2015 Editors’ Picks Awards: Ocean Cruise Lines

2015 Editors' Picks for Cruise Critic
Editors' Picks Awards
The Cruise Critic Editors' Picks Awards are chosen by Cruise Critic's international team of editors, based on the lines and ships they feel best represent excellence in each of the designated categories. Awards announced October 2015.

Best New Cruise Ship

Viking Star, Viking Ocean Cruises Viking Star, Viking Ocean Cruises cruise Viking Oceans' innovative flagship, Viking Star, resembles a boutique hotel -- homey and comfortable after a long day exploring in port. In fact, the ship is so beautifully designed -- with terrific alfresco restaurants, a beautiful pool area, a superb spa and the two-level Explorers' observation lounge -- that you'll be hard-pressed to go ashore.

Read our review of Viking Star, Viking Ocean Cruises

Best Cruise Ship Refurbishment

Star Breeze, Windstar Cruises Star Breeze, Windstar Cruises cruise Windstar acquired three motor yachts from Seabourn, planning identical upgrades. After passenger feedback following Star Pride, Windstar added a more spacious pool deck and extra alfresco seating for Star Breeze (and Star Legend, which debuted a few weeks later). Other hits include the Star Bar, an alfresco lounge, roomy cabins and the lovely Yacht Club.

Read our review of Star Breeze, Windstar Cruises

Best Cruise Line for Luxury

Crystal Cruises Crystal Cruises cruise An unmitigated focus on service and dining are the hallmarks of Crystal Cruises, which continues to evolve its onboard and shore excursion offerings with free Internet minutes and jogging adventures for active cruisers. Unusual itineraries in the Arctic and a massive expansion coming in 2016, along with one of the best staff-to-passenger ratios in cruising, make this line tops among those seeking the finer things.

Read our review of Crystal Cruises

Best Cruise Line for Families

Royal Caribbean International Royal Caribbean International cruise Royal Caribbean hits all age groups, with onboard nurseries for babies and toddlers; bumper cars, poolside movies and extensive activities for kids; and rock climbing walls, hip hangouts and video game systems for teens. Add in a range of family-friendly cabins, affordable fares and babysitting options for parents, and any family can have a blast onboard.

Read our review of Royal Caribbean International

Best Cruise Line Itineraries

Azamara Club Cruises Azamara Club Cruises cruise For good reason, fans of this upscale cruise line await itinerary releases with anticipation. With smaller ships and a commitment to destination immersion, Azamara usually goes where everyone else isn't -- a mindset that appeals to a range of travelers.

Read our review of Azamara Club Cruises

Best Cruise Line for Adventure

Un-Cruise Adventures Un-Cruise Adventures cruise While most expedition cruise lines take you to far-flung destinations, not all of them give you the means to actually get off the ship and hike, kayak, stand-up paddleboard and snorkel. Un-Cruise Adventures does all this in Alaska, Hawaii, the Pacific Northwest, Baja Mexico and (next year) Costa Rica and the Galapagos while still providing luxuries like massages and free wine and beer.

Read our review of Un-Cruise Adventures

Best Cruise Line for Value

Carnival Cruise Line Carnival Cruise Line cruise From its frequent fare sales to a host of dining and entertainment options included in its base price, Carnival is our pick for a line that's easier on the wallet, yet still delivers a great vacation. It's not uncommon to find inside cabin prices as low as $75 per person, per day, and plenty of shorter three- and four-night cruises means affordable options for budget travelers.

Read our review of Carnival Cruise Line

Best Cruise Line for Dining

Celebrity Cruises Celebrity Cruises cruise A sponsor of foodie events such as Diner en Blanc and the South Beach Food and Wine Festival -- not to mention a partnership with TV show Top Chef -- Celebrity keeps up with gourmet trends. In 2015, it raised the bar by adding Luminae for suite passengers, while still keeping its main dining rooms tops among mainstream lines.

Read our review of Celebrity Cruises

Best Cruise Line for Entertainment

Royal Caribbean International Royal Caribbean International cruise The entertainment on Royal Caribbean is second to none, whether you're sailing one of the line's smaller ships, where the atrium is transformed into a showcase for aerial performers and acrobats, or journeying on an Oasis- or Quantum-class ship with their Broadway-style theater shows and phenomenal Two70 multisensory spectacles.

Read our review of Royal Caribbean International

Best Cruise Line Suites

Royal Caribbean International Royal Caribbean International cruise The variety and quantity of suites on all Royal Caribbean ships -- as well as an extensive list of suite perks -- are what make the line tops for people who want more space and special treatment. Notable standouts include the two-bedroom AquaTheater suites on Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas and two-level Loft Suites on Oasis- and Quantum-class ships.

Read our review of Royal Caribbean International

Best Cruise Line Inside Cabins

Disney Cruise Line Disney Cruise Line cruise On Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy, all inside cabins have windows -- "magical portholes" with virtual ship-cam views enhanced by animated characters floating past. Add in split bath-and-a-half setups, room-dividing curtains and beds to sleep a family of four, and it's easy to see why these industry-large 200-square-foot rooms get our nod.

Read our review of Disney Cruise Line

Best Cruise Line Standard Cabins

MSC Cruises MSC Cruises cruise MSC's standard cabins might not be the most spacious at sea, but they're well-appointed and beautifully decorated in ways that make them feel roomy and cozy at the same time. Often done up in jewel tones, they're relaxing with a touch of elegance, making them a nice retreat when you return to your room at the end of the day.

Read our review of MSC Cruises

Best Cruise Line Shore Excursions

Azamara Club Cruises Azamara Club Cruises cruise Besides being able to visit less-trafficked ports, Azamara wins points for its range of shore excursions. Land Discoveries small-group cultural experiences would be hard to arrange on your own, while Nights in Cool Places tours take advantage of the line's overnight stops. And don't forget AzAmazing Evenings -- complimentary cultural outings held at least once per voyage.

Read our review of Azamara Club Cruises

Best Cruise Line for Romance

Windstar Cruises Windstar Cruises cruise Love is in the air when the breezes fill the sails of a multi-masted Windstar sailing vessel (and even more recently, on the line's new trio of yachts). Set against seductive scenes of Tahiti, Europe or Costa Rica, your cruise can't help but be romantic, with dinner dates under the stars and water sports in dreamy destinations.

Read our review of Windstar Cruises

Best Cruise Line for Nightlife

Norwegian Cruise Line Norwegian Cruise Line cruise Whether you fancy mojito flights, an ice bar or a deck party aglow in neon paint and dance music, Norwegian keeps it lively once the sun goes down. With a double-digit number of bars and lounges, plenty of live music and a revolutionary open-air promenade called The Waterfront (on select ships), which offers dining and drinking, it's never hard to find a happening nighttime spot.

Read our review of Norwegian Cruise Line

Best North American Homeport

Port Canaveral Port Canaveral cruise Previously overshadowed by other Florida ports, Port Canaveral is one of the most up-and-coming cruise hubs in North America. Split into two areas, the facility has seven ship berths, with plans for three more. You'll find beaches, a campground, oceanfront dining, and a new Exploration Tower.

Read our review of Port Canaveral
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