See 41+ cruise lines ranked into one of five categories: luxury (★★★★★+), premium (★★★★★), upscale (★★★★), midscale (★★★), and budget (★★). This list was last updated in August 2020.

Only cruise lines with ocean or coastal cruising ships are included; river cruise lines are excluded.

Cruise lines are ordered alphabetically within their grouping. If applicable, the parent company is indicated in brackets. Parent companies include: Carnival Corporation, Genting Hong Kong Limited, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, Royal Caribbean Group, and TUI Group.


Luxury ★★★★★+

  • Crystal Cruises [Genting Hong Kong Limited]
  • Hapag-Lloyd [TUI Group]
  • Hebridean Island Cruises
  • Regent Seven Seas [Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings]
  • Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection [expected]
  • Scenic
  • Seabourn Cruise Line [Carnival Corporation]
  • SeaDream Yacht Club
  • Silversea Cruises [Royal Caribbean Group]

Premium / Upper Upscale ★★★★★

  • Azamara Club Cruises [Royal Caribbean Group]
  • Oceania Cruises [Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings]
  • Paul Gauguin Cruises
  • Ponant
  • Quark Expeditions
  • Saga Cruises
  • Star Clippers
  • Viking Ocean Cruises
  • Windstar Cruises

Upscale ★★★★

  • Celebrity Cruises [Royal Caribbean Group]
  • Cunard [Carnival Corporation]
  • Disney Cruise Line
  • Dream Cruises [Genting Hong Kong Limited]
  • Holland America [Carnival Corporation]
  • Lindblad Expeditions
  • P&O Cruises (UK) [Carnival Corporation]
  • P&O Cruises (Australia) [Carnival Corporation]
  • Princess Cruises [Carnival Corporation]

Midscale ★★★

  • AIDA Cruises [Carnival Corporation]
  • American Cruise Lines
  • Blount Small Ship Adventures
  • Celestyal Cruises
  • Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines
  • Hurtigruten
  • Marella Cruises [TUI Group]
  • Norwegian Cruise Line [Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings]
  • Phoenix Reisen
  • Royal Caribbean International [Royal Caribbean Group]
  • Star Cruises [Genting Hong Kong Limited]
  • TUI Cruises [TUI Group]

Budget ★★

  • Carnival [Carnival Corporation]
  • Costa Cruises [Carnival Corporation]
  • MSC Cruises
  • Pullmantur [filed for bankruptcy reorganization in 2020]

Additional Information

It is important to note that this list is inherently subjective, since there is no common accepted set of standards for what constitutes or differentiates the level of service or luxury aboard a cruise ship.

The following positive factors were taken into account when creating this list:

  • high staff-to-guest ratio
  • more luxurious and spacious accommodations
  • more-refined cuisine
  • more experienced staff
  • more refined entertainment
  • more all-inclusive
  • minimal crowding and lines
  • less on-board announcements and upselling

A higher ranking is often associated with a higher price, but price is not directly factored into these rankings. On a related noted, expedition-focused cruise lines often charge more per person/night than non-expedition cruises.

Check out more cruise information and calculators. There's also a 120+ Hotel Brands Comparison and Equivalency Table.