Ocean Cruise Lines
2019 Editors' Picks Awards: Luxury Cruises
See the lines and ships that best represent excellence in ocean, river and luxury cruising, chosen by Cruise Critic's international team of editors.
Luxury Cruise Lines
Best Luxury Cruise Line
Crystal meets the luxury gold standard, with personalized service onboard beautiful ships designed to transport passengers to far-flung destinations. The all-inclusive ships offer spacious staterooms, while knowledgeable butlers and concierges bring service to another level. Excellent open-seating dining, capped by Crystal's partnership with chef Nobu Matsuhisa and the impeccable Umi Uma and Sushi Bar, keeps cruisers coming back time and again.
Best New Luxury Ship
Cruisers might book Scenic Eclipse because it offers two state-of-the-art helicopters and a six-person sub, but they'll come back because of the 200-passenger ship's chic, modern design, generously sized suites and incredible dining offerings. Scenic pulled out all the stops with its first ocean ship, which seamlessly combines luxury and soft-adventure travel to exotic destinations, including the Arctic and Antarctica.
Best Ship Refurbishment
The first of Oceania's small ships to receive a major makeover, Insignia emerged from its OceaniaNEXT dry dock with an airier feel, with modern light blue and cream colors replacing dark woods throughout the ship. Statement chandeliers in public rooms and technology upgrades in the cabins -- bedside USB ports! -- make the ship still feel classic, with a contemporary twist.
Best for Adventure
Ponant makes visiting the ends of the earth easy, with an ever-growing fleet of expedition ships and interesting itineraries. A full staff of naturalists and adventure guides keep you learning as you sightsee, and they make Zodiac landings seamless. No matter how exotic or far-flung your surroundings, the line's French flair extends to mealtime; expect outstanding sauces, soups and pastries (all made with indulgent French butter).
Seabourn Cruise Line
Seabourn's cabins offer next-level luxury, with comfortable beds, plush linens and enough space for a table and chairs -- perfect for in-room dining. All accommodations boast ocean views and living areas that can be separated from the bedrooms using curtains. Bathtubs come standard in the marble bathrooms, stocked with Molton Brown toiletries, and storage space is impressive, even for longer voyages.
How do you improve on an already outstanding cruise line for foodies? Offer something that's truly mind-blowing, like the Dom Perignon pairing menu introduced on Marina and Riviera this year. While the luxe meal carries an extra charge, Oceania Cruises' other outstanding specialty restaurants remain fee-free. Onboard, take part in a Culinary Center class or take a culinary-themed shore excursion in port.
Viking Ocean Cruises
Not surprising for a cruise line that partners with PBS, Viking Ocean Cruises takes enrichment seriously. Each ocean ship has a resident historian, who gives entertaining and informative destination-based lectures and leads Q&As about regional current events. New-this-year Viking Jupiter and Viking Orion also have onboard planetariums, technologically powerful enough for 3D shows, and resident astronomers to make sense of what you've seen.
Country-intensive cruising -- where most of the trip is spent exploring one country -- is a concept that Azamara has fully embraced. The line offers port-heavy voyages through 15 countries including Japan, Norway, Croatia, Italy, South Africa and Iceland, allowing passengers to dig deep into these destinations. Longer calls in port, plus a significant number of overnights, give Azamara sailings a desirable edge.
SeaDream Yacht Club
Best for Romance
SeaDream Yacht Club knows how to set the mood with top-deck Balinese daybeds for sunshiny snuggles, delectable dishes served alfresco at tables for two and over-the-top service that leaves passengers wanting for nothing. Cruises to idyllic settings in the Caribbean and Mediterranean, with off-the-beaten-track ports, seal the deal on the ultimate couple's getaway at sea.
With Silversea Cruises, intuitive service is taken to heart, with crew that anticipate your needs often before you do. Silversea has it covered, whether it's preparing a full bar and canapes in your suite for a party or reserving your favorite spot to sunbathe or have dinner. On Silversea, your clothes are pressed, your shoes are polished -- without you having to ask.
Best Shore Excursions
It's easy to offer interesting tours in big cities. But, Windstar has invested time and money making sure it has fantastic offerings and multiple shore excursion choices in smaller ports. The line has developed tours for first-timers as well as concierge tours that are smaller and unique. Finally, Beyond Ordinary tours provide once-in-a-lifetime experiences, such as a snowmobile and helicopter glacier tour in Iceland.
Seabourn Cruise Line
Best for Solo Travelers
Seabourn takes amazing care of solo travelers. Singles yearning to be social can enjoy hosted group dinners, an amiable atmosphere in onboard lounges, welcoming trivia teams and service with a smile. Those who need an escape can enjoy private balconies off spacious suites and dinner served course by course in their cabins -- or even a private cabana on an exclusive sun deck.
Viking Ocean Cruises
It doesn't get any better than Viking's sublime LivNordic Spa. The highlight of any Viking cruise is the wonderful thermal suite, which is tranquil, gorgeous and absolutely free. Packed with amenities like a thalassotherapy pool, snow grotto and heated ceramic lounge chairs, the thermal suite is the best place to spend a sea day. Viking has redefined the cruise ship spa experience.
Viking Ocean Cruises
Best Value for Money
A cruise on a Viking ship means rarely having to reach for your wallet once onboard. With included perks like specialty dining and shore excursions, it's easy to feel spoiled. Viking's no nickel-and-diming policy means passengers know what they're paying upfront and appreciate the value of a cruise that includes excellent dining, large staterooms and friendly, intuitive service.