The 5 Best Large-Ship Ocean Cruise Lines

If you're ready to set sail, these are the top 5 best big cruise lines!

Bigger isn’t always better – but when it comes to cruise lines, sometimes it is!

The kind of vacation you are hoping for plays a big role in whether you choose a small ship or a large one. For instance, smaller ships are more easily accommodated, which means they can go places that the big ships can’t. You’ll have much more diversity when it comes to sailing itineraries. Plus, there’s fewer passengers, so there aren’t lines and it’s overall a less crowded atmosphere.

Related: Packing for a Cruise? These Are the Essentials You Forgot

At the same time, big cruise ships boast more bells and whistles. You’ll find they offer plenty of everything: pools, entertainment, restaurants, bars, and more. You can enjoy a wider variety of food options, diverse live entertainment options, and wild onboard activities. They have more cabins, so they offer more variety in the types of cabins available.

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Not to mention, these huge cruise lines have their very own private islands to visit! These islands have beautiful beaches, water parks, pools, private cabanas, swim-up bars, and more. Plus, you get to use your onboard wifi and beverage packages on the island.

These are the top big cruise lines!

Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Cruise Line ship
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Norwegian Cruise Line is actually the third largest cruise line in the world. Founded in 1966, many of the things we now expect from big cruises were pioneered by Norwegian. They were the first to have their own private island, Great Stirrup Cay in the Bahamas. They were also the first to develop new ports in the Caribbean and the first to offer air fares with the cruise.

These days, their ships offer quarter-mile oceanfront promenades, glamorous nighttime deck parties, and award-winning Broadway entertainment. Norwegian ships also have what is called the ThrillPlex, consisting of things like two-story go-kart race tracks and augmented-reality laser tag.

Royal Caribbean International

Royal Caribbean is even larger, as the world’s second-largest cruise line by passenger count. But if we’re really getting into it, it’s actually the largest cruise line by revenue, and operates the five largest passenger ships in the world! They have two private islands to visit: Labadee along Haiti’s northern coast, and CocoCay in the Bahamas.

Royal Caribbean currently operates 26 ships, and there are four more on order. These massive ships feature thrilling onboard experiences like rock climbing, ice skating, water parks, and even surfing. They definitely have plenty of pools and hot tubs, including adult-only areas for those not interested in getting splashed. But really, the food was my favorite part of Royal Caribbean, from casual pizza joints up to avant-garde specialty restaurants. And if you don’t feel like leaving your room, just take advantage of room service at any time!

Princess Cruises

Princess Cruises ship and mountains in background
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If you ever watched the TV series The Love Boat, you are probably already aware of Princess Cruises. The line’s ship Pacific Princess was featured on the show, making the company famous!

These days, Princess is owned by Carnival Corporation, but it is a separate brand with its own unique features. Their fifteen ships will take you to European cities, to see the wonders of Alaska, or to relaxing tropical locales. And two of those ships just set sail this year, so they’re brand new.

Princess ships and the cruise line, in general, have appeared on numerous “Best Of” lists, and it’s pretty easy to see why. They feature unique experiences, such as Discovery at SEA and Festivals of the World, wine tastings, and culinary demonstrations. Play real-life game shows, or experience an elegant show. You can even order food and drinks directly from your smartphone from anywhere on the ship, and they will bring it to you with no delivery fee.

Virgin Voyages

British billionaire Richard Branson decided to rock the boat, and he did with the new Virgin Voyages. This one is an adults-only, all-inclusive cruise line. As someone with kids, I absolutely love the idea of no kids allowed, because I just want to relax. I would imagine that those without kids would also see the benefit!

As of now, the fleet only includes two ships traveling to the Caribbean, Mediterranean, and Europe. However, they do have two more ships coming next year.

These luxury cruises are all-inclusive – really. While all food is included like on other cruise lines, these also include non-alcoholic beverages, the servers’ tips, any of their group fitness classes, and even the wifi on the ship. On board, they swapped the familiar entertainment for shows you can’t get anywhere else because they are exclusively for the cruise line. They also swapped the ship buffets for Michelin-starred chefs.

Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Cruises ship and island shore
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Like Princess, Celebrity is also a subsidiary of another group after a merger: Royal Caribbean Group. However, Celebrity Cruises is the go-to for luxury travelers looking for the best. Their award-winning ships are ready to set sail to more than 300 destinations across all seven continents.

Ships feature luxurious, spacious accommodations so that you can truly relax on vacation. They feature unrivaled service and incredible food from a Michelin-starred chef. Ships have features you would find in a resort, such as chic rooftop terraces, cabanas, and even a lawn. Yeah, like grass! The Lawn Club is a real-life outdoor space for checking out live entertainment, having a picnic, or enjoying a game of croquet.

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