Different cruise 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. Knowing what you’re looking for in your cruise holiday is one of the most important first steps in booking your cruise.

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 industries major cruise lines, so you can make an informed decision when you come to pick your perfect cruise line.

Royal Caribbean International

Royal Caribbean Ship - Anthem of the seas

On a Royal Caribbean ship you are bound to experience the most innovate facilities and latest technologies.

Sky-diving simulators, North Star Observations Platforms, dodgems, inline skating rinks, FlowRider surf simulators, Bionic Bars, ground-breaking entertainment… There are simply so many innovative features and so much to look forward to when you set sail with Royal Caribbean.

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.

Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity cruises ship in the sea

Celebrity Cruises offer a ‘new luxury’ that ensures everything is available to you and comfort is assured.

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.

You will find an array of quality dining experiences on board. 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 and a taste of luxury, hoping to make the most of their ship’s many fantastic features and wonderfully unique dining venues.

Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL)

NCL cruise ship in the sea

NCL pride themselves on being one of the most flexible cruise lines. You do not need to stick to any schedule but your own – so you have complete freedom when it comes to activities and dining.

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.

With that freedom you will definitely want to explore food choices on-board. Whether it’s Italian, French, or 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.

Princess Cruises

Princess cruise ship in the sea, with a rainbow in the sky

Princess Cruises are pure elegance. Perfect if you are looking to relax and unwind whilst embracing a whole host of new experiences. It is the perfect mix of fun, relaxation and indulgence.

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.

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.

P&O Cruises

P&O Ship in the sea

P&O is renowned as Britain’s favourite cruise line, and it is no wonder why! The cruise line offers amazing value for money, fun for the whole family and a variety of leisure facilities.

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.

As well as shopping, there are some fantastic dining experiences to be had. 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.

MSC Cruises

MSC Ship in the sea

MSC Cruises offer a spectacular holiday experience – with impressive performances, nightlife and amenities for the whole family!

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.

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.

Fred Olsen Cruises

Fred Olsen ship in Norway, with snowy mountain in the background

Fred. Olsen cruises are very traditional and welcoming. They offer a great place to relax with likeminded passengers and impeccable service. You will find a personal and intimate cruise experience on board their small ships.

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.

Perfect for: UK-based couples and solo travellers who enjoy smaller, more intimate cruise ships with a friendly and social atmosphere on-board.

Cunard Cruises

4 Cunard ships in the ocean

Cunard Cruises are the ultimate escape, a place for you to relax and unwind without a worry. Cunard Cruises encourage everyone to enjoy their cruise in their own way – be who they want, wear what they want and take part in everything their heart desires.

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.

When it comes to dining, you are in for a treat. 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.

Holland America Line

Holland America Line cruise ship

Holland America Line is one of the most spacious and comfortable ships you can travel on. And onboard you’ll find some of the best service, dining and experiences.

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.

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.

Carnival

Carnival cruise ship, aerial view

The best way we can describe a trip on the Carnival cruise line is – fun! On-board these ships you will find everything from deck parties and stage shows to waterparks and sports competitions. The focus on-board the ship is to make sure you have the time of your life on and off the ship.

Carnival Cruises’ fantastic kid’s clubs provide younger travellers with plenty of activities to keep them entertained throughout the day, while the line’s nightlife is amongst one of the liveliest in the cruise industry, with the party on-board lasting until the early hours of the morning most nights.

When it comes to food, you have plenty of choice – you can opt for elegant dining or choose something a little more family friendly. Carnival specialises 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.

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