See here the complete list of world's largest cruise companies (passenger shipping corporations), associations and organizations. Corporate cruise line ownership - who are the owners of all cruise brands. As this is a very long servey, for your convenience next links jump down directly to largest cruise corporations, list of all cruise lines, river cruise companies and new cruise lines.
According to latest cruise industry statistics, world's 4 largest cruise companies slowly conquer the market. Their combined market share was projected to grow over the forecast period 2015-2021 from 83,2% to 87,6%. World's largest are Carnival, Royal Caribbean, NCL Norwegian and MSC.
What is a cruise line?
Cruise company's business is leisure travel, cruisetours and entertainment. Most brands have unique activities and signature amenities offered exclusively onboard its vessels. Many activities and land tours are additionally (optionally) offered in ports of call along ship's itinerary route.
Cruise ship companies typically hire two separate types of staff: crew (commanded by the Captain) and service staff (hotel and dining operations) supervised by Hotel Manager.
Cruise line is a passenger shipping company operating privately-owned, parent-owned or chartered vessels. Cruise brands differ from ferry companies, which operate Ro-Ro ships and offer combined passenger and cargo shipping services on limited number of routes and in just few regions/destinations.
Most companies are well-established passenger shipping brands. Most were founded in the second half of the 20th century, and specifically for cruising. Some were founded over 100 years ago as cargo shipping lines. Failures and consolidations in the 1990s resulted in many subsidiary companies existing as "brands" within large corporations. Brands exist partly because of their repeat customer loyalty, also to offer different levels of quality and services. Corporative shipowners frequently sell, renovate or simply rename their vessels to keep up with travel industry's trends.
All brands offer complimentary onboard live entertainment, leisure facilities, daily scheduled activities, enrichment program, youth programs, buffet dining.
Cruise lines classification
According to the quality and price of their product, brands are classified in 4 distinct types.
- CHEAPEST (aka massmarket, mainstream) offer good product at affordable prices. Fares range from $50-300 (Inside-Suite) pp per day. Itineraries range from 3 to 10 days. Typical passengers are mix of veterans and first-timers, many kids and couples in their 50s. Ships are large-sized (over 3000 passengers), providing large resort-like experience. Examples include Carnival, Royal Caribbean, NCL, MSC, Costa, Holland America, AIDA, TUI.
- BUDGET brands fares range from $200-500 pp per day. Itineraries range from 3 to 17 days. Typical passengers are predominantly first-timers, singles, families, kids. Ships are smaller and older, usually serving regional markets. Examples include NCL Norwegian, Disney, Celebrity, Princess, Star Cruises, Marella, P&O, Pullmantur, Phoenix Reisen, Fred Olsen, CMV (Cruise and Maritime Voyages), Bahamas Paradise.
- LUXURY brands are Viking Ocean, Dream Cruises, Cunard, Oceania, Hapag-Lloyd, Ponant, Saga. Services are premium (including 24-hour highly personalized concierge), prices are affordable, ships are new (refurbished more often), but the product is not all-inclusive.
- ALL-INCLUSIVE brands are Seabourn, Silversea, Regent, Azamara, Crystal, Virgin Voyages, Norwegian Yacht Voyages, Ritz-Carlton Yachts, SeaDream Yachts. Onboard product is industry's best and includes 24-hour personal butler service, all beverages, specialty dining, Internet, shore excursions, gratuities, flights, transfers, sophisticated enrichment programs (world-class performers, professional lectures and classes, art auctions), less megaship seaports, more yachting destinations. Vessels are mid-sized (mega-yachts) with capacity between 200-1000 passengers, industry's highest ratios (passenger-to-space and passenger-to-staff), usually without kids facilities (babysitting arranged with off-duty staff). Passengers are sophisticated, highly social, wealthy, adventurous. Itineraries are diverse and global. Most mega-yacjts provide alternative private ship-charter deals to large corporations and world's richest families. Smallest ships are yachts with capacity from 100 up to 300 passengers. Some accommodate up to 700-800 guests. Most luxury ships operate in Europe (Mediterranean), Asia, Oceania, Alaska, Galapagos Islands, Around South America, Around the World.
- EXPEDITION TRAVEL brands operate nature-themed voyages to unusual destinations (Arctic, Antarctica, Galapagos, Indian Ocean islands, Alaska). Prices depend on itinerary (fares from $150-500+ pp per day. Itineraries range from 1-3 weeks. Passengers are older and more experienced. Ships are usually with ice-strengthened hull (also icebreakers), marina platform (watersports) and Zodiacs (large boats for landings). Examples include Windstar, Lindblad-National Geographic, Quark Expeditions, Uncruise Adventures, Star Clippers, Metropolitan Touring.
- RIVER cruise lines operate modern riverboats on inland waterways (lakes, rivers and canals), mainly in Europe and USA-Canada, also in Russia, China, Egypt, Peruvian Amazon. Fares range from $250-450 pp per day. Itineraries are 1-2 weeks. Passengers are regular and loyal. Most boats accommodate between 90-200 passengers (over 300 on Russian ships). Shipboard amenities and services are premium quality. Market's largest are Viking, Uniworld, CroisiEurope, AmaWaterways, Avalon Waterways, Scenic, Scylla, Luftner, American Cruise Lines, Russia (Vodohod, Mosturflot, Infoflot, Orthodox).
|Company (year established, headquarters)||Corporate owner||Cruise brand information||Fleet|
Carnival Cruise Line (1972, British-American, Doral-Miami FL, trademarked "The FUN Ships")
Celebrity Cruises (1988 as "Chandris Fantasy Cruises", Miami FL)
RCCL Royal Caribbean
P&O Cruises (since 1837, Southampton, UK)
P&O Cruises Australia (North Sydney, New South Wales)
Costa Cruises /Costa Crociere SpA (1924 as cargo carrier, Genoa, Italy)
Cunard Line (since 1840, British-American, headquarters in Southampton UK, and Santa Clarita CA)
Disney Cruise Line (1998, Celebration FL)
The Walt Disney Company
Holland America Line (since 1873 as "Netherlands-America Steamship Company", Seattle WA)
MSC Cruises / MSC Crociere SA (since 1987 as "Lauro Lines", headquarters Geneva, Switzerland)
MSC (Mediterranean Shipping Company / world's 2nd largest)
NCL Norwegian Cruise Line (1966, Miami-Dade County, FL)
NCLH Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings
Princess Cruises (1965, British-American, Santa Clarita CA)
|RCI Royal Caribbean International (1968, Norwegian-American, Miami FL)|
RCCL Royal Caribbean
AIDA Cruises / AIDA Kreuzfahrten (1960 as Deutsche Seereederei)
Pullmantur Cruises (2007, Norwegian-American)
RCCL Royal Caribbean
Marella Cruises / formerly Thomson Cruises (estd 1995, renamed in 2017)
RCCL Royal Caribbean and TUI AG
TUI Cruises (2007, Hamburg Germany)
RCCL Royal Caribbean and TUI AG
Star Cruises (established 1993)
Genting Group (Malaysia)
CMV Cruise and Maritime Voyages (2009, Dartford UK)
Azamara Club (since 2007)
RCCL Royal Caribbean
CDP Compagnie du Ponant (1988, Marseille, France)
Groupe Artemis (Financiere Pinault)
Oceania Cruises (2002, Miami FL)
RCCL Royal Caribbean
|operates top luxury passenger ships (3 medium, and 2 large) - the largest luxury cruise line in the world (with some of the cheapest cruise rates). Fully owned by Apollo Management ("Premier Cruises"), sold to NCL in 2014.||fleet|
Crystal Cruises (1988, Century City LA)
Genting Group (Malaysia)
Dream Cruises (established 2016)
Genting Group (Malaysia)
RSSC Regent Seven Seas Cruises (1990, Miami FL)
NCLH Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings
Seabourn (1986, Miami FL)
Silversea (1994, Ft Lauderdale FL)
RCCL Royal Caribbean
Virgin Voyages (established 2017, headquartered in Crawley /Sussex, England)
Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection (founded 2017, based in Miami FL)
The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company
Windstar (1984, Tall-Sailing ship cruise company)
Xanterra Parks and Resorts
Hapag-Lloyd Cruises (since 1970, Hamburg, Germany)
Hapag-Lloyd AG (world's 5th largest container shipping company)
Fred Olsen Cruise Line (since 1848, Ipswich, Suffolk UK)
Fred Olsen Group
Hurtigruten (since 1893)
Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line (2008, Riviera Beach FL)
Saga Cruises /SAGA Holidays (estd 1996, Canterbury, England)
SMALL Cruise Lines List
The following small ship cruise companies (and cruiseferry lines) are well known brand names. Some of them operate locally, other operate expedition ships. Most companies are in the "small ship luxury cruise" business.
|Birka Cruises (1971, Mariehamn, Aland/Finland) operates one ship (MS Birka Stockholm) for Baltic Sea departing from Stockholm. This line has a cargo-shipping subsidiary, and today Birka Line is part of the Rederiaktiebolaget Eckero' "Eckero Line" (Finnish shipping company, ferries to Sweden from Aland Islands).||Birka Stockholm|
|Blue Lagoon Cruises (Australia) - 2 ships for Fiji Cruises roundtrip from Denarau||Fiji Princess|
Captain Cook Cruises (Western Australia) - 1 cruise ship (Murray Princess) for Murray River, Great Barrier Reef, Fiji, Swan River (Perth), land tours, ferry services. The company was acquired in 2016 by SeaLink Travel Group.
Operates private charters and Sydney Harbour cruises on smaller ships.
|Coral Expeditions (until 2015 known as "Coral Princess Cruises" /estd 1984) is a small ship line operating large catamarans. The ships (capacity 44-72 pax) operate on itineraries to Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific Ocean islands. The list of destinations includes Tasmania, New Guinea, Kimberley, Arnhem Land, Great Barrier Reef, Cape York.|
|Star Clippers (luxury tall sailing ships) for Mediterranean, Caribbean, Northern Europe and Panama Canal/Transatlantic.|
|GAP Adventures (1990, Toronto, Canada) - the largest cruise company in Canada, with over 1,000 sea travel tours per year, to over 100 countries.|
InnerSea Discoveries (founded 2011, renamed in 2013 to UN-Cruise Adventures) - Seattle expedition line, sister brand of ASC/American Safari Cruises (founded 1996). Destinations & ships:
|Kristina Cruises (1985, family-owned, Kotka, Finland) - operates in the Adriatic Sea, Mediterranean and Black Sea.|
Lindblad Expeditions (founded 1979 by Sven-Olof Lindblad, since 2004 the line has a joint fund and alliance with the National Geographic Society, and since 2007 all vessels are renamed with the prefix "National Geographic")
Celestyal Cruises (formerly Louis Cruises - Greek Islands and Holy Land cruises leaving from Greece and Turkey
|Black Sea Cruise Line (since 2017) is owned by Rosmorport (Russian Federation). Operates Black Sea cruises exclusivelly.||Knyaz Vladimir|
|Metropolitan Touring - owns and operates all three Galapagos Islands luxury cruise yachts|
|Paul Gauguin Cruises (1998, Bellevue, WA, USA) - 1 small ship (ms Paul Gauguin) for Galapagos Islands, year-round.|
|Pearl Seas Cruises - operates in the regions of US Great Lakes, Canadian Maritimes, Caribbean Islands|
|Phoenix Reisen (1988, Germany) - operates chartered ships of smaller sizes, serves the German-speaking market exclusively||fleet|
|Polar Star Expeditions - 1 ship (converted icebreaker) in Artica and Antarctica.||Polar Star|
|Quark Expeditions (1991) - luxury polar cruises, among its chartered ships is 50 Years of Victory (nuclear-powered icebreaker cruise ship).||fleet|
|ResidenSea (top luxury ship operator of privetly-owned liners||ms The World|
|Silja Line (estd 1957, Helsinki, Finland) - ferry-cruise company (car and passenger services between Sweden and Finland. Fleet capacity is over 3 mill passengers and 200,00 cars annually.||ferries|
|The Boat Company (founded 1979 non-profit line and educational organization by McIntosh Foundation, in "Alaska Small").|
River cruise lines provide as product a very "specially modern" style of travel cruising. It's the perfect combination of the world's best river cruise itineraries (in Europe, USA, Asia, Africa), tranquility and style, vessels with innovative design and top technology, highest standards of service, all-inclusive cruise deals prices - and much more.
|Company information||Review link / Fleet|
|A-ROSA - 3 ships for Rhine, Danube & Rhone cruises.||fleet|
AMAWaterways (2002 as Amadeus Watterways, 12 newly built river ships) - a top luxury river ship cruise company, operates Western Europe, Russia, and Asia (Mekong River), innovative river vessel designs and construction (balcony cruise accommodations, on-board pools and Jacuzzis).
APT River Cruises /APT Touring (1970, a division of APT Group - an initialism for "Australian Pacific Touring") - Europe and Russia, Egypt, South America, North America (Canada Alaska), South Pacific (Australia New Zealand), and Asia, also operates chartered ships.
|American Cruise Lines (1991, Guilford CT) - 6 small ships (capacity 50-120 guests), including a renovated authentic paddle-wheeler. Operates the USA East and West coasts, and rivers.||fleet|
|American Queen Steamboat Company - Mississippi River cruises on paddle-wheel riverboats.||fleet|
|Avalon Waterways (2004, Lugano, Switzerland, 18 vessels, the majority of which are newly built, and after 2006 (including the industry's first "suite boat"), with average capacity of 170 guests) - small ship and river cruise company, a brand of the Globus corporation, operating Europe (11 ships), Egypt (3), China (3), and the Galapagos islands (1 ship).||fleet|
|Crystal River Cruises (since 2017) - division of Crystal Cruises, offers fully all-inclusive deals. Its product is marked by gourmet dining, expert enrichment, high-class entertainment, top-luxury amenities and impeccable service on newbuild European riverboats. In each port along the itinerary are offered culture-themed tours and excursions. In some of the ports, the new Crystal river ships offer overnight stays that allow passengers to enjoy high-class gourmet dining experiences at Michelin-starred restaurants ashore and also exclusive evening events and entertainment on the ship.||fleet|
|CroisiEurope (1965 as Alsace-Croisieres, 4-star brand name, newly built vessels) - 26 top luxury river passenger ships in Europe exclusively, with capacity 100-180 guests.||fleet|
|Emerald Waterways (2014) - a Scenic Tours subsidiary for the European market. This new river cruise line starts with two river boats (each with 182-passenger capacity) - "Emerald Star" and "Emerald Sky", on 7- and 14-night itineraries. As price niche, this line will compete on the less expensive "most popular rivers in Europe" cruising market with Viking and Avalon.||fleet|
|European Waterways (1977, Datchet, Berkshire UK) - operates in 9 European countries (including Ireland and Scotland), with 3 small river boats and 18 luxury boutique-hotel barges (4-15 passengers).||fleet|
|Scenic River Cruises (established in 1987 in Australia by Glen Moroney) - among the most inclusive riverboat cruise lines today. The all-inclusive fares cover meals, drinks, excursions, gratuities. The deals feature price-included unlimited drinks - from the beverages in cabin minibars to alcohol drinks at all onboard dining and lounge venues. Butler service on European voyages is also included.||fleet|
|Uniworld (1976, Los Angeles CA) - 21 luxury river ships (average capacity 130 passengers, shore tours and excursions are included), with over 500 itineraries annually in more than 20 countries (Europe, China, Russia, Egypt).||fleet|
|Viking River Cruises (1997, headquartered in Woodland Hills CA, and Basel, Switzerland) is the world's largest river ship cruise company. It owns and operates around 70 luxury river ships with all-inclusive deals. The riverboats' capacity ranges from 100 to 250 guests). Itineraries are offered on major rivers in Europe, Asia (China and Russia) and soon in the USA. The line also offers cheap fly-cruises from UK, with complimentary, fully guided tours and excursions ashore. Since 2015, this line has a sister-company - run by the same corporate owners and named Viking Ocean (see in the table below).||fleet|
|Company (review link / fleet) / year established, headquarters||Concise Information|
|Norwegian Yacht Voyages (established 2017, rebranded from "Nordic Cruise Company")|
|Virgin Voyages (established 2017, Crawley /Sussex, England)|
|Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection (founded 2017, based in Miami FL)|
|"French America Line" is a USA river cruise company launching service in August 2016.|
|"Diamond Cruise" is a start-up Chinese company operating with departures out of Shanghai China.|
|Anteros Cruises is a LGBT cruise line since 2017 with a 400-passenger ship.|
|Abou Merhi Cruises is a Lebanese private / family-owned company and shipowner (since 2012) of Orient Queen.|
|"Alteza Cruises" is a joint venture between the Argentina-based "Hotel Express Latam" and a Greek private investor. Started operations in November 2017.|
|Dream Cruises (operational since November 2016)|
"Royal Asian Cruises" (RAC) is a luxury cruise line based in Sri Lanka, with offices in India and USA. The Thailand BOI company will invest in this venture around USD 200 mill. This includes the acquiring/operating of two ships in 2015 and 2016. Business focus is on the India/Sri Lanka and the Europe/Southeast Asia markets.
|"Sterling Cruise Lines" (established 2015, headquarters in Miami)|
|Viking Ocean Cruises (estd 2015 April) is a sister-line to Viking River Cruises (see in the above table). Both brand companies are owned by Torstein Hagan.|
|Blue World Voyages (established 2017) is Miami-based wellness cruise line funded via Wefunder (crowdfunding platform). All investors become shareholders and members of Blue World Founders Club giving them perks, discounts and a voice in product developments. The new line is managed by chairman and founder Gene Meehan and CEO John B Richards (former Starbucks president).|
|Arctic Cruise Line (founded 2018, starting operations in 2021) is run by Gert Brask (CEO) - private entrepreneur with experience in commercial fishing. Company's current offices are in Greenland and Denmark.|
The biggest cruise companies - they all are very big, some are bigger big, one is the biggest. They all are very very very much rich!
- Carnival Corporation & plc (American-Panamanian passenger ship company, founded in 1972) is the world's largest cruise company, with almost 52% share of the market. Dual listed (as Carnival Corp and Carnival plc), headquartered at Carnival House Southampton. Has combined fleet of 116 cruise passenger ships (including 10 on order), more than 160,000 berths, over 10,000 employees and 75,000 crew, USD 38,9 billion in assets, and USD 16,4 billion revenue (data 2016). Owns 11 cruise brands (in brackets - the year of acquisition /establishment) - AIDA (2000), Carnival (1972), Costa (2000), Cunard (1998), Holland America (1989), Ibero (2007), P&O UK and P&O Australia (2003), Princess (2003), and Seabourn (1992). The Carnival's major stock-holder is the company founder's Arison family (47%).
- Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (RCCL) - founded 1997 as an American-Norwegian ship cruise company. RCCL is the 2nd largest cruise line in the world, with headquarters in Miami FL. RCCL controls over a quarter of the cruise market, with 58,000 employees, nearly US $20 billion in assets, and almost US $7 billion revenue (data 2011). Combined fleet of 46 cruise passenger ships (including 3 on order), of 5 distinct brands - Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity, Pullmantur (purchased 2006), Azamara Club (established 2007), CDF Croisières de France (est 2008 / merged with Pullmantur in 2017). RCCL also fully owns Air Pullmantur, and 50% of TUI Cruises (2009, a joint venture with TUI AG).
- Apollo Global Management LLC (founded in 1990 as Apollo Advisors). Apollo is one of the world's largest private investment companies (over US $37 billion in assets, US $16 billion in companies, headquartered in NYC). The firm specializes in private equity funds (buyout transactions, and purchasing distressed securities), and capital markets (with hedge funds and real estate funds, corporate restructuring, and consolidations).
- The Walt Disney Company - founded in 1923, and nowadays the largest and richest media conglomerate in the world. Headquartered in Burbank CA, and owning 6 major divisions, 10 subsidiaries (almost 150,000 employees, US $71 billion in assets, US $38 billion revenue - data 2011). Amongst the Disney's best known (and priced) assets are the ABC media, the ESPN cable network, and the PIXAR Animation Studios, along with all the Disney Parks and Resorts worldwide.
- Mediterranean Shipping Company SA (MSC, founded in 1970, owned by the Aponte family) - the 2nd largest shipping line in the world (by container ship capacity), with more than 555 vessels of almost 2,2 million TEU (including 11 under construction - some of the world's largest container ships ever built, with capacity 15,000 TEU each). The MSC shipping line serves 270 ports worldwide, with over 29,000 employees.
- Genting Group (founded in 1964, headquartered in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia). Genting is a leading Asian multinational company (developing, operating and marketing in Tourism, 1,800 ha Resorts World Genting, Gaming (casinos), Real Estates, 54,000 ha Plantations, Power Generation, Oil-Gas, e-commerce, over 58,000 employees, US $5,1 billion revenue, US $13,5 in assets). One of the most famous tourist features of Malaysia is the "Genting Highlands" resort, with a world class casino and a theme park. Owns about 20% of Star Cruises (the world's 3rd largest operator).
- NYK Line ("Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha", translated as "Japan Mail Shipping Line"), main headquarters Chiyoda (Tokyo) and regional in London, NYC, Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Sydney, Sao Paulo. Established 1870, a core Mitsubishi company and currently the world's 10th largest cargo-container and shipping company. In the recent past, the majority of the Japan's merchant fleet sailed under its flag (1900-1950). Entered the passenger cruise ship business with one of the most expensive cruise lines in the world - its newly formed in 1989 subsidiary Crystal Cruise Lines. The NYK Line also operates the MS Asuka II (the ex MS Crystal Harmony), catering to the Japanese market exclusively. Financial data: revenue about US $25 billion, about 55,000 employees worldwide, with 240 offices in 26 countries.
- Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd (NCLH) ownership is 43,4% Genting Group, 32,5% Apollo Management and 10,8% TPG Capital (Texas Pacific Group, large private equity global investments firm). NCL controls ~8% of the global cruising market.
- P&O Princess Cruises PLC was a restructured company between 2000 and 2003. This company was the successor of "Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company" (P&O, founded in 1837). P&O owns 6 cruise line brands and 26 ships. The company merged into Carnival Corp in 2003.
Largest cruise industry organizations
CLIA (Cruise Line International Association) - since December 17 2012 this is a Global Trade Association (umbrella company) for 9 of the largest cruise industry associations:
- CLIA itself (world's largest, representing brands, operators, agents, port authorities, partners; engaged in training-marketing-research)
- ECC (European Cruise Council)
- ACA (Asia Cruise Association)
- PSA (Passenger Shipping Association)
- CLIA France (France, Association Francaise des Compagnies de Croisieres)
- ABREMAR (Brazil)
- NWCCA (Northwest and Canada Cruise Association)
- ACA (Alaska Cruise Association)
- ICCA (International Cruise Council AustralAsia)
ICOMIA (International Council of Marine Industry Associations) - ICOMIA is a global (marine industry) trade association with the majority of its members being national marine industries and manufacturers. The biggest (full members) are:
- IMCI (International Marine Certification Institute)
- CCYIA (China Cruise and Yacht Industry Association)
- FIN (French Nautical Industries Federation)
- DBSV (German Boat and Shipbuilders Association)
- JBIA (Japan Boating Industry Association)
- HISWA (Dutch Boating Industry Association)
- BMF (British Marine Federation)
- NMMA (National Marine)
Now the list of all the rest large organizations:
- ACE (Association of Cruise Experts / UK)
- LCA (Leading Cruise Agents / UK)
- AECO (Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators)
- CSA (Caribbean Shipping Association)
- ECSA (European Community Shipowners Associations)
- FCCA (Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association), members list includes the brands AIDA, Azamara, Carnival, Celebrity, Costa, Cunard, Disney, Holland America, MSC, NCL Norwegian, P&O, Princess, Royal Caribbean, Seabourn, TUI.
- IG River Cruise (Europe)
- JOPA (Japan Oceangoing Passenger Ship Association)