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The best cruise lines for North American travelers

Posted at 3:20 PM, Nov 19, 2014
and last updated 2014-11-19 15:21:43-05

Disney Wonder

Nearly 22 million travelers are expected to hop on board cruises this year to set sail for fun and exciting locations, enjoying the dining, entertainment and sun available on cruise ships all over the world. But if you’re a novice, how do you choose a voyage on which to spend your hard-earned dollars?

There are plenty of options in the 7th Annual Cruise Critic Editors’ Picks Awards, which highlight the top cruise lines for North American travelers in 18 categories, including best new ship, best cruise line for families, best value for money and best river cruise line. The cruising website’s choices were announced Tuesday.

Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas, one of the largest cruise ships in the world, was named best new ship just after its November launch. Disney Cruise Line was named “best for families” for the second consecutive year.

“We originally launched our Editors’ Picks Awards in 2008, to highlight lines that we felt were doing a great job,” said Carolyn Spencer Brown, editor-in-chief of Cruise Critic, in a statement.

Cruise Critic, which launched in 1995, hosts an online cruising community with more than 100,000 vetted consumer reviews of cruises. Cruise Critic is owned by the Independent Traveler, a subsidiary of TripAdvisor.

“Just six years later, the industry has grown tremendously; cruise lines continue to up the ante, and there are more options than ever before for travelers looking to hit the seas,” said Brown. “With our team of editors covering hundreds of cruise ships each year, these awards allow us to both highlight lines that truly lead the way and also help guide consumers to a purchase that’s right for them.”

Disney Fantasy

Disney Fantasy

You can also check out the Royal Caribbean, Disney Cruise Line and Carnival Cruise Lines wins in U.S. News & World Report’s 2015 Best Cruise Lines rankings, which named 15 cruise lines in five categories, also released Tuesday.

U.S. News’ rankings are based on a data analysis of expert evaluations of cruise ships’ quality, reputation among travelers and results from U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention health evaluations.

“The cruise industry is booming — their efforts to revamp their image and win over new types of travelers by launching new ships and innovative entertainment experiences is paying off,” said Liz Weiss, travel editor for U.S. News, in a statement. “We aim to help travelers sort through their options and identify cruise lines and ships that best suit their needs.”

Quantum of the Seas

Quantum of the Seas

Cruise Critic’s full list of winners:

Best new ship: Royal Caribbean International’s Quantum of the Seas

Best ship refurbishment: Oceania Cruises (R-Class)

Best for luxury: Ponant Yacht Cruises & Expeditions

Best for families: Disney Cruise Line

Best itineraries: Princess Cruises

Best for adventure: International Expeditions

Best value for money: Carnival Cruise Lines

Best dining: Oceania Cruises

Best entertainment: Norwegian Cruise Line

Best suites: Celebrity Cruises

Best inside cabins: Royal Caribbean International

Best standard cabins: Holland America Line

Best shore excursions: Azamara Club Cruises

Best for romance: Windstar Cruises

Best cruise ship bar: Celebrity Cruises’ Martini Bar

Best North American home port: New Orleans

Best new river ships: Emerald Waterways’ Emerald Sky and Emerald Star

Best river cruise line: Viking Cruises

Disney Wonder

Disney Wonder

Top three U.S. News winners in each category:

Best luxury cruise lines

1. Crystal Cruises

2. Silversea Cruises

3. Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Best cruise lines for the money

1. Royal Caribbean

2. Disney Cruise Line

3. Carnival Cruise Lines

Best cruise lines for romance

1. Silversea Cruises

2. Crystal Cruises

3. Azamara Club Cruises

Best cruise lines in the Caribbean

1. Disney Cruise Line

2. Royal Caribbean

3. Carnival Cruise Lines

Best cruise lines for families

1. Disney Cruise Line

2. Royal Caribbean

3. Celebrity Cruises