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2019 Editors' Picks Awards: Best New Ship Cruises

See the lines and ships that best represent excellence in ocean, river and luxury cruising, chosen by Cruise Critic's international team of editors.

Ocean Cruise Lines

Spirit Of Discovery

Best New Ship

"Whether it’s the luxurious thermal suite in the spa, the inclusive speciality restaurants, the boutique hotel-inspired design or the exclusive partnership with Jools Holland who will perform live on several sailings, Spirit of Discovery sets a new standard in British cruising. With a generous passenger to crew ratio (2:1) and details such as rows of nostalgic confectionary by the pool, thoughtful touches abound on this stunning new ship. "


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Marella Explorer 2

Best Ship Refurbishment

"Marella Explorer 2’s bow-to-stern makeover saw four jaunty new-to-the-line venues introduced, including Nonna’s Italian restaurant; barbecue eatery, Beach Cove; golf-themed bar, 19th Hole and chic ‘Press-for-Bubbles’ Champagne bar, Flutes. A gorgeous Champneys Spa, with a luxury thermal suite and infinity pool, was fitted; cabins were refreshed and the line’s popular restaurants, such as Kora La, The Dining Club and Surf & Turf were also added. "

Hurtigruten

Best for Adventure

"Hurtigruten offers adventurous cruisers the chance to explore some of the most remote and challenging destinations on earth, whether that’s the Arctic, Antarctica, Greenland, Iceland or Svalbard, allowing you to view icebergs and glaciers, both from the ship and on sea kayaks. And with its newest hybrid vessel, Roald Amundsen, Hurtigruten can take you there almost silently, giving you more chances to spot the incredible wildlife which abounds in these regions."

Celebrity Cruises

Best Cabins

"Celebrity Cruises demonstrates how any cabin -- from insides to suites -- can be practical and impressively stylish at the same time. Celebrity Edge and the line’s "Revolutionized" ships boast cabins with built-in USB ports in the bedside lamps, glass-fronted cabinetry and plenty of storage, while those awaiting refurbishment still offer enough space and amenities so all cruisers can feel at home in their room."

Celebrity Cruises

Best Dining

"What really sets Celebrity apart in this category is that dining is of a consistently high standard across both free and for-fee restaurants, with some of the best main dining room food at sea. Add in a slew of ground-breaking specialty dining concepts -- Eden, Dinner on the Edge, Qsine, Blu, Luminae, Murano, Lawn Club Grill -- and you have a guaranteed recipe for success. "

MSC Cruises

Best Entertainment

"Passengers are kept entertained morning, noon and night onboard MSC ships -- whether that’s pool parties, VR games, bowling, 4D cinema, basketball tournaments or live music. But what perhaps stands out most is the link up with Cirque du Soleil that has so far delivered six unique Cirque at Sea productions across three ships, which delight, entertain and amuse in equal measure."

MSC Cruises

Best for Families

"MSC Cruises set the family bar high with the launch of Meraviglia and link-ups with babywear specialist Chicco and LEGO, which have now been rolled out across the fleet. Bellissima only served to burnish those family credentials, with outstanding programming, a huge kids club, a splash park and games area. But perhaps most important is the always warm welcome families get on an MSC ship which secures this award."

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines

Best Itineraries

"With a variety of itineraries to exciting destinations all over the world, Fred. Olsen passengers can sail to Greenland, the Arctic and the Amazon from UK ports, or take a fly-cruise to other far-flung destinations such as Japan, Africa and the Indian Ocean. The line also offers short sailings from UK ports, mystery cruises and routes on Spanish and French rivers to ports such as Bordeaux and Seville. "

Norwegian Cruise Line

Best Nightlife

"Once the shows, many of which are straight from Broadway (“Rock of Ages”, “Priscilla Queen of the Desert”, “Kinky Boots”), are over the party gets started on Norwegian ships, with a vast and varied bar scene including ice bars, vodka bars, outdoor bars (on the Breakaway-class ships), whisky bars and cocktail bars, together with everything from ballroom dancing, karaoke, comedy, live music and some of the best night clubbing at sea."

Celestyal Cruises

Best Service

"This two-ship line retains a home-from-home feel onboard, where crew go out of their way to make you feel welcome, whether that’s little touches like creating ever more elaborate towel animals in your room, making balloons for your kids at dinner time or, if you are a returning passenger, remembering your favourite cocktail. It’s always a joy to board a Celestyal cruise ship -- and always a wrench to leave."

Hurtigruten

Best Shore Excursions

"Fancy spending the night in a tent on Antarctica? Or night time snowmobiling? Pony trekking in the Lofoten Islands? King Crab fishing in Kirkenes? Polar bear watching in Svalbard? Husky sledding in Tromso? Hurtigruten offers all these excursions and many more (an astonishing 46 in Norway alone in the winter months), both on its classic Coastal Voyage and on its Expedition ships to the High Arctic, Greenland and Iceland."

Saga Cruises

Best for Solo Travellers

"With 109 solo cabins on new-ship Spirit of Discovery, plus the same amount on next new-ship Spirit of Adventure in 2020, Saga Cruises dedicates over 10 percent of all cabins to solo passengers. The line places a strong emphasis on looking after its solo travellers, hosting dedicated events to give solo passengers the chance to meet other passengers."

Royal Caribbean International

Best Suites

"Royal Caribbean blends extravagance and inclusiveness in its perfectly conceived suites – with some ships offering up to a dozen top-level categories. Suite passengers get plenty of space, along with a bounty of perks, including special restaurants and "Royal Genie" personal concierges. Suite types include duplexes and even an “Ultimate Family Suite” -- complete with a slide. Newest ship Spectrum of the Seas has a key-card only suite complex."

Marella Cruises (formerly Thomson Cruises)

Best Value for Money

"With flights, transfers, drinks and tips included in the price of the cruise fare, Marella Cruises offers unrivalled value for money. You’ll find self-serve wine, beer and soft drink taps in the buffet restaurants and Prosecco laid on at the theatre before shows. Extras offer great value, too, with a day pass to the thermal suite costing £10-£15 and speciality restaurants starting from £11.95 for a three-course meal. "

Dover

Best UK Departure Port

"With the £250m Western Docks Revival transforming the port’s seafront, plus crowd-pleasing landmarks such as the White Cliffs of Dover in the backdrop, Dover was selected as the location for new-ship Spirit of Discovery’s 2019 naming ceremony -- attended by HRH, The Duchess of Cornwall -- and as the ship’s new homeport. Dover is also set to be the first port of call for Virgin Voyages’ first ship, Scarlet Lady, in 2020."

Belfast

Best UK & British Isles Port of Call

"Belfast Harbour has invested more than £500,000 in its cruise port facility in 2019, with space to accommodate larger cruise ships, plus a brand-new cruise terminal and visitor information centre. Visit Belfast staff are on hand within the terminal building to advise cruise passengers and there’s a taxi rank and space for coaches outside, providing easy access to the city’s world-class attractions, such as Titanic Belfast museum in the city's famous Titanic Quarter."


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