Going on a cruise is one of those amazing life events that should be on everybody’s bucket list. Sailing across the seas without a care in the world while every one of your whims is catered to should be anyone’s idea of paradise. With so many great options to choose from though, finding the best cruise lines around can be less than a holiday. We’ve done the hard work for you and found 12 of the best and what exactly they can offer you.
If you’ve been daydreaming about taking a vacation but can’t quite put your finger on where you’d like to go or what you’d like to do, the answer could be easier than you think. Heading off on a cruise is a proud American vacation tradition, and there are so many fantastic options out there that they could make your head spin.
That’s why we’ve taken the time to find the best cruise lines of the moment to show you what type of holiday they offer, so all you have to do is book and enjoy. There are budget-friendly cruises, those for families, and some that are downright luxurious, so the choice is all yours.
How To Choose The Best Cruise For You
Before you can settle on one of the best cruise lines that we’ve found, you need to have a picture in your head of what type of vacation you want. Here are some things you might want to consider before making your final choice.
Your budget will be the most important deciding factor when choosing the best cruise line for you. There are ways to save by booking shared rooms or food and drink packages, and for those where money is no object you might prefer a more luxurious cabin option.
Look at who the cruise is targeted to and try to choose one that best fits your preferred group. There are cruises for the elderly, millennials, families, or those interested in fine dining, as well as plenty of general cruises.
Each cruise liner will have different accommodation options. There are some with shared rooms or amenities, and others with deluxe suites. You’ll need to book depending on who you’re traveling with and what space requirements you have.
Families traveling with children will be best looking for a child-friendly cruise with plenty of kids activities. Those traveling without children may even want to look for a cruise that has an age limit or allows adults only if you don’t want young kids around on your holiday.
There are cruises focused on fine dining and others with simpler options like buffets. Most come with packages included which give you unlimited food and drink but others will be on a pay-as-you-eat basis.
If you have somewhere specific you want to visit then this is the best guide for booking your cruise. Otherwise, if you prefer to stay on the ship most of the time the location will probably not be as important.
Our Picks For The Best Cruise Lines In The US
With a better idea of the type of cruise you might like to enjoy, you’ll find it easy to choose from our top picks of the best around. These are 12 of the best cruise lines the US has to offer, with travel options both at home and abroad.
#12: Seabourn Cruise Lines
Seabourn is consistently ranked as one of the best cruise lines for couples, so if you’re looking for a romantic getaway or honeymoon location, this is it. Seabourn sails to popular locations like Alaska and the Caribbean, making it even more romantic, and you can expect to find around 600 guests on each trip.
There are a number of itinerary choices so you can decide how to spend your cruise, and every room is guaranteed an ocean view. The menus are created by a Michelin star chef and there are salons, bars, casinos, and duty-free shopping to keep you entertained.
#11: Disney Cruise Line
If you hadn’t already guessed by its name, the Disney Cruise Line is the ultimate choice for families traveling with kids. This cruise line meets all of the expectations of what you’d expect from the entertainment giant and your children will never feel bored on this ship, and neither will you. There are supervised activities for kids from 3 months to 17 years, so parents can take a break as well.
The Disney Cruise Line has fireworks, water slides, film screenings, deck parties, cocktail clubs, sports bars, and more. The guests rotate around a few different restaurants for a complete dining experience, including some kids themed choices as well. Overall, a family-friendly cruise line for little and big kids alike.
#10: Windstar Cruise
For a boutique cruising experience like no other, Windstar Cruise and their fleet of luxury yachts is the way to go. They allow around 300 guests on their cruises so you’re not dealing with a mad rush of people, but be prepared to pay a little extra for the elegant and personal experience.
Windstar Cruise offers luxury yachts that take you to exotic locations in European villages and let you sample all of the local cultures. On board, there are sports like snorkeling and kayaking, continental fine dining, and bars, as well as plenty of unique activities.
#9: Adventure Canada
If the thought of going on a cruise and laying around in the sun all day doesn’t really appeal to your adventurer’s spirit, Adventure Canada is your best option. This is a cruise like no other that will take you through fjords, rivers, and waterways in Canada for a change of scenery like nothing you’ve ever seen before. To go even further, the cruise line also takes passengers to places including Greenland and Scotland.
Adventure Canada operates smaller than usual ships so you can beat the crowds and get a more personal experience. There are heaps of activities on board and at the ports of call, so if you’re after a relaxing holiday where you lounge around, keep on looking.
#8: Carnival Cruise Line
Those who want to stick to the oceans only, there’s no better choice than Carnival Cruise Line. This is more of a general ship catering to a younger crowd, so it’s not as though everything on board is just child focused. They have water parks, fancy casinos, and live entertainment, so you’ll never have a dull moment.
Carnival Cruise Line offers different ships like intimate luxury yachts or huge cruise liners and their ports of call are a little more diverse than others. For a cruise that’s somewhat outside of the box but packed full of all the fun and luxurious features you want from a vacation, this is a great option.
#7: Viking River Cruises
For a change of scenery away from the ocean, why not try Viking River Cruises? Just as their name suggests, they take their passengers to far off river locations including in Europe and Russia. This will let you explore a world completely different to other ocean liners and you’ll get to enjoy all of the local cultural activities of the places you visit.
Viking River Cruises has amenities like spas, salons, restaurants, and fine dining. This cruise offers the perfect blend of relaxation while you’re on board and a sense of exploration and adventure as you head to the various ports of call. To see spectacular views of Budapest or other far-off lands only accessible by rivers, this is one of most luxurious options.
To take a true leap of faith and do something not many people dare to, why not go on a solo vacation with AmaWaterways? This is the ideal choice for those who want to go it alone and meet new friends during their holidays, and there are plenty of ways to socialize and get to know others onboard.
AmaWaterways has a specifically solo traveler program, but it’s great for couples and other types of guests as well. They offer social spaces, plenty of activities, cocktails, fine dining, and plenty of sporting activities to keep you busy on your vacation.
#5: Viking Sea
Although Viking made their name sailing the river, they also have a very popular ocean fleet. Viking Sea takes its passengers to exotic locations like South America and the Caribbean, and their main focus is providing a culinary feast for guests which they do with their multitude of dining options.
There’s a lack of activities like casinos but this means you feel less crowded and more special when you’re onboard. With small niceties like blankets in the theater and guided tours on history and culture, this is a cruise ship that’s more geared towards the older and mature traveler and wouldn’t really suit families with children.
#4: Carnival Vista
When you want a ship that’s action-packed from start to finish with no shortage of entertainment options, Carnival Vista is the place to be. Their boats have extreme activities like a bicycle zip line that you ride around the ship, skydiving, and an IMAX theater to watch the latest and greatest films in high definition. You’ll never be bored on this ship and that’s a guarantee, so it’s perfect for those who don’t want to relax.
Carnival Vista has heaps more on offer like Broadway shows, casinos and bars, and bowling. This is more geared at a younger crowd and families with kids, as there are plenty of child-friendly activities to keep them entertained as well. For an action-packed experience with minimal downtime, Carnival Vista is a great option.
#3: Royal Caribbean International
Those who are looking to tighten the purse strings on their next holiday will be thrilled to see what Royal Caribbean International has to offer. This is one of the best cruise lines in terms of value for money because you get all-inclusive food, drink, and activities, with plenty of budget-friendly accommodation, picks.
This doesn’t mean it’s a cheap ship though, as there is one staff member to every passenger and a range of kids and adult activities to choose from. They sail to places like Mexico, Alaska, and the Caribbean, so there’s no shortage of options for deciding what type of holiday you want.
#2: Crystal Cruises
For an absolute luxury cruising experience, look no further than Crystal Cruises. This is known as the high-class option for those who can afford it, and their fleet of ships will take you to such spectacular locations as Southeast Asia and the Panama Canal.
Crystal Cruises ensures there will be minimal crowds so you’ll never have to wait in line for their world-class amenities. They have spas, gyms, salons, and plenty of dining and drinking spots to choose from. As an added bonus, children under 17 often get to sail for free but keep in mind these ships aren’t exactly geared towards keeping kids entertained.
#1: Celebrity Cruises
Another great option when you’re looking for value for money is Celebrity Cruises. This is a great choice for those with kids and teenagers, and there are plenty of ways for parents to take a break and have their children looked after as well.
There are various food and drink packages available and a heap of activities for all ages, so Celebrity Cruises is just a great all-around cruise option. You decide what shore excursions you want to take and there’s no pressure to get involved, so you can relax for the entire trip if you wish.
Seabourn Cruise Lines
Consistently ranked as one of the best cruise lines for couples
Disney Cruise Line
Ultimate choice for families traveling with kids
Boutique cruising experience like no other
Has heaps of activities on board and at the ports of call
Packed full of all the fun and luxurious features you want from a vacation
Viking River Cruises
Has amenities like spas, salons, restaurants, and fine dining
Ideal choice for those who want to go it alone
Providing a culinary feast for guests which they do with their multitude of dining options
Has heaps more on offer like Broadway shows, casinos and bars, and bowling
Royal Caribbean International
Best cruise lines in terms of value for money because you get all-inclusive food, drink, and activities
High-class option for those who can afford it
There are various food and drink packages available and a heap of activities for all ages