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- #1Crystal Cruises#1 in Best Cruises from San Francisco
On the heels of a dramatic 2017 redesign, Crystal Symphony (first launched in 1995) boasts new open seating and dining areas, new Penthouses and Penthouse Suites, high-tech features and reimagined public spaces. The one thing that hasn't changed is the exceptional customer service Crystal is known for; recent travelers noted the crew was warm, attentive and extremely professional.
The ship offers a variety of activities including fitness programs, musical performances and treatments at the feng shui-inspired spa. All accommodations offer ocean views, flat-screen TVs, mini fridges and bathtubs. Those who choose Penthouse category rooms receive additional privileges, like personal butler service.
New dining options include the Waterside dining room, modern Chinese-inspired fare at Silk Kitchen and Bar and a Marketplace and Churrascaria serving casual buffet breakfast and lunch options by day and Brazilian-style delicacies by night.
For 2018-19, Crystal Symphony cruises to destinations across the world, including ports in the Caribbean, New England and Canada, South America and the Far East. Its departure ports include Fort Lauderdale, Florida, New York, New Orleans and more.
- #2Silversea Cruises#2 in Best Cruises from San Francisco
Built in 2001 and last refurbished in 2017, Silver Whisper can accommodate up to 382 luxury-seeking passengers. With 302 staff members on board and a nearly 1-to-1 crew-to-guest ratio, the ship maintains a higher standard of service than some competitors. The crew members' efficiency and attention to detail earned the ship high marks from many recent cruisers. Silver Whisper is set to receive a facelift to its public spaces and suites in December 2018.
Guests appreciated the all-suite cabins, which range from 287 to 1,264 square feet. More than 80 percent feature private teak balconies. Amenities include walk-in closets, minifridges and full marble baths with separate showers. Silver Whisper offers an array of daytime activities geared toward older travelers, including enrichment courses and afternoon tea, in addition to a casino, a spa, a salon and a pool deck.
Like its sister ship, Silver Shadow, Silver Whisper touts four onboard restaurants, including the Relais & Châteaux-affiliated La Dame. Round out a day at sea with a show in the performance theater or at one of the several cocktail lounges.
- #3Oceania Cruises#3 in Best Cruises from San Francisco (tie)
Oceania Regatta was built in 1998 and last overhauled in 2014. Passengers in Veranda Staterooms and Suites will enjoy verandas and spaces ranging from 216 to 1,000 square feet, while Inside and Ocean View cabins are smaller. No matter which you choose, all staterooms are equipped with minibars, flat-screen TVs and 24-hour room service.
The 684 passengers on board will receive Oceania's signature service, with 400 crew members catering to guests' needs. Recent cruisers noted they rarely encountered crowds in the ship's public areas. The atmosphere aboard Regatta is decidedly adult, as the ship caters to older, affluent cruisers.
Entertainment varies from nightly musical performances to table games at the casino. Dining is also diverse: Regatta offers five venues ranging from the formal dining room to a casual grill. Some recent passengers felt that for the price, the ship could use a facelift. It is set to receive just that in the fall of 2019.
- #3Regent Seven Seas Cruises#3 in Best Cruises from San Francisco (tie)
Refurbished in 2018 (and debuted in 2001), the Mariner features new decor and finishings throughout, a completely remodeled library in a new location and a revamped pool deck with an open layout and new tile and teak surfaces. The Canyon Ranch Spa received a new design with light wood accents and pebble-stone tiles, while the fitness and aerobics center offers new equipment. Onboard activities include theatrical productions, casino games and sipping cocktails in one of five lounge areas.
Across the ship, there are seven eateries total. All have been stylishly redesigned, including the Prime 7 steakhouse and the flagship Compass Rose restaurant. The Signatures restaurant was replaced with Chartreuse, a guest favorite aboard other Regent ships that highlights modern French cuisine. During the day, guests can enjoy the expanded lunch offerings at the outdoor Pool Grill or snack at the informal Coffee Connection. As with all Regent Seven Seas ships, specialty dining and shore excursions are included in the cruise fare.
Best of all, the all-suite accommodations have received new beds with plush leather headboards, sitting areas and new artwork. All cabins are outfitted with welcome bottles of Champagne, private balconies, walk-in closets and marble bathrooms.
In 2018-19, Seven Seas Mariner will mostly sail through the Pacific Northwest, between Vancouver, Canada, and Anchorage, Alaska. Additionally, one sailing departs from Vancouver and ends in Los Angeles.
- #5Cunard Line#5 in Best Cruises from San Francisco
Launched in 2007 and most recently updated in May 2017, Queen Victoria features all the hallmarks of the Cunard line (personalized customer service and elegant entertainment options geared toward an older crowd), plus upgraded staterooms, new Britannia Club dining, a revamped sun deck and more. With a passenger capacity of roughly 2,000, Queen Victoria is Cunard’s smallest ship.
Queen Victoria features Cunard's standard upscale accommodation options, including Queens Grill and Princess Grill suites. The ship also offers Single cabins designed for solo travelers. All cabins feature amenities like minifridges and flat-screen TVs. Suites include walk-in closets and bathrooms with tubs.
When it comes to dining, Queen Victoria offers six options ranging from casual fare at Lido to contemporary French cuisine at the specialty Verandah Restaurant (for an extra fee). The ship also offers a variety of activities and entertainment options, including lectures, fitness classes and spa treatments.
In the evenings, guests can participate in themed galas or enjoy theatrical productions and live music. Keep in mind that there is an elegant dress code for nighttime activities. Some may find this a hassle, though many recent cruisers were pleased with this extra air of sophistication that's typically absent on other ships.
- #6Norwegian Cruise Line#6 in Best Cruises from San Francisco (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.
- #6Princess Cruises#6 in Best Cruises from San Francisco (tie)
Last updated in April 2018, Golden Princess provides its 2,600 passengers with a bevy of new features, including a piazza-style atrium, the child-free Sanctuary retreat, a poolside movie screen and more. Cruisers can expect a high level of service thanks to the low crew-to-guest ratio (the ship features 1,100 staff members). Although the ship offers youth clubs for kids ages 3 to 17, most of the entertainment and activities on board are geared toward adults.
Still, most previous cruisers complimented the selection and quality of the cuisine at the 11 dining venues, which range from three main dining rooms to casual fares like burgers and pizza. The ship is outfitted with four specialty venues, including fresh seafood at the Crab Shack and Italian specialties at Sabatini's.
Another major selling point is the ship's cabins. Interior staterooms occupy between 158 and 162 square feet, and they come outfitted with flat-screen TVs and minifridges. Larger Mini-Suites and Suites span 323 to 932 square feet and include two flat-screen TVs, a furnished balcony and a fully equipped bathroom with tubs and showers.
- #6Princess Cruises#6 in Best Cruises from San Francisco (tie)
First launched in 1998, the 2,600-passenger Grand Princess underwent a renovation in December 2016 to include newly remodeled restaurants, youth clubs and a new Movies Under the Stars poolside screen. Other onboard amenities include the adults-only Sanctuary, duty-free boutiques and educational programs through the Discovery of SEA program.
The ship houses a total of 12 dining venues, including three main dining rooms, four specialty venues and a variety of casual eateries serving classics like burgers and pizza. Come nightfall, passengers can enjoy musicals in the theater and cocktails in their pick of lounges.
The recently refurbished accommodations are outfitted with amenities like flat-screen TVs and minifridges. Though only 76 percent of exterior cabins offer private balconies – a lower percentage than other ships in the fleet – guests describe cabins as comfortable and spacious. Plus, thanks to a nearly 2-to-1 guest-to-crew ratio (the ship features 1,150 crew members), past cruisers describe the onboard service as attentive and friendly.
- #6Princess Cruises#6 in Best Cruises from San Francisco (tie)
Like Coral Princess, Island Princess (which was most recently renovated in December 2017) was designed to access hard-to-reach ports in Alaska, South America and the Panama Canal. With a capacity of 2,200 passengers and 900 crew members, the ship also maintains quality customer service.
In terms of lodging, about 80 percent of exterior cabins are appointed with balconies, and all cabins include amenities such as minifridges and flat-screen TVs. Those looking for more space can opt for a Mini-Suite, which offers 323 square feet of room and comes with additional perks like a bathtub and two TVs.
Outside of their cabins, passengers have plenty of entertainment options. Daytime activities include everything from poolside lounging to lectures and cooking classes through the ship’s Discovery at SEA enrichment program.
Recent cruisers commended the abundance of dining options as well. Guests can choose from a total of nine dining venues, including two main dining rooms, five casual eateries and three specialty restaurants. For an extra special evening, cruisers can sign up for a Chef's Table dining experience, which includes a specially designed menu, an autographed cookbook and more.
In 2018-19, Island Princess sails to a variety of destinations across Alaska, California, Hawaii and the Panama Canal. Travelers can depart from ports in Anchorage, Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles, San Francisco or Vancouver.
- #10Princess Cruises#10 in Best Cruises from San Francisco
Designed to navigate smaller ports of call, the Coral Princess travels to remote destinations along the Panama Canal, the West Coast and Alaska. Although it debuted in 2003, the ship's major refurbishment in January 2016 helps it stay on par with mainstream competitors.
With 895 crew members and 2,000 passengers, the ship offers a more intimate setting than its larger siblings. Standout amenities include the Lotus Spa, a poolside theater for Movies Under the Stars and a nine-hole putting course.
In terms of lodging, 80 percent of outside staterooms are equipped with balconies. You'll find flat-screen TVs and minifridges in all staterooms, while those in Mini-Suites and Suites are granted more space and larger balconies.
When it comes to dining, guests can choose from nine venues, including two main dining rooms, five informal eateries and two specialty dining restaurants. Guests can also splurge for a private four-course meal on their balconies (for an extra fee).
In 2018-19, Coral Princess departs from ports in Anchorage, Vancouver, Fort Lauderdale, Buenos Aires, San Francisco and Los Angeles for sailings in Alaska, California, South America and the Panama Canal.
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.