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- #1Disney Cruise Line#1 in Best Cruises from Galveston
The 2,713-passenger Disney Wonder first debuted in 1999 and was updated in fall 2016, rolling out new family-oriented amenities and entertainment offerings like meet and greets with Disney characters and Frozen, A Musical Spectacular.
The ship offers plenty of onboard activities, with 10 designated family areas, six youth clubs and seven adults-only spaces. While younger passengers play at age-appropriate clubs, grown-ups can relax at the adults-only Quiet Cove Pool. Infants and toddlers in swim diapers are limited to specified kids' wet play and splash areas (this is a requirement by the United States Public Health Service, not a Disney-specific rule).
In terms of dining, Disney Wonder offers six options, including one adults-only specialty restaurant. At night, adults can unwind and enjoy After Hours, a section of the ship that features three nightclubs and lounges.
Like the majority of the ship, staterooms are designed with families in mind. Interior staterooms can accommodate up to four passengers, while larger Suites can sleep up to seven. All cabins come equipped with flat-screen TVs, seating areas and classic Disney designs. Recent cruisers noted the expensive cost of a trip on the Disney Wonder, but most felt the quality of service was top-notch.
- #2Royal Caribbean International#2 in Best Cruises from Galveston
Most recently updated in 2016, Liberty of the Seas houses up to 4,960 guests and 1,360 crew members. Recent cruisers praise the food, which includes four complimentary options and six specialty eateries for an extra fee. The ship also boasts line staples like a surf simulator, a rock climbing wall and an ice skating rink.
When kids aren't playing in the three pools, zooming down the ship's waterslides or going airborne on Tidal Wave, the only boomerang slide at sea, they can mingle at age-specific youth clubs or meet DreamWorks film characters. Meanwhile, adults can grab a cocktail at one of 12 bars and lounges, try their luck at the casino or participate in the Mystery Dinner Theater.
Like other ships in the fleet, Liberty of the Sease features four stateroom categories (Interior, Ocean View, Balcony and Suite). While Interior cabins range from 150 to 327 square feet, Suites measure to up 1,358 square feet. All cabins are outfitted with flat-screen TVs and vanity areas, but Suites receive additional perks like concierge service.
- #3Royal Caribbean International#3 in Best Cruises from Galveston
The 6,780-passenger Allure of the Seas, unveiled in 2010, is among the largest cruise ships in the world. There are 2,100 crew members on board to cater to passengers' needs. Along with signature line amenities like rock climbing walls and ice skating rinks, the ship houses seven unique neighborhoods with a variety of activities, shows and dining options.
A recent renovation unveiled new slides and rides on board, as well as reimagined spaces for kids and teens. Other standout features include a zip line that descends nine decks, two surf simulators and a floating version of Central Park with seasonal flower gardens and canopy trees. Plus, with 16 dining options – and a Starbucks at sea – every member of the family will be satisfied.
In terms of lodging, about 65 percent of cabins feature balconies, and all staterooms are appointed with TVs and minifridges. Interior staterooms are the most economical option, but those who splurge on Suites are granted larger balconies and concierge service. Crowd-free areas might be difficult to find due to the outrageous capacity of the ship, but some recent cruisers praise the nonstop activity and entertainment.
- #4Royal Caribbean International#4 in Best Cruises from Galveston (tie)
Launched in 1997, Enchantment of the Seas was last upgraded in 2012 to offer imaginative features, such as a poolside movie screen, bungee trampolines and additional cabins. Other ship highlights include three pools, a rock climbing wall, a video game arcade and Broadway-inspired shows in the main theater.
For families, the ship offers age-appropriate kids clubs and a splash deck. And for adults, there are six bars and lounges on board, as well as a casino. When it comes to dining, the ship houses five venues and offers 24-hour room service and several other specialty food shops.
As far as lodging goes, only about 20 percent of the ship's cabins offer balconies, while Interior cabins make up about 40 percent of the staterooms. While the 2,730-passenger ship maintains a 1-to-3 crew-to-guest ratio with 852 crew members on board, recent cruisers still say all the Royal Caribbean employees – from the room stewards to the wait staff – were pleasant and accommodating.
- #4Royal Caribbean International#4 in Best Cruises from Galveston (tie)
Introduced in 2004 and last updated in 2016, Jewel of the Seas carries up to 2,702 passengers and 852 crew members. Though it is one of the smaller ships in the fleet, past cruisers said the lower capacity was a major plus.
The ship's smaller size also means more variety and space in the accommodations. Cabins range from 108-square-foot Interior cabins suitable for solo travelers to 1,107-square-foot Suites. Other options include Ocean View and Balcony cabins, and all staterooms include flat-screen TVs and minibars.
While Jewel of the Seas may boast slightly larger lodgings, it doesn't offer as many activities as the larger ships in the fleet. Still, the vessel contains three pools and three whirlpools, a rock climbing wall and a mini-golf course, among other facilities.
Guests can choose from eight dining options, including five specialty venues for an extra fee. Recent cruisers particularly recommend dining at Chops Grille steakhouse. Cap off your evening with a drink at one of 13 bars, clubs and lounges or with a performance at the three-story theater. If you're looking to test Lady Luck, venture to the ship's casino.
- #6Carnival Cruise Line#6 in Best Cruises from Galveston (tie)
Thanks to a major refurbishment in March 2019, Carnival Freedom features a Bonsai Sushi Express, a rebranded deli, a new WaterWorks waterpark (with a 203-foot-long slide), an aerobics room within the gym and a new mini-golf course. The 2,980-passenger vessel also features all of the “Fun Ship 2.0” amenities, including Guy’s Burger Joint and BlueIguana Cantina, thanks to an earlier revamp.
While parents relax at the Serenity adults-only retreat, children ages 2 to 17 can enjoy age-appropriate youth clubs. Other family-friendly activities include the interactive Hasbro, The Game Show and the Seuss at Sea program. Recent guests note that shows at the Punchliner Comedy Club can be a bit raunchy, so they may not be appropriate for children.
Food options are also versatile, including two main dining rooms, a steakhouse, and the Lido Deck which offers everything from pizza to the popular Mongolian Wok.
As far as cabins go, cruisers can choose from Interior, Ocean View, Balcony or Suite category rooms, all of which offer flat-screen TVs and 24-hour room service. Recent passengers note that thanks to the 3-to-1 passenger-to-crew ratio, service is above par.
- #6Royal Caribbean International#6 in Best Cruises from Galveston (tie)
Adventure of the Seas (first launched in 2001) underwent an extensive renovation in January 2018. It boasts modern amenities like an outdoor movie screen and Wi-Fi (for an extra fee). Other highlights include an ice skating rink, a surf simulator and a rock climbing wall.
There are eight dining venues across the ship, the newest of which is the Izumi Japanese specialty restaurant. While adults can relax at the ship's seven bars and lounges, youngsters can mix and mingle at age-appropriate youth clubs and a teens-only disco. Among other onboard amenities, Adventure of the Seas features an abundance of pools and whirlpools, including an indoor/outdoor pool and lounge area exclusive to adults called the Solarium.
When it comes to lodging, recent cruisers found staterooms to be comfortable and spacious. Cabins come in four categories – Interior, Ocean View, Balcony and Suite – and about 60 percent offer ocean views. The ship's 2018 revamp brought with it new Interior and Ocean View staterooms, as well as a new Suite Lounge. While it may be difficult to find quiet spaces on the 3,807-passenger ship, recent guests were still complimentary of the service on board and the 1-to-3 crew-to-guest ratio.
- #8Carnival Cruise Line#8 in Best Cruises from Galveston
Carnival Dream features the Punchliner Comedy Club, nightly stage shows, age-appropriate kids clubs (for ages 2 to 17) and an onboard water park – all hallmarks of the line's "Fun Ships." Other family-friendly entertainment includes movies at the Seaside Theatre and the Seuss at Sea program.
Those more interested in relaxing can enjoy the Cloud 9 Spa and the adults-only Serenity Retreat. In terms of lodging, cruisers can stay in budget-friendly Interior staterooms (185 square feet) or splurge for more room (up to an extra 245 square feet) with an Ocean View or Balcony stateroom or Suite. All cabins are appointed with flat-screen TVs and 24-hour room service.
The ship added quite a few dining options in its most recent revamp in 2017, including Guy's Burger Joint, BlueIguana Cantina and Bonsai Sushi. Overall, the food quality on the ship gets mixed reviews. Carnival Dream carries 3,646 passengers and offers a nearly 4-to-1 guest-to-crew ratio, so public areas may be crowded and service can slow at peak times. Recent travelers also warned against choosing a room directly above any of the restaurants or bars, as noise travels easily through the walls.
- #9Carnival Cruise Line#9 in Best Cruises from Galveston
The 3,690-passenger Carnival Breeze was introduced in 2012 and last updated in 2017. On board, cruisers will find outdoor activities like a water park and a SportsSquare with games like mini-golf, as well as supervised (and free) age-appropriate programs for kids and teens. While the younger passengers play, adults can relax at the adults-only Serenity retreat, get treatments at the Cloud 9 Spa and sip cocktails at one of the ship's six bars.
As far as dining goes, cruisers can choose between a number of food options, including sushi, Indian, 24/7 pizza and more. Guy's Burger Joint, in partnership with celebrity chef Guy Fieri, is a passenger favorite. Nighttime entertainment ranges from karaoke to the Punchliner Comedy Club to Lip Sync Battle: Carnival, a cruise line adaptation of the Paramount Network television series. Guests can also take part in Hasbro, The Game Show, which features giant versions of Connect 4, Yahtzee and more.
Carnival Breeze offers a variety of cabin categories, all of which include flat-screen TVs and 24-hour room service. The ship maintains a nearly 1-to-3 crew-to-guest ratio. While some recent cruisers appreciated the family atmosphere, others were disappointed by long lines and wait times during dinner service.
- #10Carnival Cruise Line#10 in Best Cruises from Galveston
Introduced in mid-2016, Carnival Vista is one of the cruise line's newest and largest ships, welcoming up to 3,934 passengers and 1,450 crew members. The ship offers unique dining, entertainment and cabin options not found on other ships in the fleet. In addition to staples like kids clubs, an adults-only retreat and a waterpark, new activities include the SkyRide suspended bike course, the first IMAX theater at sea and a Dr. Seuss-inspired library.
Recent passengers were most impressed with the accommodations. Typical cabin categories (Interior, Ocean View, Balcony and Suite) are available, but cruisers recommend splurging on one of the new cabin types: the Family Harbor or Havana staterooms and suites. Those who select Family Harbor cabins receive exclusive 24-hour lounge access with free breakfast and kid-friendly movies and games. Plus, children staying in these rooms enjoy free meals at most specialty restaurants and a free night of babysitting. Havana category rooms cater to adults, with access to a private bar and pool, as well as extra-large outdoor spaces and rainfall showers in suites.
Dining options are just as diverse. While the Lido buffet offers everything from pasta to stir-fry to salad, other complimentary venues include BlueIguana Cantina and Guy's Burger Joint. A number of specialty restaurants are also available for an extra fee, such as JiJi Asian Kitchen and Cucina del Capitano.
Disclaimers about ship ratings: A ship’s Health Rating is based on vessel inspection scores published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If a ship did not receive a CDC score within 22 months prior to the calculation of its Overall Rating, its Health Rating appears as N/A; in such a case, the ship’s Overall Rating is calculated using the average Health Rating of all CDC-rated ships within the cruise line. All ship Traveler Ratings are based on ratings provided under license by Cruiseline.com.
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