Gold Award: Silversea Cruises
Silver Award: Viking Ocean Cruises
Bronze Award: Crystal Cruises
Silversea Cruises gets our pick for top luxury cruise line thanks to their diverse fleet and worldwide itineraries. Butler service, pillow menus, and small, intimate ships with superb cuisine set the tone for onboard offerings. Amenities like Wi-Fi, shore excursions and nearly all beverages and gratuities are included in the cruise fare. The line earns bonus points for pioneering the concept of the luxury expedition cruise; in addition to five classic luxury ships, Silversea has three luxury expedition cruise ships that sail from the Arctic to the Galapagos and Antarctica.
Viking Ocean Cruises is hot on their heels, however. This classic river cruise line’s first foray into ocean cruising took the form of the 932-guest Viking Star in 2015, and she’s been wowing guests and media ever since. Rarely do brand-new, first-off-the-line ships get it right on the first try, but Viking Star ticks off all the boxes, from the stunning (and complimentary) Thermal Suite in the Nordic Spa to the myriad of dining options. Sumptuous but subtle decor features windows that can fully open in both the main restaurant and the casual buffet eatery. Viking took everything that annoys most guests about ocean cruising (photographers, extra charges, kitschy entertainment) and removed it, and the results are superb.
Crystal Cruises gets the bronze for its new luxury liners, a dedicated expedition yacht with its own submarine and even its own air service. It’s playing do-si-do with Viking and is now plying rivers as well as oceans.