Choosing Your Ideal Cruise Experience: Exploring Cruise Line Classes


Richard Shane
Founder and CEO
The World’s Greatest Vacations


Cruise lines offer a variety of experiences to cater to different types of travelers and budgets. The main differences between the various classes of cruise lines are typically related to the following factors:

Price and Luxury:

Ultra-Luxury Cruise Lines: Frequently considered yachts, these ships have a few hundred passengers, high crew to guest ratio, five star dining, aboard vessels that can go where other ships can’t.

Luxury Cruise Lines: These cruise lines offer the highest level of luxury and service. They often have smaller ships, spacious cabins, gourmet dining, personalized service, and exclusive amenities.

Premium Cruise Lines: Premium cruise lines are a step below luxury but still offer a higher level of service and quality than mass-market cruise lines. They often include more inclusions like specialty dining and excursions.

Mass-Market Cruise Lines: These cruise lines cater to a wide range of budgets and offer a more affordable cruise experience. They have larger ships with a variety of dining options and entertainment, but the service may not be as personalized.

Expedition Cruise Lines: These cruise lines focus on adventure and exploration. Smaller ships designed for remote and unique destinations. Expert naturalists and guides for educational experiences. Zodiac landings for up-close wildlife and nature encounters.Limited onboard amenities but a strong focus on off-ship adventures.
River Cruise Lines: These cruise lines operate on rivers and inland waterways. Smaller vessels designed for river navigation. Focus on cultural and historical experiences in port cities. Included shore excursions and regional cuisine. Relaxed pace with no seasickness concerns.

Ship Size:

Small Ships: Some cruise lines focus on smaller ships, which can access ports and destinations that larger ships cannot. These cruises often offer a more intimate and immersive experience.

Large Ships: Mass-market cruise lines tend to operate larger ships that can accommodate thousands of passengers. These ships are like floating resorts and offer a wide range of activities and entertainment options.


Itinerary and Destinations:

Expedition Cruises: These cruise lines specialize in taking passengers to remote and unique destinations, often with an emphasis on wildlife and adventure.

River Cruises: River cruise lines operate smaller vessels that navigate rivers and inland waterways, allowing passengers to explore inland destinations and cultural attractions.

Onboard Amenities:

Entertainment: The type and quality of onboard entertainment can vary greatly. Luxury and premium lines may offer more sophisticated shows and entertainment options, while mass-market lines focus on variety and quantity.

Dining: Higher-end cruise lines typically offer more specialty dining options and gourmet cuisine, while mass-market lines have a wider array of casual dining choices.


Luxury and premium cruise lines often include more amenities in the upfront price, such as shore excursions, beverages, gratuities, and Wi-Fi. Mass-market lines tend to charge extra for these services.

The onboard atmosphere and activities can vary significantly, from relaxed and sophisticated to lively and family oriented. Ultimately, the choice of cruise line class depends on your budget, and the type of experience you’re seeking. Each of The World’s Greatest Vacations’ partners are of the highest quality within their respective classes. We encourage you to ask them how they can maximize your experience!

cruise ship in NY Harbor