See the lines and ships that best represent excellence in ocean, luxury, river and expedition cruising, chosen by Cruise Critic's international team of editors
Silversea’s constant innovation and a desire to set the luxury bar ever higher sets it apart from all others. Sure, the line has suites, butlers, Champagne and caviar across the fleet, but it’s more than that – it’s finding your shoes shined, without asking; your butler organizing an in-suite party or waitstaff remembering your name from Day 1. Silversea’s restaurants rival Michelin-starred establishments, its S.A.L.T. enrichment program is outstanding, and its art and décor are reminiscent of a five-star hotel.
Silver Nova is a giant step forward for a cruise line that has never been content with the status quo. The ship’s offbeat, offset design creates a footprint that brings light and space to every spot onboard, from the gorgeous pool deck to the breathtaking multilevel atrium. Suites are well-designed and impeccably executed, while venues like The Marquee and The Chef’s Table are memorable for their clever blend of vaulted ceilings, upscale design and immaculate finishes.
Viking has created the blueprint for the perfect cruise ship stateroom. Without exception, cabins are spacious and comfortable, with exceptional attention to detail that includes heated floors in the bathrooms, mirrors that don’t fog, sockets and USB ports everywhere and verandas for all. It’s clear Viking considered every traveler when it was designing staterooms. We love the consistency from ship to ship and cabin to cabin, no matter what level.
It's the little things that make Oceania Cruises tops when it comes to cuisine, from the initial chopstick selection at Red Ginger to the phenomenal olive oil cart the line rolls out for diners at the Italian-themed Toscana. And, rather than reinventing the wheel, Oceania focuses instead on service and quality - the two most essential ingredients in any shipboard culinary experience. Couple that with an array of specialty dining venues that are completely free of charge, and you've got the recipe for a world-class dining experience at sea.
A cruise on Windstar focuses on fun and education. No matter where the ships sail, you can count on enrichment to be at the heart of the journey. Windstar brings onboard local and indigenous speakers and hires excellent subject and destination lecturers. Sessions are well-attended and often hands-on; if you miss one, you can catch it on-demand on your stateroom TV. Don’t miss the “crew show,” where international staff proudly share cultural traditions and dances.
Regent Seven Seas' itineraries are fascinating and diverse, and they include more than 130 overnights so you can truly immerse yourself in local culture. Sailings range from Easter Island to Antarctica and Sydney to Singapore, to Papua New Guinea and Komodo Island, a port-intensive round-Japan cruise with a call in South Korea and South Africa, Namibia and West Africa – just to name a few. If you've got your heart set on a specific region, chances are strong Regent can get you there.
Crystal has built a reputation on exceptional service, and it comes down to the crew onboard, who are empowered to keep guests happy and satisfied no matter the issue. Sailing on a Crystal ship feels like a vacation with family. Crew members know your name before you step onboard, and they’ll remember you from previous sailings if you return. No ask is too small – or too big – and service always comes with a sincere smile.
Oceania’s shore excursions go beyond the standard offerings and do a deep-dive into areas passengers might not expect. Its “Beyond Blueprints” series offers shore excursions with a nod to the appreciation of architecture, while its “Go Green” excursions offer in-depth experiences with locals and businesses in select ports that are trying to make a difference in their communities. The line even offers “Wellness Excursions by Aquamar” that seek to enrich and enlighten in various ports around the world, and special small-group tours that will never have more than 16 passengers participating.
If you’re a solo traveler looking for a luxury cruise, you can’t beat a sailing with Crystal. Both of Crystal’s ships feature solo accommodations that truly are spacious, and they come with butler service. Crystal also offers a variety of activities to help guests socialize and get to know one another. From mixers to bridge tournaments and bars that are cozy and collegial, solo travelers will have plenty of opportunities to meet new friends.
The LivNordic spa complex on Viking’s ships remains tops among luxury cruise lines. How can you not feel relaxed when you complete the Nordic circuit, which includes time in a sauna, steam room, snow room and thalassotherapy pool? Best of all, access to Viking’s thermal spa is included in your fare. Viking's spa offerings have a natural Nordic blend that makes you feel that Scandinavian hygge, no matter where in the world you are.
Sailing on an Emerald cruise ship feels a lot like seeing the world on your personal yacht. Emerald’s two identical ships hold only 100 guests each, and sailings are inclusive of things like drinks at lunch and dinner, some excursions and use of the ship’s wonderful water toys. Yet prices for Emerald cruises generally are less than what you’d pay on other luxury lines – plus the company regularly offers deals, like a 2-for-1 package.
Explora Journeys makes sure that its definition of luxury is inclusive of the youngest cruisers. Explora I’s Nautilus Club welcomes kids in a staffed venue featuring an assortment of age-appropriate amenities and activities. Additionally, the ship offers 78 multigeneration-friendly connecting suites, with in-cabin goodies for kids that range from smaller bathrobes to toys.
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