Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2017 (Berlitz Cruise Guide) (2016)
This Year’s Star Performers
Having reviewed the following 285 cruise ships, Berlitz names the top-rated ships in their size categories for 2015.
Despite constant claims by cruise companies that their ship has been named ‘Best Cruise Line’ or ‘Best Cruise Ship’ by this or that magazine or online readers’ poll, there really is no such thing - there is only the ship that is right for you. Few operators can really deliver a ship, product, and crew worthy of the highest Berlitz star rating - it’s all about excellence, and passion.
For this 2015 edition, two ships have achieved the score required for them to be awarded membership in the most exclusive ‘five-stars-plus’ club:
2015 Top Ships
These are both beautiful ships to sail aboard, with an outstanding amount of space per passenger, passageways with high ceilings, a superb range of dining venues and types of cuisine, and attentive, friendly, yet unobtrusive personal service.
However, these really are exclusive, high-priced ships, so we have also put together a top 5 ships in various popular categories to highlight the best in class (in alphabetical order by cruise line or ship name). Note that some sister ships in the same series with identical, or close to identical, features and facilities have also been included for guidance.
The christening ceremony for Europa 2 in Hamburg.
Top 5's of Cruising
The top 5 large resort ships
Queen Mary 2 (Grill Class) 1,675 ★★★★+
Queen Elizabeth 1,583 ★★★★+
Queen Victoria 1,575 ★★★★+
Celebrity Reflection 1,569 ★★★★+
Celebrity Silhouette 1,564 ★★★★+
The top 5 mid-size ships
Crystal Serenity 1,711 ★★★★★
Crystal Symphony 1,702 ★★★★★
Riviera 1,682 ★★★★+
Marina 1,679 ★★★★+
Asuka II 1,673 ★★★★+
The top 5 small ships
Europa 2 1,860 ★★★★★+
Europa 1,851 ★★★★★+
Silver Whisper 1,745 ★★★★★
Silver Shadow 1,744 ★★★★★
Silver Spirit 1,737 ★★★★★
The top 5 boutique ships
SeaDream I 1,760 ★★★★★
SeaDream II 1,753 ★★★★★
Sea Cloud 1,703 ★★★★★
Sea Cloud II 1,701 ★★★★★
Hanseatic 1,765 ★★★★★
5 best ships for families
These ships have been chosen for their choice of family-friendly facilities, activities and entertainment.
Allure of the Seas/Oasis of the Seas
Disney Dream/Disney Fantasy
Mein Schiff 3
Norwegian Breakaway/Norwegian Getaway
5 best cruise lines for teenagers
Teenagers like space away from adults to hang out, meet others, and simply chill. Some ships get it, and some don’t.
Disney Cruise Line (Disney Dream, Disney Fantasy)
Norwegian Cruise Line (Norwegian Breakaway, Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Getaway)
Princess Cruises (Royal Princess, Regal Princess)
Royal Caribbean International (Quantum of the Seas)
TUI Cruises (Mein Schiff 3)
5 best water slides
Water slides are always a highlight for youngsters, who can’t wait to go for a ride once they are on board.
DrainPipe (Carnival Cruise Lines)
Aquaduck (Disney Cruise Line)
Vertigo (MSC Cruises)
Epic Plunge (Norwegian Cruise Line)
Parthenon Slide (Star Cruises)
5 most luxurious suites
Suites are not just about size and space (relative to the ship), but also the furnishings, service and all those little details (the size given is approximate).
Royal Loft Allure of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas (Royal Caribbean International)
Crystal Penthouse Crystal Serenity (Crystal Cruises)
Owner’s Suite Europa 2 (Hapag-Lloyd Cruises)
Owner’s Suite Marina, Riviera (Oceania Cruises)
Sandringham Suite Queen Mary 2 (Cunard Line)
5 best cruise ship spas
Wellness and pampering have become major attractions for people who want to take care of their bodies even when on vacation.
AIDA Cruises (AIDAprima)
Cunard Line (Queen Mary 2)
Hapag-Lloyd Cruises (Europa 2)
MSC Cruises (MSC Fantasia, MSC Preziosa, MSC Splendida)
P&O Australia (Pacific Pearl)
5 best ships for child-free cruising
I have chosen one ship from each of five companies that are marketed as, or are best for, child-free cruising.
Adonia (P&O Cruises)
Grande Mariner (Blount Small Ship Adventures)
Island Sky (Noble Caledonia)
Minerva (Swan Hellenic Cruises)
Saga Sapphire (SAGA Cruises)
5 best cruise lines for foodies
These cruise lines have been chosen for the quality and variety of ingredients, their creativity and presentation.
SeaDream Yacht Club
5 longest swimming pools
Most cruise ship pools are small compared to the size of the large resort ships today, but that’s because water is heavy and can slosh around when the weather’s bad and a ship is ‘moving.’ Here are some of the longest.
Mein Schiff 3 (25.0 meters)
Europa (17.3 meters)
Europa 2 (14.0 meters)
Asuka II (13.5 meters)
Crystal Serenity/Crystal Symphony (13.5 meters)