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All You Wanted To Know About Cruise Lines (Part 2).

thanks to Gene Sloan / March 19, 2019

Thinking about booking your first cruise? The sheer range of choices can be daunting. There are more than two dozen lines marketing to North Americans — no two alike.

That’s why TPG put together a quick guide to 16 of the most popular brands, from cruise giant Royal Caribbean, which operates the world’s biggest ships, to small luxury players such as Crystal Cruises and Regent Seven Seas.

Norwegian Cruise Lines

Multi-story water slides, ropes courses and even go-cart race tracks are among the gee-whiz attractions you’ll find atop Norwegian’s giant, resort-like ships, which also are packed with eateries, bars, showrooms and casinos. If you’re looking for a Las Vegas-style resort at sea, this is your line.

Norwegian Cruise Line ships can range in size from holding 2,000 people to 4,500 at full occupancy, and the number and variety of onboard dining and entertainment options vary a lot depending on how big, and old, the ship is.

The newest ships, those that launched in 2010 or later, have many more restaurants than the older ships, Broadway shows in the main theater (as well as secondary small-venue shows) and extensive top-deck activities including water parks, rope courses and more. They're busier ships, where the ship and all it offers is as much a reason for cruising as the destination.

The older, smaller ships are more about relaxation and traditional onboard activities like trivia, bingo and poolside games. However, when it comes to dining, all the ships have multiple main dining rooms, a top-deck buffet and a 24-hour diner-type eatery.

All also have an extra-fee steakhouse, Italian trattoria and French bistro.

Unlike other big-ship cruise lines, Norwegian Cruise Line does not have traditional set-time dining on any of its ships. Cruisers can show up to any main dining room at any time they want during open hours. Large parties can make reservations if they'll need a larger table; for everyone else, there may be a wait during peak dining hours. Reservations are highly recommended for the smaller specialty dining venues, as time slots fill up fast.

The Breakaway class

Features NCL’s “Freestyle Cruising” concept that the company pioneered with the introduction of 4,100-passenger Norwegian Epic in June 2010 and the launch of two Breakway class vessels, the 4,000-passenger Norwegian Breakaway based in New York in May 2013 and sister ship Norwegian Getaway homeported in Miami in February 2014. The Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway weight in at 146,600 gross tons.

Norwegian Getaway 146,000 2014 Breakaway Norwegian Breakaway146,600 2013 Breakaway

Norwegian Bliss 167.700 2018 Breakaway-Plus

Norwegian Joy 167,000 2017 Breakaway-Plus Norwegian Escape 164,600 2015 Breakaway-Plus

With so much going on, Norwegian Epic is a cruise ship with broad appeal. The ship was one of the first at sea to be referred to as Las Vegas-esque and it's no wonder. With more than a dozen restaurants, shows that range from Broadway to The Beatles, an active casino and outdoor attractions that include water slides and rock climbing walls, there's enough to keep cruisers busy from sunup to well past sundown.

The Jewel class

The Jewel class is a class of cruise ships operated by the Norwegian Cruise Line and was built by Meyer Werft of Germany. The Jewel class became NCL's largest ships, until the construction of Norwegian Epic, at 153,000-GT, in 2009 at STX Europe in St. Nazaire, which is also owned by NCL. The lead ship, Norwegian Jewel was delivered in August 2005 and the last vessel, the Norwegian Gem was delivered in October 2007

Norwegian Gem 93,000 2007 Jewel Norwegian Pearl 93,000 2006 Jewel Norwegian Jade 93,000 2006 Jewel Norwegian Jewel 93,000 2005 Jewel

The Dawn Class

Norwegian Cruise Line's two-ship Dawn Class comprises Norwegian Star and Norwegian Dawn, each holding around 2,340 passengers. Launched in 2001 and 2002 respectively, these well-traveled sister ships are among the most seasoned vessels in Norwegian's fleet. The smaller size of the Dawn-class ships means they lack the show-stopping features found on the line's newest ships, but they do offer a wide array of restaurant.

Norwegian Dawn 91,740 2002 Dawn Norwegian Star 91,740 2001 Dawn

Norwegian Dawn is built for Freestyle Cruising with 12 different restaurants, nine bars and lounges, fitness center and spa, Broadway Theater, casino, three pools and more - making sure you never run out of things to see and do on your trip.

Norwegian Dawn is truly a beauty - you'll recognize her by the Statue of Liberty adorning the hull - and she's been New York's favorite ship since she began sailing from the Big Apple in 2003. Norwegian Dawn is built for Freestyle Cruising with 12 different restaurants, nine bars and lounges, fitness center and spa, Broadway Theater, casino, three pools and more - making sure you never run out of things to see and do on your trip. Take a break from the big city and head aboard Norwegian Dawn to the Bahamas, Caribbean or Canada & New England.

Norwegian Star was built for Freestyle Cruising, with a long list of options for every Tom, Dick and Jane out there. You'll have 13 superb choices for dining, with tempting selections that range from Asian fusion and French Mediterranean to all-American. There is a wide array of staterooms and suites to accommodate however you choose to spend your time on board, so treat yourself with a no-rules, freedom filled cruise north to Alaska's pristine waters or south to the Mexican Riviera.

The Sky &Spirit Class

Norwegian Sky is not the newest ship at sea, but it packs a big punch with a fun slate of nonstop activities, lively lounges, a good variety of dining venues and terrific short itineraries. Built in 1999, the ship is one of two in Norwegian's fleet to include a beverage package in the price of its short warm-weather cruises.

One of the smallest ships in Norwegian Cruise Line's fleet, the 2,018-passenger Norwegian Spirit is in a class by itself, literally — it's the only ship in the Spirit class. Norwegian Spirit is also one of the line's older ships (it was built in 1998) though technical parts of the ship were updated in 2017. And while it doesn't have the amusement park-style attractions of the line's newer vessels, these cruises are a good value, and the ship never feels crowded.

Norwegian Sun is one of two Sun-class ships with Norwegian Cruise Line, and entered service in 2001. The mid-sized vessel holds 1,936 guests and sails to Alaska, the Caribbean, South America, and the Mexican Riviera. On the Sun’s longer itineraries, you’ll find more couples and families with grown kids or adult groups on most sailings.

Norwgian Sun 78,309 2001 Sky/Sun

Norwegian Spirit 75,338 2000 Spirit Norwegian Sky 77,104 1999 Sky/Sun

Oceania Cruises.

Oceania has carved out a niche with relatively small, upscale ships that offer a significant upgrade from mass-market vessels but aren’t quite as fancy (or pricey) as luxury offerings. Its six ships feature a relaxed, country club-like ambiance and inspired dining that appeals to a mostly older crowd. In addition to standard itineraries, Oceania offers 180-day Around the World cruises.

Oceania Fleet

Oceania has a fleet of six ships, all in the midsize range. Four of the ships are considered "R-class ships," meaning that they originated with the defunct Renaissance Cruises and two of the ships are new-builds created especially for the line.

With a 684-passenger occupancy, Regatta and Insignia are the fleet's original ships. Sister ship Nautica joined the fleet in 2005. In 2014, the company spent more than $50 million to refurbish these late-1990s vessels, and it shows. Public rooms, including restaurants, are graceful and elegant.

The redone pool area is surfaced in teak and framed by gorgeous mosaics, and it boasts teak furnishings that include fabulous double sunbeds. Cabins have been tweaked and feature more comfortable bed linens and some of the most comfortable mattresses at sea.

The 1,250 passenger Marina is a hybrid which showcases luxurious amenities with less inclusive fares than the other luxury lines. The ship was refurbished in 2016, and it deems every angle regarding flair and elegant ambiance. In May of 2020 the Owner Suites will undergo a Ralph Lauren enhancement debuting Hollywood glamour and key elements that truly reflect the designers take on his appreciation for sailing.

Rounding out the fleet is Sirena, another R-class ship that was acquired from Princess Cruises. Launched in 2016, Sirena is almost identical to its siblings, with key attributes being its small size and ability to offer itineraries in both marquee and out-of-the-way ports. A few key differences include completely re-decorated suites and the addition of Red Ginger; Sirena is the only R-class ship to have the popular Asian restaurant, which debuted on Marina and Riviera.

Ponant Cruise Lines.


PONANT's ships have been purposefully designed to welcome a limited number of guests: with 32 to 132 staterooms, our 9 ships offer comfort comparable to the very finest luxury hotels.

Unlike the giant ships of other cruise companies, this philosophy gives our ships a more welcoming feel and a unique atmosphere. It also enables our ships to access original and quieter ports of call, guaranteeing exclusive cruises and attentive and personalised service for all our guests.

In May 2011, l'Austral joined PONANT's fleet. This superb mega-yacht with 132 staterooms is the result of the expertise of the Italian Fincantieri shipyard and French sophistication, as interpreted by designer Jean-Philippe Nuel. L'Austral remains faithful to our philosophy - to create a unique atmosphere, a subtle blend of luxury, intimacy and well-being. A sleek silhouette softened by elegantly smooth contours and large, arched windows opening up to the sea and the light: so many features come together to give L’Austral her distinctive shape. Precious materials, discreet elegance and a perfect balance between chic and casual, combine to make you feel as if you are on your own private yacht. A design blending tradition and innovation, where a nautical mood has been subtly recreated. A welcoming atmosphere of relaxed sophistication revolves around shades of grey, taupe, white and ivory enlivened by touches of cinnamon, caramel and tan.. So many personal touches create the spirit of a “private yacht.” You will encounter unique itineraries, calls inaccessible to large ships, chic and elegant yacht-like ambiance, refined and personalized service as well as gastronomic cuisine.


Like her sisterships, Le Boréal embodies the subtle alliance between luxury, intimacy and wellbeing which is PONANT’s signature. The elegance of her exterior and interior lines and her intimate size (only 132 staterooms and suites.)


Fourth ship in this superb series loyal to the PONANT spirit, Le Lyrial like her sisterships embodies the subtle alliance between luxury, intimacy and wellbeing which is PONANT’s signature. The elegance of her exterior and interior lines and her intimate size (only 122 staterooms and suites)


Mythical destinations and secret ports of call only accessible to small capacity yachts. Ponant’s signature are Frenchstyle cuisine in a welcoming and intimate environment, discreet yet attentive service where no attention to detail is spared, unforgettable moments of relaxation aboard.


Designed in 2013 and loyal to the PONANT spirit, Le Soléal like her sisterships embodies the subtle alliance between luxury, intimacy and wellbeing which is Ponant’s signature. The elegance of her exterior and interior lines and her intimate size (only 132 staterooms and suites).

Princess Cruises.

The line now has 17 ships sailing the globe offering a slew of itineraries that range from one to 100+ days and visit more than 300 ports.

Princess is part of the industry's giant Carnival Corporation, a merger that occurred in 2003 when Carnival acquired Princess' parent company, U.K.-based P&O Cruises.

More than any other mainstream cruise line, Princess Cruises successfully balances cruise traditions with cruise innovations to offer an experience that suits a variety of travel styles. It offers set-seating dining and more flexible Anytime Dining. Princess' Movies Under the Stars is one of the most popular innovations in cruise entertainment, yet its traditional production shows typically play to standing-room-only crowds.

Features include Share, a restaurant helmed by Celebrity Chef Curtis Stone; the Salty Dog Gastropub; theater productions by the creator of "Wicked," Steven Schwartz; and scientifically developed Luxury Beds. These are found on select ships throughout the fleet.

Another tremendously popular innovation, which first debuted on Crown Princess, is the Piazza. It was retrofitted onto several older ships, and vastly expanded on Royal Princess, Regal Princess and Majestic Princess. Loosely modeled after the custom of Italian towns as a place to gather, Princess' version, spanning three decks, offers a variety of temptations that include spontaneous performances, a wine bar, shops, and casual eateries like Alfredo's pizza and the 24-hour International Cafe for sandwiches, pastries and snacks.

Princess Cruises is playing a major role in the introduction of Carnival Corporation's revolutionary new Ocean Medallion technology. The concept is inspired by pioneering travel experience innovator John Padgett, who previously created Disney's magic bands. The Ocean Medallion, a 1.8-ounce wearable disc, essentially will serve as a virtual concierge, matching travelers' personal preferences to aspects of cruise vacations, from choosing shore excursions to ordering food for delivery poolside. Other features are streamlined embarkation and debarkation, the ability to locate friends and family throughout the ship, more personalized interactions with crew members who also will have devices, and easier ways to access dining and entertainment throughout the cruise.

Princess' fleet basically falls into five categories: Coral Class, Explorer Class, Grand Class, Sun Class and the newest (and largest), Royal Class. Pacific Princess is the only Explorer-class ship -- and hence its name, focuses on sailing more exotic thanks to its small size.

Its Sun Class ships, which include Sun Princess, Dawn Princess, Sea Princess carry 1,950 to 1,970 passengers. These days, they're considered medium-sized ships, with some of Princess' contemporary innovations, such as a high percentage of balcony cabins, a handful of alternative eateries and expanded kids clubs.

Its two 92,000-ton Coral Class ships -- Coral Princess and Island Princess -- divide their time between Alaska and the Caribbean, offering transits through the Panama Canal.

When Grand Princess launched, it heralded a new era (and class) for Princess. Successors, ranging from Caribbean Princess and Crown Princess to Sapphire Princess and Ruby Princess hold between 2,594 and 3,080 passengers. Innovations that debuted with this class of ships (and that were later expanded to others) include Movies Under the Stars, the Sanctuary adults-only sun deck, and the controversial jutting-out balconies of the mini-suites.

Princess' newest series of ships, the Royal Class, includes three nearly identical siblings: Royal Princess, Regal Princess and Majestic Princess. Signature features of this newest ship evolution include an expanded Piazza; the first-ever SeaWalk, a cantilevered, glass-enclosed walkway; and an interactive television studio called Princess Live!

Caribbean Princess

Exciting adventures await aboard Caribbean Princess following her multi-million-dollar array of luxurious enhancements. From staterooms that offer a more restful sleep, to endless tempting new dining options, the newly reimagined Reef Splash Zone for kids and families plus other upgrades, you’ll find Caribbean Princess herself has come back new.

Coral Princess

Coral Princess, with more than 700 balcony staterooms, was custom built to navigate the historic Panama Canal. Be sure to try the Bayou Café and Steakhouse, which features New Orleans-inspired Cajun and Creole cuisine, join friends for cocktails and Movies Under the Stars® by the pool or try some decadent treats at the International Café.

Crown Princess

Enjoy sweeping views of the world while sailing on Crown Princess. From her nearly 900 balconies to the breathtaking three-story Atrium, you'll discover a relaxing atmosphere filled with an array of world class entertainment and dining options that will greet you each day when you return from making fascinating discoveries ashore.

Diamond Princess

Diamond Princess is a treasure trove of exceptional delights waiting to be discovered. Dine on freshly prepared sashimi in Kai Sushi, watch street performers in the dazzling Atrium, or take in a lavish production show in our state-of-the-art theater. And for a unique treat visit the Izumi Japanese Bath, the largest of its kind at sea.

Emerald Princess

Your culinary journey at sea reaches new heights with an abundance of fresh restaurant choices and dining options aboard Emerald Princess. From revitalized top deck venues like Salty Dog Grill, Slice Pizzeria and Coffee & Cones to brand new casual restaurants Steamers Seafood and Planks BBQ there’s something for every palate. Let the kids play, explore, huddle and create at the newly re-imagined Camp Discovery Youth & Teen Centers and unwind at the refreshed Sanctuary, a tranquil haven reserved for adults.

Enchanted Princess

Enchanted Princess℠, the fifth in line of our Royal-class ships, shares all of their spectacular style and luxury, and introduces new attractions all her own. Get ready for exquisite, one-of-a-kind dining experiences. The most pools and whirlpool hot tubs ever. World-class entertainment venues hosting dazzling performances. As well as the breathtaking new Sky Suite, with expansive views from our largest balcony at sea.

Golden Princess

An inviting world of wonder awaits your arrival on Golden Princess. Connect with family and friends over world-class cuisine, gaze out at sea from one of 700 balcony staterooms or share new experiences with our Discovery at SEA programs. From casino gaming to relaxing options like the Lotus Spa®, you'll find an array of ways to renew body and soul.

Grand Princess

With brand new top deck dining venues, Slice Pizzeria, The Mix, Salty Dog Grill and Coffee & Cones you’ll have even more tantalizing options to choose from during your stay on board Grand Princess. Relax at The Sanctuary, a tranquil haven reserved for adults, enjoy Movies Under the Stars® poolside or see an award-winning Broadway-style production show in the upgraded Princess Theater, showcasing an even more immersive audio experience.

Grand Princess

Island Princess is your own private retreat on the sea. Whether you crave relaxation or exhilaration, you'll find the soothing Lotus Spa®, live entertainment, gourmet cuisine, casino gaming and more. And for a special treat, try the Bayou Café and Steakhouse, which features New Orleans-inspired Cajun and Creole cuisine.

Island Princess

Island Princess is your own private retreat on the sea. Whether you crave relaxation or exhilaration, you'll find the soothing Lotus Spa®, live entertainment, gourmet cuisine, casino gaming and more. And for a special treat, try the Bayou Café and Steakhouse, which features New Orleans-inspired Cajun and Creole cuisine.

Majestic Princess

Sail aboard Majestic PrincessSM, the newest member of our fleet and enjoy the signature favorites you've always loved along with so many new exciting additions not found on any other Princess ship, including two new specialty restaurants with dinner menus crafted by two Michelin-star awarded chefs. Come aboard and find out what makes this ship so special!

Pacific Princess

There’s a certain romance to sailing on a small ship like Pacific Princess which offers a refined elegance yet with many of the wonderful amenities found on larger ships. With a smaller group of guests on board, you’ll enjoy the camaraderie among fellow guests who share your passion for travel and visit unique ports that only smaller ships have access to.

Regal Princess

Enjoy sweeping views from one of more than 1,400 balconies on Regal Princess or stroll on the SeaWalk®, a glass-floor walkway extending 28 feet beyond the edge of the ship! From the tranquil Sanctuary, a retreat reserved for adults, to the dazzling Princess WaterColor Fantasy light and water show and more, you'll find diversions for every mood.

Royal Princess

Make the most of your vacation time. With Princess MedallionClass featuring the OceanMedallion, you can experience a more personalized and hassle-free vacation, so you can do more of what you love. Plus, enjoy land-like connectivity thanks to MedallionNet, the best wi-fi at sea.

Ruby Princess

Fresh from a multi-million dollar renovation, Ruby Princess is a luminous jewel on the seas and a romantic destination in itself. She offers nearly 900 balconies from which to view the world, an array of entertainment options including Movies Under the Stars®, now with the industry's best 7.1 surround sound for an immersive audio experience, and sumptuous dining options from Crown Grill to exciting new top deck dining venues including Slice Pizzeria and Coffee & Cones.

Sapphire Princess

As you set your sights on the wonders of the world, let Sapphire Princess indulge your every whim. Over 700 balconies, world-class gourmet dining and dazzling entertainment options are just the beginning of your sea-going adventure. Dance the night away, enjoy casino gaming or relax and rejuvenate body and mind at the Lotus Spa®.

Sea Princess

Step aboard Sea Princess and prepare for a vacation that will dazzle your senses. From the four-story Atrium to tantalizing dining options, a Vegas-style casino and a variety of incredible entertainment choices, including Movies Under the Stars®, you'll find a relaxing retreat that's as captivating as the places you'll visit on this grand vessel.

Sky Princess

Sky Princess℠, the newest addition to our fleet, elevates the distinctive, contemporary design and luxurious attractions of our renowned Royal-class ships to even loftier heights. You can look forward to our most exciting entertainment venues yet, our newest dining choices and award-winning chef partnerships, as well as more staterooms than ever to relax in. And that’s just the start!

Star Princess

No matter where you sail, you'll enjoy the star treatment on board the sparkling Star Princess®. From her relaxed ambience to tantalizing dining options and incredible features like the piazza-style Atrium, Movies Under the Stars® and The Sanctuary, a tranquil retreat reserved for adults, you're sure to feel indulged every moment of your stay.

Sun Princess

Sun Princess truly lights up the seas, serving up tantalizing cuisine, dazzling live entertainment and new experiences with our Discovery at SEA programs. Relax in The Sanctuary, a tranquil haven reserved for adults, or put your feet up at Movies Under the Stars®, whatever you decide to do, your time on board will be unforgettable.

For more information check out the "Contact Us" list below.

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