Although there are quite a few cruise lines, as a result of a period of industry consolidation at the end of the 20th Century, most cruise lines today are owned by four corporations.
The largest of these companies is Carnival Corporation. It is a holding company that owns the following cruise lines - -
Carnival Cruise Lines (24 ships with 2 on order)
Princess Cruises (16 ships with one on order)
Holland America Line (15 ships with 2 on order)
Costa (14 ships with one on order)
P&O Cruises (7 ships with one on order)
Cunard (3 ships)
Seabourn (6 ships with one on order)
AIDA (10 ships with 2 on order)
P&O Cruises Australia (3 ships)
Two of the Holland America ships, Statendam and Ryndam, are scheduled to join P&O Australia in 2015.
The total passenger capacity for these lines is over 190, 000.
Note that Carnival Corporation is not the same company as Carnival Cruise Lines. Yes, Carnival Corporation came about as a result of the success of Carnival Cruise Lines but it is a different corporation.
The second largest cruise corporation is Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (“RCCL”). It is the holding company for the following cruise lines - -
Royal Caribbean International (23 ships)
Celebrity Cruises (11 ships),
Pullmantur (5 ships)
Azamara Club Cruises (2 ships)
CDF Croisieres de France (1 ship)
Royal has four ships on order but plans to transfer Majesty of the Seas to Pullmantur in 2016. Celebrity has two ships on order but has sold Celebrity Century, which will be leaving its fleet in April 2015.
Royal also has a 50 percent ownership interest in TUI Cruises (3 ships plus one on order).
Although RCCL has fewer ships than Carnival, its ships tend to be larger giving it a passenger capacity of approximately 92, 000.
Again, as with Carnival, note that despite the similarity in the name, the company that owns these cruise lines is not the cruise line Royal Caribbean International (“RCI”). RCI is a subsidiary of the holding company RCCL.
Both Carnival Corporation and RCCL are public corporation with shares traded on the stock exchanges.
The third largest cruise line is Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. ("NCLH"). It is also a public corporation traded on the stock exchanges. However, it is controlled by Apollo Management Ltd. and Genting Hong Kong Limited, who owned Norwegian in its entirely prior to the initial public offering in January 2013.
NCLH currently has 13 ships in service within its Norwegian Cruise Line brand with a capacity of approximately 30, 000 berths. (It has four new ships on order due in 2015 and 2016)..
Like Carnival Corp. and RCCL, NCLH has become a conglomerate. Within its Prestige Holdings subsidiary, NCHL owns the luxury brands Oceania Cruises (4 ships) and Regent Seven Seas Cruises (3 ships). Oceania has purchased Ocean Princess from Princess Cruises for delivery in 2016 and Regent has a new ship on order due in 2016.
Coming in as the fourth largest cruise line, MSC Cruises has 12 ships with a passenger capacity of over 28, 000. The line has four ships on order. It is a subsidiary of the giant cargo shipping company Mediterranean Shipping Company.
Apart from the big four, there are a number of smaller cruise lines. For example, FredOlsen Cruises Ltd., operates four ships with a capacity of 3, 800 passengers. It is owned by the Norwegian-based Fred Olsen Group.
Within the luxury segment of the industry, Silversea Cruises (6 ships) is family-owned.
Crystal Cruises (2 ships) is owned by the Japanese shipping company NYK, which also owns NYK Cruises, operator of the Asuka II.