Planning an extraordinary cruise? Travelers often struggle to decide on a cruise line because they are given so many options. As Wikipedia’s List of the world’s largest cruise ships reveals, ships continue to get larger and larger, adding more and more dining options, amenities, and attractions to each and every ship built. I recently took my first cruise aboard the Carnival Dream over spring break and had a blast! I didn’t think I would like it as much as visiting a city but I really did. The food on the ship was delicious, it was nice to kick back and work on my tan, read a good book and listen to music. But the highlight of the trip was visiting Atlantis Paradise Island, one of the most beautiful, awe-inspiring resorts I’ve ever visited. They have an amazing water park, gorgeous beaches surrounded by light blue water, and amazing architectural elements and attention to detail that sets this hotel over the top. I’d also like to take a cruise to Mexico or even Alaska, one day.
Depending on your travel style and preferences in a cruise, your opinion may differ from mine, but here’s how I would rank the world’s leading cruise lines:
5. Celebrity Cruises – No celebrity sightings are guaranteed aboard these luxurious ocean liners but you are sure to have a good time. Their average ship accommodates about 2,000 passengers and I just learned that they are actually owned by Royal Caribbean. Their four largest ships are the exact same size and were built between 2008 and 2011, these include: Celebrity Solstice, Celebrity Equinox, Celebrity Eclipse, and Celebrity Silhouette.
4. Norwegian Cruise Line – Founded in 1966, Norwegian is well known for its Freestyle Cruising concept, giving no set time for meals nor requiring formal attire. Personally, this is something I really like about their fleet. The Norwegian Epic is one of the most innovative ships out there, a true favorite among many (voted “Best Cruise Ship” by Travel Weekly). Experience wonderful entertainment such as the Blue Man Group (pictured below), see a magic show, choose from over 20 restaurants, let the kids play at an incredible water park featuring the 200-foot Epic Plunge (the only tube slide at sea) and let them meet some of their favorite Nickelodeon characters. Don’t forget to stop by the Svedka Ice Bar, the only ice bar at sea.
3. Carnival Cruise Lines – These fun ships are very family friendly, offering exclusive programs for kids and teens. On the other hand, they also offer incredible adult attractions too, such as their R-rated comedy show (they have a G-rated one too) that is managed by George Lopez. From water parks, to gift shops, to fitness centers, you’re sure to have a good time! Their two largest ships are the Carnival Magic and the Carnival Dream. Amenities may include 24 hour room service, bingo, a casino, a piano bar, a nightclub, karaoke, mini-golf, an internet cafe (very expensive!), a spa, a jogging track, an art gallery and plenty of games.
2. Disney Cruise Line – While Disney’s ships are geared to younger kids, they really have something to offer everyone. They have specific pools and even entire decks that are geared towards a certain age group. Kids will enjoy getting to meet their favorite character, which can be seen throughout the sailing as well as experiencing the AquaDuck water coaster (pictured below; it’s featured on their two newest ships). The fleet consists of four ships: Disney Dream (2011), Disney Fantasy (2012), and the two smaller ships (almost half the capacity) are the Disney Magic (1998) and the Disney Wonder (1999).Current routes include: Caribbean, Bahamas, Alaska, Europe, Hawaii, Pacific Coast, and the Mexican Riviera. If you’re going to the Bahamas then you are likely to stop at Castaway Cay, a private island owned by Disney.
1. Royal Caribbean – After doing a boat load of research (no pun intended!) I am convinced that Royal Caribbean is the best, no matter what age you are or which activities you enjoy most. Save that boring tanning stuff for the beach and save those card games for another day; this innovative cruise liner consists of 10 out of the 14 largest ships in the world. These include the two largest ships in the world: Allure of The Seas & Oasis of The Seas (built a at cost of 1.2 & 1.4 billion). Many of their ships have rock climbing, ice skating, mini-golf, world-class dining, broadway-style shows, and even boxing.
Fun Fact: In case you don’t already know, 2012 is the 100th anniversary of Titanic. It never fails to amaze me that a ship that sank a century ago is still so incredibly famous. Sometimes it is fun to watch the Titanic movie before you go on a cruise (you may want to skip the ending though!) or visit a Titanic museum, such as the “World’s Largest Titanic Museum Attraction” in Pigeon Forge, TN. Sometimes the anticipation is the best part of the trip.
PS- Classes just finished, college is over for the semester! Look for a new blog post each Friday morning. I look forward to spending 6 weeks+ traveling, this summer. Be on the look out as I continue to add quality travel content to this site. Thanks for reading and feel free to let me know if you have any travel questions or recommendations regarding this site.
So what’s your thought on this matter, what’s your favorite cruise line?