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These Are The Best Cruise Lines For 2023 According To U.S. News And World Report

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Cruising is making a big comeback after a few hard years due to the pandemic. COVID is of less concern to travelers, and now most major cruise lines have dropped travel requirements. With the industry largely back to normal and companies like MSC and Royal Caribbean launching new ships, cruisers are currently spoiled with choices.

lights from a cruise ship light up the surrounding waters at night

With so many options, it can be difficult to know which cruise line to choose. U.S. News and World Report is making that task easier for cruisers with their annual release of Cruise Line Rankings across several categories.

Whether you are looking for the best couples cruise, the best value for money, or the most luxurious option, the new report can help narrow down the choices, making planning the perfect cruise vacation a little less daunting.

a person makes the shape of a heart with their hands around an image of a cruise ship in the distance

To determine the best of the best, U.S. News and World Report looked at several metrics across different cruise lines, including itinerary, affordability, amenities, health ratings, and reputation. The result is not a straight ranking of best cruises but rather a thoughtful, categorized grading to suit various types of vacationers and preferred cruising locations.

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a massive cruise ship sails through the ocean

What are the categories?

  • Best Cruise Lines for the Money
  • Best Cruise Lines for Families
  • Best Cruise Lines for Couples
  • Best Cruise Lines in the Caribbean
  • Best Cruise Lines in the Mediterranean
  • Best Luxury Cruise Lines
a view of balconies at the rear of a cruise ship from above

Who is at the top?

Overall, Viking Ocean Cruises did very well in the rankings, taking the top spot in half of the categories. Disney Cruise Lines ranked #1 in two categories, and newcomer Virgin Voyages took the gold medal position for the remaining category.

a VIking Cruise sails through the blue waters with land in the background

Who didn’t make the list?

Notably absent from any of the top three rankings is MSC Cruises, one of the largest cruise companies in the world. This is likely due to the fact that they have only recently begun to focus growth on the U.S. market. They did, however, rank as the fourth best cruise line for the money and 5th for families. MSC is growing in popularity in the U.S. and could make a play for the top spots in the years to come as they expand further to the U.S.  

The MSC Seaside cruise ship passes South Beach palm trees as it leaves PortMiami, the busiest cruise ship terminal in the world.

What are the full results?

We’ve listed the top three cruise lines for each of the six categories below and highlighted the top-ranked cruise line for each category. A full breakdown of the rankings and a detailed explanation of the methodology used can be found on U.S. News and World Report’s website.

Carnival Liberty Cruise Ship sparkles at night

Best Cruise Lines for the Money

  1. Virgin Voyages – Adults-only Virgin Voyages takes the top spot here for offering base fares that cover all the essentials – Wi-Fi, fitness classes, dining, and gratuities. They also have frequent sales and promotions like 50% off a second sailor’s fee and no single supplements for solo sailors.
  2. Carnival Cruise Line
  3. Celebrity Cruises
a Virgin Voyages cruise ship sails through the water

Best Cruise Lines for Families

  1. Disney Cruise Line – A long-time favorite with families, Disney really brings the magic to their cruises, making it a perfect choice for a family vacation. What kid wouldn’t love a pirate-themed dinner or visits from Mickey Mouse? But not to worry, there are adults-only areas and activities for parents who need a break to enjoy as well.
  2. Royal Caribbean International
  3. Carnival Cruise Line
two people sit on a blue inflatable raft and wizz through a water slide on the deck of a cruise ship

Best Cruise Lines for Couples

  1. Viking Ocean Cruises – Viking’s smaller ships, private verandas, and Nordic-inspired spa make for a romantic option for couples. The destination-focused itineraries and activities also create fantastic bonding opportunities for love birds aboard the ship.
  2. Seabourn Cruise Line
  3. Azamara
a couple get close as they look out on the waters from the deck of a cruise ship

Best Cruise Lines in the Caribbean

  1. Disney Cruise Line – Disney takes the cake for the best Caribbean cruise because of the opportunities it offers to see the best the Caribbean has to offer. Cruise options include Western, Eastern, and Southern Caribbean itineraries, with many ships stopping at Disney’s own private island Castaway Cay in the Bahamas.  
  2. Virgin Voyages
  3. Celebrity Cruises
cruise ship islands

Best Cruise Lines in the Mediterranean

  1. Viking Ocean Cruises – Viking Ocean Cruises was ranked as the best Mediterranean cruise line in part due to the spotlight they shine on each port. Viking goes the extra mile to showcase the culture of each destination and offer exciting excursions in each port, allowing passengers to truly experience all the Mediterranean has to offer.  
  2. Seabourn Cruise Line
  3. Azamara
Young Female Traveler Enjoying A Mediterranean Cruise On The Stern Of A Boat In Marmaris, Turkey

Best Luxury Cruise Lines

  1. Viking Ocean Cruises – Viking wins the top spot again in the Luxury Cruise category. The smaller, more intimate ships, well-appointed facilities, and unique array of activities make it easy for passengers to live the high life while exploring all the ship has to offer.
  2. Seabourn Cruise Line
  3. Regent Seven Seas Cruises

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Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.