N. Wall

How to Choose a Cruise Line

Cruise Ships by Brand

cruise ship

If you have been thinking about booking a cruise, then you know the choices can seem a little overwhelming.  How to choose a cruise line is not easy and takes some research. Not only do you need to decide on the destination but also what amenities are important to you.  Let’s start with some helpful tips and then break it down by brand.

Before you book-

First, you want to decide what is most important to you on your trip.  Will you be traveling with young children? Do you want a ship with a great kid’s program?  Do you need a ship with a good Teens club?  How about the meal reservations?  Do you want a ship that allows open dining, or do you want assigned tables and times?  Once you have a list of your must-haves it will make it easier to find the right ship for you.

You also want to make sure you are finding the best deal for your trip.  Check directly with the cruise line to find out what offers they have.  More often than not you can find the best deals on a discount site such as cheap cruise deals.  It’s always a good idea to check out these discount sites before you book. Some cruise lines will give discounts to returning guests, 55 and over guests, or military discounts.  Make sure to research all of your options before you book.  If you are booking more than a month or two in advance you should also ask if the cruise line will price match if they lower prices after you book.  If they do it will still be up to you to watch for your cruise to go on sale and then notify your booking agent of the price drop.

Packing for a cruise can be different than packing for another type of vacation as well.  Check with your cruise line to find out what items are prohibited.  You can also read this post here to find out what to pack for a cruise.

Norwegian Cruise Line-

cruise ship

The third largest cruise line in the world.  This line is known for being more budget-friendly than most of its competition.  It offers a more casual atmosphere with freestyle dining and casual dress code.

Best for-

Young couples, families, people looking for a budget-friendly cruise

Royal Caribbean-

cruise ship

One of the oldest cruise lines in the world.  This line is known for its more formal atmosphere and outstanding entertainment.  A more expensive cruise line that caters to both families and adults.  There is normally a dress code for entering the dining rooms and an overall feeling of elegance to the ships.

Best for-

Adults, seniors, and families.  People not looking for a “party ship”, families with older children.  People not looking for a budget-friendly cruise line.

Carnival-

cruise ship

Also in the “top 3” cruise lines, along with Royal Caribbean and Norwegian.  The self-proclaimed “fun ship”.  Carnival is known for having a bit more of a “party” atmosphere.  They are priced competitively with Royal Caribbean and you can often find some pretty good deals making this line more attractive to the younger crowd.

Best for-

People in their 20’s looking for a group vacation,  spring breakers, families, people looking for more of a party ship.  Also great for people looking for short cruises (3 – 5-day trips).

Princess Cruises-

cruise ship

Overall a bit pricier than the big three (Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian).  They offer a traditional style with a relaxed atmosphere.  You won’t find as many bells and whistles on this line as you will with the larger cruise lines.

Best for-

Adults 40 and up looking for a more laid-back vacation experience.  If you are thinkng about a Princess cruise click the link below for a special 40% off savings.

Up to 40% off! Applies to select cruises and cruisetours sailing from Spring 2019 to Summer 2019. Valid 3/5-4/30.

Princess Cruise Lines, Ltd.

 

Celebrity-

cruise ship

Comparable to the Princess line in size, price, and offerings.  However, Celebrity cruises offer a hipper and more modern feel.  They put emphasis on trendy dining options and swanky entertainment with a bit of a hi-tech edge.

Best for-

Adults 35 and up looking for a hip and modern experience.

Disney

cruise ship

Disney has only 4 ships right now with two more expected in the next few years.  Expect to pay a higher price because of this.  If you are traveling with very young children (3 and under) and want daycare options, then Disney may be the way to go.  They offer all-day nursery care for children 6 months – 3 years, where most other lines only offer specific windows of time.  As the name suggests expect tons of Disney themed entertainment.

Best for-

Families with young children and Disney fanatics

Holland America-

cruise ship

Definitely geared more towards the older crowd.  This line offers a more elegant and subdued venue.  Don’t expect to find loud music or a lot of entertainment staff led games around the pool like you would find on the big three.

Best for-

The over 40 crowd.  Couples, solo travelers, or groups of friends over 40 that are looking for a more low key nightlife.

Viking Ocean Cruise

cruise shipKnown more for its river cruises, Viking introduced its first ocean ship in 2015.  Much smaller than most of the other cruise lines on this list so you will not find as many amenities as you will on the ships listed above.  Described as having a more approachable and homier feel opposed to its competitions more elegant and posh vibe.  Not really a good choice for children.

Best for-

Adults looking for low frills laid back and more intimate cruising experience.

Oceania Cruise Line

cruise ship

Owned by Norwegian this is there smaller size long voyage line.  Most sailings offer a 10 – 14-day experience but they also have cruises that last up to 195 days.  Comparable to Viking in size but Oceania offers a more elegant and posh vibe.

Best for-

Adults looking for a long voyage and simple elegance without all the frills of the larger ships.

Crystal, Regent Seven Seas, Seabourn, and Silversea Cruise Lines

cruise ship

I am grouping these 4 together as they are a similar class of smaller luxury liners.  If you are looking for a high end over the top luxury cruise then consider one of these.  Compared to a Ritz-Carlton or 4 Seasons of the sea.  Top notch dining and attentive service are offered on all four.

Best for-

High-end adult travelers that don’t mind spending more for luxury treatment.

If I missed one of your favorites leave it in the comments below.  I would love to hear from you.  Do you have a favorite cruise line?

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About

Travel enthusiast, mother, dog owner. I am passionate about the world around me and discovering new places to visit.

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One thought on “How to Choose a Cruise Line

  1. The Saltbox

    February 28, 2019 at 9:45am

    All the cruise liners look so majestic! Ah, I wish I could just call in sick and hop on board one of them haha. We would definitely pick the Oceania Cruise Line if we could, that deck looks so dreamy in the evening. Thanks for the helpful post!

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      N. Wall

      February 28, 2019 at 4:03pm

      Thanks for the comment. I wish I could jump on one right about now too! It’s cold and snowy where I am and I dream of laying poolside and feeling the sun again. 🙂

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  2. Kaisa

    February 28, 2019 at 11:36am

    Cool post! I feel like cruises are SO popular these days, this kind of guide is much needed!

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  3. Tiffany @ Royalhomeschoolmomblog,com

    February 28, 2019 at 11:49am

    Great Information. My family and I went on a cruise Christmas of 2017 it was amazing! I can’t wait until we can go on our next!! we went on Carnival they had a great kids club for my daughter and so many fun activities! Thanks this is a great read!!

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      N. Wall

      February 28, 2019 at 4:01pm

      I love Carnival cruises. We always have a great time on them and the food is always great. I hope you get to take another one soon.

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  4. Pauline

    February 28, 2019 at 3:41pm

    Great article! As a travel agent I like to recommend Princess for people above 50+, they usually love it! I love it too but that’s mostly because of the amazing food haha 😀

    I think you could add P&O cruise as well, they are pretty good! We got a lot of those cruises here in Australia and New Zealand and they really do have many amazing itineraries (I am going on one in April which is going to Fijii and Tonga!!). I would say they are good for families too (not as good as Carnival), but good for couples as well. Guests are younger than on Princess, so it can be a good deal for a first cruise not too expensive 🙂

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      N. Wall

      February 28, 2019 at 4:00pm

      Thanks for the tip! I will add them to the list. Fiji and Tonga!?! I am so jealous!! That sounds like an amazing cruise. Have tons of fun (I’m sure you will).

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