Cruise tips you can trust."> Candid tips on the major cruise lines - by authority Howard Hllman


29 major cruise lines

Cruise tips you can trust



$$$$ Luxury

Crystal Cruises

Appeals to affluent, seasoned travelers desiring refined, not mass-cruising. Typical passenger is above average in age and education. Onboard lectures are edifying. Has itineraries for many world areas. All-suite configuration. Ships have 940 passenger counts. Food and service quality are high.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Has global itineraries, including around-the-world journeys. The ships of the Regent (formerly Radisson) fleet offer guests high quality with a laid-back refined lifestyle. The Voyager is the fleet's star. Like its sister ship the Mariner, the Voyager is an all-suite affair, each with its own private balcony.


Worldwide itineraries, though most ply the Mediterranean. Seabourn has three ships, each accommodating about 440 passengers (who tend to be affluent, savvy travelers). Food and service are outstanding.

SeaDream Yacht Club

It has twin all-suite cruise ships that attract sophisticated cruisers. The vessels are small and intimate. Each accommodates only 112 passengers. The two SeaDreams have built up a loyal fan base because they provide a yacht-cruise experience.

Silversea Cruises

Attracts well-off, experienced world travelers seeking modest-sized cruise ships with sophisticated ambiances and enlightening onboard programs and shore excursions. Shiplife is refined and graceful with a casual, understated tone. All cabins are suites. Silversea Cruises sails to various global regions.

$$$$/$$$ Luxury-Upmarket

Azamara Club Cruises

Relatively new line (2007). It has two ships, each accommodating up to 694 passengers. Destinations include ports of call in Europe, Asia, and the Americas. Azamara is the crown j ewel of the Royal Caribbean family of cruise lines.

Cunard Line

Two grand ships, Queen Elizabeth 2 ( QE2) and the Queen Mary 2 (QM2). The latter is newer and superior. Onboard tone is formal, but not stiff. Being a traditional class-based ship, you dine according to the quality level of your cabin. The Cunard Line runs frequent Transatlantic crossings between New York and Southhampton - you sail in one direction and fly in the other. It also has round-the-world trips (starting at approximately $20,000 per person).

Oceania Cruises

It sails worldwide and attracts a well-traveled 50+ demographic. Voyage lengths tend to be longer than the norm. The line has five ships. The best and newest two are the Marina and Riviera (maiden voyage April 2012).

$$$ Upmarket

Celebrity Cruises

Sails the world - Asia, Europe, the Americas, and beyond. Attracts couples, with and without their children. Ships carry on average about 2,000 passengers, though its Xpedition ship in the Galapagos Islands accommodates only 92.

Hapag-Lloyd Cruise Line

This high-quality, century-old line has four small-to-medium-sized traditional style cruise ships offering refined service and style. (Hapag-Lloyd also operates an airline and an extensive fleet of container ships). Cruise destinations include the Mediterranean, Baltic, Arctic, Antarctica, Caribbean, Atlantic and Pacific. Most passengers are German-speaking.

Holland America Line

The onboard atmosphere is more traditional, less contemporary than most other cruise lines. Cultured clientele. Food and service are refined and exemplary. Worldwide destinations. One trip circumnavigates the planet, visiting 38 ports in 26 countries (prices start in the neighborhood of $20,000 per person).

$$ Mid-price range

Carnival Cruise Line

< img border="0" src="../z_words/gw_insights_colon.gif" width="61" height="13" align="absbottom"> Ships are large (up to several thousand passengers). They sail to North American and Mediterranean ports. Carnival Cruise Lines is widely popular and has a party-boat reputation. It's the most glitzy Vegas-like cruise line afloat and is fun for the right audience. Appeals mostly to mid-income couples, singles and families.

Costa Cruise Line

This Italian line sails the world with a strong Mediterranean-itinerary presence. Costa operates over a dozen big ships. Most passengers are European. The line appeals to mid-income families and young adults. It is part of the Carnival family of cruise lines.

Disney Cruise Line

Pleasing kids is the obvious priority, but there are onboard facilities and activities designed for the parents. You can book a seven-day land-and-sea vacation package. Your family spends half the time enjoying Walt Disney World in Orlando, the other half on the Disney Magic or Disney Wonder ship cruising to the Bahamas.

MSC Cruise Line

It's an Italian line with over 10 big ships. It focuses on European (especially Mediterranean) destinations, but also sails to ports in the Americas. Passengers are mainly middle income European families and young adults.

Norwegian Cruise Line

This large cruise line sails worldwide. One ship, the Pride of America, has a Hawaiian themed cruise with shore excursions to various Hawaiian Islands. Norwegian Cruise Line innovated the "freestyle dining" concept (you have the option of dining in different onboard restaurants).

Princess Cruises

Global itineraries. Caribbean and Mexican west coast cruises are popular. Princess Cruises has a dozen cruise ships (mostly quite large) and an imaginary one (the "Love Boat" of TV fame). Its overall quality level is the highest in the "$$ Mid-market" category.

Royal Caribbean International

Its large cruise fleet sails worldwide, with a Caribbean emphasis. Some ships carry 3,000 passengers. Royal Caribbean appeals to middle income families (with children and teens) and young couples. Organized activities are many and varied.

$ Budget

Avoid them

Typically, amenities are scarce, cabins are  minuscule and spartan, public spaces are cramped and poor-conditioned, food and service are mediocre, and schedules are not always reliable.

Specialty:  Adventure

Lindblad Expeditions

Partners with National Geographic. Clientele is educated and reasonably affluent, with a deep interest in learning more about local cultures and natural environments. Onboard lifestyle is laid-back, unpretentious. So is the food. The ships of Lindblad Expeditions sail to select global destinations.

Specialty:  River


Sails a fleet or riverboats in Europe. Recently added cruises in Africa and Southeast Asia.

Delta Queen (Mississippi)

Paddle-wheeled ships go up and down Ol' Man River, reliving a bygone historical era.

Sonesta (Nile)

Its Goddess ships (Moon and Sun) are two of the finest cruising up the Nile to Luxor and beyond.

Uniworld (Europe)

Similar to Viking, but has a more European patronage and scores higher in food and facilities.

Victoria (Yangtze)

Its large, fine-conditioned fleet sails through the famed Three Gorges in central China.

Viking (Europe)

Has higher percentage of Americans aboard than does Uniworld, its chief competitor.

Specialty:  Tall-masted sailing ship


Sports one high-end sailing cruise yacht. If you don't speak French, think twice.

Sea Cloud

It's the Rolls Royce of motor-sail cruise lines. The fleet comprises just two sailing ships: Sea Cloud and Sea Cloud II. The first has an engaging history and elegant furnishings.

Star Clipper

Not on the same quality level as the Windstar sail cruise line, but it deserves consideration.


Tall-masted motor-sail ships. They mainly focus on the Mediterranean and Caribbean. They are not "small" yachts. One accommodates 308, the others, 148 passengers.


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