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The Best Cruise Lines of the Year

Cruise Critic has named the winners of its 12th annual Cruise Critic Editors’ Picks Awards, recognizing the best cruise lines of the year across dozens of categories, as chosen by the site’s international team of editors.

“This year’s awards clearly show there’s truly a cruise for every type of traveler,” explains Colleen McDaniel, Editor-in-Chief of Cruise Critic. “From innovative new ships with groundbreaking features, to standout offerings for foodies, families and frugal travelers, there are fantastic options for travelers of all kinds. This year’s list of winners includes lines with celebrity chefs at the helm of their kitchens, family fun like over-the-top shows and character meet-and-greets, and ships with full offerings of complimentary perks – sailing to every corner of the globe. Whether you’re a seasoned cruiser or a first-timer, these are the lines to sail for an unforgettable experience.”

The Best Cruise Lines 2019 Award Highlights

Ocean Awards

Norwegian Encore was named Best New Ship of the Year for 2019. Editors praised the ship for “perfecting the blueprint” of its popular Breakaway Class, taking what guests love most and enhancing it even further. From exclusive accommodations in The Haven, to virtual-reality rides, go-kart racing and Broadway musicals, the ship delivers an incredible experience for all ages.

Disney Cruise Line was named Best for Families for the fourth year in a row, boasting plenty of extra-special features for kids – fantastic kids clubs, character meet-and-greets, interactive meals and jaw-dropping theater shows. There’s plenty of adult-only fun onboard, too, making it great for the whole family.

Holland America received the nod for Best Itineraries, for its globe-trotting fleet of ships – sailing everywhere from the Caribbean and Europe, to Africa, Asia and Australia as part of its Grand Voyages. New this year, Holland America’s In-Depth Voyages, offering sailings that explore remote destinations with expedition-style immersion. The line also received the award for Best Dining, a nod to its celebrity-led Culinary Council and wide range of fantastic restaurants fleet-wide.

River Awards

AmaWaterways was named the Best River Cruise Line for its fleet of standout ships and its focus on family and wellness, offering interesting ways for guests to explore each port they visit. The line’s brand new ship, AmaMagna, was also named Best New River Ship – with editors calling it a “game-changer.” Designed as a doublewide, the ship offers a number of features unique to the river cruise industry, including a full-sized pool, large gym and dedicated spa space. AmaWaterways was also named Best for Active Cruisers for the fourth year in a row.
Viking River Cruises was named Best for First-Timers for the third consecutive year. Editors praised the line’s wide selection of ships and itineraries (the line was also awarded Best Itineraries), and its smart inclusions like beer and wine at select meals, Wi-Fi and a complimentary shore excursion in every port.

For the fifth year running, Emerald Waterways received the award for Best Value for Money. The line offers thoughtful inclusions – like tours, beer and wine at meals, and Wi-Fi – but at a lower cost than other river lines. Editors also noted standout features like the line’s comfortable cabins and outstanding food, with menus made to reflect the region each ship is cruising.

Luxury Awards

Crystal Cruises was named Best Luxury Cruise Line, with editors praising its “luxury gold standard.” Ships are designed to bring guests to far-flung destinations in luxury, with all-inclusive ships offering butlers, concierges and fantastic dining.

Scenic’s first-ever ocean-going ship, Scenic Eclipse, was named this year’s Best New Luxury Ship, boasting over-the-top features like two onboard helicopters and a six-person submarine. The ship seamlessly combines luxury and soft-adventure travel in exotic destinations like Antarctica and the Arctic.

Oceania’s Insignia was named Best Luxury Ship Refurbishment after completing the first-in-fleet OceaniaNEXT makeover. The upgrades gave the ship a classic, contemporary twist, with thoughtful enhancements made to cabins and public rooms. The line was also named Best Dining for the fourth year in a row.
Homeport Award

Seattle, WA was named Best North American Homeport, with editors calling it “the perfect Pacific Northwest jump-off to the Last Frontier,” praising the city’s attractions and cruise-specific amenities and programs.
2019 Cruise Critic Editors’ Picks Awards

The Best Cruise Lines. Ocean Category

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

The Best Cruise Lines. River Category

Best River Cruise Line: AmaWaterways
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

The Best Cruise Lines. Luxury Category

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

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