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Water slides, gourmet food and jaw-dropping billion-dollar ships: The world's best cruises of 2018 revealed

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 05/12/2018 Sadie Whitelocks for MailOnline
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The world's best cruise companies have been revealed by those who really know a ship that's ship-shape when they see one – professional cruise critics.

Staff members from Cruise Critic - the world's largest cruise reviews site and online cruise community - in the UK, the U.S and Australia have handed out gongs for the 10th annual Editors' Picks Awards for dozens of categories.

And here we reveal all. 

a small boat in a large body of water: The award for 'best new ship' on the ocean in the UK and U.S. went to the billion-dollar liner Celebrity Edge from Celebrity Cruises (pictured making its debut in November in Fort Lauderdale)

The award for 'best new ship' on the ocean in the UK and U.S. went to the billion-dollar liner Celebrity Edge from Celebrity Cruises (pictured making its debut in November in Fort Lauderdale)
© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited

Ocean category

The Australia editors named the Majestic Princess from Princess Cruises as the 'best new ship' in the 'ocean category', while UK and U.S. teams awarded the title to the billion-dollar liner Celebrity Edge from Celebrity Cruises. MailOnline Travel was one of the first aboard when it made its debut in Fort Lauderdale on November 24.

Cruise Critic lauded the ship for its ground-breaking innovations such as the Magic Carpet, a floating tennis-court-sized platform that juts out over the side of the ship and glides up and down, changing its function depending on the deck its docked at. It can be an extension of a pool area or outside seating for lunch, for example.

Another game-changing feature is the Infinite Veranda, which enables passengers to make their balcony part of the cabin at the touch of a button thanks to bi-fold doors that open completely and a window that rises up to seal off the outside space. 

Celebrity Cruises also secured the 'best dining' award in the UK and U.S. for its gourmet innovations fleetwide, while Princess Cruises came out top in Australia. 

In the luxury awards, Crystal Cruises won the accolade for 'best luxury cruise line' in the UK for its fleet of stunning ships and its constant innovation and investment in the updating of ships with modern touches, such as open-seating dining, new casual eateries, enhanced Wi-Fi and beautifully appointed suites

In the luxury awards, Crystal Cruises won the accolade for 'best luxury cruise line' in the UK for its fleet of stunning ships and its constant innovation and investment in the updating of ships with modern touches, such as open-seating dining, new casual eateries, enhanced Wi-Fi and beautifully appointed suites
© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited

Royal Caribbean International, the world's second-largest cruise line operator, secured a bounty of awards this year, including the coveted 'best refurbishment' award in the UK and U.S. for the multi-million pound upgrades of Independence of the Seas and Mariner of the Seas. The makeovers marked the start of Royal's massive ship-wide refresh programme.

New features on Independence of the Seas include a headline-grabbing virtual reality trampoline Sky Pad; a puzzle break room; Observatorium, a laser tag arena; two new waterslides; a new kids' splash park and innovative, new dining areas. The line also scooped awards for 'best entertainment', 'best for families' and 'best suites'.

In Australia, P&O scored top place for 'best refurbishment' for its impressive overhaul of Pacific Aria.

For the second consecutive year Marella Cruises, whose fares include all tips and service charges, as well as alcoholic drinks on some of its ships, was awarded 'best value for money' by UK editors. 

Holland America Line scored this accolade in the U.S. awards, while Carnival Cruise Line took home the gong in Australia.

For the fourth year running, Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines won the 'best itineraries' award in the UK for the wide range of destinations offered – including far flung regions like Africa, Asia and the Middle East – and was also awarded 'best shore excursions' for the first time.

a small boat in a large body of water: In Australia, Pandaw River Cruises came first in the 'best river cruise line' category thanks to its fleet of luxury boats and intrepid itineraries. Above, the RV Mekong Pandaw boat, which was specially designed to sail down the Mekong river in southeast Asia

In Australia, Pandaw River Cruises came first in the 'best river cruise line' category thanks to its fleet of luxury boats and intrepid itineraries. Above, the RV Mekong Pandaw boat, which was specially designed to sail down the Mekong river in southeast Asia
© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited

In the U.S., Princess Cruises claimed victory on the itinerary front, while Aurora Expeditions impressed the most in Australia.

For the first time, Saga Cruises bagged the 'best for solo travellers' in the ocean cruising category, while Norwegian Cruise Line claimed this title in the U.S. and Australia.

Hurtigruten held on to its 'best for adventure' award for the seventh year running in the UK. In the U.S. Lindblad Expeditions received the accolade and Coral Expeditions followed suit in Australia. 

Went it came to families, the UK experts voted Royal Caribbean International as being 'best for families', the U.S. team went for Disney Cruise Line and the Australian editors opted for Carnival Cruise Line. 

River cruising

The 'best river cruise line' award in the UK and U.S. went to Uniworld's Boutique River Cruise Collection, as the judges felt the firm 'brought the atmosphere of luxury hotels with individually designed vessels to new heights'.

The line also secured the 'best ship refurbishment' accolade in the U.S. and UK (this category wasn't included in the Australian awards) for S.S. Beatrice, which was radically overhauled to create a beautiful ship on par with is newer fleet-mates.

In Australia, Pandaw River Cruises came first place in the 'best river cruise line' category with its fleet of luxury boats and intrepid itineraries.

a dining room table: Silver Spirit, which is operated by Silversea Cruises, was honoured in the UK and U.S. for having the best ship refurbishment in the luxury division of the awards. This gong was not included in the Australia awards

Silver Spirit, which is operated by Silversea Cruises, was honoured in the UK and U.S. for having the best ship refurbishment in the luxury division of the awards. This gong was not included in the Australia awards
© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited

Crystal River Cruises secured the 'best cabins' accolade in the UK for having some of the most spacious cabins, with Avalon Waterways taking the same award in the U.S. This category was not included in the Australian awards.

Viking River Cruises was lauded for having the 'best itineraries' when it came to river cruising in the UK and U.S. (this was not included in the Australian awards).

Meanwhile, Emerald Waterways was praised by experts in the UK and U.S. for being the 'best value for money' for river cruising, with Emerald Waterways impressing the Australia editors with its fair price points. 

Luxury cruising

In the luxury award category, Crystal Cruises won the accolade for 'best luxury cruise line' in the UK for its fleet of stunning ships and its constant innovation and investment in the updating of ships with modern touches, such as: open-seating dining, new casual eateries, enhanced Wi-Fi and beautifully appointed suites. The line also took the 'best enrichment' award.

Meanwhile in the U.S., Seabourn Cruise Line came first in the luxury division and French cruise ship operator Ponant was lauded by the Australian Cruise Critic editors.

Viking Ocean Cruises was handed awards in the U.S. and UK for being 'best value for money' and having the 'best spa'. These categories were not included in the Australian awards.

Azamara Club Cruises was honoured in the UK, U.S. and Australia for having the best shore excursions in the luxury voyage category. One site guests can visit is the stunning Mingalazedi Pagoda (pictured), a Buddhist stupa located in Bagan, Myanmar

Azamara Club Cruises was honoured in the UK, U.S. and Australia for having the best shore excursions in the luxury voyage category. One site guests can visit is the stunning Mingalazedi Pagoda (pictured), a Buddhist stupa located in Bagan, Myanmar
© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited

WINNERS OF THE 2018 CRUISE CRITIC UK EDITORS' PICKS AWARDS 

Cruise Critic UK Editors' Picks Awards (Ocean):

Best new ship: Celebrity Edge

Best ship refurbishment: Independence of the Seas

Best for adventure: Hurtigruten

Best cabins: Cunard Line

Best dining: Celebrity Cruises

Best entertainment: Royal Caribbean International

Best for families: Royal Caribbean International

Best itineraries: Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines

Best nightlife: MSC Cruises

Best service: Celestyal Cruises

Best shore excursions: Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines

Best for solo travellers: Saga Cruises

Best suites: Royal Caribbean International

Best value for money: Marella Cruises

Best UK departure port: London

Best UK & British Isles port of call: Guernsey

Cruise Critic UK Editors' Picks Awards (River):

Best river cruise line: Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection

Best new river ship: The A and The B – U by Uniworld

Best ship refurbishment: S.S Beatrice, Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection

Best for active cruisers: AmaWaterways

Best cabins: Crystal River Cruises

Best dining: Crystal River Cruises  

Best enrichment: Viking River Cruises

Best for families: Tauck River Cruising

Best for first-timers: Emerald Waterways

Best itineraries: Viking River Cruises

Best for luxury: Crystal River Cruises

Best service: Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection

Best shore excursions: Scenic

Best for solo travellers: Riviera Travel

Best value for money: Emerald Waterways 

Cruise Critic UK Editors' Picks Awards (Luxury):

Best luxury cruise line: Crystal Cruise

Best ship refurbishment: Silver Spirit

Best for adventure: Silversea Cruises

Best cabins: Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Best dining: SeaDream Yacht Club

Best enrichment: Crystal Cruises

Best itineraries: Viking Ocean Cruises

Best for romance: Windstar Cruises

Best service: Seabourn Cruise Line

Best shore excursions: Azamara Club Cruises

Best for solo travellers: Noble Caledonia

Best spa: Viking Ocean Cruises

Best value for money: Viking Ocean Cruises

Best new luxury ship: Seabourn Ovation

 For the full details of this year's winners, visit the 2018 Cruise Critic UK Editors' Picks Awards listing.

Seabourn Ovation took the 'best new luxury ship' award in the UK for its impressive level of service, accommodation, dining, and overall ambiance. However, the U.S. and Australia editors selected the sleek Viking Orion from Viking Cruises as their best new luxury ship of choice.

The 'best dining' award in the luxury division was handed to SeaDream Yacht Club by the UK editors for its imaginative menus and quality range of offerings, while Oceania Cruises beat its competitors in the U.S. This title was not included in the Australian awards.

Ports

The UK editors named London as the 'best UK departure port' for the first time, whilst Guernsey took the award for 'best UK & British Isles port of call' for the second year in a row.

In the U.S., San Juan in Puerto Rico won the crown for being the 'best North American homeport' and the Australian experts named Conflict Islands in Papua New Guinea as the 'best South Pacific port of call'.

Commenting on the global awards Adam Coulter, the UK editor of Cruise Critic, said: 'The cruise industry is experiencing a real boom at the moment and cruise lines are capitalising on this popularity by investing in fantastic new ships, well-thought out refurbishments and a host of amazing, new onboard innovations and destination itineraries to keep British holiday makers coming back for more.

a group of people swimming in a body of water: Seabourn Cruise Line took home the best service award in the luxury cruising category in the UK and U.S., with an attentive team of staff catering to passenger demands quite brilliantly. This category wasn't included in the Australian awards © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Seabourn Cruise Line took home the best service award in the luxury cruising category in the UK and U.S., with an attentive team of staff catering to passenger demands quite brilliantly. This category wasn't included in the Australian awards

'These awards combine our editors' impartial cruise expertise, based on first-hand experiences and industry knowledge, to help travellers select the best cruise choice for them from an increasing number of options, which will include over 20 completely new ships from next year.' 

WINNERS OF THE 2018 CRUISE CRITIC EDITORS' PICKS AWARDS FOR THE U.S AND AUSTRALIA

Cruise Critic U.S. Editors' Picks Awards (Ocean)

Best new ship: Celebrity Edge

Best ship Refurbishment: Mariner of the Seas – Royal Caribbean International

Best for adventure: Lindblad Expeditions

Best cabins: Princess Cruises

Best dining: Celebrity Cruises

Best entertainment: Royal Caribbean International

Best for families: Disney Cruise Line

Best itineraries: Princess Cruises

Best nightlife: Carnival Cruise Line

Best service: Carnival Cruise Line

Best shore excursions: Princess Cruises

Best for solo travelers: Norwegian Cruise Line

Best suites: Royal Caribbean International

Best value for money: Holland America Line

Best North American homeport: San Juan, Puerto Rico

Cruise Critic U.S. Editors' Picks Awards (River): 

Best river cruise line: Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection

Best new river cruise ship: The A – U by Uniworld

Best ship refurbishment: S.S. Beatrice – Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection

Best for active cruisers: AmaWaterways

Best cabins: Avalon Waterways

Best dining: Crystal River Cruises

Best enrichment: American Queen Steamboat Company

Best for families: Adventures by Disney

Best for first-timers: Viking River Cruises

Best itineraries: Viking River Cruises

Best for luxury: Crystal River Cruises

Best service: Tauck River Cruising

Best shore excursions: Scenic

Best for solo travelers: American Cruise Lines

Best value for money: Emerald Waterways

Luxury CategoryCruise Critic U.S Editors' Picks Awards (Luxury):

Best luxury cruise line: Seabourn Cruise Line 

Best new luxury ship: Viking Orion 

Best refurbishment: Silver Spirit – Silversea Cruises

Best for adventure: Silversea Cruises

Best cabins: Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Best dining: Oceania Cruises

Best enrichment: Crystal Cruises

Best itineraries: Ponant

Best for romance: Windstar Cruises

Best service: Seabourn Cruise Line

Best shore excursions: Azamara Club Cruises

Best for solo travelers: Seabourn Cruise Line

Best spa: Viking Ocean Cruises

Best value for money: Viking Ocean Cruises 

2018 Cruise Critic Australia Editors' Picks Awards

Best new ship: Majestic Princess

Best ship refurbishment: Pacific Aria (P&O)

Best for adventure: Coral Expeditions

Best cabins: Celebrity Cruises

Best dining: Princess Cruises

Best entertainment: Royal Caribbean International

Best for families: Carnival Cruise Line

Best itineraries: Aurora Expeditions

Best nightlife: Royal Caribbean International

Best service: Azamara Club Cruises

Best shore excursions: Azamara Club Cruises

Best for solo travellers: Norwegian Cruise Line

Best suites: Royal Caribbean International

Best value for money: Carnival Cruise Line

Best river cruise line: Pandaw River Cruises

Best river cruise line for value: Evergreen Cruises & Tours

Best for luxury: Ponant

Best new luxury ship: Viking Orion

Best Australian homeport: Sydney

Best South Pacific port of call: Conflict Islands, Papua New Guinea

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