The Top 10 Large-ship Ocean Cruise Lines in 2017
When Viking Cruises — a brand best known for its river ships — made the leap over to the oceans in 2015 with the debut of the 930-passenger Viking Star, many wondered how it would do on the high seas (and on such a high passenger scale). Clearly, the streamlined, Scandinavian design, no-casinos or kids policy, and sprawling spa have resonated with T+L readers, since the company won top honors again in the Large-Ship Ocean Cruise Line category. “The surprises throughout the 10-day voyage didn’t stop,” wrote in one reader. “From breakfasts in the room to the spa to the afternoon tea to the evening movies. We enjoyed it more every day.”
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 and facilities, food, service, itineraries and destinations, excursions and 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.
Coming in second was Crystal Cruises — a World’s Best Hall of Fame honoree, thanks to its two luxury vessels, Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony. Both continue to attract repeat guests with stellar food, service, and staterooms. The ships will undergo multimillion-dollar renovations in the next year, with the addition of more penthouse suites and a tech upgrade to include free Wi-Fi. “When sailing on Serenity and Symphony, you are in the company of family,” said one reader. “The crew always remembers you from a previous sailing.” Many of the other lines, including Azamara Club Cruises, which placed sixth, have been playing up their land-based programs in recent years — why not add a mid-cruise overnight in a tent in the deserts of Oman? “Azamara makes it easy to explore the world with long stays in carefully curated ports,” said one guest of the 686-passenger Azamara Quest. And as these destination-intensive itineraries continue to grow in popularity, travelers will get the best of both worlds, on land and at sea.
10. Holland America Line
9. Celebrity Cruises
8. Costa Cruises
7. Princess Cruises
6. Azamara Club Cruises
5. Oceania Cruises
3. Regent Seven Seas Cruises
2. Crystal Cruises
1. Viking Cruises
There are now three 930-passenger sister ships in the Viking Ocean fleet — Viking Star, Viking Sea, and Viking Sky — and they sail to destinations like the Baltic, the Mediterranean, and the Caribbean (yes, even Cuba). But the vessels themselves are destinations in their own right: guests can lounge by the cantilevered infinity pool at the back of the ship, taste bistecca fiorentina at Manfredi’s Italian restaurant, or try the spa’s Snow Room and hydrotherapy pools. The staterooms are minimalist-chic (think light woods and blue throw blankets), and all have balconies and heated bathroom floors. All in all, “The sophisticated design offers a wide range of tranquil spaces where guests can escape,” said one reader.