What Is the Best Cruise Line For You? (2023)

What Is the Best Cruise Line For You? (1)

Interactive Quiz:

Before the coronavirus pandemic, cruise vacations were becoming increasingly popular, with almost 30 million passengers boarding cruise ships annually. Now that travel protocols have been lifted, people are once again returning to sea.

Now is the perfect time to book your cruise, and when you travel with AAA, you receive best-price guarantees and additional discounts on add-on amenities.

Take the quiz below to find what is the best cruise line for you! After receiving our top recommendations, read the descriptions below to help narrow your search. The cruise line breakdowns give an overview of where the cruise lines travel and what you can expect regarding what's included, the environment, and more.

1. AmaWaterways

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AmaWaterways offers unique river cruises throughout Europe, Africa, and Asia. The company has been sailing for 20 years and holds several awards and accolades for best and leading river cruise line.

The European cruises sail 22 ships across France, Portugal, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and more. There are two African cruises — one sails the Chobe River and offers safari excursions, while the other sails the Nile River in Egypt to view famous pyramids and sites. The Asian tour sails the Mekong River in Vietnam and Cambodia. They are adding a Colombian cruise along the Magdalena River in 2024 and a second Egyptian tour at an unannounced date.

Each cruise offers a different experience, but most ships have similar amenities.


  • Free Wi-Fi onboard
  • Most port excursions are included
  • Offers a more intimate experience, with an average of 156 guests aboard


  • No room service
  • Alcohol isn't included outside meals for European cruises, and premium alcohol is an additional cost
  • Limited activities and entertainment

2. Carnival Cruise Line

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One of America's longest-running cruise lines, Carnival first set out for sea in 1972. The cruise line's 23 ships sail out of all U.S. coasts, Australia, and Europe. They are well-known for their wide range of Caribbean cruises.

Carnival cruises can be a good option for both families and those looking for adult fun. Shorter cruises usually attract a party crowd celebrating bachelorette parties and getaways with friends. Longer cruises are likely to have a more balanced crowd that appeals to families. Some ships offer waterslides on the pool deck and the first rollercoaster at sea.

Carnival also offers wedding packages where couples can celebrate with family and friends aboard the ship at a port or on land at a special destination. Symbolic weddings at sea are also available. Carnival also offers honeymoon packages.


  • Known as one of the best affordable cruise lines
  • Several options for entertainment, such as nightclubs, comedy shows, casinos, and waterslides
  • Adult-only pool area


  • Wi-Fi costs extra
  • Shore excursions may cost extra
  • Limited buffet dinner options

3. Celebrity Cruises

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Celebrity Cruises hit all seven continents with over 300 destinations in 79 countries. Among dozens of awards, the cruise line was named the best premium cruise line in 2021, a title they've held for 14 consecutive years. They have 16 ships that hold anywhere from 16 to more than 3,000 guests.

With hundreds of itineraries, there are trips for everyone aboard Celebrity Cruises. However, the upscale ships are not known for being vibrant party scenes. The cruise line offers various activities for children and adult attractions like casinos and spas.


  • Wi-Fi, drinks, and gratuity included in the voyage fare
  • Modern, unique design aboard
  • Award-winning dining experiences


  • No excursions are included
  • Baseline fares may be higher than average
  • Less variety in adult entertainment

4. Disney Cruise Line

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Setting sail in 1995, the famous Disney Cruise Line keeps a small fleet of five ships today. The ships travel across the world and even to Disney Castaway Cay, their own private island in The Bahamas.

Disney is known for catering to families with young children, as there are plenty of characters and other activities aboard. Voyage fares include meals, meet and greets, endless ice cream, and Broadway-style entertainment.


  • Well-recommended child care (an additional cost)
  • Spacious cabins for families
  • Various accessible accommodations and services provided


  • Gratuities, alcohol, and shore excursions are not included
  • Baseline fares may be higher than average
  • Typically crowded, particularly on Caribbean cruises

5. Royal Caribbean International

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It's safe to say that Royal Caribbean International is a fan favorite. The cruise line has been sailing since 1968 and has held the title of best cruise line overall for 19 years. It has 26 ships, with four more coming by 2026.

Royal Caribbean leads the industry in onboard entertainment and activities, with zip lines, water slides, surf simulators, and more. There's so much to do that you likely won't have time for everything in one week of sailing.

For that reason, this cruise line makes a good choice for families with teens and those looking for a fun, active vacation. If you're looking for a calm, relaxing environment, this cruise line might not be right for you.


  • Known as one of the best affordable cruise lines
  • Wide variety of dining options
  • Wide variety of onboard and on-shore excursions


  • Typically crowded, particularly on Caribbean cruises
  • Gratuity, shore excursions, and alcohol cost extra
  • Not fit for those looking for a relaxing getaway

6. Princess Cruises

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Another older cruise line, Princess Cruises first set sail in 1965 and now runs 15 ships to over 330 destinations across all seven continents. They boast over 170 itineraries ranging from three to 111 days.

Princess Cruises are known for offering a traditional cruise experience —you won’t find water parks or go-karts aboard their fleet. They also have dress code requirements and lean into typical cruise entertainment, such as theater and game shows, karaoke nights, escape rooms, shopping, and spas. While the cruise line may attract a mature crowd, there is something for everyone aboard.

As the “love boat,” Princess Cruises offer wedding and honeymoon packages. Couples can choose to say their vows at sea, harborside, or ashore. Wedding packages start at $2,000 and include special touches like flowers, cake, and keepsakes.


  • Various and flexible dining options
  • Innovative technology and high-speed Wi-Fi (but for an additional cost)
  • Wide variety of entertainment


  • Some voyages are overly crowded
  • Alcohol must be purchased with a beverage package
  • Excursions are not included and can be expensive

7. Regent Seven Seas Cruises

AAA Vacations Cruise Lines

Regent Seven Seas Cruises' six ships sail between six continents, including transoceanic crossings, with over 450 destinations. The cruise line celebrated its 30-year anniversary in 2022. It has won numerous awards, such as best boutique cruise line, best spa facilities, and best luxury cruise line.

This top-rated cruise line is all-inclusive, including airfare and ground transfers, excursions, drinks, gratuities, specialty dining, Wi-Fi, and valet laundry. The luxurious environment caters to an older, sophisticated crowd, but the ships are not adult-only.


  • All-inclusive
  • Known for its fine dining
  • Smaller ships with a maximum capacity of 750 guests


  • Limited entertainment and facilities to accommodate children
  • Entertainment and action slows at night
  • More expensive than other cruise lines

8. Azamara

AAA Vacations Cruise Lines

Azamara sails in nine regions across the globe — from Australia to Europe to Central America. This cruise line also offers multiple transoceanic luxury cruises. Think of a place, and Azamara can likely get you there.

They strive to bring local culture aboard their ships, so guests aren't limited to immersive experiences only at ports. Azamara is known for its more relaxed environment and mature crowd. If you're looking for a party scene or a ship dedicated to children, this likely isn't the best cruise line for you. However, that's not to say they don't offer entertainment or nightlife.


  • Alcohol is available at any time when a beverage package is purchased
  • Room service is available
  • Wide variety of port locations


  • Excursions are not included, and some ports do not offer any excursions
  • Not all dining options are included in the voyage price for non-club members
  • Alcohol must be purchased with a beverage package

9. Oceania Cruises

AAA Vacations Cruise Lines

Oceania Cruises' six ships sail from over 450 ports, visiting destinations in Europe, Asia, the tropics, North America, and even Antarctica. Though it's a newer cruise line, founded in 2002, Oceania has been recognized for its excursions and dining.

Oceania Cruises attracts affluent retirees, solo travelers, and couples without children with its country club-like feel. Though these ships may not be optimal for children, they are not adult-only.


  • Wide selection of specialty dining options
  • Known for unique voyages packed with destination-filled itineraries
  • Upscale but more affordable than other luxury cruise liners


  • Limited daily activities
  • Quieter nightlife
  • Alcohol must be purchased in a beverage package

10. Holland America Line

AAA Vacations Cruise Lines

The oldest cruise line on the list, Holland America Line was founded in 1873 and operated out of Rotterdam, Netherlands, until 1989. In that time frame, it sailed cruise liners, cargo ships, passenger ships, and shipping lines between North America and the Netherlands. It's now an American cruise line with 11 ships sailing from more than 470 ports in 98 destinations.

Holland America is known for its traditional amenities, which cater to a mature crowd, and its grand voyages and world cruises. While it's not extravagant in its entertainment productions, musicians and shows play into the night. The bars boast classy and unique cocktails, and the library feels a bit more like a bookstore without the charge.


  • Smaller ships than other cruise lines provide an intimate experience
  • Well-designed ships
  • Known for accessible design


  • Limited experiences onboard to please all age groups
  • Wi-Fi costs extra
  • Gratuities are set at specific rates and are charged upon voyage completion

With more than 300 ocean cruises and over 500 river cruises sailing the globe today, there's a cruise line sure to meet your needs. You can book one of the best cruise lines with AAA Vacations and know you're traveling safely by booking a AAA Diamond cruise.

Other Sources:Forbes | Cruise Market Watch | USA Today


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