Travel + Leisure magazine has unveiled its annual World’s Best Awards for 2016, and five cruise categories reflect reader favorites from river cruising to ocean cruising. Both familiar cruise lines and newcomers made the lists this year.
The most wave-making top ten list comes in the form of Best Large-Ship Ocean Cruise Lines with Viking Ocean Cruises taking the top spot from Crystal Cruises, which had previously held the title for 20 straight years. Among the features that ranked the freshman brand so high are inclusive carryovers from its successful Viking River Cruises brand: free Wi-Fi and free dining, that extends to its specialty restaurants.
In response, Torstein Hagen, founder and chairman of Viking Cruises said, “Viking is the world’s leading river cruise line, and we are pleased to now be the world’s best ocean cruise line. We launched Viking Ocean Cruises to reinvent the category. We have a unique approach to destination-focused ocean cruising that is built upon our success in river cruising, and awards like this demonstrate that our approach is working. Thank you to our guests and the readers of Travel + Leisure for this great honor.”
Rounding out the Large-Ship category, in descending order, are Crystal Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Cunard Line, Azamara Club Cruises, Oceania Cruises, Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, Celebrity Cruises and Royal Caribbean International. Also of interesting note is how despite a smaller fleet, Azamara bested direct competitor Oceania, indicating that its recent ship remodels are paying off.
While Viking Cruises won in the ocean category, its Viking River Cruises brand came in third for Best River Cruise Lines behind first-place Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection and second-place Tauck. Uniworld’s opulence and tour programs spoke to readers who were quoted as saying, “The cabins are like little jewel boxes,” and “Uniworld’s onshore excursions are unique, varied and well chosen, with a distinct accent on history and art.”
“Uniworld’s connection to its sister company, the five-star Red Carnation Hotel Collection, has enabled the company to tap into over 50 years of worldwide expertise,” said Guy Young, President of Uniworld. “As the world’s leading luxury boutique cruise line, we must adhere to a surpassed level of luxury that is employed throughout all channels, both onboard and onshore.”
Coming in behind the top three are Grand Circle Cruise Line and AmaWaterways for a total list of only five, altogether leaving out oth
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