Subscribe today
Get Cruise Critic in your inbox
Compare: 10 Most Popular Cruise Ships
Home > Features > Best Cruises for > Compare: 10 Most Popular Cruise Ships
Everyone has a favorite. Our goal with this chart is to outline the key distinctions among the 10 most popular ships in the industry -- accounting for more than 45,000 berths -- in an easily digestible way. "Popular" is determined by pageviews, Facebook likes and associated Cruise Critic member reviews.

Want more info about Carnival Breeze or Norwegian Breakaway? Click on the vessel name for a comprehensive expert review and hundreds of reader-submitted critiques.
Cruise Ship Basics Sleep Eat Fun Deck Plan

The boisterous Carnival Breeze debuted in June 2012 as the third offering in the line's popular Dream class. Continuing a transition that began with sister ship Carnival Magic in 2011, 3,690-passenger, 130,000-ton Breeze embodies a new breed of Fun Ship with a toned-down tropical feel and more cohesive decor. Changes come thanks to a new designer and the first full execution of the line's half-billion-dollar "Fun Ship 2.0" initiative, a fleetwide identity overhaul focusing on food, booze and entertainment.

Deployment: Year-round Caribbean cruises out of Miami.
  • Standard insides (except 1A's), oceanviews and balconies each feature two twins that form a king
  • Family "quint" cabins have two bathrooms
  • Deck 2 "cove balconies" offer additional privacy
  • Cabin Reviews
  • Carnival's most varied mix of dining options
  • Pair of two-deck dining rooms, Sapphire and Blush
  • Revamped top-ship buffet for less congested crowds
  • The line's best water park
  • Each bar has (a) unique vibe, music, decor and drink list
  • Great interactive show: "Hasbro, the Game Show"

Norwegian Breakaway, which debuted in April 2013, is a New York City-inspired ship that sails year-round from the Big Apple. You'll notice touches of NYC throughout: the hull painting (complete with an image of the Statue of Liberty) designed by famed New York artist Peter Max and Carlo's Bakery, well-known among New Yorkers and New Jerseyans (and fans of TLC's "Cake Boss").

Deployment: Cruises to The Bahamas, Bermuda, Caribbean and nowhere from Manhattan.
  • 2,014 cabins in 11 main categories, some adjoining and wheelchair-accessible
  • Cabins are energy efficient, requiring key cards to operate lighting and power
  • 59 Studio cabins for solos
  • Cabin Reviews
  • 27 restaurants, indoors or out
  • New exclusives include Ocean Blue and Carlo's Bakery
  • Three complimentary main dining rooms
  • Ice Bar (literally the coolest spot onboard)
  • Sky Trail ropes course with an eight-foot-long plank
  • Norwegian's largest variety of waterslides

The 5,400-passenger Allure builds on the blueprint introduced by its sister, Oasis. Both ships feature unique-to-cruise offerings like zip-lining and a handmade wooden carousel, but Allure has its own twists, including cruising's first Starbucks, a hot dog venue and the Broadway show "Chicago."

Deployment: Year-round Caribbean cruises out of Fort Lauderdale.
  • 37 cabin categories range from insides to suites
  • "In-facing" balconies
  • Two-deck loft suites
  • Cabin Reviews
  • 20-plus dining options
  • Johnny Rockets burgers, hot dog joint
  • Alternative venues: Japanese, Italian, steakhouse
  • Coney Island-styled Boardwalk with carousel
  • Outdoor AquaTheater for daredevil diving shows
  • Sun deck has "beach" and "sports" pools

The 5,400-passenger Oasis launched in 2009 as the largest cruise ship ever built. In addition to debuting many at-sea firsts, including an outdoor AquaTheater, Oasis represents a revolution in design. An open-air corridor carved out along the length of the ship creates space for a tropical foliage- and eatery-filled Central Park and a Coney Island-style Boardwalk.

Deployment: Year-round Caribbean cruises out of Fort Lauderdale.
  • Insides to 14-passenger Presidential Suite
  • In-facing balconies overlook Central Park and Boardwalk
  • Apartment-sized double-decker "Lofts"
  • Cabin Reviews
  • More than 20 dining options, about half for-fee
  • Fan favorite Central Park Cafe for paninis, salads
  • Upscale tasting restaurant has seasonal menu
  • Foliage-filled Central Park is hub for eating, drinking
  • Glass-covered Solarium with pool
  • Surf simulators, zip-line and rock-climbing walls

The 3,646-passenger Carnival Dream, born in 2009, is the glitziest of Carnival's Dream-class trio. Dream represents a blend of intriguing innovations and inventive twists on old "Fun Ship" themes, like Cove Balconies and the Ocean Plaza, an outdoor meet-and-greet venue with whirpools and comfy seating.

Deployment: Year-round Caribbean cruises out of Port Canaveral.
  • No-frills cabin options (with twists): insides, oceanviews, suites
  • Five-person family cabins with two baths
  • Debuted waterline-situated Cove Balcony
  • Cabin Reviews
  • Dozen-plus dining options focus on casual eats
  • Main dining room, Crimson, is one of most vibrant at sea
  • Surprisingly good for-fee steakhouse
  • Piano bar for raucous sing-alongs
  • 303-foot-long corkscrew waterslide
  • Casino offers action from craps to Hold'em

Launched in 2010, Epic broke the mold in many ways, most notably with its game-changing Studio cabins (geared toward solos), its unique shows (including Blue Man Group) and controversial translucent bathrooms (alas, you can see right through the smoked glass). Add in more than 20 restaurants, a giant water park and one of cruising's largest spas, and the ship lives up to its name.

Deployment: Caribbean cruises from Miami, November - April; Med. cruises from Rome, Marseille and Barcelona, April - October.
  • 14 cabin types from insides to Courtyard Suites
  • Game-changing 100-square-foot Studios for solos
  • Controversial smoked-glass loos
  • Cabin Reviews
  • Dozen-plus dining options
  • Introduced Shanghai's, Moderno Churrascaria to line
  • 24/7 pizza delivered anywhere ($5)
  • Only Blue Man Group show at sea
  • Industry-first rappelling wall, ice bar
  • Aqua Park among cruising's top pool complexes

Cool sophistication is the unmistakable vibe onboard the 126,000-ton, 3,046-passenger Celebrity Reflection, the final -- and biggest -- of the five ships in the line's Solstice Class. Sure, the Solstice Class blueprint is still in place; you can't miss the Lawn Club, Solarium and themed dining venues found onboard all five ships. But Reflection, which debuted in October 2012, turns it up a notch.

Deployment: Caribbean, Mediterranean and Transatlantic cruises from Miami and Rome.
  • 1,532 cabins in 14 main categories
  • Balcony cabins feature 54-square-foot balconies
  • AquaClass cabins offer spa perks and freebies
  • Cabin Reviews
  • A number of for-fee restaurants
  • "Spa-inspired" fare at Blu
  • Qsine diners order on iPads
  • Impressive cocktail serving at Martini Bar
  • Adults-only Solarium for no-sun-burn lounging
  • Cellar Masters: A wine lover's happy place

Princess Cruises doesn't set out to dazzle with gimmickry (no bumper cars at sea, ropes courses or simulated surf pools for this Princess), and it's never wanted (or needed) to. The line opts for a more traditional style of cruising, even as it does occasionally push the bounds in terms of innovation. It's certainly come up with some great ideas -- Movies Under The Stars, the adults-only Sanctuary and the transformation of a functional ship's atrium into the buzzing Piazza -- that are now widely copied by other lines.

Deployment: Caribbean, Europe and Transatlantic cruises from Barcelona, Berlin, Copenhagen, Fort Lauderdale and Venice.
  • 1,780 cabins fall into five different grades
  • More contemporary decor, larger showers and hand-held showerheads
  • New Deluxe Balcony cabins offer slightly additional space
  • Cabin Reviews
  • A choice of 16 places to eat
  • All three main dining rooms offer menus for dietary restrictions
  • Double the number of seats in Horizon Court
  • New Princess Live! -- the first television studio at sea
  • Expanded Piazza with more cafes and lounges
  • Largest Princess Theater in the fleet

The 128,690-ton, 2,500-passenger Disney Fantasy -- which debuted in March 2012 -- substitutes brighter Art Nouveau flourishes for Art Deco, while homing in on sister ship Dream's shortcomings. Although only modestly different, Fantasy seems light-years improved over its predecessor.

Deployment: Year-round Caribbean cruises from Port Canaveral.
  • Inside cabins feature "magical portholes"
  • Cabins feature bath-and-a-half setup
  • For more room, try a Concierge Suite
  • Cabin Reviews
  • Rotational dining setup: Eat in one of three main restaurants every night, but keep same waiters
  • Buzzworthy $75-a-head French venue, Remy
  • Diners interact with "Finding Nemo's" Crush at Animator's Palate
  • AquaLab, a new 1,800-square-foot water play area
  • Disney produces some of cruising's best stage shows
  • Adults-only Satellite Sun Deck

Jewel of the Seas, which debuted in spring 2004, is the fourth and last limb on Royal Caribbean's Radiance-class family tree. At 90,090 tons, Jewel of the Seas, like its classmates, has just enough space for some of the storied Royal Caribbean innovations, such as a rock-climbing wall, beautiful solarium pool, expansive Adventure Ocean kids' facility and two lovely alternative restaurants.

Deployment: Southern Caribbean cruises from San Juan.
  • Five suite categories, ranging from Junior to Grand
  • Each balcony cabin features a sitting area with love seat
  • Wheelchair-accessible cabins can accommodate up to six people
  • Cabin Reviews
  • Two-level Tides Dining Room with romantic ambiance
  • Seaview Cafe serves mouthwatering junk food
  • Chops Grille and Portofino are the two alternative restaurants
  • Nighttime entertainment abounds
  • Thai-themed glass-domed solarium
  • Lively atrium, day and night

About UsAdvertisingEditorial DisclaimerPress
PrivacySite MapStoreSubscribe

Thank You For Signing Up!

Please Note: To ensure delivery of your free e-letters, please add to your address book.

We're committed to protecting your privacy and will not rent or sell your e-mail address. By proceeding, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.