10 Best Cruise Lines 2020

by Daniel | Last Updated February 13th, 2020

Around 30 million travelers are expected to go on cruise ships this year, according to the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA). Cruising is popular for all ages, providing a unique opportunity to see the world. Which cruise ships are best for you?

Take a look at Luggage Guru's list of the best cruise lines for 2020.


Types of Cruise Lines

Before we get into the best cruise lines, it’s a good idea to explain the different types of cruise lines.

Some lines appeal to luxury travelers, while others are more budget-conscious. You can choose a huge ship with thousands of passengers or a ship with only a few hundred.

Whether you want to travel alone, as a couple, with your family or a group, there is a cruise line for you.

There is also a range of all-inclusive options. Check out this chart to see what is included for the price with each cruise line.

Contemporary Cruise Lines

Contemporary cruise lines offer itineraries that cater to a wide range of people. They offer some of the largest ships and offer a ton of amenities. If you’re traveling on a budget, you will appreciate the reasonable prices.

Geared toward:

  • Families with young children or teens

  • Family reunions

  • 20-30-something single adults who want light adventure & fun

  • 40-50-something couples seeking a romantic vacation

  • Solo travelers

  • Destination weddings & honeymoons

  • Adventure travelers who want lots of activities and thrills

Names in this category include Carnival Cruise Lines, Costa Cruise Lines, Aida Cruises, P&O Cruises, and Star Cruises.

Upscale Contemporary Cruise Lines

These lines are similar to regular contemporary cruise lines. However, the amenities and environment are a little more luxurious. 

The target audience is similar to contemporary cruise lines, although they re willing to pay more for upgraded amenities.

Names in this category include Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line, MCS Cruises, and Viking Ocean Cruises.

Premium Cruise Lines

The ships in this category are a little smaller than the mega-ships associated with contemporary cruise lines. The destinations are a little more off the beaten path since the ships can go places where larger ships can’t dock.

Travelers in the category want enhanced luxury, dining, services, amenities, and activities. As a result, the onboard experience feels more sophisticated and exclusive.

Geared toward:

  • Travelers who demand modern luxury & dining experiences

  • Families who want a more subdued atmosphere & educational experiences

  • Family reunions

  • 40-50-something couples looking for a romantic vacation

  • Solo travelers

  • Seniors

  • Destination weddings & honeymoons

Some of the best cruise lines this category include Celebrity Cruises, Holland America, Princess Cruises, and Disney Cruise Line.

Ultra-Premium Cruise Lines

These lines operate smaller ships that cater to luxury travelers who want a high level of service and amenities. The itineraries feature more unique, “road-less-traveled” destinations.

Geared toward:

  • Experienced travelers

  • Destination-oriented travelers

  • Travelers who want a “boutique experience” in a country club casual atmosphere

Names in this category include Azamara Club Cruises, Cunard Line, Oceania Cruises, and Windstar Cruises.

Ultra Luxury Cruise Lines

These are your high-end, Platinum-level cruise lines where the price is no object. These lines will cater to your every need and whim. Think of them as floating, 5-star resorts.

Geared toward:

  • Experienced travelers

  • Destination-oriented luxury travelers

  • Travelers who want an “over-the-top” experience with ultra-luxury amenities & service

The best cruise lines include Crystal Cruises, Seabourn, Silversea Cruises, Paul Gauguin Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, and SeaDream Yacht Club.

Small Ship Cruises

Some people don’t want on a cruise line with 5,000 strangers. This category caters to travelers who want to experience something different. The destinations are more exotic and immersive. 

The ships generally go to places where bigger ships can’t dock.

Geared toward:

  • Adults who want a more sophisticated, intimate cruise experience

  • Adults looking for educational & cultural experiences

  • Experienced travelers who are more destination-oriented

Names in this category include Blue Lagoon Cruises, Captain Cook Cruises, Great Lakes Cruise Company, Saga Holidays, and Voyages to Antiquity.

River Cruises

As the name implies, a river cruise follows major rivers in the US, Europe, Asia, and Africa. Because the ships sail on rivers, the destinations include stops at major inland cities, which traditional cruise ships never reach.

Geared toward:

  • Adults who want a sophisticated, intimate experience of a smaller ship

  • Travelers who want a more educational, cultural experience

  • Travelers who want an immersive experience & who enjoy in-depth conversations with academic experts

Names in this category include American Cruise Lines, American Queen Steamboat Co., Imperial River Cruises, Farah Nile Cruises, Viking River Cruises, and Crystal River Cruises.

Expedition Cruise Lines

These lines are for travelers who want a straight-up adventure. The destinations are exotic and unique, including Alaska, Galapagos Islands, Antarctica, and Greenland. Many are geared toward eco-tourists and those who want a wildlife or wilderness experience.

Geared toward:

  • Travelers looking for an eco-friendly adventure

  • Travelers who want more remote scenery & wildlife

  • Those who chose an authentic experience over luxury

  • Those who want high-impact adventure 

Some of the best cruise lines in this category include Alaskan Dream Cruises, Ecoventura, Adventure Smith Explorations, Poseidon Expeditions, Sanctuary Retreats, and Semester at Sea.

Best Cruise Lines of 2020

So, we’ve explained the categories, and you’ve probably chosen a couple that would suit yours. Now it’s time to go over 10 of the best cruise lines in the world this year. Our selections of cruise ships range from budget to luxury cruise lines and everything in between.

Before you book your trip and set sail, be sure to explore our list of top travel accessories.

Best Cruise Lines for Families

A cruise is one of the best vacation ideas. There is a ton of built-in entertainment and activities geared for all ages. You can find cruises for bargain prices as well as more luxury offerings. These lines also offer a range of itineraries and destinations. Here is a list of our three best cruise lines for families.

A cruise is one of the best vacation ideas. There is a ton of built-in entertainment and activities geared for all ages. You can find cruises for bargain prices as well as more luxury offerings. These lines also offer a range of itineraries and destinations. Here is a list of our three best cruise lines for families.

1. Disney Cruise Lines

No one does “family” better than Disney, even on the high seas. Disney has consistently been voted one of the best cruise lines by industry experts like Travel & Leisure and U.S. News and World Report.

Although Disney cruise ships cater to families, the ships are very elegant and even luxurious. You’ll feel like you’re on an old-fashioned, 1920s ocean liner.

They offer so many activities for kids of all ages, from young ones to teens. No one will ever complain about being bored.

Disney kids’ clubs give parents a chance to get away and do their own thing. The kids are entertained and parents get some childfree adult time.

2019 was Mickey’s 90th birthday so the entire year was devoted to celebrating Disney’s iconic character. Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy feature AquaDuck, the first elevated water coaster, the Millennium Falcon pilot experience, the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, and Broadway-style shows.

Disney Cruise Lines

2. Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines (RCCL)

RCCL is a “something for everyone” cruise line. Families, couples, singles, seniors, kids…you will find an activity. The cruise ships are more luxurious and the amenities include everything from water slides and zip lines to ice-skating and Broadway-style shows. 

The company recently unveiled its newly refurbished private island. CocoCay in the Bahamas just reopened in May 2019. New offerings include a waterpark, zip line, aqua park, freshwater pool, and even hot air balloon rides.

RCCL offers itineraries to suit your timeframe; from three-and four-day weekend cruises to two weeks or more.

In 2018, RCCL launched the world's largest cruise ship, Symphony of the Seas. The mega-ship has twenty-two restaurants, a 10-story slide, laser tag, and a boardwalk.

Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines (RCCL)

3. Carnival Cruise Line

Welcome aboard the “fun ships”. Carnival is all about high-energy fun and big experiences at budget-conscious prices. You will get your money’s worth with these cruise ships, with a wealth of amenities, activities and shore excursions for every age.

Carnival is one of the best cruise lines because there is literally something for every age and type of traveler. Everyone from kids and singles to families and seniors will find something to do.

The new Carnival Horizon cruise ship debuted in the fall of 2019, with an itinerary on the West coast of the U.S. The ship's offerings include SkyRide (a bike track that dangles over the water), a waterpark, waterslides, and food from celebrity chefs like Food Network’s Guy Fieri.

Carnival Cruise Line

Best Upscale Cruises

If you're willing to pay for extra luxuries, high-quality amenities, and enhanced service, you will find plenty of upscale options. Be on the lookout for the best cruise discounts and deals for amenities like free Wi-Fi or drinks packages. Many of these cruise ships offer great deals throughout the year.

4. Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Cruises manages to offer the “floating city” experience of a large cruise ship, with the service and attention of smaller cruise ships. If you do a little research, you can find great deals. We've seen prices as low as $199 per person/per night for certain Caribbean voyages.

There are also kids clubs and endless buffets if you’re traveling with the family.

Celebrity Cruises

5. Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL)

NCL has upgraded its cruise ships recently so they are more modern and upscale. You’ll have a luxurious experience without paying a luxury price. NCL also offers innovative options like freestyle dining as well as high-quality entertainment. 

The newer cruise ships have all the modern bells and whistles, including water parks, bungee trampolines, and rope courses.

Norwegian’s Breakaway Plus class cruise ship, Norwegian Encore, debuted in the fall of 2019. Onboard offerings will include a laser tag arena, the largest racetrack at sea, the Galaxy Pavilion virtual reality experience, and an oceanfront boardwalk. 

Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL)

6. Princess Cruises

A more luxurious experience, Princess Cruise Line caters more toward adult travelers than families. While you might think Princess is out of your range price-wise, you can find deals similar to Carnival's.

The amenities and activities definitely swing toward older travelers, however, with activities like cooking classes and history lectures.

2019 marked the line’s 50th anniversary in Alaska. They rolled out the red carpet for the occasion. The Alaska itinerary includes land and sea combinations and a chance to see Glacier National Park.

If you’ve ever wanted to see America’s last true frontier, Princess Cruises is the luxury way to go.

Princess Cruises

7. Holland America

Holland America offers both kid-friendly and adult-oriented itineraries. The cruise ships offer luxury similar to Cunard or Silversea, without the luxury price tag. Each ship offers one staff member per 2-3 guests so you get more personalized service.

Holland America

Best Luxury Cruise Lines

Luxury cruise lines offer superior service, amenities, and an onboard atmosphere that caters to travelers who demand more. Get ready to be pampered and have every whim fulfilled.

8. Azamara Cruises

With 187 ports in 58 countries, Azamara offers intimate, luxury voyages that cater to travelers who want a more immersive experience. The relaxed itineraries give you more days to enjoy the different ports, which is a bonus.

Azamara Cruises

9. Viking Ocean Cruises

Viking offers a “luxury portal to visit the cities, meet the people, explore the culture and savor the cuisine of the world”. The smaller cruise ships are beautiful and allow you to visit more exotic ports. You also have many opportunities to enjoy exclusive tours and excursions.

2019 saw the debut of Viking Jupiter, which features itineraries in the Mediterranean and Northern Europe.

Viking Cruises is also the only line to offer itineraries north of the Arctic Circle in the winter. If you’ve always wanted to see the Aurora Borealis, this might be your opportunity.

Viking Ocean Cruises

10. Crystal Cruises

With Crystal Cruises you will enjoy the ultimate luxury experience, with exceptional service, spacious staterooms, and the best amenities. Acclaimed chefs inspire the menus so the dining experience is second to none. 

Crystal offers customized intimate yachting-style journeys. For example, the Chrystal Esprit takes guests to the Greek Isles, Seychelles, and the West Indies.

Chrystal Yacht Expeditions boast 6-star service, intimate facilities, and butler-serviced suites. You will find more staff members on board than guests.

Crystal Cruises

11. Bonus Luxury Cruise Line: Cunard

If you want to experience true old-world glamour, Cunard is one of the best cruise lines for you. Cunard is the only cruise line offering transatlantic crossings from New York City to Southampton, London.

The Queen Mary 2 has a royal name and they treat you like royalty, too. The royal treatment includes white-glove high tea and three formal nights.

Onboard luxuries include a planetarium, Canyon Ranch SpaClub, and the Veuve Clicquot Champagne Bar. Not to mention a ballroom and the largest library at sea, with over 10,000 volumes.

Your entertainment features theatrical productions produced by London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. You can also enjoy music and wine tastings.

Luxury Cruise Line: Cunard

The Best Cruise ship Experience of Your Lifetime

Cruising is one of the best ways to see the world. From floating cities to small cruise ships that give you an immersive experience, there is a cruise to suit you. Whether you want big thrills or more serene relaxation, you can find a destination to please your taste.

Ready to experience these best cruise lines in person? Check out our Luggage Buyers Guide so you know exactly what to bring. We also offer reviews featuring a wide selection of luggage and accessories.

Find everything you need and then set sail for your grand adventure on the sea. Don’t forget to book your trip and flight


Welcome to LuggageGuru!
My name is Daniel and I am a full-time world traveler and constantly on the move.

My goal with luggageguru.com is to provide helpful information about travel-related products and accessories and also useful travel tips to make your vacation or trip more enjoyable!
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