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Cruise Line Guide: Everything You Need To Know About Cruise Companies
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If you’re planning a cruise vacation, it can be helpful to know which cruise lines and cruise ships are available. Many people opt for mainstream cruises and luxury lines, but there are more budget-friendly options like expedition cruises, small ships, and river cruises. There is a wide variety of options to choose from, with cruise lines that cater to every taste.

Read our list below to discover some of the best cruise lines, their cruise ships, and what they have to offer for your cruise vacation.

Mainstream Cruise Lines

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Royal Caribbean International

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Royal Caribbean is the second-largest cruise line in the world, bested only by MSC Cruises. It is home to some of the largest vessels in the cruise industry and prides itself on its incredible travel destinations. Guests of Royal Caribbean International can expect amazing beaches, stunning coral reefs, and beautiful rainforests at destinations like the Bahamas or the Caribbean. Royal Caribbean ships also travel to the British Isles, Europe, Alaska, and Scandinavia. There is also Royal Caribbean’s private island resort destination of CocoCay.

Its fleet sports sixty award-winning ships, including the innovative and awe-inspiring Icon of the Seas. Icon of the seas is the largest cruise ship in the world, with a record-breaking guest capacity of seven thousand six hundred passengers. The smallest ship in the fleet, Majesty of the Seas, underwent its maiden voyage in 1991 and can accommodate up to two thousand seven hundred and sixty-seven people.

Carnival Cruise Line

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Carnival Cruise Line is dedicated to providing contemporary cruises that are fun and memorable. Carnival cruises sail to all the best vacation destinations, such as Europe, the Caribbean, the Bahamas, and Hawaii. The voyages also include itineraries in Bermuda, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, and Mexico. Each ship is equipped with a variety of attractions and amenities that cater to all kinds of guests, from water slides and pool decks to bars and adventure rides. There are also various amenities for adults to enjoy, like the Adult-Only Retreat and the Mega Deck Party.

The Carnival fleet includes twenty-six cruise ships, including the latest editions to its fleet – Carnival Venezia and Carnival Jubilee. The largest ship in this cruise line, Carnival Celebration, set sail for the first time in 2022, with a total guest capacity of six thousand five hundred people. The smallest ship in Carnival’s fleet is Carnival Paradise, which can house up to two thousand six hundred and six people.

Princess Cruises

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Princess cruise guests can expect a world-class experience, filled with memories that can only be made onboard a Princess cruise ship. These ships travel to destinations all over the world, including old European villages, the Caribbean, Australia, and Japan. The cruise line has also won awards for its excellent shore excursions. There are a variety of activities and entertainment options onboard each ship, including the enchanting and magical performance by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop – The Secret Silk.

There are sixteen cruise ships in the Princess Cruises fleet. This includes Sun Princess, its latest edition. It has a total guest capacity of four thousand three hundred passengers, making it much larger than the other Princess cruise ships. The smallest of the cruise line’s fleet is Coral Princess, housing only two thousand passengers per voyage.

Another fun fact about Princess Cruises is that its former ship, Pacific Princess, was the setting for the 1976 sitcom “Love Boat”.

Celebrity Cruises

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Celebrity Cruises is known for its premium voyages, unique experiences, superior itineraries, and great service. It is one of the most innovative and youngest fleets cruising the ocean, and includes journeys to France, Spain, Italy, Scandinavia, the Caribbean, the Greek islands, Alaska, and the Mediterranean. Guests on a Celebrity cruise can expect world-class dining in a variety of restaurants, and meals prepared by more than two hundred chefs – all while waking up in a new, exciting destination every day.

Its fleet is home to thirteen luxury ships, of which Celebrity Ascent and Celebrity Beyond are the largest of all the sister ships. Both Celebrity Ascent and Beyond are capable of housing up to three thousand two hundred and sixty guests. The smallest of the fleet is Celebrity Infinity, with a total guest capacity of two thousand one hundred and seventy.

Celebrity Cruises is also home to three ships used for expedition cruising.

Disney Cruise Line

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Disney Cruise Line brings Disneyland to its ocean-going vessels with exciting activities like meeting Disney characters, exclusive Disney film screenings, and themed pool areas. This family-friendly cruise line is known for providing attractions and amenities that appeal to passengers of all ages, including exclusive adults-only experiences. These ships travel to destinations all around the world, including the Caribbean, the Bahamas, the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, the Norwegian Fjords, Canada, Baja, and the South Pacific.

There are five ships in Disney’s fleet, of which three are large vessels that can accommodate around four thousand guests each. These include Disney Wish, Disney Fantasy, and Disney Dream. The smallest ship in the fleet is Disney Wonder, with a guest capacity of two thousand four hundred.

MSC Cruises

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Known for providing immersive and enriching cruise experiences, guests on MSC cruise ships can expect world-class dining with international cuisine, award-winning entertainment and family programs, user-friendly technology, and destination-driven itineraries. MSC cruises are designed to emphasize the positive impact of being at sea, guide passengers to hidden gems, and provide lasting memories they will want to treasure forever. The cruises journey to stunning destinations all over the world, including destinations in Southeast Asia, Bermuda, New England, South Africa, Dubai, Egypt, South America, and the Middle East.

MSC’s fleet consists of twenty-two vessels, the largest of which is MSC Virtuosa with a guest capacity of six thousand three hundred and thirty-four. The smallest of the fleet is MSC Armonia, with a total guest capacity of two thousand five hundred and twenty passengers.

Norwegian Cruise Line

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Known for its relaxed and fun atmosphere, innovation, a wide variety of onboard activities, and family-friendly entertainment options, Norwegian Cruise Line re-invents what it means to be on a cruise. Dress codes and dining times on NCL ships are flexible, making the whole experience stress-free. Norwegian ships travel to more than four hundred and fifty destinations worldwide, including Asia, Africa, Mexico, the Greek Isles, Hawaii, Panama, and Northern Europe.

The NCL fleet is home to nineteen ships, of which Norwegian Escape is the biggest. While not one of the fleet’s newest ships, it can house nearly four thousand three hundred people. The smallest ship, with a guest capacity of just under two thousand passengers, is the Norwegian Sun.

The cruise line is also committed to sustainable sailing.

Virgin Voyages

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Virgin Voyages prides itself on providing cruises to satisfy any kind of wanderlust. The atmosphere onboard their ships is laid-back, tranquil, and exhilarating. Virgin cruises offer luxury dining in specialty restaurants, complimentary gratuities, unlimited Wi-Fi, delicious drinks, and a wide variety of attractions and activities to enjoy. Destinations include the Caribbean, Europe, North America, and some Mediterranean itineraries.

The fleet consists of four ships. The biggest of the four, Scarlet Lady, can house up to four thousand seven hundred and seventy people. The other three ships, namely Valiant Lady, Resilient Lady, and Brilliant lady, can each accommodate up to four thousand seven hundred guests.

Costa Cruises

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Costa Cruises forms part of the Carnival Family and is home to one of the most modern fleets at sea. It is also the largest European cruise line. It prides itself on its sustainability, delicious food, and relaxed atmosphere. Guests on a Costa cruise ship can expect a fun-filled itinerary, including shore excursions and entertainment that cater to all ages. There is an aquapark with water slides, a theatre that hosts regular live performances, and a casino if you’re looking for some adult-friendly fun. Costa offers cruises in Europe, the Mediterranean, Dubai, South America, and the Caribbean.

There are ten ships in the Costa Cruises fleet, designed to be elegant, environmentally friendly, and prestigious. Costa Toscana and Costa Smeralda can both accommodate up to six thousand five hundred and fifty-four guests, making them the largest vessels in the fleet. The smallest in the fleet is Costa Deliziosa, with a total guest capacity of two thousand eight hundred and twenty-eight passengers.

Holland America Line

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Holland America Line is known for being a leader in the cruise industry and has been operating since the late 1800s. It prides itself on spacious ships, refined dining options, a rich variety of activities, extensive worldwide itineraries, and award-winning service. One of the most popular attractions on any Holland America ship is the B.B. King’s Blues Club. The cruise line offers carefully crafted, well-balanced journeys to over one hundred countries around the world. Holland America features award-winning cruises to countries like Tahiti, Hawaii, Asia, Yukon, and New Zealand.

The fleet is made up of eleven cruise ships. Rotterdam is the biggest, capable of housing two thousand six hundred and sixty-eight guests. The smallest of the fleet are Volendam and Zaandam, both capable of accommodating one thousand four hundred and thirty-two passengers.

Luxury Cruise Lines

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Crystal Cruises

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Crystal Cruises is known as one of the top luxury cruise lines at sea. Guests on one of these 6-star cruises can expect destination-led itineraries, fine dining, artisanal drinks, and exciting entertainment options. In 2022, Crystal Cruises ceased operations. However, it was announced more recently that the luxury cruise line was bought by A&K Travel Group Ltd., opening the doors for sailing once more. Crystal vessels journey to exciting destinations all around the globe, including North America, Europe, Alaska, Asia, South America, and Australasia.

Currently, the Crystal fleet consists of two vessels – Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity. Crystal Symphony is capable of housing around nine hundred and fifty guests, while Crystal Serenity can accommodate around nine hundred and eighty.

Silversea Cruises


Known for its luxurious and elegant ships, Silversea Cruises offer a unique experience filled with astonishing innovation, culinary excellence, great hospitality, and itineraries that take guests all over the world. From stunning ocean-view suites and delicious cuisine to relaxing spa treatments and butler service, Silversea Cruises has everything you could need on a rejuvenating cruise vacation. Silversea cruise ships travel to destinations such as Greenland, the Indian Ocean, the Galapagos islands, Central America, and the South Pacific islands.

The Silversea fleet consists of thirteen vessels, the smallest of which is Silver Origin. It can accommodate one hundred passengers. The two biggest ships in the fleet, Silver Nova and Silver Ray, can house seven hundred and twenty-eight passengers each.

Windstar Cruises

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Windstar is known as the best small-ship cruise line in the world, famous for its luxury yachts and sailboats. It prides itself on providing intimate, uncrowded, and immersive cruise experiences. Guests can enjoy stunning sights up close, in kayaks and smaller boats launched from the vessels. The atmosphere on deck is free and laid-back, with no strict schedules for guests to adhere to. Instead, passengers can enjoy a wide variety of activities, from sunbathing by the pool to impromptu cooking demonstrations and splurging on travel purchases at fascinating ports of call. Windstar cruise ships travel to destinations like Greece, Italy, the Holy Lands, Arabia, Mexico, and Tahiti.

Windstar Cruises has a fleet of six yachts, three of which have sails. The flagship Wind Surf is also the largest of the fleet, with a guest capacity of three hundred and forty-two. Wind Star and Wind Spirit are the smallest in the fleet, each accommodating up to one hundred and forty-eight passengers.

Viking Ocean Cruises

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Viking Cruises is an award-winning line that includes ocean and river cruising. More recently, it has also begun expedition voyages. It prides itself on providing ultimate luxury and comfort, cultural enrichment, immersive itineraries, and visits to some of the most stunning destinations in the world. Another part of the appeal is that Viking Cruises are all-inclusive, providing guests with complimentary meals, beverages, and Wi-Fi access. Passengers also get one free excursion to each port of call. Viking offers cruises to exciting destinations like Greece, the Mediterranean, the British Isles, Iceland, Norway, South America, Chile, Italy, and Scandinavia.

Viking Ocean Cruises has a fleet of nine sister ships, each capable of carrying up to nine hundred and thirty guests. The cruise line is also home to Viking River Cruises and Viking Expeditions – each with an extensive fleet of its own.

Oceania Cruises

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Oceania Cruises is known for its modern, comfortable ships and destination- and culinary-focused itineraries. It offers an unparalleled intimate experience that is focused on sustainability, comfort, and luxury. While children are allowed onboard, Oceania Cruises mostly cater to adults. Oceania cruise ships travel to exotic destinations all around the globe, including Patagonia, French Polynesia, New Zealand, the polar regions, and the Caribbean.

The Oceania fleet consists of six vessels, with the latest edition launched as recently as 2023. The largest ships in the fleet, Marina and Riviera, can accommodate up to one thousand two hundred and thirty-eight guests each. The smallest edition to the fleet is Sirena, capable of housing up to six hundred and forty-eight people.

Paul Gauguin Cruises

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Known for its award-winning small-ship cruises, Paul Gauguin Cruises is a world-renowned luxury line that offers a unique travel experience to some of the best destinations in the world. From unspoiled beaches to idyllic natural wonders, each alluring cruise with Paul Gauguin is something to be remembered. Destinations include the South Pacific, French Polynesia, and Tahiti.

Unlike many other luxury cruise lines, the Paul Gauguin fleet consists of only one ship. It is capable of accommodating three hundred and thirty passengers.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises

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Known as the Most Luxurious Fleet in the World, Regent Seven Seas prides itself on providing an unrivaled experience of perfection and grandeur. It offers a wide variety of journeys to over five hundred ports worldwide and includes spacious suites, delicious cuisine, and delightful onboard entertainment options. Some of the destinations include Canada, Africa, Bermuda, Asia, Panama, and Arabia.

Regent Seven Seas has a fleet of six ships. The latest edition to the fleet, Seven Seas Grandeur, is also its largest, capable of housing up to seven hundred and fifty passengers. Seven Seas Navigator is the smallest, with space for up to four hundred and eighty-two guests.

Small Cruise Lines

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While luxury cruise lines tend to accommodate fewer passengers, there are other small cruise lines well worth trying if you’re looking for a more budget-friendly intimate experience.

River Cruise Lines

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  • Viking River Cruises
  • Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection
  • Crystal River Cruises
  • American Cruise Lines
  • Grand Circle Corporation
  • Tauck River Cruise Line
  • APT
  • Avalon Waterways
  • CroisiEurope
  • Amadeus
  • Emerald Waterways
  • AmaWaterways
  • Gate 1 Travel
  • Scenic
  • American Queen Steamboat Company
  • Vantage Deluxe World Travel
  • A-ROSA

Expedition Cruise Lines

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  • Hurtigruten
  • Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic
  • Viking Expeditions
  • Quark Expeditions
  • Silversea Expeditions
  • UnCruise Adventures
  • Ponant
  • Silversea Expeditions
  • Alaskan Dream Cruises
  • Blount Small Ship Adventures
  • Poseidon Expeditions
  • Zegrahm Expeditions
  • G Adventures

Read more about small cruise lines, here!

Cruise Lines FAQs

Is Marella Cruises a luxury cruise line?

Marella Cruises is a budget-friendly cruise line. The fleet consists of six vessels that journey to various destinations in Southeast Asia, Europe, and the Caribbean.

Are river ships smaller than ships for ocean cruises?

Because river cruise ships need to navigate smaller and narrower spaces, the vessels themselves tend to be smaller than their ocean-going counterparts. As a result, river ships have an average guest capacity of around one hundred and fifty people.

When was Disney Magic launched?

Disney Magic underwent its maiden voyage in 1997, as the first ship in the Disney cruise line.