The last couple of years have not been the best for the cruise industry. With some highly publicized accidents and onboard mechanical difficulties, it’s been challenging for various lines to get potential cruisers enthusiastic about setting sail with them.
But every dark cloud has its silver lining, and currently the silver lining for people who enjoy cruises is value. Although the prices for hotel rooms and airline tickets are climbing, for example, the cost of cruising remains relatively low. Also, many cruise lines have launched luxurious new ships or renovated existing ships, adding an array of exciting new amenities. So, opportunities to have a wonderful cruise experience without breaking the bank are abundant.
With so many cruise lines and cruise options out there, however, finding the best available experiences can sometimes be a challenge. So, with this in mind, U.S. News & World Report recently released its Best Cruises rankings for 2014. Based on an evaluation of 15 major cruise lines, it considered factors ranging from traveler ratings to health and safety evaluations, to the kinds of onboard amenities available.
Which lines did the magazine choose for different experiences? Here are the top selections for luxury, value, families, and romance:
- For Luxury: Crystal Cruises. Some top contenders in this category included Silversea Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, which received praise for their world-class cuisine, enrichment programs, and other perks. But the highest overall rating (both among travelers and travel experts) went to Crystal Cruises, which boasts—among much more—select staterooms with private verandas, spas, and even onboard putting greens.
- Value for the Money: Royal Caribbean. Both the Disney Cruise Line and Celebrity Cruises ranked high in this category, but, according to U.S. News & World Report, neither could surpass the value of Royal Caribbean, which offers both very reasonable rates and a range of onboard activities from ice skating to language classes, to cooking demonstrations.
- For Families: Disney Cruise Line. While both Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises were highly rated in this category, the number one choice—to no one’s surprise—was Disney. A line that caters of families, Disney’s cruises offer kids the chance to pose for photos with their favorite Disney characters and participate in onboard educational clubs. Both kids and their parents can also enjoy a variety of theme parties and nightly performances.
- For Romance: Crystal Cruises. This is another very competitive category. Cunard, for example, has such distinctive plans especially for weddings or for renewing wedding vows. And, the small line, Azamara, receives very high ratings from couples. But, the winner here is Crystal, which specializes in romance and offers such amenities as Champagne, spa vouchers, elegant romantic dining.
For more information on why these lines received ranked so highly with travelers and experts alike, check out this article.
Also, for the latest cruise-related information and tips, check out Cruise Radio, a must-see site that offers everything from articles to podcasts.