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Compare: 10 Most Popular Cruise Ships

Compare: UK's 10 Most Popular Cruise Ships

Nearly everyone has a favorite cruise ship. In this chart, we outline the key distinctions among the 10 most popular cruise ships in the industry. Look for highlights of onboard accommodations, dining and entertainment, as well as ship itineraries. Don't have a favorite cruise ship just yet? Our picks just might inspire you to find the perfect vacation match.

Want more info about these top 10 cruise ships? Click on the vessel name below to read about ship highlights and find links to itineraries, a photo tour of the ship, a comprehensive expert review and hundreds of reader-submitted critiques.

Updated January 3, 2019

Britannia's maiden voyage

Everyone has a favourite. Our goal with this chart is to outline the key distinctions among the 10 most popular ships for UK passengers in an easily digestible way. So how do we define "popular"? – Put simply it's how many visits each ship gets on the Cruise Critic website since the start of the year.

If you want more information about a particular ship or to see photos, just click on the vessel name for a comprehensive expert review and hundreds of reader-submitted critiques.


Marella Discovery

Marella Discovery

Marella Discovery made its debut in June 2016 and has stayed at the top spot since then. The 1,830-passenger ship is not new, in fact it's 20-years old this year and once sailed as Royal Caribbean's Splendour of the Seas. However, it had a complete makeover and now boasts a number of popular new features including Kora La Asian restaurant, a puzzle room, a virtual band, revamped kids' facilities and redesigned public spaces. It's the first of three new ships for Marella Cruises: sister ship Marella Discovery 2 (the former Legend of the Seas) -- entered service in May 2017 and the line has revealed details of a third -- Marella Explorer.

Deployment: Palma de Mallorca until the end of the cruise season in October, before spending the winter in Barbados.

Sleep

  • The largest number of balcony cabins of any Marella ship
  • All cabins were completely refurbished
  • Suites have access to the Executive Lounge

Eat

  • The upper level of the main dining room has been turned into a (free) Italian restaurant, Gallery 47°
  • Two popular for-fee dining options: Asian restaurant Kora La and Surf & Turf Steakhouse
  • Plenty of free options including Snack Shack and The Glass House for tapas

Fun

  • Debut of the first Puzzle Room on a Marella ship
  • Climbing wall and mini-golf
  • West End-quality shows and entertainment


Marella Discovery

Marella Discovery 2

Marella Discovery 2 entered service on May 14, 2017, having sailed as Royal Caribbean's Legend of the Seas until April 2017, yet has already secured the number two spot in our Top 10 chart. Sister ship to Marella Discovery (the former Splendour of the Seas) Marella Discovery 2 has received a bow-to-stern makeover with stunning results. Many of the features from Marella Discovery have been carried across to Marella Discovery 2, including Bar Eleven, Snack Shack, Movies at Moonlight, and the popular Sushi Bar within Kora La restaurant. Marella Cruises has pared back some of the ship's former loud decor to create a more harmonious feel that will appeal to its British market.

Deployment: Homeported in Malaga, with additional sailings from Corfu, offering a total of six different itineraries through October 2017.

Sleep

  • Cabins range from 39-sqft single inside cabins to the 154-sqft executive suite with balcony.
  • 366 balcony cabins -- that's 40 per cent of all cabins with outside space
  • All cabins benefit from a cosmetic makeover, including fresh carpets, artwork and updated soft furnishings
  • Cabin Reviews
  • Deck Plans

Eat

  • The Glass House serves deli-cuisine until evening, when the menu turns to Hot Stone and a tapas-style offering.
  • Two popular for-fee dining options: Asian restaurant Kora La and Surf & Turf Steakhouse
  • Snack Shack is the ship's informal outdoor dining destination, serving festival-style fast food with a trendy British beach hut theme.

Fun

  • A rock climbing wall and mini-golf course
  • The Broadway Show Lounge features 11 shows, four of which are brand-new for Marella Discovery 2
  • Bar Eleven is located at the highest point of the ship, on Deck 11, and offers a chilled vibe during the day and a lively ambiance at night.

Britannia

Britannia

P&O Cruises' newest and largest ship specifically built for the U.K. debuted in March 2015 -- with HM The Queen presiding over the naming ceremony -- and stayed in the number one spot for the best part of a year. The 3,647-passenger vessel combines all the most popular aspects of the rest of the fleet -- Atul Kochhar's Sindhu restaurant, Olly Smith's The Glass House and the Strictly Come Dancing tie-up -- and adds some brand new features such as the Cookery Club and a TV Studio.

Deployment: Based in Barbados during winter for Caribbean cruises, Southampton in summer for the Mediterranean.

Sleep

  • First purpose-built single cabins with balconies
  • All outside cabins have balconies
  • All suites are butler-serviced

Eat

  • High-end molecular gastronomy in The Epicurean
  • Dine with the celebrity chefs in the Cookery Club
  • Atul Kochhar's Sindhu for high-end Indian cuisine

Fun

  • Limelight Club: A chance to see celebrity performers up close and personal
  • Crystal Room showcases ballroom dancing and Strictly dance offs
  • The biggest Crow's Nest bar in the fleet -- with 20 different type of British-distilled gins to choose from

Azura

Azura

The 3,100-passenger Azura is Ventura's younger sister (by two years), and has the same vibe and feel as her older sibling: family friendly, superb dining options, a new adults-only area, plus one or two extra features, including SeaScreen, the new outdoor cinema.

Deployment: Azura spends the winter in the Caribbean in Barbados; and the summer in Southampton cruising to Northern Europe and the Baltic.

Sleep

  • Superior Deluxe Balcony Cabins come with Champagne, fruit and chocolates on arrival.
  • The Suites have butler service, daily canapes, a coffee machine, newspapers and exclusive use of Seventeen for breakfast.
  • Families can be accommodated in all cabin grades except those for singles.
  • Cabin Reviews
  • Deck Plans

Eat

  • Dozen-plus dining options focus on casual eats
  • Main dining room, Crimson, is one of most vibrant at sea
  • Surprisingly good for-fee steakhouse

Fun

  • Adults-only areas including The Retreat
  • Great kids' facilities including appearances from Mr. Men and Little Miss Sunshine
  • There are 12 bars, including Brodies, a cross between a sports bar and traditional pub but with a small casino attached

Celebrity Silhouette

The 2,850-passenger Silhouette is the fourth of Celebrity's sleek, sophisticated and extremely popular Solstice-class ships. Combining big-ship amenities such as a huge spa and gym, big-production shows and a number of high-end restaurants, with small ship service and sophistication, Silhouette regularly gets 90 per cent + approval ratings from Cruise Critic members. The ship made its UK debut in May 2018 (replacing older sister Eclipse) and is already one of our most popular ships.

Deployment: Southampton during the summer, offering seven- to 14-night Norwegian fjords, Baltic Sea, Mediterranean, Canaries & Azores and Iceland and Ireland sailings until October; and Fort Lauderdale during the winter for Caribbean cruises.

Sleep

  • 121 connecting staterooms and four Family Ocean View Staterooms with verandahs
  • AquaSpa cabins include spa-oriented cosmetics, gels and bath amenities; upgraded linens and access to an exclusive room service menu.
  • The 44 Sky Suites have a 79-square-foot verandah accessed through floor-to-ceiling sliding-glass doors.
  • Cabin Reviews
  • Deck Plans

Eat

  • The top deck Lawn Club Grill features DIY steaks and seafood
  • Tuscan Grille has the best view of any restaurant afloat, being situated all the way aft
  • The Porch is a casual top deck eaterie with an emphasis on seafood

Fun

  • New Hideaway replaces Team Earth
  • World Class Bar features craft cocktails and top mixologists
  • For-fee "Alcoves" area for a VIP experience on the top deck lawn

Photo Tour of Celebrity Silhouette


Aerial of Marella Explorer

Marella Explorer

Marella Explorer started out at Celebrity Galaxy in 1996 and later became TUI Cruises' Mein Schiff 1 before undergoing the transformation that has turned it into the newest member of the Marella fleet. Despite its 22 years of age, it's arguably the line's most modern vessel, boasting 13 new high-tech production shows and a DJ emulator. Passengers will also find 10 dining venues, including favourites Kora La and Surf & Turf, as well as new sushi, pizza and tapas restaurants, and a new bar-nightclub-casino concept called Indigo. Marella Explorer's sister ship, Marella Explorer 2, is set to debut in 2019.

Deployment: Marella Explorer will alternate between Europe sailings in the summer and the Caribbean during the winter season.

Sleep

  • 14 family balcony cabins
  • Standard balcony cabins with more external space
  • The largest standard inside cabins in Marella's fleet

Eat

  • 10 restaurants, including favourites Kora La, Surf & Turf, as well as ...
  • New eateries Umi Sushi and The Mediterranean (pizza and tapas)
  • Scoops ice cream parlour, offering quirky bicycle-style seating

Fun

  • 13 new production shows, featuring steampunk and cinema themes, as well as 4D smells
  • Onboard partnership with luxury spa brand Champneys
  • New Indigo lounge combining a bar, nightclub and casino
  • The Verandah adults-only sun deck

Marella Dream

Marella Dream

Marella Dream is still popular, despite having been pushed to the number seven spot by its two new fleetmates. Marella took over the vessel from Costa Cruises in April 2010, and the ship underwent a multimillion-pound refit in 2012 and 2014. Dream featured on a TV show called Showboaters, and in two popular YouTube videos involving free running which showcases the ship. The 2014 refit saw a general refurbishment as well as a new speciality Asian restaurant, Kora La.

Deployment: Mediterranean cruises out of Palma, Mallorca, in the summer; Jamaica throughout the winter.

Sleep

  • 764 cabins in categories ranging from insides to suites
  • Only six cabins -- grand suites -- have balconies
  • 19 single cabins and four wheelchair-accessible cabins
  • Deck Plans

Eat

  • Asian-themed a la carte restaurant Kora La, specializing in Indian and Chinese cuisine
  • The Explorers Lounge & The Coffee Port offers speciality coffees
  • Speciality restaurant allows you to grill your own food on super-heated volcanic rocks

Fun

  • High-ceilinged Broadway Theatre hosts musical reviews
  • A headlining entertainer performs twice each week
  • Daily enrichment limited to lectures and port talks

Ventura

Ventura

The 3,100-passenger Ventura is a new entry in our charts, coming in at eighth place. The older sister of Azura (which sits at number four), by two years, the ship has a similar family friendly vibe with great dining options including Atul Kochhar's Sindhu and The Epicurean, and an adults-only area called The Retreat.

Deployment: Ventura spends the winter in the Caribbean in Barbados; and the summer in Southampton cruising to Spain, the Canaries and the Eastern Mediterranean.

Sleep

  • Ventura has 1,555 cabins, of which 434 are inside, 1,103 are outside and 881 have a balcony
  • The Suites have butler service, daily canapes, a coffee machine and newspapers.
  • Two AE grade suites at the forward end of Deck 9 have a second bedroom -- ideal for families
  • Cabin Reviews
  • Deck Plans

Eat

  • High-end molecular gastronomy in The Epicurean
  • Marco Pierre White prepares the Gala Dinners
  • Atul Kochhar's Sindhu replaced 17

Fun

  • Adults-only area, The Retreat
  • Great kids' facilities including appearances from Mr. Men and Little Miss Sunshine
  • There are 12 bars, including The Glass House, wine bar with tapas from wine guru Olly Smith

Independence of the Seas

Independence of the Seas

It may be in its 10th year, but the ever-popular Independence of the Seas (or "Indy" as the ship is fondly known), burst back into our Top 10 after a multi-million makeover which saw a host of new features including Sky Pad, a virtual reality trampoline experience; a laser tag arena, a puzzle break room, The Observatorium; two water slides and a kids' aqua park, as well as new dining and drinking venues -- and 107 new cabins.

Deployment: The ship is based in Southampton from May to October and in Florida over the winter months.

Sleep

  • Ocean View Panoramic Suites were added in the 2018 refurb, accommodating up to six people.
  • A total of 07 new cabins were added in the 2018 refit.
  • Indy features a Presidential Family Suite which comes in at 1,215 square feet, with an 810-square-foot balcony and sleeps up to 14.

Eat

  • Izumi Sushi & Hibachi is a fantastic new addition to the ship.
  • Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade offers bar food and all the major sporting fixtures. 
  • Fish & Ships is a new casual eaterie next to Splashaway Bay, a new kids waterpark.

Fun

  • Laser Tag, a Puzzle Break Room and Skypad -- the new VR trampoline -- are all new for 2018.
  • Studio B splits its time between as an ice skating rink and as the venue for Laser Tag
  • "Grease -- the Musical" is one of the best shows onboard a ship.

Aerial of Marella Celebration

Marella Celebration

Built as Holland America Line's Noordam (III) in 1984, this 34-year-old ship still cracks the top 10 -- a testament to its staying power, despite the fact that it's showing its age in a few places. It offers passengers a throwback to what ships were like decades ago, maintaining an elegant feel with its angular exterior design and other touches -- like real teak decking -- that you just don't see on most modern ships. Just like the ship, passengers who sail on it are young at heart, generally dancing the night away until the wee hours. For a ship of this size, there's also an impressive selection of dining, including Kora La and Hot Stone at the Terrace Grill, which respectively offer Asian and a large selection of grilled meat dishes.

Deployment: Marella Celebration visits the Canaray Islands and the Eastern and Western Mediterranean during the summer and sails Caribbean itineraries during the winter months.

Sleep

  • Solo inside and outside cabins available for cruisers travelling alone
  • 20 suites (unfortunately none with balconies) featuring iPod docks, bath tubs and Clarins toiletries
  • 4 accessible cabins and two interconnecting staterooms
  • Deck plans

Eat

  • Variety of cuisines, including for-fee Asian and British options
  • Hot Stone at the Terrace Grill, providing a selection of grilled meats
  • Lido Restaurant offering late-night buffet fare until 1 a.m.

Fun

  • Poolside quizzes that feature useless knowledge in an unusual atmosphere
  • Demonstrations like cocktail making and ice carving
  • Lively nightlife in the onboard theatre, bars and disco
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