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Best Travel Awards 2016, Part 3: Top Cruise Lines


What are the best cruise lines in the world? Condé Nast Traveler’s (CNT) 2016 Readers’ Choice Awards names 20 of the top lines, five each in four categories.

Columns, Lifestyle, Travel, Condé Nast Traveler, Cruises, United States, North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, Antarctica

Image Credit: Norwegian Escape Cruise (#5 under "Large Ships")

What are the best cruise lines in the world? Condé Nast Traveler’s (CNT) 2016 Readers’ Choice Awards names 20 of the top lines, five each in four categories. For its award-winners, the noted travel magazine and website analyzes the comments and ratings of more than 300,000 of their readers and users. CNT’s anointed reflect the preferences and personalities of their readers and users, typically deep-pocketed travelers who like luxury and comfort.


  • Best Travel Awards 2016, Part 1: Top-Ranked US Resorts
  • Best Travel Awards 2016, Part 2: Top Cities in the World

For your seafaring pleasure, consider the winners of CNT’s Choice Awards in cruising.

Large Ships (vessels carry more than 2,500 passengers)

1. Disney: The family-friendly line sails the Caribbean and Europe, offering character appearances, Disney-themed deck parties, and children’s programs.

2. Cunard: In the tradition of ocean-liners, Cunard hosts black-tie evenings, ballroom dancing, and afternoon tea. Sail on the line’s largest ship, the Queen Mary 2, at 2,600 passengers, and you can enjoy planetarium shows plus time with your dog or cat.

3. Princess: The line’s 17 ships sail the world with the 18th Majestic Princess to launch Southeast Asia cruises in spring 2017.

4. Celebrity: Among the upmarket touches on Celebrity’s largest ships public spaces graced by fine art, an eatery devoted to healthy cuisine and a top deck with real grass and a croquet court.

5. Norwegian Cruise Line: NCL was the first to inaugurate Freestyle Dining, the eat when you and where you want program. The Escape, the line’s newest ship, features more than 20 places to dine, including small plates at a craft brewery and thick burgers at Margaritaville.

Medium Ships (vessels carry 500 to 2,500 passengers)

1. Crystal Cruises: Among the upscale line’s dining options is a sushi bar by Nobu Matsuhisa. In 2016, Crystal expanded to launch the Crystal Esprit, an expedition yacht and the Crystal Mozart, a river ship.

2. Disney: Both the Disney Wonder and the Disney Magic, the line’s first two ships, carry 2,400 passengers and keep the Disney vibe alive with character sightings, musicals, and movies.

3. Regent Seven Seas: On the line’s three largest vessels — Seven Seas Voyager, Mariner, and Explorer — d the shore excursions, Wi-Fi, and specialty dining are included with your fare.

4. Cunard: Both the Queen Elizabeth and the Queen Victoria carry 2,000 passengers, offering such ocean liner options as ballroom dancing and black-tie evening.

5. Oceania Cruises: Country club casual rules on this ship known for the largest verandahs at sea and specialty sailings that feature chefs, sportscasters, and other personalities.

Small Ships (vessels carry fewer than 500 passengers)

1. Seabourn: The luxury line’s three ships, with a fourth launching in December, each offer fewer than 300 suites. Michelin-starred Chef Thomas Keller supervises specialty menus.

2. Paul Gaugin: The 332-passenger Paul Gaugin sails the Pacific, delivering guests to Tahiti, Bora Bora, and Fiji.

3. Regent Seven Seas: Carrying 490-guests, the Seven Seas Navigator splits time between the Mediterranean and voyages to Hawaii, French Polynesia, and New Zealand. The line’s all-inclusive philosophy means there are no extra charges for shore excursions, alcohol, Wi-Fi, and specialty dining.

4. Windstar: The line has three sailing yachts and three all-suite motor yachts. Because of their small size, the ships can access ports other lines cannot.

5. SeaDream Yacht Club: Each of the line’s two yachts carry 112-passengers in style, and that includes champagne service on the beaches and Balinese beds for lounging on the open deck.

River Ships

1. Grand Circle Cruise Line: Each of the six river ships carry fewer than 200 passengers. Solo travelers do not pay single supplements.

2. Viking River Cruises: With 65 ships, Viking explores many destinations, ranging from Europe’s Danube and Rhone rivers to Myanmar’s Irrawaddy.

3. Uniworld Boutique River Cruises: The 21-ship line cruises waterways in Europe, Russia, China, India, Vietnam, and Cambodia. On European and Russian sailings, you can visit local homes, farms, and artisans as part of the Village Day program.

4. Tauck: Tauck’s nine ships specialize in European sailings. The line welcomes multigenerational groups and children on some sailings.

5. Vantage: Vantage ships cruise Europe’s waterways and, by charter, explore Antarctica, the Indian Ocean, and Central America.

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