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How Much Do You Know About The Different Types Of Cruise Ships?

How Much Do You Know About The Different Types Of Cruise Ships?

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For the vast majority of people, a cruise ship is simply a cruise ship but there are several different categories that are suited to certain environments. For example, if you were to go on a river cruise up the Nile or the Amazon, for example, you would travel on a vessel that bears no resemblance to the ocean-going liners used for long haul cruises from continent to continent. In this article, we’ll show you all different types of cruise ships and hopefully, help you choose which one of them would be ideal for your next cruise vacation.

The cruise ship you find yourself on depends entirely on where you are going and what you want to see but some of the cruise ships detailed below will not find themselves on cruise deals websites or similar. Here’s a rundown of some cruise ships you might find yourself on if you have a particular interest or are involved in a field of work that requires access to difficult areas.

1.   Mainstream Cruise Ships


This is the most common type of cruise ship and is often used for short to medium-haul cruises. With a capacity of between 800 and 3200 passengers, these vessels basically contain all facilities you’d expect of a regular resort including swimming pools, dining rooms, shops, bars, and nightclubs. Mainstream cruise ships can further be divided into two more different types of cruise ships.

Contemporary Cruise Lines

contemporary cruises

Contemporary cruise lines are the types of cruise ships with large vessels and most onboard entertainment options. These cruisers also offer the widest variety of cruise schedules and itineraries. This makes them perfect for families, small groups looking for entertainment options, as well as couples and honeymooners.

Upscale Contemporary Cruise Lines

luxury cruise

These cruise ships offer all the amenities of the regular contemporary cruise lines plus some more amenities to cater to upscale customers. Needless to say, these cruisers are amazing if you can afford them!

2.   Ocean Cruise Ships

ocean cruise

These massive vessels contain all the facilities that a mainstream cruise ship possesses but the vessel itself is more heavy-duty and purpose-designed to withstand the punishment delivered by the world’s biggest roughest seas. It’s commonly utilized in long-haul transcontinental voyages and world cruises.

These ships might not have as many entertainment options as contemporary cruisers but you can expect fewer people on board and more room to stretch your legs. Ocean cruise ships might not be the ideal choice for families but they’re perfect for adventure-seeking travelers from all age groups.

3.   Luxury Cruise Ships

luxurious cruise

These types of cruise ships usually sail or motor-powered and are equipped with the more discerning passenger in mind. These luxury vessels are equipped with the most luxurious fittings and fixtures and will also feature a superior level of cuisine and service in comparison to regular cruise ships, essentially a 5-star floating hotel. Luxury cruise ships can be further divided into three different types.

Premium Cruise Lines


Premium cruise lines are large ships that offer voyages to some of the most exotic destinations. These cruisers usually don’t dock in the city center because of their size but are a great choice for luxury travelers who seek luxurious accommodation, fine dining, and extensive activities, such as spa and wine tasting. Most of the passengers are wealthy people in their 40s and 50s or young honeymooners but there are always exceptions.

Ultra-premium cruise lines


Ultra-premium cruise lines offer similar amenities as premium cruise lines but are much smaller and offer voyages to less-traveled destinations and because of this, are priced higher than premium cruise lines. Moreover, because of their size, they dock near the heart of the city, allowing passengers not to lose any time getting to the city’s most popular tourist attractions. These cruisers are perfect for seasoned travelers and people who think that small touches make the difference (and are worth the price).

Ultra-Luxury Cruise Lines

These are the most luxurious cruise ships one can find. They cater to their customers’ every desire and are designed for people who desire the finest and can afford it. So, if you’re looking for a cruise with high-end amenities and an international atmosphere (and are ready to pay for it) ultra-luxury cruises are a great choice.

4.   Adventure Cruise Ships

adventure cruise

These bespoke ships are purpose-designed to go to places that larger vessels cannot. The type of people that would generally use these vessels are adventure travelers such as whale watchers. These ships are usually equipped to a very high standard with premium fixtures and fittings. If you think the activities most cruisers provide are boring and cruising with a pina colada in your hand just isn’t for you, you should definitely check out some adventure cruisers. Most of them include adventure activities such as kayaking, exploring remote fjords, or even walking atop a glacier!

5.   River Cruise Ships

River Cruise Ships

River cruises are becoming increasingly popular and bankside facilities have sprung up worldwide to meet their needs. Commonly much smaller than any seagoing vessel, they can range from a large converted paddle steamer to a traditional rice barge. Famous rivers that are popular for cruises include the Nile, the Amazon, the Mekong, The Danube and the Yangtze River in China. River cruises are great because the ships are tiny and they can dock anywhere they want to, giving you more flexibility for exploring new destinations.

Luxury Hotel Barges

hotel barge

Hotel barges offer everything river cruise ships do with some more luxury. Most of these cruisers cruise the canals of France, Belgium, Germany, and the UK, but there are a few cruisers in the US as well. They can accommodate between 5 and 24 guests and have a high staff-to-guest ratio which means you can expect superb service. These types of cruise ships are perfect for destination-oriented luxury travelers who want to explore more small towns and villages on their journey.

6.   Expedition Cruise Ships

Expedition Cruise Ships

Expedition cruise ships are used by specialist companies that offer customers an insight into the most inhospitable areas on earth such as the Arctic and Antarctic. These vessels are reasonably equipped for cruising, but the main purpose of the vessel is to go to places other vessels cannot. Obviously, this isn’t something most people are into and these types of cruise ships have the smallest target group but a lot of them are doing really well.

7.   Mega Cruise Ship

mega cruise ship

Just as their name suggests, mega cruise ships are the largest cruisers you can ever find. Ships that fall into this category can accommodate more than 5,000 guests and are some of the most sophisticated vessels in the world.

8.   Small Cruise Ship

small cruise

Small cruise ships can only accommodate up to a few hundred passengers and offer a more intimate and relaxing atmosphere while traveling to less familiar destinations. These cruise ships are perfect for travelers who seek a more in-depth experience of the regions they visit. Smaller ships can go to ports that are not accessible to large cruisers and cover a lot more exotic destinations on a single trip while providing all the luxury big cruisers do.

9.   Intimate Vessels

Intimate vessels are even smaller than small cruise ships and this category includes everything from river ships and mega-yachts to sailing vessels and expeditions ships. These vessels offer an upscale experience and oftentimes include overnights in ports. Another great reason to choose intimate vessels is the flexibility that they offer because they allow passengers to set an itinerary according to their needs.

10. Sailing Vessels and Yachts


These types of cruise ships include yachts, sail-assisted ships, and dual-purpose cargo ships. This category is also known as specialty lines and is perfect for travelers who seek a more intimate experience without breaking the bank and people who enjoy an educational type of vacation. It’s especially popular in Mediterranean countries like Italy, Greece, and Turkey, especially nowadays when the Global Pandemic has seriously affected the way we function.

How many of these types of cruise ships did you know about? Did you learn something new from this list? Let us know in the comments!

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types of cruise ships
types of cruise ships
types of cruise ships

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