The 15 Largest Cruise Lines In The World

By Caitlin Mazur
Sep. 4, 2022
Fact Checked
Cite This Webpage Zippia. "The 15 Largest Cruise Lines In The World" Sep. 4, 2022,

Largest Cruise Lines Research Summary

  • The largest cruise line in the world is Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), with a revenue of $28.2 billion and 1.4 million passangers in 2021.

  • As of 2021, the global cruise line industry has a market size of $7.25 billion.

  • Over 2.2 million passengers went on cruises in 2021.

  • The global cruise line market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 11.0% through 2028.

Cruise lines or cruise companies are classified as passenger shipping corporations, associations, or organizations. The cruise line industry offers individuals leisure travel without needing to hop on a plane.

The cruise ships developed for these organizations are massive, offering everything from a travel experience, great food, company, entertainment, and tours. Many of the individual brands provide unique activities and signature amenities to their clients aboard the vessels.

The four top cruise lines own much of the cruise line market, with their market share projected to grow to 87.6% by 2021. Many of these companies are well-established passenger shipping brands, founded in the latter half of the 20th century when cruise ships became more popular.

There are a variety of different cruise lines, but typically, they can be classified into 3 different types: mainstream, premium, and luxury.

From luxury brands to budget deals, there’s something for everyone on a cruise ship. The 15 largest cruise lines in the world are as follows:

2.2 million passengers went on cruises in 2021

Diving Deeper into the Top 15 Cruise Lines in the World

  1. Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC)

    Revenue (2021): $28.2 billion
    Passengers (2021): 1.4 million

    Founded in 1970 in Naples, Italy, MSC is a Swiss-Italian-owned shipping line with a presence in all the major ports of the world. Their cruise line division, MSC Cruises focuses on holiday cruises for their passengers.

    MSC Cruises is the world’s largest privately held cruise company, and fourth-largest in the world, boasting a 7.2% share of all cruise line passengers in the market.

    In 2019, MSC Cruises rolled out the world’s first personal cruise assistant, called ZOE. This device is found in every room on the ship and is available to ask questions about your stay, reserve excursions, check your bill, and more.

    This artificial intelligence device is featured on two of their existing ships and is planned to be featured on any new ship builds in the future.

  2. Carnival Corporation

    Revenue (2021): $1.908 billion
    Passengers (2021): 5.8 million

    Founded in 1972, Carnival Corporation is a British-American cruise operator and currently holds the title of the world’s largest travel leisure company.

    Carnival boasts over 100 vessels over ten different cruise line brands. It is a dual-listed company, meaning it operates as two companies, Carnival Corporation and Carnival plc, functioning as a single entity.

    The company was initially publicly offered on the New York Stock Exchange in 1987 with the intention to generate capital for future acquisitions. During the 1990s, Carnival acquired a variety of companies including Holland America Line, Windstar Cruises, Seabourn Cruise Line, among others.

    Over the years, they have continued to acquire other companies as well as develop new vendors such as CSSC Carnival Cruise Shipping. The company currently has a variety of headquarters across the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, China, Italy, and Germany.

  3. Royal Caribbean Group

    Revenue (2021): $1.532 billion
    Passengers (2021): 3.3 million

    Founded in 1997 when Royal Caribbean Cruise Line purchased Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean Group is an American-owned global cruise company based out of Miami, Florida. It holds the title of second-largest cruise line operator in the world.

    This organization owns three cruise lines, Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, and Silversea Cruises. In addition to their cruise lines, Royal Caribbean Group has a 50% stake in TUI Cruises in a joint venture with TUI AG.

    This cruise line is specifically tailored for German-speaking customers who are looking for a premium cruise line and experience.

  4. NCLH-Norweigan

    Revenue (2021): $0.648 billion
    Passengers (2021): 1.3 million

    Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH) is a holding company domiciled in Bermuda and headquartered in Miami, Florida. This organization owns and operates three different cruise lines, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Oceania Cruises, and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.

    In February 2011, NCLH was incorporated as a Bermuda exempt company before debuting on the NASDAQ in 2013. NCLH is the third-largest cruise operator in the world, controlling 9.5% of the cruise market’s share.

    Today, unfortunately, NCLH faces financial difficulties following the suspension of cruise voyages due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

  5. Genting Hong Kong: Dream Cruises

    Revenue (2021): $723 million
    Passengers (2021): 264,100

    This holding company operates cruise and resort businesses, with their largest cruise line being Dream Cruises. Headquartered in Hong Kong, Genting established Dream Cruises in 2015 as an Asian luxury cruise line, debuting their first cruise in November of 2016.

    In August 2020, Genting Hong Kong suffered financial losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, suspending all payments to creditors. This luxury cruise line features all-suite, all-inclusive luxury packages for their guests.

  6. Disney Cruise Line (DCL)

    Revenue (2021): $653 million
    Passengers (2021): 312,200

    This cruise line is a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Company. In 1996, the Magical Cruise Company Limited launched their first vessel in London, with headquarters in Celebration, Florida.

    This operation has four ships: Disney Magic, Disney Wonder, Disney Dream, and Disney Fantasy with three more ships scheduled to join the fleet by 2025. As of 2015, Disney Cruise Lines had 2.8% of the entire cruise market by passenger and 2.4% by revenue.

  7. Hurtigruten AS

    Revenue (2021): $334 million
    Passengers (2021): 122,300

    This Norwegian-based company is a ferry service and cruise line operating out of Norway. Part of their business is operating a ferry service along the Norweigan coast, while the other part is their cruise line.

    The organization was formed as a result of Troms Fylkes Dampskibsselskap (TFDS) and Ofotens og Vesteraalens Dampskibsselskab (OVDS) merging together in March 2006. Many of their cruise ships offer expeditions to Antarctica as well as Iceland, the Mediterranean, and Argentina.

  8. Virgin Cruises

    Revenue (2021): $303 million
    Passengers (2021): 111,100

    Headquartered in Florida, Virgin Voyages was the result of Virgin Group and Bain Capital merging together to form the organization in 2015. In June 2020, there was only one single ship in their fleet, with three more scheduled to make their debut for up to 2,700 passengers each.

    Virgin Voyages’ debut was pushed back from April 1, 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic until October 16, 2020.

  9. Fred Olsen Cruise Lines

    Revenue (2021): $303 million
    Passengers (2021): 110,700

    This Norwegian-owned cruise shipping line is based in Suffolk, UK. Currently, its operation includes four cruise ships, but the company was founded in 1848 by three Olsen brothers.

    This company is currently run by the fifth generation of the Olsen family and includes individuals skilled in both cruise and passenger shipping trades. The organization’s fleets typically stay within UK ports, with one outlier; a winter Caribbean cruise program in Barbados.

  10. Marella Cruises

    Revenue (2021): $281 million
    Passengers (2021): 102,900

    This British cruise line entered the cruise line market in 1973 but due to financial difficulties, shut down its operations in 1976. In 1995, they were in a position to open up their line again, after a competitor entered the cruise line industry.

    Marella Cruises holds about 1% market share of the worldwide cruise market and features four current ships, with one planned to join the fleet soon.

  11. Ponant/Paul Gauguin Cruises

    Revenue (2021): $233 million
    Passengers (2021): 85,400

    Founded in 1988, Ponant, or Compagnie du Ponant is a French-owned cruise ship operator. Founded by officers from the French Merchant Navy, this organization now operates eleven ships. This luxury cruise company offers all kinds of cruises, including Antarctica.

    The company is passionate about sustainability and has established the PONANT Foundation with the intention to conserve oceans and the poles by promoting exchanges between populations.

  12. Star Cruises

    Revenue (2021): $219 million
    Passengers (2021): 80,200

    Headquartered in Hong Kong, Star Cruises operates primarily in the Asia Pacific market including destinations to Japan, Vietnam, and other Asian destinations. This organization is another offshoot of Genting Group in Malaysia.

    The company currently has five ships in operation with a new class of ships planned for future voyages. Their packages offer a variety of options, many with all-inclusive options for clients.

  13. Celestyal Cruises

    Revenue (2021): $175 million
    Passengers (2021): 64,100

    Founded in 2014, Celestyal Cruises is the only cruise company based in Greece. Currently, their fleet consists of four ships with expeditions to Greek, Turkish, and Cuban ports.

    Their offerings range from 3-day to 7-day cruises, offering a wide variety of cruise types including themed ships and experiences.

  14. Viking Cruises

    Revenue (2021): $124.5 milliom
    Passengers (2021): 143,700

    Based in Switzerland and headquartered in Los Angeles, California, Viking Cruises is a cruise line that provides adventures on rivers, ocean, and expeditions. Their three divisions are named Viking River Cruises, Viking Ocean Cruises, and Viking Expeditions.

    The company has 76 river vessels, 6 ocean ships, and offers experiences throughout the Americas, the Caribbean, Europe, Russia, Egypt, and Asia.

  15. TUI Cruises

    Revenue (2021): $27.91 million
    Passengers (2021): 330,100

    TUI cruises is a German-based cruise company, formed in 2007 between TUI AG and Royal Caribbean Cruises as a joint venture. This specific line is targeted towards German tourists and competes heavily with AIDA Cruises.

    Their fleet features cruise ships across three brands, TUI Cruises, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, and Marella Cruises. This is a premium cruise line and its amenities include food, entertainment, and amenities, all tailored for a German experience.

    The company is focused on environmental improvements across operations, achieving a 6.5% carbon efficiency improvement across all cruise operations in 2020.

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating / 5. Vote count:

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.


Caitlin Mazur

Caitlin Mazur is a freelance writer at Zippia. Caitlin is passionate about helping Zippia’s readers land the jobs of their dreams by offering content that discusses job-seeking advice based on experience and extensive research. Caitlin holds a degree in English from Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, PA.

Related posts