Envelope Please ... the Best Cruise Lines of 2015


Viking Star, the winner for Best New Ocean Ship. (Courtesy: Viking Ocean Cruises)

River cruises have become the rock stars of the cruise industry, so it’s no surprise to see a river cruise line’s first ocean vessel take home first prize in the latest cruise awards.

The industry site Cruise Critic announced today that the Viking Star is the Best New Ocean Ship in its 2015 Editors’ Choice Awards. The understated boutique hotel feel of the Viking Star is in contrast with last year’s flashier, high-tech Best New Ship winner, Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas.

For the first time, Cruise Critic also released a separate set of river cruise awards, with Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection taking home Best River Cruise Line and Best Shore Excursions, and Uniworld’s Maria Theresa winning Best New River Ship.


The S.S. Maria Theresa, winner for Best New River Ship. (Courtesy: Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection)

Viking Star, which sails across Europe and carries 930 passengers, was launched to much fanfare this year, heralded as a blend of river and ocean cruising. It removes the nickel-and-diming associated with ocean cruising, with Wi-Fi, shore excursions, meals, and drinks all included in the cost.

As for the more established Viking River Cruises, it earned one award: Best Itineraries.

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Buoyed by its Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas ships, which boast everything from a roller rink to a skydiving simulator, Royal Caribbean won Best Entertainment. The cruise line also won Best Suites and Best for Families. The latter award had been won by Disney Cruise Line two years in a row.


MSC Cruises won Best Standard Cabins. (Courtesy: MSC Cruises)

Disney took home one award this year: Best Inside Cabins.

Those who want the best cruising bang for their buck can look to Carnival Cruise Line, which won Best Value. And for those who consider money to be no object? Consider Crystal Cruises, which was named Best for Luxury.


Azamara won Best Itineraries and Best Shore Excusions. (Courtesy: Azamara Club Cruises)

You can see the full list of winners here. Here were some other standouts in the ocean category:

Best Itineraries and Best Shore Excursions: Azamara Club Cruises
Best for Adventure
: Un-Cruise Adventures
Best Standard Cabins
: MSC Cruises
Best Dining
: Celebrity Cruises
Best Nightlife
: Norwegian Cruise Line
Best for Romance
: Windstar Cruises

Uniworld was the big winner among the river cruise lines, with its three awards. Cruise Critic said it was impressed by the company’s lavish amenities, new itineraries, and innovative excursions. With just 75 cabins, the S.S. Maria Theresa cruises the Rhine, Main, and Danube rivers in Europe.

AmaWaterways earned two river cruising awards: Best Dining and Best for Active Cruises

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