The World's Best Large-Ship Ocean Cruise Lines in 2016
The cruise industry is constantly evolving to keep up with consumers’ needs and desires. Lines like Royal Caribbean International and Norwegian have unveiled new suite accommodations and family-friendly attractions to appeal to multigenerational groups. Holland America enlisted the help of interior designer Adam D. Tihany to give the cabins and public spaces of its latest launch a sleek, contemporary look.
But one of the biggest splashes (yes, pun intended) in the industry came last year when Viking Cruises — a line known for its fleet of well-designed longships, which sail European rivers — debuted its first ocean vessel, the Viking Star. The 930-passenger ship was an instant hit, in part due to the mid-century Scandinavian design of its interiors, and standout features like a cantilevered infinity pool and a sprawling Nordic-inspired spa. (Not to mention the free WiFi, which made sharing your Instagram post from the pool deck that much easier.)
Travelers loved the ship so much that, just one year after launch, they gave Viking top honors in our World’s Best Awards, in the large-ship ocean cruise lines category.
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 lines, 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.
Viking’s win demonstrated that a newcomer can have a big impact. Some of the lines that also placed in this category — Crystal Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, and Oceania Cruises — stand out for their rich culinary programs. And, in the case of Crystal and Regent, the all-inclusive experience is second to none.
No. 9: Celebrity Cruises
No. 7: Princess Cruises
No. 6: Oceania Cruises
No. 5: Azamara Club Cruises
No. 4: Cunard
No. 2: Crystal Cruises
No. 1: Viking Cruises
Just one year after launching its first oceangoing ship, Viking Cruises pulled off a surprise win, beating out the competition. What truly makes a statement on the line’s twin 930-passenger ships, Viking Star and Viking Sea (debuted in April 2016), is the Scandinavian aesthetic, which translates to airy cabins (all of which have full-size balconies) and public spaces. Wi-Fi is free to all guests, no matter their cabin class, and there is no surcharge to dine outside the main restaurant in places like The Chef’s Table, which serves a five-course tasting menu.