Embarking on a voyage across the vast seas and oceans, enveloped in luxury and adventure, is a memorable experience that captures the imagination of many. With their floating cities of grandeur, cruise lines have become synonymous with exploration, relaxation, fun and unmatched entertainment.
The cruise line industry is quite successful and ever-growing. It has something for everyone. The cruise lines offer a complete package from thrilling onboard activities to visiting picturesque locations.
Setting foot on these ships means immersing yourself in a world of opulence where attentive staff cater to your smallest need and breathtaking ocean vistas unfold before one’s eyes. The floating resorts offer an array of experiences, from the tranquil solitude of beaches to enriching and soulful cultural performances.
This article will look at the world’s most famous cruise lines and what they offer to their customers.
1. Carnival Cruise Line
Leading the pack is the Carnival Cruise Line, known for its vibrant atmosphere, top-notch amenities and extensive choice of destinations.
It was founded in 1972 by Ted Arison, an Israeli Businessman. The company is a subsidiary of the Carnival Corporation & plc. The company tops the list of the largest cruise lines based on the passengers carried every year.
Carnival Cruise has a fleet of 25 ships, an additional new build and another that will join the fleet in 2024.
Carnival Cruises are all about fun vacations at sea and ashore. They offer day and nighttime entertainment like musicals, deck and pool parties, casinos, stage shows etc.
Their ships operate 2 to 31-day voyages, leaving from every U.S. Coast. Although it is best known for Carribean cruises, other exotic destinations like Mexico, Bahamas, Europe, Hawaii and Alaska are also covered.
Carnival Cruise Line Australia has two ships that depart from Sydney and Brisbane to New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.
2. Royal Caribbean International
Royal Carribean International, earlier known as Royal Carribean Cruise Line, was founded in 1968 in Norway. It is based in Miami, Florida and is the biggest cruise line by revenue and second biggest in terms of passengers carried annually.
It has 26 ships in operation, and four more have been ordered. It is the favourite cruise of travellers seeking adventure, offering bold onboard thrills, unending dining options, entertainment and world-class accommodation.
The ships sail to 270 plus destinations in 60 plus nations on six continents. It captures the essence of innovation, and the ships have activities like skydiving simulators and onboard surfing.
It owns two resorts used as stops on a few Caribbean and Bahamas cruises. These include the Labadee, on the northern shores of Haiti and Coco Cay, a private island in the Berry Islands region of the Bahamas.
Royal Caribbean plans to add additional resorts in Asia, especially on Lelepa Island in Vanuatu.
3. Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian Cruise Line enchants its guests with its unique freestyle cruising concept, offering freedom and flexibility regarding dining, entertainment and accommodation options.
It was the first in the industry to eliminate set dining times and offered guests the freedom to cruise on their schedule to more than 450 destinations across the globe.
The Norwegian Cruise Line was founded in 1966 and is based in Miami. It is the 3rd largest cruise line in the world by passenger count, controlling roughly 8.6% of the total share of the cruise market by passengers as of 2021. It is wholly owned by its parent company, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings.
It was established by Knut Kloster and Ted Arison with Sunward, which functioned as a car ferry between Southampton and Gibraltar in 1966.
Presently, the cruise line operates a fleet of 18 ships while five are on order. All its cruise ships are flagged to the Bahamas except the Pride of America, which operates within the U.S. and sails under the flag of the U.S.
4. MSC Cruises
MSC Cruises is a Mediterranean gem, combining elegance and modernity to provide its guests a truly cosmopolitan experience. It is one of the world’s biggest cruise lines and a leading operator in Europe, South America, the Gulf and Southern Africa.
It is the fastest-growing brand in the Caribbean, Far East and North America. Its fleet is expected to increase to 23 ships by 2025.
MSC Cruises is based in Geneva and has offices in Naples, Venice and Genoa. It was established in Naples, Italy, in 1989 as part of the Mediterranean Shipping Company.
Apart from being the world’s biggest privately owned cruise company with a 300-year history, it employs about 23,500 people across the world in offices located in 45 countries.
5. Princess Cruises
Princess Cruises emphasises discovery, allowing passengers to explore remote corners of the world while enjoying the luxury and exceptional service. It is owned by Carnival Corporation, incorporated in Bermuda, and headquartered in Santa Clarita, California.
Princess Cruises has 15 cruise ships with itineraries marketed for American and international guests.
The cruise line, founded in 1965, is known for its luxurious ships with numerous amenities.
Princess Cruises offer diverse itineraries spanning the globe. Popular destinations include Alaska, Europe, Asia, Australia and the Caribbean. Guests can also choose from a range of shore excursions to explore a port of call, whether it is whale watching in Alaska or snorkelling in the Caribbean.
Princess Cruises is also known for its award-winning culinary experiences and onboard entertainment options like Broadway-style shows, comedy performances, themed parties, guest lectures, auctions, cooking demonstrations and much more.
6. Celebrity Cruises
Celebrity Cruise Line is based in Miami, Florida and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Royal Caribbean Group. It was established in 1988 by the Chandris Group based in Greece. In 1997, it was merged with the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line.
While Royal Caribbean Cruise ships are famous for offering thrilling activities at sea, such as Skydiving simulators, surfing, ice skating, bumper cars etc., Celebrity Cruises, the Royal Caribbean’s sister cruise line, provides a more upscale experience to its guests. It is committed to providing a more refined cruising experience.
While Celebrity Cruises offers excellent entertainment options for adults, it has no adventure thrills like water slides, Rock walls, ice or roller skating rinks. They do have something called ‘Youth Programming or Camp At Sea’ and offer activities for children from 3 to 17 years old, like games, crafts, sports tournaments and parties.
7. Holland America Line
Holland America Line is a subsidiary of the Carnival Corporation & plc based in Seattle, Washington, in the U.S.
It was founded in Rotterdam, Netherlands and operated as a Dutch shipping line, a passenger, cargo and cruise line between the Netherlands and North America from 1873- 1989. It also transported hundreds and thousands of emigrants from the Netherlands to the North American Continent.
With its maritime heritage, Holland America Line combines traditions with comfort and offers guests a blend of elegance and modern amenities.
Although the cruise line offers many itineraries, it is famous for its Alaska Cruises. Also, Holland America Line offers more sailings to Glacier Bay National Park than any other cruise line. The company highlights that travelling is for a higher purpose and provides an enriching experience to its guests.
They have a fleet of 11 ships which provide more than 500 sailings a year, touring all seven continents. Famous destinations include the Caribbean, Europe, Mexico, South America, Australia, Alaska, New Zealand and Asia.
8. Costa Cruises
Costa Cruises is an Italian Cruise Line founded in 1948. It has been a part of the Carnival Corporation & plc since 2000. It embodies an Italian style and hospitality. It is based in Genoa, Italy and primarily caters to the Italian cruise market.
However, the company has ten ships that operate globally, mainly on routes in Northern Europe, the Mediterranean, the Baltic Sea, the Caribbean, South America, North and Central America, Arab Emirates and the Far East.
It was founded by Giacomo Costa and was known as Giacomo Costa fu Andrea then. The company then operated cargo ships that carried textiles and olive oil.
In 1924, it was handed to the founder’s sons, who started expanding it. They initially bought the ship Ravenna; in 1947, the company was renamed Linea C.
9. Disney Cruise Line
Disney Cruise Line is a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Company. It was incorporated in 1996 as Magical Cruise Company Ltd. Its first vessel was the Disney Magic. The company is based in London but has its operational office in Florida.
Disney Cruises has five ships: Disney Magic, Disney Wonder, Disney Dream, Disney Fantasy, and Disney Wish. Also, three ships are set to join their fleet in 2024 and 2025.
Disney is synonymous with fairytales and magic, and this is what the cruise line offers—a truly magical and unforgettable cruising experience, perfect for families with children and even adults.
The company also owns exclusive private islands such as Castaway Cay in the Bahamas. Another one is Lighthouse Point, stretching 700 acres on the southern end of Eleuthera in the Bahamas, set to open in 2024.
10. Cunard Line
Cunard Line has a 100-year history of sailing the oceans and sea. It offers word voyages, short and long cruise trips to Asia, Africa, Europe, Australasia, Europe, and the Americas and overnight calls in cities that come to life at night.
Cunard is a British shipping and cruise line based in Southampton, England. It is operated by Carnival U.K. and is owned by the Carnival Corporation plc.
Cunard’s cruise fleet has four beautiful ships, the Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth, Queen Victoria, and Queen Anne, which will join the fleet in 2024. Each ship is grand and unique in itself.
The design of the ships is inspired by the cruise line’s past and what it stands for. It is also symbolic of its reimagined future. Hence, along with classic art deco stylings and beautiful, intricate craftsmanship, one may find bold splashes of colour and contemporary comforts onboard.
So if you are an adventure seeker, a travel enthusiast or simply someone planning a vacation to cool off, then do check out these cruise lines, which offer a luxurious experience that will definitely relax and rejuvenate your body and mind. Choose the best suits your needs and have the time of your life on a grand cruise ship.
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Zahra is an alumna of Miranda House, University of Delhi. She is an avid writer, possessing immaculate research and editing skills. Author of several academic papers, she has also worked as a freelance writer, producing many technical, creative and marketing pieces. A true aesthete at heart, she loves books a little more than anything else.