Cruise Critic names the best cruise ships of 2022

The best new cruise ship of 2022 holds 3,099 guests and 1,506 crew. A 24-hour butler serves its most luxurious suites, and there’s a three-level race track and slides that are 10-stories tall.

The award goes to Norwegian Prima, named the best new ship in the Ocean category of the Cruise Critic Editors’ Picks Awards, now in their 14th year. The awards recognize recipients chosen by an international team of cruise experts at Cruise Critic, a review site and online cruise community.

The awards come as cruising returns to its prepandemic state.

“Most lines no longer have pretesting guidelines or vaccine requirements,” Colleen McDaniel, editor-in-chief of Cruise Critic, told CNN Travel via email.

“Cruise lines no longer have capacity limits, making the onboard environment much more bustling than we’d seen in the months immediately following the return, and there are more areas onboard open to cruisers — from lounges and entertainment venues, to restaurants and fitness classes.”

Cruising is back and “exceeding expectations,” according to Cruise Critic.

In the awards’ Ocean category, Norwegian Cruise Line also earned best entertainment and best for solo travelers honors.

Celebrity Cruises has the best cabins, while Virgin Voyages offers the best dining and nightlife and is best for LGBTQ+ travelers, according to the 2022 Ocean category awards.

Luxury and adventure

In the awards’ Luxury category, Silversea Cruises earns the best luxury cruise line honor and the line also takes the award for best dining in the category.

The Emerald Azzurra is the best new luxury cruise ship. The Emerald Cruises “luxury yacht” can accommodate 100 guests and a crew of 72.

Travelers who are more than ready for an adventure-of-a-lifetime cruise will find the Cruise Critic awards’ new Expedition category helpful in sorting through their options.

The 2022 debut of the category names the best lines for the most popular destinations: Alaska (UnCruise Adventures), Antarctica (Silversea Expeditions), the Arctic (Ponant Cruises) and the Galapagos Islands (Lindblad Expeditions).

Viking takes the prize in the Expedition category for the best new luxury ships — Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris — and the best science offerings. Quark Expeditions was named best for adventure.

“Kayaking, mountain biking, trekking — even Arctic hot-air ballooning: However you want to be active at the poles, Quark will make it happen,” Cruise Critic editors said in a news release.

What’s next for cruising?

Innovations that were sped along by the pandemic are here to stay.

“Technology is much more ingrained in the cruise experience, being leveraged to help limit crowds and also just create a more efficient experience for travelers,” McDaniel said.

She mentioned facial recognition technology that’s making embarkation easier, the ability to order food and drink from an app from anywhere on the ship and in-cabin muster drills that are replacing in-person drills.

Next year, a range of new ships will come into service, including a new class of ships from Royal Caribbean, Oceania and MSC as well as a number of “sister” ships that will be the 2.0 or 3.0 versions of others in their fleets.

“And the hunger for cruises continues to rise in 2023 — we’re seeing some really strong shopping and booking numbers, particularly for the summer months,” McDaniel said.

Here’s the full list of Cruise Critics’ top picks for future cruisers’ consideration:

2022 Cruise Critic Editors’ Picks Awards in the Ocean category

Ocean Category:

Best New Ship: Norwegian Prima

Best Cabins: Celebrity Cruises

Best Dining: Virgin Voyages

Best Entertainment: Norwegian Cruise Line

Best for Families: Disney Cruise Line

Best Innovation/Tech: Princess Cruises

Best for LGBTQ+ Travelers: Virgin Voyages

Best Nightlife: Virgin Voyages

Best Service: Holland America Line

Best for Solo Travelers: Norwegian Cruise Line

Best Spa: Holland America Line

Best Specialty Dining: Celebrity Cruises

Best Suites: Royal Caribbean International

Best Suite Complex: MSC Cruises

Best Value for Money: Carnival Cruise Line

Best App: Royal Caribbean International

Best North American Homeport: Vancouver

Winners in the Luxury and Expedition categories

Luxury Category:

Best Luxury Cruise Line: Silversea Cruises

Best New Luxury Ship: Emerald Azzurra

Best Cabins: Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Best Dining: Silversea Cruises

Best Enrichment: Viking Ocean Cruises

Best Itineraries: Oceania Cruises

Best Service: Seabourn Cruise Line

Best Shore Excursions: Windstar Cruises

Best for Solo Travelers: Seabourn Cruise Line

Best Spa: Viking Ocean Cruises

Best Value for Money: SeaDream Yacht Club

Expedition Category:

Best New Luxury Ship: Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris

Best for Adventure: Quark Expeditions

Best Cabins: Seabourn Cruise Line

Best Dining: Scenic

Best for Light Expedition: American Queen Voyages

Best for Luxury: Silversea Expeditions

Best Science Offerings: Viking Expeditions

Best Service: Scenic

Best Value for Money: Hurtigruten

Best in Alaska: UnCruise Adventures

Best in Antarctica: Silversea Expeditions

Best in the Arctic: Ponant Cruises

Best in the Galapagos: Lindblad Expeditions

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