Cruise Ship Companies

What companies operate cruise ships?

There are dozens of cruise ship companies which offer thousands of itineraries, from Alaskan cruises to African itineraries. The challenge is finding the one that best suits your style and delivers on its promise to provide high seas adventures of a lifetime.

Popular Cruise Lines

There are roughly two dozen major cruise lines in existence, though that number changes yearly as the industry ebbs and flows with the economy. Despite the constant change, there are several cruise ship companies that have weathered multiple storms and still remain as popular as ever. They include:

Small Ship Cruise Lines

In addition to the larger cruise lines, which sail largest new cruise ships in the world, there are several companies that feature smaller ships. Most of the vessels carry less than 500 passengers and specialize in providing passengers individualized attention in a luxurious setting. They also differ from their larger cruise line counterparts in that they tour smaller waterways, including rivers and lakes. However, their destinations are just as exotic, such as the Amazon River, the Yangtze River in China, Greenland, Africa, and the Sea of Cortés. Some of the most popular smaller cruise ship lines include:

  • Abercrombie & Kent International, Inc.
  • American Canadian Caribbean Line (ACCL)
  • American Cruise Lines
  • Elegant Cruises and Tours
  • Grand Circle Travel
  • Great Lakes Cruises
  • Indian Ocean Cruises
  • International Expeditions
  • KD River Cruises of Europe
  • Peter Deilmann Cruises
  • Sea Cloud Cruises
  • Star Clippers
  • Victoria Cruises
  • Viking River Cruises
  • Windstar Cruises

Choosing the Best Cruise Ship Company

With so many cruise lines to choose from, how do you decide on the best one for your next vacation?

Not all companies visit Antarctica or other unique cruise destinations.


Choose a destination first, then pick a cruise company. Individual vessels feature unique itineraries and not all cruise lines sail to the same places. Alaskan and Caribbean cruises are mainstays. However, if you prefer touring the Indian Ocean, South America, or Chilean fjords, then you will need to select a company that specializes in these routes.

Size and Style

Size matters. The size of a ship often dictates the itinerary. Smaller vessels tend to offer a more personalized experience and are best suited for nature-oriented cruisers, who enjoy exploring places such as the Galapagos Islands. The downside to voyaging on a small vessel is that entertainment and dining options are limited compared those offered by larger cruise lines, which are virtually floating cities.

Style is also important to consider before selecting a cruise company. For example, if you are traveling with children, you might want to look for a family-oriented cruise line such as Disney or Carnival. Conversely, if you prefer more traditional cruising with luxury accommodations, then consider lines like Crystal and Regent.


When calculating the price of your cruise, don't forget to factor in airfare to and from the originating port. Also, examine the costs of incidentals such as non-inclusive beverages and cruise shore excursions. Many cruise lines offer discounts to those who book far in advance. If you are looking to save money on your next sailing, reserve your spot as soon as possible.


Another way to insure you are getting the best price available on your high seas adventure is to set sail during shoulder seasons such as fall and early spring. There are more bargains to be had when children are in school. What's more, you will likely have a better time cruising the Mediterranean on a mild fall day than baking under the August sun.

Additional Tips

With so many sailing options to choose from, it's a good idea to seek out professional advice prior to booking a cruise. There are more than 15,000 cruise travel agents in the United States and Canada who have been accredited by the Cruise Line Industry Association and are willing to share their expertise.

By understanding the differences between cruise ship companies and knowing what type of cruise experience you are interested in, you can plan your next cruise vacation with confidence.

Was this page useful?
Cruise Ship Companies