Britannia's maiden voyage

Everyone has a favourite. Our goal with this chart is to outline the key distinctions among the 10 most popular ships for UK passengers -- accounting for more than 22,000 berths -- in an easily digestible way. The ships' popularity is determined by the number of page views accrued since the start of the year.

If you want more information about a particular ship or to see photos of the ship, just click on the vessel name for a comprehensive expert review and hundreds of reader-submitted critiques.

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TUI Discovery

TUI Discovery

TUI Discovery made its debut in June 2016 and has stayed at the top spot since then. The 1,830-passenger ship is not new, in fact it's 20-years old this year and once sailed as Royal Caribbean's Splendour of the Seas. However, it had a complete makeover and now boasts a number of popular new features including Kora La Asian restaurant, a puzzle room, a virtual band, revamped kids' facilities and redesigned public spaces. It's the first of three new ships for Thomson Cruises: sister ship TUI Discovery 2 (the former Legend of the Seas) -- entered service in May 2017 and the line has revealed details of a third -- TUI Explorer.

Deployment: Palma de Mallorca until the end of the cruise season in October, before spending the winter in Barbados.

Sleep

  • The largest number of balcony cabins of any Thomson ship
  • All cabins were completely refurbished
  • Suites have access to the Executive Lounge

Eat

  • The upper level of the main dining room has been turned into a (free) Italian restaurant, Gallery 47°
  • Two popular for-fee dining options: Asian restaurant Kora La and Surf & Turf Steakhouse
  • Plenty of free options including Snack Shack and The Glass House for tapas

Fun

  • Debut of the first Puzzle Room on a Thomson ship
  • Climbing wall and mini-golf
  • West End-quality shows and entertainment


TUI Discovery

TUI Discovery 2

TUI Discovery 2 entered service on May 14, 2017, having sailed as Royal Caribbean's Legend of the Seas until April 2017, yet has already secured the number two spot in our Top 10 chart. Sister ship to TUI Discovery (the former Splendour of the Seas) TUI Discovery 2 has received a bow-to-stern makeover with stunning results. Many of the features from TUI Discovery have been carried across to TUI Discovery 2, including Bar Eleven, Snack Shack, Movies at Moonlight, and the popular Sushi Bar within Kora La restaurant. Thomson Cruises has pared back some of the ship's former loud decor to create a more harmonious feel that will appeal to its British market.

Deployment: Homeported in Malaga, with additional sailings from Corfu, offering a total of six different itineraries through October 2017.

Sleep

  • Cabins range from 39-sqft single inside cabins to the 154-sqft executive suite with balcony.
  • 366 balcony cabins -- that's 40 per cent of all cabins with outside space
  • All cabins benefit from a cosmetic makeover, including fresh carpets, artwork and updated soft furnishings
  • Cabin Reviews
  • Deck Plans

Eat

  • The Glass House serves deli-cuisine until evening, when the menu turns to Hot Stone and a tapas-style offering.
  • Two popular for-fee dining options: Asian restaurant Kora La and Surf & Turf Steakhouse
  • Snack Shack is the ship's informal outdoor dining destination, serving festival-style fast food with a trendy British beach hut theme.

Fun

  • A rock climbing wall and mini-golf course
  • The Broadway Show Lounge features 11 shows, four of which are brand-new for TUI Discovery 2
  • Bar Eleven is located at the highest point of the ship, on Deck 11, and offers a chilled vibe during the day and a lively ambiance at night.

Britannia

Britannia

P&O Cruises' newest and largest ship specifically built for the U.K. debuted in March 2015 -- with HM The Queen presiding over the naming ceremony -- and stayed in the number one spot for the best part of a year. The 3,647-passenger vessel combines all the most popular aspects of the rest of the fleet -- Atul Kochhar's Sindhu restaurant, Olly Smith's The Glass House and the Strictly Come Dancing tie-up -- and adds some brand new features such as the Cookery Club and a TV Studio.

Deployment: Based in Barbados during winter for Caribbean cruises, Southampton in summer for the Mediterranean.

Sleep

  • First purpose-built single cabins with balconies
  • All outside cabins have balconies
  • All suites are butler-serviced

Eat

  • High-end molecular gastronomy in The Epicurean
  • Dine with the celebrity chefs in the Cookery Club
  • Atul Kochhar's Sindhu for high-end Indian cuisine

Fun

  • Limelight Club: A chance to see celebrity performers up close and personal
  • Crystal Room showcases ballroom dancing and Strictly dance offs
  • The biggest Crow's Nest bar in the fleet -- with 20 different type of British-distilled gins to choose from

Azura

Azura

The 3,100-passenger Azura is Ventura's younger sister (by two years), and has the same vibe and feel as her older sibling: family friendly, superb dining options, a new adults-only area, plus one or two extra features, including SeaScreen, the new outdoor cinema.

Deployment: Azura spends the winter in the Caribbean in Barbados; and the summer in Southampton cruising to Northern Europe and the Baltic.

Sleep

  • Superior Deluxe Balcony Cabins come with Champagne, fruit and chocolates on arrival.
  • The Suites have butler service, daily canapes, a coffee machine, newspapers and exclusive use of Seventeen for breakfast.
  • Families can be accommodated in all cabin grades except those for singles.
  • Cabin Reviews
  • Deck Plans

Eat

  • Dozen-plus dining options focus on casual eats
  • Main dining room, Crimson, is one of most vibrant at sea
  • Surprisingly good for-fee steakhouse

Fun

  • Adults-only areas including The Retreat
  • Great kids' facilities including appearances from Mr. Men and Little Miss Sunshine
  • There are 12 bars, including Brodies, a cross between a sports bar and traditional pub but with a small casino attached

Celebrity Eclipse

Celebrity Eclipse

The 2,850-passenger Eclipse is the third of Celebrity's sleek, sophisticated and extremely popular Solstice-class ships. Combining big-ship amenities such as a huge spa and gym, big-production shows and a number of high-end restaurants, with small ship service and sophistication, Eclipse regularly gets 90 per cent + approval ratings from Cruise Critic members. A recent (May 2015) refit saw a number of new features added, including: World Class Bar, Gastro Bar and a suites-only restaurant, Luminae.

Deployment: Southampton during the summer, offering Baltic and short-break cruises; and Fort Lauderdale during the winter for Caribbean cruises.

Sleep

  • 121 connecting staterooms and four Family Ocean View Staterooms with verandahs
  • AquaSpa cabins include spa-oriented cosmetics, gels and bath amenities; upgraded linens and access to an exclusive room service menu.
  • The 44 Sky Suites have a 79-square-foot verandah accessed through floor-to-ceiling sliding-glass doors.
  • Cabin Reviews
  • Deck Plans

Eat

  • Brand new suites-only restaurant, with daily changing menu: Luminae
  • Tuscan Grille has the best view of any restaurant afloat, being situated all the way aft
  • Qsine is a blend of tapas-style tastes with gourmet interpretations of ethnic comfort food

Fun

  • New Gastro Bar showcases 45 different craft beers
  • New World Class Bar features craft cocktails and top mixologists
  • Real grass lawn on the top deck

Photo Tour of Celebrity Eclipse


Independence of the Seas

Independence of the Seas

The perennially popular Independence of the Seas, has moved to the number six spot in our chart (up from eight last year). "Indie" (as the ship is fondly known), went through a $7 million refurbishment in 2013, and was one of the first U.S. megaships to grace our shores, introducing British passengers to the delights of an ice rink, "street festivals" in the Royal Promenade, big Broadway-style shows, a rock climbing wall and simulated surfing. Though these can be found on all the more modern Royal ships (Indie is almost 10-years-old), Brits still love this 3,600-passenger, family-friendly ship.

Deployment: Independence of the Seas spends the summer based out of Southampton, offering a combination of Baltic and Mediterranean cruises, before deploying to Fort Lauderdale for the winter.

Sleep

  • Five types of cabins: insides, promenade views, outsides, balconies and suites. 
  • Four Royal Family Suites hold up to eight and feature a living area with a double sofa bed and two bedrooms with two twin beds.
  • Grand, Owner's and Royal Suite guests have access to the Concierge Club lounge
  • Cabin Reviews
  • Deck Plans

Eat

  • Two newly-installed eating venues on Independence: Italian Trattoria, Giovanni's Table and The Cupcake Cupboard.
  • Triple-height main dining room, with two seating times.
  • Plenty of casual dining options, including two Promenade-based cafes: Sorrento's, serving pizza 24/7; and The Cafe Promenade.

Fun

  • FlowRider, rock climbing wall, full-size basketball court, a running track, mini-golf, a golf simulator and ice rink.
  • Evening parties with a street festival vibe
  • Late night, two-level disco, Labyrinth

Photo Tour of Independence of the Seas


Thomson Dream

Thomson Dream

Thomson Dream is still popular, despite having been pushed to the number seven spot by its two new fleetmates. Thomson took over the vessel from Costa Cruises in April 2010, and the ship underwent a multimillion-pound refit in 2012 and 2014. Dream featured on a TV show called Showboaters, and in two popular YouTube videos involving free running which showcases the ship. The 2014 refit saw a general refurbishment as well as a new speciality Asian restaurant, Kora La.

Deployment: Mediterranean cruises out of Palma, Mallorca, in the summer; Jamaica throughout the winter.

Sleep

  • 764 cabins in categories ranging from insides to suites
  • Only six cabins -- grand suites -- have balconies
  • 19 single cabins and four wheelchair-accessible cabins
  • Deck Plans

Eat

  • Asian-themed a la carte restaurant Kora La, specializing in Indian and Chinese cuisine
  • The Explorers Lounge & The Coffee Port offers speciality coffees
  • Speciality restaurant allows you to grill your own food on super-heated volcanic rocks

Fun

  • High-ceilinged Broadway Theatre hosts musical reviews
  • A headlining entertainer performs twice each week
  • Daily enrichment limited to lectures and port talks

Ventura

Ventura

The 3,100-passenger Ventura is a new entry in our charts, coming in at eighth place. The older sister of Azura (which sits at number four), by two years, the ship has a similar family friendly vibe with great dining options including Atul Kochhar's Sindhu and The Epicurean, and an adults-only area called The Retreat.

Deployment: Ventura spends the winter in the Caribbean in Barbados; and the summer in Southampton cruising to Spain, the Canaries and the Eastern Mediterranean.

Sleep

  • Ventura has 1,555 cabins, of which 434 are inside, 1,103 are outside and 881 have a balcony
  • The Suites have butler service, daily canapes, a coffee machine and newspapers.
  • Two AE grade suites at the forward end of Deck 9 have a second bedroom -- ideal for families
  • Cabin Reviews
  • Deck Plans

Eat

  • High-end molecular gastronomy in The Epicurean
  • Marco Pierre White prepares the Gala Dinners
  • Atul Kochhar's Sindhu replaced 17

Fun

  • Adults-only area, The Retreat
  • Great kids' facilities including appearances from Mr. Men and Little Miss Sunshine
  • There are 12 bars, including The Glass House, wine bar with tapas from wine guru Olly Smith

Oceana

Oceana

The penultimate ship in our Top 10 is 17-years-old this year (2017), but is still a firm favourite with British cruisers. The 2,016 passenger Oceana is no longer the biggest or fanciest in the fleet, but its contemporary vibe is attractive to both first time cruisers and seasoned sailors. For adults, there are plenty of bars, restaurants, shops, lounges and a nightclub, as sell as a strong emphasis on food and wine. It also caters well for children, with a large kids' club.

Deployment: The ship is based in Malta throughout the summer, offering seven-night Eastern Mediterranean cruises.

Sleep

  • More than 600 of the 975 cabins have an outside view and 450 have balconies.
  • In the 2012 refit, all the cabins received new curtains and new lampshades, and selected cabins got new carpets.
  • The six deluxe suites (638 square feet, including balcony) are all on the stern with views from the balcony.

Eat

  • Ligurian is Oceana's venue for Freedom dining.
  • Two reservations-only venues -- Marco Pierre White inspired Cafe Jardin and the Beach House. 
  • Free room service from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., which has a limited menu of snacks including pizzas, pasta and sandwiches

Fun

  • Footlights Theatre at the aft of the ship stages plays and revues 
  • Le Club is open throughout the day and acts as a multipurpose venue for everything from lectures to craft classes before turning into the disco at night.
  • Yacht & Compass is a nautically-themed bar lounge situated just outside the Footlights theatre.

Thomson Majesty

Thomson Majesty

Majesty joined the Thomson line in May 2012 as part of a ship swap. In 2014 it went through a refit to add 28 balconies -- until the refit, it had none -- and take it up to Thomson's inhouse Platinum Status, which is akin to a four star rating. The 1,462-passenger ship is small by modern standards, and old (it was built in 1992) but that doesn't detract from its popularity among U.K. cruisers.

Deployment: Cruises in the Mediterranean and Canary Islands.

Sleep

  • Standard cabins are assigned by the cruise line -- passengers can pay a fee to upgrade.
  • Only 28 balcony cabins onboard
  • Suites feature flat-screen TVs and iPod docking stations

Eat

  • The ship features two main dining rooms, Seven Seas and Four Seasons
  • Three alternative eateries, including a 24-hour buffet venue
  • Room service and French alternative restaurant, Le Bistro, are for-fee

Fun

  • Jubilee Lounge offers production shows, guest acts and late-night discos
  • Royal Observatory bar boasts views from ship's highest point
  • Small casino, Monte Carlo, has games tables and slot machines