Cruising continues to surge in popularity, drawing an astounding 27 million passengers last year. The reason? There are many new, sleekly-designed ships out on the high seas. And our readers are falling in love with them, voting many brands with just-launched or renovated vessels onto the World’s Best large-ship list.
Every year for our World’s Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Readers rated individual cruise ships on their cabins/facilities, food, service, itineraries/destinations, excursions/activities, and value. Those assessments were combined to generate results for the cruise lines in five categories; large-ship ocean cruise lines have vessels that can carry 600 to 2,199 passengers.
Related: The 2018 World's Best Awards
Seabourn, for example, makes its debut appearance on this list at No. 4 thanks to its new, 600-passenger ship, Seabourn Encore. (The line’s three 458-passenger vessels, the Odyssey class, afforded Seabourn a fourth-place ranking in the midsize-ship category as well.) With its of-the-moment design courtesy of Adam D. Tihany and innovative dining options, the Encore was an instant hit with our readers. “The addition of the new Grill by Thomas Keller is a big plus,” said one reader. “The food has gotten even better, which I didn’t think was possible!”
Regent Seven Seas Cruises (No. 3) placed this year, no doubt in part to its 750-passenger ship, the Seven Seas Explorer, which now offers wellness excursions in addition to having a sprawling Canyon Ranch spa with a spacious outdoor deck. The design also impressed readers, too. “Everywhere you looked there was artwork and beautiful fabrics,” said one fan.
No. 2 winner Crystal Cruises just put its Crystal Symphony through a multimillion-dollar renovation, changing the cabin décor and even adding unlimited Wi-Fi. (Crystal Serenity will soon follow suit.) “We’ve been on several Crystal Cruises,” said one fan. “How is it possible that they always hit it out of the park?” And our readers are definitely taking note of the on-shore programming: Azamara Club Cruises (No. 7) got special shout-outs for staying late in port and for offering AzAmazing Evening excursions, such as a nighttime concert by the St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra.
Sophisticated design, stellar service, and cultural programming are at the heart of the large-ship cruise line that has now been No. 1 for three years in a row. Read on for more about it, plus the other nine winners.