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- #1Seabourn Cruise Line#1 in Best Luxury Cruises
Ovation debuted in May 2018, making it the newest addition to the Seabourn family. The ship holds 600 passengers and has an intimate crew-to-passenger ratio of nearly 1-to-1. Still, some recent travelers felt service was not up to the standard of Seabourn's other ships.
Seabourn Ovation adhere's to the line's penchant for luxury, offering all-suite accommodations, fine dining experiences and indulgent onboard activities. All suites boast verandas that overlook the ocean, plus standard amenities like a complimentary in-suite bar and flat-screen TVs. Extra perks, like spa-style "Pure Pampering" baths drawn by your personal suite stewardess, are available.
Onboard amenities range from complimentary fitness classes to spa and salon treatments to a deck with private cabanas and a whirlpool. Come nighttime, cruisers can unwind at the alfresco Sky Bar, try their luck at the casino or enjoy a movie or dancing under the stars.
Passengers also have a variety of eateries to choose from, including The Grill by Thomas Keller, which serves steakhouse classics created by its namesake Michelin-starred chef. Should the restaurant be fully booked, guests can dine at one of four other casual and fine dining venues, such as the Japanese-focused Sushi and the buffet-style Colonnade.
- #2Viking Ocean Cruises#2 in Best Luxury Cruises
Launched in April 2016, Viking Sea is the second vessel in Viking's Ocean Cruises fleet. Carrying just 930 passengers, the ship's small size is designed to allow direct access to smaller ports such as Bergen, Norway, and Montreal.
Viking Sea's staterooms range from 270-square-foot Veranda Staterooms to the 1,448-square-foot Owner's Suite. All accommodations include balconies, flat-screen TVs, king-sized beds, complimentary Wi-Fi access and bathrooms with heated floors. Those who splurge on upgraded staterooms receive extra perks like priority reservations for excursions, spa treatments and specialty restaurants.
The ship's facilities include a fitness center, a Nordic spa (complete with a snow grotto), an outdoor gym and yoga area, a theater and a one-of-a-kind infinity pool on the stern of the ship that gives the illusion of swimming in the ocean.
When you work up an appetite, the Viking Sea offers a variety of dining options to quell your hunger. They range from casual Norwegian cuisine at Mamsen's to alfresco dining on the Aquavit Terrace. Recent passengers report a stellar onboard experience, describing the food as delicious, the ship as comfortable and the service as top-notch.
- #3Celebrity Cruises#3 in Best Luxury Cruises
Launched in 2012 and updated in January 2018, the 3,046-passenger Reflection sets itself apart with features like a top-deck Lawn Club and the Game On interactive activity center with flat-screen table games. Another highlight is the Alcoves, where guests can enjoy crowd-free cabana lounging (for an extra fee).
And with 12 restaurants, including seven specialty dining venues, passengers have plenty of choices when it comes to cuisine. As far as cabins go, 85 percent of Reflection's staterooms offer verandas, and the ship offers a wider variety of suite cabins than other Celebrity ships. All cabins come appointed with minibars and flat-screen TVs. Passengers who choose AquaClass suites receive extra perks, such as direct access to the spa and 24-hour butler service.
Recent passengers compliment the ship's layout, citing the pool areas are particularly comfortable and never overly crowded. Thanks to a 2-to-1 guest-to-crew ratio, cruisers can also expect personalized service.
- #4Disney Cruise Line#4 in Best Luxury Cruises
Disney’s newest ship, Disney Fantasy, launched in 2012 and underwent a dry dock in 2017 to introduce new features like the Marvel Super Heroes Academy, a "Star Wars"-themed command post and a Tiffany & Co. retail store.
Staterooms are designed with families in mind. Inside staterooms can accommodate up to four guests, and over 85 percent of the ship's cabins have an ocean view or a veranda. All cabins are outfitted with flat-screen TVs, minifridges and iPod docking stations.
Onboard entertainment is just as family-oriented, with Goofy’s Sports Deck activity center, a virtual sports simulator (for an extra fee), nightly live performances and 3-D movies. While younger guests play in age-appropriate youth clubs, adults can relax at the Quiet Cove Pool or enjoy an evening at one of the six adults-only bars and lounges.
When it comes to dining, the ship offers 10 themed dining venues, including two adults-only specialty venues, three main dining rooms and a new ice cream shop, Sweet on You.
- #2Viking Ocean Cruises#2 in Best Luxury Cruises
Viking's newest ocean ship, which set sail in 2018, can accommodate up to 930 guests. All staterooms on the Viking Orion are equipped with balconies, flat-screen LCD TVs and minibars. Cabins also feature bathrooms with glass-enclosed showers and heated floors.
When it's time to relax, cruisers can head to the spa for a treatment or – for a unique experience – cool their body temperatures down in the snow grotto (where snowflakes fall) before jumping into the sauna or hot tub to warm up. Recent travelers said this spa experience is not to be missed.
The ship is also home to a fitness center, a living room that hosts live entertainment, a library, shops, a salon and two movie theaters. The main pool area is expansive, featuring ample lounge seating, a retractable roof and a poolside bar. At night, the ship screens poolside movies under the stars.
Viking Orion's guests can enjoy meals at several onboard restaurants, including the main restaurant where menus rotate daily. Or, guests can book a private dining room for intimate gatherings. Recent cruisers raved about the service and food quality across the ship. Come nighttime, the ship's theater offers live performances ranging from themed shows to history and art lectures.
- #6Disney Cruise Line#6 in Best Luxury Cruises
The 2,713-passenger Disney Magic is the oldest ship in the Disney Cruise Line fleet (it first launched in 1998) but it received some updates in 2018, including "Rapunzel's Royal Dining Experience." The ship features family favorites such as the AquaDuck waterslide, the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique dress-up shop and Edge, an interactive game center for tweens.
Disney Magic features diverse entertainment, including live shows, an open-air Wide World of Sports deck, three pools and a splash area for children younger than 3. Unique to the Magic is the teens-only Chill Spa. When it comes to dining, the ship offers eight eateries, including an adults-only specialty restaurant and buffet options. Recent cruisers gave the food quality mixed reviews.
In terms of lodging, 70 percent of cabins offer ocean views or verandas. All cabins are outfitted with flat-screen TVs, sitting areas and bathrooms with separate showers and tubs. Suites include extra perks such as concierge service and media libraries. Past cruisers noted that the service on this ship is up to Disney's standards, but so is the price tag.
In 2018-19, Disney Magic sails from Miami, New York City, San Juan, Puerto Rico and a variety of spots across Europe. It completes a number of transatlantic cruises, as well as sailings to the Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada, the Caribbean and Europe.
- #3Seabourn Cruise Line#3 in Best Luxury Cruises
The 458-passenger Seabourn Odyssey began sailing in June 2009 and – like its sister ships – is an all-suite vessel. Travelers can enjoy complimentary Champagne upon arrival, fresh fruit daily and 24-hour room service, plus everyone has access to a personal suite stewardess for additional requests. Each cabin is equipped with a separate living area and bedroom, a stocked bar, a flat-screen television, a walk-in closet and a bathroom with a tub, shower and dual sinks.
The four dining options aboard the Seabourn Odyssey range from casual poolside fare, such as pizzas and salads, to The Grill by Thomas Keller, which serves upscale meals and tasty libations. Post-dinner, travelers can relax with a cocktail at one of the bars or test their luck at the casino. The Seabourn Odyssey also offers nightly entertainment like movies under the stars and dance parties on the boat's deck.
Onboard amenities on this ship include two pools, six outdoor hot tubs, a fitness center, a nine-hole putting green and a spa. The ship also allows cruisers to enjoy water sports equipment like kayaks, paddle boats and Hobie Cat sailboats in select destinations.
- #4Azamara Club Cruises#4 in Best Luxury Cruises (tie)
Like its sister ship, the Azamara Journey, Quest appeals to travelers seeking an intimate, relaxed atmosphere. According to recent cruisers, the 690-passenger vessel is small enough to provide individualized service (thanks to its excellent crew-to-passenger ratio) but large enough to offer multiple dining venues, including two specialty restaurants, a main dining room and three causal venues.
The ship's staterooms were recently refurbished and include flat-screen TVs, minibars and 24-hour room service. Suites offer additional perks, such as 240 free internet minutes and complimentary seating at the ship's specialty dining restaurants. Cruisers can also spend time at the spa and fitness facilities, which previous passengers described as modern and comfortable.
Onboard entertainment includes seminars and wine tastings, among other enrichment programs. At night, passengers can enjoy blackjack in the Casino, watch live performances at the Cabaret Lounge or sip cocktails at one of Quest's multiple bar areas. On top of all that, itineraries that are seven or more nights include a complimentary night experiencing local culture in a port, known as AzAmazing Evenings.
- #4Azamara Club Cruises#4 in Best Luxury Cruises (tie)
The 690-passenger Azamara Journey attracts travelers who like large-ship amenities and enriching onboard programs (think a guest lecture series, culinary demonstrations and sommelier-led wine tastings) without the crowds. Plus, with 408 crew members on board, Journey offers a higher level of personalization than a megaship. While the recently refurbished staterooms are appointed with minibars, flat-screen TVs and new decor, suites include extras such as 240 free internet minutes and complimentary seating in the ship's specialty dining restaurants.
Cruisers have plenty of food options to choose from, including three causal eateries, a main dining room and two specialty restaurants – all of which recent cruisers praise. The ship also offers a complimentary cultural immersion program on sailings of seven or more nights (known as AzAmazing Evenings), new entertainment options like live theatre shorts and Broadway entertainment, a spa and a fitness center. Journey was revitalized in early 2016 to include the latest technology and an updated interior design.
- #4Crystal Cruises#4 in Best Luxury Cruises (tie)
Crystal Serenity first set sail in 2003, and it emerges from its most recent multimillion-dollar renovation in November 2018. It now welcomes 980 guests (fewer than its previous 1,070-passenger capacity), with the aim of enhancing the ship's personalized service and atmosphere. Serenity also features better technology (including free unlimited Wi-Fi) and exciting new food options. New dining choices include the Asian-inspired Silk Kitchen and Bar, the Brazilian-style Marketplace and Churrascaria and a new centrally located main restaurant.
The Serenity's updates continue into its cabins, with the addition of 36 new Penthouses and two new Penthouse Suites. All cabins come outfitted with flat-screen TVs, mini fridges and bathrooms with tubs. Guests staying in Penthouse category rooms have access to extras like Jacuzzis, nightly hors' d'oeuvres and personal butler service.
Crystal has long garnered high marks from cruisers and critics for its tailored onboard experience. Guests can enjoy a feng shui-inspired spa, multiple bars and lounges and a casino. Additional onboard offerings include shopping boutiques, a sports deck with a driving range and the Computer University@Sea. As of the 2018 redesign, a number of the ship's public spaces, including Palm Court and the Stardust Club, feature new finishes, carpeting and seating areas.
For 2018-19, Crystal Serenity cruises to destinations across the world, such as ports in the Caribbean, the Atlantic Crossing, the U.S. West Coast, Northern Europe, Hawaii and the Mediterranean. Its departure ports include Miami, Lisbon, Los Angeles and more.
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