Choosing the Right Cruise Line

Five large white cruise ships docked at a cruise port on shockingly blue water
All cruise lines were not created equal - choose the perfect match for your ideal cruise vacation | Author: Fernando Jorge

It’s important to choose the right cruise line for a perfect cruise vacation, but with the vast number of options it can be quite difficult. Choosing the right cruise line may also depend on the time of year that you plan on cruising and the type of destinations you want to visit among other factors. The cruise line that you choose is a hugely important choice to make. There are many different types of cruise liners out there that cater to a whole different range of clientele. Choosing the right one for you can be the difference between having a good cruise experience or a great one.

Whilst a cruise line will have different types of ships, the company themselves can often be different from one another in a number of different ways. In this guide we will go through all the information that you need in order to choose the perfect cruise line for your perfect cruise vacation.

Aren't all cruise lines the same?

Not exactly. With all cruise lines, on both their big ships and small ships, you can always expect a high quality experience and top-notch customer service. While cruise lines all offer slightly different things, you’d still expect them to give you fantastic experience on ships that are very well maintained. 

But that’s pretty much where the definite similarities end, as it’s rare for one ship to try and cater to all different age ranges and personality types. While most cruises are open to everyone, it’s a good idea to look a little deeper to find one that is ideal for you.

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Cruise line differences

Some companies aim for a certain age range, with some specializing in over 60’s, or for children. Some will give you a budget or a luxury cruise experience, while others will have differences in the likes of destinations, ships sizes and cruise durations they offer.

With every different ship and itinerary you will get different types of shore excursions and activities that different ships offer under the same cruise line. These can go from family friendly cruises to the likes of a romantic vacation on smaller ships. Every cruise line offers a variety of different perks.

While cruises can be amazing whatever type of liner you choose, picking the right one for you will make that experience even better. Here we will go through the key aspects that can differentiate one cruise company from others, so you can get the most out of your cruise vacation. 

Cruise ships from different cruise lines are standing next to each other at the port during sunset
Planning your cruise you should consider that each cruise line meets different demands. | Author: Linval Ebanks

Match the cruise line to your personality

Everyone has a different personality and so do cruise lines! For the ultimate cruise vacation, you’ll want to choose a cruise line that will match your unique personality. The main difference here is between those who want a quieter type of experience and those who are looking for something a little livelier.

Cruise lines for a quieter experience

There are plenty of cruises that offer a calm and relaxed environment. The cruise companies that are geared towards an older crowd generally offer this level of calm and relaxation, and Celebrity Cruises is a great example of a cruise line that offers this. It’s also best to avoid companies that are geared towards children.

Cruise lines for a livlier experience

As we alluded to there, most kid-friendly or family-oriented cruise lines are going to be quite lively have a fun and energetic atmosphere. Norwegian Cruise Line is a company that offers a fun cruise experience and Carnival Cruise Line is another great company for those looking for something more up-tempo. Many cruise lines have great onboard activities too that can range from water sports to cooking classes.

For the majority of cruise lines, you will be able to have an experience that matches your personality as most of the events are going to be optional and you won’t be forced into anything. You will be free to create your own cruise experience. Unless you’re an extreme introvert or extrovert, you’ll find most companies can match your personality.

Match the cruise line to your desired cruise experience

There are cruise lines that are going to be able to cater to a specific type of cruise experience and for those looking for a particular niche, these can be perfect for you. Here we look at some of the most popular reasons to get away.

Romantic cruises with that special someone

There are tons of cruises that exude a high level of romance. Most adult-oriented ships are going to be very romantic, as there is something incredible about sailing on a ship, seeing the most beautiful sunsets and indulge in fine dining each night with your significant other.

For a more intimate sailing experience, Windstar Cruises is a great company as they have motorized yachts that are small and luxurious. On a larger scale, Princess Cruises offers a great range of romantic cruises that have a relaxed and intimate atmosphere.

Party cruises where you can rock out

There are numerous other cruises for people looking for a totally different type of experience. Many cruise ships have a great nightlife for those looking to dance the night away. Norwegian Cruise Line offers a much more casual cruise experience with many great bars and lounges.

Carnival Cruise Line is another cruise line that caters extremely well to those looking to have a great time, with the likes of a nightclub, comedy nights and many bars. For those cruisers interested in a higher-class late night drinking experience, Celebrity Cruises is the  ideal cruise line for this. 

Family cruises with something for everyone

If you have young children then you want to make sure they are entertained while they are onboard the cruise ship. In terms of the best cruise line to do that, it’s hard to look past Disney Cruise Line as there are many incredible themed areas that will ensure they have a wonderful time.

For families that have slightly older children, Carnival Cruise LineRoyal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line are all great choices. These companies have a more relaxed approach with many onboard activities for both adults and children, which means there is something for everyone.

Cruises for the over 60 crowd

The majority of cruise lines are ideal for a more mature crowd, as they will have many opportunities to relax. In most cases, cruise lines provide ships that are easy to navigate and are equipped with sufficient elevators and signage to help along the way. If you are looking for a more peaceful time then many cruise lines operate several adult-only cruises throughout the year.

One of the best companies that offers a classic cruising experience is Cunard, which provides exquisite dining and thrilling entertainment . Other luxury cruise lines such as Azamara Club CruisesOceania Cruises and Windstar Cruises are also perfect options for a more mature audience.

A happy mature couple enjoying the sunset at the beach during their cruise vacation
Several cruise lines are perfect for more mature cruisers to relax and unwind. | Author:

Cruise lines which dominate certain cruise destinations

While most cruise lines will be able to give you an incredible experience cruising across the globe, there are some that specialize in and dominate certain cruise destinations. If you’re going to one of these destinations, then it’s a great idea to use one of those companies.

There are obviously many great companies that head out to the Caribbean, with Royal Caribbean being one of the best (which isn’t surprising considering it’s in their name). Holland America Line and Disney Cruise Line also offer an amazing Caribbean experience, with all three cruise lines mentioned owning private islands in the region.

If you’re heading off to Alaska then Holland America Line offers some great cruises, as does Ponant if you are interested in a luxury cruise option. On the other side of the Americas, Princess Cruises has a lot of great cruises that will go around South America. 

Europe is one destination where a lot of cruise lines offer some great experiences. Costa Cruise Lines and MSC Cruises are two particular lines that offer amazing trips throughout the Mediterranean and provide a lot of choice in the destinations that they cover. Further north, Cunard has a great selection of Baltic cruises.

The cruise duration can influence your cruise line

The amount of time that you will be away will also have a big impact on the type of cruise line that you are going to choose. Most cruise lines offer a great range of short and long cruises but there are some that are particularly good at one type.

Short cruises

If you are just in the market for a quick getaway, it’s hard to look further than Carnival Cruise Line, as they offer a great selection of short cruises and do so in a relaxed environment ,that suit a wide range of passengers who simply want a quick trip away.

Royal Caribbean and Princess Cruises are two alternative cruise lines which offer a wide range of cruise lengths with a great experience, but their short cruises are also fantastic. They are ideal for first-time cruisers as well as anyone looking for a short break from the daily grind of life.

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Long cruises

When it comes to long cruises, you will want to have a particular type of luxury where you won’t get frustrated by confined surroundings and missing the comforts of home. Oceania Cruises is able to give you such a comfortable experience that you will wish you never had to go back home.

There are many other cruise lines that can offer you that luxury experience too. Regent Seven Seas and Crystal Cruises gives customers a cruise vacation they will never forget with an incredible ship experience to go with the marvelous destinations you will see. 

Choose a cruise line that fits your budget

Evey cruise line cannot offer a service that is going to fit all ages, all budgets and all types of lifestyles. Instead you can generally divide the cruise lines into how expensive they are going to be and who they cater to.

The cruise ship Carnival Victory from the cruise line Carnival cruises on clear blue water
Looking for a bargain there are many budget cruise lines which offer a great cruise experience. | Author: ed2456

Budget cruise lines

Even though these companies are the cheapest, they have a great level of customer experience with beautiful and well-maintained ships. If you’re looking for a low expense option then it would be best to consider Carnival Cruise Line, Costa Cruise Lines, Holland America Line and MSC Cruises. These options are also great if you are a first time cruiser. 

Mainstream cruise lines

The mainstream cruise liners are those that offers a wide range of ships and destinations with that feeling of luxury for less. Celebrity Cruises, Disney Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean are all amazing companies that will give you an unforgettable vacation.

Premium cruise lines

Premium cruises offer a higher level of luxury with either a smaller ship, or a large ship that has the highest level of customer experience. Azamara Club Cruises, Cunard, Hurtigruten Cruise Lines, Oceania Cruises and Windstar Cruises will offer you an exceptional experience where all your needs will be catered for.

Luxury cruise lines

There are also many companies who want to be able to offer the highest level of luxury which make having a sea day every day enjoyable. Crystal Cruises, Ponant, Regent Seven Seas, SeaDream Yacht Club, Seabourn, Silversea Cruises, Star Clippers and Viking Cruises offer an exceptional level of service and amenities so that you will feel like a VIP, even on a large ship.

Consider the cruise lines policies

It’s also good to look into the individual policies that each cruise line has to determine if they match your situation or not. One aspect to look into are drinking ages, which might vary from one company to the next and will depend on factors such as the embarkation port and whether or not you’re in international waters.

Some companies also have different policies about taking alcohol on board. Seeing what a cruise line offers as part of their fare is also a good idea as you will be able to see how much you are going to be getting for your money.

Taking other factors into account is important too depending on your lifestyle and health. It’s always vital to check cruise line policies if you are a smoker. Cruise lines also have different rules on the likes of pregnancy too which is always important to check beforehand.

Make the most out of your cruise vacation

Choosing the best cruise line for you is important as you want to match your interests and situation with the ship that you are going to be sailing on. If you don’t then it could mean that you won’t have the type of amazing cruise experience that you could have had, if you had traveled with a different liner. For an overview of the offers of the best cruise lines for different personalities and vacation styles you can also check out our article about finding your perfect cruise from the best cruise lines.

For most people, they are going to be able to enjoy a wide selection. There are many different areas, activities, destinations and experiences that you can have on any cruise line and it’s hard to go wrong unless you have specific needs.

Once you have made the right choice then you will be able to sail away knowing that you are going to have the time of your life on the cruise line that is perfect for you.

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