Travel's Best Cruises 2014
Photo By: Princess Cruise Lines, Ltd.
Photo By: Star Clippers
Photo By: Disney
Photo By: Norwegian Cruise Line
Photo By: Celebrity Cruises Inc.
Photo By: Silversea Cruises
Photo By: Windstar Cruises/Moment/Getty Images
Photo By: Holland America Line Inc.
Photo By: Carnival Cruise Lines
Best Alaskan Cruise, Princess Cruises, Island Princess
Only in Alaska can you take a breath of crisp air while gazing upon the pristine greenery of spruce trees that line the mountains of the Inside Passage. Princess Cruises features its own lodges along this route and is the finest cruise line to offer such multi-day shore excursions. “The Island Princess, in particular, is sized to fit through the Panama Canal, she’s more intimate in scale and more manageable to navigate once onboard," says Jason Leppert, editor-in-chief of PopularCruising.com. The Bayou Café & Steakhouse serves Cajun cuisine, and fleet-wide, Princess bakes some of the best pizza pies at sea.
Best Caribbean Cruise, Star Clippers, Royal Clipper
You'll find a very different tropical seagoing experience aboard Star Clippers' 227-passenger Royal Clipper, the world's largest and only 5-mast, full-rigged sailing ship. The elegant tall ship frequents small exclusive ports like Bequia, Tobago Cays and Iles des Saintes. “Attracting sophisticated travelers (roughly half are European), Royal Clipper offers open-seating, dining on sumptuous fare and fine wine. After dinner, guests gather around the grand piano or on deck to watch the enormous sails unfurl in the wind,” adds Anne Campbell. Don’t miss the beach-side barbecue on a deserted beach.
Best Family Cruise, Disney Cruise Line, Disney Fantasy
Get the best family cruising experience onboard the newest Disney Fantasy. Watch Aladdin take flight on his magic carpet or meet Mickey Mouse and the gang dressed in nautical attire. Live out your fantasy of being a Disney animator at Animator’s Palate. “At the end of the meal, you get the thrill of watching the artwork you created (before dinner) come to life,” says Samantha Brown. “I watched as my drawing danced with Jungle Book characters Mowgli and Baloo. Let’s just say I felt 8 years old again.” Regardless of your age, there’s something to keep everyone engaged with amenities like the full-service spa, 2 large theaters, 3 freshwater pools, 6 adults-only nightclubs/lounges and 9 clubs to keep the kids, tweens and teens happy.
Best Hawaiian Cruise, Norwegian Cruise Line, Pride of America
Many cruise lines set sail in the Pacific to tour the beautiful Hawaiian Islands. “Norwegian’s Pride of America is the only US-flagged major cruise line ship, which means maximum port time of 85 hours for a 7-night cruise,” says Stewart Chiron. Enjoy 2 days in Maui and Kauai as well as stops at Kona and Hilo. In addition to great food and entertainment, this ship has more balconies than any ship that cruises Hawaii, making it perfect for whale watching, viewing the glow of Kilauea Volcano or witnessing the awe-inspiring views of the Napali Coast. Spend a few days in Honolulu before and after the cruise to experience the sights or to just relax.
Best LGBT Cruise, Atlantis Events, Celebrity Equinox
As summer starts to wind down, cruisers begin packing their suitcases for Atlantis Events’ annual and largest gay European cruise on the Celebrity Equinox. “This year’s new route takes passengers to 4 countries and 8 cities, including Barcelona, Ibiza, Rome, Florence and Monte Carlo,” says Kwin Mosby. While at sea, this ship has plenty of amazing amenities to keep everyone occupied including sipping on a frozen cocktail at Slush, rejuvenating at Canyon Ranch SpaClub and dining at one of the seven restaurants on board – including the Italian steakhouse, Tuscan Grille. Passengers can dance into the wee hours of the morning thanks to organized, themed parties every night.
Best Luxury Cruise, Silversea Expeditions, Silver Discoverer
Embark on an exciting adventure on Silversea Expeditions’ newest ship, Silver Discoverer. In March, this small cruise ship became the third member of the fleet, and its inaugural expeditions allow guest to encounter Stone Age cultures in Melanesia, spot the rare yellow-eyed penguin in New Zealand’s sub-Antarctic islands and more. “Led by expert guides, you can’t beat the intimate shore experiences of hiking, snorkeling and diving in some of the most remote parts of the world,” says Kwin Mosby. Follow the routes of ancient seafarers to some of the most isolated ecosystems of Southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Micronesia, Melanesia and the Russian Far East. All you need to pack is your sense of adventure.
Best Mediterranean Cruise, Windstar Cruises, Wind Surf
The Greek Islands and the coastline of Turkey may be unrivaled for world-famous antiquities and spectacular beauty. These locales are best visited aboard Windstar Cruises' intimate 148-passenger Wind Surf. “The motorized sail vessel boasts refined dining and spacious staterooms for pampering the body after a day exploring ports like trendy Mykonos, Santorini and Kusadasi, which is a hopping-off point to see the ruins of Ephesus, where Cleopatra and Marc Antony began their fabled romance,” says Anne Campbell. Passengers get the extra special treat of an after-hours tour of Ephesus and 5-course banquet in the ruins' library courtyard serenaded by a string quartet.
Best Mexican Cruise, Holland America, ms Veendam
Experience the best of the Mexican Riviera on Holland America's ms Veendam. This 7-day cruise whisks passengers off to the Mexican Riviera to experience horseback riding along the beach in Cabo San Lucas; watch traditional Hispanic dance in Mazatlan and swim with the dolphins in Puerto Vallarta. “This is a nice option for seasoned cruisers or first timers looking for traditional cruise experience on a medium-sized ship,” says Stewart Chiron. New staterooms offer special spa amenities and a private resort-style pool. The ‘Showroom at Sea’ and ‘Mix’ are just 2 places where passengers can mingle and meet new friends while sipping on a microbrew, mimosa or martini.
Best Unexpected Cruise for Food, Carnival Cruise Lines, Carnival Dream
The Carnival Dream offers some of the best food in cruising with the Chef’s Table experience, which allows passengers to tour the gallery that includes an amazing full-service dinner of tasty appetizers, entrees and desserts not found on regular menus. The ship's restaurants and buffets have left lasting impressions on those who have traveled the world including Samantha Brown. “The best food I’ve ever had on a cruise was on Carnival,” says the Travel Channel host. “They have an excellent chef and kitchen staff from India and Bangladesh. I found a small buffet off the side of the pool area, where they served wonderful curries, cumin-spiced vegetables, freshly-made naan and even a refreshing mango lassi.” Other must-try restaurants on this ship include The Taste Bar, Steakhouse and Mongolian Wok.