10 Worst Rated Cruise Lines on the Seas

Booking with one of these companies doesn’t mean you’re in for a nightmare at sea — but past customers have some complaints you should probably consider.

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Updated June 7, 2024
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As popular as cruise vacations are, there’s quite a bit that can go wrong on a cruise ship — from issues with food and/or restaurants to packed or oversold amenities to sub-par accommodations. 

And while cruises are often an excellent choice for the bargain vacationer, past customers have some warnings about popular cruise lines.

Ready to step up your travel game? We scoured online reviews to get a list of the 10 lowest-rated cruise lines — and what customers had to say about each.

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Costa Cruises

IB Photography/Adobe costa toscana cruise ship

Costa Cruises offers some incredible bargain vacations around the world — from Mediterranean voyages to treks to Dubai and United Arab Emirates — but customers have not always been pleased.

The cruise line has a 3.0 overall rating on Cruise Critic, a site where customers can leave reviews, making it the lowest-rated cruise line on this list. Former passengers had an array of complaints ranging from food to technology to things like bars onboard being closed.

MSC Cruises

Stefan Lambauer/Adobe msc orchestra sailing during sunset

MSC Cruises is a European company that offers many great bargains for trips to the Caribbean, the Bahamas, the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, and beyond.

While you’ll find plenty of happy customer reviews online, the line’s overall Cruise Critic rating is on the lower side — 3.3 — and previous customers tended to have issues with the food, restaurant service, cleanliness, and staff being generally disorganized.

P&O Cruises

Alexander/Adobe p and o cruise liner

Britain-based P&O; Cruises certainly has some perks — it sails to more than 70 destinations worldwide, and it’s one of the only cruise companies that has adults-only ships.

However, its Cruise Critic rating, 3.5, leaves a bit to be desired. While customers generally seemed to be pleased with the ships themselves, as well as onboard entertainment, several customers found their accommodations unsatisfactory and were unhappy with the food options.

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Norwegian Cruise Line

9parusnikov/Adobe norwegian jade luxury cruise ship

Norwegian prides itself on giving its passengers the “freestyle” vacation experience on all its ships — offering plenty of dining options, entertainment, and amenities with no set schedule so guests can enjoy at their leisure.

While one of the perks is that Norwegian has a huge number of bargain cruise options, previous customers had some serious complaints. The company’s Cruise Critic rating is 3.6, with the food, service, and lack of nighttime entertainment being common complaints.

Regent Seven Seas

Fitz/Adobe regent seven seas cruise ship

Regent Seven Seas is a luxury cruise line that offers all-inclusive experiences around the world. While you’ll find many happy past customers online, others had some serious concerns and issues.

The company’s overall rating on Cruise Critic is 3.7, with many of the complaints focused on onboard issues — either with the ship's mechanics or with cabins — and trouble reaching and getting answers or refunds from management.

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines

Paul Cartwright/Adobe fred olsen cruise lines ship

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines offers cruisers opportunities to see some unique ports as it operates smaller ships. From cruising around Norway’s fjords to a trek through the Adriatic Sea, the British company has many adventures to choose from.

The cruise line’s overall rating on Cruise Critic is 3.7 as of spring 2024, and guests had some serious complaints about crowded ports, issues with itineraries, and whether the vacation packages were worth the price tags.

Carnival Cruise Lines

NAN/Adobe carnival conquest cruise ship

Carnival is one of the more well-known cruise companies in the U.S. While its Cruise Critic rating is not terrible — 3.8 out of 5 — many customers had serious complaints.

A perk of booking with Carnival is it offers serious bargains and cruises worldwide, from the Bahamas to Alaska to Australia. While guests generally reported enjoying perks like views from their cabin balconies, many complaints were lodged about food and the boarding process.

Princess Cruises

dbvirago/Adobe sky princess cruise ship

Like Carnival, Princess Cruises did not have a terrible rating on Cruise Critic — 3.8 — but the customers who did have complaints had serious ones. The price versus value was a common concern, with several customers questioning whether the excursions offered on board were worth the extra cash.

On the plus side, Princess runs the gamut with cruising options — with destinations ranging from the California Coast to the Caribbean to Tahiti and the South Pacific.

Cunard

Nikolai Varbanov/Adobe black and white cruise ship

One of the great things about Cunard is the array of voyages it offers — from short trips across the Atlantic to grand and world voyages across and around Asia, Australia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas.

With that being said, the cruise line’s overall rating on Cruise Critic is 3.8, and many customers complained about food (mainly the wait to get both buffet and restaurant food).

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Silversea

Brad Nixon/Adobe cruise ship silver muse

Silversea is another luxury liner that guests had some serious complaints about. A perk of booking with Silversea is the all-inclusive packages — guests can enjoy an array of premium wines and spirits, in-suite dining, butler service with every suite, and more.

The company’s overall rating on Cruise Critic was 3.8 as well, and even negative reviewers praised the onboard service. It was the food and excursions/onboard activities that seemed to attract the most scorn.

Bottom line

Olena Zn/Adobe cruise ship near town perast

Even though these cruise lines have received some online jeering, they may offer some packages that work for you and your needs — just keep the shortcomings fellow cruisers have reported in mind when deciding if their vacation packages are worth your vacation budget. And use a great travel credit card to maximize your savings.

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Laura Gesualdi-Gilmore

Laura Gesualdi-Gilmore is a seasoned freelance writer who also teaches writing courses at Rutgers University. She's based in Jersey City and enjoys travel, live music and, of course, spending quality time with her pup.