The popular UK consumer organization Which? has ranked cruise lines, with surprising results for the most popular and least popular oceangoing cruise lines.
More than 1,700 respondents participated in the survey, comparing traits such as customer service, onboard facilities, cabin quality, food and drink, entertainment and more to create comprehensive rating scores.
Which? Ranks Cruise Lines
Following a survey of 1,727 consumers, Which? has compiled rankings of oceangoing cruise lines based directly on passenger feedback. The results are somewhat surprising, particularly with seemingly low overall scores.
A variety of traits were examined to compile the overall scores, including customer service, passenger space, onboard facilities such as public areas and things to do, stateroom quality, food and drink, port excursions, entertainment, and social atmosphere.
More unique characteristics polled include “description matching reality” which would examine truth in advertising and overall guest expectations. “Value for money” was also polled, but this could be a very subjective measure for travelers with different budgets. “Itinerary” was also part of the survey, but could likewise vary greatly depending on individual sailings.
The survey was conducted in November 2022, and asked guests about voyages they had taken within the past two years. This would include some of the initial restart, post-pandemic sailings where conditions were dramatically different aboard ships, especially when guest capacities continued to be capped and passenger space might have been significantly skewed.
Which? is an independent organization and does not receive “freebies” from product manufacturers, retailers, or providers, including cruise lines or travel agencies.
Highest Scoring Lines
All-inclusive luxury cruise lines naturally scored highest on the survey, with Noble Caledonia Ocean Cruises coming in at the top spot with an overall rating of 90%. Viking Ocean Cruises, Saga Ocean Cruises, Seabourn, Oceania Cruises, Marella Cruises, and Regent Seven Seas Cruises all followed suit in the 80-87% range.
Relative newcomer to the cruise market Virgin Voyages also scored high at 80%. The adults-only cruise line had exceptionally high marks for the food and drink as well as the description matching reality categories, though several other categories were not rated due to too few responses to create a meaningful result.
Carnival Cruise Line – one of the largest passenger cruise lines in the world – rated 79%, what some travelers might consider a higher-than-expected score from a cruise line that regularly receives poor attention for the exploits of some unruly guests. Yet Carnival’s onboard facilities, social atmosphere, and description matching reality all received top scores.
Disney Cruise Line received a 78% rating, with Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean International both coming in at 77%.
Surprisingly Low Scores
Further down the charts, the lowest scores surveyed surprisingly belong to Princess Cruises, which came in at the very bottom of the list with a 67% rating.
Not one aspect of the various poll categories for Princess Cruises received a 5-star rating. While the cruise line does have both its fans as well as its detractors, some of its low rating might be attributed to a perceived class-like pricing system, with different package add-ons leading to confusing fares and different levels of inclusive items based on which package is purchased.
Also at the bottom of the list is rapidly growing MSC Cruises, with a 68% overall rating. As with Princess Cruises, not one aspect of MSC Cruises rated at 5-stars. The same goes for second-to-last line Costa Cruises, which rated a 69%.
It should be noted that guests’ responses could also be dramatically influenced by factors well outside any cruise line’s control, such as poor weather, personal illness, or unreasonable expectations such as a poor rating because a cruise line may not carry a particular passenger’s favorite brand of soda or play their favorite music.
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