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- #1Seabourn Cruise Line#1 in Best Cruises from Boston
Seabourn Quest, which launched in June 2011, is one of the smallest ships in Seabourn's fleet. It can fit up to 458 passengers and about one crew member for every cruiser. It is virtually identical to the Seabourn Sojourn and Seabourn Odyssey.
Seabourn Quest differs from the line's newer ships in terms of accommodations, as it offers some Ocean View Suites with porthole windows instead of verandas. However, all cabins still come equipped with amenities like flat-screen TVs, designer toiletries, personalized stationery, Egyptian cotton linens and in-suite bars stocked with your preferred refreshments.
Outside your suite, you can enjoy a range of pursuits, such as spa and salon treatments, free fitness classes, a nine-hole putting green and two swimming pools. Additionally, Seabourn Quest offers complimentary water sports equipment rentals at its Watersports Marina in select destinations.
Once you've worked up an appetite, sit for a meal at one of the ship's four restaurants, including the main dining room and The Grill, a steakhouse helmed by Michelin-starred chef Thomas Keller. And for evening entertainment, you'll have access to a variety of bars, plus a casino, a dance club and the Grand Salon, where cabaret performances, comedy shows and more are hosted nightly.
- #2Celebrity Cruises#2 in Best Cruises from Boston (tie)
First introduced in 2001, the 2,218-passenger Celebrity Summit was recently renovated in March 2019 and offers unique activities and acts, like a rooftop terrace with an outdoor movie screen. The renovation added new staterooms, lounge areas and more. The ship also features laid-back venues like the Sunset Bar (which offers spectacular ocean views) and the Cellar Masters wine bar. Cruisers looking for some R&R can retreat to the spa, the outdoor pool or the adults-only indoor solarium. Meanwhile, children ages 3 to 17 can participate in pool games and Xbox tournaments at the ship's kids clubs.
When it comes to dining, there are eight venues on board, including a handful of specialty spots (for an added fee) serving up creative cuisine ranging from French to Italian fare. While some recent cruisers noted long lines and average food at the buffet, most travelers were in agreement when it came to the wait staff and room stewards: service was prompt and friendly.
Speaking of rooms, Summit offers the same four cabin categories found on other Celebrity ships (Inside, Ocean View, Veranda and Suite). Cabins are generally a bit smaller, and only 58 percent feature balconies. Cruisers will find flat-screen TVs, bathrobes and 24-hour room service in all staterooms.
- #2Holland America Line#2 in Best Cruises from Boston (tie)
Launched in 2002 and last refurbished in 2017, Zuiderdam features America's Test Kitchen, BBC Earth Experiences and the Digital Workshop, powered by Windows. If you're looking to relax on your voyage, head to the line's signature Greenhouse Spa & Salon or The Retreat, a secluded deck with sun beds, private cabanas and a separate bar.
With room for 1,964 passengers and 817 crew members, the ship maintains a 1-to-2 staff-to-guest ratio. Recent passengers said everyone was friendly and attentive, from the bartenders to the room stewards.
Inside and Ocean View staterooms aboard Zuiderdam measure between 151 and 233 square feet. All cabins include sofas, coffee tables, chairs and vanities, in addition to a queen-sized bed (or two twin beds). Other amenities include Euro-Top mattresses and flat-screen TVs. Dining venues include the upscale Pinnacle Grill, traditional dining rooms and more.
- #2Holland America Line#2 in Best Cruises from Boston (tie)
Launched in 2000, Zaandam attracts older, more sophisticated travelers, with onboard activities catering more to those in need of R&R than those seeking an adrenaline rush. The 1,432-passenger ship carries up to 604 crew members and was most recently updated in 2017. It is designed to cater to fewer guests while offering spacious common areas.
While active pursuits include sports courts and a fitness center, the majority of onboard activities are geared toward enrichment, such as America's Test Kitchen, BBC Earth Experiences and Digital Workshops powered by Windows. The ship also offers kids clubs for passengers ages 3 to 17.
Most recent guests described the cabins as comfortable. Inside and Ocean View cabins measure between 151 and 267 square feet – large enough to fit a queen bed (or two twin beds), a sitting area and a vanity space. Travelers were also pleased with the multiple onboard restaurants, ranging from the casual Lido Market buffet to Canaletto, which serves Italian fare.
In 2019-20, Zaandam sails from Boston, Buenos Aires, Fort Lauderdale, Montreal, Rio de Janiero, Santiago, Chile, and more for itineraries in Canada, New England, South America, Europe, the Caribbean, Antarctica and beyond.
- #5Holland America Line#5 in Best Cruises from Boston (tie)
Inaugurated in 2000, Amsterdam can carry up to 1,380 passengers and 647 crew members. With this passenger-to-crew ratio of nearly 2-to-1, recent cruisers said that customer service was a top priority.
Another high point for passengers: the accommodations. Options span from 182-square-foot Interior cabins to 1,296-square-foot Pinnacle Suites (including the verandas). About 80 percent of cabins offer ocean views, and all staterooms come equipped with flat-screen TVs and Holland America Line's Signature Mariner's Dream beds with Euro-Top mattresses.
The ship also offers enriching and relaxing onboard activities, from BBC Earth Experiences and photography classes in the Digital Workshop to massages at the Greenhouse Spa and reclining by the Lido pool. There are also several lounges (head to the Mainstage for performances and presentations), as well as a special area for kids and teens. However, on the whole, the ship is not the best for children.
When it comes to food, there are a number of options ranging from the casual Lido Market to the main dining room to the intimate Pinnacle Grill, which serves Pacific Northwest-inspired fare.
In 2019-20, Amsterdam departs from a variety of ports, including Fort Lauderdale, Boston, Montreal and San Diego. It sails to destinations in Canada and New England, the Caribbean and the Panama Canal.
- #5Norwegian Cruise Line#5 in Best Cruises from Boston (tie)
Originally built in 2007, Norwegian Gem was last updated in 2015. As one of the smaller ships in the fleet, it carries 2,394 passengers and 1,070 crew members.
When it comes to lodging, Inside staterooms start at 138 square feet, and other cabin categories include Oceanview and Balcony staterooms. While all cabins offer room service, those staying in The Haven rooms gain exclusive access to the ship's courtyard, concierge service and a private restaurant.
The ship boasts 15 dining venues, ranging from the 24-hour O'Sheehan's pub to seven specialty restaurants that require an extra fee. Daytime activities include various sports courts, a spa and multiple pools, as well as programs for kids ages 3 to 17. Come evening, the whole family can enjoy nightly entertainment like country music concerts and other musical performances.
- #7Royal Caribbean International#7 in Best Cruises from Boston
Introduced in 2002, Brilliance of the Seas houses 2,543 passengers and 848 staff members. The ship's last major refurbishment was in 2013, but it received some minor updates in April 2018 (like new furniture and fresh carpeting). The ship is big enough to offer an array of activities, yet small enough to pass through canals and offer more unique itineraries than larger ships in the fleet.
Brilliance of the Seas offers nine restaurants, including six specialty options. The ship also provides entertainment for the whole family, including poolside movies, a three-story theater, a rock climbing wall and a mini-golf course. While adults grab a cocktail at one of the bars, kids and teens can enjoy age-appropriate youth clubs, like the teens-only disco or the Royal Babies & Tots nursery.
As far as lodging goes, about 75 percent of the ship's cabins offer ocean views (and about half of those come with balconies). The most budget-friendly cabins are Interior staterooms (170 square feet). All include amenities like flat-screen TVs and minifridges.
- #8Holland America Line#8 in Best Cruises from Boston
Last renovated in late 2017 (and first launched in 1997), Rotterdam can carry up to 1,404 guests and 600 crew members. The ship was the first to feature the fleet's Lanai staterooms, which offer sliding glass doors and direct access to the ship's Lower Promenade Deck.
The ship is also equipped with the Crow's Nest, a panoramic lounge at the top of the ship. If you're traveling with tots or teens, you'll be happy to find several Club HAL youth areas, as well as The Loft, an area designed for teens. The ship also houses a unique multimillion-dollar art and antique collection.
Rotterdam's collection of distinct eateries range from the Lido Market buffet to the casual New York Pizza to the more formal Pinnacle Grill steakhouse.
In 2019-20, Rotterdam departs from ports in Fort Lauderdale, San Diego, Barcelona, Rome and – its namesake – Rotterdam in the Netherlands. It sails to destinations in the Caribbean, Europe, the Panama Canal, Hawaii and Tahiti.
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