Over the past 7 years, our family has sailed on a plethora of cruises, in fact, we just finished our 20th cruise. Here is our breakdown of the best cruise lines sailing today. We are taking a look at everything, from dining experiences, service, kids clubs, entertainment, water slides and private islands. So let’s take a look at the Best Cruise Lines Sailing Today!!
Insider’s guide to the Best Cruise Lines Sailing Today!
Best Cruise Lines – Dining
Hey, let’s be honest, we are on a cruise and we are going to eat, so let’s kick it off where it really matters. The food.
- Norwegian Cruise Line – Winner
Norwegian Cruise Line has really stepped up their game when it comes to dining. The new Escape & Getaway have 5 specialty dining options including Teppanyaki, Steak House, French Cuisine, Italian Trattoria & Brazilian. The newest ship the Norwegian Bliss which launches May 2018 will have a new BBQ restaurant which I can’t wait to try. (I will give you the update in June).
Simply put Norwegian Cruise Lines has some of the tastiest options especially when it comes to Specialty Dining, and since NCL offers Free Specialty Dining many times throughout the year when you book, everyone can experience this delicious cuisine.
Our families personal favorite is the Teppanyaki, they had the best chefs we have ever seen doing Teppan. We experienced it both on the Getaway and Norwegian Epic. In addition, the freestyle dining is fantastic as you don’t have to eat at the same time every day, so if you are coming back late from an excursion there is no need to rush down for dinner and with 5 kids, that is a real treat.
****Tip*** -Make Reservations in advance, you can do so 90 days before departure.
- 2nd – Celebrity Cruise Lines – In my opinion, Celebrity comes in 2nd because they have the best overall food in non-upgraded dining. Their buffets are great and their dinners are splendid. If Norwegian, did not always have the free upgraded dining, this would be #1 for sure
- 3rd – Royal Caribbean – Royal Caribbean has some great offerings in their upgraded dining, but then again you do have to pay to upgrade. I did enjoy their Mexican Cantina located on the Harmony of the seas. It was only a few bucks extra and it was delicious.
- Disney Cruise Line – WinnerDisney is known for their amazing service and once again, Disney shines in this category. We have sailed on three of the four Disney ships and from the moment you step on board (and your family name is announced to the cast and crew) you feel welcomed and are ready for an incredible journey.The waiters will travel with you each night as you switch restaurants with Disney’s rotational dining, and they will not only provide great service but they also have fun games and jokes to keep the little ones entertained.
- 2nd Norwegian Cruise Lines – There is one thing I really liked about Norwegian Cruise Lines, I never felt like I was constantly being approached to purchase drinks or other amenities. Their service was always excellent and I was able to purchase drinks when I was ready rather than every two seconds being asked.
- 3rd Celebrity Cruise Lines – From the extra details like fresh lemon water when coming back from port to everyone having a smile. Celebrity Cruise Lines tops the list
- Winner – Disney Cruise Line
In my opinion, for best cruise lines entertainment, there is no comparison when it comes to the entertainment onboard a Disney Cruise.Honestly, I did not expect Disney to have great shows, but their Broadway-style shows are truly remarkable and are better than some shows I have seen on Broadway.Each night a new show is presented in the Walt Disney Theater and several of the nights is a full Broadway performance.
- 2nd – MSC – With a dedicated Cirque Du Soleil shows on their Meraviglia ship, MSC is bringing in some amazing entertainment
- 3rd – Royal Caribbean – Broadway shows like Grease and incredible water shows in their aqua-theater makes Royal Caribbean Entertainment a top pick
(NOTE – O.k. so I am not the biggest of night owls, so you can take this with a grain of salt, so here is my breakdown of the best cruise lines – Best Nightlife)
- Winner – Norwegian Cruise Line – From their many late night parties such as their Whiteout party, their comedy clubs, to their lively casino which is not shoved into the bottom of the ship like many other cruise lines Norwegian Cruise lines has the best late night entertainment.Each night you feel like something new and exciting is happening, so if you are a night owl this ship is for you. If you are not a night owl, no worries at all, the rooms are as quiet as can be so you can enjoy a good night sleep.
- 2nd – Royal Caribbean has different shows going all through the night. They have an incredible aquaventure show on the Oasis-class ships. Plus, they have fun couple games going on in the atrium and many different late night events
- 3rd – MSC – MSC has a ton of themed nights, the one that is the most popular is superhero night, where adults get decked out as superheroes. This party is actually a lot of fun.
Best Kid’s Club
- Winner – Disney Cruise Line
With their incredible kids’ club, which is almost an entire floor to its own Disney is the best cruise line for Kid’s Clubs. All their ships are incredibly staffed and have amazing adventures your kids will never forget like Pluto’s PJ Party, making slime with Stitch, plus fun games like gaga-ball and more.
Plus, besides the running around and chaos kids can also draw and color their favorite character, play dress up, play some interactive video games and so much more.
If your Disney Cruise stops at Castaway Cay (which all their Caribbean cruises do) your kids can head off to a special area just for the kid’s club on Castaway Cay. If you are looking for a cruise line to entertain your kids so you can go off and relax, this is the one.
- 2nd – MSC – Offers an exclusive Lego Experience which kids of all ages love.
- 3rd – Carnival Cruise Lines – Fun activities like Build-a-Teddy make the little ones enjoy this kids club.
Best Variety of Activities Onboard
- Winner – Royal Caribbean Cruise Line
This is where Royal Caribbean shines. Onboard their Mega Ships (Harmony, Oasis, Allure) you have so much to choose from, ziplining, flow riders, water slides, boardwalk, ice skating, escape rooms, giant slide down back of the ship (harmony of the seas) there is so much to do.
In fact, this is the first cruise ship where I thought 7 days was not enough to get everything done
- 2nd – Norwegian Cruise Line – Amazing Aqua Park with incredible water slides plus new additions like GoKart Racing and Laser Tag on the NCL Bliss is what makes
- 3rd – MSC – From the longest zipline at sea plus innovative experiences like their giant led dome for their promenade makes MSC a real standout.
Best Cruise Ship for families with teens
- Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines – Winner
Their wide variety of activities make any family with teens rejoice as they will not hear the words, I am bored on Royal Caribbean Ships (especially the Oasis Class Ships)
With flow riders, zip lines, rock walls, their own teen zone, Royal Caribbean is currently a step above the other cruise lines. My teens loved the many competitions onboard like the ping-pong, basketball and soccer tournaments.
- 2nd – Norwegian Cruise Line
- 3rd – Carnival Cruise Line
Best Cruise Ships for Families with Kids ages 3-12
- Disney Cruise – Winner
The most incredible cruise kids program you will ever find, plus interactive experiences with Disney characters throughout the ship make Disney an easy stand out in this category.
The dinners are entertaining for the kids as well with such places as Animator’s palate where your drawings come to life on the walls of the restaurant. You simply can’t beat Disney Cruise Line when it comes to entertaining the little ones.
- 2nd – MSC
- 3rd – Norwegian Cruise Line
- Tie – Norwegian Cruise Line & Disney Cruise
Norwegian Epic has one of the most fun slides at sea with a giant bowl slide where two people fly down into a giant bowl and sail around until being shuttled down to the end.
Disney Cruise line has two incredible slides, the Aqua Duck (on Disney Dream & Fantasy) is the first-ever water coaster at sea. The aqua duck sends two people up and down and all around the ship (including over the side of the ship) in a one of a kind waterslide.
The Aqua Dunk on Disney Magic is my kids favorite as it drops over the side of the ship in just a few seconds. We rode this bad boy 11 times in one night.
- 2nd – Carnival Cruise Lines – Carnival has some super fun water slides on all their ships that were built in the past 10 years.
- 3rd – Royal Caribbean – Not many of the ships have waterslides on board, but recently Royal added some great slides onboard their Harmony of the Seas, Independence of the Seas, and the new Symphony of the Seas. Our favorite is the bowl slide which drops you in a giant bowl and has you swirling around and around.
Best Private Island
- Disney Cruise Line – Castaway Cay – Winner
Disney Cruise Line’s Castaway Cay is our families favorite private island. Once you step onboard the private island your are given towels to head toward Castaway’s amazing beaches.
The private island is simply beautiful. You can do an assortment of activities including snorkeling, jet skis, stingray adventures, riding bikes around the island (our personal favorite) and honestly so much more. One year we were lucky enough to grab a cruise with two stops at Castaway and we absolutely loved it. There is so much to do on the island.
- 2nd – Royal Caribbean – Labadee – Royal Caribbean’s Labadee island is a great stop aboard many of their Caribbean Cruises. The beaches are beautiful and they have an incredible coaster you can ride (for a fee)
- 3rd – MSC (we think) – Let me clarify, this private island is not open yet, (opens Oct. 2018) but it looks absolutely incredible with the Largest Zip Line of any Private Island, picturesque beaches and so much more.
Check out some of my Full Review of the following Cruise Ships: