Motivation Monday: 2021’s Top 9 Large Cruise Ship Lines

As voted by Conde Nast Traveler’s Readers, these are the best mega ships currently sailing the high seas! Large ships hold 2,500-4,000 guests in a sailing and while you might know some of these – some may be new to you. Check them out!

#9 Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian in Santorini courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line

Over a relatively short period of 8 years (that is short in cruise ship building times), Norwegian Cruise Lines quickly jumped from medium to mega ships with now only 3 ships between medium to mega sized.

But the word is that they are changing that with Project Leonardo, each of its 6 ships that come out as a part of this will carry about 3,300 guests.

Norwegian Prima is the first of the Project Leonardo, and we are expecting to see this one debut in 2022. It will have the world’s first free fall dry slide, fastest slides at sea, a 3-story theater that turns into a night club after hours, and a 3-level go kart racetrack!

#8 Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival Photo by Danny Lehman

Carnival is a fun cruise line with an affordable price point and aimed towards family fun! In terms of annual passengers, Carnival carries the most passengers to the world’s oceans (about 5 million or more), and has tons of ships.

Carnival has 25 ships that sail Europe and North America, half of which carry 2,500-3,900 passengers. Carnival’s upper decks have tons of fun, like water slides, mini golf, rope courses, and its SkyRide.

#7 Royal Caribbean International

Courtesy Royal Caribbean International

Royal Caribbean may be known mostly for its mega sized ships, but it has a number of large ships, too. For example, Royal Caribbean’s 100-passenger Voyager-class ships, which were once the world’s largest, until Royal Caribbean debuted the larger Freedom class and later the Oasis class. Royal Caribbean leads the way, don’t they?

Every ship class (like a series) had its own firsts, the Voyager of the Seas was the very 1st ship to have an ice skating rink as well as a rock-climbing wall, & Freedom of the Seas introduced the amazing FlowRider surf simulator at sea!

#6 MSC Cruises

Courtesy MSC Cruises

MSC Cruises’ Musica & Fantasia classes are within this large ship category, and these ships make up about half of MSC Cruises’ fleet! They are a bit upscale and family friendly, but mostly MSC is known for appealing to very international guests.

These 8 large ships sail mostly in the Caribbean and Mediterranean, but they also go a few other places such as Asia, Northern Europe, North, and South America to other areas.

#5 Holland America Line

Courtesy Holland America

As their name indicates, the Holland America cruise line was established in 1873 to help move passengers, many of whom were emigrants, from the Netherlands and to the United States.

Nowadays, Holland America sails more broadly to over 470 ports around the world! They are well known for their Alaska itineraries.

Of course, passengers can enjoy classic cruise activities like swimming, fitness, sports, and the casino, Holland America is especially known for its culinary & musical programs and has a partnership with the TV show America’s Test Kitchen for cooking demonstrations, cooking classes, and a bunch of live music venues (including a B.B. King’s Blues Club), not to mention stage productions dedicated to the history of music on many of its ships.

The newest ship in Holland America’s lineup is the Rotterdam, which first set sail in July 2021, with a capacity of 2,650 passengers.

#4 Princess Cruises

Courtesy Princess

The Carnival Corporation doesn’t just own the well-known Carnival Funships cruise line, but also they own Carnival Cruise Line with 22 ships, Holland America Line with 10 ships, Seabourn with 5 ships, Cunard with 3 ships, and outside the US market, 14 with AIDA cruises, 10 with Costa, 8 with P&O cruises, and coming back to the US Market, Princess Cruise Line with 16 ships.

If you are old enough and remember the TV show The Love Boat, this show was set on a Princess ship. They offer some really cool things, such as their Discovery science programs, and their Seawitch craft beer program where they actually partner with breweries around the globe. Discovery Princess, Princess’ Cruises newest ship, is scheduled to launch in the spring of 2022.

#3 Cunard

Photo, Cunard, Alamy

Cunard is well suited to those who desire that nostalgic era of old time transatlantic cruises. Established in 1840, today’s Cunard fleet has just 3 active ships. If you’re looking for the transatlantic ship, that’s your Queen Mary 2. Classic name, right?

How about a pet friendly cruise ship? On the Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria, you can take your dog or cat. Though they need to stay in the kennel, playroom, and specific walking deck, it’s a great option for pet owners who can’t bear to leave their furry friend at home.

Much of the other things on board for Cunard have not changed in the past nearly 200 years (180 actually) – they still have ballroom galas, black tie dinners, and “proper” afternoon tea. Wrap it all up with today’s new safety protocols, and you can have this feeling of stepping back in history to a bygone era of cruising. Cunard’s next ship is scheduled to set sail in 2022 or 2023.

#2 Celebrity Cruises

Photo Celebrity Cruise Line’s Beyond Ship by Steve Dunlop

With 14 ships globally from smaller ships, the Celebrity Cruise Line fleet ranges from 2,800-3,100 in the large category ships carrying to Xpedition class ships with as few as 16-100 guests onboard, Celebrity has a phenomenal set of ships! In 2018, Celebrity Edge (ship) was debuted giving guests some incredible new experiences, such as a 3-floor experiential restaurant called “Eden”, Le Petit Chef at Le Grand Bistro, a dinner restaurant that features a 4D animation projected on your plate throughout your meal (I have done something like this at Napa and it’s VERY worthwhile and fun!), a performance venue, & a craft cocktail lounge

In 2020 , Celebrity Edge was joined by its sister ship Celebrity Apex, and coming in 2022 (and 2 more in the years to follow this one), will be the new Celebrity Beyond!

#1 Disney Cruise Line

Courtesy of Alamy

Hospitality at its finest is what you’ll find on Disney Cruise Line. Disney was known before moving into the world of cruising how to do this well, and they took those lessons onto their cruise ships.

Disney has 4 ships, all naturally designed for families, with many themed daily activities, charachter meet and greets, parties,etc for families, however, there are plenty of ways for adults to get away form the family friendly environment on board.

  • Disney Magic
  • Disney Wonder
  • Disney Dream
  • Disney Fantasy
  • Coming 2022-2025: Disney Wish and 2 additional ships

If you’re picturing Mickey Mouse covered walls and plastered Disney decor everywhere, that’s simply not the case. Disney took inspiration from Art Nouveau aesthetics and early 20th century ships to keep it classy. They are eleganly designed. Currently they sail the Caribbean, Pacific Coast, Europe, Alaska, and the Panama Canal with their own private island in the caribbean called Castaway Cay.

Ready to start planning your cruise? Check out my 7 Steps to Choose your next Cruise, or simply get my personal recommendations by working with me. To get a no-obligation consultation, click HERE to get started!

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