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Monday,  February 26, 2024 2:46 AM 

Know your cruise lines

Know your cruise lines
Ming Tappin

Ming Tappin is a cruise industry expert and is the owner of Your Cruise Coach.

Recommending the right cruise for your clients is crucial, you want to make sure it is a right fit for them or you might turn them off cruising completely. With so many cruise lines out there, it can be daunting for a travel agent to know them all. Here are some basics.

A lot of agents use a star rating to describe a cruise line, because that’s how land resorts are rated and it’s what the clients understand. This is fine, but please at least start with 4-stars, as anything less will give clients the wrong impression that a cruise is a basic experience. A better way to describe cruise lines is to use the industry categorization terms – Mass Market, Premium, Premium Deluxe & Luxury.

Mass Market

As the category suggests, these cruise lines offer something for everybody. Also called Contemporary lines, they operate big ships in the 2,500-5,000 capacity range, with the goal of introducing cruising to as many people as possible. One of the biggest misconceptions about cruising from the general public is “I’ll be trapped on the ship with nothing to do."

Mass-market cruise lines make sure this is furthest from the truth. They do so by offering a wide array of accommodation types for all ages and budgets; and new ships with all the bells and whistles offer endless dining venues, entertainment and activities onboard. There is a variety of good food and efficient, attentive service that rival the best island resorts. Guests can sail to all corners of the globe, but the primary focus is on the most popular destinations – Caribbean, Europe, Alaska & Mexico. Mass-market cruise lines include Carnival, Costa, Disney, MSC, Norwegian, Princess and Royal Caribbean.


Premium lines have mid-size to large ships from 1,200-3,000 capacity. There is a stronger focus towards fine dining, relaxation and personal enrichment. On-board entertainment and activities are there, but not as numerous or bustling as the mass-market counterparts. Also suitable for multi-generational travel, premium cruise lines serve first timers or repeaters looking for an elegant and quieter onboard experience. Premium cruise lines sail to the same global destinations, with opportunities for longer voyages that include some off-the-beaten-path destinations. Premium cruise lines include Celebrity, Cunard and Holland America.

In the next column, we will look at Premium Deluxe and Luxury Categories.