PHOTO: Bow of Cunard’s Queen Mary 2. (photo by Jason Leppert)
As in previous years, Travel + Leisure magazine has released the results of its World’s Best Awards 2017, including five cruise categories.
In considering the reader-chosen winning river and ocean cruise lines by size for this year, let’s start small and end big.
Last year’s top large ocean ship line, Crystal Cruises may have been pushed out of the spot it held for two decades by newcomer Viking Cruises—Crystal is number two behind Viking there—but it beat Viking on the rivers for 2017. It’s interesting how Viking’s first attempt at ocean cruising from its river beginnings resulted in the highest marks while the reverse is true for Crystal.
Proving that luxury resonates best on the rivers along with Crystal is Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection in the number two position before ubiquitous Viking at three. Rounding out the Top River Cruise Lines are lesser-known Aqua Expeditions followed by all-around-tour-operator Tauck.
Also pleasing to Crystal is a win in the Top Small-ship Ocean Cruise Lines category, thanks to the line’s current sole Crystal Esprit luxury yacht. Behind it come niche operators Ecoventura and Australis in second and third, respectively, prior to Lindblad Expeditions at number four. Its partnership with well-known National Geographic for expedition cruises surely helps boost its position.
Meanwhile, SeaDream Yacht Club at five shows that its aging fleet still has quite a lot of life in it.
Stepping up in size to Top Midsize-ship Ocean Cruise Lines, Paul Gauguin Cruises is another big win for niche players. Its one-ship fleet remarkably came out ahead of Seabourn’s four vessels and then Windstar Cruises’ six—which include Seabourn’s trio of former yachts. Still, Seabourn did best luxury competitors Regent Seven Seas Cruises at four and Silversea Cruises at five.
The now-sophomore Viking does astound at number one in the Top 10 Large-ship Ocean Cruise Lines category. Luxury Crystal is close behind with its classic ocean ships in second place. Regent Seven Seas also fits in this grouping at three with Cunard at four. With former Renaissance Cruises vessels featured in both their fleets, Oceania Cruises follows at five, and Azamara Club Cruises comes in at six.
Good for Carnival Corporation are its Princess Cruises, Costa Cruises and Holland America Line brands slotting in at seven, eight and ten respectively.
Just a notch in front of the latter is competitor Celebrity Cruises, a corporate cousin to Azamara under the Royal Caribbean Cruises Limited umbrella.
Cunard may have been four previously, but among the Top 10 Mega-ship Ocean Cruise Lines, it came in first thanks to the Queen Mary 2 ocean liner. Very similar in appearance but far different in lifestyle is the Disney Cruise Line fleet in second place. Here Princess Cruises comes in third before Celebrity Cruises in fourth and Holland America Line behind it again in fifth.
Receiving a little less love is Royal Caribbean International at six, which is surprising given it currently boasts the largest cruise ship in the world. It still beats contemporary competitors Carnival Cruise Line at seven, Norwegian Cruise Line at eight and MSC Cruises at nine, however.
Still good for the Carnival family is its Italian Costa Cruises rounding out the ten.
There are a few cruise lines that were included last year that did not move the dial into awards territory in 2017, such as Grand Circle Cruise Line, AmaWaterways, Quark Expeditions and Ponant.
This post first appeared on TravelPulse.