The Top 10 Large-Ship Ocean Cruise Lines
Ask cruise-ship employees or executives, and they’ll tell you the industry is booming — and looking at this year’s list of the best large-ship ocean cruise lines, it’s easy to see the growth in action.
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 World's Best Awards 2019
The companies in this year’s Top 10 have dozens of ships in the works — and, undoubtedly, more on the horizon. Azamara, the No. 7 line, unveiled Azamara Pursuit last year; Regent Seven Seas Cruises, No. 4, is gearing up for Seven Seas Splendor early next year. Princess Cruises, which came in at No. 9, has an impressive five ships in the pipeline, most imminently Sky Princess, launching this October.
Many of these lines are also branching out into the expedition cruising space. Silversea, which placed eighth this year, debuts its first destination-specific ship, Silver Origin, in the Galápagos next year, while Hurtigruten, No. 10, just announced a fleet of electric explorer catamarans for the Arctic Circle. Seabourn, a luxury line that came in at No. 3 this year, is working on two purpose-built expedition ships, Venture and a second that is yet to be named, launching in 2021 and 2022. Its pair of larger 600-passenger ships, Seabourn Encore and Seabourn Ovation, debuted over the past few years, carrying the line up to the top three; one respondent noted the “fabulous, large, thoughtfully laid out staterooms” on Ovation, while another called Encore “the best cruise ship I have been on.”
So why sail on a ship like these? They’re not mega-ships with racetracks, ziplines, and tons of families, but they’re not exactly intimate or expedition-ready, either. One theme that came up a lot in our reader responses: space. A ship of this size may have more people on board — but not too many — and, often, more room to stretch your legs. Said one respondent, “Sailing on Silversea is like coming home: your cabin is roomy and immaculately kept, with a big walk-in closet, a good-size bathroom, and an ample balcony.” (Needless to say, walk-in closets on river cruises or sailboats are few and far between.)
This year’s top pick for the best large-ship ocean cruise line has launched six ocean ships in the past four years, with plans for a whopping 10 more ship to be delivered between 2021 and 2027.
Read on to find out which large-ship ocean cruises made the list of readers’ favorites.
More information: hurtigruten.com
9. Princess Cruises
WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 83.11
More information: princess.com
8. Silversea Cruises
WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 84.01
More information: silversea.com
WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 84.48
More information: azamaraclubcruises.com
WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 85.99
More information: cunard.com
5. Oceania Cruises
WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 86.45
More information: oceaniacruises.com
4. Regent Seven Seas Cruises
WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 91.53
More information: rssc.com
WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 92.36
More information: seabourn.com
2. Crystal Cruises
WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 92.75
More information: crystalcruises.com
1. Viking Cruises
More information: vikingcruises.com
Viking Cruises has topped this list since it became eligible in 2016 — it started out as a river-only line — and the addition of two new ships since last summer, Orion and Jupiter, helped it maintain its No. 1 position. Customers loved the layout of the ships and the balanced number of passengers (“we never felt crowded”) as well as the staterooms, which one reader enthused were “the most spacious, best laid out, and had the most storage” of any ship in 35-plus cruises. Viking is aimed at an adult clientele, so you won’t find laser tag or screaming kids. (“The best thing about the Viking Sun,” wrote one respondent, “was that there was absolutely nothing for children.”) One reader admitted, “We will be hard-pressed to cruise on a line other than Viking.”
See all of our readers' favorite hotels, cities, airlines, cruise lines, and more in the World's Best Awards for 2019.