Viking Cruises dominated the 11th annual Cruise Critic Editors’ Picks Awards for the second year in a row with five wins in 2018.
Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, Seabourn and Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection tied for second place with three award each, all of which were revealed on December 5.
“In the awards’ infancy, they were simply a way to recognize cruise lines that excelled in a particular area,” said Colleen McDaniel, executive editor of cruising website Cruise Critic. “And while the list certainly continues to be a compilation of the best experiences at sea, what’s very clear this year is that the awards also highlight the wide range of travel experiences that cruising offers.
“Whether you’re a family or adventure-seeker, solo traveler or foodie, these are the absolute best lines to try in the upcoming year.”
Viking rules the waterways
Cruise Critic’s editors pick winners in three categories: ocean cruises, luxury cruises (all on ocean ships) and river cruises.
Viking won three luxury awards (best new luxury ship for the Viking Orion, best spa, best value for money) and two river cruise awards (best for first timers and best itineraries).
It’s no surprise that Disney Cruise Line won for best for families in the ocean category, while Disney’s Adventures by Disney earned top honors for families in river cruising.
The new Celebrity Edge
“U by Uniworld is river cruising’s newest cruise line, introducing an entirely new way to river cruise, designed specifically with millennials in mind. And Viking Ocean found a way to breathe new life into its already popular luxury offerings – introducing brand-new features and perfecting what it’s already doing incredibly well on its newest ship, Viking Orion.”
A member of Norwegian Cruise Line’s Breakaway Class, Norwegian Encore is their pick for best new ocean ship.
“A number of fantastic new ships launched this year, but what made Norwegian Encore stand out to our editors was the sheer depth of offerings available for every traveler,” McDaniel said.
“From an onboard go-kart track and virtual-reality simulators, to nearly 20 restaurants and a dual-deck, adults-only escape – there’s something on board for everyone. And while the ship isn’t an entirely new concept – it’s not first-in-class – the line has clearly taken what’s worked on its previous ships and perfected it on Norwegian Encore. It’s truly an exciting addition to the industry.”
Cruise Critic's top cruise ships for 2019
The best new river ship is AmaWaterways’ AmaMagna, which is double the width of many river cruise ships. “The modern ship offers large staterooms, a full-sized pool and an array of restaurants. AmaMagna is a dream for fitness and wellness enthusiasts, with a large gym and dedicated spa space – unheard of on river ships,” say the editors in a statement.
The best new luxury ship is the 200-passenger ocean ship Scenic Eclipse, which has two helicopters and a six-person sub. Editors noted the “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 New Ship: Norwegian Encore
Best Ship Refurbishment: Oasis of the Seas (Royal Caribbean International)
Best for Adventure: UnCruise Adventures
Best Cabins: Celebrity Cruises
Best Dining: Holland America Line
Best Entertainment: Royal Caribbean International
Best for Families: Disney Cruise Line
Best Itineraries: Holland America Line
Best Nightlife: MSC Cruises
Best Service: Carnival Cruise Line
Best Shore Excursions: Princess Cruises
Best for Solo Travelers: Norwegian Cruise Line
Best Suites: Royal Caribbean International
Best Value for Money: Carnival Cruise Line
Best North American Homeport: Seattle, WA
Best Luxury Cruise Line: Crystal Cruises
Best New Luxury Ship: Scenic Eclipse
Best Ship Refurbishment: Insignia (Oceania Cruises)
Best for Adventure: Ponant
Best Cabins: Seabourn Cruise Line
Best Dining: Oceania Cruises
Best Enrichment: Viking Ocean Cruises
Best Itineraries: Azamara
Best for Romance: SeaDream Yacht Club
Best Service: Silversea Cruises
Best Shore Excursions: Windstar Cruises
Best for Solo Travelers: Seabourn Cruise Line
Best Spa: Viking Ocean Cruises
Best Value for Money: Viking Ocean Cruises
River cruise winners
Best Value for Money: Emerald Waterways
Best New River Cruise Ship: AmaMagna (AmaWaterways)
Best Ship Refurbishment: S.S. Bon Voyage (Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection)
Best for Active Cruisers: AmaWaterways
Best Cabins: Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection
Best Dining: Crystal River Cruises
Best Enrichment: Scenic
Best for Families: Adventures by Disney
Best for First-Timers: Viking River Cruises
Best Itineraries: Viking River Cruises
Best for Luxury: Crystal River Cruises
Best Service: Tauck River Cruising
Best Shore Excursions: Avalon Waterways
Best for Solo Travelers: Vantage Deluxe World Travel
Best Value for Money: Emerald Waterways