By Paul Brady
July 08, 2020
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Courtesy of Disney Cruise Line

This year’s World’s Best Awards survey closed on March 2, just before widespread stay-at-home orders were implemented as a result of COVID-19. The results reflect our readers’ experiences before the pandemic, but we hope that this year’s honorees will inspire your trips to come — whenever they may be.

The world’s biggest ships aim to be crowd pleasers, with so much to do on board that they can rival resorts on land. And whether your interest is a vacation with the extended family, a chance to see multiple destinations on a single trip, or simply relaxing with a never-ending ocean view, the best mega-ship ocean cruise lines can deliver.

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 five categories; mega-ship ocean cruise lines have ships that can carry 2,200 passengers or more.

This year’s list demonstrates a steady-as-she-goes approach from voters, who tended to give the highest marks to the same lines they favored in 2019. One of them, Holland America Line, is this year’s No. 3. “The entertainment was excellent,” said one reader. “The Koningsdam was a great ship for the cabins, the speciality dining (especially Club Orange), and the live music venues,” said another. Voters said Holland America’s itineraries were winners, too. “Will definitely travel with them again,” said one fan.

The iconic ships of No. 2 Cunard were also favorites this year. Its lines sail in Alaska, in the Mediterranean, and around Australia and Asia, but the week-long transatlantic crossings between Southampton and New York aboard the Queen Mary 2 remain among the most beloved voyages. “It’s one of my favorite cruises,” said a voter. “No real stops or shore excursions, but there was so much to do on the ship that I gave it an excellent rating.” Several readers said the staff made cruises memorable, and others also gave amenities on board high marks.

Readers ranked Princess Cruises No. 5 this year because it offers many choices — the brand has 16 ships — and terrific value. “The staff were all attentive and excellent. The captain was wonderful. Our cabin steward was fantastic,” said one voter, who sailed aboard the Grand Princess. “This was our first Princess cruise,” said a reader about a recent trip on the Royal Princess. “The ship and experience were wonderful. We’ve cruised on several other lines, and Princess is above the crowd. The food, service, entertainment, and overall experience were all above our expectations.”

Still, one cruise line had more magic than the others: Disney. Read on to find out why it topped the list and which other companies join it on this year’s list of the best mega-ship ocean cruise lines.

1. Disney Cruise Line

Courtesy of Disney Cruise Line

WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 85.83

More information: disneycruise.com

Voters simply love Disney Cruise Line, a perennial favorite in the World’s Best Awards. While Disney’s first-place score this year dropped slightly from last year’s, Disney repeats as winner thanks to nearly flawless service, plus a range of ships and itineraries that appeal to all ages. “They’re my favorite cruise line,” said one representative reader, who specifically mentioned the food, the entertainment, and the stateroom design. “Disney cruises have the same imagination and commitment to excellence we’ve come to expect from all things Disney,” said another reader. While some may think of the line as just for families, many readers mentioned that it’s a winner for adults-only trips as well. Said one reader, “I’ve cruised with Disney 20 times now and am never disappointed. Castaway Cay is the best cruise line private island, hands down. They’re great for kids, but the ships are also ideal for adult couples. Disney does the best job of any cruise line at keeping the adults-only areas just that.”

2. Cunard

Courtesy of Cunard

WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 85.26

More information: cunard.com

3. Holland America Line

Courtesy of Holland America Line

WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 85.23

More information: hollandamerica.com

4. Celebrity Cruises

Courtesy of Celebrity Cruises

WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 83.08

More information: celebritycruises.com

5. Princess Cruises

Courtesy of Princess Cruises

WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 81.84

More information: princess.com

6. Royal Caribbean International

Courtesy of Royal Caribbean International

WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 77.84

More information: royalcaribbean.com

7. Norwegian Cruise Line

Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line

Score: 76.70

More information: ncl.com

8. Carnival Cruise Line

Courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line

Score: 75.40

More information: carnival.com

9. MSC Cruises

Courtesy of MSC Cruises

Score: 73.94

More information: msccruisesusa.com

10. Costa Cruises

Courtesy of Costa Cruises

Score: 73.59

More information: costacruise.com

See all of our readers' favorite hotels, cities, airlines, cruise lines, and more in the World's Best Awards for 2020.