5 of the Best Cruise Lines

Best cruise linesCourtesy Yachts of Seabourn

Conde Nast Traveler has released its Gold List 2011, in which readers vote on the best hotels and cruise lines in the world. Here are five of the 13 that made the cut in the latter category, in order of ranking. For more, check out the complete list.

Yachts of Seabourne: Boasting one of the highest crew-to-passenger ratios at sea, this small-ship luxury cruise line, owned by Carnival, is consistently ranked among the best in the world. Ninety percent of its all-suite accommodations have verandas from which to enjoy the ocean view, and the little touches—like complimentary Tumi luggage tags and free mini-massages—are worth noting as well.

Number of Passengers: 208-450.

Sample Cruise: 18-day Wonders of Arabia, from Dubai to Athens, from $14,100 per person.

Crystal Cruises: Exotic ports of call (Alaska to Zanzibar), world-class cuisine, impeccable service and enrichment classes (learn Spanish or attend wellness lectures sponsored by the Cleveland Clinic) are just a few of the reasons this was voted the world’s favorite cruise line for the past 17 years. (It slips to #2 this year). While the ships are large, the accommodations are notably spacious so you never feel crowded.

Number of passengers: 900.

Sample cruise: 13-day Capitals of Art and Architecture, from Barcelona to Venice, from $6,100 per person.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises: From the moment you’re greeted with a glass of champagne, you’ll be pampered onboard this fleet—the cruise line throws in plenty of extras as part of its all-inclusive packages, such as round-trip air with free upgrade to business class, free ground transfers and complimentary fine wines and top-shelf liquor.  Book a penthouse suite and you’ll get free butler service as well.

Number of passengers: 490-700.

Sample cruise: 13-day Buenos Aires to Rio de Janeiro, from $8,999 per person.

Disney Cruise Line: Mickey and more are offered on this cruise line, which has this year added a new Mexican Riviera itinerary. Onboard, you’ll find “family friendly” and “elegant” aren’t mutually exclusive—adults can enjoy spa treatments and kid-free nightclubs while the mousketeers get live Disney musicals, fireworks displays and a 200-foot Mickey water slide.

Number of passengers: 2,500-4,000.

Sample cruise: 7-Night Eastern Caribbean, from Port Canaveral to St. Thomas/St. John, from $4,990 per person.

Grand Circle Small Ship Cruises: Whether you choose to cruise the Nile or to explore the Galapagos, you’re promised an intimate experience in one of the cozy Grand Circle ships, which hold a fraction of the passengers the big liners do. Grand Circle also prides itself on giving guests an opportunity to immerse themselves in other cultures; you’ll even get to dine with local families as part of the lines trademark “Home Hosted” events.

Number of passengers: 120-330.

Sample cruise: 16-day Pure New Zealand, from Auckland to Christchurch, from $3,095 per person.

Source: Conde Nast Traveler


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