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World’s best luxury cruise lines and cruise ships

Signature Luxury Travel & Style has assembled an expert panel of cruise and travel industry insiders to identify the world’s best luxury cruise ships and cruise lines.

What is the Signature Luxury Travel & Style Cruise Awards?

The Signature Luxury Travel & Style’s Luxury Cruise Awards is a compendium of the world’s finest ocean, river, expedition, family and tall-ship cruising. Our fifth annual awards celebrate the top cruise lines, cruise ships and operators in the industry.

How are the Luxury Cruise Awards judged?

Our annual Luxury Cruise Awards are judged by a panel of 19 leading luxury cruise experts and travel advisors who rate major cruise lines across 11 key categories, including suites, service, dining, wellness, itineraries and shore excursions. Each cruise line is awarded points that are tallied to determine the overall winners.



Sundowners in style on Celebrity Beyond
Sundowners in style on Celebrity Beyond © Ryan Wicks

World’s best luxury ocean ships: more than 750 passengers

1. Oceania Cruises

Oceania Cruises has once again secured the top spot in this category, its culinary experiences and exceptional shore excursions placing it ahead of other similar cruise lines in the category. Foodies considering a voyage with Oceania Cruises should look into their latest cruise ship, Vista, which is the first to host the cruise line’s new restaurant, Ember.

2. Viking Cruises

Viking is known for hosting fantastic onboard wellness concepts and thrilling shore excursions. This cruise line delivers a particularly exceptional experience aboard its all-veranda cruise ship, Viking Neptune.

3. Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Cruises’ onboard entertainment is renowned, as are the in-suite innovations installed across the fleet, such as the new AquaClass SkySuites on Celebrity Beyond, which includes a spa, concierge and in-room fitness menu.

Finalists: Cunard Line, Explora Journeys, Virgin Voyages


Find your bliss at Aquamar Spa + Vitality Centre on Oceania Vista
Find your bliss at Aquamar Spa + Vitality Centre on Oceania Vista © Nick Tortajada/VRX Studios

World’s best luxury ocean ships: from 251 to 749 passengers

1. Regent Seven Seas Cruises

From its innovative shore excursions to its delicious onboard cuisine, Regent Seven Seas Cruises hosts all-inclusive sailings that impress all who join them. Seven Seas Splendor is an excellent vessel for first-timers looking to experience all this premier cruise line offers.

2. Silversea

Sailing to more than 900 destinations on all seven continents, Silversea Cruises is one of the world’s leading luxury cruise lines. Experience the bespoke service for yourself on Silver Moon, a cruise ship with a staff-to-guest ratio of almost 1:1.

3. Seabourn

Seabourn is committed to pushing boundaries when it comes to design, fine dining and entertainment. Book a journey on Seabourn Encore to see it all for yourself, a vessel that showcases the evolution of small-ship cruising.

Finalists: Crystal, Hapag-LLoyd Cruises, Oceania Cruises, Ponant, Seabourn


The top deck on Seven Seas Splendour
The top deck on Seven Seas Splendor © Stephen Beaudet

World’s best luxury ocean ships: boutique 50 to 250 passengers

Small ship cruising offers all the luxuries of a larger ship, with more time to talk to the on-board experts, more space to soak up the scenery, and a chance to venture into places larger ships simply can’t go.

1. Silversea

Flavourful cuisine, premium wines and butler service are all part and parcel of sailing aboard Silver Origin, the first destination-specific ship built by Silversea.

2. Ponant

Known for unique itineraries and environmentally friendly ships, Ponant’s Le Lyrial is no exception to the rule, with plush interior design and exemplary service showcased onboard a sustainable cruise ship. Slip on board to your own slice of Parisian paradise on the French-owned cruise ship. Thoughtfully designed staterooms and suites have private balconies and terraces, with the smallest of details creating a five-star ambience: Diptyque bath products in cabins, and fragrances from Fragonard perfumery that waft wherever you walk. Snack on Pierre Hermé Paris macarons and warmed French baguettes, and sip free-flowing champagne. Then, sink into plush beds with fine linen and doze to the gentle rock of the ship.

3. Celebrity Cruises

Elevated dining and wellbeing concepts are executed on board Celebrity Flora, a cruise ship designed for total immersion into its locale while providing guests with inspiring experiences.

Finalists: Aqua Expeditions


Soak in the spa to vast views on board Silver Origin
Soak in the spa to vast views on board Silver Origin

World’s best luxury ocean ships: yachts 50 to 250 passengers

1. Ponant

There are few things more enjoyable than having every wish and need seen to while on holiday, and Ponant does just that while touring passengers through some of the globe’s most beautiful destinations. Le Boreal, L’Austral, Le Soleal and Le Lyrial are all exceptional vessels on which to travel.

2. Silversea

Equipped with the latest exploration technology and cutting-edge equipment, Silversea’s vessels are future-ready. Guests can even sail to both poles on Silver Endeavour, the newest expedition ship from Silversea.

3. Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours

A ticket to cruise with Scenic includes all the amenities guests have come to expect from a luxury cruise line, plus access to spectacular once-in-a-lifetime experiences, such as helicopter tours and deep sea viewing from a submarine as found on board Scenic Eclipse II.

Finalists: Emerald Cruises, Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection, SeaDream Yacht Club


Divine deck views on Scenic Eclipse
Divine deck views on Scenic Eclipse

World’s best luxury ocean ships: tall ships

1. Windstar Cruises

Sailing itineraries that port in New Zealand, Tahiti, Asia and Europe, cruising aboard Windstar CruisesStar, Surf or Spirit is a laid-back yet upper-class affair that ensures every guest feels relaxed and respected.

2. Sea Cloud Cruises

Sailing in adherence to sustainable principles for more than 40 years, Sea Cloud Cruises travels with a small number of guests to destinations in Europe, the Mediterranean, the Canaries, Morocco and more. Book a journey on Sea Cloud Spirit for an authentic yachting holiday.

3. Star Clippers

Laying eyes upon Star Clippers’ tall ships is like peering into the past. These grand vessels have all the opulence of a bygone era and all the modern conveniences a traveller could desire. The Royal Clipper, Star Clipper and Star Flyer host yoga, Christmas and other themed sailings and visit some of the most beautiful locations in the world.


Windstar cruising Moorea
Windstar cruising Moorea

World’s best luxury ocean ships for multigenerational travellers

1. Celebrity Cruises

Regardless of whether you’re a foodie, love a live show or prefer a quiet holiday bathing in the sun, every member of the family will find their niche on board Celebrity Beyond, which boasts a range of facilities such as restaurants, bars, spas, theatres and other entertainment.

2. Norwegian Cruise Line

With Norwegian Cruise Line, families can spend time together making memories or spread out for some time alone on this cruise line’s spacious ships, such as Norwegian Prima, which is the first of its class and known for having an unprecedented amount of deck space.

3. Royal Caribbean International

Embark upon thrilling seafaring adventures on board a Royal Caribbean cruise ship. Opt for a vessel with the latest technology, such as Odyssey of the Seas which has an incredible 360-degree North Star observation capsule.

Finalists: Disney Cruise Line, MSC Cruises


Ultimate bliss on Norwegian Prima © Christian Santiag
Ultimate bliss on Norwegian Prima within The Haven © Christian Santiag

World’s best ship-in-a-ship

Cruise lines that offer an exclusive ship cocoon, elevating your sailing experience.

1. Norwegian Cruise Line

A stay in The Haven aboard a Norwegian Cruise Line ship includes butler service and exclusive access to private recreation zones.

2. Celebrity Cruises

The latest additions to Celebrity’s fleet feature The Retreat, an elevated area with private dining, premier leisure spaces, butler service and resort-like facilities.

3. MSC Cruises

It’s impossible to resist the allure of MSC Yacht Club, an exclusive area with a panoramic whirlpool, solarium, butler service and private amenities, hidden at the topmost deck of the ship.

Finalist: Royal Caribbean Cruises

MSC Seascape’s viewing lounge © Ivan Sarfatti
MSC Seascape’s viewing lounge © Ivan Sarfatti

What is an ocean cruise ship?

An ocean cruise ship is a vessel built specifically to meet the needs of traversing open waters. These ships typically showcase a solid design, robust materials and resistant architecture that can withstand the harsh conditions of ocean voyages and long around-the-world routes. Cruise ships are often large with a high guest capacity and sail itineraries with ports of call in tourist hotspots and destinations of interest. These types of ships are considered to be floating resorts and boast facilities such as a spa, gym, theatres, multiple restaurants and bars, pools, sun decks, theme park-style attractions for children and other similar amenities.

Signature Luxury Travel & Style Luxury Cruise Awards

Read more: 

The world’s best luxury river cruises
The world’s best luxury expedition cruises
Cruise lines leading the way in sustainable cruising

This article originally appeared in volume 46 of Signature Luxury Travel & Style magazine. Subscribe to the latest issue today.

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