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Editor Pick

How to Choose a Cruise Line

Updated: June 14, 2024

Written by

AAA Travel Editor, CW

From the moment you step onto a cruise ship, the fun begins. Often referred to as floating cities, cruises are well-known for their incredible array of onboard activities, dining options and entertainment. And with the huge variety of cruise ships sailing globally, there is a cruise to match any vacation preference and budget.

With so many options, it can be hard to know how to narrow down your choices. Do you want to book a seven-night cruise on a new Royal Caribbean ship, or do you want to set sail in Europe on a small Azamara boat?

When it comes to choosing a cruise line, the best way to hone in on the ideal choice for your next trip is to compare cruise lines based on your personal preferences. Some popular cruising decisions include whether to plan for romantic getaways, family activities or entertainment and excursions.

Fortunately, most cruise lines have a specific focus for their ships, catering to the different cruise styles and preferences. If you are looking to book a cruise vacation, check out our top picks based on popular cruise categories.

Best Cruises for a Romantic Getaway

Ah, the romance of the seas — nothing quite beats an evening spent on the top deck of a ship sipping on a cocktail with the one you love. Cruise ships are a popular choice for a romantic getaway with the wide variety of couples' activities available. While it is hard to go wrong when booking a romantic cruise, the following two are the best cruises for a romantic vacation.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises

The Regent Seven Seas Cruises is known to be one of the most elegant and luxurious cruise lines in the world. Setting sail on a Regent ship is the perfect way to show that special someone you care about. With unlimited drinks, fine dining, and exclusive excursions all included, all that’s left to do is spend time enjoying the company of the one you love.

Princess Cruises

Princess gained fame as a romantic getaway when the 1970s show the Love Boat set sail on a Princess ship. Today, Princess continues to deliver onboard opportunities for the ultimate romantic vacation, including the option to upgrade to romance-themed packages.

Best Cruises for Family Activities and Onboard Entertainment

Set sail with the whole family when you pick from one of the best cruises for activities and onboard entertainment. These cruise lines are designed to please any age group and will keep young and old smiling every second.

Carnival

If you’re looking for a cruise that offers ample opportunity to have fun and embrace your inner child, Carnival fits the bill. Carnival is a beloved choice for families, particularly those with young kids. Onboard activities include daily kids camps, water slides, splash pads and arcades. Entertainment is geared toward family-friendly fun with theater shows and outdoor movies.

Royal Caribbean International

For those who love activity, Royal Caribbean International delivers. Royal Caribbean has some of the largest ships sailing the ocean waters, many of which feature incredible all-age activities, such as rock-climbing walls, ice-skating rinks, go-kart tracks and massive water slides. Throughout the day, the entire family can take part in games or attend family-friendly shows.

Best Cruises for Excursions

For some, cruising is less about the ship and more about the destination. If you find yourself dreaming about exploring remote locations or diving into local customs, the following are the best cruise lines for delivering unique.

Azamara

Azamara is a premier luxury cruise line that features smaller ships than many commercial cruise lines. This allows Azamara to take guests to ports larger ships cannot reach. With Azamara, you’ll often be provided with extended stays, overnights and unique night touring opportunities. Excursions sponsored by Azamara focus on experiencing the arts, cuisine, history and customs of the region you visit.

Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Cruises focuses on providing its guests with access to wonder and adventure. As such, this cruise line is a perfect pick for those focused on exploration. Visiting more than 280 destinations worldwide, Celebrity offers cruisers the ability to book stunning excursions, including the option to upgrade to a private journey. From climbing mountains to ziplining through jungles, Celebrity offers ample opportunity for adventure.

AAA Travel provides peace of mind when you travel — before, during and after your vacation! AAA Travel has teamed up with some of the industry's best cruise lines to provide you added amenities, AAA Vacations® 24/7 Member Care and Best Price Guarantee. Your next cruise vacation starts with AAA — your complete travel solution. Visit your local AAA Travel Agent or book at https://www.aaa.com/tripcanvas/category/cruises.

Written by

AAA Travel Editor, CW

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