The best new cruise ship of 2022 holds 3,099 guests and 1,506 crew. A 24-hour butler serves its most luxurious suites, and there’s a three-level race track and slides that are 10-stories tall.
The award goes to Norwegian Prima, named the best new ship in the Ocean category of the Cruise Critic Editors’ Picks Awards, now in their 14th year. The awards recognize recipients chosen by an international team of cruise experts at Cruise Critic, a review site and online cruise community.
The awards come as cruising returns to its prepandemic state.
“Most lines no longer have pretesting guidelines or vaccine requirements,” Colleen McDaniel, editor-in-chief of Cruise Critic, told CNN Travel via email.
“Cruise lines no longer have capacity limits, making the onboard environment much more bustling than we’d seen in the months immediately following the return, and there are more areas onboard open to cruisers – from lounges and entertainment venues, to restaurants and fitness classes.”
Cruising is back and “exceeding expectations,” according to Cruise Critic.
In the awards’ Ocean category, Norwegian Cruise Line also earned best entertainment and best for solo travelers honors.
Celebrity Cruises has the best cabins, while Virgin Voyages offers the best dining and nightlife and is best for LGBTQ+ travelers, according to the 2022 Ocean category awards.
Luxury and adventure
In the awards’ Luxury category, Silversea Cruises earns the best luxury cruise line honor and the line also takes the award for best dining in the category.
The Emerald Azzurra is the best new luxury cruise ship. The Emerald Cruises “luxury yacht” can accommodate 100 guests and a crew of 72.
Travelers who are more than ready for an adventure-of-a-lifetime cruise will find the Cruise Critic awards’ new Expedition category helpful in sorting through their options.
The 2022 debut of the category names the best lines for the most popular destinations: Alaska (UnCruise Adventures), Antarctica (Silversea Expeditions), the Arctic (Ponant Cruises) and the Galapagos Islands (Lindblad Expeditions).
Viking takes the prize in the Expedition category for the best new luxury ships – Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris – and the best science offerings. Quark Expeditions was named best for adventure.
“Kayaking, mountain biking, trekking – even Arctic hot-air ballooning: However you want to be active at the poles, Quark will make it happen,” Cruise Critic editors said in a news release.
What’s next for cruising?
Innovations that were sped along by the pandemic are here to stay.
“Technology is much more ingrained in the cruise experience, being leveraged to help limit crowds and also just create a more efficient experience for travelers,” McDaniel said.
She mentioned facial recognition technology that’s making embarkation easier, the ability to order food and drink from an app from anywhere on the ship and in-cabin muster drills that are replacing in-person drills.
Next year, a range of new ships will come into service, including a new class of ships from Royal Caribbean, Oceania and MSC as well as a number of “sister” ships that will be the 2.0 or 3.0 versions of others in their fleets.
“And the hunger for cruises continues to rise in 2023 – we’re seeing some really strong shopping and booking numbers, particularly for the summer months,” McDaniel said.
Here’s the full list of Cruise Critics’ top picks for future cruisers’ consideration:
2022 Cruise Critic Editors’ Picks Awards in the Ocean category
Best New Ship: Norwegian Prima
Best Cabins: Celebrity Cruises
Best Dining: Virgin Voyages
Best Entertainment: Norwegian Cruise Line
Best for Families: Disney Cruise Line
Best Innovation/Tech: Princess Cruises
Best for LGBTQ+ Travelers: Virgin Voyages
Best Nightlife: Virgin Voyages
Best Service: Holland America Line
Best for Solo Travelers: Norwegian Cruise Line
Best Spa: Holland America Line
Best Specialty Dining: Celebrity Cruises
Best Suites: Royal Caribbean International
Best Suite Complex: MSC Cruises
Best Value for Money: Carnival Cruise Line
Best App: Royal Caribbean International
Best North American Homeport: Vancouver
Winners in the Luxury and Expedition categories
Best Luxury Cruise Line: Silversea Cruises
Best New Luxury Ship: Emerald Azzurra
Best Cabins: Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Best Dining: Silversea Cruises
Best Enrichment: Viking Ocean Cruises
Best Itineraries: Oceania Cruises
Best Service: Seabourn Cruise Line
Best Shore Excursions: Windstar Cruises
Best for Solo Travelers: Seabourn Cruise Line
Best Spa: Viking Ocean Cruises
Best Value for Money: SeaDream Yacht Club
Best New Luxury Ship: Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris
Best for Adventure: Quark Expeditions
Best Cabins: Seabourn Cruise Line
Best Dining: Scenic
Best for Light Expedition: American Queen Voyages
Best for Luxury: Silversea Expeditions
Best Science Offerings: Viking Expeditions
Best Service: Scenic
Best Value for Money: Hurtigruten
Best in Alaska: UnCruise Adventures
Best in Antarctica: Silversea Expeditions
Best in the Arctic: Ponant Cruises
Best in the Galapagos: Lindblad Expeditions