The Top 10 Mega-ship Ocean Cruise Lines in 2018

Queen Mary II, Cunard Line
Photo: David Alexander Arnold

Sure, you can travel between New York and the United Kingdom in just seven hours by plane. But why not take things slow on a weeklong cruise aboard the Queen Mary 2, Cunard’s glamorous, Art Deco–style vessel? Our readers are so in love with this 2,691-passenger ocean liner — and this throwback style of travel — that they have voted the company World’s Best Mega-ship ocean cruise line three years in a row. “There is only one Queen, and there is no comparison,” wrote in one loyalist. 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. Related: The 2018 World's Best Awards The QM2 also has plenty of bells and whistles — a ballroom, dog kennels for those who can’t leave their pooches behind, and the only planetarium at sea — to keep folks amused. Indeed, the brands that resonated most with our readers are going above and beyond with onboard amenities. Princess Cruises, which ranked third, has a partnership with Discovery Communications, and is revamping its fleet’s youth and teen centers on a rolling basis. (For example, the Beach House, which caters to ages to 13–17, now has a surf-themed lounge.) Speaking of families, Disney Cruise Line continues to earn high marks with its four action-packed ships. Some readers noted that the fleet showed its age (Disney does have new additions on the horizon), but that didn’t deter them. “The Magic is an older vessel, but well done all the way around,” said one. And Disney, contrary to what you might expect, also emphasizes sense of place: “I did a Norway cruise, and loved how they brought the local culture on board in the food, the crew’s costumes, even the music in the hallways.” Read on for the full list of this year’s winners, and see how these lines scored.

01 of 10

10. Costa Cruises

Costa Magica, Costa Cruises
Courtesy of Costa Cruises

Score: 71.48

02 of 10

9. MSC Cruises

MSC Seaside, MSC Cruises
Courtesy of MSC Cruises

Score: 75.23

03 of 10

8. Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival Horizon, Carnival Cruise Line
Courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line

Score: 76.16

04 of 10

7. Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Cruise Line
Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line

Score: 76.50

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6. Royal Caribbean International

Harmony of the Seas, Royal Caribbean International
Courtesy of Royal Caribbean International

Score: 78.90

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5. Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Reflection, Celebrity Cruises
Andrew Hetherington

Score: 82.70

07 of 10

4. Holland America Line

Koningsdam, Holland America
Courtesy of Holland America

Score: 83.91

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3. Princess Cruises

Diamond Princess, Princess Cruises
Courtesy of Princess Cruises

Score: 85.42

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2. Disney Cruise Line

Disney Dream, Disney Cruise Line
Courtesy of Disney Cruise Line

Score: 87.22

10 of 10

1. Cunard

Queen Mary II, Cunard Line
David Alexander Arnold

Score: 87.48

For more than 100 years, this storied British brand, now owned by Carnival Corporation, has been ferrying passengers across the Atlantic in the height of comfort. But it is also keeping up with the times by offering themed sailings on its transatlantic flagship, the QM2, centered on fashion, genealogy, and marquee guest speakers. “Traveling on the QM2 is a wonderful cultural, educational, adult experience,” said one reader.

See all of our readers' favorite hotels, airlines, cruise lines, and more in the World's Best Awards for 2018.

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