Photography by Jeff Folger

Don’t Settle for Less Than Our Best

If you want to find the best, you have to ask the best. That’s why Travel Channel rounds up expert advisors every month to choose their favorite beaches, cruises, holiday attractions, road trips, honeymoons, amusement parks, resorts, foods and more. Meet each panel and find out what made the list.

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Celebrity Solstice, cruise ship, Alaska
Best Alaskan Cruise: Celebrity Cruises, Celebrity Solstice

Best Alaskan Cruise: Celebrity Cruises, Celebrity Solstice

"You've come to see such dramatic sights as glaciers calving, whales breaching and eagles flying overhead. Being on a ship that's itself a contemporary stunner only enhances the scenery," says Fran Golden, cruise expert for USA Today’s Experience Cruise site. The 2,850-passenger Celebrity Solstice is full of “firsts,” including the first Lawn Club, a half-acre of real grass on the top deck. 960 1280

Celebrity Cruises Inc.  

Best Caribbean Cruise: Sea Dream Yacht Club, Sea Dream I and Sea Dream II

Best Caribbean Cruise: Sea Dream Yacht Club, Sea Dream I and Sea Dream II

Sea Dream’s twin luxury yachts, the Sea Dream I and Sea Dream II, carry 112 passengers each and visit the most exclusive ports, including St. Barts, Bequia and St. John. “The cruise line offers the Champagne & Caviar Splash, where guests wade into the surf to indulge in premium caviar and bubbles, served on a surfboard covered in white linens, and enjoy a barbecue feast on a secluded white-sand beach,” says Anne Campbell, editor of CruisingFromNewYork.com and ShipCriticBlog.com. 960 1280

SeaDream Yacht Club  

Best European River Cruise: AmaWaterways, AmaCerto

Best European River Cruise: AmaWaterways, AmaCerto

“Sailing aboard AmaWaterways’ AmaCerto provided a comfortable and intimate ambience, amazing food and service, and the ability to dock right in the heart of Europe’s fascinating cities,” says Bill Panoff, publisher and editor-in-chief of Porthole Cruise Magazine. As the ship sails along the Danube and Rhine rivers, among others, guests are afforded picture-perfect views of ever-changing scenery and regular ports of call such as Amsterdam; Zurich, Basel and Lucerne, Switzerland; Cologne, Germany; Vienna, Austria; and Budapest, Hungary. 960 1280

AmaWaterways  

Best Family Cruise: Royal Caribbean, Anthem of the Seas

Best Family Cruise: Royal Caribbean, Anthem of the Seas

"Royal Caribbean's new, 4,180-passenger Anthem of the Seas is one of the most exciting ships in years. It’s fun for the whole family," says Fran Golden. Kids can ride bumper cars in the SeaPlex sports center or feel what it’s like to go skydiving in the RipCord by iFly, while parents can grab a cocktail from the robot bartenders at the Bionic Bar. Beginning in the fall, this ship will start sailing to new ports of call such as Bermuda and the Bahamas. 960 1280

Royal Caribbean International  

Best Hawaiian Cruise: Norwegian Cruise Line, Pride of America

Best Hawaiian Cruise: Norwegian Cruise Line, Pride of America

It made our Travel’s Best Cruises 2014 list, and this year, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Pride of America remains the reigning champion in the Best Hawaiian Cruise category. It's the only major US-flagged cruise ship that offers passengers a total of nearly 100 hours of port time on all 4 main Hawaiian Islands during a 7-night voyage. "Other cruise lines sail to the islands from LA or San Francisco, which usually means passengers spend only 52 hours in port to see 3 islands on a 15-night cruise,” says Stewart Chiron, president and CEO of CruiseGuy.com. 960 1280

Danny Lehman  

Best Luxury Cruise: Seabourn Cruise Line, Seabourn Odyssey

Best Luxury Cruise: Seabourn Cruise Line, Seabourn Odyssey

Without a doubt, Seabourn Cruise Line's Seabourn Odyssey is for the traveler who wants to be pampered at sea. This ship has 225 ocean-view luxury suites, the Spa at Seabourn, and a few upscale bars and restaurants for passengers to grab a cocktail or enjoy a delicious meal. “World-renowned American chef Thomas Keller partnered with the cruise line to create new menu items and a signature restaurant (making its debut in 2016) across its entire fleet of ships,” says Stewart Chiron. The cruise line visits more than 170 World Heritage Sites, including Thebes in Egypt, Machu Picchu in Peru and the temple complex of Borobudur on Java, an island in Indonesia. 960 1280

Seabourn  

Best Mediterranean Cruise: Viking Ocean Cruises, Viking Star

Best Mediterranean Cruise: Viking Ocean Cruises, Viking Star

On Viking Ocean Cruises’ first ship, the Viking Star, passengers can swim in the glass-backed infinity pool; watch a movie under the stars; and feel snowflakes descend onto their skin in the spa’s Snow Grotto. “The 930-passenger ship pleasantly draws guests’ attention to the picturesque Mediterranean and Baltic scenery with amenities including a double-decker observation lounge, 2-story panoramic windows in the Explorers’ Lounge, and alfresco dining experiences,” says Jason Leppert, editor of PopularCruising.com. With these amazing amenities and special features, the Viking Star is the only way to cruise in the Mediterranean. 960 1280

Viking Cruises  

Best Mexican Cruise: Carnival Cruise Line, Carnival Miracle

Best Mexican Cruise: Carnival Cruise Line, Carnival Miracle

Carnival Cruise Line's recently upgraded Carnival Miracle sails year-round to the Mexican Riviera from Long Beach, CA, for 6- or 7-day journeys. “With the new Fun Ship 2.0 features added this year, the ship is a perfect choice for heading to Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta,” says Jason Leppert. The additions include the RedFrog Pub and Alchemy Bar watering holes; Seuss at Sea for kids; Hasbro, the Game Show for families; and new, energetic Playlist Productions shows, such as Motor City. Have some fun exploring Mexico via fun excursions, including fly-fishing in the Sea of Cortez and horseback riding through the Sierra Madre. 960 1280

(L) Carnival Cruise Lines, (R) Elena Elisseeva/iStock/Getty Images   

Best Theme Cruise: Carnival Cruise Line, Carnival Live

Best Theme Cruise: Carnival Cruise Line, Carnival Live

“One cruise line that has really met the demand for music lovers is Carnival Cruise Line, which launched its Carnival Live concert series cruises several years ago and continues to offer these special sailings,” says Bill Panoff. Past artists have included Chicago, Jennifer Hudson, Martina McBride, Lady Antebellum and Journey; upcoming performers include Heart, Boston and Lionel Richie. The line is expected to announce next spring’s lineup in the months ahead. 960 1280

Carnival Cruise Lines  

Unexpected Cruise for Food: Carnival Cruise Line, Carnival Breeze

Unexpected Cruise for Food: Carnival Cruise Line, Carnival Breeze

While Carnival Cruise Line's ships are in the midpriced category, their food surpasses cuisine served by pricier competitors. The Carnival Breeze has something for even the most finicky eater, with 10 restaurants serving up a variety of lip-smacking food, including juicy burgers at Guy’s Burger Joint, owned by Food Network personality and restaurateur Guy Fieri. “I had a memorable meal in the Steakhouse, indulged at the Bonsai sushi bar and savored Italian delicacies at the Cucina del Capitano restaurant, topped off by some of the finest wines at sea,” says Anne Campbell. 960 1280

(L) Carnival Cruise Lines, (R) Miguelangelbriones/RooM/Getty Images   

Best Destinations for Travel's Best

Travel Channel Visits the Best in Travel

The Grace Bay Club - Turks and Caicos

Shane Green's Top 10 Resorts

Hospitality consultant Shane Green shares his top 10 favorite resorts.
The Grace Bay Club - Turks and Caicos

The Grace Bay Club - Turks and Caicos

“This is a great family destination. We love Grace Bay Club’s easy access to the beach, 4 pools, restaurants and bars, as well as the amazing service. There is also a great array of water sports activities for all ages, including paddleboarding. The staff is great at helping guests fully enjoy a relaxing experience on the resort’s 1,100 feet of beachfront -- the largest of any in Turks and Caicos.”  960 1280

The Grace Bay Club  

Hayman Island - Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Hayman Island - Great Barrier Reef, Australia

“This resort has great food, a great staff and great adventures -- all on the most beautiful reef in the world. Hayman Island is the premier family destination Down Under. For almost 2 years, my wife and I worked and played on the island. What makes this destination special is that any guest will quickly feel at home. This private-island paradise is one of the world’s most desirable hideaways, and the rooms at Hayman Island beachfront villas might be the epitome of perfection. Another fun perk is guests arrive in style via a luxury yacht.”  960 1280

Hayman Island  

Dawson Falls Lodge – Egmont National Park, New Zealand

Dawson Falls Lodge – Egmont National Park, New Zealand

“Considered one of the most romantic destinations in New Zealand, Dawson Falls Lodge is only a couple of miles from my childhood home. Many of my days and nights were spent hiking and camping on Mount Egmont near this resort. Dawson Falls Lodge is a must for those who love access to the unspoiled outdoors.”  960 1280

Dawson Falls Lodge  

Lapa Rios Lodge – Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica

Lapa Rios Lodge – Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica

"Lapa Rios Lodge is a perfect option for nature lovers who enjoy wildlife and beaches. This resort is known for its amazing ecotourism, its delicious food and drinks, and its access to some of the most exciting wildlife experiences in Costa Rica. My wife and I enjoyed a couple of romantic days immersed in the surrounding wildlife, waking up to howler monkeys, kayaking with dolphins, hiking through the rainforest and walking at night to see bats, frogs and snakes." 960 1280

Lapa Rios Lodge  

St. Regis - Bora Bora

St. Regis - Bora Bora

“Most people have seen the famed pictures of the St. Regis bungalows over the water that display the mountainous island peak in the background. It is as dazzling as you might imagine. Visitors enjoy diving into the water from their balconies, dining on fresh fish, experiencing Jet Ski adventures, and scuba diving to see a wide variety of indigenous fish and coral. This is one of my favorite diving destinations. My wife and I got engaged here, so it will always have a special place in our hearts. It is a great stop on any trip to Australia.” 960 1280

St. Regis  

Ngorongoro Crater Lodge - Tanzania

Ngorongoro Crater Lodge - Tanzania

“Luxury is at its best as you step back in time at the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge with its spectacular colonial design. Here, guests have access to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, one of the best wildlife reserves in Africa. One of the most unique experiences was waking up each day with amazing views of wildlife roaming around just outside of our room. Dinner and drinks are served in a communal setting where adventures from the day are retold and immediate friendships are formed.” 960 1280

Ngorongoro Crater Lodge  

Red Rock Resort & Spa

Red Rock Resort & Spa

"The Red Rock Resort & Spa is a great resort destination for travelers who want to avoid the craziness of the Las Vegas Strip. It has some of the best suites in Las Vegas. The resort offers guided hikes through the spectacular Red Rock Mountains as part of its Adventure Spa program. There is also a great selection of dining options, an amazing spa and beautiful amenities. My wife and I lived at this resort for weeks during our move to Vegas. For unique experiences with family and friends, guests should check out the private VIP bowling lanes and movie rooms.” 960 1280

apple   

The Chedi Chiang Mai – Chiang Mai, Thailand

The Chedi Chiang Mai – Chiang Mai, Thailand

“The Chedi Chiang Mai hotel hosts a wonderful feast in the heart of Chiang Mai, the largest city in northern Thailand, to celebrate the Festival of Lights in November. Each year people celebrate 2 concurrent Thai festivals, Loy Krathong and Yi Peng, by sending floats down a river and making wishes and releasing hot-air lanterns at night. My wife and I had the opportunity to spend 3 memorable days enjoying these festivals and celebrating with the staff at this hotel.”  960 1280

The Chedi Chiang Mai  

The Ritz-Carlton Marina del Rey – Marina del Rey, CA

The Ritz-Carlton Marina del Rey – Marina del Rey, CA

“I love how the Ritz-Carlton Marina del Rey is located on the marina, close to the LA airport and surrounded by great local hangouts. The sunsets at Marina del Rey are majestic. After working at this hotel for 8 years, I have many great memories here. Guests can take a short road trip to Venice Beach for the best free entertainment in the US; visit Abbot Kinney for some of the best art and dining; and head to Washington Boulevard for its great bars and hangouts.”  960 1280

The Ritz-Carlton Marina del Rey  

Amanyara – Turks and Caicos

Amanyara – Turks and Caicos

“My wife and I were married on the beach at this hotel, which makes it special for us, but it was all of the little touches from the staff that made this selection endure as one of our favorite hotels. Amanyara features luxurious room, amazing restaurants and a great spa, making it a truly romantic destination.”  960 1280

Amanyara  

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