The Best and Worst Cruise Lines
Cruise Market Watch reports that a cruise will set you back around US $212.80 a day per person. If you’re spending that much on your holiday, you need to do your research well and to make sure it’s worth it! Below is our list of some of the best and worst cruises around. Let’s get the worst cruises out of the way first.
1 Worst: Dream (Carnival)
Carnival’s cruise ship Dream made headlines back in 2013 when it docked at St. Maarten and stopped passengers from leaving.
This was despite the fact that the ship had no power and all the toilets were malfunctioning, leading to the overflow of human waste into the ship.
2 Worst: Norwegian cruise line
This line will take you to the Caribbean, Alaska, Europe, Hawaii, and the Bahamas. These are beautiful destinations, but there are better ways to get there! Norwegian Cruise Line has ‘earned’ itself a bad reputation for poor customer service, pokey cabins, poor and over-priced food, and rigid cancellation policy.
Browse TripAdvisor and you will see a whole realm of complaints including one that criticizes the staff and facilities for being ‘unprofessional, unclean, unsecure, non-caring [sic].’ Your money, time and energy might be better invested somewhere else…
3 Worst: Costa cruises
Another cruise line that has made headlines for all the wrong reasons, Costa experienced a serious incident in 2012 when a ship in its fleet capsized. Another then lost power for over 12 hours and caught fire. Let’s hope everyone had taken travel insurance on those ships…
If this isn’t enough to put you off, customers also criticize Costa for the lengthy list of exclusions to package rates, including Club Restaurant meals and drinks, the rudeness of staff and the poor food. Also, according to the FOE, Costa’s ships rank lowest in terms of their eco-friendly credentials.
4 Best: AmaWaterways
Named the world’s best cruise line by EscapeHere, AmaWaterways is a river cruise operator with a 20-strong fleet offering multi-day trips across Asia, Africa, and Europe. This line is the intimate choice, with the largest of its ships catering for just 164 travelers.
It has earned its 4.5/5 rating thanks to its spotless, comfy rooms, excellent customer service, and quality meals. However, you will pay a premium for this high standard of accommodation, food, and care, with week-long cruises starting at $3,000.
5 Worst: Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas
The cruise line Royal Caribbean is highly-rated, with quality facilities, excursions, and cabins. However, there is a dud in its 27-strong fleet: Ovation of the Seas.
This ship was only launched a few years ago, in 2016, but it didn’t take long for customers to start complaining about its average pool and small dining areas. It began by sailing the waters around Australia and New Zealand but in the summer of 2019, it moved to Alaskan waters.
6 Best: Disney Cruise Line
A family favorite, Disney Cruise Line’s mission is to bring the magic and joy of Disney to the water. Its four ocean liners travel to, among other destinations, the Caribbean, the Bahamas, Canada, New England, the coast of California, Europe, Mexico, the Panama Canal, Hawaii, and Alaska, ensuring that you will find the ideal travel destination for your family.
The line boasts a 4.3-star rating but it should be noted that it may not be the best choice for a romantic getaway, unless you love Disney! You will typically pay more for a Disney Cruise Line cruise than for other family-friendly options but for this higher price, you’ll get huge staterooms, great Disney-themed activities, and baby-friendly facilities. A great investment for the family!
7 Worst: Triumph (Carnival)
Yep, it’s another Carnival ship, which, in 2013, subjected staff and over 4,000 passengers to a cruise without air-conditioning, lights, working toilets and little food and water.
Human waste backed up and began to overflow and this 2013 Carnival cruise has since become known as the Poop Cruise.
8 Best: Princess Cruises
Princess Cruises had just one ship when it began operating in 1965 and now has 18 vessels that take over 1,000,000 travelers to places across the world every year. This line is a mid-priced, good-quality option, making it popular for families and couples young and old.
Its relaxed, more sophisticated atmosphere, highly-rated children’s programs, and new-release films (shown by the pool on a massive LED screen and with free popcorn) have impressed its customers. A smart investment if we see one!
9 Worst: Helvetia (Viking)
Viking is in the list of the worst cruise lines worldwide but the Viking cruise ship Helvetia deserves a special mention.
Receiving a rating of just 2.3/5 from customers, one traveler went so far as to call it the worst cruise they had ever been on. This customer had been on 60 cruises.
10 Best: Celebrity
The Travel Weekly Reader Awards has voted Celebrity Cruises the Best Premium Cruise Line for an astonishing seven years in a row. Groups, families, and couples will all enjoy the comfort and chic styling on offer and all for comparatively low prices (for a luxury option). You may have heard of Celebrity Cruises because of its impressive onboard art collection and because it was the first cruise line to grew real grass on its ships.
It travels across the globe, with its most popular destinations including New Zealand, Australian, the Galápagos Islands, Bermuda, Europe, South America, and Hawaii. If you are ready to make an investment into yourself, this is the cruise line for you.
11 Worst: MSC Cruises
Named one of the world’s worst cruise line, MSC Cruises has suffered a seemingly endless list of criticisms. The Switzerland-based company has been pilloried for its poor food, shabby rooms, inadequate customer service, and limited number of English-speaking staff.
Moreover, it ranks very poorly from an environmental perspective, with poor-quality sewage treatment practices and little effort to reduce the amount of air pollution its fleet emits.
12 Best: Holland America
Every year, Holland America provides travelers with over 500 sailing options to destinations in every continent on the globe.
The line’s 15 ships are comfortable and roomy and are ideally suited for older passengers and multi-generational families due to the line’s focus on professionalism and relaxing activities over sporty options and noisy activities for kids. Ideal for seniors and retired folks!
13 Worst: Star Clippers
This cruise line’s fleet of three tall ships offers travelers a chance to experience real sailing and all the modern conveniences you could hope for with some luxury touches thrown in. This may sound great in theory but you need to think about it carefully. The tall ships offer a unique experience and one that is unlike that offered by other cruise lines.
This may be right up your street but the line’s three-star rating shows it’s not for the faint-hearted. A number of unsatisfied customers have criticized the ships for having no elevators and huge amounts of stairs and for not being child-friendly. Moreover, the rocking of the ship has been known to make customers seasick. Think twice before buying this travel experience.
14 Worst: Viking river cruises
With a 3.4-star rating on Cruiseline.com, Viking River Cruises is on our list because of the line’s repeated changes to its itineraries, costliness, and cramped cabins. EscapeHere agrees, naming the line among the worst cruise options available.
Viking River Cruises is particularly unsuitable for people who enjoy a greater degree of autonomy when traveling and like to be in charge of their own schedule.
15 Best: Oceania Cruises
Oceania Cruises was established in 2002 and now has five vessels, three of which are ex-Renaissance ships, making it the largest upper-premium option in the cruise industry worldwide. Over three-quarters of its customers are couples and with a rating of 3.8/5, the line is a great choice for anyone who values good wine, service, art, and décor.
The line boasts a cooking school onboard, restaurants that specialize in wine pairings, and suites designed by Ralph Lauren. Literally a great investment, but it will be worth it.
16 Worst: Breeze (Carnival)
Another member of the Carnival fleet, a CDC report published in 2017 named Breeze one of the dirtiest cruise ships in its survey of ships worldwide. Problems with cleanliness spring from food staff suffering from stomach issues and inappropriate food disposal practices.
Yuck! When you need to take a special health insurance to go on a cruise, you know you’re not getting your money’s worth out of that cruise…
17 Worst: Fred Olsen Cruises
Cruise ships are especially susceptible to outbreaks of disease and Fred Olsen Cruises’ ships have been some of the worst affected. Approximately 1,400 customers were impacted by the eight outbreaks of gastrointestinal illness recorded on this cruise line’s ships in the years 2011 to 2015.
The next year, in 2016, the Balmoral experienced yet another outbreak of illness which laid low 252 of the ship’s 919 passengers. If you want to spend your time looking at the view rather than a toilet bowl, give this cruise line a wide berth.
18 Worst: American cruise lines
This cruise line has seven relatively small and intimate ships in its fleet. These ships travel within US waters only, taking travelers on historical tours. However, American Cruise Lines gets a place on this list thanks to the costliness of its cruises.
As EscapeHere states, ‘you could easily enjoy a luxury-level ocean cruise for less cost and get a longer experience […] for this price guests expect a lot and unfortunately, it’s just not there.’
19 Best: Carnival Cruise Lines
You may be surprised to find this cruise line operator on our best cruises list given the number of its ships that have found a place on the list above but, overall, Carnival can be a great choice. The line prides itself on offering a fun experience and hosts parties, comedy shows, zany contests, off-the-wall entertainment, and karaoke on its ships.
Brightly colored and with the music blasting, the 24-strong fleet is loved for being child-friendly and allowing adults to let their hair down. If you like to party, are an extrovert and want to mingle, or have a family and energetic young kids to entertain, Carnival is for you. Just remember to stay away from the ships we’ve previously mentioned.