7 Best Cruise Lines For A Vacation At Sea, Per Travel Experts

Few experiences are as luxurious as a cruise. From oceans to lakes and even rivers, the world’s best cruise liners aim to wow their guests with entertainment, hospitality, libation, and delicious food. Because of this, StudyFinds has compiled a list of the best cruise lines most recommended for leisure and travel.

World travel is a popular form of vacationing for many Americans. Dreaming of the next stop on your bucket list? On average, Americans plan to visit four different destinations in 2024. Three in 10 individuals aim to become “experienced travelers” next year, focusing on learning and guided tours, according to a new survey of 2,000 Americans. Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of YMT Vacations, the survey revealed that 51 percent of respondents seek relaxed vacations, 43 percent prioritize cultural exploration, and 38 percent look forward to visiting historical sites.

How much are you willing to spend when it comes to going on vacation? When planning a getaway, the average American sets their vacation budget limit at $2,743. However, 16 percent of those polled won’t even spend over $1,000 on a vacation, according to a survey of 2,000 Americans who travel. Whatever the budget, American travelers are determined to go on some sort of vacation this year. Almost half of American travelers (48%) would rather take on additional work this year than not be able to afford one.

When it’s time for a vacation, a cruise is an appealing option for many travelers. With so many cruise liners available, it can be important to get some additional information before deciding. Our ten experts shared their findings regarding the best cruise liners. Let us know your favorite cruise liners in the comments below!

➡️ How Our “Best Of The Best” Lists Are Created

StudyFinds’ “Best of the Best” articles are put together with the idea of taking the work out of common consumer research. Ever find yourself searching for a product or service on Google and reading multiple reviews to find items listed across many of them? Our Best of the Best lists are created with that process in mind, with each item ranked by how frequently it appears on expert reviews or lists. With Best of the Best, you are getting consensus picks — making them truly the best of the best!

The List: Best Cruise Lines, According To Experts

1. Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian Cruise Line (Photo by Rashpal Singh on Unsplash)

Norwegian Cruise Line is a well-respected industry leader. They have been recognized as the best of the best by many of our experts. The cruise liner is home to 17 ships that sail to over 120 destinations worldwide. Norwegian Cruise Line goes from the warm waters of the Caribbean, through history-laden Europe, to the wild terrains of Alaska.

The cruise line’s “Freestyle Cruising” is popular among passengers since it allows for flexible dining, entertainment and onboard experiences. Norwegian Cruise Lines also offers the “Free at Sea” promotion, which allows guests to select added-value options such as free drinks or shore excursions. And people don’t need to worry if they’re on a budget thanks to their range of cabin options.

Norwegian Cruise Line is also popular for its solo staterooms for those who don’t want to share cabins with family or friends. The best part: they don’t have to pay twice the fare by doing so. However, the solo staterooms are located in the ship’s interior, so they usually don’t have windows or balconies.

2. Virgin Voyages


Virgin Voyages has made a name for itself as a quality service-provider. Its fleet and services are top-rated, giving guests the best bang for their buck. The average base fare per night includes free gratuities and complimentary Wi-Fi. Also, all 20 eateries onboard are included, so passengers don’t need to spend more money on specialty dining services.

The cruise-line is adults-only, so you don’t need to worry about kids running around. It’s also ranked as the best cruise lines for the money, making it stand out from the competition. If you’re looking for one of the best experiences of your life, experts highly recommend Virgin Voyages.

One of the best parts about Virgin Voyages — they have frequent sales and promotions, including 50 percent off a second sailer’s fee and no single supplements for solo sailors.

3. Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line
Disney Cruise Line (Photo by Christian Lambert on Unsplash)

Disney Cruise Line is a top contender when it comes to outstanding food and hospitality, making it one of the top family cruise lines in the world. Their fleet of four ocean liners offers many family-friendly options, bringing the fun and pizazz of the Disney Parks experience to the sea.

Just like their parks, Disney’s premium price holds true on their cruise line as well. There’s many programs for both adults and children on the Disney Cruise Line.

Disney Cruise Line offers meet-and-greets with its popular characters, Disney-themed shows, and substantial kiddie fun zones. This is the place for you if you’re a huge Disney fan.

4. Hurtigruten Cruises

Hurtigruten Nordkapp cruise liner
Hurtigruten Nordkapp cruise line (Photo by Yves Scheuber on Unsplash)

Hurtigruten Cruises are well-reviewed for their routes across impressive vistas. They also offer remote and mysterious voyages that are less luxurious in favor of more adventure. The Norwegian fleet takes passengers throughout Northern Europe — even as far as the North Pole! Guests are able to take in breathtaking views of the Norwegian coast and Northern Lights.

Hurtigruten Cruises sails across 34 different ports along the Norwegian coastline. Despite not being a luxury ship, they’re able to get to minor ports and communities larger ships can’t.

The cruise liner emphasizes sustainability and environmental responsibility. Hurtigruten Cruises offers a number of expeditions beyond the polar regions, including the Norwegian fjords, Iceland, and Greenland.

5. Viking Ocean Cruises

Viking Ocean Cruise ship
Viking Ocean Cruises (Photo by Tapio Haaja on Unsplash)

Viking Ocean Cruises offer a unique experience. Their fleet vessels are generally smaller and have no children on board, accommodating around 1,000 guests. The cruise line caters to adults who want to escape reality and relax without children around.

Viking Ocean Cruises is one of the best ways to visit multiple countries in a single trip without having to step on an airplane. That means you don’t have to worry about repacking or lugging your luggage anywhere!

Its European river cruise itineraries include complimentary dining and free onshore excursions. Passengers can make the most out of their stops in Budapest, Lyon, Amsterdam and Prague.

6. Windstar Cruises


Ocean sailing offers a different travel experience as compared to non-wind powered ships. Because they have only three vessels, Windstar Cruises has an air of exclusivity. Windstar Cruises mainly travels to “out-of-the-way” ports that larger ships can’t get to.

Windstar’s ships have retractable marinas on its decks for activities like water skiing, sailing, kayaking, and snorkeling. The cruise liner also gives passengers the chance to recreate the experience of sailing aboard a cruise ship.

Windstar’s six vessels carry 148 to 342 passengers, making it very intimate for romantic types. Windstar also offers James Beard-themed cruises, including market tours and cooking demonstrations from a James Beard Award-winning chef.

7. Azamara Club Cruises


Azamara Club Cruises also offer very intimate trips. A combination of smaller passenger manifests and a higher passenger-to-service-team ratio makes for a very attentive and enjoyable voyage. The cruise liner has just four ships, which holds fewer than 700 passengers. Inclusive amenities include gratuities and alcoholic drinks.

Azamara offers shore excursions in the Mediterranean and Caribbean, giving you plenty of nighttime entertainment options while in port. You might want to get off the ship for a little bit since the pool and hot tub area is small and the cabin bathrooms being tight.

The small-ship cruise line has a fantastic food menu and numerous onboard activities. The cruise liner is considered a favorite among cruise-line guests.

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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This article may contain affiliate links in which we receive a commission if you make a purchase.


  1. COVID has had an impact on the cruise lines. After more than a year of showing little if any profitability and barely keeping up with expenses, their business models have been readjusted. Holland American, whose marketing target for many years was primarily retired seniors, now is including in its appeal younger couples and children. The former all-inclusive lines are making small but comprehensively significant charges to their passengers. Higher additional charges for some priority services, speciality restaurants and on-shore activities, try to compensate for bare bone “reduced” prices.

  2. Holland America
    Such a change in performance I cannot believe it made the list. I am cruising the Panama Canal – my bucket list. I paid for all inclusive, so I thought. I have been nickeled and dimed the entire trip. Also, we had one port call cancelled due to emergency extraction of guest, and have been late to to the rest of the port of calls. The canal was fabulous. We are heading to the last port of call and the ship is running on one propeller at 14 knots. So far we are one hour late.

  3. It contains all knowledge. I like the thing as it contains official knowledge and all that information that we want to know. This is actually well written. I have ever seen whatever is in your mind, is available in content. I will share it with others, please keep it up.

  4. Viking Cruises is the best both for ocean and river but your picture of a Viking ship is not correct. That’s a different Viking cruise line.

  5. These simply ARENT the best cruise lines.

    The best for luxury are Crystal, Regent, Silversea and for Francophones Ponant

    The best for families with smaller children and “tweens” -yes Disney, but not for couples

    The best “mainstream” Celebrity (for adults), but Royal Caribbean or Norwegian or the larger Princess ships for families

    The best “elegant” cruise line Cunard, especially in its Princess and Queen’s suites

    The best “beer blasts”,belly dive splash contests, and the most overworked security team, Carnival

    The best cruises to avoid-very personal, but at least by reputation Costa and MSC

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