How to Choose a Cruise Line Cruise Lines Like favorite car manufacturers, clothing lines and restaurants, there tends to be a great deal of brand loyalty in the cruise industry. First-time cruisers generally pick their first cruise line based on the destination they are going to and recommendations from friends or travel agents. More experienced cruisers develop their brand loyalty based on the experience they had on a particular cruise line or lines early on. Just as there are cars that fit every personality, the same can be said of cruise lines. Cruise lines can be divided into several broad categories such as small, medium and large ships or mainstream, premium and luxury classes. Within each class of ship there are several categories or grades of stateroom so it is possible to have a luxury vacation even on a mainstream ship. Information abounds on cruise review and cruise line websites to help the first-time cruise decide which cruise line to book after deciding on the destination. Mainstream Carnival Cruise Lines – Carnival’s “Fun Ships” appeal to a wide cross section of passengers of various ages and backgrounds. Carnival’s many itineraries, numerous dining choices and extensive kid’s programs make it a popular family cruise. Norwegian Cruise Line – Introduced Freestyle Cruising – a more relaxed resort-style experience that has been a very popular draw for NCL; no assigned meal times or tables and choices of 10 or more restaurants on most ships. Launched the Norwegian Epic in 2010 which includes live entertainment by the Blue Man Group, innovative stateroom design and gourmet cuisine. Royal Caribbean Cruise Line – State-of-the-art ships, exciting itineraries, great youth programs and unique on-board activities such as rock climbing wall, Flow Rider surfing and even ice skating. The Oasis of the Seas is one of the world’s largest cruise ships, a destination in and of itself. Costa Cruises – Europe’s number one cruise line; if you want a European experience, Costa’s Italian crew and theme can deliver; Italian inspired ships. MSC Cruises – Gracious Italian staff, personalized service, cuisine and unique itineraries make MSC another favorite European-style experience for cruisers. Premium Celebrity Cruises – Owned by Royal Caribbean, Celebrity provides a luxurious experience on its consistently high ranked ships. Gourmet cuisine on Celebrity wins frequent awards. Holland America Line – A leader in worldwide premium cruising, HAL is known for its long (10+ days) cruises and its attention to detail onboard. Gracious attentive service, gourmet cuisine, wide range of itineraries, and great value for price paid make HAL a frequent winner of awards. Oceania Cruises – One of the highest staff-to-guest ratios in the industry, smaller-sized luxury ships (684 guests) and destination focused itineraries make this an excellent value in high end cruising. Very comprehensive lecture and enrichment program at sea. Princess Cruises – Worldwide itineraries on the largest and newest ships. Princess’ Personal Choice Cruising provides passengers with a wide variety of options to customize their vacations. Windstar Cruises– Its motto “180° from Ordinary” says it all. Windstar’s small luxury sailing ships accommodate 148 t0 312 pampered guests. These are highly advanced “sailing ships” that are fully stabilized to offer a comfortable experience. Luxury Crystal Cruises – Crystal ships consistently earn top awards. Crystal’s European hotel and dining staff provide a level of service that brings a loyal following of cruisers back year after year. From private verandas to elegantly appointed staterooms, Crystal is frequently recognized for its excellent value and competitive rates. Cunard Line – Cunard Line has the distinction of its traditional British elegance, superb White Star Service, gourmet cuisine, and regular trans-Atlantic service that sets it apart from all other cruise lines. The name recognition and luxury of its Queen Elizabeth, Queen Victoria and Queen Mary 2 put Cunard in a class all its own. Regent Seven Seas Cruises – Exclusive line with among the highest space-to-guest and crew-to-guest ratios; smaller ships (180 to 700 guests); includes the Paul Gauguin which provides an exclusive cruise experience throughout Tahiti and French Polynesia. A great value in luxury cruising that includes all gratuities, wine with dinner, in-stateroom bar, and soft drinks. Silversea Cruises – With ships built to appeal to the ultra-luxury market, Silversea’s smaller, intimate vessels slip into more off the beaten path, exotic ports. Its ships are designed with an all-suite layout, no steerage class here. Niche (Specialty) Cruise Lines Disney Cruise Line – Disney has transferred their family vacation expertise from the Magic Kingdom to the High Seas. Their rotation dining, seamless land and sea vacations and age-specific programs for children, teens and adults deliver a whole Disney-style vacation package. Orient Lines – Destination-intensive including Cruise-Tours that include first-class hotels throughout Europe. Top guest lecturers and distinguished experts for enrichment presentations on topics from politics and science to diplomacy and journalism. Viking River Cruises – Viking is the world’s largest river cruise line touring Europe, including Russia, and China. Fares included guided shore excursions in each port of call. Its passengers are generally older (55+), well traveled and physically active. Uniworld River Cruises – Uniworld provides a unique river cruise experience with 500 departures, sailing on 9 rivers in 16 countries throughout Europe, Egypt, and China. Its elegant, boutique hotel-style cruise ships accommodate an average capacity of 134 guests and provide an intimate experience that is frequently recognized by Zagat in the category of Top Cabins and Top Dining.