September 24, 2023

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14 Best Cruise Lines In The U.S. (Ranked By Rating)

14 Best Cruise Lines In The U.S. (Ranked By Rating)

Selecting a cruise line can be a challenge. There are at least a dozen major cruise ship companies to choose from. They vary greatly in ship size and amenities offered. Some have all-inclusive pricing, while others don’t. Some are all-suite ships; some aren’t. And the ambiance onboard the cruise ships varies greatly and is something guests should know before booking.


But a key factor for most vacationers is price. Many cruise lines listed here rank highest in value for the money by travelers and experts in a listing published by U.S. News and World Report. Affordability, amenities, and reputation were taken into account. Going on vacation doesn’t mean someone needs to break the bank. Which cruise ship will be the best?

Related: This 33-Day Luxe Cruise Itinerary Calls At 28 Exotic Ports

UPDATE: 2023/04/07 18:04 EST BY NOAH STAATS

There are still countless cruise ship companies to use for a vacation.

This article has been refreshed with new photos, added cruise lines, tips for future voyagers, value-adds, and notes about the respective cruise line brands.

14 Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise ship
Image by Hans Toom from Pixabay 

Disney Cruise ship

  • Disney Cruise Line is perfect for families.
  • This company offers the magic of its theme parks onboard each ship.

Disney Cruise Line is one cruise ship company that continues to grow and improve. This company, which started in 1995, has become a premier option for travelers wanting a luxurious yet family-friendly option on the open waters.

It’s also worth mentioning that Disney Cruise Lines allow visitors to experience character meet-and-greets, interactive experiences, and one-of-a-kind dining, shopping, and amenities.

  • Recommended Cruise:
    Disney Dream

  • Duration
    : 3 Night Cruise to the Bahamas

  • Price
    : Starting at USD 778 per person

Cruise ship MV Viking Sky of the Viking Ship Fleet in Tallinn, Estonia
Shutterstock

Cruise ship MV Viking Sky of the Viking Ship Fleet in Tallinn, Estonia

  • Viking Cruises are often smaller ships.
  • This company is based in Switzerland and specializes in European destinations.

Another cruise ship brand that people enjoy is Viking Cruises. This company is based in Basel, Switzerland, and its marketing headquarters are in Los Angeles, California. This company mainly focuses on river, ocean, and expedition cruises.

Viking ships tend to be on the smaller side, so this could be a great way to meet others on board and have a more intimate experience at sea. The smaller boat sizes also allow them to move effortlessly through less-traveled paths, which is neat.

  • Recommended Cruise:
    Viking Venus

  • Duration
    : 7-night cruise to Europe

  • Price
    : Starting at USD 2,599 per person

Book this cruise

12 Cunard Line

Cruise ship in Alaska
Via: Joeri Mombers/Unsplash

A Cunard cruise ship docks in an Alaskan port.

  • Cunard is a British shipping and cruise line.
  • These ships tend to be more classic-feeling.
  • Some of the Cunard Line’s best voyages are through Europe.

The Cunard cruise line is one of the smaller brands on the market. This cruise company was started in 1840, so Cunard has a rich history. Furthermore, Cunard offers one-way, round-trip, and transatlantic sailings to major US cities and extensive European trips.

Furthermore, Cunard sails to a variety of North American ports, including New York City, Boston, Los Angeles, and Miami.

  • Recommended Cruise:
    Queen Mary 2

  • Duration
    : 7-night cruise to Europe

  • Price
    : Starting at USD 1,249 per person

Book this cruise

11 Oceania Cruises

Oceania Cruises Marina
Shutterstock

Oceania Cruises Marina

  • Oceania Cruises are on the more luxurious side of the market.
  • This cruise line is based in Miami, Florida.
  • Most Oceania voyages last between 10 and 14 days.

Oceania Cruises may be worth considering for those wanting more elegance and luxury on the open waters. This cruise company’s stand-out feature is its longer-than-average trip schedules.

For example, most Oceania Cruises are out at sea for between 10 and 14 days, with some cruises lasting 195 days. The boats are mid-size, often boasting lavish decor and beautiful rooms/suites.

  • Recommended Cruise
    : Oceania Insignia

  • Duration
    : 10-night cruise to the Caribbean

  • Price
    : Starting at USD 1,899 per person

Book this cruise

10 Windstar Cruises

Luxury Cruise
Photo by Reynier Carl on Unsplash

Person on-board luxury cruise ship out at sea

  • Windstar Cruises are mainly small ships and yachts.
  • This cruise brand is on the higher end, often costing more than a regular ship.
  • Most Windstar destinations are in Europe, the South Pacific, the Caribbean, and Central America.

Another luxury cruise liner to choose from is Windstar. Typically, these ships are smaller, as the company focuses on yachts and “personalized” experiences for guests. The Xanterra Travel Collection owns Windstar and mainly travels through Europe, the South Pacific, the Caribbean, and Central America.

  • Recommended Cruise:
    Wind Star

  • Duration:
    7-day cruise through the Greek Isles

  • Price:
    Starting at USD 3,622 per person

Book this cruise

9 Costa Cruises

Image by MustangJoe from Pixabay 

Costa Cruise ship in water 

  • This Italian-based cruise line is known for lower rates.
  • Europeans tend to book this cruise line for their vacations.
  • There is an all-inclusive rate option available to guests.

Based in Italy, Costa has lower rates than competitors, the ranking found, especially for cruises in the Mediterranean. Its ships attract mostly Europeans, so American cruisers should be prepared for a more international atmosphere than the other ships on this ranking list.

Costa ships have amenities for families and adults traveling without children, such as theater shows and casinos. It also offers an all-inclusive rate option. This may be an excellent option for longer cruises with extended days on the water.

  • Recommended Cruise:
    Costa Deliziosa

  • Duration:
    70 Night Cruise Around the World

  • Price:
    Starting at USD 8,662 per person

Book this cruise

Cruising on Costa’s ship “Deliziosa” may be the better premium choice for those wanting to make the most of their vacation. This ship has various routes, with one being its 70-night voyage across the world.

8 Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Breakaway Cruise
Image by addesia from Pixabay 

Norwegian Breakaway Cruise

  • Norwegian Cruise Line has 18 ships currently sailing.
  • Many NCL ships can hold upwards of 4,000 guests.
  • Guests may need to buy all-inclusive packages to save money on food and drinks.

Norwegian has 18 ships sailing, many quite large and accommodating more than 4,000 guests. Fares cover standard dining but not specialty venues; however, money-saving all-inclusive packages can be booked for dining and drinks.

The cruise line’s Freestyle Dining policy has no fixed dining times or assigned seating. Like other big cruise lines, Norwegian ships offer complimentary activities and amenities. Norwegian Cruise Line also partners with Caesars Entertainment, meaning guests can earn points between companies.

  • Recommended Cruise:
    Norwegian Escape

  • Duration:
    7 Night Cruise to the Eastern Caribbean

  • Price:
    Starting at USD 949 per person

Book this cruise

7 Holland America Line

Holland American Line
Shutterstock

Holland American Line

  • Holland America is a more exclusive luxury cruise ship option.
  • There are better deals for those headed to the Caribbean.
  • Each guest will receive attention on this line.

Considered a premium cruise line, Holland America can be a good bargain, particularly for Caribbean cruises, which can cost under $300 per person for a five-day sailing. The ranking shows that the line does not skimp on service but offers individualized attention to guests.

The line provides free room service and several all-inclusive pricing options that can be booked as packages before sailing. The cruise line attracts mainly an adult and older adult crowd and offers many onboard programs such as lectures, cooking classes, and music performances.

  • Recommended Cruise:
    Holland America Koningsdam

  • Duration:
    35 Night Cruise to Hawaii

  • Price:
    Starting at USD 4,419 per person

Book this cruise

Holland America is a fancier, more exclusive cruise line option. If someone prefers to live lavishly on the open seas: this company may be the best choice.

Related: Explore Far-Flung Ports With This All-Suite Cruise Line

6 Royal Caribbean International

Crowns Edge on Icon of the Seas
Courtesy of Royal Caribbean

Crowns Edge on Icon of the Seas

  • Royal Caribbean has 25 shops in operation.
  • This brand owns some of the largest cruise ships.
  • Rates for Royal Caribbean cruise ships tend to be affordable.

Royal Caribbean has 25 ships in its fleet, including some of the largest vessels sailing. The ranking survey found that it can keep overall rates low because it accommodates many cruisers per ship. Some cruises can start at under $250 per person. The line offers itineraries across the globe and, like some other cruise lines, has its own private island in the Bahamas.

Overall, this cruise brand is great for families or those traveling solo, as there is always something to see, do, and experience.

  • Recommended Cruise:
    Royal Caribbean International Wonder of the Seas

  • Duration:
    7 Night Cruise to the Western Caribbean

  • Price:
    Starting at USD 1,190 per person

Book this tour

5 Princess Cruises

Discovery Princess arriving at Juneau's port in Alaska

Discovery Princess Cruise Ship, Princess Cruises

  • Princess Cruises generally include onboard events in the fare price.
  • This cruise line is more adult-friendly than family-oriented.
  • Guests must pay a fee to dine at specialty restaurants.

Princess Cruises fares typically cover onboard events such as cooking classes and lectures and offer an atmosphere geared more toward adults than families with children. Main dining rooms are included in the cruise fare, and guests pay a fee to dine at specialty restaurants.

Packages are offered to cruisers who expect to dine frequently at a special venue, and there are also drinks packages.

  • Recommended Cruise:
    Regal Princess

  • Duration:
    7 Night Cruise to the Western Caribbean

  • Price:
    Starting at USD 713 per person

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4 MSC Cruises

  • MSC is an Italian cruise line brand.
  • There are limited ships from MSC coming to the United States.
  • Traveling on an MSC ship is typically lower than staying on land in Europe.

Italian line MSC Cruises has just a few ships sailing from U.S. ports and is mainly Europe-focused. But the ranking report found that, even with airfare to Europe, the cost of an MSC cruise will be more affordable than a typical land vacation on the continent. Some Mediterranean cruises start at $100 per person, and promotions often allow children to sail free.

  • Recommended Cruise:
    MSC Virtuosa

  • Duration:
    8 Night Cruise to the Baltic Sea

  • Price:
    From USD 429 per person

Book this cruise

MSC cruises regularly run children sail free promotions for their Mediterranean voyages, which may be helpful for larger families. Rates are already low for this specific destination, which is something to remember.

Related: The Best River Cruises In The World

3 Celebrity Cruises

The celebrity Cruise at night in its full glory
Pixabay

The celebrity Cruise at night in its full glory

  • Celebrity Cruises are known to have excellent service and employees.
  • Rates are historically cheaper for those headed to the Bahamas and the Caribbean.
  • Room service is free on this ship, minus specialty drinks.

Celebrity Cruises has a good reputation for service. Furthermore, some prices for the Bahamas and Caribbean cruises can be less than $250 per cruiser. The survey points out that the line offers perks such as free room service and many complimentary amenities. Dining, drinks, spa, and Wi-Fi packages can be bought in advance, helping cut costs.

  • Recommended Cruise:
    Celebrity Edge

  • Duration:
    11 Night Cruise to the Panama Canal & Central America

  • Price:
    Starting at USD 3,190 per person

Book this cruise

Celebrity Cruises may be a good choice for travelers wanting to go to the Bahamas and the Caribbean. This cruise line offers various packages to help cut down on Wi-Fi, food, drink, and spa prices.

2 Carnival Cruise Line

the carnival cruise ship
Unsplash

the carnival cruise ship

  • Carnival Cruise Line is often called the “Fun Ships” line.
  • These cruises are budget and family-friendly.
  • Most dining is included in the original fare (minus specialty restaurants).

Carnival Cruise Line, aka the Fun Ships line, is considered budget friendly because its base fares are typically low. The cruise line offers many short cruises of three or four days and longer itineraries. Traditional dining is covered in the fare, but specialty restaurants are not.

Guests can minimize costs by avoiding those venues. Also, drinks and dining packages are available, and the line frequently offers discount promotions.

  • Recommended Cruise:
    Carnival Breeze

  • Duration:
    5 Night Cruise to the Western Caribbean

  • Price:
    Starting at USD 266 per person

Book this cruise

1 Virgin Voyages

andrew-a-ECX-7milNow-unsplash
Photo by Andrew A on Unsplash

Close-up shot of Virgin Voyages cruise ship in Honduras

  • Virgin Voyages ranks top of the list for overall value.
  • This cruise line is all-inclusive, meaning food/drink/Wi-Fi costs will not be added.
  • Virgin ships are adult-only, so those with children can not book a trip.

Virgin Voyages ranked at the top of the list for value. The cruise line created by British mogul Richard Branson is mostly all-inclusive, meaning nearly everything is covered in the cruise fare. The exception is some high-end spirits at certain venues.

However, all restaurants and virtually all beverages are included, along with sports facilities and group fitness classes, including yoga. Even crew tips are covered. Virgin Voyages ships are among the industry’s adult-only vessels, with a minimum guest age of 18. The cruise line currently operates two boats and has two ships due to enter service in 2023.

  • Recommended Cruise:
    Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady

  • Duration:
    5 Night Cruise to the Caribbean

  • Price:
    Starting at USD 725 per person

Book this cruise