2016 UK Editors’ Picks Awards: Ocean Cruise Lines

2016 Editors' Picks for Cruise Critic

Editors' Picks Awards

The Cruise Critic Editors' Picks Awards are chosen by Cruise Critic's international team of editors, based on the lines and ships they feel best represent excellence in each of the designated categories. Awards announced October 2016.

TUI Discovery, Thomson Cruises cruise ship

Best New Cruise Ship

TUI Discovery
Thomson Cruises

TUI Discovery might not feature the most bells and whistles of the 2016 launches, but this new addition introduces a number of exciting firsts for a UK cruise line: a climbing wall, an outdoor cinema, a virtual band and a puzzle room, to name a few. Specifically tailored to the UK market, this ship's already proving popular on the Cruise Critic site since its June launch.

Read our review of TUI Discovery, Thomson Cruises

Best Cruise Ship Refurbishment

Queen Mary 2
Cunard Line

Cunard's refurbishment of Queen Mary 2 has paid off, with the ocean liner seamlessly melding a golden era ambience with a contemporary new feel. From the sophisticated Verandah restaurant and the transformed Kings Court buffet to the calming Carinthia Lounge, beautiful new cabins, public spaces and enlarged kennels for cats and dogs, the ship's refurbishment is truly stunning.

Read our review of Queen Mary 2, Cunard Line

Best Cruise Line for Dining

P&O Cruises

P&O Cruises has long partnered with celebrity chefs Marco Pierre White and Atul Kochhar, but the launch of Britannia and the 'Food Heroes', including James Martin and Eric Lanlard, took the culinary emphasis up a notch. Britannia also saw the introduction of The Epicurean, a gastro restaurant with both style and substance. It has proven so popular that the line has rolled it out fleetwide.

Read our review of P&O Cruises

Best Cruise Line for Entertainment

Royal Caribbean International

Royal Caribbean pioneered West End-quality shows at sea, and it continues to deliver high-standard entertainment with the first-ever production of 'Grease' at sea, debuting on Harmony of the Seas. Plus, there's the AquaTheater shows on the Oasis-class ships and ice skating on much of the fleet. Nightly parades are fabulous for families, and daytime activities include simulated surfing, skydiving, bumper cars, climbing walls and water slides.

Read our review of Royal Caribbean International

Best Cruise Line Cabins

Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Cruises' stylish decor is evident in its cabins, with quirky art; bright, sunlit colours; and warm woods. Plus, they are larger than many other lines' cabins. Starting at 172 square feet (compared to an average of 140 square feet), Solstice-class staterooms are about 15 percent larger than those on other Celebrity ships, and 85 percent of them have balconies.

Read our review of Celebrity Cruises

Best Cruise Line Suites

Royal Caribbean International

Royal Caribbean's nine suite types include the Family Presidential suite, featuring four bedrooms and a long balcony with bar and whirlpool tub. The double-deck Sky Loft Suite offers two bathrooms and a living room with a 180-degree wraparound balcony. There's also a family connected suite with an inside virtual balcony in the kids' room. Suite perks include exclusive use of Coastal Kitchen and the suite lounge.

Read our review of Royal Caribbean International

Best Cruise Line Itineraries

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines

Departing from more UK ports than any other cruise line, Fred. Olsen offers a variety of itineraries with a focus on no-fly cruises -- from a five-night cruise from Newcastle to the Norwegian Fjords, to a 107-night voyage from Southampton to Sydney. The line also offers fantastic fly-cruise itineraries to destinations like Africa and the Amazon, plus river, mini- and unique mystery cruises.

Read our review of Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines

Best Cruise Line Shore Excursions

Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity's link-up with celebrity adventurer Ben Fogle means passengers can truly immerse themselves in a destination, whether sandboarding and riding camels in the Arabian Desert or speedboating through the Finnish Archipelago. Celebrity also works with wine guru Oz Clarke and offers a series of Mediterranean harvest cruises. Celebrity Xpedition sets the bar for Galapagos Islands cruises, scoring 98 percent satisfaction from Cruise Critic members.

Read our review of Celebrity Cruises
Hurtigruten cruise line

Best Cruise Line for Adventure


Whether it's husky sledding, glacier calving, snorkelling in Antarctica, quad biking to the Russian border, getting close to polar bears, or a five-hour hike in the hills in Greenland, Hurtigruten has it covered. Although the ships are primarily focused on the Norwegian coast, Hurtigruten also visits some of the most far-flung corners of the globe, including Greenland, the South Atlantic islands and Antarctica.

Read our review of Hurtigruten

Best Cruise Line for Romance

Princess Cruises

The line that brought us 'The Love Boat' TV show takes the prize for Best Cruise Line for Romance. With Movies Under the Stars, adults-only pools, couples' massages in the Lotus Spa, waiter-service Champagne breakfasts served on private balconies, and Norman Love chocolate nibbles, Princess Cruises' thoughtful touches take romance to the next level on the high seas.

Read our review of Princess Cruises

Best Cruise Line for Families

Royal Caribbean International

With its Royal Babies & Tots Nurseries, DreamWorks collaboration, nightly parades, thoughtful spaces for all ages (we love teen hangout Entourage) and even a theatre for the end-of-cruise kids' show, Royal Caribbean consistently raises the bar. The quality of care, the length and depth of programming, and the sheer number of kids' activities means parents can get plenty of quality break time.

Read our review of Royal Caribbean International

Best Cruise Line for Value

Celestyal Cruises

Celestyal offers great value with a variety of cruises (3-, 4- or 7-day sailings), a large number of stops (two islands a day is the norm), and a 20 percent early booking discount. But the main reason the line wins is due to its all-inclusive fares, which include both drinks and selected shore excursions -- all for less than £175/day.

Read our review of Celestyal Cruises

Best Cruise Line for Nightlife

Norwegian Cruise Line

The party never stops on Norwegian's ships, which feature a multitude of bars and clubs -- 13 each in the Breakaway Class alone. Live music can be found at every turn: the newly-installed Cavern Club on Epic, Fat Cats Jazz & Blues Club and Howl at the Moon's duelling pianos. Spice H2O also transforms into a bar. Epic's Bliss Ultra Lounge is the best nightclub at sea.

Read our review of Norwegian Cruise Line
Southampton cruise port

Best UK Departure Port


Southampton might well enjoy a near-unassailable position as Best UK Departure Port, claiming the top spot for the eighth year in a row, but the port -- Europe's busiest in terms of turnarounds -- does not rest on its laurels. As well as multimillion-dollar refurbishments for Mayflower Terminal and City Cruise Terminal, QE2 Terminal enjoyed a £5 million refurbishment earlier this year.

Read our review of Southampton
Liverpool cruise port

Best UK Port of Call


Liverpool welcomed 115,000 cruise passengers in 2016, and the city has invested heavily in the port area's ongoing refurbishment, recently approving a £950,000 feasibility study for the proposed development of a new cruise terminal. It's difficult to beat arriving into the city along the Mersey by ship and first catching sight of the Three Graces.

Read our review of Liverpool
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