Largest Cruise Shipping Companies

   November 26, 2015 ,   Ships and Lines

See here the complete list of the 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 survey, for your convenience next links jump down directly to largest cruise corporations (shipowners), list of ALL cruise lines, RIVER travel brands and NEW brands.

According to official cruise industry statistics, the world's 4 largest cruise companies slowly conquered 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 (by combined fleet's passenger capacity/stats 2020-Q4) are Carnival Corporation (39%), RCG-Royal Caribbean Group (24$), MSC (11,5%), NCLH-Norwegian (8,3%). All other companies had combined market share (2020-Q4) 17,2%.

For the ones that are no more, see CruiseMapper's list of DEFUNCT companies.

What is a cruise line?

Cruise company's business is leisure travel, cruise tours, and entertainment. Most brands have unique activities and signature amenities offered exclusively onboard their vessels. Many activities and land tours are additionally (optionally) offered in ports of call along the 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.

The 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 a limited number of routes and in just a 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 the 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 into 4 distinct types.

CHEAPEST brands (aka mass-market/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 a 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, Bahamas Paradise.

LUXURY brands are Viking OCEAN, Resorts World, Cunard, Oceania, Hapag-Lloyd, Ponant, Saga UK. Services are premium (including 24-hour highly personalized concierge), prices are affordable, and the boats are new (refurbished more often), but the product is not all-inclusive.

ALL-INCLUSIVE brands are Seabourn, Silversea, RSSC-Regent, Azamara, Crystal, Virgin Voyages, NYV-Norwegian Yacht Voyages, Four Seasons Yachts, Ritz-Carlton Yachts, SeaDream Yachts. Onboard product is the 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), fewer mega-ship seaports, more yachting destinations. Vessels are mid-sized (mega-yachts) with a 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-yachts provide alternative private ship-charter deals to large corporations and the world's richest families. The smallest boats 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 TRAVEL brands operate modern boats 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 of premium quality. The market's largest are Viking, Uniworld, CroisiEurope, AmaWaterways, Avalon Waterways, Scenic, Scylla, Luftner, American Cruise Lines, Russia (Vodohod, Mosturflot, Infoflot, Doninturflot-Orthodox).

Cruise Lines List - CruiseMapper

Cruise Lines List

Company (year established, headquarters, fleet)Corporate ownerCruise brand information

Carnival Cruise Line (1972, British-American, Doral-Miami FL, trademarked "The FUN Ships") fleet

Carnival Corporation

  • world's largest and cheapest cruise line, the concept of cheap short cruise deals
  • world's first super-large passenger ship (Carnival Destiny/Sunshine in 1996; exceeding for the first time volume of 100,000 GT tons)

Celebrity Cruises (1988 as "Chandris Fantasy Cruises", Miami FL) fleet

RCG-Royal Caribbean

  • USA luxury brand

P&O Cruises UK (since 1837, Southampton)

P&O Cruises Australia (North Sydney, New South Wales) fleet

Carnival Corporation

  • British-American
  • P&O UK - large-sized / newer liners operating roundtrips from the UK and in Caribbean (from Barbados)
  • P&O Australia - big-sized liners in Australia New Zealand

Costa Cruises /Costa Crociere SpA (1924 as a cargo carrier, Genoa, Italy) fleet

Carnival Corporation

  • provides passenger shipping services since 1947
  • a major brand of Carnival Corporation & plc (since 2000)
  • Europe's largest line, with Italy-flagged ships (average tonnage 80,000 GT)

Cunard Line (since 1840, British-American, headquarters in Southampton UK, and Santa Clarita CA) fleet

Carnival Corporation

  • established as "British and North American Royal Mail Steam-Packet Company"
  • operates large-sized and luxury ocean cruise liners from the UK, including the only one contemporary regular Transatlantic liner RMS Queen Mary 2
  • Owned by Carnival Corporation & plc

Disney Cruise Line (1998, Celebration FL) fleet

The Walt Disney Company

  • world's BEST KIDS cruise line
  • has 4 ocean-going vessels (average tonnage 100,000, average capacity of 3,200 passengers)
  • belongs to The Walt Disney Company - with the world's most famous fantasy characters and themed entertainment.

Holland America Line (since 1873 as "Netherlands-America Steamship Company", Seattle WA) fleet

Carnival Corporation

  • operates medium-sized liners, serving over 800,000 passengers a year
  • owned by Carnival Corp since 1989
  • started operation in 1872 as a Transatlantic cargo-passenger shipping line, mainly between Rotterdam and New York (also to South America)
  • its first sea vacation voyage was offered in 1895
  • HAL owns "Westmark" hotels (Alaska-Yukon), "Worldwide Shore Services" (warehousing-logistics), and a private island in the Bahamas (Little San Salvador, best known as Half Moon Cay).

MSC Cruises / MSC Crociere SA (since 1987 as "Lauro Lines", headquarters Geneva, Switzerland) fleet

MSC (Mediterranean Shipping Company/world's 2nd largest)

  • large-sized and cheap ships
  • ranked the world's 4th largest
  • sub-division of MSC Shipping (Mediterranean Shipping Company SA) since 1989

NCL Norwegian Cruise Line (1966, Miami-Dade County, FL) fleet

NCLH-Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings

  • operates large vessels
  • ranked world's 3rd largest (8% of the market)
  • the inventor of the "Freestyle Cruising" idea (open seating informal dining)
  • owner of the first cruise line private island (1977) - Great Stirrup Cay
  • equally owned (50/50) by Apollo Management and Star Cruises (Genting Group)
  • NCLH also owns the Hawaii-based cruise ship Pride of America.

Princess Cruises (1965, British-American, Santa Clarita CA) fleet

Carnival Corporation

  • operates large-sized liners
  • a former subsidiary of "P&O Princess Cruises PLC"
RCI Royal Caribbean International (1968, Norwegian-American, Miami FL) fleet

RCG-Royal Caribbean

  • world's largest passenger ships, 2nd largest fleet (after Carnival)
  • innovated the coastal property leasing with Labadee (an exclusive resort in northern Haiti)
  • "Alaskan land and sea tours" (glass-domed train cars)
  • feature shipboard facilities - rock-climbing walls, ice-skating rinks, Flowrider (surf simulator), "Viking Crown" (top-deck lounge)
  • Owns the Bahamian island CocoCay / Little Stirrup Cay
  • company's name after the merge with Celebrity was "Royal Caribbean Cruise Line"

AIDA Cruises/Kreuzfahrten (1960 as Deutsche Seereederei) fleet

Carnival Corporation

  • large liners, serves exclusively the German-speaking market, mostly younger clientele

Pullmantur Cruises (2007, Norwegian-American) fleet

RCG-Royal Caribbean

  • Spanish brand with medium-sized ships

Marella Cruises / formerly Thomson Cruises (est. 1995, renamed in 2017) fleet

RCG-Royal Caribbean Group & TUI AG

  • owned by TUI AG (a subsidiary of TUI Travel PLC) and RCCL
  • operated by Thomson Holidays (1965, Luton UK)
  • provides affordable deals on UK roundtrips

TUI Cruises (2007, Hamburg Germany) fleet

RCG-Royal Caribbean Group & TUI AG

  • large liners to the Caribbean, Europe (Baltic, Med, Canaries)
  • serves exclusively the German-speaking market
  • owned by RCCL and TUI AG

Star Cruises (established 1993) fleet

Genting Group (Malaysia)

  • budget travel brand with over 35,000 berths
  • leader on the Asia-Pacific market
  • subsidiary of GHK
  • fully owns "Cruise Feries" (Wasa Queen ship, 1-night gambling cruises from Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur) and 50% of NCL (a subsidiary of Genting Group, Malaysia)

CMV Cruise and Maritime Voyages (2009-founded, 2020-defunct)


served mainly the UK market with adults-only, smaller-sized boats

Azamara (since 2007) fleet

Sycamore Partners

premium ships with affordable all-inclusive deals

CDP Compagnie du Ponant (1988, Marseille, France) fleet

Groupe Artemis (Financiere Pinault)

Before 2015 was owned by Bridgepoint Capital (European private equity fund). Serves mainly the French-speaking market

Oceania Cruises (2002, Miami FL) fleet

RCG-Royal Caribbean Group

operates top luxury ships (3 medium, and 2 large) - the world's largest luxury line (with some of the cheapest rates). Fully owned by Apollo Management ("Premier Cruises"), sold to NCL in 2014.

Crystal Cruises (1988, Century City LA) fleet

Genting Group (Malaysia)

  • world's most expensive cruise line
  • operates large-sized, top-luxury and all-inclusive ships (capacity ~1000 passengers)
  • subsidiary of GHK
  • has separate brand divisions for cruises on riverboats, ocean ships, superyachts, airplanes

Resorts World Cruises (2022-established, the successor of Dream Cruises /2016-2022) fleet

Genting Group (Malaysia)

  • subsidiary of Resorts World (Genting)
  • luxury travel brand with newbuilds

RSSC Regent Seven Seas Cruises (1990, Miami FL) fleet

NCLH-Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings

  • formerly "Radisson Seven Seas Cruises"
  • owned by "Premier Cruises" / Appolo Menagement since 2008
  • sold to NCLH in 2014
  • "the most all-inclusive" deals - alcohol, shore excursions, tips
  • smaller boats "all-suite, all-balcony"
  • first Canyon Ranch Spa at sea

Seabourn (1986, Miami FL) fleet

Carnival Corporation

Operates smaller all-suite boats with all-inclusive deals. Some of the largest Spas at sea, up to 4 alternative dining venues

Silversea (1994, Fort Lauderdale) fleet

RCG-Royal Caribbean Group

  • all-inclusive (including 3 expedition ships)
  • "Personalized Voyages" concept (guests choose their own embarkation/disembarkation ports, with a min of 5 nights, all-suite accommodations)
  • Until 2018 owned by Lefebvre family (Rome, Italy) and V-Ships (Vlasov Group) of Monaco

Virgin Voyages (established 2017, headquartered in Crawley /Sussex, England) fleet

Virgin Group UK

  • a subsidiary of Virgin Holidays Ltd (travel brand owned by Virgin Group)
  • Virgin Group is a UK-based venture-capital company run by Richard Branson.
  • Virgin Holidays Cruises (est. 2000 under the name "Fast Track Holidays") was acquired in 2007. Its name was changed to "Virgin Holidays Cruises" in 2009.
  • This UK cruise line company owns 3 vessels (every 110,000 GT-tons, capacity 2860 passengers plus 1150 crew)

Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection (2017, based in Miami FL) fleet

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company

  • 3 mega-yachts, each with capacity 298 passengers accommodated in 149 balcony suites
  • Itineraries are in Europe, Canada New England, Caribbean, South Pacific

Windstar (1984, Tall-Sailing ship cruise company) fleet

Xanterra Parks and Resorts USA

  • tall-sailing ships
  • operates in the Mediterranean (summer) and Caribbean and Pacific (winter)
  • owned by Xanterra since May 2011

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises (since 1970, Hamburg, Germany) fleet

Hapag-Lloyd AG (world's 5th largest container shipping company)

  • smaller-sized luxury boats (including newbuilds)
  • has worlds most expensive cruise ship (MS Europa)
  • 1998-2017 was owned by TUI AG
  • HAPAG ("Hamburg American Line") was founded in 1912 as Transatlantic cargo-passenger ship line
  • LLOYD ("North German Lloyd", or NGL) was formed in 1856 as Bremen-New York cargo and passenger line

Fred Olsen Cruise Line (1848-founded, Ipswich, Suffolk UK) fleet

Fred Olsen Group

  • Norwegian company
  • operates from England (Caribbean fly-cruises from Barbados during winter), around South America, World Voyages
  • brand of Fred Olsen Group (luxury hotels, real estates, property development, aviation, crewing and building ships)

Hurtigruten (1893-founded) fleet


  • cruiseferries and cruise ships
  • passenger cruise and freight ferry line
  • operates 10-night roundtrips in Norway (referred to as "World's Most Beautiful Sea Voyage"), also to Antarctica, Greenland, around South America
  • Hurtigruten boats depart from 38 ports in Norway alone.

Margaritaville at Sea/Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line (2008, Riviera Beach FL) fleet


Margaritaville (2023-founded) offers mini-cruises to Bahamas from Florida (Port Palm Beach). Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line (shipowner) is the successor of "Imperial Majesty Cruise Line".

Saga Cruises /SAGA Holidays (est. 1996, Canterbury, England) fleet

Saga Group UK

Serves exclusively the UK market with newbuild expedition vessels.

SMALL Cruise Lines List

The following small ship cruise companies (and cruise ferry lines) are well-known brand names. Some of them operate locally, others operate expedition ships. Most companies are in the "small ship luxury cruise" business.

Company (year established, headquarters, fleet)Cruise brand information
Birka Cruises (1971, Mariehamn, Aland/Finland), ship Birka Stockholm/Gotlandoperates one ship (MS Birka Stockholm) for the 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)
Blue Lagoon Cruises (Australia)has 2 ships for Fiji Cruises roundtrip from Denarau

Captain Cook Cruises (Western Australia) fleet

has - 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 boats

Coral Expeditions (until 2015 known as "Coral Princess Cruises" /est. 1984) fleeta small ship line operating large catamarans. The boats (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 (fleet)(tall sailing ships) for the Mediterranean, Caribbean, Northern Europe, and Panama Canal/Transatlantic
GAP Adventures (1990, Toronto, Canada)Canada's largest cruise company, with 1000+ sea travel tours per year, to over 100 countries.

InnerSea Discoveries (founded 2011, renamed in 2013 to UnCruise Adventures) fleet

Seattle expedition line, sister-brand of ASC/American Safari Cruises (founded 1996). Destinations include Southeast Alaska and BC Canada, Columbia and Snake Rivers, Washington DC, Sea of Cortes, Hawaii

Kristina Cruises (1985, family-owned, Kotka, Finland)operates in the Adriatic Sea, Mediterranean, and Black Sea. Fleet - Kristina Katarina, smaller yachts

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") fleet

a leader in adventure sea voyages, private and chartered smaller ships and riverboats (28-148 passengers), the founder of eco-tourism, the best academic and enrichment programs at sea led by renowned superb naturalists

operates in Galapagos, Arctic, Antarctica, Baja California, Central America, Peruvian Amazon, Mediterranean, Northern Europe, Egypt, West Africa, New Zealand.

Celestyal Cruises (fka Louis Cruises - Greek Islands and Holy Land cruises leaving from Greece and Turkey. fleet

headquarters in Limassol, Cyprus), a subsidiary of Louis plc (the leader of the East Mediterranean tourism industry), in 2014 was re-branded "Celestyal Cruises".

Celestyal operates mainly 2nd and 3rd hand charter vessels, often sub-chartered to other companies.

Black Sea Cruise Line (since 2017) fleetowned by Rosmorport (Russian Federation). Operates Black Sea cruises exclusively.
Metropolitan Touring fleetowns and operates all three Galapagos Islands luxury cruise yachts
Paul Gauguin Cruises (1998, Bellevue, WA, USA)part of PONANT since 2019
Pearl Seas Cruises (fleet Pearl Mist)operates in the regions of US Great Lakes, Canadian Maritimes, Caribbean Islands
Phoenix Reisen (1988-founded, Germany) fleetcharteres smaller ships, serves the German-speaking market exclusively
Polar Star Expeditionshas 1 ship (Polar Star/converted icebreaker) in Artica and Antarctica
Quark Expeditions (1991, fleet)luxury polar cruises, among its chartered ships is 50 Years of Victory (nuclear-powered icebreaker cruise ship)
ResidenSeatop luxury ship operator of the privately-owned liner ms The World
Silja Line (1957, Helsinki, Finland, part of TALLINK) fleet capacity is over 3 mill passengers and 200,00 cars annually.ferry-cruise company (car and passenger services between Sweden and Finland
The Boat Company (1979-founded non-profit and educational organization by McIntosh Foundationoperates in Alaska (fleet) Mist Cove, Liseron

RIVER Cruise Lines List

River cruise lines provide as product a very "especially 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 informationReview link / Fleet
A-ROSA - 3 ships for Rhine-Danube-Rhone cruises.fleet

AMAWaterways (2002 as Amadeus Waterways, 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, onboard 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 Voyages (fka AQSC-American Queen Steamboat Company) - Mississippi cruises on paddlewheel 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 an 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) - a 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 is offered culture-themed tours and excursions. In some ports, Crystal river ships offer overnight stays to allow passengers to enjoy high-end gourmet dining experiences at Michelin-starred restaurants (ashore) and also exclusive evening events and entertainment (on the boat).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 riverboats (each with 182-passenger capacity) - "Emerald Star" and "Emerald Sky", on 7- and 14-night itineraries. As a 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 riverboats 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 the 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
Crucemundo (2008, headquartered in Barcelona Spain) currently operates under charter 5 riverboats and 1 yacht.fleet
Pandaw Expeditions (renamed in 1998 from "Irrawaddy Flotilla Company" / 1865-1942) was the first large river cruise company in Southeast Asia. It is currently also the largest by fleet (vessel number, not tonnage). Pandaw was the first Irrawaddy river cruise operator and now operates cruise tours also on the rivers Brahmaputra and Ganges (India). Pandaw ships have local industry's highest guest-to-space ratios, passenger capacity between 36 and 56, comfortable public areas, premium staterooms (all outside, most with common terrace), traditional cuisine, well-trained staff, and crew.fleet
Assam Bengal Navigation (ABN, founded 2002, headquarters Calcutta) is the first and currently the only company operating long-distance river cruises in India (Brahmaputra, Hughli, and Ganges rivers). The travel experience features wildlife viewing tours (elephant rides, jeeps), visiting temples, towns, and villages, tea gardens. Shore excursions are also via buses, cycle rickshaws and on foot. The company's staff is highly trained and the crew has extensive knowledge and expertise in river conditions.fleet

NEW Cruise Lines (2021-2024)

Company (review link / fleet) / year established, headquartersConcise Information
MOL Mitsui Ocean Cruises (Oct 2023-established, Oct 2024-inaugurated)

This is a new Japanese cruise travel brand and subsidiary of Mitsui OSK Lines. As of 2023, it has 2 cruise ships in addition to several Japan-based cruiseferries.

The company plans to add at least 2 newbuilds in the future.

Aroya Cruises (2023-founded, operated by Cruise Saudi)

Both companies are fully owned by Saudi Arabia's PIF/Public Investment Fund. The ship Aroya Manara (2017-built as "MS World Dream" for Genting Cruise Lines) operates exclusively in the Red Sea. The brand plans to add more second-hand vessels to the fleet.

Transcend Cruises Inc (2022-founded) riverboat chartering company operating exclusively in Europe, co-founder is Matthew Shollar

Transcend is a river cruise brand and shipowner targeting exclusively short- and long-therm charter clients (tour operators, groups, businesses and organizations). Transcend starts operations in 2024, with two newbuild boats (initially) with a planned charter fleet of a total of 8 riverboats/sisterships by 2027.

Each boat is yacht-style designed, with length 135 m, max capacity 120 passengers, 60 staterooms (30 connecting cabins/2-bath suites), wellness complex (sized 242 m2 / 2600 ft2) and focuses on wellness, customized premium services, onboard meetings and special events, multi-day land tours.

Transcend Cruises plans to regularly charter its riverboats to private parties for events like business meetings and incentive planning, tourism conferences, corporate and private parties (anniversaries, birthdays, celebrations, family reunions, team building), name-brand presentations and promotions.

The ship designer is TDoS/Tilberg Design of Sweden.

The shipbuilder is Den Breejen Shipyard (Hardinxveld-Giessendam, Netherlands).

MSC Explora Journeys (2021-founded/2023-inaugurated, managed by MSC Cruises USA)

Explora Journeys has a 6-ship fleet of smaller-sized expedition ships (MSC EXPLORA class) with volume 63900 GT-tons, max passenger capacity 1473 (922 lower berths), 13 decks, 461 staterooms.

Four Seasons Yachts (2021-founded) subsidiary of Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts

The brand starts operations in Jan 2026 with a 207-m-long, 180-passenger superyacht (Four Seasons I) with 14 decks and 95 staterooms. The shipbuilding order with Fincantieri (placed in July 2021) includes two more sisterships.

Storylines (2016-founded, operational since 2019) is run by Alister Punton and Shannon Lee and USA-based (NYC-headquartered).

The brand's inauguration is planned for 2023-Q4, with the newbuild luxury residential cruise ship MV Narrative.

Swan Hellenic (1950-founded as "Swans Tour Agency) - British cruise line brand headquartered in Limassol Cyprus

Swan Hellenic's fleet has 3 newbuilds ordered by the Russian company Vodohod (shipowner). Operations started in November 2021.

Tradewind Voyages UK (2020-founded, operational since July 2021)

The UK-based company currently charters the tall-sailing ship Golden Horizon (Flying Clipper).

Ambassador Cruise Line UK (2021-founded, operational since April 2022) is headquartered in Purfleet-on-Thames (Essex England).

The new brand currently operates two second-hand ships - Ambience (fka Satoshi & Pacific Dawn) and Ambition (fka AIDAmira).

Ambassador targets exclusively the UK source market, trying to take the place of CMV-Cruise And Maritime Voyages (2009-founded, 2020-defunct). The company's President and CEO is Christian Verhounig. The shipowner is CVI Group Ltd.

Foresee Cruises China (2021)

Foresee Cruises fleet currently has 1 ship (MS Dream Charming/ex Sea Princess) and started China-based operations in May 2021.

Seajets Ferries Greece (1989-founded, Athens-based ferry company operating mainly high-speed catamarans), cruise operations could start in 2021

During the Coronavirus crisis, the Greek ferry company Seajets acquired several cruise ships (from Carnival Corporation and RCG-Royal Caribbean) thus forming a potential fleet for cruising.

The fleet currently includes Aegean Myth (MS Maasdam), Aegean Majesty (MS Veendam), Aegean Goddess (P&O Pacific Aria), Majesty (Majesty of the Seas), Queen of the Oceans (P&O Oceana).

Saudi Cruise (2021-founded, Jeddah-based)

The company is fully-owned by Saudi Arabia's PIF (Public Investment Fund) and planned to operate Red Sea itineraries targeting mainly foreign tourists with culture-themed coastal voyages leaving roundtrip from Jeddah.

Mystic Cruises USA (2019-founded) subsidiary of Mystic Invest Portugal) operates vias AOV-Atlas Ocean Voyages

The shipowner is the Ferreira family-owned Portuguese financial holding with brands mainly in the travel tourism and leisure industries.

The company has a 6-vessel fleet (operated via AOV-Atlas Ocean), with some ships being seasonally chartered to Quark Expeditions and Nicko Cruises (brand of Mystic Invest). All ships operate on global itineraries. The company relies mainly on North American passenger sourcing with discounted fly-cruise deals.

TUI River Cruises (2019-established, operational since 2020) is owned by TUI AG and operated via its subsidiary "TUI UK and Ireland"

TUI's new river cruise brand targets predominantly the UK market with 3 riverboats (TUI Maya, TUI Skyla, TUI Isla). Each boat has capacity 155 pax plus 40 crew, length 135 m, 4 decks (3 with cabins).

CSSC Carnival China Cruise Shipping (founded 2015 October, headquartered in Hong Kong), started operations in 2019, in 2023 was inaugurated the brand Adora Cruises

The Carnival-CSSC company has a budget of USD 4 billion for newbuilds and cruise port terminals over 10 years (2015-2025). The company is a joint venture between Carnival Corporation, CIC (China Investment Corporation) and CSSC (China State Shipbuilding Corporation).

Most of CSSC Carnival is owned by the Chinese shareholders (60%), and the remainder by Carnival (40%). CSSC Carnival will build 2 new ships (133,50 tons each), with optional 4 more, with planned deliveries starting 2023. The shipbuilder is Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding Company (a joint venture between shipyard owner CSSC and Fincantieri). The shipbuilding contract was signed in November 2018 (2-unit cost USD 1,5 billion).

CSSC Carnival starts operations in late 2019 with two existing Costa ships - Atlantica (2200-passenger, since 2019) and Mediterranea (2100-passenger, since 2021).

Zen Cruises India (2018-founded subsidiary of Essel Group India) - President and CEO of Zen Cruises Pvt Ltd is Jurgen Bailom.

The shipowner Essel Group (1926-founded, headquartered in Mumbai India) is a conglomerate of several corporations with business divisions news, media, technology, entertainment, packaging, infrastructure developments, financial services, precious metals (gold and silver refinery), education, charity.

An India-based brand, Jalesh Cruises had 1 ship - MS Karnika (Pacific Jewel) - purchased in 2018 from P&O Australia. Jalesh Cruises suspended operations in November 2020 and Karnika ship was sold for scrap.

In December 2020 Essel Group established the new brand "Cordelia Cruises India" to take over the defunct "Jalesh Cruises". Cordelia Cruises (planned 2-ship fleet) was scheduled to start operations in June 2021 with Empress of the Seas (purchased from Royal Caribbean).

Norwegian Yacht Voyages (2017-established, rebranded from "Nordic Cruise Company")

Ultra-luxury / all-inclusive brand has 4 newbuild mega-yachts (polar expedition vessels with ice-strengthened hulls). Operations started in 2019.

Virgin Voyages (2017-established, Crawley /Sussex, England)
  • a subsidiary of Virgin Holidays Ltd (travel brand, owned by Virgin Group)
  • Virgin Group is an UK-based venture-capital company run by Richard Branson
  • Virgin Holidays Cruises (est. 2000 under the name "Fast Track Holidays") was acquired in 2007
  • Its name was changed to "Virgin Holidays Cruises" in 2009
  • owns 3 large liners (each 110,000 GT-tons, capacity 2860 passengers plus 1150 crew)
Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection (2017-founded, Miami-based)

3 mega-yachts with capacity 298 pax (149 balcony suites). Itineraries are in Europe, Canada New England, Caribbean, South Pacific

Exploris Cruise Line (2023, Paris France-based)

The new brand Exploris starts operations in December 2023 with Silversea's ship Exploris One/fka Silver Explorer (sold in January 2021).

Selectum Blu Cruises (2021-founded) is part of ANEX Tours Turkey. One of the world's largest travel agencies, ANEX Tours sells holidays (including ship cruises) since 1996.

The brand started operations in May 2021 with 1 ship (Blue Sapphire/ex Saga Sapphire). ANEX Tours plans to expand Selectum Blu Cruises' fleet to 3 (second-hand) ships. Itineraries are planned for Europe-Mediterranean, Asia and Caribbean.

"French America Line" is a USA river cruise company launching service in August 2016.

Targets the premium river cruising market in the USA with the newly refurbished MS Louisiane paddle-wheeler (150-passenger, fka Columbia Queen)

"Diamond Cruise" is a start-up Chinese company operating with departures out of Shanghai China.

It started with 1 ship (Aegean Paradise). Intends to invest USD 2,1 billion in newbuilds by the year 2020

Anteros Cruises is an LGBT cruise line since 2017 with a 400-passenger ship.

provides "luxury yacht-like experience" with unparalleled personalized service by highly trained personnel. Caribbean and Mediterranean itineraries range from 5 to 14 days, with homeports St Maarten, Colon, Barcelona, Piraeus-Athens

Abou Merhi Cruises is a Lebanese private / family-owned company and shipowner (since 2012) of Orient Queen.

Started operations in 2018 with Eastern Mediterranean cruises (to Greek Islands) leaving roundtrip from Beirut (Lebanon). Has 1-ship fleet (Orient Queen/fka Med Queen)

"Alteza Cruises" is a joint venture between the Argentina-based "Hotel Express Latam" and a Greek private investor. Started operations in November 2017.

Offers seasonal 4- to 11-night roundtrips from Ushuaia to Antarctica, and to Atlantic South America ports from Buenos Aires. Alteza Cruises are all-inclusive (shore excursions included on longer voyages)

"Royal Asian Cruises" (RAC) is a luxury cruise line based in Sri Lanka, with offices in India and the 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. The business focus is on India/Sri Lanka and the Europe/Southeast Asia markets.

The first vessel has capacity 800 passengers (launched in late-2015, homeported in Colombo Sri Lanka). The second has capacity 1500-2000 passengers (launched in early-2016).

Both ships feature "Tillberg Design" interiors. The itineraries list will include 7-days Maldives and Cochin, India, 3-4-days mini-cruises around Sri Lanka, and 10-11-days roundtrip voyages from Sri Lanka to Singapore.

The RAC cruise company is planning to invest by the end of 2020 a total of USD 720 million.

"Sterling Cruise Lines" (established 2015, headquarters in Miami)

Targets the Latin American market, has 1 ship (Sterling Gemini). The itinerary program offers year-round Caribbean cruises leaving from Aruba

Viking Ocean Cruises (established 2015) is a sister-line to Viking River Cruises (see in the above table). Both brand companies are owned by Torstein Hagan.
  • Viking Ocean started operations with all 4 newbuilds (by Fincantieri)
  • Along with the all-inclusive deals, Viking Ocean ships have many other features and amenities resembling their riverboat fleet mates.
  • Among those are alfresco lounge Aquavit, observation lounge Explorers, price-inclusive Wi-Fi, shore excursions, wines, and beers (at lunch and dinner).
  • Viking Ocean itineraries are in Europe, Asia, Caribbean, South Pacific
  • various one-way voyages are offered to ports in the Mediterranean and Baltic.
Blue World Voyages (2017-established) is a 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 Gene Meehan (chairman and founder), Fredy Dellis (co-founder) and John B Richards (CEO, former Starbucks president).

Before the company's official launch (May 2019), all Club members were asked about itineraries selection, cabin design, facilities, services, and onboard menus. Signature ship facilities include industry's largest Spa complex (as m2 per pax, with solarium, therapy tub, indoor-outdoor treatment rooms), 26 cabins (1- and 2-bedroom residences)

The company intends to refit an existing cruise ship with original capacity ~900 pax retrofitted down to 425 berths (225 cabins), allowing space for bigger staterooms, entire (dedicated) wellness deck, plus 26x one- and two-bedroom private residences available for purchase on the ship. Most cabins will be connecting, with French balconies, large bathrooms, walk-in closets. Of all the 225 staterooms, 25 are single. Two upper decks are with private residences. A full deck is dedicated to wellness, another full deck to sports-fitness.

Operations are planned to start in 2023 with 7-day Mediterranean itineraries.

Arctic Cruise Line (2018-founded, starting operations in 2021) is run by Gert Brask (CEO) - a private entrepreneur with experience in commercial fishing. The company's current offices are in Greenland and Denmark.

The new expedition cruise line will operate two 200-passenger vessels (polar-class new builds) with plans for a 5-ship fleet.

Cruise Retirement (2019-founded) is the US (Miami) and Australia (Melbourne) based company offering long-term residential cruise shipping with a planned start in 2020. The company's CEO is Dr. Marc Baron.Operations are planned to start in 2020 with the ship Enchanted Explorer (550-passengers plus 210 crew, vessel's current name is unknown/TBA). Vessel's USD 15-million drydock refurbishment (in Veracruz, Mexico) started in March 2019. The liner has buffet areas, a la carte restaurant, facilities for sporting activities (Spa, sauna, swimming pool), tours and land-based activities.
Style Cruise China (2019-founded) starts operations in 2022.The shipowner (Shanghai Style Cruise Industry Development Co Ltd) signed in May 2019 a shipbuilding deal with CMG (China Merchants Group) for the construction of two vessels. The newbuilds are with GT 37,000, pax capacity 534.

Ocean Residences is a new brand with chief executives Kristian Stensby (President-CEO), Alain Gruber (operations CEO) and Patrick Webster (financial CEO).

Ocean Residences (2020-founded) plans to start operations in 2024 with a single vessel (MS The Njord).

"MS The Njord" is a newbuild (superyacht-like ship) with length 282 m, width 34 m and draught 8 m. The ship will have 118 apartments (in different cabin configurations - 2 to 6 bedrooms per cabin), 16 suites, single cabins (for the crew), Sun Deck (2 swimming pools, hot tubs), several outdoor terraces, 6 restaurants and bar lounges, cooking studio, outdoor cinema, supermarket, boutique shops, garden lounge, wellness complex (gym, spa, studio for exercises), sports court, golf simulator, billiards room, personalized concierge services, 2 helicopters, 2 mini-submarines, 10 Zodiac boats, 2 fishing boats, mudroom (expedition gear storage), 4 luxury tender boats (for embarkation-disembarkation).

Well Star Travel Cruise China (2018-founded) is a Chinese state-owned company - a joint venture of CTS (China Travel Services International) and COSCO Shipping Group.

Star Travel Cruise plans short-breaks from homeports in China to ports in Japan and Southeast Asia (Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Philippines, Indonesia). The liner Piano Land (ex P&O Oriana) started operations in August 2019.

Kontiki Expeditions (2020-founded) is an Ecuador-based luxury small-ship cruising company, plans to start operations in 2020-Q3.

Kontiki Expeditions owns 2x yachts (9-cabin/18-passenger/10-crew each) and operates two 8-day Ecuadorian coastal itineraries - "The Toquilla Expedition" and "The Spondylus Expedition". The voyages are themed on wildlife viewing (seabirds, animals, flora), indigenous foods, professional onboard wellness program, culture/traditions and support to local communities.

World's largest cruise companies

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!

Largest Cruise Line Companies - CruiseMapper

(No 1) Carnival Corporation & plc (1972-founded American-Panamanian company) is the world's largest cruise shipowner, with 1/2 share of the market. The company is dual-listed (as Carnival Corp and Carnival plc), Southampton-headquartered, has a combined fleet of 100+ ships, 160,000+ berths, 10,000+ employees, ~75,000 crew, USD 38,9 billion in assets, USD 16,4B revenue (data 2016). Carnival owns the following brands (in brackets - the year of acquisition/establishment) - AIDA (2000), CCL-Carnival (1972), Costa (2000), Cunard (1998), HAL-Holland America (1989), Ibero (2007), P&O UK and P&O Australia (2003), Princess (2003), Seabourn (1992). Carnival's major stock-holder is the company founder's Arison family (47%).

(No 2) Royal Caribbean Group (RCG) - 1997-founded as an American-Norwegian cruise company. RCG is the 2nd largest cruise shipowner in the world, controls over 1/4 of the cruise market, with 58,000 employees, nearly USD 20 billion in assets, and almost USD 7B in revenue (data 2011). The combined fleet includes the brands Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity, Pullmantur (purchased 2006), CDF Croisieres de France (est 2008 / merged with Pullmantur in 2017). RCG also fully owns Air Pullmantur, and 50% of TUI Cruises (2009-founded joint venture with TUI AG).

(No 3) 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.

(No 4) 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.

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, USD 5,1 billion revenue, USD 13,5B 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).

Apollo Global Management LLC (founded in 1990 as Apollo Advisors). Apollo is one of the world's largest private investment companies (over USD 37 billion in assets, USD 16B 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, USD 71 billion in assets, USD 38B revenue - data 2011). Amongst 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.

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/1837-founded). P&O owned 6 line brands and 26 ships. The company merged into Carnival Corp in 2003.

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 in 1870, a core Mitsubishi company and currently the world's 10th largest cargo-container and shipping company. In the recent past, the majority of 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 USD 25 billion, about 55,000 employees worldwide, with 240 offices in 26 countries.

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:

  1. CLIA itself (world's largest, representing brands, operators, agents, port authorities, partners; engaged in training-marketing-research)
  2. ECC (European Cruise Council)
  3. ACA (Asia Cruise Association)
  4. PSA (Passenger Shipping Association)
  5. CLIA France (France, Association Francaise des Compagnies de Croisieres)
  6. ABREMAR (Brazil)
  7. NWCCA (Northwest and Canada Cruise Association)
  8. ACA (Alaska Cruise Association)
  9. 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:

  1. IMCI (International Marine Certification Institute)
  2. CCYIA (China Cruise and Yacht Industry Association)
  3. FIN (French Nautical Industries Federation)
  4. DBSV (German Boat and Shipbuilders Association)
  5. JBIA (Japan Boating Industry Association)
  6. HISWA (Dutch Boating Industry Association)
  7. BMF (British Marine Federation)
  8. NMMA (National Marine)

Now the list of all the rest large organizations:

  1. ACE (Association of Cruise Experts / UK)
  2. LCA (Leading Cruise Agents / UK)
  3. AECO (Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators)
  4. CSA (Caribbean Shipping Association)
  5. ECSA (European Community Shipowners Associations)
  6. 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.
  7. IG River Cruise (Europe)
  8. JOPA (Japan Oceangoing Passenger Ship Association)

This article is integrated with CruiseMapper's list of the world's largest shipbuilding companies.