Ocean Cruise Lines
2018 UK 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's stunning ships, its constant innovation and investment secure this top accolade. Crystal is consistently investing: a 2017 refurbishment of Symphony added modern touches, including open-seating dining in the main restaurant, new casual eateries, enhanced Wi-Fi and more up-to-date suites. Meanwhile, Serenity enjoyed a $52 million makeover. The addition of ultra-luxury yacht Esprit is growing the concept of luxury, while Crystal's impact on river cruising opens the world up further to it
Best New Luxury Ship
Ovation might be second in class, but that doesn't stop it securing this top accolade for a number of reasons: the ship has managed to improve on what was pretty well perfect in terms of service, accommodation, dining and ambience. It also was the first to debut Seabourn's new alfresco dining concept -- Earth & Ocean at The Patio -- as well as the line's new gelato program.
Best Ship Refurbishment
When Silversea lengthened Silver Spirit in March 2018, it made sure to keep the ship's intimate feel intact. Light, bright decor adds a cheerful vibe, and four new restaurants put new energy into the dinner scene. Modernised suites, an enhanced spa and fitness centre and expanded public areas lure luxury travellers who crave space, choice and a contemporary look.
Best for Adventure
Luxury travel does not have to be sedate with Silversea, a line that embraces the adventurous side of cruising with an expedition fleet and itineraries that sail beyond your bucket list to places you've never heard of. Whether it's stalking tortoises in the Galapagos, gawking at icebergs from a Zodiac in Antarctica or photographing the 'big 5' on safari in Africa, a Silversea ship can take you there.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Cabins on Regent Seven Seas perfectly blend functionality and opulence. You won't find an inside stateroom on any ship across the fleet, and most have balconies with spaciousness built in. Regent's commitment to refreshing its fleet, which culminated in spring 2018, means all cabins feel modern and new. Regent Seven Seas' top suites are simply incredible, with exceptional space and high-end features and amenities.
SeaDream Yacht Club
SeaDream is consistently creative in its approach to dining, acknowledging the current trend for healthy eating without compromising on taste. In addition to a superb menu of elegant international cuisine, everything prepared a la minute, the line offers an imaginative raw vegan menu, an impressive selection of healthy choices and a magnificent wine list, with daily choices as part of the all-inclusive list. This is five-star dining at its best.
From digital filmmaking to watercolour painting and bridge instruction, Crystal always has plenty of enrichment activities planned for its passengers, so even sea days prove that your holiday is the perfect time to try something new. Learn the cha-cha, or have your mind blown by an expect lecturer. On Crystal, you can come home with both body and mind rejuvenated.
Viking Ocean Cruises
You'd be hard-pressed to find somewhere Viking does not go, and next year the line embarks on the longest-ever world cruise, visiting 59 countries and 113 ports on a 245-day journey. If you can't spare eight months, you'll find all five ships offer destination-rich itineraries across six continents (not Antarctica -- yet), helped as the 930-passenger ships are small enough to get to less visited ports.
Best for Romance
Windstar knows the secret to creating romance onboard: intimate ships, beautiful outdoor spaces for soaking up the sunset, alfresco dining and -- on some ships -- stunning sails for that wind-in-your-hair thrill. The line's tropical and bucket-list destinations -- Southern Caribbean, Costa Rica, Mediterranean and Alaska -- are an added bonus when it comes to setting the mood for holiday romance.
Seabourn Cruise Line
Seabourn goes above and beyond when it comes to personalised service. Waiters will bring you a blanket when you're dining outside on a breezy night, and chefs will happily make your favourite meal off-menu. Solo travellers never feel alone with nightly dinner invitations from officers and entertainers, and even first-time cruisers will be welcomed by name on day one. Even among the luxury lines, Seabourn stands out.
Azamara Club Cruises
Best Shore Excursions
Many cruise lines offer the same tours, but Azamara makes a point to change things up and add a local component. Excursions are themed to immerse you in a destination, whether by biking through the heart of a city, meeting a local artist or enjoying a port after dark. No matter which tour you choose, most offer local snacks as yet another taste of the regional culture.
Best for Solo Travellers
The friendly, house-party atmosphere on Noble Caledonia's three small ships is a winner for singles. Indeed, a lot of passengers travel alone with the line, as they feel completely comfortable and cared for. Open dining and an attentive maitre d' in charge of seating at mealtimes means nobody has to eat alone. Plus, as all tours are included in the price, friendships form quickly as destinations unfold.
Viking Ocean Cruises
Viking's impeccable thermal spa includes everything you'd desire: a thalassotherapy pool, a series of hot and cold treatments, ceramic lounge chairs and a tranquil atmosphere. Even better, whereas most cruise lines charge a premium for thermal spa time, Viking has bucked the trend, making access complimentary. The cruise line has smartly partnered with LivNordic, providing passengers with innovative, high-quality treatments. Viking sets the bar sky-high for cruise ship spas.
Viking Ocean Cruises
Best Value for Money
Viking knows what its passengers value, and it delivers in every way. Cruises on Viking include many items you'd pay extra for on other cruise lines: shore excursions, self-service washing, some drinks and access to the thermal spa. Viking's no-nickel-and-diming attitude means cruisers rarely have to pull out their wallets once onboard, and all this comes on beautifully appointed ships with spacious, modern cabins.