The 5 Best Cruise Ships in the World
What’s the best cruise ship in the world? That depends what you want from a cruise. Your mum’s favourite ship is unlikely to be your kid’s favourite. Your wealthy great-aunt probably won’t cruise on the ship hosting your reunion with old school buddies. Here’s a guide to the many ways a cruise ship can stand out from the rest.
Best for boasting
Want to brag that you’re aboard the world’s biggest cruise ship? Royal Caribbean’s near-twin mega-ships Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas can both carry more than 6000 passengers – but Allure is the bigger vessel by just five centimetres. Both ships are popular, helped in no small part by distinct neighbourhoods such as the outdoor Boardwalk, which contains the rock-climbing walls and carousel, and Central Park with its thousands of plants and trees. Both ships cruise the Caribbean from Florida. The biggest cruise ship based in Australia is sister ship, Explorer of the Seas, which carries up to 3800 passengers.
Best for bygone glamour
For a taste of the golden age of cruising, glide onto Cunard Line’s flagship ocean liner Queen Mary 2, purpose-built for transatlantic crossings. The ship channels an intensely British vibe with traditions such as white-gloved waiters serving afternoon tea in the ballroom. Public spaces feature art-deco touches and vintage portraits of Hollywood stars. Announcements are limited to just one a day – at noon – and a strict dress code kicks in at 6pm. On formal nights, expect to see gentlemen in tuxedos and ladies in long gowns.
Best for indulgence
Australia’s Cruise Passenger magazine named Silversea the Best Luxury Cruise Line for 2015. Indulgences on offer during these all-inclusive journeys include breakfast in bed – served by a butler, no less. Passengers will also find their minibar stocked with favourite beverages that never run out. Silversea offers both classic cruises and expedition itineraries to off-the-beaten-track ports. In 2017, Silver Discoverer will become the first expedition cruise ship to visit Bangladesh. The line’s intimate ships cater for a maximum of 540 guests (this will increase to 596 when Silver Muse joins the fleet in April, 2017).
Best cross-cultural experience
In 2014, Princess Cruises’ Diamond Princess underwent a US$30 million refurbishment that included a new onsen-inspired facility. Izumi Japanese bath features separate sides for men and women (which alternate daily), each with multiple bathing areas and saunas. Like a traditional onsen, the bathhouse isn’t keen on bathers with tattoos. Other eastern touches include a ramen bar and an ice-creamery serving green-tea ice-cream. Diamond Princess cruises from both Australia and Japan.
Best for families
Cruising with active kids? P&O Australia’s Pacific Aria, Eden, Dawn, Jewel and Pearl all feature a P&O Edge Adventure Park – billed as Australia’s largest adventure park at sea. Activities vary across each vessel but can include abseiling the aft funnel, walking the plank, whizzing across an 80-metre zip-line, bungee trampolining, racing a friend up a cargo net and playing laser tag. Carnival Cruise Line ships such as Carnival Spirit also keep the kids happy with Green Thunder – the steepest waterslide at sea.