egypt

Great Pyramid of Giza, Alexandria, Egypt

Alexandria, Egypt

Alexandria, Egypt

Ayia Napa, Cyprus

Ayia Napa, Cyprus

Limassol, Cyprus

Limassol, Cyprus

Athens, Greece

Athens, Greece

Temple of Artemis, Ephesus, Turkey

Temple of Artemis, Ephesus, Turkey

Burgas, Bulgaria

Burgas, Bulgaria

Constanta, Romania

Constanta, Romania

Varna, Bulgaria

Varna, Bulgaria

Trabzon, Turkey

Trabzon, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

Thessaloniki, Greece

Thessaloniki, Greece

Chios, Greece

Chios, Greece

Bodrum, Turkey

Bodrum, Turkey

Rhodes, Greece

Rhodes, Greece

Mykonos, Greece

Mykonos, Greece

Santorini, Greece

Santorini, Greece

Chania, Crete, Greece

Chania, Crete, Greece

Olympia (Katakolon), Greece

Olympia (Katakolon), Greece

Corfu, Greece

Corfu, Greece

Bari, Italy

Bari, Italy

Venice, Italy

Venice, Italy

Trieste, Italy

Trieste, Italy

Koper, Slovenia

Koper, Slovenia

Zadar, Croatia

Zadar, Croatia

Split, Croatia

Split, Croatia

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Kotor, Montenegro

Kotor, Montenegro

Valletta, Malta

Valletta, Malta

Catania, Sicily, Italy

Catania, Sicily, Italy

Naples, Italy

Naples, Italy

The Colosseum, Rome, Italy

The Colosseum, Rome, Italy

Florence / Pisa, Italy

Florence / Pisa, Italy

 Portofino, Italy

Portofino, Italy

Ajaccio, Corsica, France

Ajaccio, Corsica, France

Cannes, France

Cannes, France

Nice, France

Nice, France

Provence, France

Provence, France

Palma de Mallorca, Spain

Palma de Mallorca, Spain

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona, Spain

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Barcelona, Spain

Valencia, Spain

Cartagena, Spain

Cartagena, Spain

Malaga, Spain

Malaga, Spain

Casablanca, Morocco

Casablanca, Morocco

Agadir, Morocco

Agadir, Morocco

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal

Porto (Leixoes), Portugal

Porto (Leixoes), Portugal

Vigo, Spain

Vigo, Spain

Cork (Cobh), Ireland

Cork (Cobh), Ireland

Cherbourg, France

Cherbourg, France

Paris (Le Havre), France

Paris (Le Havre), France

Southampton, England

Southampton, England

Bruges (Zeebrugge), Belgium

Bruges (Zeebrugge), Belgium

Skagen, Denmark

Skagen, Denmark

Berlin (Warnemunde), Germany

Berlin (Warnemunde), Germany

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Riga, Latvia

Riga, Latvia

Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn, Estonia

Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki, Finland

Stockholm, Sweden

Stockholm, Sweden

Visby, Sweden

Visby, Sweden

Klaipeda, Lithuania

Klaipeda, Lithuania

Ronne, Bornholm, Denmark

Ronne, Bornholm, Denmark

Kiel, Germany

Kiel, Germany

Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen, Denmark

Aarhus, Denmark

Aarhus, Denmark

Oslo, Norway

Oslo, Norway

Kristiansand, Norway

Kristiansand, Norway

Haugesund, Norway

Haugesund, Norway

Olden, Norway

Olden, Norway

Alesund, Norway

Alesund, Norway

Bergen, Norway

Bergen, Norway

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Reykjavik, Iceland

Reykjavik, Iceland

Qaqortoq, Greenland

Qaqortoq, Greenland

Nuuk, Greenland

Nuuk, Greenland

St. John's, Newfoundland

St. John's, Newfoundland

September 2024

New York, New York

New York, New York

Royal Naval Dockyard, Bermuda

Royal Naval Dockyard, Bermuda

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Marine Insight

10 Most Famous Cruise Lines In The World

Embarking on a voyage across the vast seas and oceans, enveloped in luxury and adventure, is a memorable experience that captures the imagination of many. With their floating cities of grandeur, cruise lines have become synonymous with exploration, relaxation, fun and unmatched entertainment.

The cruise line industry is quite successful and ever-growing. It has something for everyone. The cruise lines offer a complete package from thrilling onboard activities to visiting picturesque locations.

Setting foot on these ships means immersing yourself in a world of opulence where attentive staff cater to your smallest need and breathtaking ocean vistas unfold before one’s eyes. The floating resorts offer an array of experiences, from the tranquil solitude of beaches to enriching and soulful cultural performances.

This article will look at the world’s most famous cruise lines and what they offer to their customers.

1. Carnival Cruise Line

Leading the pack is the Carnival Cruise Line, known for its vibrant atmosphere, top-notch amenities and extensive choice of destinations.

It was founded in 1972 by Ted Arison, an Israeli Businessman. The company is a subsidiary of the Carnival Corporation & plc. The company tops the list of the largest cruise lines based on the passengers carried every year.

Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival Cruise has a fleet of 25 ships, an additional new build and another that will join the fleet in 2024.

Carnival Cruises are all about fun vacations at sea and ashore. They offer day and nighttime entertainment like musicals, deck and pool parties, casinos, stage shows etc.

Their ships operate 2 to 31-day voyages, leaving from every U.S. Coast. Although it is best known for Carribean cruises, other exotic destinations like Mexico, Bahamas, Europe, Hawaii and Alaska are also covered.

Carnival Cruise Line Australia has two ships that depart from Sydney and Brisbane to New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.

2. Royal Caribbean International

Royal Carribean International, earlier known as Royal Carribean Cruise Line, was founded in 1968 in Norway. It is based in Miami, Florida and is the biggest cruise line by revenue and second biggest in terms of passengers carried annually.

It has 26 ships in operation, and four more have been ordered. It is the favourite cruise of travellers seeking adventure, offering bold onboard thrills, unending dining options, entertainment and world-class accommodation.

Royal Caribbean International

The ships sail to 270 plus destinations in 60 plus nations on six continents. It captures the essence of innovation, and the ships have activities like skydiving simulators and onboard surfing.

It owns two resorts used as stops on a few Caribbean and Bahamas cruises. These include the Labadee, on the northern shores of Haiti and Coco Cay, a private island in the Berry Islands region of the Bahamas.

Royal Caribbean plans to add additional resorts in Asia, especially on Lelepa Island in Vanuatu.

3. Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Cruise Line enchants its guests with its unique freestyle cruising concept, offering freedom and flexibility regarding dining, entertainment and accommodation options.

It was the first in the industry to eliminate set dining times and offered guests the freedom to cruise on their schedule to more than 450 destinations across the globe.

Norwegian Cruise Line

The Norwegian Cruise Line was founded in 1966 and is based in Miami. It is the 3rd largest cruise line in the world by passenger count, controlling roughly 8.6% of the total share of the cruise market by passengers as of 2021. It is wholly owned by its parent company, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings.

It was established by Knut Kloster and Ted Arison with Sunward, which functioned as a car ferry between Southampton and Gibraltar in 1966.

Presently, the cruise line operates a fleet of 18 ships while five are on order. All its cruise ships are flagged to the Bahamas except the Pride of America, which operates within the U.S. and sails under the flag of the U.S.

4. MSC Cruises

MSC Cruises is a Mediterranean gem, combining elegance and modernity to provide its guests a truly cosmopolitan experience. It is one of the world’s biggest cruise lines and a leading operator in Europe, South America, the Gulf and Southern Africa.

It is the fastest-growing brand in the Caribbean, Far East and North America. Its fleet is expected to increase to 23 ships by 2025.

MSC Cruises

MSC Cruises is based in Geneva and has offices in Naples, Venice and Genoa. It was established in Naples, Italy, in 1989 as part of the Mediterranean Shipping Company.

Apart from being the world’s biggest privately owned cruise company with a 300-year history, it employs about 23,500 people across the world in offices located in 45 countries.

5. Princess Cruises

Princess Cruises emphasises discovery, allowing passengers to explore remote corners of the world while enjoying the luxury and exceptional service. It is owned by Carnival Corporation, incorporated in Bermuda, and headquartered in Santa Clarita, California.

Princess Cruises has 15 cruise ships with itineraries marketed for American and international guests.

Princess Cruises

The cruise line, founded in 1965, is known for its luxurious ships with numerous amenities.

Princess Cruises offer diverse itineraries spanning the globe. Popular destinations include Alaska, Europe, Asia, Australia and the Caribbean. Guests can also choose from a range of shore excursions to explore a port of call, whether it is whale watching in Alaska or snorkelling in the Caribbean.

Princess Cruises is also known for its award-winning culinary experiences and onboard entertainment options like Broadway-style shows, comedy performances, themed parties, guest lectures, auctions, cooking demonstrations and much more.

6. Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Cruise Line is based in Miami, Florida and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Royal Caribbean Group. It was established in 1988 by the Chandris Group based in Greece. In 1997, it was merged with the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line.

While Royal Caribbean Cruise ships are famous for offering thrilling activities at sea, such as Skydiving simulators, surfing, ice skating, bumper cars etc., Celebrity Cruises, the Royal Caribbean’s sister cruise line, provides a more upscale experience to its guests. It is committed to providing a more refined cruising experience.

Celebrity Cruises

While Celebrity Cruises offers excellent entertainment options for adults, it has no adventure thrills like water slides, Rock walls, ice or roller skating rinks. They do have something called ‘Youth Programming or Camp At Sea’ and offer activities for children from 3 to 17 years old, like games, crafts, sports tournaments and parties.

7. Holland America Line

Holland America Line is a subsidiary of the Carnival Corporation & plc based in Seattle, Washington, in the U.S.

It was founded in Rotterdam, Netherlands and operated as a Dutch shipping line, a passenger, cargo and cruise line between the Netherlands and North America from 1873- 1989. It also transported hundreds and thousands of emigrants from the Netherlands to the North American Continent.

Holland America Line

With its maritime heritage, Holland America Line combines traditions with comfort and offers guests a blend of elegance and modern amenities.

Although the cruise line offers many itineraries, it is famous for its Alaska Cruises. Also, Holland America Line offers more sailings to Glacier Bay National Park than any other cruise line. The company highlights that travelling is for a higher purpose and provides an enriching experience to its guests.

They have a fleet of 11 ships which provide more than 500 sailings a year, touring all seven continents. Famous destinations include the Caribbean, Europe, Mexico, South America, Australia, Alaska, New Zealand and Asia.

8. Costa Cruises

Costa Cruises is an Italian Cruise Line founded in 1948. It has been a part of the Carnival Corporation & plc since 2000. It embodies an Italian style and hospitality. It is based in Genoa, Italy and primarily caters to the Italian cruise market.

However, the company has ten ships that operate globally, mainly on routes in Northern Europe, the Mediterranean, the Baltic Sea, the Caribbean, South America, North and Central America, Arab Emirates and the Far East.

Costa Cruises

It was founded by Giacomo Costa and was known as Giacomo Costa fu Andrea then. The company then operated cargo ships that carried textiles and olive oil.

In 1924, it was handed to the founder’s sons, who started expanding it. They initially bought the ship Ravenna; in 1947, the company was renamed Linea C.

9. Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line is a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Company. It was incorporated in 1996 as Magical Cruise Company Ltd. Its first vessel was the Disney Magic. The company is based in London but has its operational office in Florida.

Disney Cruises has five ships: Disney Magic, Disney Wonder, Disney Dream, Disney Fantasy, and Disney Wish. Also, three ships are set to join their fleet in 2024 and 2025.

Disney Cruise Line

Disney is synonymous with fairytales and magic, and this is what the cruise line offers—a truly magical and unforgettable cruising experience, perfect for families with children and even adults.

The company also owns exclusive private islands such as Castaway Cay in the Bahamas. Another one is Lighthouse Point, stretching 700 acres on the southern end of Eleuthera in the Bahamas, set to open in 2024.

10. Cunard Line

Cunard Line has a 100-year history of sailing the oceans and sea. It offers word voyages, short and long cruise trips to Asia, Africa, Europe, Australasia, Europe, and the Americas and overnight calls in cities that come to life at night.

Cunard is a British shipping and cruise line based in Southampton, England. It is operated by Carnival U.K. and is owned by the Carnival Corporation plc.

Cunard Line

Cunard’s cruise fleet has four beautiful ships, the Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth, Queen Victoria, and Queen Anne, which will join the fleet in 2024. Each ship is grand and unique in itself.

The design of the ships is inspired by the cruise line’s past and what it stands for. It is also symbolic of its reimagined future. Hence, along with classic art deco stylings and beautiful, intricate craftsmanship, one may find bold splashes of colour and contemporary comforts onboard.

So if you are an adventure seeker, a travel enthusiast or simply someone planning a vacation to cool off, then do check out these cruise lines, which offer a luxurious experience that will definitely relax and rejuvenate your body and mind. Choose the best suits your needs and have the time of your life on a grand cruise ship.

You might also like to read-

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Disclaimer:  The authors’ views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Marine Insight.  Data and charts, if used, in the article have been sourced from available information and have not been authenticated by any statutory authority. The author and Marine Insight do not claim it to be accurate nor accept any responsibility for the same. The views constitute only the opinions and do not constitute any guidelines or recommendations on any course of action to be followed by the reader.

The article or images cannot be reproduced, copied, shared, or used in any form without the permission of the author and Marine Insight.

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Best Cruise Lines for the Money

With lodging, food and entertainment all included in one price, a vacation at sea is often a better value than a

With lodging, food and entertainment all included in one price, a vacation at sea is often a better value than a land-based getaway – if you choose wisely. To help you make the most of your travel budget, U.S. News ranked the following cruise lines based on a methodology that factors in itinerary affordability, amenities included in the base fare, health ratings and reputation among experts and travelers. Read on to learn more about this year's best cruise lines for the money, and be sure to check our latest cruise deals for an even more affordable vacation experience. 

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Virgin Voyages

Virgin Voyages may not seem like the most affordable offering at a glance, but it presents cruisers with supreme value. Base fares include all onboard dining, gratuities, Wi-Fi access, group fitness classes and more. Add those benefits to Virgin's ongoing sales, and you're looking at a top-notch experience for less. 

  • 4.39 Overall Rating
  • 3 Ships in Fleet

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Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Cruises' vessels offer the endless amenities and buffets of its competitors' megaships but maintain the service standard of smaller lines. Rates on Bahamas and Caribbean itineraries run less than $200 per person, and all-inclusive add-on packages are available.

  • 4.36 Overall Rating
  • 13 Ships in Fleet

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Princess Cruises

Princess Cruises targets more adult travelers (especially on longer voyages) than family-oriented lines like Royal Caribbean International, but at similar prices. Along with lodging and select dining, fares cover activities like cooking demonstrations and educational lectures.

  • 4.02 Overall Rating
  • 15 Ships in Fleet

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Royal Caribbean International

With more than 25 cruise ships, Royal Caribbean is one of the largest lines sailing the ocean today. Having the ability to accommodate thousands of guests per ship allows the company to keep rates low. In fact, travelers may find itineraries in popular destinations throughout the Caribbean, Mexico, the Bahamas and the Pacific Coast for around $250 per person.

  • 4.17 Overall Rating
  • 25 Ships in Fleet

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Holland America Line

Cruisers will find this premium cruise line to be a pretty good bargain, with four-day Caribbean sailings often starting at less than $300 per person, and short voyages along the Pacific Coast coming in around $100 per person. But cutting costs doesn't mean skimping on service; Holland America ships offer individualized attention, free room service and all-inclusive package options.

  • 4.14 Overall Rating
  • 11 Ships in Fleet

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MSC Cruises

MSC offers sailings from North American ports like Miami, New York City and Orlando, Florida, though the majority of its voyages depart from international locales. But even if you have to fly to a foreign port, you'll save money over a typical land vacation abroad. Mediterranean sailings can start at around $100 per person, and the line offers several deals and money-saving packages.

  • 3.79 Overall Rating
  • 22 Ships in Fleet

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Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival specializes in budget-friendly fun, offering frequent, significant discounts on already low prices. In fact, itineraries for around $200 per person are the norm. Access to most of the ships' activities won't cost a penny, but keep in mind that some extras (like specialty restaurants, beverages and certain attractions) aren't covered in fares.

  • 3.90 Overall Rating

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Norwegian Cruise Line

With its popular, frequently running Free at Sea program, Norwegian offers travelers discounts on Wi-Fi, excursions, alcohol, airfare and more on top of its already low prices. And, similar to luxury lines, Norwegian ditches steadfast rules like assigned dining times, but costs a fraction of the price.

  • 3.97 Overall Rating
  • 19 Ships in Fleet

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Cunard Line

While you may not expect to find a more opulent line like Cunard on this list, the cruise provider has a surprising number of relatively reasonable fares for upcoming sailings. Travelers can fully enjoy the line's old-world elegance knowing that room service, onboard activities and most dining options are included in the base price.

  • 4.07 Overall Rating

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Costa Cruises

A member of the Carnival family, Costa Cruises is primarily based in Europe. The fleet offers lower rates than its competitors, particularly for its Mediterranean itineraries (think: fares starting at less than $100 per person). Although it offers family-friendly amenities, Costa's ships are also well-suited to adults, with various entertainment options like theater shows and casinos.

  • 3.50 Overall Rating
  • 9 Ships in Fleet

Disclaimers about ship ratings: A ship’s Health Rating is based on vessel inspection scores published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If a ship did not receive a CDC score within 22 months prior to the calculation of its Overall Rating, its Health Rating appears as N/A; in such a case, the ship’s Overall Rating is calculated using the average Health Rating of all CDC-rated ships within the cruise line. All ship Traveler Ratings are based on ratings provided under license by Cruiseline.com.

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Can the World’s Largest Cruise Ship Really Be Climate-Friendly?

The newly christened Icon of the Seas is filled with energy-efficient technology. But some climate experts say the biggest challenge with a ship that can accommodate nearly 8,000 people is its size.

A large, colorful cruise ship is docked in an urban setting with mountains in the background. Turquoise lounge chairs are lined up on the curving deck, and there is a small pool, one of many, in the foreground.

By Ceylan Yeginsu

On Tuesday, in a ceremony that, of course, involved a soccer ball, the Argentine soccer superstar Lionel Messi pressed a button and a bottle of champagne smashed against the bow of Icon of the Seas, christening the world’s largest cruise ship at its home port of Miami. Like an A-list celebrity stepping onto the red carpet, the arrival of Royal Caribbean’s 250,800-ton ship has captured the world’s attention, with some marveling over its cutting-edge features, like the largest water park at sea, while others criticize the gigantic ship’s potential to damage the environment.

With the capacity to carry nearly 8,000 people, the 20-deck, 1,198-foot-long vessel — whose inaugural cruise with paying passengers departs Jan. 27 — is the size of a small city. There are eight “neighborhoods” packed with amenities that include a 55-foot waterfall, six water slides and more than 40 restaurants, bars and entertainment venues.

According to Royal Caribbean, the ship, which is registered in the Bahamas, also sets a new standard for sustainability with the use of energy-efficient technology designed to minimize the ship’s carbon footprint and move closer to the company’s goal of introducing a net-zero ship by 2035.

“We live by one single philosophy, which is to deliver the best vacations responsibly,” said Nick Rose, the vice president of environmental stewardship at Royal Caribbean Group. “And to do that we build with the core principles of sustaining our planet and communities.”

For decades the cruise industry has been criticized for its negative impact on the environment. A 2021 study published in the Marine Pollution Bulletin found that despite technical advances, cruising remains a major source of air, water and land pollution affecting fragile habitats and human health.

While environmental groups have welcomed some of the features on Icon of the Seas, like its advanced water treatment system, some say building such huge ships is contrary to the cruise industry’s long-term goals of sustainability and preservation.

“The ships are getting bigger and bigger and that is the wrong direction for the cruise industry to be going,” said Marcie Keever, director of the Oceans and Vessels Program at the environmental organization Friends of the Earth . “If you were really thinking about sustainability and not your bottom line, you would not be building a cruise ship with a capacity of nearly 10,000 people.”

With more than five different brands, Royal Caribbean has a fleet of 65 cruise ships of various sizes. Icon of the Seas was built to meet demand and deliver experiences that its consumers were seeking, the company said, adding that all its ships carry the same sustainability principles of energy efficiency, and advanced waste and water management.

Here’s a look at some key features that Royal Caribbean says make Icon of the Seas more sustainable and how they stack up.

Transitioning to alternative energy sources

Icon of the Seas is Royal Caribbean’s first ship to be powered by liquefied natural gas, or L.N.G., a fossil fuel that the cruise industry has touted as a cleaner alternative to the commonly used heavy fuel oil.

“L.N.G. is currently the fossil fuel available at a scale that has the best performance in reducing atmospheric emissions,” said Cruise Lines International Association, the industry’s trade group, in its 2023 Environmental Technologies and Practices Report, citing analysis from Sea-LNG , an industry coalition that promotes the benefits of L.N.G. as a viable marine fuel.

But environmental analysts are concerned about L.N.G.’s long-term problems. Despite emitting around 25 percent less carbon dioxide than conventional marine fuels, they say, L.N.G. is mostly methane, a powerful gas that traps more heat in the atmosphere over time than carbon dioxide.

According to a 2020 greenhouse gas study by the International Maritime Organization, the United Nations body that regulates global shipping, the use of L.N.G. as a marine fuel grew 30 percent between 2012 and 2018, resulting in a 150 percent increase in methane emissions from ships.

Bryan Comer, the marine program director at the International Council on Clean Transportation, said the reason methane emissions have grown faster than the use of L.N.G. is because ships are switching from steam turbines to dual-fuel internal combustion engines. “They are more fuel efficient, but emit large amounts of unburned methane to the atmosphere in the form of ‘methane slip’ from the engine,” he said, pointing to I.C.C.T. research that predicts demand for L.N.G. will triple between 2019 and 2030, as will methane emissions.

“Even if ships used 100-percent renewable L.N.G. bio or e-fuels, methane emissions from ships would still double between 2019 and 2030 because of methane slip,” he added.

Royal Caribbean says that L.N.G. was the most viable alternative fuel available when decisions were being made about how to build Icon of the Seas more than 10 years ago.

“People will say L.N.G. is not the long-term fuel and we agree and view it as transitional,” Mr. Rose said. “We have built the ship to make it adaptable to future fuel sources.”

The company is preparing to debut the Celebrity Xcel next year, a 3,248-passenger ship that will be equipped with a tri-fuel engine designed to accommodate methanol, which several environmental groups consider to be one of the most promising fuels to achieve carbon-neutral sailing.

Shore power capabilities

When cruise ships are docked at ports, their engines and diesel generators are often running on fuel, emitting carbon dioxide into populated areas. Icon of the Seas has been built to run on shore power electricity in ports, a cleaner alternative to fuel, and hopes to become one of the first cruise ships to plug into the local power grid at Port Miami when shore power facilities are set to become available in the spring.

Three ships can plug in safely and simultaneously at the port on any given day, including Icon of the Seas, a spokeswoman for Port Miami said.

“When it comes to sustainability, there is no silver bullet and we want to pull every lever possible,” Mr. Rose of Royal Caribbean said. “So if we can pull into a port that has cleaner shore-power capabilities we want to plug in so we don’t use any fuel.”

The problem is that most ports don’t supply shore power: Only 2 percent of the world’s ports currently offer it for cruise ships, according to CLIA. Royal Caribbean says it is working with ports and other cruise lines to further its use.

Converting waste to energy onboard

Expanding its 30-year “Save the Waves” program , which aims to help keep trash out of landfills and the ocean, Royal Caribbean has built what it says is a first-of-its-kind waste management system on board Icon of the Seas that converts waste into energy.

The microwave-assisted pyrolysis technology, known as MAP, takes food, biowaste and cardboard waste and turns it into small pellets. The pellets are then heated up to produce a gas that is converted into steam energy that Royal Caribbean said would be used to power the ship’s water park. The system also produces biochar, which has the potential to be used as a fertilizer.

The company said it will have a better understanding of the system’s output while the ship is in full operation in the coming months, but so far it takes around 25 kilowatts of electricity to operate the system with an output of 200 kilowatts.

“It won’t take much energy to run the system,” said Mr. Comer, of I.C.C.T , but, he added, “It won’t produce much energy for the ship, either.”

Advanced water treatment

Icon of the Seas is equipped with an advanced purification system that is designed to treat all wastewater onboard, from toilets and showers to kitchen galleys. More than 93 percent of the ship’s fresh water will be produced on board through a system of reverse osmosis, which removes contaminants from water, the cruise line said.

Ms. Keever of Friends of the Earth said Royal Caribbean deserves credit for the treatment systems. “They’re installing the most expensive and best sewage treatment technology on their ships, and it’s important because they are the biggest cruise line and are showing the industry that they can do it, pay for it and they should,” she said.

In its 2023 promotional video series , “Making an Icon,” Royal Caribbean said Icon of the Seas would be its “first ship with fuel cell technology,” which would be used to power parts of the ship like the air conditioning and elevators.

But it won’t happen yet.

Fuel cells combine hydrogen and oxygen to make electricity without combustion and their byproduct is water, meaning that they do not emit as many greenhouse gases as traditional fossil fuels. While Icon of the Seas has been built to accommodate fuel cells, the batteries have not yet been installed, according to Bloom Energy, the fuel cell manufacturer working with Royal Caribbean. Because of the size and scope of the project, Bloom Energy said it encountered issues with external suppliers.

Bloom Energy is now focused on solving the issues for larger fuel systems that are being planned for Royal Caribbean’s 5,668-passenger Utopia of the Seas, which is scheduled to enter service next year. Suminder Singh, the vice president of marine at Bloom Energy said the next opportunity to equip Icon of the Seas with the cells may not be for another five years, when the ship is scheduled to go into dry dock. Royal Caribbean says it may not take that long and the decision will depend on the success of the technology on Utopia.

Mr. Comer of I.C.C.T. said that while fuel cells would be a great option, they have similar life-cycle emissions as conventional oil-based fuels if they are made on land using natural gas. “We need hydrogen made from renewable electricity,” he said. “And if we have that and use it in fuel cells, then you would basically have zero-life cycle greenhouse gas emissions.”

Follow New York Times Travel on Instagram and sign up for our weekly Travel Dispatch newsletter to get expert tips on traveling smarter and inspiration for your next vacation. Dreaming up a future getaway or just armchair traveling? Check out our 52 Places to Go in 2024.

Ceylan Yeginsu is a travel reporter for The Times who frequently writes about the cruise industry and Europe, where she is based. More about Ceylan Yeginsu

Come Sail Away

Love them or hate them, cruises can provide a unique perspective on travel..

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Dipping Their Toes: Younger generations of travelers are venturing onto ships for the first time . Many are saving money.

A Candy-Colored Cruise Ship: Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas has become an object of fascination and scorn on social media. Some can’t wait to board. Others call it a “monstrosity.”

Cult Cruisers: These devoted cruise fanatics, most of them retirees, have one main goal: to almost never touch dry land .

A Frugal Dream: Since the pandemic, cruise deals are making some sailings unexpectedly cheap.  Here is how to  travel for as little as under $100 a day .

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What the World’s Largest Cruise Ship Is Really Like, from a Passenger Aboard Its First Voyage (Exclusive)

The massive and much-hyped ship embarks on its maiden voyage from Port Miami on Jan. 27, but PEOPLE got a first look during the preview sailing

Natalia Senanayake is an Editorial Assistant, Lifestyle at PEOPLE. She covers all things travel and home, from celebrities' luxury mansions to breaking travel news.

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Royal Caribbean

Calling all cruisers! Royal Caribbean’s shiny new ship, Icon of the Seas , is finally ready to make its official debut.

PEOPLE got a first look at the world’s largest cruise ship on a preview sailing ahead of its official maiden voyage on Jan. 27, and spent days exploring the vessel to see if it’s really the perfect combination of “thrill and chill” like the cruise line says. After experiencing a trip on the floating mini city (really, it has eight neighborhoods including a Central Park!), we can confirm that Icon has everything cruise lovers could want in a vacation and then some. 

Here’s everything to know about the record-breaking Icon of the Seas, including what you can only learn by sailing on it. 

The ship will depart from Port Miami next week for its first seven-night sailing and head for a number of destinations throughout the Eastern and Western Caribbean.

Ports will include Puerto Costa Maya in Mexico, Roatan in Honduras, Cozumel in Mexico, Basseterre in St. Kitts & Nevis, Charlotte Amalie in St. Thomas, and Royal Caribbean's private island retreat Perfect Day at CocoCay in the Bahamas.

Prices for both trips currently range from $3,600 all the way up to $100,000 per week depending on the route and type of accommodation. 

The Superlatives

Icon of the Seas is breaking records in more ways than one. It boasts the world’s largest water park at sea ( Category 6 ) and pool at sea ( Royal Bay ). It's also just slightly longer than and holds a higher passenger and crew capacity than Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas , which formerly had the title of largest cruise ship in the world.

After completing a round of sea trials in June 2023 and naming soccer star Lionel Messi its official Icon in December, the ship is finally ready to start bringing cruisers on a larger-than-life vacation through the Caribbean. 

It’s Basically a Floating City

Cruisers can spend hours exploring each of the eight neighborhoods aboard the ship that all strive to create a unique travel experience based on specific vacation styles. The open-air Central Park is a lush oasis that surrounds passengers with four live plant walls and offers a number of restaurants and bars to dine at — including a walk-up champagne bar and an eight-course dining experience at Empire Supper Club . Guests can even let loose and sway along to live music at Lou’s Jazz ‘n Blues . 

The Royal Promenade boasts stunning ocean views through the cruise line’s first floor-to-ceiling window feature equipped with connected decks. The neighborhood also offers more than 15 dining options (the ship in total offers over 40 ways to dine and drink) that can be enjoyed by families and solo adult passengers alike. Additional restaurants, bars and cafes can be found at the AquaDome which has a 55-foot waterfall display as well as panoramic views of the ocean. 

For those looking to lounge by the pool and relax, The Hideaway offers a suspended infinity pool overlooking the sparkling sea, while Chill Island features the most expansive pool at sea at 5,813 sq. ft. The neighborhood also includes a swim-up bar, Swim & Tonic , where cruisers can enjoy refreshing frozen drinks while wading in the water. However, because the ship can hold up to 7,600 guests at max capacity, the bar gets packed pretty quickly so you'll need to claim your spot early.

For adventurers and families, Thrill Island and Surfside are the spots to be. Thrill Island is where Category 6, is located, along with additional daring excursions like the free-fall Pressure Drop slide, FlowRider surf simulator and rock climbing at Adrenaline Peak. Thrill-seeking cruisers can also challenge themselves at Crown’s Edge where they’ll be suspended 154 feet above sea level. 

Meanwhile at Surfside, Royal Caribbean’s first-ever neighborhood designed specifically for families, parents and kids can enjoy their own mini adventures through the beach-themed carousel, family festival and more fun-filled activities. Parents can even have a chance to unwind at the Water’s Edge pool while they watch their kids play in the nearby Splashaway Bay or Baby Bay.

Last but not least, at the Suite Neighborhood , guests can experience the multilevel sundeck at The Grove, enjoy the luxurious private pool and eat at the two-deck Coastal Kitchen. 

Accommodations for All Kinds

With 2,805 staterooms and more than 28 different types of rooms, Icon of the Seas offers a unique way of cruise living. Guests can soak in the views in Royal Caribbean’s first-ever Infinite Balcony Room that can fit up to four people. The room’s private terrace allows cruisers to escape for a while and breathe in the fresh, salty air. 

Surfside Family Suites accommodate families of four and are conveniently located in the heart of Surfside making it easy for kids to jump straight into the action. They offer a private balcony that overlooks the neighborhood so families can always have a glimpse of the fun. 

To take a family getaway above and beyond, cruisers can consider booking the 2,523 sq. ft. Ultimate Family Townhouse that accommodates up to eight people. The three-story space boasts an indoor slide, a wraparound balcony with a whirlpool, an outdoor patio with table tennis and direct access to Surfside. 

This accommodation is so packed with activities and extra space that it costs $100,000 for the whole seven-night sailing and it's already booked through the next year.

Another noteworthy suite is the two-level Icon Loft which is priced at approximately $64,000 for a week. It includes a private hot tub, a wraparound balcony, a piano and primary bedroom with a freestanding bathtub. Both the Icon Loft and Ultimate Family Townhouse offer complimentary specialty restaurants, special beverage packages and unlimited wifi.

Meanwhile, all Sea Class rooms require guests to purchase separate wifi packages.

The least expensive stateroom on Icon of the Seas is the Interior Plus which costs about $3,600 a week.

Entertainment

The option to enjoy live entertainment is always a plus on any vacation, especially if you’re looking to escape some of the chaos happening throughout the 20 decks on board. A good place to start would be the first rendition of The Wizard of Oz at sea in the Royal Theater. The production is similar to a Broadway-level show, from cast members floating over the audience to fake snow falling from the ceiling and more spectacular special effects in between. 

To see the first cast of robots perform the unimaginable, guests can head to the AquaTheater at the AquaDome to see performances that blend together theatrical and live-action movie experiences.

If a show isn’t the vibe for the night, cruisers should head over to Boleros bar and lounge to hear Travesia bring Latin rhythms to life. Afterwards, the Adult Comedy LIVE! show located in The Attic is a good place to laugh the night away.

A Mini Paradise Awaits at CocoCay and the New Hideaway Beach 

It wouldn’t be a Royal Caribbean cruise without a Perfect Day at CocoCay stop. The company’s private Bahamas island retreat promises to keep the adventure going at Thrill Waterpark with 14 slides to ride.

The island is also offering a new addition for adults only called Hideaway Beach — its first-ever private escape where grownups can admire the stunning white sand and turquoise waters without any interruptions. 

While the new addition does imitate a relaxing beach club feel with free-flowing drinks and snacks to enjoy all day long, it also presents a similar issue to Swim & Tonic in that it gets packed really quickly. Be prepared to walk to the other side of the cove and spend a few minutes looking for a lounge chair before you can sit back and relax.

A Few More Things to Keep in Mind

Although this is the world's largest cruise ship in the world, cruisers should expect to feel the boat moving from time to time. Depending on the weather, it can rock to the point that guests may lose their balance, and it's definitely more intense towards the front of the ship. For those who get seasick easily, it's best to book a stateroom towards the back of the ship where less movement is felt.

This truly is a massive ship. It has a gross tonnage of 250,800 which is about five times more than the Titanic at 46,328, according to CNN . It also takes approximately six minutes to walk from one end of the ship to the other — and that's without stopping to chat with the incredibly friendly crew members on board.

And for the ultimate cruise nerds, Icon's Captain Henrik Loy told preview guests that the ship can reach a speed of about 24 knots (28 mph) during an exclusive tour of the vessel's bridge. The ship was cruising at about 11 knots (13 mph) during this sailing, and the captain added that the max speed is very fast and not needed for this type of trip.

Icon of the Seas Is Just the Beginning  

Also during the preview sailing, Royal Caribbean shared an exclusive look ahead at the next epic adventure they have up their sleeve. Star of the Seas will become the newest ship to join the cruise line's Icon Class when it makes its debut in August 2025. While it won't be the next largest cruise ship in the world, it will still aim to create an epic vacation on board through its accommodations, dining, entertainment and more.

The company also confirmed that an unnamed Icon 3 ship is currently in the works, but the timing and name of the ship has not yet been announced.

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Lionel Messi and Inter Miami show off new jersey, help christen a new ship

Inter Miami soccer player Lionel Messi walks through the crowd as he arrives for a naming ceremony for Royal Caribbean International’s new cruise ship Icon of the Seas, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024, in Miami. The cruise line has named Messi as the official icon of the Icon of the Seas ship. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Inter Miami soccer player Lionel Messi, right, shakes hands with Jason Liberty, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean Group, during a naming ceremony for Royal Caribbean International’s new cruise ship, Icon of the Seas, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024, in Miami. Inter Miami CF has formed a partnership with the cruise line Royal Caribbean International. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

A performer hands a soccer ball to Icon of the Seas Captain Henrik Loy, right, as Inter Miami soccer player Lionel Messi, second from right, looks on during a naming ceremony for Royal Caribbean International’s new cruise ship, Icon of the Seas, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024, in Miami. Inter Miami CF has formed a partnership with the cruise line Royal Caribbean International. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Television host Mario Lopez speaks during an event on the world’s largest cruise ship Icon of the Seas, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024, in Miami. The MLS soccer team Inter Miami CF has formed a partnership with the cruise line Royal Caribbean International. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Inter Miami soccer player Lionel Messi, center, bumps fists with a member of the Red Hot Chilli Pipers bagpipe band, left, during a naming ceremony for Royal Caribbean International’s new cruise ship, Icon of the Seas, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024, in Miami. Inter Miami CF has formed a partnership with the cruise line Royal Caribbean International. At right is Jason Liberty, president and CEO of the Royal Caribbean Group. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

A dancer performs in front of Inter Miami soccer player Lionel Messi, second from left, seated, during an event on the world’s largest cruise ship Icon of the Seas, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024, in Miami. The MLS soccer team Inter Miami CF has formed a partnership with the cruise line Royal Caribbean International. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

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MIAMI (AP) — Lionel Messi showed off a new jersey, then helped christen a new ship.

Inter Miami celebrated its partnership with cruise line Royal Caribbean International on Tuesday by sending Messi and his teammates to the Port of Miami, where they took part in the traditional naming of a new ship — the Icon of the Seas, in this case. The ship, which formally sets sail for the first time this weekend, is the longest in the world at 1,198 feet.

Messi was the headliner at the ceremony, placing a soccer ball atop a stand to “start” the traditional breaking of a champagne bottle against the bow of the ship — something that is supposed to bring good luck to the vessel and its passengers.

The eight-time Ballon d’Or winner called it a “privilege.”

FILE - Portland Thorns defender Becky Sauerbrunn (4) runs during the second half of an NWSL soccer match against the OL Reign, Saturday, June 3, 2023, in Seattle. Veteran defender Becky Sauerbrunn has signed a one-year contract that will keep her with the Portland Thorns of the National Women's Soccer League through the upcoming season. Terms of the contract announced Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024 were not released. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson, File)

“It’s a great honor for me and I know what it means for the city of Miami and the entire world,” Messi said in Spanish. “So, I name this ship Icon of the Seas. God bless you and all of the people who will sail with her.”

At an earlier event inside a theater aboard the ship, Inter Miami showed off its new black kit for the 2024 season. Messi and his teammates removed pink zippered sweatshirts to reveal the black jersey, trimmed in the team’s traditional pink with a Royal Caribbean logo across the chest.

Messi and Inter Miami leave later this week for Saudi Arabia and a pair of matches next week as part of its international preseason tour. First up is a match against Al-Hilal on Jan. 29, and then on Feb. 1 it’s a match against Al Nassr — which features Cristiano Ronaldo, Messi’s longtime rival.

But Ronaldo’s health is in serious question. Al Nassr had a pair of matches that were scheduled to be held in China starting this week called off because of what organizers called “physical issues” for Ronaldo — reportedly a calf injury that could take two weeks to heal.

And that might mean Ronaldo vs. Messi won’t happen. At a news conference in China, Ronaldo apologized to fans and said injuries are something he couldn’t control.

Messi and Ronaldo have faced off 35 previous times between matches for club and country, with Messi’s teams winning 16, Ronaldo’s teams winning 10 and the sides settling for a draw on the other nine occasions. Messi has 21 goals and 12 assists in those matches; Ronaldo has 20 goals and one assist.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer

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