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- #1Carnival Cruise Line#1 in Best Cruises from Tampa (tie)
First introduced in 2002, the 2,124-passenger Carnival Legend was last updated in May 2018 to include cosmetic updates and traveler favorites like the Alchemy Bar, BlueIguana Cantina and Tequila Bar, Guy's Burger Joint and the RedFrog Rum Bar. The ship provides a wide array of entertainment and activities to satisfy multigenerational crowds.
Young ones (ages 2 to 17) can play at organized, age-appropriate clubs while adults attend a show at the comedy club or hit the casino. The ship is also one of the first to include the Build-A-Bear Workshop at Sea.
When it comes to lodging, about 80 percent of the ship’s staterooms offer ocean views, and 80 percent of those cabins feature balconies. While Interior staterooms are more budget-friendly, Balcony and Suite category rooms are worth the splurge, according to recent passengers. All staterooms include flat-screen TVs and 24-hour room service.
The ship's food options include two main dining rooms, a steakhouse, a sushi restaurant, a buffet with everything from pizza to Chinese fare and more.
In 2019-20, Carnival Legend departs from Barcelona, London, New York, Vancouver, Tampa, Los Angeles and Venice for sailings in Alaska, Hawaii, Europe, the Caribbean and the Panama Canal. It also completes some transatlantic sailings.
- #1Celebrity Cruises#1 in Best Cruises from Tampa (tie)
Launched in 2002, Celebrity Constellation can accommodate up to 2,170 passengers. The 1-to-2 staff-to-guest ratio allows for more personalized attention than the industry's megaships do. Constellation is scheduled for a full refurbishment in May 2020, when it will receive brand-new staterooms, new lounge areas and luxurious refittings as part of a $500 million fleetwide modernization program.
The ship offers nine dining options, including three specialty restaurants that require advanced reservations and an additional fee. Constellation also offers the Luminae restaurant exclusively reserved for Suite Class passengers.
For entertainment, Constellation features nightly Broadway-style shows and live music, as well as youth clubs for younger cruisers ages 3 to 17. The whole family can participate in intellectual seminars, cooking classes from Top Chef at Sea, games at the Lawn Club and more. At night, visit one of the ship's many lounges or enjoy a film under the stars on the new Rooftop Terrace.
When it comes to lodging, the ship offers a wide range of cabin categories. Passengers can also choose from Concierge, Aqua and Family Ocean View category rooms, as well as a variety of suites that offer extras such as butler service and unlimited internet access.
In 2019-20, Celebrity Constellation sails throughout Asia, the Mediterranean, the Caribbean and more.
- #1Royal Caribbean International#1 in Best Cruises from Tampa (tie)
Introduced in 1997 and last refurbished in 2016, Rhapsody of the Seas lacks some of the flashier hallmarks of most Royal Caribbean ships. However, you'll still find a rock climbing wall and an LED poolside movie screen. Plus, with the capacity to transport 2,416 guests and 765 crew members, the ship offers a moderate 1-to-3 crew-to-passenger ratio.
About 60 percent of staterooms feature ocean views. Interior cabins range from 136 to 256 square feet, while the largest suites span more than 1,000 square feet. All cabins include flat-screen TVs and minibars. Past cruisers were particularly impressed with the service across the ship, especially in the accommodations.
In addition to the comfortable cabins, travelers enjoyed the cuisine. Guests can choose between the main dining room or the extensive buffet, as well as three specialty restaurants. Afterward, grab a nightcap in one of the multiple bars and lounges.
- #4Royal Caribbean International#4 in Best Cruises from Tampa
Introduced in 2002, Brilliance of the Seas houses 2,543 passengers and 848 staff members. The ship's last major refurbishment was in 2013, but it received some minor updates in April 2018 (like new furniture and fresh carpeting). The ship is big enough to offer an array of activities, yet small enough to pass through canals and offer more unique itineraries than larger ships in the fleet.
Brilliance of the Seas offers nine restaurants, including six specialty options. The ship also provides entertainment for the whole family, including poolside movies, a three-story theater, a rock climbing wall and a mini-golf course. While adults grab a cocktail at one of the bars, kids and teens can enjoy age-appropriate youth clubs, like the teens-only disco or the Royal Babies & Tots nursery.
As far as lodging goes, about 75 percent of the ship's cabins offer ocean views (and about half of those come with balconies). The most budget-friendly cabins are Interior staterooms (170 square feet). All include amenities like flat-screen TVs and minifridges.
- #5Holland America Line#5 in Best Cruises from Tampa (tie)
Launched in 1996 and last updated in 2016, the 1,350-passenger Veendam's smaller size caters to more mature R&R-seekers, with features like Lanai and Spa staterooms. Lanai cabins feature direct access to the Lower Promenade Deck, while Spa cabins grant more space (including private balconies) and exclusive spa treatments in the Greenhouse Spa & Salon. Travelers on a budget should look to Inside cabins, which offer 141 to 226 square feet and standard amenities like Euro-Top mattresses and premium massage showerheads.
The ship also boasts onboard amenities like the new America's Test Kitchen and the BBC-sponsored Earth Experiences. More active pursuits include a fitness center and sports courts. When it's time to dine, passengers can choose from dining venues ranging from the casual New York Pizza venue to the more formal Italian restaurant, Canaletto.
- #5Norwegian Cruise Line#5 in Best Cruises from Tampa (tie)
Extensively renovated in 2016, the 2,340-passenger Norwegian Dawn includes guest favorites like the Los Lobos authentic Mexican cantina and The Cellars wine bar.
While younger cruisers can take advantage of kids and teens clubs, play in the dinosaur-themed kids pool or hang out in the video arcade, adults can relax in six hot tubs, test their luck at the casino or get treatments at the Mandara Spa.
Passengers were impressed with the variety of the 14 dining options, including eight specialty venues that range from a sushi bar to a Brazilian steakhouse. More casual spots include the newly refurbished O’Sheehan’s Neighborhood Bar & Grill, which is open 24 hours a day.
The ship's accommodations also received a makeover; notably, the expanded Garden Villa Suites can comfortably sleep up to seven passengers. Other lodging options include Mini-Suites and Balcony, Oceanview and Interior category cabins. All staterooms come equipped with flat-screen TVs and minibars.
- #7Carnival Cruise Line#7 in Best Cruises from Tampa (tie)
Launched in 1998 and most recently updated in early 2018, Carnival Paradise carries up to 2,124 passengers and 920 crew members. It is now outfitted with Carnival's WaterWorks water park and a new deck with dozens of new staterooms, as well as several acclaimed eateries and bars, such as BlueIguana Cantina (which replaced Mongolian Wok), Guy's Burger Joint and RedFrog Rum Bar. Other onboard entertainment options include the Punchliner Comedy Club, Lip Sync Battle and stage shows. Plus, kids ages 2 to 17 can participate in supervised programming at one of the youth clubs while parents get treatments at the spa or relax at the Serenity Adult-Only Retreat.
Dining ranges from the new venues to a buffet to the classic dining rooms. As for sleeping arrangements, Paradise offers Interior and Ocean View staterooms (185 square feet), Balcony cabins and Suites (250 to 400 square feet). All cabins include flat-screen TVs and 24-hour room service.
- #7Norwegian Cruise Line#7 in Best Cruises from Tampa (tie)
The 2,402-passenger Norwegian Jade was renovated in early 2017. The updated ship is geared toward a diverse set of ages and traveler types. Plus, with 1,037 crew members, the service exceeded recent cruisers' expectations.
Aboard Jade, guests can choose from a spectrum of lodging options. While Inside cabins range from 138 to 143 square feet, the ship's Haven suites and villas measure between 440 and 4,700 square feet. These larger accommodations feature living and dining areas, balconies and private access to an exclusive courtyard.
Norwegian Jade features 13 restaurants (including seven specialty eateries) and a variety of bars, lounges and nightclubs. During the day, guests can take advantage of a wide array of activities, including a variety of sports, a spa and age-appropriate youth clubs.
- #9MSC Cruises#9 in Best Cruises from Tampa
MSC Armonia first debuted in 2001 and was the first to receive the Renaissance Program updates in late 2014, which added dining venues, two Lego playrooms, a water spray park, additional staterooms and more. The ship offers four stateroom categories: Interior, Ocean View, Balcony and Suite. All cabins include TVs and minibars.
When it comes to dining, the ship boasts four eateries, but no specialty restaurant. Passengers can choose between a number of bars and lounges, including a cigar bar and a disco. After grabbing a nightcap, you can head to the La Fenice Theater or the Palm Beach Casino.
During the day, cruisers can enjoy two pools, mini-golf and the Sports Center. While adults are getting treatments at the MSC Aurea Spa, kids and teens can play in specialized areas, including the new Chicco playroom designed for children under 3.
Despite the ample amenities, one point of contention among recent cruisers is the absence of quality service. Since the ship only carries about 721 crew members for all 2,679 guests, some travelers said the service is slightly slow and disorganized.
Disclaimers about ship ratings: A ship’s Health Rating is based on vessel inspection scores published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If a ship did not receive a CDC score within 22 months prior to the calculation of its Overall Rating, its Health Rating appears as N/A; in such a case, the ship’s Overall Rating is calculated using the average Health Rating of all CDC-rated ships within the cruise line. All ship Traveler Ratings are based on ratings provided under license by Cruiseline.com.
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