Subscribe today
Get Cruise Critic in your inbox
Compare: UK's 10 Most Popular Cruise Ships
Home > Compare: UK's 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 for UK passengers -- accounting for more than 22,000 berths -- in an easily digestible way. The ships' popularity, by the way, is determined by number of pageviews accrued over the past year.

Want more info about Thomson Dream or Independence of the Seas? Click on the vessel name for a comprehensive expert review and hundreds of reader-submitted critiques.

Cruise Ship Basics Sleep Eat Fun Deck Plan


P&O's 3,100-passenger Ventura was the first of the line's large family-friendly ships, debuting in 2008. The aim was to attract families, and make a play for new to cruise, with a host of celebrity tie-ups (Chefs Marco Pierre White, Atul Kocchar and wine expert Olly Smith all feature), lots more space (the ship is 30 percent bigger than its predecessors), plus plenty of family-friendly amenities.

Deployment: Based in Barbados during winter for Caribbean cruises, Italy in summer for the Mediterranean.
  • Family cabins, two with a second bedroom
  • Outside cabins have two lower beds that are convertible to a king-size bed with wardrobe and drawer space
  • Superior Deluxe Balcony cabins and above include an atlas and a pair of binoculars.
  • Cabin Reviews
  • Marco Pierre White's The White Room
  • East, Atul Kocchar's superb take on Asia cuisine
  • Olly Smith's The Glass House
  • The Retreat: brand new adults-only area
  • Expansive kids facility
  • Headliners Theatre Company put on various singing and dancing revue shows throughout the cruise in the Arena Theatre


Cruise & Maritime Voyages' Marco Polo cruise liner provides bargain-priced cruises sailing from East England where the ship is based. Marco Polo is an adults-only ship that, though far from luxurious, is comfortable and pleasant. And with less than 1,000 passengers, the onboard experience is about as far from the mass-market cruise ships as you can get.

Deployment: Cruises the British Isles, the Baltic and Norway, Christmas Markets cruises to Northern Europe and an annual Transatlantic to the Amazon.
  • 450+ cabins in 15 categories, two cabins are wheelchair-accessible
  • Most cabins have fixed twin beds which aren't reconfigurable
  • No cabins with balconies
  • Cabin Reviews
  • Two dining venues: The Waldorf Restaurant (main dining room) and the casual buffet at Marco's Bistro
  • Limited room-service menu
  • Entertainment is a mixture of enrichment and traditional cruise offerings
  • Marco Polo Lounge features variety shows twice a week
  • Pianist plays in Captain's Club Lounge
  • Scott's Bar is the late-night venue and disco


Thomson Dream is the newest, biggest and most luxurious ship in Thomson's fleet of five ships. Thomson took over the vessel from Costa Cruises in April 2010, and the ship underwent a multimillion-pound refit in 2012..

Deployment: Year-round Mediterranean cruises out of Spain.
  • 764 cabins in categories ranging from insides to suites
  • Only six cabins -- grand suites -- have balconies
  • 19 single cabins and four wheelchair-accessible cabins
  • Cabin Reviews
  • Several casual eateries in addition to The Orion Restaurant main dining room
  • Extra cost to order from room service menu
  • One for-fee restaurant, The Grill, levies £20 cover charge
  • High-ceilinged Broadway Theatre hosts musical reviews
  • A headlining entertainer performs twice each week
  • Daily enrichment limited to lectures and port talks


Majesty joined the Thomson line in May 2012 as part of a ship swap. The ship, which debuted in 1992, splits time between the Mediterranean and the Canary Islands. The ship underwent a recent refit to add 28 balconies -- until the refit, it had none.

Deployment: Cruises in the Mediterranean and Canary Islands.
  • Standard cabins are assigned by the cruise line -- passengers can pay a fee to upgrade.
  • Only 28 balcony cabins onboard
  • Suites feature flat screen TVs and iPod docking stations
  • Cabin Reviews
  • The ship features two main dining rooms, Seven Seas and Four Seasons
  • Three alternative eateries, including a 24-hour buffet venue
  • Room service and French alternative restaurant, Le Bistro, are for-fee
  • Jubilee Lounge offers production shows, guest acts and late-night discos
  • Royal Observatory bar boasts views from ship's highest point
  • Small casino, Monte Carlo, has games tables and slot machines


The 3,100-passenger Azura is Ventura's younger sister (by two years), and has the same vibe and feel as her older sibling: family friendly, superb dining options, a new adults only area, plus one or two extra features, including SeaScreen, the new outdoor cinema. The ship is also the newest of P&O's fleet.

Deployment: Azura spends the winter in the Caribbean in Barbados; and the summer in Southampton cruising to Northern Europe and the Baltic.
  • Superior Deluxe Balcony Cabins come with Champagne, fruit and chocolates on arrival.
  • The Suites have butler service, daily canapés, a coffee machine, newspapers and exclusive use of Seventeen for breakfast.
  • Families can be accommodated in all cabin grades except those for singles.
  • 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
  • Adults-only areas including The Retreat
  • Great kids' facilities including appearances from Noddy and the Mr. Men
  • There are 12 bars, including Brodies, a cross between a sports bar and traditional pub but with a small casino attached


Thomson's Island Escape is the budget brand's budget ship. It attracts a younger-than-average clientele and a high number of first-time cruisers who've booked based on travelling with Thomson on a package holiday. On the whole, the ship has a cheap and cheerful -- and very casual -- personality.

Deployment: Island Escape cruises the Western Mediterranean year-round.
  • Ship offers simply furnished cabins -- from bunk-bed standards to suites
  • Standard cabins are assigned by the cruise line -- passengers can pay a fee to upgrade.
  • Cruise line charges for use of in-cabin safe
  • Cabin Reviews
  • Island restaurant and Beachcomber (24-hour) are both buffets
  • Oasis restaurant offers waiter-served meals for a fee
  • Room service available 24 hours for an extra charge
  • Drinking holes include an authentic pub, sports bar and Sailaway bar
  • Evening shows held in the Ocean Theatre; traditional daytime cruise activities
  • Fully equipped gym and onboard kids' club


Originally Holland America's Noordam, Thomson Celebration is a smaller ship, whose just over 1,250 passengers usually share a love of traditional British cruises. Launched in 1984, Thomson gave the ship a facelift in 2013 and added 26 balconies to the old dame.

Deployment: Eastern Mediterranean, Black Sea, Caribbean and Central America.
  • 26 extra balcony cabins added in 2014 (total of 46)
  • Inside and standard outside cabins are small
  • Refit added flat screen TVs and updated bathrooms
  • Cabin Reviews
  • Meridian Restaurant offers waiter-served meals all day and six-course dinner
  • Mistral Restaurant is for-fee alternative
  • Room service costs extra
  • Broadway Show Lounge offers West End-style revues and special guest headliners
  • Films screened in Liberties lounge during the day
  • Small casino, Hemingway's, offers gaming tables and slot machines


A perennial favourite with UK cruisers, and for years the biggest ship to sail out of the UK, the 3,634-passenger Independence of the Seas arguably brought US-style cruising to these more 'traditional' British shores. Indy, as the ship is known, is the third of Royal's Freedom class ships (the biggest apart from the Oasis Class), with ice skating, rock climbing and simulated surfing on the FlowRider. In April 2013, the ship had a $7 million refurbishment. Indy will be moving on next year to be replaced by a newer, shinier model: Anthem of the Seas, which will be sailing out of Southampton from April 2015.

Deployment: Indy is in Southampton during the summer sailing to the Mediterranean, and Fort Lauderdale during the winter sailing to the Caribbean.
  • Junior Suites feature tubs, walk-in closets and 101-square-foot balconies
  • The Presidential Family Suite is unique in the industry. The suite sleeps up to 14 and is made up of two master bedrooms with private baths, as well as two smaller bedrooms.
  • Four Royal Family Suites hold up to eight and feature a living area with a double sofa bed and two bedrooms.
  • Cabin Reviews
  • New restaurant and cafe added in refurbishment: The Cupcake Cupboard and Giovanni's Table
  • Johnny Rocket's offers outdoor seating
  • Portofino offers fine dining Italian cuisine
  • New features including giant outdoor cinema screen
  • Indoor Royal Promenade
  • Royal 'Babies & Tots' Nursery recently added


The 2,850-passenger Eclipse is the third of Celebrity's sleek, sophisticated and wildly popular Solstice class of ships. Combining big-ship amenities such as a huge spa and gym, big-production shows and huge variety of superb restaurants, with small ship service and sophistication, Eclipse regularly gets 90 per cent + approval ratings from Cruise Critic members, including top spot for cabins in the UK Cruisers' Choice Awards.

Deployment: Southampton during the summer, offering Baltic and short-break cruises; and Fort Lauderdale during the winter for Caribbean cruises.
  • 121 connecting staterooms and four Family Ocean View Staterooms with verandahs
  • AquaSpa cabins include spa-oriented cosmetics, gels and bath amenities; upgraded linens and access to an exclusive room service menu.
  • The 44 Sky Suites have a 79-square-foot verandah accessed through floor-to-ceiling sliding-glass doors.
  • 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
  • Lawn Club on top deck
  • Glass blowing show
  • iLounge – the only ship at sea where you can sample and buy Apple products


Part of Royal Caribbean's Voyager Class of ships, the 3,114-passenger Adventure of the Seas may be showing its age now (the ship debuted in 2001), but still has a number of highlights which keep it firmly in the UK Top 10. These include a rollerblading track, ice-skating rink and rock-climbing wall, and the ship is a popular choice for couples and families, too.

Deployment: Southampton during the summer, offering Mediterranean cruises via Spain; and Fort Lauderdale during the winter offering 7-night Caribbean cruises.
  • Out of 1,557 staterooms, 939 of these have an ocean view (765 have balconies)
  • Royal Family Suite -- at 533 - 586 square feet -- has two bedrooms plus a sitting room
  • The Owner's Suite offers a bathroom with whirlpool and separate shower.
  • Cabin Reviews
  • Cafe Promenade features light fare at all times; try the pizza, it's excellent
  • The Windjammer is open for dinner with a buffet that features the same items as are on the main dining room menu
  • Portofino offers Italian fare with a $20 per-person cover
  • Royal Promenade: hub for shops, bars and cafes
  • Active cruisers enjoy rock-climbing, rollerblading
  • Giant outdoor cinema screen


About UsAdvertisingEditorial DisclaimerPress
PrivacySite MapStoreSubscribe
X

Thank You For Signing Up!

Please Note: To ensure delivery of your free e-letters, please add news@cruisecritic.com 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.