The cruise industry is one of the largest tourism and leisure industries in the United States, generating over thirty-five million dollars every year. For those who are looking to take their vacation on the high seas, the variety of cruise options can seem overwhelming. There are over a dozen major cruise ship companies operating out of the United States and many smaller companies with specialty focuses. Which of the best cruise lines experiences is right for you will depend on your interests. There are cruises specializing in gourmet food, on-board family-friendly entertainment, and cruises specializing in sites around the world that are hard to see any other way. Many cruises have off-board excursions to local beaches or islands. There are cruises catering to luxury travelers, and cruises catering to families on a budget. Whether you want to take a long-term cruise, or a short excursion, there's a cruise ship experience for you. Here are rivercruisingguide.com, this article is here to determine the best cruise lines for your interests, budget, and location.

Best Cruise Lines FAQ's


1. I'm A First-Time Cruise-Goer. How Do I Know Which Cruise Line Is Right For Me?

What do you love to do? There's a cruise line for you. Today's best cruise lines are loaded with amenities, including fancy restaurants, exclusive shows, and opportunities for both relaxation and recreation. Each liner's website should give you a good idea of what experience that line is catering towards.


2. I'll Be Traveling With Children. Which Of The Best Cruise Lines Are Most Welcoming To Young Kids?

The best cruise lines are accommodating to kids. Carnival and Royal Caribbean have a strong focus on children's entertainment and dining options. Disney Cruise Line is the only company geared towards kids, and centers their interests while still having a wide variety of options for adults.


3. I'm Looking For A Quieter, Relaxing Cruise. Is There A Cruise Line That Caters To Older Travelers?

You may be interested in Northern cruises, such as Norwegian Cruise Line. They cater to fans of natural beauty and gourmet food. You will still have some families on board, but the trip will be geared primarily towards an audience of adult sight-seers.


4. How Long Do Cruises Usually Last?

That depends on your desires and your budget. The best cruise lines companies offer several options. There are short two-to-three-day weekend cruises, but most cruises last six to nine days. For experienced cruisers, there are extended cruises lasting ten days or more.


5. I'm On A Budget. What Is The Best Cruise Line For Me?

Carnival Cruise Lines is one of the biggest and best cruise lines in the United States, and offers reasonable fares for families on a budget. An inside cabin can be under $100 a night and contains all the amenities of the ship.


1. How We Reviewed


best cruise lines - time for review

The following cruise lines were reviewed based on the following factors - cost, entertainment, amenities, cabins, dining, off-ship excursions, cruise routes, value, and appeal to different demographics (families, older tourists, couples).


Overall Price Range Of The Best Cruise Lines


Much like length, this fully depends on your wishes and budget. The biggest factor will be your cabin. It's possible to find an inside cabin on a Carnival cruise for as little as fifty dollars a night, but that price grows if you want your cabin to have a view or more room. Cruise fares are all-inclusive when it comes to food and activities, although that doesn't include alcohol and gratuities. There may also be specialty restaurants not included in the initial fare. The average cruise vacation can be as little as $400 per person, but the high range can reach over $1000 a person when everything is totaled.


The Best Cruise Lines We Reviewed​​​​


  • Holland America
  • Norwegian
  • Royal Caribbean
  • Seabourn
  • Carnival
  • Regent
  • Disney
  • Silversea
  • Oceania
  • Cunard



  • Holland America

    best cruise lines - holland america

    Features

    Holland America Line, one of the best cruise lines to choose from, is a British-American cruise line departing from Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles, Seattle, Honolulu, New York, San Diego, San Francisco, Tampa, Anchorage, and Fairbanks ports in the United States. Destinations include New England and Canada, Scandinavia, Alaska, Polynesia, Europe, Australia, the Caribbean, the Panama Canal, and South America. Holland is a longer-term cruise company. While they do have short cruises including a one-day Seattle-to-Vancouver voyage, the majority of their cruises are seven days or more. They offer longer options, up to their Grand Voyage program. These range from 17 days to their 113-day cruise around the world. Aboard the ship, you will find activities including a casino, spa, gym, art museum, shopping center, and unique offerings such as a cooking school and digital workshops. The ship also offers guides for off-ship excursions. Onboard entertainment includes four different music venues, a live theater, a movie theater, and a Jazz club. Dining options a state-of-the-art dining room with nightly menus designed by a culinary council of celebrity chefs, plus a supplemental steakhouse and upscale Italian restaurant.

    PROS

    • Wide variety of cruise lengths and costs for every taste.
    • Unique activities such as an art museum or cooking school.
    • Global destinations frequented by only a few cruise lines.

    CONS

    • Limited dining options, with only the standard dining room available without an additional cost.
    • Not geared towards families.
    • Limited options for short-term cruises.


    Price:

    Holland America Line cruises can be taken for as little as $69 a person (for a one-night cruise) to $25,800 a person for their global Grand Voyage. Their popular seven-day Caribbean voyages are $499 a person before additional dining costs. These are for inside views, the majority of cabins. Ocean view, Verandah, or suite cabins will have a premium.




    Norwegian

    best cruise lines - norwgian

    Features

    Norwegian Cruise Line is a luxury cruise line that departs from the ports of Boston, Honolulu, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Orlando, San Francisco, San Diego, San Juan, Seattle, Seward, and Tampa in the United States. Destinations from American ports include Alaska, the Caribbean, Cuba, Canada and New England, the Panama Canal, and transatlantic cruises to Europe. Although the company is most famous for its cruises of the Norwegian fjords, those must be boarded in Europe. Cruise length ranges from a three-day Bahamas cruise to a twenty-one-day Panama Canal cruise. Aboard the company's modern luxury liners, you will find a variety of activities including a casino, a pool, and water park, a spa and gym, and a variety of activities geared towards children and teenagers. Entertainment includes a pair of Broadway shows on board, a comedy club, a live dance performance, and a circus-themed dinner theater. Norwegian Cruise Line is renowned for its dining options, allowing its guests maximum flexibility. Complimentary dining options include three main dining rooms, a buffet, and an Asian fusion restaurant.

    PROS

    • Reasonably priced cruise options for both short and longer cruises.
    • Considered one of the best cruise lines for food quality and variety.
    • Caters equally to families and adult travelers.
    • Wide variety of activities and entertainment, both on and off-board.

    CONS

    • Titular Norwegian cruises not available from American ports.
    • Longer cruise options not available.
    • Many premium dining options drive up the price.


    Price:

    Norwegian Cruise Line vacations can be booked for as little as $219 per person for a three-day Bahamas cruise, to up to $2000 per person for a three-week Panama Canal cruise. One of their most popular options, a seven-day Western Caribbean cruise, goes for $379 a person. These rates are for interior cabins, with rooms with a view carrying a premium. Vacationers should factor in the many supplemental dining options.




    Royal Caribbean

    best cruise lines - royal caribbean

    Features

    Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, one of the best cruise lines to choose from, is a luxury cruise line best known for its massive liners, the biggest in the American cruise industry. Although they offer a wide variety of destinations, their primary appeal is their city-like ships, appealing to cruise-goers of every age and interest. Leaving from United States ports in Baltimore, Galveston, New Orleans, Seattle, Boston, Honolulu, Orlando, Seward, Cape Liberty (New Jersey), Los Angeles, Tampa, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, and San Diego, Royal Caribbean offers voyages to destinations including the Caribbean, Alaska and Hawaii, Canada, the Panama Canal, and Transatlantic cruises to European destinations. Onboard, you will find activities including bottomless brunch, a casino, a holiday-themed parade, dance classes and clubs with themes including 70s disco and Latin salsa, laser tag, a zip line, gaming center, spa and gym, casino, enrichment classes, movies, amusement park, and kids' activities including an arcade, science lab, and amusement park rides. You will also enjoy the largest cruise ship water park, including world-class water slides. At designated ports, you will encounter unique experiences including swimming with dolphins and exploring local islands. Onboard entertainment includes Broadway at sea, and a variety of exclusive shows blending dance, music, and special effects.

    PROS

    • Huge ships with a luxury atmosphere.
    • The widest array of activities of any major cruise line.
    • The widest array of dining options of any major cruise line.
    • Highly reasonable price point.

    CONS

    • Size of the ship can be overwhelming to first-time cruisers.
    • Busy ship filled with modern activities may appeal more to families than older cruise-goers.


    Price:

    Royal Caribbean cruises are available for as little as $209 a person for a three-day Bahamas cruise, with seven-day cruises remaining below the $500 point. Their longest cruises from the United States, up to two weeks, start at $899 a person.




    Seabourn

    best cruise lines - seabourn

    Features

    Seabourn is an ultra-luxury American cruise line with ports in Boston, Los Angeles, Miami, and Seward. Destinations include New England and Canada, the glaciers and fjords of Canada and Alaska, the Panama Canal and South America, Polynesia, and Oceania including Australia and New Zealand. They also offer adventure and world traveler cruises, heading to destinations as remote as Antarctica with lengths approaching half a year. Seabourn is geared towards veteran travelers, with none of their American cruises lasting less than eleven days. All their rooms are ocean view suites, with larger options available. Onboard, you will find a luxury atmosphere akin to a private club. The cruise is 100% all-inclusive with no supplemental charges, and you will experience entertainment curated by Tim Rice, and a spa designed by Dr. Andrew Wells. Seabourn cruises are designed for a relaxing experience, and you will have great freedom to create your own experience, including specialty off-ship experiences with trained guides. Dining is curated by Thomas Keller, and features The Grill, a restaurant with a menu designed by the world-famous chef.

    PROS

    • 100% all-inclusive cruise with no hidden charges.
    • Specialty destinations, including Antarctica, rarely frequented by larger cruise lines.
    • Luxury environment to a private club
    • Unique dining program designed by Thomas Keller.
    • All rooms provide an ocean view.

    CONS

    • Extremely high price point.
    • Little to no appeal for family travelers.
    • No options for short-term cruises.
    • Limited port options.


    Price:

    Seabourn has the highest price point in the industry, but it is all-inclusive. Their cheapest option, a 14-day glacier and fjord adventure, begins at $3,699. Their more extensive experiences can top $60,000 for a 100-day plus voyage.




    Carnival

    best cruise lines - carnival

    Features

    Carnival Cruise Line is the biggest cruise line in the United States, with ports in Baltimore, Charleston, Fort Lauderdale, Galveston, Honolulu, Jacksonville, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Mobile, New Orleans, New York, Norfolk, Orlando, San Diego, San Juan, Seattle, and Tampa. Geared towards families and first-time cruise-goers, Carnival offers sailings to Alaska, the Caribbean (including the Bahamas, Bermuda, Cuba), Hawaii, Mexico, the Panama Canal, and a transpacific cruise to Singapore. Carnival ships are active and filled with activities and entertainment for all ages. Options include a spa and gym, a waterpark, a casino, live entertainment including live Broadway shows and comedy clubs, live music, interactive shows based on popular TV shows including Lip Sync Battle, and clubs and shows designed exclusively for kids and teens. There's even a Build-A-Bear Workshop on board! Described as a mall at sea, Carnival has among the most varied entertaining and shopping options of any cruise line. Dining is curated by popular TV chef Guy Fieri, with several of his restaurants on board. You will also enjoy options including Mexican, Italian, Indian, Japanese, and Barbecue, plus a varied dining room with a rotating menu.

    PROS

    • Family-friendly environment with many food and entertainment options for kids.
    • Cheapest major cruise option on the market, ideal for families on a budget.
    • Extensive options for entertainment and dining.
    • Most port options of any major cruise company

    CONS

    • Busy, family-friendly cruise atmosphere may not be ideal for older travelers.
    • Majority of dining options are an additional fee.
    • Some activities are an additional fee.


    Price:

    Carnival Cruise Line is known for its rock-bottom fares, with indoor cabins on a three-day cruise being available for as little as $169 a person. Seven-day cruises average $549 a person, and two-week cruises come in at under $1000. However, more than on any other company cruise-goers should plan for supplemental fees.




    Regent

    best cruise lines - regent

    Features

    Regent, another one of the best cruise lines to choose from, is a luxury cruise line, formerly known as Radisson Seven Seas Cruises. Billing itself as the most inclusive luxury experience, it is known for including all amenities including specialty restaurants and shore excursions in its fare. Setting sail from New York, San Francisco, San Juan, San Diego, Portland, and Miami, Regent Cruise Line specializes in extended voyages, with the shortest being seven days and the longest being 131-day round-trips around the world. Regent features many ports of call with specialized activities. On board, you will find daytime activities including a pool, library, gym, spa, and a series of enrichment classes for every interest. Nighttime entertainment includes a casino and Parisian Cabaret. Special activities for kids and teens are offered. All rooms are suites with an ocean view, and free Wi-fi and phone service is included. Dining is seven unique options plus room service; all included in the cruise fare.

    PROS

    • All-inclusive fare means nothing to worry about once on board.
    • High-class atmosphere attends to your every need.
    • More off-ship activities and stops than any other fleet.

    CONS

    • Extremely high price point.
    • Activities for kids and families are limited.
    • Dining and activities on board are high-quality but limited in variety.


    Price:

    Regent is a luxury all-inclusive cruise line with a price point to match. Seven-day excursions begin at $4,199. Longer cruises can range from $7,299 to 12,999. The all-inclusive 131-day cruise begins at $60,000.




    Disney

    best cruise lines - disney

    Features

    The name Disney is associated with family-friendly quality across the world, and the Disney cruise line is no exception. One of the newer cruise lines, it launched in 1996 with a trio of ships and has since expanded. With ports in New York, Galveston, San Diego, San Juan, Miami, and Orlando, Disney cruises to locations including the Caribbean, Mexico, Canada, the Panama Canal, and a transatlantic cruise to Barcelona. Cruises range in length from two days to fourteen days, and Disney Cruise Line is known for its themed holiday cruises, with specials for Halloween and Christmas. Aboard, the Disney spirit is everywhere, as fans of Disney Princesses, Star Wars, and Marvel will find their favorite characters everywhere. As is the custom for Disney, the activities are centered towards kids, with clubs and interactive experiences where they can become part of the story. Live shows based on classic Disney movies are performed nightly, and both adults and kids will enjoy the pool, sports options, and spa. The adults aren't ignored, the ships boast nightclubs and lounges where they can enjoy music and a drink. For dinner, Disney Cruise Line rotates diners through a trio of unique restaurants per ship. These include international restaurants Animator's Palate and Enchanted Garden, French-inspired restaurants Lumiere's and Royal Court, and Cajun-inspired Tiana's Place. In addition, each ship has an adult's only luxury restaurant for an additional fee - either Italian restaurant Palo or French restaurant Remy's.

    PROS

    • Family-friendly environment filled with familiar characters.
    • Highly attentive to detail
    • Luxury showrooms among the most impressive rooms on any family-friendly cruise.
    • Among the most all-inclusive family-friendly cruises, save the adult luxury dining.

    CONS

    • Busy, active atmosphere may not appeal to older cruise-goers.
    • Must be a Disney fan to enjoy.
    • Limited dining options compared to alternatives.
    • Higher price point than most family cruises.


    Price:

    Disney Cruise Line places all its guests in a luxury showroom with an ocean view, so the price point is higher. Three-night cruises cost in the $1,500 range, with two-week Panama Canal cruises coming in at the $7,000 range. There are also premiums for in-demand holiday cruises.




    Silversea

    best cruise lines - silver sea

    Features

    Silversea is an all-inclusive luxury cruise line founded in 1994. It is known for its intimate luxury style, with no more than 300 suites on its largest ship. This has gained them a reputation for personalized attention for its cruise-goers. With ports in New York, Juneau, San Francisco, San Diego, and Fort Lauderdale, Silversea offers cruises around the world ranging in length from ten to thirty-five days, including destinations in Alaska, Canada, the Caribbean, South America, and transatlantic cruises to Europe. On board, you will enjoy luxury suite accommodations, a gym, and spa, live entertainment including opera and ballet, enrichment classes, and a casino. Ten luxury restaurants are included, featuring cuisines including Italian, Pan-Asian, Japanese, Spanish, French, and Continental.

    PROS

    • Small cruise ships allow for individual attention to each cruise-goer.
    • Luxury, all-inclusive experience.
    • Wide variety of high-end restaurants.
    • List ElemeUnique onboard entertainment options including opera and ballet.

    CONS

    • High price point.
    • Limited US ports.
    • Cruise program not designed for children and families.


    Price:

    Silversea Cruises begin at $4,000 for a ten-day voyage, and can approach $15,000 for a 35-day voyage. All costs are included.




    Oceania

    Features

    Oceania Cruises, yet another one of the best cruise lines to choose from, is a six-ship fleet of luxury cruises. It was bought by Norwegian Cruise Line in 2014, but maintains its own brand. It is a mid-range cruise line, offering luxury at a far lower price than more exclusive lines. With ports in New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Miami, and Portland, it offers excursions to the Caribbean, Mexico, Canada, London, Tokyo, and Australia. Cruises can be as short as ten days, but the company also offers long-term cruises up to half a year. Oceania offers mid-sized ships catering to between 674 and 1250 guests, and on board, you will experience a relaxed atmosphere they bill as "country club casual," and each guest or family receives their own stateroom with a view. Entertainment and activities include a casino, a wellness spa and gym, a cooking school, a library, and a wide variety of live entertainment including music, dance, and guest lecturers. At ports of call, custom excursions await you. Dining options include up to ten gourmet restaurants, beginning with The Grand Dining Room where a rotating menu is offered. A steakhouse, an Italian restaurant, a Pan-Asian restaurant, and gourmet French and Italian are also offered, along with more casual options.

    PROS

    • Luxury cruise experience at a lower rate.
    • Wide array of fine dining options.
    • Staterooms guarantee every guest an ocean view.
    • Activities geared towards people with a wide variety of interests.

    CONS

    • No short-term cruises available, with ten days being the minimum.
    • Not geared towards children or families.


    Price:

    Oceania Cruises begin at $1,299 for a ten-day voyage, while a 28-day excursion is in the $6,000 range. A 180-day trip is in the $35,000 range.




    Cunard

    best cruise lines - cunard

    Features

    Cunard is a British-American cruise line with three ships, the Queen Victoria, the Queen Elizabeth, and the famous Queen Mary 2. Currently owned by Carnival, these luxury vessels have ports at Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco, with destinations in Canada, Europe, the Middle East, Iceland, and the Panama Canal. On board, you will enjoy luxury suites, attentive service, and ocean views. Activities include sports, swimming, a fully equipped gym with fitness classes, and an on-board golf course. Dance classes, crafts, games, and lectures from world-renowned guest speakers are offered. Every night, live entertainment offerings include theater, comedy, dance, music, and film screenings. A library with more than 8,000 books is available, and specialty activities for children are offered. The dining program includes afternoon tea, a variety of bars and lounges with exclusive drinks, and a variety of gourmet restaurants.

    PROS

    • Unique British service and attention to detail.
    • Ocean view in every room.
    • Wide range of activities for all ages.
    • Elaborate range of dining options including afternoon tea.

    CONS

    • High price range.
    • Limited number of ships and ports.


    Price:

    Seven-day cruises can go for as little as $899 a person, with two-week cruises in the $2,000 range. Their longest cruise, 113 days around the world, begins at $20,000

    The Verdict


    The ideal cruise for each person will be different. Someone who wants an all-inclusive luxury experience where money is no object will be happiest with the experience on Silversea. A family taking their first cruise will enjoy the familiar characters and the attention to detail of a Disney cruise. However, for a combination of value, amenities, and variety, there are two large cruise lines that stand out above the rest. Family cruise-goers will probably be happiest with the massive city-like ships on Royal Caribbean, with their wide array of activities and dining options. Older cruise-goers without children will find an all-inclusive luxury cruise experience at a much more reasonable rate than most on Oceania, which offers fine dining and attentive service without the price tag of other luxury lines. Either Royal Caribbean or Oceania delivers an ideal seafaring experience with few drawbacks.

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