This article needs additional citations for verification. (April 2019) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
A cruise line is a company that operates cruise ships and markets cruises on oceans or rivers to the public. Cruise lines are distinct from passenger lines which are primarily concerned with transportation of their passengers. Cruise lines have a dual character: they are partly in the transportation business, and partly in the leisure entertainment business; a duality that carries down into the ships themselves, which have both a crew headed by the ship's captain, and a hospitality staff headed by the equivalent of a hotel manager.
Among cruise lines, some are direct descendants of the traditional passenger lines, while others were founded from the 1960s on specifically for cruising. The business has been extremely volatile; the ships are massive capital expenditures with very high operating costs, and a slight dip in bookings can easily put a company out of business. Cruise lines frequently sell, renovate, or simply rename their ships just to keep up with travel trends.
A wave of failures and consolidations in the 1990s has led to many companies to be bought by much larger holding companies and to operate as "brands" within larger corporations, much as a large automobile company holding several makes of cars. Brands exist partly because of repeat customer loyalty, and also to offer different levels of quality and service. For instance, Carnival Corporation & plc owns both Carnival Cruise Line, whose former image were vessels that had a reputation as "party ships" for younger travellers, but have become large, modern, yet still profitable, and Holland America Line, whose ships cultivate an image of classic elegance.
A common practice in the cruise industry in listing cruise ship transfers and orders is to list the smaller operating company, not the larger holding corporation, as the recipient cruise line of the sale, transfer, or new order. In other words, Carnival Cruise Line and Holland America Line. for example, are the cruise lines from this common industry practice point of view; whereas Carnival Corporation & plc and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., for example, can be considered holding corporations of cruise lines. This industry practice of using the brand, not the larger holding corporation, as the cruise line is also followed in the member cruise lines in Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the list of cruise lines, and the member-based reviews of cruise lines.
Largest cruise lines
The following is a list of 47 of the largest cruise lines and their market share as of 2018 according to Cruise Market Watch, as well as the combined market share of each of the cruise line holding companies, Carnival Corporation & plc, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, and Genting Hong Kong:
- Heavy fuel oil
- List of cruise lines
- List of cruise ships
- List of largest cruise ships
- List of ocean liners
- Cruising (maritime)
- River cruise companies
- "Cruise line definition". Travel industry dictionary. Retrieved 26 June 2016.
- "Ship sales and transfers". Cruise industry news. Retrieved 26 June 2016.
- "Cruise ship orderbook". Cruise Industry News. Retrieved 26 June 2016.
- "Member Cruise Lines". Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). Retrieved 26 June 2016.
- "Member reviews of cruise lines". Cruise Critic. Retrieved 26 June 2016.
- "2018 Worldwide Cruise Line Market Share". Cruise Market Watch. Retrieved 3 January 2019.