Best Cruise Ships & Features For 2018
Whether you cruise for the food, the shows, or because you want to be shamelessly pampered, here are the ships and lines you should be considering for your 2018 cruise.
Best Overall Ship: Disney Dream (4.51 / 5)
Considering Disney's stellar performance in last week's round of awards, it makes sense that two of their four ships would be the most popular mainstream vessels on Cruiseline.com. Harmony of the Seas is the new player on the list, already one of the top ships in cruising after just a year and a half at sea.
Most Improved Ship: Carnival Fantasy (+0.61 / 5)
It’s hard to say what changed on these ships as none of them underwent major refurbishments or itinerary changes. Since the simplest explanation is usually the correct one, we suspect it’s an increased attention to the staples of cruising (good service and dining) that helped these formerly struggling ships turn themselves around.
Best Ship Quality Disney Cruise Line (4.54 / 5)
Good design and cleanliness are the first things you notice when stepping aboard a new ship. Disney continued to give the best first impression in 2017, winning Best Ship Quality for the fourth year in a row. All four Disney ships have a statue on their hull of different characters pretending to paint the ship, and while Mickey or Dumbo may not do much actual cleaning themselves, it speaks to Disney’s insistence on keeping their ships fresh and clean.
Best Food & Dining: Celebrity Cruises (4.33/ 5)
The specialty restaurants on Celebrity and Disney are the envy of the cruise industry, but it’s consistent, high-quality food and service in the main dining room day-in and day-out that earns this award. Kudos to Holland America, who worked its way into the top three for the first time.
Best Cabins: Disney Cruise Line (4.42 / 5)
Disney and Celebrity have beautiful, spacious cabins, which isn’t surprising considering their higher price point. The big surprises were the strong finishes by MSC (who nearly beat out Celebrity) and Costa, two European lines that have traditionally struggled to please American passengers.
Best Service & Staff: Celebrity Cruises (4.62 / 5)
Disney, Celebrity and HAL are known for their “white glove” level of service, which generally makes them basically a shoe-in for the top three spots. Still, it’s worth keeping an eye on Royal Caribbean in the years to come as they’re closing the gap awfully fast.
Best Children's Programs: Carnival Cruise Line (3.81 / 5)
It’s official: we have our first big upset. Despite having the highest review scores from families with young children, Disney was narrowly edged out by both Carnival and Royal Caribbean for Best Children’s Programs. These top three contenders seem to be in a league of their own, beating out the rest of the pack by a wide margin.
Best Onboard Activities: Royal Caribbean (4.00 / 5)
Royal Caribbean prides themselves on being at the forefront of onboard innovation with rock walls, surfing simulators, and ice skating rinks, so it’s no surprise that pulled off the win for the second year in a row. Carnival returns to form after not making the top three since 2015, a win that was likely helped by new innovations the Sky Ride on Carnival Vista.
Best Entertainment: Royal Caribbean (4.02 / 5)
Royal Caribbean grabbed another sizable win in the entertainment category, thanks to a wide variety of shows from traditional musicals like Mamma Mia! and Grease, to specialty performers like high divers, figure skaters, and acrobats. Another interesting trend: Despite being one of the big entertainment pioneers of the last decade and winning the category two years ago, Norwegian fell behind Celebrity and Carnival to fifth place.