The 5 Best Mega-ship Ocean Cruise Lines

The best cruise lines for mega-ships, according to Travel + Leisure readers, embrace the ethos of bigger means better with over-the-top entertainment and amenities.

The Rooftop Garden space on board the Celebrity Beyond cruise ship
Photo: Courtesy of Celebrity Cruises

The world's largest cruise ships were back in business last summer following the COVID-19 shutdowns. The ships, at least initially, sailed with limited capacity, but the cruise fans on those voyages were no less enthusiastic about being on the giants of the seas.

Every year for our World's Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Readers rated individual cruise ships on their cabins and facilities, food, service, itineraries and destinations, excursions and activities, and value. Those assessments were combined to generate results for the cruise lines in six categories, including river cruising.

The World's Best Awards cruise categories are now based on the number of cabins, rather than passenger capacity. Mega-ships are defined as those with 1,500 or more cabins. The smallest of the big ships in this category, with its 1,523 cabins and suites, is the Celebrity Reflection of the Celebrity Cruises fleet, which claims the No. 1 mega-ship position. (You'll find the rest of the Celebrity Cruises fleet recognized in the new large-ship category.) Of the Reflection, one voter wrote, "Always world-class service and amenities."

Coming in close behind Celebrity Cruises in this category is first-time World's Best Awards winner Virgin Voyages, the new adults-only, all-inclusive cruise line. Its first ship, Scarlet Lady, impressed readers with DJ-led dance parties and creative nightlife, as well as complimentary dining options that include a Korean BBQ accompanied by drinking games. British billionaire Richard Branson wanted to turn cruising on its head and he succeeded, according to T+L readers. "No kids allowed in a good way," wrote one fan. Added another reader, "Oh my, this cruise line was simply incredible! I cannot stop gushing over it — it was such a wonderful experience."

The No. 3 spot goes to a perennial favorite in the World's Best Awards, Princess Cruises. One of the newest additions to its fleet, the Enchanted Princess, earned raves from voters, with one person calling it "gorgeous." The same voter also noted that "Princess has made a real effort in their health protocols."

Scroll on to see the full list of the best cruise lines for mega-ships and learn more about why readers loved Celebrity in particular.

1. Celebrity Cruises

A cabin on board the Celebrity Beyond cruise ship
Courtesy of Celebrity Cruises

"We have sailed three times on this ship. The experiences have all been exceptional," said one reader about the 10-year-old Celebrity Reflection, the fifth and largest ship in Celebrity Cruises's award-winning Solstice class. As a mega-ship, the Celebrity Reflection does not do the ice skating rinks, waterparks, and amusement-park attractions found on sister line Royal Caribbean International. Instead, the wows are the sophisticated décor and cuisine, an impressive modern art collection — with Jeff Koons, Robert Rauschenberg, and Kiki Smith among artists represented — and a real grass lawn up on top. "Seems to be always world-class service and amenities," said one T+L reader, who also praised the "amazing crew."

WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 87.80

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2. Virgin Voyages

The Roundabout, on board a Virgin Voyages cruise ship
Courtesy of Virgin Voyages

Score: 87.37

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3. Princess Cruises

Princess Cruises Enchanted Princess cruise ship
Courtesy of Princess Cruises

WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 83.90

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4. Royal Caribbean International

Aerial view of the Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas cruise ship
Courtesy of Royal Caribbean International

WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 83.66

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5. Norwegian Cruise Line

Pool deck on board the Norwegian Bliss cruise ship
Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line

WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 83.35

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