Different cruises lines can offer vastly different experiences, so it is important to decide exactly what you are looking for from a cruise before you come to book. A cruise holiday is not all about the destinations on your itinerary; it’s also about the on-board experience, which will greatly affect how you remember your time at sea.
Take a look at our thorough breakdown of the cruise industry’s major lines, so you can make an informed decision when you come to pick your perfect cruise line.
Azamara Club Cruises
What to expect: Azamara Club Cruises focuses on providing the most immersive experiences possible in the destinations on your itinerary, with longer overnight stays and a number of unique shore excursions including Insider Access, Nights and Cool Places and the luxury line’s renowned AzAmazing Evenings.
Culinary delights: Azamara’s two speciality restaurants both serve the finest gourmet cuisine. Head to Aqualina for authentic Italian fare, while Prime C serves some of the finest cuts of steak at sea.
Perfect for: Adventurous and inquisitive couples looking to truly savour each destination on their itinerary with fascinating cultural experiences in port.
What to expect: Carnival Cruises’ fantastic kid’s clubs provide younger travellers with plenty to keep them entertainment throughout the day, while the line’s nightlife is amongst one of the liveliest in the cruise in industry, with the party on-board lasting until the early hours of the morning most nights.
Culinary delights: Carnival specialise in family-friendly fast food. Guests can enjoy a delicious meal from the Seafood Shack or Guy’s Burger Joint, or perhaps sit down for a Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast in the world of Dr Seuss.
Perfect for: Enthusiastic families with plenty of ‘get up and go’ looking for an exciting experience for all ages both on-board and ashore.
What to expect: Celebrity Cruises offers innovative features laced with modern luxury, including the incredible Lawn Club with real grass, perfect for a quiet picnic whilst relaxing in the sun, taking in fabulous live entertainment from the line’s diverse and show-stopping performers.
Culinary delights: Celebrity’s Qsine restaurant is one of the most intriguing dining venues at sea, where guests can sample truly unique dishes – from sushi lollipops to popcorn fish and chips – using a cutting-edge iPad to order their food.
Perfect for: Couples and families with a passion for new experiences, hoping to make the most of their ship’s many fantastic features and wonderfully unique dining venues.
Cruise & Maritime Voyages
What to expect: Cruise and Maritime’s intimate ships offer the chance to depart from the UK and enjoy the company of likeminded fellow travellers, most of whom will be British, whilst enjoying a wealth of entertainment and dining experiences on-board.
Culinary delights: Order a Full English Breakfast, light lunch or delicious five-course dinner in the main dining room, or opt for casual buffet-style dining as you admire the ocean views.
Perfect for: Couples or groups of mature British travellers hoping for an enriching holiday experience and a slice of the leisurely cruise lifestyle.
What to expect: Expect a quintessentially British ambience on-board with Cunard and the chance to enjoy superb talks and guest lectures, dazzling nightly entertainment as well as plenty of health and wellbeing facilities ranging from tennis and basketball courts to gyms, spas and swimming pools.
Culinary delights: Aside from the line’s main dining room which serves a range of scrumptious dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner, be sure to make time for traditional afternoon tea in the Queen’s Room for a truly refined dining experience.
Perfect for: Mature couples searching for a sophisticated and refined cruise experience aboard some of the most iconic ships in the industry.
What to expect: Fred. Olsen cruises often depart from convenient UK ports and once they embark, guests will relish an intimate ambience and time to relax or get involved with many activities available on-board, including deck games, live entertainment and duty-free shopping.
Culinary delights: Fred. Olsen’s Supper Club is perfect for guests with a hankering for a late-night snack, serving hot and cold buffet options from 11pm for anyone who didn’t have their fill at dinner time.
Perfect for: UK-based couples and solo travellers who enjoy smaller, more intimate cruise ships with a friendly and social atmosphere on-board.
Holland America Line
What to expect: Alongside a host of amazing features, Holland America prides itself on providing enriching experiences on-board, including signature cooking classes, wine tasting and mixology, digital workshops and yoga sessions, as well as indulgent spa treatments, fitness regimes and sports activities.
Culinary delights: Whether you are hoping for an elegant dining experience within a luxurious setting, or casual slice of pizza while you unwind by the pool, you’ll find it all on-board with Holland America.
Perfect for: Couples and older groups looking for a relaxing and enriching cruise experience, where they can not only explore in port, but learn something new on-board too.
What to expect: MSC Cruises offers a little something for all types of travellers, from fun, games, arts and crafts, to spa facilities, live entertainment, shopping and more, people of all ages can have the time of their lives aboard an MSC Cruises ship. The line’s state-of-the-art Formula One simulator is a particular highlight on-board.
Culinary delights: Speciality dining with MSC is a true culinary delight, with a choice of marvellous international cuisine available, from authentic Mexican dishes at the Tex Mex restaurant, to popular Japanese cuisine prepared by a sushi master.
Perfect for: Couples and families looking for a fun-filled and fabulous cruise experience in exotic destinations, without the hefty price tag.
Norwegian Cruise Line
What to expect: Norwegian Cruise Line’s Freestyle Cruising philosophy means that guests are free to enjoy their ship’s activities, entertainment and dining experiences – from water parks and sports to casinos and ice bars – on their own terms, with no rigid schedule to follow, just total freedom to enjoy their time on-board however they see fit.
Culinary delights: Whether it’s Italian, French, Asian cuisine you’re interested in, or if you have a hankering for a thick cut steak, you’ll find what you’re looking for at NCL’s many enticing speciality restaurants.
Perfect for: Families and couples who will make the most of a wealth of fun-filled activities on-board as well as exciting explorations ashore.
What to expect: Amongst many other fantastic on-board facilities, P&O Cruises is well-known for its wonderful on-board shopping experiences, particularly on-board Britannia – the line’s newest vessel – which features a host of high street and high-end designer brands for guests to browse as they sail from port to port.
Culinary delights: Enjoy sumptuous cuisine in some of the most famous restaurants at sea with P&O Cruises, including The White Room from Marco Pierre White and Sindhu by Atul Kochhar.
Perfect for: All types of travellers. Parents and children are welcome aboard P&O Cruises’ larger family-friendly ships, while the line also offers intimate, adults-only voyages for couples looking for a little more peace and tranquillity on-board.
What to expect: Dance the night away at the lively on-board nightclub, try to your luck in the ship’s casino or enjoy Movies Under the Stars with fresh warm popcorn – there are so many unique and exciting ways to spend an evening when you set sail with Princess Cruises on one of the line’s many wonderful itineraries.
Culinary delights: Depending on your ship, you’ll have a choice of speciality dining on-board, which may include Sabatini’s, Crown Grill or Kai Sushi. You’ll also find some of the best pizza at sea, served poolside by the slice along with tasty milkshakes.
Perfect for: Couples and families, with plenty to do for people of all ages, ranging from kid’s clubs to spa facilities.
Royal Caribbean International
What to expect: Sky-diving simulators, North Star Observations Platforms, dodgems, inline skating rinks, FlowRider surf simulators, Bionic Bars, groundbreaking entertainment... There are simply so many innovative features and so much to look forward to when you set sail with Royal Caribbean.
Culinary delights: Royal Caribbean ships are packed full of marvellous dining venues, from fast food shacks to sophisticated restaurants. One of the line’s most renowned restaurants however is Jamie’s Italian from world-famous celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, which features aboard Quantum Class ships.
Perfect for: Travellers looking for an amazing action-packed family holiday, with plenty of entertainment and activities on-board to keep everyone thoroughly enthralled whilst at sea.
It is debatable as to which cruise lines are the best, but all of this is based on your personal choices. Whether this is the accommodation or dining, on-board experience or destinations - each cruise line offers a unique spin on the perfect cruising holiday.
If you'd like some help in choosing your perfect cruise, our dedicated Cruise Concierge team will be more than happy to help. Call them on 0808 1234 118 for award-winning assistance and expertise on your next cruising holiday.