Cruise Companies: Mainstream, Premium, Deluxe or Luxury

| March 16, 2009

The cruise industry slots each cruise company into one of four categories. Here are the definition and occupants of each category.

It always helps to know something about the business behind something you enjoy. When it comes to cruise companies, there are many definitions and classifications used by cruise travel agents and the cruise press when describing these cruise companies in articles.

All cruise companies fall into a well-known set of cruise categories to describe the appeal they normally have for certain demographic of guests. Simply knowing these cruise company categories and their definitions is enough to give a tremendous amount of insight into the difference between various ships.

These categories generally describe the pricing, ship size, average passenger profile and levels of food and service for each cruise company. The definitions are not written in stone, however, and there is often some debate about where and whether any particular cruise company belongs, but it is in understanding those discussions that one learns the deep differences between cruise line companies.

CRUISE LINE CATEGORIES Beginning at the "bottom," here is list of the cruise company categories and what cruise lines belong in each one. We will also give a brief synopsis on any exceptions to the definitions any cruise companies may have.

Contemporary Cruise Companies "Contemporary" is the industry term for the most successful, popular and pervasive cruise companies in the industry; Carnival Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean Lines and Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL). Other common terms for this group are "mainstream," "mass-market" and even "budget."

These cruise companies offer the most affordable cruises generally on the biggest and most highly populated ships at sea. They operate megaships such as the Royal Caribbean Freedom-class, currently the largest cruise ships in the world, the Carnival Conquest class and Norwegian Cruise Line's newer "Free-style 2" ships.

At 160,000-gross tons, the Royal Caribbean Freedom class may be the world's largest now, but it will soon be out-sized by a newer Royal Caribbean class of ships. Oasis of the Seas will debut in November at 220,000-tons and a 5400 passengers capacity - double occupancy. A sister ship (identical model) called Allure of the Seas will debut in 2010.

Carnival is considered the most successful of all cruise companies. It is the largest cruise line in terms of number of ships and passenger capacity. Its ships are not as big as Royal Caribbean's in size, but they are big enough averaging 105,000-tons for the mega-ship categories including the Destiny, Conquest and Freedom classes. See our article on cruise ship design for more details.

Continue Article >> "Mainstream" Cruise Lines (Cont.) (Part 2)

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