Crystal SymphonyCrystal Cruises#1 in Best Cruise Ships for You (tie)
Thanks to a complete overhaul in 2014, Crystal Symphony (first launched in 1995) boasts updated public areas, a redesigned spa and outdoor fitness garden as well as updated dining venues, a piano bar and a casino venue. Even with these features, recent cruisers say the 922-passenger ship (with 545 crew members) keeps customer service the top priority.
The ship offers a variety of activities including fitness programs, dance lessons, musical performances and treatments at the fenu shui-designed Crystal Spa, Salon & Fitness Center. As for accommodations, all offer ocean views and more than half are equipped with verandas. Each stateroom includes flat-screen TVs, minifridges and bathtubs. Those who choose Penthouse category rooms receive additional privileges like complimentary hors d’oeuvres, two hours of free internet access and butler service.
Previous cruisers also commended the ship’s 9 culinary offerings, including a restaurant from Chef Nobu Matsuhisa and an exclusive wine-pairing dinner venue (for an additional charge).
Seabourn OdysseySeabourn Cruise Line#1 in Best Cruise Ships for You (tie)
With a nearly 1-to-1 crew-to-passenger ratio, the Seabourn Odyssey welcomes cruisers with its top-notch customer service. The ship began sailing in June 2009 and – like its sister ships – is an all-suite vessel. Travelers can enjoy complimentary Champagne upon arrival, fresh fruit daily and 24-hour room service, plus everyone has access to a personal suite stewardess for additional requests. Each cabin is equipped with a separate living area and bedroom, a stocked bar, a flat-screen television, a walk-in closet and a bathroom with a tub, shower and dual sinks.
The four dining options aboard the Seabourn Odyssey range from casual poolside fare, such as pizzas and salads, to The Grill by Thomas Keller, which serves upscale meals and tasty libations. Post-dinner, travelers can relax with a cocktail at one of the bars or test Lady Luck at the casino. The Seabourn Odyssey also offers nightly entertainment like movies under the stars and dance parties on the boat’s deck.
Onboard amenities on this ship include two pools, six outdoor hot tubs, a fitness center, a nine-hole putting green and a spa. The ship also allows cruisers to enjoy water sports equipment like kayaks, paddle boats and Hobie Cat sailboats.
Viking SeaViking Ocean Cruises#3 in Best Cruise Ships for You (tie)
Launched in April 2016, Viking Sea is the second vessel in Viking’s Ocean Cruises fleet. Carrying just 930 passengers and 550 crew members, the ship’s small size is designed to allow direct access to smaller ports such as Bergen, Norway, and Montreal.
Viking Sea’s staterooms range from 270-square-foot Veranda cabins to the 1,448-square-foot Owner’s Suite. All accommodations include balconies, flat-screen TVs, king-sized beds, complimentary Wi-Fi access and bathrooms with heated floors. Those who splurge on upgraded staterooms receive extra perks like priority reservations for excursions, spa treatments and specialty restaurants.
The ship’s facilities include a fitness center, a Nordic spa (complete with a snow grotto), an outdoor gym and yoga area, a theater and a one-of-a-kind infinity pool on the stern of the ship that gives the illusion of swimming in the ocean.
When you work up an appetite, the Viking Sea offers a variety of dining options that range from casual Norwegian cuisine at Mamsen’s to alfresco dining on the Aquavit Terrace. Recent passengers report a stellar onboard experience, describing the food as delicious, the ship as comfortable and the service as top-notch.
Viking SkyViking Ocean Cruises#3 in Best Cruise Ships for You (tie)
The 930-passenger Viking Sky – which debuted in February 2017 – is one of the newest ships in Viking’s ocean cruising line. Identical to its four sister ships, Viking Sky receives rave reviews from past passengers for its port-heavy itineraries (cruise fares include one complimentary excursion per port) and luxurious, comfortable staterooms. All cabins offer 270 to 1,448 square feet of space, and include balconies, complimentary Wi-Fi access, flat-screen TVs and bathrooms with heated floors, among other amenities. Those who opt for an upgraded stateroom or suite are also treated to additional perks like priority reservations at the spa and specialty restaurants.
Viking Sky’s activities include classes at the fitness center, treatments at the spa and destination-focused lectures. The ship also offers four pools and whirlpools, including an infinity pool on the stern of the ship. In the evenings, passengers can enjoy live performances in the theater or watch destination-related movies in one of two cinemas.
Guests also have their choice of cuisine, from alfresco dining on the Aquavit Terrace to Manfredi’s Italian Restaurant. Plus, with 550 crew members on board, the ship maintains a nearly 2-to-1 guest-to-crew ratio.
Viking StarViking Ocean Cruises#5 in Best Cruise Ships for You (tie)
When it debuted in 2015, the Viking Star was the fleet’s first ocean liner. Welcoming up to 930 passengers and 602 crew members, the Viking Star stands outs for its staterooms, which are all outfitted with a veranda. Cabins range from the 270-square-foot Veranda cabins to the 1,448-square-foot Owner’s Suite, which offers a dining area that can seat six, an ocean view dry sauna and a boardroom that seats 12, among other amenities.
Outside their accommodations, passengers will find a spa, several shops, a theater that hosts live performances and lectures, two cinemas for screening movies and two pools, including a glass-backed infinity pool cantilevered off the stern.
When it’s time to eat, guests will have eight dining options to choose from, all with no additional charge or fee. For fine dining, there’s The Restaurant, Manfredi’s and The Chef’s Table, which touts a multi-course tasting menu with wine pairings. For a more casual atmosphere, passengers can stop at Mamsen’s for Norwegian deli-style eats or the Wintergarden for afternoon tea, among others.
Seabourn QuestSeabourn Cruise Line#5 in Best Cruise Ships for You (tie)Seabourn Quest, which launched in June 2011, sails to and from destinations around the U.S., Canada, the Caribbean, Europe and South America. The Odyssey-class ship is one of the smallest in Seabourn’s fleet, able to fit up to 458 passengers and about one crew member for every cruiser.For accommodations, Seabourn Quest differs in that it is one of only three Seabourn ships to offer Ocean View Suites. This suite option, unlike other cabin categories, features porthole windows instead of verandas. However, it still comes equipped with amenities like flat-screen TVs, designer toiletries, personalized stationery, Egyptian cotton linens and in-suite bars stocked with your preferred refreshments.Outside your suite, you can enjoy a range of pursuits, such as spa and salon treatments, free fitness classes, a nine-hole putting green and two swimming pools. Additionally, Seabourn Quest offers complimentary water sports equipment rentals at its Watersports Marina.Once you’ve worked up an appetite, sit for a meal at one of the ship’s four restaurants, including the main dining room and The Grill by Thomas Keller, a steakhouse helmed by Michelin-starred chef Thomas Keller. And for evening entertainment, you’ll have access to a variety of bars, plus a casino, a dance club and the Grand Salon, where cabaret performances, comedy shows and more are hosted nightly.
Seabourn Quest, which launched in June 2011, sails to and from destinations around the U.S., Canada, the Caribbean, Europe and South America. The Odyssey-class ship is one of the smallest in Seabourn’s fleet, able to fit up to 458 passengers and about one crew member for every cruiser.
For accommodations, Seabourn Quest differs in that it is one of only three Seabourn ships to offer Ocean View Suites. This suite option, unlike other cabin categories, features porthole windows instead of verandas. However, it still comes equipped with amenities like flat-screen TVs, designer toiletries, personalized stationery, Egyptian cotton linens and in-suite bars stocked with your preferred refreshments.
Outside your suite, you can enjoy a range of pursuits, such as spa and salon treatments, free fitness classes, a nine-hole putting green and two swimming pools. Additionally, Seabourn Quest offers complimentary water sports equipment rentals at its Watersports Marina.
Once you’ve worked up an appetite, sit for a meal at one of the ship’s four restaurants, including the main dining room and The Grill by Thomas Keller, a steakhouse helmed by Michelin-starred chef Thomas Keller. And for evening entertainment, you’ll have access to a variety of bars, plus a casino, a dance club and the Grand Salon, where cabaret performances, comedy shows and more are hosted nightly.
Seabourn SojournSeabourn Cruise Line#5 in Best Cruise Ships for You (tie)
The Seabourn Sojourn debuted in June 2010 and features all-suite accommodations. About half of the suites offer ocean views, but all accommodations provide 24-hour room service, flat-screen TVs, bathrooms with dual sinks and a separate living area and bedroom. What’s more, cruisers are welcomed with complimentary Champagne upon arrival and can enjoy a fruit basket that’s refreshed daily. A suite stewardess is assigned to each cabin to assist with requests as well.
Outside the rooms, travelers can gamble at the casino, work up a sweat in the fitness center or relax at the spa. Those interested in soaking up the sun can snag a spot by the pool or enjoy one of six hot tubs. Cruisers can also fuel their competitive juices with a round of shuffleboard or golf on the nine-hole putting green. When anchored, vacationers can take advantage of the ship’s water sports equipment, such as kayaks and paddle boats.
There are four dining venues to choose from on the Seabourn Sojourn, including casual and fine dining options. And in the evenings, cruisers can enjoy cocktails at one of the bars or dance under the stars, among other activities. Plus, the ship features a nearly 1-to-1 crew-to-passenger ratio, meaning cruisers can expect a strong attention to detail.
Azamara QuestAzamara Club Cruises#8 in Best Cruise Ships for You (tie)
Like its sister ship, Azamara Journey, Quest appeals to travelers seeking an intimate, relaxed atmosphere. According to recent cruisers, the 690-passenger vessel is small enough to provide individualized service with a low crew-to-passenger ratio, while still being large enough to offer multiple dining venues which include two specialty restaurants, a main dining room and three causal venues.
The ship’s staterooms were recently refurbished and include flat-screen TVs, minibars and 24-hour room service. Suites offer additional perks such as 235 complimentary Internet minutes and complimentary specialty dining. Cruisers can also spend time at the spa and fitness facilities, which previous passengers described as modern and comfortable.
Onboard entertainment includes seminars, wine tastings among other enrichment programs. At night, passengers can enjoy blackjack in Casino Luxe, take in shows at the Cabaret Lounge or sip cocktails at one of the three lounges. On top of all that, itineraries that are seven or more nights include a complimentary night experiencing local culture in port, known as AzAmazing Evenings.
Crystal SerenityCrystal Cruises#8 in Best Cruise Ships for You (tie)
Crystal Serenity first set sail in 2003, and thanks to a $17 million refurbishment in 2013, the ship now features new Crystal Penthouses and a series of renovated restaurants. A main highlight is the herb garden (added to the lido deck), which boasts olive trees and fresh lavender. And with 12 onboard restaurants, including the specialty venues Prego and Silk Road & The Sushi Bar, there are plenty of dining options.
In terms of lodging, 85 percent of all staterooms are appointed with verandas, and all cabins come outfitted with flat-screen TVs, minifridges and bathrooms with tubs. Guests staying in a Penthouse category room have access to extras like Jacuzzis, nightly hors’ d’oeuvres and personal butler service.
And with its language classes, wine and food tastings, and personalized service with 655 crew members catering to 1,070 guests, Crystal has long garnered high marks from cruisers and critics for its tailored onboard experience. There’s also a feng shui-inspired spa, five bars and lounges and a casino. Additional onboard offerings include four shopping boutiques, a sports deck with a driving range and the Computer University@Sea.
Disney DreamDisney Cruise Line#8 in Best Cruise Ships for You (tie)
Last renovated in 2015 (after being introduced in 2011), the 4,000-passenger Disney Dream is one of Disney’s largest ship. Ship highlights include the 765-foot AquaDuck water coaster, a virtual sports simulator (for an extra fee) and live shows that bring Disney favorites to life.
While the ship emphasizes family-focused entertainment with five specialized kids clubs, parents can enjoy grown-up pursuits such as the adults-only Quiet Cove pool and the Senses Spa & Salon. At night, a section of the ship called The District transforms into an adult oasis with host of bars and lounges. In terms of dining, the ship offers nine themed venues including two specialty adults-only restaurants.
Staterooms also cater to cruising clans with perks like sofa beds. Over 80 percent of cabins offers oceanviews or verandas. Those looking for even more space can opt for Concierge Suites that range from 622 to 1,781 square feet.
While some recent cruisers commented that the ship is more expensive than other mainstream competitors, most said it was well worth the price due to the personalized attention they received from staff.
Disclaimers about ship ratings: A ship’s Health Rating is based on vessel inspection scores published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If a ship did not receive a CDC score within 22 months prior to the calculation of its Overall Rating, its Health Rating appears as N/A; in such a case, the ship’s Overall Rating is calculated using the average Health Rating of all CDC-rated ships within the cruise line. All ship Traveler Ratings are based on ratings provided under license by Cruiseline.com.