1. Home
  2. Cruise Industry Trends
  3. Compare: 8 Most Popular Cruise Ships

Compare: 8 Most Popular Cruise Ships

Compare: 10 Most Popular Cruise Ships
Compare: 10 Most Popular Cruise Ships

Find a Cruise

By proceeding, you agree to Cruise Critic’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

Nearly everyone has a favorite cruise ship. In this chart, we outline the key distinctions among the 8 most popular cruise ships in the industry. Look for highlights of onboard accommodations, dining and entertainment, as well as ship itineraries. Don't have a favorite cruise ship just yet? Our picks just might inspire you to find the perfect vacation match.

Want more info about these top 8 cruise ships? Click on the vessel name below to read about ship highlights and find links to itineraries, a photo tour of the ship, a comprehensive expert review and hundreds of reader-submitted critiques.

Updated February 9, 2020

1. Harmony of the Seas

Harmony of the Seas (Photo: Royal Caribbean)

It's hard to miss Harmony of the Seas' standout feature -- a pair of purple slides cascading down the back of the ship -- but the Ultimate Abyss isn't this Royal Caribbean ship's only claim to fame. Harmony provides an Oasis-class experience (different "neighborhoods," adrenaline-pumping outdoor activities and high-class entertainment), as well as a taste of the line's Quantum class, with robotic bartenders at the Bionic Bar and a family-style dinner at Jamie's Italian.

Deployment: Year-round Caribbean cruises out of Fort Lauderdale and Orlando.

Sleep
  • Cabins are compact but cozy, with lots of storage space.
  • Solo cabins do not bear a single supplement.
  • Family Presidential Suite can accommodate 14 people.
Eat
  • A variety of free and for-fee options offers something for every taste.
  • Wonderland serves up whimsical cuisine using molecular gastronomy.
  • Johnny Rockets is a great, free alternative for breakfast.
Fun
  • "Grease" production show brings the Broadway original to life.
  • Escape room makes for a fun, challenging group activity.
  • Outdoor entertainment includes water slides, zipline and surf simulators.

Photo Tour of Harmony of the Seas


2. Carnival Vista

Carnival Vista (Photo: Carnival)

Carnival Vista epitomizes the line's "Fun Ship" moniker. It offers the most variety of restaurants, bars, entertainment and outdoor fun of any Carnival ship (alongside its newer sister, Carnival Horizon). There's even an exclusive Havana area with a pool, hot tubs and bar available during the day to those staying in Cabana cabins. (A separate, Cuba-themed Havana Bar is open to all passengers, day and night.)

Deployment: Year-round Caribbean cruises from Miami and Galveston.

Sleep
  • All cabins are capable of fitting two to five people.
  • Family Harbor cabins include a private lounge and free group babysitting.
  • Cloud 9 Spa cabins come with spa freebies.
Eat
  • Bonsai Sushi serves some of the best rolls and sashimi at sea.
  • Staples such as Guy's Burger Joint and BlueIguana Cantina.
  • DIY pasta bar for lunch at Cucina del Capitano.
Fun
  • Outdoor recreation includes sky-high bike and ropes course.
  • RedFrog Pub & Brewery offers craft beer, tours and tastings.
  • IMAX theater, perfect for rainy days and lazy nights

Photo Tour of Carnival Vista


3. Norwegian Escape

Norwegian Escape

The first ship in Norwegian's massive Breakaway Plus class, Norwegian Escape is an ideal choice for people who want high-quality entertainment and variety. The 4,200-passenger ship features two Broadway-style shows, 28 bars and restaurants and a handful of recreational activities -- including one of the scariest water slides at sea.

Deployment: Caribbean cruises from Miami; Caribbean, Bahamas, Bermuda and Canada/New England cruises from New York.

Sleep
  • Cabins boast a contemporary, sophisticated design.
  • Variety of categories include family, spa and solo.
  • The fleet's largest suite-only enclave, The Haven.
Eat
  • Alfresco dining offered in The Waterfront.
  • Traditional Spanish tapas served at Pincho.
  • Norwegian staples like Cagney's and Teppanyaki.
Fun
  • The District Brew House is a beer lover's dream.
  • Largest ropes course at sea.
  • Spice H2O turns into an outdoor nightclub.

Photo Tour of Norwegian Escape


4. Anthem of the Seas

Anthem of the Seas (Photo: Royal Caribbean)

The innovative, 4,180-passenger Anthem of the Seas is all about the wow factor, with attractions like a skydiving simulator and a London Eye-style glass pod that rises over the pool deck. Tech-savvy cruisers also will love the ship's fast Wi-Fi, the ability to make onboard bookings via tablets and apps, and RFID bracelets for cabin access and on-ship purchases. The look is classy and modern, and cruisers are spoiled for choice in dining, accommodations and sea day fun.

Deployment: Bahamas, Bermuda, Caribbean and Canada/New England cruises from Bayonne.

Sleep
  • 75 percent of cabins have balconies.
  • Inside rooms feature "virtual balconies" with ocean views.
  • Choice of suite types, all with extra perks and exclusive dining room.
Eat
  • Jamie's Italian offers family-style dinner in a colorful space.
  • Find macarons, petits-fours and chocolates galore at La Patisserie.
  • Vegetarian dishes and healthy options are indicated on menus.
Fun
  • SeaPlex offers bumper cars, roller skating and trapeze lessons.
  • Hit shows "We Will Rock You" and high-tech "Spectra's Cabaret".
  • Gorgeous adults-only Solarium with cascading pools.

Photo Tour of Anthem of the Seas


5. Norwegian Breakaway

Norwegian Breakaway (Photo: Cruise Critic)

Rocking a New York theme, Norwegian Breakaway very well might be the ship that never sleeps, with all the activities on offer. The 4,028-passenger ship is jampacked with restaurants and entertainment options -- including a rock 'n' roll bar and a special musical just for wine lovers -- and prides itself on freestyle dining, which means there are no set dining times or seat assignments.

Deployment: Caribbean cruises from New Orleans, Miami and Orlando; Europe cruises from Copenhagen.

Sleep
  • Energy-efficient cabins require key cards to operate lighting and power.
  • Haven suites get private courtyard with a small pool, exclusive lounge and restaurant.
  • No-supplement solo cabins have private lounge access.
Eat
  • Many restaurants offer alfresco dining.
  • Free options include supper club, noodle bar and grill.
  • Cirque Dreams and Dinner show is family-friendly.
Fun
  • Popular shows include "Rock of Ages" and "Burn the Floor".
  • At night, enjoy live jazz, comedy, dueling piano players and theme parties.
  • Top-deck attractions like rock climbing, water slides and ropes course.

Photo Tour of Norwegian Breakaway


6. Allure of the Seas

Allure of the Seas (Photo: Royal Caribbean)

The 5,400-passenger Allure of the Seas builds on the blueprint introduced by its Royal Caribbean sister, Oasis of the Seas (and now found on Harmony of the Seas and Symphony of the Seas). The ship features attractions like ziplining and a handmade wooden carousel, but Allure has its own twists, including a Brazilian churrascaria and the Broadway show "Mamma Mia!"

Deployment: Year-round Caribbean cruises from Fort Lauderdale and Miami.

Sleep
  • 20-plus cabin categories ranging from insides to suites.
  • Cabin TVs let cruisers book tours, order room service and more.
  • Top-end rooms include lofts, two-bedroom suites overlooking the AquaTheater.
Eat
  • 20-plus dining options, both free and for a fee.
  • First-ever "food truck" at sea serves hot dogs and sausages.
  • Alternative venues: Japanese, Italian, steakhouse, Mexican.
Fun
  • Coney Island-style Boardwalk with a carousel. 
  • Outdoor AquaTheater for daredevil diving shows.
  • "Beach" and "sports" pools, plus H2O Zone for kids.

Photo Tour of Allure of the Seas


7. Norwegian Epic

Norwegian Epic (Photo: Norwegian)

Fit for every type of traveler -- couples, solos, families and groups alike -- Norwegian Epic offers a variety of activities day and night, from cooling off with the largest bowl slide at sea to dining in the midst of an acrobatic performance at the Cirque Dreams & Dinner show. When you need an escape, head to the adults-only, Ibiza-inspired sun deck, where plenty of lounge chairs and a refreshing pool await.

Deployment: Caribbean and Bahamas cruises from Orlando and San Juan; Mediterranean cruises from Barcelona and Rome.

Sleep
  • Every outside cabin has a balcony.
  • Two-deck complex for solo travelers.
  • Unique design with separate rooms for sink and toilet.
Eat
  • Great Outdoors alfresco restaurant serves world cuisine for free.
  • Asian food lovers can dine at four free and for-fee options.
  • Intimate specialty restaurants are perfect for date nights.
Fun
  • Full-sized, three-lane bowling alley beckons competitive cruisers.
  • Splash Golf (nine holes with water jets) is perfect for families.
  • Beatles-themed bar offers great beer and live music.

Photo Tour of Norwegian Epic


8. Liberty of the Seas

Liberty of the Seas

Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas might not be one of the biggest ships in the fleet, but it offers no shortage of activities. In fact, it's home to a slew of features not found on most -- if any -- other ships, including a cupcake eatery, kids-only Splashaway Bay water park and one of the most thrilling water slides at sea. Don't worry: You'll still get to enjoy Royal Caribbean staples like the FlowRider surf simulator, rock climbing wall and Perfect Storm pair of high-speed water slides -- as well as dining favorites like Giovanni's Table and Chops Grille.

Deployment: Year-round Caribbean cruises from Galveston.

Sleep
  • Select interior cabins offer views of the Royal Promenade.
  • Family-friendly options in each category offer more beds and storage space.
  • One Presidential Family Suites sleeps up to 14.
Eat
  • Burgers and shakes at Johnny Rockets make for tasty casual eats.
  • Cupcake Cupboard satisfies any sweet tooth (and offers decorating classes).
  • Specialty Mexican restaurant Sabor serves tableside guacamole.
Fun
  • Thrilling Tidal Wave is the only boomerang-style slide at sea.
  • Main street-style Royal Promenade is lined with bars, eateries and shops.
  • Ice skating rink theater puts on jaw-dropping shows.

Photo Tour of Liberty of the Seas

Find a Cruise

By proceeding, you agree to Cruise Critic’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

Popular on Cruise Critic

Sneaking Alcohol on a Cruise: 5 Reasons You Should Never Try It
Sneaking alcohol on a cruise has always been a popular pastime for those who are willing to break the rules to avoid paying for drinks onboard. Mainstream cruise lines prohibit passengers from bringing their own liquor, beer and other alcohol (with the exception of wine or Champagne) on ships. Why spend more money than you have to, when you can try to pull a fast one on security staff? While the worst that likely will happen is a trip to the naughty room and having your prized bottle of Caribbean rum confiscated, we can think of five reasons why you shouldn't sneak alcohol on a cruise. Don't worry, rule-breakers: You can still enjoy a carefree vacation by cutting in line at the buffet and hogging as many deck chairs as your heart desires.
7 Dumbest Cruise Mistakes Ever
We've all been there: almost getting your Romanian spouse forcibly debarked -- and expatriated; sprinting through the St. Thomas jungle to catch your departing ship; eating three of Guy Fieri's 1,000-calorie burgers in one sitting. Perhaps not, but as Bram Stoker wrote in Dracula, "We learn from failure, not from success!" What has failure taught Cruise Critic's editors and contributors when it comes to cruising? Do your homework on visa requirements, and triple check that you know how to get where you're embarking. Be careful what you eat and what you book. Read our seven mini-stories of supreme stupidity, have a laugh at our expense, and vow never to make the same mistakes.
Compare: 12 Cruise Ships in Alaska
A message from Cruise Critic: During this unprecedented time throughout the world and across the cruise industry, it is important to note that article information might be impacted by cruise line hiatuses and port closures due to COVID-19. For the latest information, please visit our regularly updated article on what cruisers need to know about coronavirus. It's hard not to revert to hyperbole with Alaska. Here lie more than enough towering snow-capped mountains, breathtaking calving glaciers, extraordinary wild animals and quirky (if overtrafficked) frontier towns to wow hundreds of thousands of cruisers annually. With more than two dozen mainstream ships plying Alaska's island-filled southeast region from May to September, passengers certainly have options. This chart features a representative from every major line in the mainstream and luxury markets, from the intimate and upscale Silver Muse to mega-ships like Norwegian Bliss. (For those who'd prefer to cruise with no more than 100 passengers, see our rundown of small-ship cruise lines in Alaska.) Each of the 12 ships, which were hand-picked based on their popularity among all cruise options in Alaska, caters to a different type of traveler. Families on a budget might find the most "bang for their buck" onboard Carnival Spirit, while couples looking to splurge can pamper themselves with Seven Seas Mariner's lavish suites and all-inclusive fine dining. Familiarize yourself with the biggest contenders' itineraries, exclusive regional offerings and more to determine which is the best Alaska cruise option for you. Note: Click on a ship name to get more info and read hundreds of cruise reviews.

Find a Cruise

By proceeding, you agree to Cruise Critic’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.