Cruising is among the most popular ways to see the world. Unpack once and take in the sights of the world’s rivers and seas from your floating hotel, all while enjoying top-notch entertainment, dining and amenities. More than a dozen new vessels are introduced each year, making the sheer variety of cruises overwhelming.
To help narrow it down, we asked a panel of cruise industry experts to nominate their top picks for cruise lines and ships across 12 categories. Then, readers voted for their favorites. The results are in.
Click on each category below to see the full winners list:
Best Adventure Cruise Line: Adventure Canada
While Adventure Canada does indeed lead small ship adventures through the icy fjords and secluded waterways of Canada, this expedition cruise company also takes travelers to experience landscapes and cultures further afield – places like Scotland, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Antarctica. The company shines with an always stellar lineup of onboard experts and guides.
Best Boutique Cruise Line: SeaDream Yacht Club
Passengers aboard SeaDream Yacht Club’s twin mega-yachts, SeaDream I and SeaDream II, have the opportunity to visit small ports around the world on 7- to 15-day itineraries. With a 95-person crew and a maximum of 112 guests, each passenger receives personalized service.
Also included in every SeaDream experience is complimentary access to wave runners, Hobie cats, kayaks, snorkeling gear and other water sports equipment. A golf simulator lets players practice their swing at sea.
Best Cruise Line for Solo Travelers: Holland America Line
Solo travelers will find plenty of inclusive programming aboard Holland America Line, including dance classes, wine tastings, cooking demos and lectures. Each sailing hosts a Solo Travelers party where singles can meet each other, and a roommate matching service pairs same-sex travelers in a shared stateroom to save on surcharges.
Best Cruise Ship for Dining: Carnival Horizon – Carnival Cruise Line
Foodies love dining aboard Carnival Horizon — Photo courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line
Dining options abound aboard Carnival Horizon – feast on barbecue at the world’s first Guy’s Pig & Anchor Smokehouse and Brewhouse, sink your teeth into a juicy burger at popular Guy’s Burger Joint, enjoy some culinary theater at Bonsai Teppanyaki or tuck into seafood with ocean views at the Seafood Shack. Included and specialty dining both shine, with plenty of options for everyone.
Best Cruise Ship for Entertainment: Celebrity Beyond – Celebrity Cruises
You’ll never be bored aboard Celebrity Beyond — Photo courtesy of Daniel Haussmann / Celebrity Cruises
There’s not a bad seat in the house in the Theatre, featuring state-of-the-art floor projection technology to immerse cruisegoers in acrobatic performances with stunning visuals, as well as Broadway and West End musical sets. The Club hosts gaming, live DJs and various evening productions, or stop by the Jazz Joint hosting belting jazz vocalists, dancers and specialty acts. An evening at Eden offers a cabaret of singers and dancers.
Best Family Cruise: Regal Princess – Princess Cruises
Take your next family cruise on the award-winning Regal Princess — Photo courtesy of Princess Cruises
A favorite feature among kids aboard the Regal Princess is the SeaWalk, a glass-bottomed walkway extending 28 feet over the ship’s edge. There are also three excellent dedicated kids’ spaces for three different age ranges. Connecting staterooms and Family Suites make it easy to keep an eye on the kids while enjoying some privacy.
Best Large Cruise Ship: Sky Princess – Princess Cruises
Enjoy all of the fun things to do aboard the large Sky Princess — Photo courtesy of Princess Cruises
Sky Princess carries up to 3,660 passengers on itineraries around Europe and the Caribbean. Cabins include some of the largest balconies at sea, while dining options cater to every taste. Ship highlights include a European-style Piazza atrium, a dedicated jazz theater and one of the best wine bars on a cruise ship.
Best Mid-Sized Cruise Ship: Carnival Sunshine – Carnival Cruise Line
The 3,000-passenger Carnival Sunshine has many of the same bells and whistles that Carnival is known for but at a manageable size. Active passengers have a spread of outdoor games and activities at SportSquare. Suess at Sea keep kids and teens entertained, while the Punchliner Comedy Club offers up laughs.
Best Ocean Cruise Line: Carnival Cruise Line
Carnival Cruise Line caters to families and casual cruisers with its fleet of ships. On these cruises, passengers have no excuse to feel bored; ships come equipped with water parks, glitzy casinos, live entertainment and a focus on diverse, casual dining, highlighted by a partnership with celebrity chef Guy Fieri to bring Guy’s Burger Joint to the fleet. All of this comes at affordable price points.
Best River Cruise Line: Avalon Waterways
River cruisers in Europe will find the largest standard staterooms and suites aboard Avalon’s fleet of luxurious ships. Onboard amenities include a fitness center, a Sky Deck with a whirlpool and shade system, free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs and a self-serve beverage station. The Avalon Choice program allows cruisers to customize the details of their experience, ensuring each vacation is a perfect fit.
Best River Cruise Ship: Avalon Envision – Avalon Waterways
The Avalon Envision is among the more recent additions to the Avalon Waterways fleet. Two decks of Panorama Suites offer wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling windows as well as window-facing “Beds with a View.” Guests enjoy free Wi-Fi access, a fitness center, an adventure center for bikes and other gear, multiple dining venues and an observation lounge.
Best Small Cruise Ship: SeaDream II
There’s “cruising” and there’s “yachting” – small ships that dock in harbors and ports inaccessible to larger ships. SeaDream offers 7- to 15-day voyages with a maximum of 56 couples and a 95-person crew, so service and attention to detail are highlights.
Guests aboard SeaDream II (twin of SeaDream I) appreciate international menus that incorporate local flavors and ingredients of the region; an open bar and daily selection of wine pairings at lunch and dinner; a Thai-certified SeaDream Spa; onboard golf simulator; fitness center; and the ability to enjoy water sports right off the back of the yacht.
Congratulations to all these winners! Remember to visit 10Best.com daily to vote in our Readers’ Choice contests.