Thanks to their impressive value for money, great variety, and general sense of community, cruises have become the most popular type of vacation for Americans this fall.
However, with so many new lines and operators coming to the scene with seemingly too-good-too-be-true deals, figuring out which one is actually worth the investment can be challenging.
That’s why Condé Nast Traveler, an award-winning lifestyle magazine, polled over half a million of its readers in search of the best cruise lines in the world.
The findings were then categorized by cruise size, and these were the results:
The reason why the survey had to be categorized by cruise size is that vessels that carry significantly different numbers of travelers also come with distinct advantages and drawbacks, making a direct comparison impossible.
For example, mega-ships hold more than 4000 passengers on board.
They offer an impressive variety of amenities and onboard activities, and their tickets are usually pretty cheap due to the sheer number of people on board.
However, they do come with some cons that smaller ships don’t have, such as chaotic crowds and limited port access.
With that said, if you’re still planning to buy a mega cruise ticket these upcoming months, here are some of the best lines to choose from:
- Norwegian Cruise Lines. This massive international cruise operator scored an impressive 86.72/100. The biggest draw that keeps travelers coming back for more is the freestyle cruising concept implemented on board, which gives passengers greater flexibility in dining and entertainment options.
- Royal Caribbean International. The 55-year-old brand is best known for its innovative ship designs and onboard activities, which include surf simulators, zip lines, and ice skating rinks. Between their commitment to family-friendly experiences and fascinating itineraries full of exotic destinations and private islands, they appeal to a wide array of passengers.
- Carnival Cruise Line. What’s arguably the biggest draw of Carnival Cruise Line is its fun and festive atmosphere, which is usually best appreciated by younger cruisers. Their vessels offer everything from comedy shows to water parks and themed parties, ensuring non-stop enjoyment at a pretty affordable price.
If you’re looking for a cruise line that offers a wider range of destination choices while still maintaining the affordability and entertainment variety of mega-ships, you might want to opt for a large ship instead, which holds anywhere between 2,500 and 4,000 passengers on board.
These are the best ones to choose from:
- Virgin Voyages. The operator came to prominence thanks to its promise of being a luxury, adult-only cruise line where travelers can enjoy the experience to its fullest. In their vessels, you’ll find modern designs, exceptional dining experiences, and a vibrant nightlife scene.
- Disney Cruise Lines. Just like the name suggests, the cruise line operation managed by The Walt Disney Company offers the family-friendly experience of your dreams. Between character meet-and-greets, Broadway-caliber shows, and themed deck parties, the attention to detail here is nothing short of astonishing.
- Cunard. If both of the above operators seem too niche for your tastes, the classic cruise experience offered by Cunard might be just what you’re looking for. Passengers here are drawn to the luxurious amenities, formal evenings, and renowned White Star Service.
Medium-sized ships hold between 500 and 2500 passengers, and they provide the perfect balance between an abundance of amenities and a more intimate atmosphere.
Though the competition is stiff, these three lines were voted as the best in this category:
- Viking. The Swiss cruise line stands out for its destination-focused experiences. Their smaller ships offer an intimate atmosphere and inclusive shore excursions.
- Disney Cruise Line. Disney Cruise Line makes its second appearance of the day, offering the same atmosphere and amenities but this time on a smaller scale.
- Seabourn. If you’re looking to truly pamper yourself the next time you get away, Seabourn is the cruise line for you. Featuring spacious suites, personalized service, and gourmet dining, the luxury operator really lives up to its name.
Those looking for a smaller ship with less than 500 passengers instead, might want to consider the following cruise lines:
- Emerald Cruises. Probably best known for its river cruises, the Swiss operator scored a remarkable 95.27/100. The high ranking can be attributed to their vessels’ comfortable atmosphere, modern lines, and spacious suites.
- Paul Gauguin Cruises. This line specializes in luxury cruises to exotic destinations, particularly in the South Pacific. Their small, intimate ships provide an exclusive and upscale atmosphere, complemented by attentive service and gourmet dining that makes the hefty price tag feel worth it.
- American Cruise Lines. The Connecticut-based operator is famous for its intimate river and coastal cruises across the United States. Their small ships provide personalized service, comfortable accommodations, and access to charming ports along some of North America’s most stunning coastlines.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com