The Top 10 Large-ship Ocean Cruise Lines
This year's World's Best Awards survey was open for voting January 11 through May 10, 2021, as destinations around the world were lifting COVID-19 restrictions. Survey rules have always allowed readers to reflect on their travel experiences over a three-year period. We hope that this year's honorees will inspire your own travels as you get back out into the world.
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 ships that can carry 600 to 2,199 passengers.
The 2021 edition of T+L's large-ship list held several surprises, including many changes at the top of the rankings. Some long-time favorites slipped in this year's voting. Viking Cruises, which was the top line last year, came in at No. 2 for 2021. Then there was Crystal Cruises, which fell to No. 4 in this year's voting after placing second in 2020.
Other cruise lines surged ahead as travelers looked back at their vacation memories. No. 3 Regent Seven Seas moved up the list one spot, with a strong score above 92 points (out of 100). No. 6 Oceania Cruises also got a better score this year, rising two places, as numerous voters mentioned the high quality of the line's onboard cuisine. "In our experience with eight different cruise lines," said one well-traveled voter, "Oceania consistently has the best food."
The top large-ship line for 2021 was Seabourn, which readers said seamlessly delivered a decadent on-board experience on all five of its ships around the world. Three of those vessels are slated to resume sailing in 2021, with destinations including the Caribbean and Greece; two other Seabourn ships will return to the seas in early 2022. The company has more news: the first of a planned fleet of expedition ships is scheduled to arrive, as of press time, in late fall of 2022, with adventures to South America and Antarctica lined up.
Find more reasons why Seabourn stood out to T+L readers — and which other companies made this year's cut — below.
"They're the best," said one traveler, who recalled a trip on the Seabourn Encore. "We never take a cruise on any other line. The accommodations are beautiful and comfortable, the service superb, and the food delicious and varied." Other voters had similarly high praise for what Seabourn offered. "Excellent service, attractive ship with plenty of open space, and cabins are nicely appointed," said one voter about the Seabourn Encore. "Undoubtedly the best cruise line ever," said another, who traveled aboard the Seabourn Ovation. "Great food, service, and large suites on small, intimate ships."
2. Viking Cruises
More information: vikingcruises.com
3. Regent Seven Seas Cruises
4. Crystal Cruises
6. Oceania Cruises
9. Holland America Line
10. Costa Cruises
More information: costacruises.com
See all of our readers' favorite hotels, cities, airlines, cruise lines, and more in the World's Best Awards for 2021.