Methodology: How We Conduct the World's Best Awards 2019

A survey developed by the editors of Travel + Leisure, in association with research firm M&RR, was made available at from November 5, 2018 to March 4, 2019. Readers were invited to participate through Travel + Leisure magazine, T+L tablet editions, newsletters, social media, and M&RR maintained, monitored, and kept the survey website secure, and also collected and tabulated the responses. To protect the integrity of the data, after the survey closed, Travel + Leisure and M&RR screened the responses to identify fraudulent votes, which were eliminated from the final tallies.

Respondents were asked to rate airlines, airports, car-rental agencies, cities, cruise lines, destination spas, hotels, hotel brands, islands, tour operators, and safari outfitters on a number of characteristics (see below). For each characteristic, respondents could choose a rating of excellent, above average, average, below average, or poor. The final scores are indexed averages of these responses. Scores shown have been rounded to the nearest hundredth of a point; in the event of a true tie, winners share the same ranking. In most categories, respondents could also rate optional characteristics; these ratings are not included in the overall scores.

Hotels were categorized as City or Resort based on their locations and amenities. For resort hotels, the U.S. was divided into eight regions: California, Florida, Greater Miami Beach, Hawaii, Midwest (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin), Northeast (Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, D.C.), South (Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia), and West (Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming).

For the cruise category, respondents were asked to rate individual ships; the results were combined to generate scores for cruise lines in different categories. The categories are: mega-ship ocean cruise lines (capacity of 2,200 passengers or more), large-ship ocean cruise lines (600 to 2,199 passengers), midsize-ship ocean cruise lines (250 to 599 passengers), small-ship ocean cruise lines (249 or fewer passengers), and river cruise lines. Some cruise lines may appear in multiple categories depending on the makeup of their fleet.

A minimum number of responses was necessary for a candidate to be eligible for inclusion in the World’s Best Awards rankings. Some companies were eligible to be rated in multiple categories; they were scored independently for each category.

Categories and Characteristics

Airlines: Cabin comfort, in-flight service, customer service, value.

Airports: Access, check-in/security, restaurants/bars, shopping, design.

Car-rental agencies: Vehicle selection, vehicle availability, car-rental location, service, value.

Cities: Sights/landmarks, culture, food, friendliness, shopping, value.

Cruise lines: Cabins/facilities, food, service, itineraries/destinations, excursions/activities, value.

Destination spas: Accommodations/facilities, treatments, service, food, value.

Hotels: Rooms/facilities, location, service, food, value.

Hotel brands: Locations, rooms/facilities, food, service, value.

Islands: Natural attractions/beaches, activities/sights, restaurants/food, people/friendliness, value.

Tour operators and safari outfitters: Staff/guides, itineraries/destinations, activities, accommodations, food, value.

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