The Top 10 Mega-ship Ocean Cruise Lines in 2017
Even icons like the Queen Mary 2 can admit when they need a makeover.
And that’s what the ship’s parent company, Cunard, decided to do in 2016, transforming this 2,691-passenger ocean liner with a $132 million refurbishment. More than 594,000 square feet of carpet (that’s the equivalent of 10 football fields) was replaced; the lobby was opened up; and Princess Grill and Queens Grill suites were given glamorous Art Deco touches. It all adds up to one spectacular experience at sea — and make no mistake, passengers choose this ship because they will be at sea on a transatlantic crossing. Clearly, the renovation has been a success, since Cunard took top honors in the Mega-Ship Ocean Cruise Line category. “We loved the ambience and attention to detail on the interior,” wrote one reader. “It gave us a nostalgic feel, which we loved.” Added another, “The newly renovated ship was fabulous.”
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.
The other mega-ship ocean cruise lines have been adapting to keep up with the times, either through significant renovations or new builds — and that’s what keeps them in such high-regard with our readers. Disney Cruise Line, which placed at No. 2 with its fleet of four ships, has added more amenities for kids, such as a Marvel Super Hero Academy. “The reimagining of the Disney Wonder brought about many great changes,” said one reader. “One of the best is the restaurant Tiana’s Palace. The live music is perfect and the New Orleans–style food a real treat.
Carnival Cruise Line, which ranked at No. 7, launched the Carnival Vista in 2016. Amenities include an IMAX theater, a working brewery, and SkyRide, an elevated bike track. But it was the service on the Vista that stood out for a lot of passengers — many mentioned the cruise director, Matt Mitcham, by name. “When you have a cruise director who is engaging with the passengers and has his staff so involved, it makes the trip more than just a vacation,” said one reader. “You leave feeling like you have a new extended family.”
10. Costa Cruises
9. MSC Cruises
8. Norwegian Cruise Line
7. Carnival Cruise Line
6. Royal Caribbean International
5. Holland America Line
4. Celebrity Cruises
3. Princess Cruises
2. Disney Cruise Line
A transatlantic voyage might feel like a throwback to the 1930s, which some could argue was cruising’s heyday — but that’s what makes it special and unique. This type of trip was so popular with our readers, it propelled Cunard, which operates the Art Deco–inspired Queen Mary 2, a vessel that sails between Southampton, England, and New York City, to the top of our World’s Best list. “No ship will make you feel like Audrey Hepburn like the QM2,” said one reader. “The best cruise line for elegant evenings of ballroom dancing,” said another. “Tea in the Queens Room is a daily highlight.”