2016 Editors’ Picks Awards: Ocean Cruise Lines

2016 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 2016.

Best New Cruise Ship

Carnival Vista
Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival Cruise Line's newest ship, Carnival Vista, might just be its best ship ever. With an IMAX theater, water park, beer brewery and aerial recumbent bike thrill ride -- not to mention 13 bars and 14 restaurants (one of which offers fresh fish bought in a local fish market along the ship's itinerary) -- there's little to no chance of being bored on Vista.

Read our review of Carnival Vista, Carnival Cruise Line

Best Cruise Ship Refurbishment

Queen Mary 2
Cunard Line

Queen Mary 2, the world's only ocean liner, received an elegant makeover, with the refit successfully retaining the ship's Art Deco character and timeless glamor, while incorporating modern touches. Highlights include the superb Verandah restaurant and a complete transformation of the Kings Court Buffet. The remaining restaurants, staterooms, public spaces and the only-kennels-at-sea also received a stunning upgrade.

Read our review of Queen Mary 2, Cunard Line

Best Cruise Line for Dining

Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line provides standout service, delicious food in specialty restaurants like Palo and Remy, and a quirky touch of magic in its main dining rooms. Whether you watch the scenery change from day to night in the Enchanted Garden or bring your doodles to life in Animator's Palate, you'll be impressed with more than just the cuisine.

Read our review of Disney Cruise Line

Best Cruise Line for Entertainment

Norwegian Cruise Line

From gravity-defying acrobatic shows and head-scratching magic acts to comedy clubs, jazz and blues nightclubs, dueling piano bars and Broadway-style productions like Rock of Ages, Legends in Concert, Million Dollar Quartet, Priscilla Queen of the Desert and Burn the Floor, the entertainment you'll encounter on Norwegian Cruise Line will blow you away.

Read our review of Norwegian Cruise Line

Best Cruise Line Standard Cabins

Holland America Line

As if bathtubs and more space than the industry average weren't enough, Holland America further proved why its standard cabins are the best with the introduction of new Family Ocean View, Spa Verandah and no-single-supplement Solo Ocean View cabins on its newest ship, Koningsdam. Even better: Bathrobes, fresh fruit and shoeshine service, which might cost extra on other lines, are complimentary.

Read our review of Holland America Line

Best Cruise Line Inside Cabins

Royal Caribbean International

Royal Caribbean proves inside cabins can be fun and functional. Several of the cruise line's ships include interior staterooms with virtual balconies that have floor-to-ceiling HD-TVs showing real-time views of oceans and ports -- complete with the sound of the waves. Royal Caribbean also has inside cabins that can accommodate single travelers, a relative rarity at sea.

Read our review of Royal Caribbean International

Best Cruise Line Suites

Royal Caribbean International

Royal Caribbean offers many options when it comes to its suites, with staterooms like the luxurious two-level Royal Loft Suite, as well as the innovative Presidential Family Suite, exclusive to Harmony of the Seas. The cruise line's Royal Suite Class ups the ante, with a customized menu of inclusions, amenities and services that make the experience feel special and personal.

Read our review of Royal Caribbean International

Best Cruise Line Itineraries

Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity has long served coveted destinations like Asia, Bermuda, Australia and Europe, but with a ship now sailing the Caribbean year-round and voyages during special events like New Orleans' Jazz and Heritage Festival, it's clear the line is catering to just about everyone. Plus, it’s one of the most affordable ways to cruise the Galapagos; two more ships in the region for 2017 add to Celebrity's investment there.

Read our review of Celebrity Cruises

Best Cruise Line Shore Excursions

Princess Cruises

Thanks to a linkup with Discovery Communications, Princess Cruises takes the cake when it comes to shore excursions. The line offers a variety of high-quality tours, a handful of which are recommended by the Discovery Channel and Animal Planet. (Shark-cage diving in Hawaii, anyone?) Still, nothing beats the line's Alaska program. Princess' immersive cruise tours are a must for any bucket list.

Read our review of Princess Cruises

Best Cruise Line for Adventure

Lindblad Expeditions

Whether it's cruising in Alaska, the British Isles, Antarctica, Cuba, the Galapagos or the Mediterranean, Lindblad Expeditions offers the industry's best blend of onboard enrichment and explorations ashore. Its partnership with National Geographic -- which supplies experts on destinations, culture, culinary and photography -- gives it a leg-up when it comes to helping travelers connect with the places they visit.

Read our review of Lindblad Expeditions

Best Cruise Line for Romance

Princess Cruises

Nothing sets the mood quite like chocolate massages, private balcony dinners and Movies Under The Stars. Princess Cruises woos couples with an array of romantic activities. Plus, there's no denying its "The Love Boat" history adds a sentimental touch, and new Luxury Beds designed by sleep expert Dr. Michael Breus and HGTV designer Candice Olson make it easy to see why the line gets our vote.

Read our review of Princess Cruises

Best Cruise Line for Families

Disney Cruise Line

Jedi training, a Frozen-themed deck party, shipwide holiday celebrations: Disney knows best what kids want on vacation, and it delivers. Families on its four ships can have fun together by the pool or at a show, or go their separate ways with adults-only restaurants and sun decks, and huge kids clubs with activities day and night.

Read our review of Disney Cruise Line

Best Cruise Line for Value

Carnival Cruise Line

Known for affordability, Carnival provides lots of free, upbeat activities and a number of no-fee dining options beyond its main dining rooms. Carnival also has excellent children's facilities, fun entertainment and top-deck diversions like ropes courses and water slides -- all gratis -- and it's clear that you get a lot for what you pay.

Read our review of Carnival Cruise Line

Best Cruise Line for Nightlife

MSC Cruises

Multiple bands in multiple venues, late-night movies and gelato near the pool, shows that appeal to all nationalities, discoes that rock until 3 a.m.: On MSC, the line's international clientele and European roots mean that the ships are bumping into the wee hours, with events lasting long after the late dinner seatings have ended.

Read our review of MSC Cruises
Seattle cruise port

Best North American Homeport


The Emerald City has long been known for coffee-slinging and fish-tossing at its lively Pike Place Market, along with its Space Needle skyline. Now, with the addition of a Central Link light rail system that services the downtown and airport areas, cruisers have more accessibility to Seattle and its many Pacific Northwest charms.

Read our review of Seattle
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