Viking Cruises dominated the 12th annual Cruise Critic Editors’ Picks Awards for the third year in a row with five wins in 2019.
Royal Caribbean International, AmaWaterways and Crystal Cruises tied for second place with three awards each, all of which were revealed on December 4.
“Our list of winners represents just how much the industry continues to change – and the fact that there really is a cruise for every traveler,” said Colleen McDaniel, executive editor of cruising website Cruise Critic.
“Whether you’re a family or adventure-seeker, solo traveler or foodie, these are the absolute best lines to try in the upcoming year.”
Viking still rules the waterways
Cruise Critic’s editors name winners in three categories: ocean cruises, luxury cruises (all on ocean ships) and river cruises.
Viking won three luxury awards (best enrichment, best spa, best value for money) and two river cruise awards (best for first-timers and best itineraries).
It’s no surprise that Disney Cruise Line won the best for families in the ocean category, and Disney’s Adventures by Disney earned top honors for families in river cruising – and both won for the fourth year in a row.
The new Norwegian Encore
After Cruise Critic’s editors boarded the Norwegian Encore, they knew it was the one.
A member of Norwegian Cruise Line’s Breakaway Class, Norwegian Encore is their pick for best new ocean ship.
“A number of fantastic new ships launched this year, but what made Norwegian Encore stand out to our editors was the sheer depth of offerings available for every traveler,” McDaniel said.
“From an onboard go-kart track and virtual-reality simulators, to nearly 20 restaurants and a dual-deck, adults-only escape – there’s something on board for everyone. And while the ship isn’t an entirely new concept – it’s not first-in-class – the line has clearly taken what’s worked on its previous ships and perfected it on Norwegian Encore. It’s truly an exciting addition to the industry.”
Cruise Critic's top cruise ships for 2019
The best new river ship is AmaWaterways’ AmaMagna, which is double the width of many river cruise ships. “The modern ship offers large staterooms, a full-sized pool and an array of restaurants. AmaMagna is a dream for fitness and wellness enthusiasts, with a large gym and dedicated spa space – unheard of on river ships,” say the editors in a statement.
The best new luxury ship is the 200-passenger ocean ship Scenic Eclipse, which has two helicopters and a six-person sub. Editors noted the “chic, modern design, generously sized suites and incredible dining offerings. Scenic pulled out all the stops with its first ocean ship, which seamlessly combines luxury and soft-adventure travel to exotic destinations, including the Arctic and Antarctica.”
Best New Ship: Norwegian Encore
Best Ship Refurbishment: Oasis of the Seas (Royal Caribbean International)
Best for Adventure: UnCruise Adventures
Best Cabins: Celebrity Cruises
Best Dining: Holland America Line
Best Entertainment: Royal Caribbean International
Best for Families: Disney Cruise Line
Best Itineraries: Holland America Line
Best Nightlife: MSC Cruises
Best Service: Carnival Cruise Line
Best Shore Excursions: Princess Cruises
Best for Solo Travelers: Norwegian Cruise Line
Best Suites: Royal Caribbean International
Best Value for Money: Carnival Cruise Line
Best North American Homeport: Seattle, WA
Best Luxury Cruise Line: Crystal Cruises
Best New Luxury Ship: Scenic Eclipse
Best Ship Refurbishment: Insignia (Oceania Cruises)
Best for Adventure: Ponant
Best Cabins: Seabourn Cruise Line
Best Dining: Oceania Cruises
Best Enrichment: Viking Ocean Cruises
Best Itineraries: Azamara
Best for Romance: SeaDream Yacht Club
Best Service: Silversea Cruises
Best Shore Excursions: Windstar Cruises
Best for Solo Travelers: Seabourn Cruise Line
Best Spa: Viking Ocean Cruises
Best Value for Money: Viking Ocean Cruises
River cruise winners
Best River Cruise Line: AmaWaterways
Best New River Cruise Ship: AmaMagna (AmaWaterways)
Best Ship Refurbishment: S.S. Bon Voyage (Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection)
Best for Active Cruisers: AmaWaterways
Best Cabins: Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection
Best Dining: Crystal River Cruises
Best Enrichment: Scenic
Best for Families: Adventures by Disney
Best for First-Timers: Viking River Cruises
Best Itineraries: Viking River Cruises
Best for Luxury: Crystal River Cruises
Best Service: Tauck River Cruising
Best Shore Excursions: Avalon Waterways
Best for Solo Travelers: Vantage Deluxe World Travel
Best Value for Money: Emerald Waterways