2016 Members' Choice Awards
With over 14,000 cruise reviews submitted in 2015, it wasn't hard to tell which cruise lines are at the top of their game. While some winners held onto the top spot from last year, others surged to the front of the pack to claim an unexpected victory. Without further ado, here are the lines, ships, and ports that should be on the top of your list in 2016.
Best Cruise Line
Celebrity Cruises - 3.86 / 5
Royal Caribbean stole the show in 2015, but this was Celebrity's year as they took home the award for Best Cruise Line despite fierce competition from both Royal and Disney across the board. Their 1-2-3 Go Promotion continued to attract new converts, particularly to the extremely popular Solstice-class ships where they were impressed by the refined cabins and excellent service.
"Celebrity is the ONLY line I will use. They blend upscale, comfortable, busy, restful, sumptuous, and fun." - mojodave1, Celebrity Equinox (read review)
Royal Caribbean: Despite being dethroned by Celebrity, Royal still managed to pull off a second-place finish thanks to their Quantum-class ships setting the bar for onboard technology, along with consistently high reviews for their Freedom- and Oasis-class ships.
"This was a fabulous cruise. The ship is gorgeous and the overall experience was awesome. You are actually made to forget you are on a cruise ship and on the water. It is more like a floating city. Everything you need or think you need is at your disposal. The entire crew is tuned in to your needs. Everyone is pleasant, professional, kind and friendly... It was a five star experience." - jdrsweetie, Allure of the Seas (read review)
Disney Cruise Line: Disney continued to deliver a high-quality (albeit pricey) cruise experience for families while also making a well-received addition to their entertainment: Star Wars characters on every ship, plus an entire day of Star Wars on Disney Fantasy. We're not sure who enjoyed it more, the kids or their parents who grew up with the original trilogy.
"Disney knows how to put together a cruise that will be remembered forever. We brought our two granddaughters on this trip to spend quality time with them and we were not disappointed. The dining was superb, the characters were wonderful, the destinations were great, our port adventures were the best. We will definitely be on another!" - brademayer, Disney Magic (read review)
Best Line for First-Timers
Royal Caribbean - 4.05 / 5
New cruisers flocked to the Quantum-class ships, where the sheer variety of onboard activities and entertainment made it easy to find something to enjoy and the advanced technology meant cruisers can stay connected connected like never before. And for those who didn't need all the new technological innovation or enormous size, their Freedom-class ships remained a very popular alternative.
"For years my wife and I shied away from cruises, but, for our 50th Wedding Anniversary, we decided to experience a five day cruise to Bermuda. One of the best traveling experiences ever! Everything about the cruise was fantastic from boarding, the stateroom, the staff, food, on-board activities, and the most misconceived experience of all, the debarking. Would heartily recommend Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas to anyone." - coachsuf, Liberty of the Seas (read review)
Norwegian Cruise Line - 3.95 / 5
Carnival Cruise Lines - 3.90 / 5
Norwegian Cruise Line: Freestyle Cruising was a hit when it first launched back in 2000, and it's still a hit today. New cruisers loved the emphasis on choice of dining and activities, and just about everybody was floored by the entertainment.
"I can't say enough about my first cruise experience. It was the best vacation I have ever had. The crew were so wonderful and provided the best customer service I have ever experienced." - hingram1, Norwegian Epic (read review)
Carnival Cruise Lines: Carnival is one of the most popular choices for first-timers thanks to the great value, and many cruisers leave so impressed, they never feel the need to try another line.
"Being that this was my first time experiencing a cruise, I was definitely nervous, but Carnival changed that for me. The ship was beautiful and the accommodations were outstanding. The service was excellent and everything was convenient, which is a total plus. My kids were able to enjoy themselves anytime of day as well as the activities provided by Camp Ocean.... I can go on and on, but until I return to sea, I shall daydream about my wonderful memory." - tericaloyd, Carnival Triumph (read review)
Best Line for Couples
Celebrity Cruises - 4.10 / 5
We're not sure how they do it, but Celebrity manages to deliver an upscale premium-level product while keeping their prices on par with other mainstream lines. On what other line can you a enjoy picnic-style lunch with your partner on an acre of real grass?
"My husband and I usually cruise with Royal Caribbean. On the advice of a friend who is a travel agent, we booked Celebrity Reflection Aqua Class just to try something new. It was beyond our expectations from the greeting with champagne and fruit in our room, to daily iced tea and water bottles, and finally Blu restaurant. I'd cruise, adult style, on Reflection again and again. If you want to relax in elegant surroundings with gourmet dinners you've got to try it yourself." - joyzapp, Celebrity Reflection (read review)
Disney Cruise Line: It's always a bit of a surprise when Disney receives so many glowing reviews from couples without children, but people forget their adult entertainment is top-notch too: There are plenty of restaurants and services for adults to enjoy during the day, and at night, adults flock to "The District" for the lively bars and entertainment.
"My wife and I recently cruised the Disney Magic and had an absolute wonderful time. I was a little apprehensive booking this trip since we were not traveling with kids, but my concerns were immediately removed when I looked at all the activities that were design for adults. The service on the Disney Magic was impeccable with all of our needs being satisfied. The evening shows were near Broadway quality and the food in the three main dining rooms was superb. We will definitely cruise Disney again in the future." - howardbiegler, Disney Magic (read review)
Cunard: Couples that found most mainstream lines too informal loved the classic experience of a transatlantic crossing on a traditional ocean liner.
"Our first cruise and we are now spoiled. I don't know if there could possibly be a better way to vacation. The Cunard crew was wonderful. The Queen Victoria was a great place to say for the week while visiting such beautiful places. We are looking forward to our next cruise with Cunard." - BRB, Queen Victoria (read review)
Best Line for Families
Disney Cruise Line - 3.81 / 5
Was anyone really surprised by this result? We sure weren't. Disney has always held the top spot for families with younger children thanks to their ability to satisfy parents and kids alike, and it once again gave them the win here by a comfortable margin.
"Our family had such a wonderful time. We have a 10 year old and a 2 year old there was plenty for both to do. The staff was amazing and extreamly accommodating. Our 2 year old was generally so tired by the time we got to dinner that we ended up feeding him early and the staff made a little bed for him out of two chairs and two table clothes so that he could sleep. Very sweet! Our 10 year old enjoyed taking walks with mom and dad and playing with her little brother." - allegood, Disney Dream (read review)
Royal Caribbean: Teenagers will probably find Disney too cheesy, which makes Royal Caribbean a popular alternative for families with older children. Geared towards active cruisers in particular, Royal has a variety of onboard activities no other line can match.
"We took this cruise to celebrate my Grandson's 13th Birthday. The staff and crew made this cruise one of the best we have ever taken. From the cabin attendant who made towel animals and left a birthday card to the wait staff and culinary staff who took special care in preparing food for my wife who has food allergies, all were more then helpful, courteous and friendly." - mhbombadil, Liberty of the Seas (read review)
Carnival Cruise Lines: Carnival has always excelled at providing great value for families, and the addition of the Seuss at Sea program made them competitive with the character partnerships of other cruise lines.
"I admit I am a cruise snob! When my family decided to go on a cruise I was a little disappointed that they picked Carnival. I thought it would be full of kids, noisy, bad food and everything else bad. I was wrong!!! It was just the opposite. The whole experience was wonderful. My favorite part was each night when we met the rest of the family in the dining room. The food was excellent and the wait staff made the meal perfect. I would not hesitate to cruise on Carnival again." - mmyers543, Carnival Magic (read review)
Most Improved Line
Holland America Line: + 0.46
"The service on this ship was perfect. Our rooms were always ready whenever we returned during the day, the meal choices were amazing and delicious, the staff were friendly and caring, and the entertainment variable and excellent." - johnreidjr, Nieuw Amsterdam (read review)
Disney Cruise Line: This was quite the surprise considering Disney ships already have such a high score to begin with, but clearly Disney is dedicated to making their already excellent product even better.
"Disney cruises always seem to be the best when it comes to customer service and care. This cruise was no different and was even better than a Disney cruise I took two years ago. The staff was very professional and courteous in every respect, especially in the dining rooms." - sheatsley280, Disney Magic (read review)
Cunard: The more cruisers start looking for alternatives to the informality of mainstream lines, the more we expect to see Cunard's overall rating improve.
"My third crossing aboard the QM2 and everything was just great. The food, atmosphere, dancing, casino, shows/entertainment were all top shelf with exceptional service to boot! I look forward to my next crossing on the QM2 and especially look forward to the planned upgrades to this phenomenal (and world's only true) ocean liner!" - jjd311, Queen Mary 2 (read review)
Disney Dream - 3.99 / 5
Even among the highly-rated ships of Disney's fleet, there's something special about the Disney Dream that makes reviewers gush with appreciation.
"A Dream Cruise! A wonderful experience the best part was when my eight year old nephew looked at me with the biggest smile on his face and said "this is the best thing ever! :)" I knew then my mission was accomplished!" - dehlans, (read review)
Freedom of the Seas: If you think that only newer ships can deliver a quality cruise experince, you are woefully wrong. More comfortably sized with better scores for service, Royal Caribbean's Freedom-class ships still receive higher ratings than their Oasis and Quantum-class counterparts.
"I just returned from a seven day cruise on Freedom of the Seas. I find it hard to describe what an incredible ship and cruise!! The ship itself was simply beautiful... and the staff far exceeded whatever was expected of them. There were three other ladies traveling with me, and we all came away with the same thought: we would never want to cruise with any other cruise line than Royal Caribbean!!!" - cragan (read review)
Oasis of the Seas: Still the largest ship in the world even after seven years at sea, Oasis continues to please cruisers who like the idea of a massive floating resort.
"Oasis is a wonderful ship!! They treat you like royalty, everyone from the cabin attendant to the wait and bar staff!! The cleanliness is very impressive!! I can't believe there were 6,000 people on this ship because it never felt that crowded! Lots of things to do, or just lay around the pool!! This trip has spoiled us for any other ship at sea!! We highly recommend it!!" - jlanouette (read review)
Most Controversial Ship
All cruise ships receive a variety of reviews, but some ships are a lightning rod for controversy. These ships will regularly receive reviews from the same sailing where one cruiser will say it was best cruise they've ever had thanks to service and entertainment, while another cruiser will say it was the worst vacation of their life for the same reasons. We calculated which ships received the most similar number of 1- and 5-star reviews, and Carnival Ecstasy was at the top of the list.
"BEST VACATION EVER! We had a fabulous time on our cruise! There was something to do every second of every minute of the day for everyone; not to mention endless food. The staff was super friendly, fun and everyone knew our names. The kids absolutely loved it!... It was such a wonderful experience that as soon as we arrived home, I booked our next cruise with Carnival immediately. " - Vbass7 (read review)
"I wanted to jump ship. I was very excited to go on my first cruise. My mom, daughter and I couldn’t sleep the night before just thinking about all the fun we were going to have. And then it happened, we stepped onto the ship and I was pretty much horrified. The decor was something out of the 80's, it looked like we had just walked into a sleazy motel which hadn’t been cleaned in decades." - avant4garde (read review)
Norwegian Epic: Norwegian Epic was almost as likely to receive a glowing or scathing review as Carnival Ecstasy. The reviews of the staff were so different it sounded like Norwegian had two different sets of crews rotating on the same vessel:
"Best cruise ever. This was our fifth cruise but the first on Norwegian and hands down the best cruise ever. The food was excellent and the ports of call were just great. The most outstanding was the crew they went above and beyond on every aspect of service. I would recommend Norwegian cruise in Europe to all my friends." - salernof45 (read review)
"Worst cruise ever. The only good thing was the food. employees were miserable, ship didn't have anything compared to carnival. I would never ever go with that company ever again. The ship smelled like mildew. They cut off TV and electricity after midnight the day before you leave." - larrabeehall (read review)
Carnival Fascination: The informality and lively atmosphere of a Carnival ship is great for some, but it's not for everybody.
"maybe BEST vacation EVER. I have NEVER had a vacation where I felt SO disconnected from the stresses of work, the hustle & bustle of keeping appointments & schedules, the "life" issues of extended family/friends, and the daily chores of cleaning, cooking, etc. as I was able to UTTERLY ENJOY while on board the Carnival Fascination!!!! By being at sea and away from all that, I had no choice but to focus on just ENJOYING every moment. It was wonderful!!!" - Froggy3 (read review)
"Bad Bad Bad !! This was the worse Cruise I have taken with Carnival. This was my 19th cruise with Carnival. Sail away party was nothing. No band. Had a DJ. No one dancing. No Las Vegas review show. Food was the worse. At dinning room and Lido deck. Kids kids every where. Morning and late night. In the casino Casino bar. So much has changed on this ship." - boyd1969 (read review)
Most Improved Ship
Crown Princess: +0.68
Princess became part of the HAL group in late 2014, and it appears that the changes Holland America made to land Most Improved Line may have been applied to Princess as well considering the line took home the top two spots in the Most Improved Ship category.
"We were wary about a ship with 3,500 passengers, but Princess did a very good job handling the numbers. In addition, we have done 35 cruises, and the food in the regular dining room was the best we have ever had on a cruise ship. Overall, the ship is very good." - donsilvermanlv, Crown Princess (read review)
Royal Princess: Many cruisers will avoid sailing on a new ship for a year or so until it's crew can find its groove, which appears to be the case with the Royal Princess as it showed huge improvements from its 2015 score.
"This cruise exceeded our expectations. The service in all areas was excellent. Of particular note was the servers in the dining room and the supervisors. ... We loved the ship and will definitely cruise Princess in the future." - navy2700, Royal Princess (read review)
Disney Dream: The Dream showed a massive bump in just about every category, helping it win Best Ship in addition to a third-place finish for Most Improved.
"I have traveled on vacation for the past 20 years and I have never had a outstanding trip like I experienced on the Disney Dream." - rochellesm, Disney Dream (read review)
Best New Ship
Norwegian Escape - 3.75 / 5
The largest ship in Norwegian's fleet proved itself more than capable of competing with Royal Caribbean's floating resorts as Escape handily beat out Anthem of the Seas thanks to popular dining options like Margaritvillle at Sea, Tobacco Road and the 5 O'clock Somewhere Bar.
"This ship is incredible, I think NCL has it right with the design of the ship. No feeling of crowding at all, even with over 4,000 passengers, the Waterfront is a great idea, brings things out to the ocean, like a boardwalk. The restaurant choices are very diverse, and all are fantastic, but be sure to book early to avoid disappointment. Lots of onboard activities, different bars, Comedy Club, many different shows. Rooms are very quiet and the ship is very smooth, lots of areas to explore, and then you start to really understand how big this ship really is." - tkirk11, Norwegian Escape (read review)
Best Line for Onboard Activities
Royal Caribbean - 2.40 / 3
Last year, Disney managed to upset the biggest innovators in onboard recreation with their beloved character appearances and game shows. Fast forward to 2016 and Royal Caribbean is back on top thanks to their sports decks brimming with activities like surfing simulators, mini golf, rock-climbing walls and basketball courts, plus the additions of sky-diving simulators, bumper cars and ice rinks on their new Quantum-class ships.
"Never had a chance to get bored. Loved every minute just wish I could have stayed awake 24 - 7 so I could have enjoyed everything. Didn't want to miss a thing." - skdickey, Independence of the Seas (read review)
Disney Cruise Line - 2.37 / 3
Norwegian Cruise Line - 2.31 / 3
Disney Cruise Line: Keeping groups of children busy is no easy task, but Disney Cruise Line manages to do it in style with an endless stream of costumed characters, game shows, and water parks that make boredom virtually impossible.
" Between 8 a.m. and midnight there's always something to do." - jeastman14, Disney Dream (read review)
Norwegian Cruise Line: Typically more well-known for their stage shows, this year Norwegian's huge water slides and ropes courses helped them overtake Carnival for a solid third-place finish.
"There was [such] a wide selection of activities: dance classes, trivia game shows, parties, etc. that it was impossible for us to not find something to do. We really enjoyed having such a range of optionbs as it kept each day fun and new." - InsanerDC, Norwegian Getaway (read review)
Best Line for Entertainment
Norwegian Cruise Line - 2.439 / 3
Norwegian squeaked out out a win over Royal Caribbean by a two thousandths of a point, but a win is still a win. Norwegian excelled at both small- and large-scale entertainment, from the popular Brat Pack Live at the Supper Club and the Dueling Pianos to their ground-breaking stage shows like Rock of Ages.
"The majority of the shows were AMAZING. The Circ show and Burn the Floor were worthy of a $100 admission. The Dueling Pianos artists exhibited a huge repertoire of hundreds of songs." - newbies, Norwegian Epic (read review)
Royal Caribbean: Royal's entertainment matches the lines approach to just about everything else with a concentrated emphasis on variety with both Broadway style entertainment and a solid collection of live bands.
"I never imagined entertainment on the cruise would be so good! Seriously the singers and dancers were so good and the two headline shows they put up were simply amazing. Matt the piano man is very talented. So was Julianne the singer (we were joking that she was too good for the cruise)." - ChineseCruiser, Radiance of the Seas (read review)
Disney Cruise Line: When you have the rights to some of the most popular musicals in history, it would be tough not to rank among the top lines for entertainment. This year, the impressive collection of Disney-themed shows and movies was further augmented by Star Wars showings and character meet-and-greets.
"It felt like Broadway in NYC!!!" - lemchale, Disney Wonder (read review)
Best Line for Service and Staff
Disney Cruise Line - 2.75 / 3
While other cruise lines have specialized staff for their children's activities, Disney's entire staff excels at taking care of children, like these waiters who made an improvised bed for a two-year old who fell asleep at dinner.
"We had some great staff in the dining rooms - Jusuf from Turkey I Kalek from Indonesia. The theatre staff were welcoming and very helpful when it came to getting the wheelchair into the theatre." - Imntravel, Disney Fantasy (read review)
Celebrity Cruises: This Celebrity ad shows Celebrity sailors in a state of post-cruise depression because they had become accustomed to being treated like royalty during their cruise. Judging by the reviews we received, it wasn't entirely hyperbole.
"Budi Gordana and Nyoman at the seated dinners provided amazing service. Oliver and Aajay the stateroom attendants went above and beyond. Nenad at the Fortunes Casino bar was very friendly and made me forget about all the money I lost at the tables." - jaymbiv, Celebrity Constellation (read review)
Holland America Line: While refined, white-glove serivce is going by the wayside on most mainstream lines, there's clearly a longing among some cruisers for a return to the classic approach to service.
"The service was second to none. All staff learned our names within a day or two and were so friendly and helpful." - miko, ms Rotterdam (read review)
Best Line for Dining
Disney Cruise Line - 2.56 / 3
Disney's policy of rotational dining, where servers rotate through the restaurants with the same guests, means that by the third day of the cruise your waiter will know that you don't like ice in your water and your kids always want the chocolate cake. Add in the highly-rated cuisine at specialty restaurants like Remy and Palo that's "as good as many 5-star restaurants", and it's not surprising that Disney wins the top spot for dining.
"No matter how good you've heard the food is, up it by 10 points!" - santaloveroh, Disney Dream (read review)
Celebrity Cruises: Celebrity's specialty restaurants like Qsine, Blu, and Lawn Club Grill are a cut above most mainstream lines, and the private Luminae dining room for Aqua Spa guests was a huge hit as well.
"Exceeded my expectation. Many choices with the buffet and the dining room's food was exceptional." - ronnievengua, Celebrity Equinox (read review)
Cunard: If you like casual dining where you can dress informally and grab a quick bite, Cunard is not for you. As in other areas, Cunard stubbornly refuses to change its focus on traditional multiple-course meals served by white-gloved waiters.
"Food in the Britannia Restaurant was Excellent- 5 star meals & service provided for breakfast lunch and dinner!" - caryaustx, Queen Victoria (read review)
Best Line for Ship Quality
Disney Cruise Line - 2.74 / 3
All four Disney ships have a statue on their hull of different characters pretending to paint the ship, which turns out to be an excellent indicator of Disney's emphasis on keeping their ships fresh and well-maintained.
"Loved the ship a very classic and sleek design. They did a wonderful job on keeping it ship shape. " - MHone (read review)
Celebrity Cruises: Celebrity's decor is refreshingly modern with unique onboard art collections, and their design emphasizes space and efficiency so even mid- to large-size ships don't feel crowded.
"Excellent decor. Never felt crowded. Exceptionally clean!" - GuynMO, Celebrity Reflection (read review)
Cunard: Because many of their itineraries are ocean crossings, Cunard passengers regularly spend more time on the ship than cruisers on other lines. The focus on reserved British elegance is clear in public areas like the wood-paneled libraries that are stocked thousands of books you can enjoy on comfortable leather couches.
"Well it is the QM2 - what do you expect but the best and she delivered." - wodgies11, Queen Mary 2 (read review)
Best Line for Inside Cabins
Celebrity Cruises - 2.58 / 3
We had plenty of reviewers who were surprised with the size of Celebrity's interior cabins, many of whom said that found them larger than most other inside cabins they've had in the past.
"This was our first time in an inside cabin. It was large and in a very convenient place. There were night lights in the room and the bathroom which were nice since there was no window. And the service was wonderful." - Ladyofthelake, Celebrity Constellation (read review)
Disney Cruise Line: The virtual portholes will have kids begging to stay in an inside cabin, and even Disney’s inside staterooms have larger tubs for bathing children.
"If it is just the two of you I cannot understand why you would need anything beyond the standard inside stateroom. It is large enough for two. In fact it was larger than the hotel room we stayed in the night before the cruise. Sure you do not have a window but you're not in the room to look outside. That's what decks 4, 9, and 10 are for!" - jenmartini81, Disney Dream (read review)
Princess Cruises: Again, space and comfort were the deciding factor for inside cabins as Princess pulled off a third-place finish. Great service didn’t hurt either.
"We had inside room which we found larger and more comfortable than other inside cabins in the past... It was great. Wish there was a light switch in the closet, but otherwise was plenty of space and very comfortable." - jdcmr, Regal Princess (read review)
Best Line for Oceanview Cabins
Celebrity Cruises - 2.60 / 3
This makes two in a row for Celebrity and once again, the room service was the deciding factor.
"This was the best part of the cruise - Enjoyed the room and the steward did an outstaning job." - GretchenKoehler, Celebrity Summit (read review)
Carnival Cruise Lines: Carnival’s staterooms are known to be slightly larger than the competition, but you can never underestimate the impression a well-made towel animal can make.
"My room was a good size. I loved the turndown service and different animal themed towels on my bed everyday!" - itzdawnee35, Carnival Pride (read review)
Princess Cruises: Like Celebrity’s cabins, Princess doesn’t skimp on the size or the furnishings.
"I was pleasantly surprised how spacious our cabin was. It was well thought out and there was a place for everything." - Javal347, Crown Princess (read review)
Best Line for Balcony Cabins
Disney Cruise Line - 2.72 / 3
What made Disney squeak past Celebrity in balcony cabins? A big factor was Disney’s separated bathrooms that make it much easier for families to get ready for the evening.
"Cabins were very large by cruise ship standards and had two separate washrooms - one with a sink and a toilet, one with a sink and a shower. It made getting ready for dinner so much easier." - tamara1201, Disney Dream (read review)
Celebrity Cruises: Although it didn’t quite get a clean sweep for cabins, balcony cabins on Celebrity were just as well-received as their inside and oceanview staterooms.
"We had a very nice cabin with ample closet and storage space. The bathroom was nice size and the shower was a good size. The veranda was wonderful and very enjoyable. We had enough space to manage quite nicely and enjoyed having breakfast in room each morning." - nana3n5, Celebrity Reflection (read review)
Cunard: Cunard snuck onto the podium for balcony cabins, thanks in part to their popular “Cove Balconies” that protect cruisers from the elements during a transatlantic crossing.
"Balcony that is "Cut out of the Hull" what Cunard calls "Sheltered" is Ideal for a North Atlantic crossing. Great protection from cold (in August) wind rain etc and you can keep the door open. Caribbean-style cruise ship balconies wouldn't work at all in the seas just south of Iceland & Nova Scotia, folks." - boudrek, Queen Mary 2 (read review)
Best Line for Suites
Holland America Line - 2.72 / 3
Holland America’s modestly sized suites make them affordable for cruisers who normally can’t afford a top-tier cabin.
"We were in the Neptune Suite and I felt that we were treated like royalty. ... I really appreciated the electronic upgrades, the new flat screen Ultra HD tv was especially liked by my grandson. The room was beautiful and all the suite amenities such as laundry, high tea every afternoon, and of course, the excellent service of the two concierges in the Neptune Lounge." - Cruise895, Nieuw Amsterdam (read review)
Royal Caribbean: Variety is Royal Caribbean’s game plan when it comes to cabins as well, and their variety of mini-suites let cruisers choose which suite fits their needs (and budget).
"After nearly a dozen cruises we rented one of the crown loft suites. Never going back - was a great value and just outstanding service. The way cruising can be. ... Does not get any better in my opinion - loved having two bathrooms and all the space." - Paul Cantrell, Allure of the Seas (read review)
Princess Cruises: Consistency has to count for something, so it's not for nothing that Princess made the podium in three different cabin categories with their mini suites bringing in plenty of favorable reviews.
"We were completely spoiled... being in a mini suite is the way to go... not to small and not to big, but great space for 2 adults and a child... everyone had space, and it was so neat and clean, just perfect!! waking up and sitting in the balcony with coffee and a good book is my ultimate fave!" - lizabetsa, Crown Princess (read review)
Best Continental US Port for Embarkation and Disembarkation
Seattle, Washington - 2.70 / 3
Not only is it the ideal starting point for a 7-night Alaska cruise, Seattle has apparently perfected the art of embarkation and debarkation.
"The BEST we have ever experienced in 45+ years of cruising!" - MFenske, Crown Princess (read review)
Port Canaveral, Florida - 2.68 / 3
Boston, Massachusetts - 2.62 / 3
Port Canaveral, Florida: It's often easier to reach than driving down to Miami or Fort Lauderdale, plus Disney and Royal both have modern terminals at Port Canaveral.
"The airlines could take lessons from the Carnival staff at Port Canaveral. Smooth check in and minimal hassle." - ginman58, Carnival Sensation (read review)
Boston, Massachusetts: Centrally located, Boston is the perfect stepping-off point for a New England sailing.
"Got to Boston's Black Falcon Terminal at 10:30 and got right on ship [which had] never happened before. [There was] always a wait." - hagelbagel, Brilliance of the Seas (read review)
Best Caribbean Port
Philipsburg, St. Maarten - 2.70 / 3
The dual identity of St. Maarten helped bring the island to the top of the list for 2016: the French side has great restaurants and shopping while the Dutch side has great gaming and nightlife, and both sides have beaches to die for.
"I did like St. Maarten better than St. Thomas. It seemed cleaner and more modern I guess. Lovely scenery on our bus trip to Maho Beach and back." - ellendamon, Oasis of the Seas (read review)
Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas - 2.67 / 3
George Town, Grand Cayman - 2.65 / 3
Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas: Consistently rated one of the best Caribbean ports for shopping with a high duty-free allowance, St. Thomas is a popular destination for American cruisers who are delighted to realize their cell phone works.
"I wish we could give this an OUTSTANDING rating because we absolutely LOVED this port. Megan's Bay beach really is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Super calm waters, gorgeously maintained beach, we never wanted to leave!" - InsanerDC, Norwegian Getaway (read review)
George Town, Grand Cayman: Sting Ray City is the big draw of Grand Cayman, but you'll find that there are more than enough excursions there to keep you busy.
"Easiest port to just walk and do stuff if you don't want to do an excursion. Lots of shopping and food easily available. Stingray sandbar was quite an experience, at first the stingrays are scary, but you get use to them and start having fun" - Betts12, Navigator of the Seas (read review)
Best Private Caribbean Island
Castaway Cay - 2.62 / 3
Like their ships, Disney designed Castaway Cay with seperate areas for adults and kids to keep both groups satisfied. Added bonus: Castaway Cay is one of the few private islands with a pier so you don't have to wait to take a tender boat in.
"The fresh fruit and ice cream was the best. The lunch was very good too. The snorkeling was fun, water was nice. Very nice island to spend the day on." - (read review)
Half Moon Cay: The perfect private island for a day of lounging on the beach, cruisers were amazed by the pristine condition of the beach, with one cruiser saying it was "the most beautiful beach [they had] ever seen."
"The Sand on the Beaches here is like none I've ever experienced, Beautiful! Walking out into the Ocean to look down...and watch little fish swimming at your feet. Awesome!" - Sandi3horses, Carnival Glory (read review)
Labadee: Like the Royal Caribbean ships that stop there, Labadee is chock-full of activities to get your heart racing like a speedy roller coaster, an aqua park, and a famous zip line (shown above).
"We loved this stop. Great beaches and the tram made it easy to get around. There was shopping if you wanted to look around the shops. The lunch line was very long and it was hot waiting in the sun. We had a great day and would love to go back to Labadee." - joantitus, Freedom of the Seas (read review)