Cruising is quickly becoming among the most popular ways to see the world. Unpack once and take in the sights of the world’s rivers and seas from your floating hotel.
More than 26.6 million passengers boarded cruise ships in 2017, according to the Cruise Lines International Association, and that number is likely to grow. More than 50 cruise lines set sail in all seven regions of the globe, and more than a dozen new vessels are introduced each year. The sheer variety of cruises can be overwhelming.
To help you narrow it down, we’ve asked a panel of cruise industry experts to nominate their favorite lines and ships across 10 categories. Help us name the best by voting for your favorites each day until voting closes on Monday, December 24 at noon ET. The winners will be announced on 10Best on Friday, January 4. Read the official Readers' Choice rules here.
Click on each category below to vote:
Best Adventure Cruise Line
Adventure and expedition ships sail to the world's remote regions — Photo courtesy of iStock / edtea
If you think cruising is all about lounging on the lido deck, piña colada in hand, think again. With these 20 cruise companies, nominated as the best in the industry by our panel of cruise experts, cruising becomes an adventure for active travelers, where exploring an exotic destination might involve kayaking through remote fjords, getting up close and personal with icebergs aboard a Zodiac or walking atop a glacier.
Best Boutique Cruise Line
These 20 boutique lines elevate cruising to new levels of luxury — Photo courtesy of Crystal Cruises
Boutique cruise lines elevate your vacation experience with extras like small ships, attractive passenger-to-staff ratios, luxury amenities, unique onboard activities and excursions, or all-inclusive fares. What's your favorite boutique cruise line?
Best Cruise Ship for Dining
Cruise passengers have more choice than ever when it comes to food — Photo courtesy of iStock / Photo's by Dre
Gone are the days when fixed seating meals in a single dining room are your only option aboard cruise ships. Modern cruisers enjoy their choice of several restaurants – over two dozen aboard some of the bigger mega-ships, cooking classes, creative menus and dishes created by some of the world's top chefs.
Best Cruise Ship for Families
Which ship packs the best family-friendly features? — Photo courtesy of iStock / Purestock
Thanks to their excellent travel value, more and more families are turning to cruising when planning their vacations. These 20 cruise lines cater to young passengers in many ways, including family-friendly at-sea experiences (bumper cars, bowling and water parks to name a few), family cabins and kid-approved dining options.
Best Large Ship
The biggest ships carry over 6,000 passengers — Photo courtesy of Harmony of the Seas
Sometimes the journey is more important than the destination. That’s often the case when you board one of these giant floating hotels. These 20 cruise ships represent some of the biggest and newest at sea, each with a capacity of over 3,000 passengers. With such size comes loads of onboard activities, entertainment options and dining venues.
Best Mid-Sized Ship
These ships strike a balance between amenities and intimacy — Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruises
Some cruise ships are like floating horizontal skyscrapers with all the bells and whistles, others feel more like a private yacht. These 20 ships with a capacity between 1,000 and 3,000 passengers, chosen by a panel of cruising experts as the best in the industry, strike a balance between big ship amenities and small ship service.
Best Ocean Cruise Line
Help us crown the best line sailing the seven seas — Photo courtesy of iStock / welcomia
Whether you prefer long days at sea or ample time in diverse ports of call, mega-ships packed with features or intimate yachts, more restaurants than a resort or a single luxury dining room, there's a cruise line out there for you. What's your favorite ocean cruise line?
Best River Cruise Line
River cruising unlocks the world's inland waterways — Photo courtesy of iStock / serts
River cruising has been exploding in popularity in recent years, and it's easy to see why. You check in, unpack your bag and let your floating hotel take you on a journey of discovery down some of the world's great waterways, with experiential guided excursions along the way.
Best River Ship
Which river ship would you most want to sail? — Photo courtesy of iStock / ake1150sb
From the Seine to the Danube, the Mekong to the Chobe, the world’s great rivers have become a hot spot for cruising over the last decade. Riverboats serve as floating hotels, allowing passengers to unpack once and explore an entire region.
Best Small Ship
Ships with fewer than 1,000 passengers offer a more intimate atmosphere — Photo courtesy of Seabourn Cruise Line
While large ships come with certain advantages (bowling at sea, anyone?), some cruisers prefer the intimacy, personalized service and destination-focused itineraries of a smaller vessel. These 20 cruise ships and yachts, each with a passenger capacity of under 1,000, can get to smaller ports inaccessible to larger ships and offer a more social atmosphere where it’s easier to get to know your fellow guests.
Remember, you can vote once per day in each category. The 10 nominees with the most votes in each category will be announced on 10Best.com on Friday, January 4.