Each of 2010's 20 awards were hand-selected by Cruise Critic's editorial staff, experts in the field who've collectively sailed on hundreds of cruises, and who've been known to rattle off ship tonnages and alternative-dining fees at cocktail parties. Arriving at the final list of honorees wasn't without its gale-force arguments. While some categories had an obvious favorite, many superlatives, including "Best for Evening Entertainment" and "Best Budget-Friendly Line," were only determined following heated debate and passionate appeals.
"It's incredibly hard to select winners in just 20 categories when all of the companies under consideration are among the best travel operators in the world," said Cruise Critic Editor in Chief Carolyn Spencer Brown. "But even with consistently high standards across the board, some cruise lines simply shine more in one area than another, making them more appropriate to certain travelers, such as those with children, and we aim to highlight this with these awards."
Several of 2010's most important categories, including "Best New Ship" and "Best for Families," have returned from 2009, but there are also a bevy of enticing new awards that highlight cruising's rapidly diversifying passenger base, which now includes music enthusiasts ("Best Cruises for Music Lovers") and free-spirited travelers more interested in icebergs and kayaks than casinos and Broadway-style shows ("Best for Adventure").
Curious about which line earned the nod for best shore excursions or which ship offers the most to the onboard gambler? Click here to start the slideshow.
--by Dan Askin, Associate Editor