2015 Members' Choice Awards - General Excellence
Using data from over 8,100 user reviews submitted in 2014 from all types of cruisers, we crunched the numbers on all the big lines and ships so you can find the best cruise for you, whether you're a single foodie cruising with friends or a family of adrenaline-junkies with passion for exploration.
Best Cruise Line
Royal Caribbean - 3.82 / 5
With emphasis on active onboard entertainment, Royal Caribbean narrowly edged out Celebrity Cruises for the honored position of Best Cruise Line in this year’s awards. This pioneer of design has built six of the seven largest ships at sea, each crammed full of specialty restaurants, entertainment venues, and goodies like rock walls, surf simulators, and zip lines.
"The Royal Caribbean ships are the best if you ask me. I will never go on another ship unless it is free because RC is WOW." - talltex0261 (read review)
"Love it!!! Royal is a great cruise line! Very clean ship, great staff, great food and plenty of things to do!!! I would recommend this cruise line, this ship (or any of their ships) to anyone considering cruising." - cwebster43016 (read review)
Celebrity Cruises: This classy line is famous for delivering style and comfort at affordable prices. The level of service and the quality of the cuisine impressed our members enough to propel Celebrity to a No. 2 finish.
"I am decidedly not a "cruise person." It is probably my least favorite way to travel in general, but this trip was lovely! The cruise feels much more like a hotel, the common spaces were rarely crowded even on sea days, the food was nice, and the service was excellent." - chiilly13 (read review)
Disney Cruise Line: It’s no secret Disney is the top choice for families with young children, but what many forget is that Disney’s top-notch service and quality entertainment are huge draws for all kinds of cruisers.
"Everything from Service for dining to roomservice was nothing short of stellar. We heard great things about Disney and everything was so very true. Needless to say, we have already booked another cruise for next year." - millerbi (read review)
Allure of the Seas - 4.13 / 5
Size isn’t everything when it comes to cruise ships, but it is worth noting that this and its sister ship, Oasis of the Seas, are the biggest in the world by a 30-percent margin. All that extra space allows for a fantastic variety of onboard activities, and even after a week onboard, many of our members felt like they hadn’t seen everything the ship had to offer.
"The destinations are not important to me on this ship; this ship is the destination because it's fun all by itself. Enjoy you won't be disappointed." - mooeypeg (read review)
"The shore excursions, the food, the service, the facility - all top notch. Wonderful cruise. Our dinner at 150 Central Park rivals any of the finest dining we've experienced anywhere." - brookenelliott (read review)
Norwegian Getaway: Even though Getaway spends far more time in the Caribbean than it does in docked in Miami, the newest offering from Norwegian Cruise Line always brings a bit of its homeport with it. Miami and Cuba-inspired décor, cuisine, and entertainment were huge hits with our members, preventing a Royal Caribbean sweep of the Best Ship category.
"We had a terrific cruise. The ship was elegant and clean. It was not unduly crowded during meals. The spa was absolutely terrific. The food was amazing -- we tried nearly all the specialty restaurants and they were excellent. We especially liked the Bistro and Cagney's. The entertainment was top drawer. I can't say enough good things! Next time we take a cruise we will plan to go on Norwegian Getaway." - suewaldrip (read review)
Oasis of the Seas: The sister ship of Allure proved equally capable of delivering a great cruise experience. The variety of restaurants and entertainment were a common theme in the hundreds of glowing reviews submitted by Cruiseline.com members.
"We had a great time on Oasis of the Seas. It was our first time sailing on a large ship and what an experience. The ship is awesome, you don't even realize that you're on a ship most of the time. The staff is fantastic, always very friendly and willing to help with anything you need. The Cruise Director Ricky, made the trip even more memorable. He was so lively and very entertaining. If you have an opportunity to go, you won't be disappointed. We can't wait to go back!!" - medwards (read review)
Best Ship for First Timers
Allure of the Seas - 4.36 / 5
You might think that the largest ship at sea might be too overwhelming for a first cruise, but the reviews we saw from those on their first voyage said otherwise. The design of the ship allowed for easy navigation, and the shows and activities were loved by newbies who couldn’t believe entertainment of such high quality could be found on a cruise ship.
"This was my first cruise and I had an absolute blast!!! Can't wait until my next one. From the shows to the activities to the ports I had a ball. The food was awesome. Dinning in the Main Dinning room was an awesome experience. My room attendant was awesome. The shops on board were great." - drmitchell83 (read review)
"Had the best first cruise experience ever. Can't wait to cruise again. Staff and ship were impeccable. Shows were fantastic. Beach in Labadee, shopping in Falmouth and Cozamel, and snorkeling in Cozamel. It was all wonderful. Not to mention all the good food. Can't wait to go again." - wohnsdtat (read review)
Enchantment of the Seas: While older and significantly smaller than the other ships in Royal Caribbean’s fleet, the line clearly did something right when they refurbished this ship two years ago, and first-time cruisers were equally happy with the level of service and entertainment as they were with line’s newer offerings.
"We went in not knowing what to expect, and we were so glad we chose this cruise for our vacation. The service and staff were great, and the ship was very clean and well-decorated. The food was very fresh and delicious. The programs were great and definitely brought holiday cheer. 5/5 stars--would definitely choose again and recommend to friends!" - baozhongxin (read review)
Carnival Valor: Valor’s third-place finish gave Carnival its first medal in this year’s awards, and once again proved that its not just the new ships that can provide an excellent cruise experience. While it’s not the most well-known ship in Carnival’s fleet, the excellent reviews proved that it won the line plenty of new loyal travelers in 2014.
"Hands down the best vacation I have ever experienced, and I have been a lot of places. I have been to 30 countries, took a full year off from work to travel and scuba dive around the globe and this was definitely the best trip I have ever taken." - garyburrows (read review)
Best Line for First Timers
Royal Caribbean - 4.11 / 5
With Allure of the Seas and Enchantment of the Seas securing the one and two spots in the Best Ships for First Timers category, it’s no surprise that the whole line has proved to be a fantastic starting point for new cruisers.
"1st time on a cruise and I absolutely loved every minute of it. The ship was exceptionally clean. Food was great. All of the staff that I met were wonderful. Love each and every one of them. They are so personal and they go out of their way to make sure that you are satisfied." - rayofsmiles (read review)
"I only hope every cruse in the future can match up to this one ! The service was outstanding ! All the people and employees were very accommodating in every way. The endless amount of food was top notch the rooms and the entire ship were clean and in great working order. Ive always herd that rooms on a cruse ship were small I thought our balcony room was fantastic I have lived in studio apartments that were smaller." - deandonarico (read review)
Carnival Cruise Lines: We’ve lost count of how many reviews we’ve seen where a traveler booked Carnival for their first cruise and never bothered to try another a line. Something about their approach to cruising inspires a fervent brand loyalty that we rarely see matched by other lines.
"This was my first cruise but won't be my last. I was so impressed by the service on this ship. EVERY SINGLE crew member was beyond awesome. Always a smile, alway impectable service. The food was very good. The cabin was roomy & very clean-always. Although the ship was full of passangers, I never felt crowded. There were no problems getting off or on at port. Carvnival Valor was so wonderful & I have many happy memories to cherish." - witchywoman69 (read review)
Norwegian Cruise Line: For new cruisers afraid of losing the choice and freedom they would get at a resort, Norwegian’s flexible approach to dining and the Haven ship-within-a-ship concept truly recreate the feeling of a resort at sea.
"As a first time cruiser I had no idea what to expect on my upcoming 7-Night Cruise with the Norweigen Getaway. Everyone had stories and recommendations. From the moment I entered the ship, I felt like I was in a magical world. The Norweigan staff were extremely professional, helpful and HAPPY. The food was excellent, rating the Complimentary Restaurants with an A and the Speciality Restaurants with an A+. Activities on the ship were numerous and it was your own fault if you got bored." - jvilla99 (read review)
Best Line for Singles / Friends
Celebrity Cruises - 3.98 / 5
Like it did in the Couples category, Celebrity won out by a good margin. Their combination of style and comfort at a great value is proving to be a powerful one, whether you’re looking to rekindle old romances or start a new one.
"I suppose its partly the people you choose to travel with, or the people you meet along the way and spend time with, but I can't imagine a better travel experience." - OnceInALifetime (read review)
Royal Caribbean: With ships that carry over 5,000 passengers, dozens of restaurants, and countless forms of entertainment, Royal Caribbean proved itself to be a fantastic choice for young, outgoing singles.
"I cant say enough about this cruise. It was fabulous. If anybody gets bored on this cruise they need to stay their boring behinds at home. I will have to do another one just so I can finish doing everything." - mrsfranklin (read review)
MSC Cruises: Only a year after the launching its first year-round ship in the Caribbean, MSC is becoming a firmly established brand in the American cruise market. The Divina gave our members a fantastic impression of this Italian line, with the best reviews often coming from the young and untethered.
"Sit back and relax and let MSC cater to all your needs!!" - FRISCO (read review)
Best Line for Couples
Celebrity Cruises - 4.00 / 5
What’s more romantic than watching the sun set over a distant Caribbean island while enjoying a late afternoon picnic on a deck with real grass? Our inability to answer this question leaves us unsurprised that Celebrity proved the most popular amongst couples in 2014.
"This was our second Celebrity cruise. My wife and I would have a hard time trying another cruise line because we have had such good luck with Celebrity." - SteveDianeWakef (read review)
"This was a gift from my wife to me for our anniversary. First, about the ship; beautiful , way beyond our expectations. Many little hideaways and small quaint areas to feel like you are alone. The specialty restaurants were fantastic and priced reasonably." - CharlieMont (read review)
Disney Cruise Line: You may think that no line could balance the divergent interests of young children looking for fun and adult couples looking for romance, but you would be wrong. Disney’s second place finish once again reminds us that they know how to please cruisers of all types.
"Best vacation we have ever taken. The service was top notch. The entertainment was excellent and the amount of activities to do was more than enough for both adults and kids." - Pluto1981 (read review)
Royal Caribbean: Young, active couples need look no further than Royal Caribbean’s wide selection of onboard activities and entertainment to keep them occupied during their romantic getaway.
"We needed to relax and enjoy each others company, as only a cruise can offer....It was a perfect week, the food the weather, and the ship were all perfect." - annf731 (read review)
Best Line for Families with Young Children
Disney Cruise Line - 3.88 / 5
You’ll find children crying on most cruise lines, but on Disney, most of the crying happens on disembarkation day. While a little bit pricier than other lines, Disney’s resounding victory in this category proves that you and your family will get what you pay for when you sail on a line that specializes in pleasing its youngest passengers.
"My children literally begged to stay longer, I have 7, 10 and 12yr olds. I never had to feel guilty about checking my little one in because he loved it." - Nurs2b2011 (read review)
"The kids were happy with the shows, the pools, the activities and just enjoying the ship. Our server even took care of the kids one supper by themselves so the wife and I could enjoy a quiet meal in an adults only restaurant one evening, what a treat for us." - Thisisit (read review)
Royal Caribbean: Home to Shrek and other Dreamworks Animation characters and the most common alternative for families with children who just outgrew love of Mickey, Royal Caribbean earned a well-deserved second place finish for their onboard sports and activities that appeal to all ages.
"From the day we boarded to the day we disembarked we were pampered. Ernesto was our fabulous waiter. He was kind, attentive and very professional. Valenti and Ma were the most wonderful beverage people. The children loved talking to them and they made us all feel like they had known us forever." - lakeway4 (read review)
Celebrity Cruises: While we were surprised by Celebrity narrowly edging out favorites for this category like Carnival and Norwegian, the more reviews we read, the more their win made sense. Children loved the Fun Factory and kids programs, and parents found it a dignified alternative to lines where nearly half the passengers are under 12.
"It had the best kids program we have ever seen! Extended hours were available and the staff was amazing. Our 9 year old got to tour the bridge & backstage at the theatre! She never wanted to leave the Kid Factory, so we were able to enjoy the ship together as a couple." - BandTJ (read review)
Best Line for Tweens and Teens
Royal Caribbean - 3.77 / 5
Older children may become restless on some cruise lines, but Royal Caribbean knows how to channel their abundant energy with basketball courts, rock walls, surfing simulators, and teen nightclubs.
"This cruise gave me a chance to reconnect with my family." - Michael123 (read review)
"the trip was for our 16 yr old granddaughter...she had a great time....she loved the teen club and Johnny Rockets." - cjb235 (read review)
Celebrity Cruises: We’re starting to see a trend here. Once again, Celebrity beat out several lines traditionally known for appealing to a younger demographic. While they may not emphasize the active lifestyle, reviews praised the impeccable service and outstanding quality of the ships.
"This was a great vacation for my family! It was a journey through nature. The views were spectacular, the service from the crew was great and friendy staff. The entertainment was up to level and the performers were diverse." - lsls (read review)
Carnival Cruise Lines: Carnival’s FunShip 2.0 renovations added teen favorites like Guy’s Burger Joint, EA Sports Bar and Hasbro games to ships across the fleet.
"This was the first time my children age 14 and 10 and myself went on on a cruise. We went on the 8 night easter Caribbean cruise in August 2014, visiting St Thomas, St Maartin, San Juan Puerto RIco and Grand Turk. I have to say I was nervous for myself and my kids not knowing if they were going to get sea sick or scared on the ship more so for my 10 year old girl. I have to say from the moment we went on the ship till the day we left I had nothing to worry about my kids. They enjoyed it completely!" - gizmun1 (read review)
Best Line for Large Groups
Disney Cruise Line - 4.14 / 5
When families are seeking to reconnect, it’s important that the kids are entertained and supervised so the adults can enjoy themselves. Disney’s excellent day care options for younger children and entertainment for teens won them a resounding vote of approval from adults who were able to enjoy each other’s company on the adult-only areas of the ship.
"This was the first time we did a Disney cruise. It was the best food ever! The rooms were huge compared to other cruise lines and shows were wonderful! We were 19 total with children ranging from 1yr to 18yrs. Everyone had a great time." - sewawesome (read review)
Celebrity Cruises: Balancing the travel tastes and preferences of a wide variety of travelers can be difficult, but excellent service and beautifully maintained ships have universal appeal.
"I was looking for a memorable vacation that would work for 3 different age groups. I booked a Sky suite for myself, my 81 year-old father and my 16 year-old son. When we arrived, we were overwhelmed with the size of the ship, how beautiful it was and most importantly, our fabulous suite. It exceeded our expectations on every level." - DonnaBoyle (read review)
MSC Cruises: Any large group is bound to have some little ones in the bunch, which makes MSC’s kids under 11 sail free policy extremely appealing to big families booking a reunion cruise.
"Our party of six traveled with a larger group of almost 800 Irishmen for tenor Andy Cooney’s Cruise of Irish Stars 2014. There was a real feeling of camaraderie among all of us." - glomarrone (read review)
Bonus: Best New Ship in 2014
Norwegian Getaway - 3.72 / 5
"My family booked a last minute cruise during the New Years week and we were pleasantly surprised with NCL Free Style package and will have a hard time going back to other cruise lines. The Getaway was a great ship - very clean, great activities, never felt crowded, wonderful dining and entertainment options." - jdteeters (read review)
"The Getaway staff was outstanding, always providing excellent service in a courteous way. I was amazed at how big the ship was yet easy to navigate about. There were many things to do to keep busy or to just find a place to relax, you decided how much to do or not. With the many people on the ship I was amazed by the fact that it never seemed crowded in any part of the ship. I never had a problem finding deck chair space to lay out and get the sun or to find a slot machine! I cannot say this about any of the other three ships I have been on." - csmruss (read review)