Planning your first cruise can feel like an overwhelming undertaking. There are indeed so many choices, from “party boats” in the Caribbean and high end yachts in the Mediterranean to river cruises in Asia and expedition ships in Antarctica. You should put some cautious thought into precisely what sort of traveler you are (Foodie? Adventurer? Evening owl? ) and which kind of cruise holiday you really want, even though also factoring in such practicalities as spending budget, the departure interface and the distance of the trip.
Just how do you find out if a cruise line’s personality works with with your requirements? You could consult a travel agent – or just read through our helpful shortlist of the extremely best cruiselines for first-timers.
12 Best Cruises for Rookies
1 . Carnival Cruise Line
2 . Regent Seven Seas Cruises
- Royal Caribbean International
- Disney Cruise Line
- Silversea Cruises
- Holland America Line
- Oceania Cruises
- Norwegian Cruise Line
- Cunard Line
- Lindblad Expeditions
- Paul Guaguin Cruises
- Viking River Cruises
1. Carnival Cruise Line
Best for: Value hunters
Why: Carnival may be the series for “everycruiser, “ attractive to a broad spectral range of vacationers who talk about one common trait: Each of them want a super-fun get away without heading bankrupt. The mixture of Carnival’s sizable fleet (25+ ships), focus on popular places (Caribbean, Bahamas and Mexico) and dedication to available three- to seven- evening itineraries translates to low prices and frequent deals. Cruises typically start around a reasonable $80 per person, per night, and can be nabbed for lower still with promotional fares. Carnival maintains its cabins simple, with a good amount of regular insides and outsides, and will not overload with fee-extra venues onboard ( usage of specialty eating venues like Guy’s Burger Joint, Serenity adults- just retreats and Punchliner Comedy Golf club shows, for example, are all cost-free ). To find the best budget rates, avoid vacation periods (especially school holidays ).
Runner-up: With 14 ships, including 4, 100-passenger Norwegian Epic and 4, 200-passenger Norwegian Escape, Norwegian Cruise Series provides space to fill. There are frequently last-minute deals, some only $50 or $75 per person, per evening. The ships also give numerous free actions – including fabulous Broadway displays and live music and comedy – and a number of complimentary eating venues. Plus, the line frequently runs promotions that enable passengers to include one or more free perks with their sailing, like beverage packages or specialty dining credits. And Norwegian Sky – sailing to the Bahamas, and also Cuba ( as of June 2017) – is the sole ship in the mainstream cruise market to offer free unlimited premium beverages with the upfront cruise fare.
2. Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Best for: Luxury seekers
Why: Regent Seven Seas is definitely arguably the most inclusive of the biggest extravagance brands. Its fares include all-suite accommodations (98 percent include balconies), meals in primary and specialty eating venues, pre- and post-cruise tours and resort remains, gratuities, shore excursions and drinks from liquor to sodas (in your suite, at supper or in the ships’ open public areas). The ships are on the bigger size for high end, carrying 490 to 750 passengers each – small more than enough to create a sociable onboard atmosphere without the crowds of a large ship, but large plenty of to offer spacious cabins ( the smallest is 301 square ft ) and enough dining and entertainment venues to prevent boredom. Extravagance touches abound, whether it be a butler in your penthouse suite or special premium bath amenities designed by the L’Occitane collection. The 750-passenger Seven Seas Explorer offers over-the- top suites and the highest staff-to-passenger ratios in the industry. Wherever in the world you choose to sail, you will be truly pampered.
Runner-up: Seabourn is all about the finer things in life without getting stuck in the past. The cruise line, known for its superb service and gourmet cuisine, sold off its three oldest vessels back in 2013/2014 to focus on its newer trio of 458-passenger ships, along with 600-passenger new-builds Seabourn Encore and Seabourn Ovation. All of the ships feature vast spas, spacious cabins ( starting at 295 square feet ) and gorgeous suites, menus and signature restaurants designed by chef Thomas Keller, and a mostly inclusive pricing policy covering drinks, dining, entertainment and gratuities. Look for signature touches such as a “Pure Pampering” bath drawn by your cabin steward, complete with strewn flower petals and aromatherapy scents.
3. Royal Caribbean International
Best for: Families with tweens or teens
Why: Older kids need distractions and special attention; Royal Caribbean gives them both. Depending on the ship, the line taps into teens ‘ and tweens’ bottomless well of energy with rock climbing walls, ziplines, ice and inline skating, surf and skydiving simulators, drinking water slides and basketball and volleyball courts. Because of its youth applications, Royal Caribbean wisely splits up tweens and teenagers to their appropriate age organizations. In addition, it treats the underage group like mini-adults with such advanced amenities as spa remedies designed specifically for the primping era and their adolescent requirements; DJ lessons; teens-only internet casino nights; backstage tours of the ship; and no-elders-allowed lounges where they can dance, drink mocktails and socialize with their new pals until past their parents’ bedtimes. The packed schedule, overseen by an attentive crew, lets parents enjoy their own downtime without worrying about their charges growing bored and antsy.
Runner-up: Norwegian Cruise Line appeals to teens with its exclusive spaces (clubs and lounges for teenagers ), sophisticated parties and theme nights (black-light Glow Party and a dress-up, dinner-and-a-show evening ), and pop culture and retro-hip activities (bowling, Nintendo Wii U, “American Idol”- style shows). Plus, late- night dining venues and top-deck activities like water slides, rock climbing walls and ropes courses will keep the hardest-to- please cruisers busy and happy.
4. Disney Cruise Line
Best for: Families with small children
Why: Disney really gets what parents and small children need on vacation, from entertainment and dining to childcare. The line is rare in the industry for attending to the needs of babies and toddlers; it offers nurseries for small sailors up to three years old and includes a water-play area open to the diapered established. The cruise range also fills its ships using its signature people, such as for example Mickey, Goofy, Cinderella and her princess pals, who engage youngsters at prepared occasions and spontaneous encounters. Its expansive play areas are themed after well-known Disney, Pixar, Superstar Wars and Marvel films, with lots of high-tech video games and interactive ( and frequently educational) programming. Cabins and places to eat are tailored for households, taking into account the practical (split bathrooms with tub/shower combos) and the whimsical (restaurants with fairytale decor ).
Runner-up: Carnival has teamed up with Dr . Seuss for its kids programming. Look for the Seuss-a-Palooza parade and Story Time, featuring character appearances (The Cat in the Hat, Sam I Am), and a “Green Eggs and Ham” character breakfast. The Camp Ocean facility is one of few to both accept 2-year-olds and employ counselors who will change diapers. It also has options for childcare and parent-kid playtime for babies and toddlers too young for Camp Ocean. Loads of casual dining options, water-play areas and mini-golf, and large standard cabins ( as well as family-focused options on some ships) just add to the line’s appeal for parents.
5. Silversea Cruises
Best for: Mature cruisers
Why: Upscale Silversea attracts a dedicated following of mature travelers ( in fact, it’s a rarity to find a child onboard). Its all-inclusive pricing model allows for a luxury experience without lots of unexpected expense, with Silversea inclusions like room service, wine and spirits, gratuities and transportation into town from port all bundled into the upfront fares. The line’s nine small ships – accommodating just 100 to 596 guests – are well- suited to guests seeking easy camaraderie, as well as for those with limited mobility. Plus, Silversea’s itineraries propose access to more off-the-beaten-track worldwide ports (they sail to 800-plus locales across all seven continents) that hold special charm for seasoned travelers searching for brand-new horizons to explore.
Runner-up: Holland America, a stylish midsize line, provides traditionally drawn a far more mature audience by emphasizing the common cruising experience more than partying and pressing the adrenaline limits. It provides quieter pleasures, like the Culinary Arts Middle and a partnership with America’s Check Kitchen that targets cooking food demos and hands-on workshops; self-guided artwork tours of the onboard art collections; and Explorations Central, which aims to highlight local culture and background onboard via particular talks, port manuals and cultural demonstrations. The athletic pursuits, like a tai chi, yoga and tennis, don’t require a 21-year-old’s physique. Even ground breaking additions to the entertainment lineup keep carefully the company’s devoted cruisers at heart. HAL has a fantastic B. B. King’s Blues Club and dinner occasions offering menus by epicurean superstars like observed chef Elizabeth Falkner and Michelin three- superstar chef Jonnie Boer.
6. Holland America Line
Best for: Singles
Why: Holland America Collection caters to solo travelers via its Solitary Partners Program, which includes hosted parties for onboard singles ( early on in the cruise), adopted up by unique singles-themed cocktail celebrations and games that provide solo cruisers lots of time to connect. The line will also group singles collectively for dining (on request ), and on sailings of 40 days or longer, even provides unique gentlemen hosts to accompany solitary women to dinner or on the dance ground. HAL facilitates a roommate coordinating services with fellow solo travelers of the same sex; if the collection can’t look for an ideal partner for participants, it will still assurance them a dual occupancy fare. Additionally, two Holland America ships give dedicated one cabins: Koningsdam has 12, and Prinsendam provides three.
Runner-up: Norwegian reached away to solo cruisers when it all introduced the Studio idea in Norwegian Epic. These cabins, particularly made for solo travelers, include hip minimalist furnishings no dastardly single dietary supplement. Cruisers who reserve this group of cabin also receive special usage of a gathering place with a bar, snack foods and space for socializing. The line right now has various variations of the cabins and their affiliated lounges on Norwegian Breakaway, Norwegian Getaway, Norwegian Get away, Norwegian Bliss and Satisfaction of America.
7. Oceania Cruises
Best for: Foodies
Why: The actual fact that Oceania offers popular French chef Jacques Pepin as its executive culinary director speaks volumes about its commitment to good onboard dining. The primary dining rooms present high-quality fare within an open-seating plan, and even the buffets and poolside grill fare refuse to disappoint. Lobsters come sourced from the line’s own Maine lobster farm, and its beef is dry-aged for 28 days in Oceania’s aging facility. Specialty venues are fee-free (minus unique wine-pairing menus), and add the Asian-style Crimson Ginger to Italian Toscana and French bistro Jacques. And if consuming mouth-watering cuisine isn’t plenty of, you can figure out how to prepare it yourself with classes in the Culinary Middle. Look out, as well, for the line’s extended portfolio of Culinary Discovery Tours, devoted foodie-friendly shore excursions available in ports like Casablanca, Rio and Venice.
Runner-up: Seabourn earns high factors on the foodie front side because of its culinary partnership with lauded chef Thomas Keller, in back of famed Michelin-starred eateries BY ITSELF, Bouchon and The French Laundry. The American chef provides his unique make of French-American fare, infused with regional flavors, to the line with a range of meals showcased in the main restaurant, as well as through his 2016-debuted signature restaurant, The Grill by Thomas Keller. This fleetwide eatery, a classic American chophouse-inspired venue ( designed by Adam D. Tihany), comes complete with savory surf-and-turf dishes and tableside preparation of passenger favorites like Caesar salad and ice cream sundaes. Plus, upscale Seabourn includes a selection of fine wines and premium drinks in its upfront rates, while its specialty dining venues carry no surcharge.
8. Norwegian Cruise Line
Best for: Entertainment enthusiasts
Why: All Norwegian ships offer musical revues, comedy and improv shows, live music and guest performers, but the line really shines with its newest ships: Norwegian Bliss, Norwegian Escape, Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway. The line takes its inspiration from land- based hits, and cruisers can experience Broadway musicals like “Jersey Boys, “ “Rock of Ages, “ “After Midnight” or “Million Dollar Quartet”; sizzling dance shows like “Burn the Floor “; comedy by Second City improv or Levity Comedy; and music by dueling pianists and blues bands. The line even turns meals into theater with dinner show Cirque Dreams. Throw in plenty of bars, discos, bowling and Wii, and you may under no circumstances be bored onboard.
Runner-up: Royal Caribbean can be on the leading edge of onboard spectaculars. The range features Broadway displays (“Grease, “ “Mamma Mia! “), but takes performances from the theater with ice-skating displays in onboard rinks, high-diving acrobatic displays at the pool- structured AquaTheater and aerial displays in ship atriums. Anthem of the Seas features the high-tech entertainment location Two70, which pairs floor-to-ceiling home windows of digital displays and six huge “roboscreens” with live dancers, singers, aerialists and musicians. In addition, it hosts a cast of cover bands and Dreamworks people for family-focused fun.
9. Cunard Line
Best for: Enrichment seekers
Why: Cunard and its own trio of Queens ooze lifestyle as an Oxford don. The cruise range released the Cunard Insights enrichment plan in 2007, inviting onboard such luminaries as a NASA astronaut, a polar explorer and British wit John Cleese. In 2016, the Insights program partnered with THE BRAND NEW York Times to provide a loudspeaker series highlighting professionals on journalism, climate modification, politics, national security, sports activities and more. Passengers may also enjoy cultural pursuits with ballroom dance, West End- design theater (in a box seat, no less ), a planetarium (on Queen Mary 2 only ) and string quartets that bid the sun adieu. Target audience participation is encouraged; you can learn the art of acting with Royal Academy of Dramatic Art users and wax poetic in onboard book clubs. Starting in 2018, passengers will have the opportunity to trace their family tree, too, under the tutelage of experts from Ancestry. com.
Runner-up: Onboard enrichment is a pillar of the high-end Crystal Cruises brand, with complimentary enrichment-minded programming featured heavily aboard every sailing. Via the Creative Learning Institute, passengers get a chance to take digital film-making lessons, sign up for wine-tastings (helmed by trained sommeliers), participate in wellness lectures ( put on by experts and doctors from the Cleveland Clinic) or enroll in art instruction (with courses in painting, sculpture or crafts). Through the Crystal Visions program, luminaries from the world of display screen and stage, comedy, sports activities, politics, science and even more are brought onboard to provide guest lectures and seminars. Plus, cruisers can join techie instruction via Crystal’s Computer University@ Ocean program, or opt to sail on unique themed voyages, focused on matters like music, golf, photography, food and wine, and fitness.
10. Lindblad Expeditions
Best for: Adventurers
Why: Lindblad seeks out exotic itineraries in the Arctic, Antarctica, Galapagos, Amazon and additional less-mainstream cruise locations. On its polar voyages, passengers sail aboard an ice-class vessel that very easily slips through frozen passageways populated with polar bears in the Arctic or penguins in Antarctica. Its Torres del Paine-to-Cape Horn itinerary delivers myriad land-and- sea encounters in Patagonia’s vast wilderness. On all voyages, passengers can expect to share in the experience of a team of naturalists, including National Geographic photographers (or Lindblad-National Geographic certified photo instructors) and undersea professionals, providing a steady blast of eco-insights and details. For closer sights, the cruise series equips its ships with Zodiacs, ocean kayaks and underwater cams. Shore excursions trade bus tours for educational and energetic diversions, such as for example naturalist-led glacier hikes and deep-water snorkeling. The business also advances sustainable procedures and facilitates many conservation applications in the fragile places it visits.
Runner-up: UnCruise Adventures combines off-the-beaten- monitor ecotourism with small-ship cruising in Alaska, and also the Ocean of Cortez, Galapagos, Coastal Washington and British Columbia, Hawaii, Costa Rica and Panama, and the Columbia and Snake rivers. Its expedition vessels are small more than enough to wiggle into top secret harbors and through narrow waterways, and cruisers are invited to immerse themselves within their natural environment with such land-and-sea excursions as whale- viewing, snorkeling, stand-up paddleboarding, walking, kayaking and polar bear plunges.
11. Paul Gauguin Cruises
Best for: Romantics
Why: Paul Gauguin Cruises presents one experience in the best honeymoon/anniversary/special-occasion places of French Polynesia and the higher South Pacific. Its namesake ship doesn’t skimp on romance: All cabins boast sea views, and many has queen-sized beds and personal balconies. Couples can experience the ooh-la-la over a Polynesian-accented French meal at the fine-dining restaurant L’Etoile, or during a private sunset dinner served on their stateroom balcony. The spa caters to twosomes with couples’ treatments – try the 40-minute aroma steam bath for two or a massage on a private islet off the coast of Taha’a. Plus, the line gives a complimentary package for honeymooners (with thoughtful touches like in- space Champagne and a special Polynesian blessing ceremony), as well as a selection of wedding ceremony and vow renewal ceremony deals.
Runner-up: Romance fills the sails of Windstar Cruises, a trio of multi-masted yachts and also a trio of cruise trip ships. These intimate vessels, having between 148 and 312 travellers, float through such dreamy places as the Greek Isles, Costa Rica and the Panama Canal, the Windward Islands, the South Pacific and china and taiwan, and look for interesting little harbors and coves where various other lines don’t move. If you would like the romance of stargazing under billowing sails, select one of the primary ships (Wind Surf, Superstar and Spirit); for even more spacious accommodations and personal verandas, choose newer acquisitions (Star Satisfaction, Breeze and Legend). By time, doze on a cushioned lounger by the pool; by evening, select Candles Grill for an alfresco supper date ( even though all dining venues are superb ). All ships have water sports platforms for floating, kayaking, sailing, water skiing, windsurfing and diving in aquamarine waters worldwide.
12. Viking River Cruises
Best for: River cruisers
Why: Viking River Cruises is definitely a seasoned player that caters to first-time cruisers looking to get their ft wet in the world of river cruising. Known for its expansive portfolio of immersive, destination-centric itineraries – including iconic European offerings like the Romantic Danube, Rhine Getaway and Grand European Tour – the line has a river sailing to suit all tastes, with more than 60 vessels plying the inland waterways of Europe, Russia, Asia and Egypt. Viking’s fleet is mainly composed of its signature 190-passenger Viking Longship vessels, and passengers can expect modern Scandinavian design elements onboard with plenty of panoramic windows, oversized suites and the indoor /outdoor Aquavit Terrace, set at each ship’s bow. Plus, with mainly inclusive pricing (rates add a shore excursion atlanta divorce attorneys slot and beer and wines with meals), first- time cruisers needn’t fret about racking up lots of incidentals, a common caveat encountered on mainstream oceangoing cruises.
Runner-up: The dozen sleek “Suite Ships” of Avalon Waterways – accommodating just 120 to 160 passengers – are another great choice for first- period river cruisers, with their cabins’ progressive floor-to-ceiling home windows that slide open up, converting rooms into veritable open- air balconies in a snap (perfect for taking in those passing landscapes). With a roster of itineraries aimed at cultural immersion in Europe (sail quintessential voyages on the Danube and Rhine) and Southeast Asia (explore the exotic Irrawaddy or Mekong rivers), the line caters to first-timers further with sampler three- night Danube River voyages, perfect for those not quite ready to fully commit to the more standard weeklong offerings.