Home Travel The best ships of 2018 – according to passenger reviews

The best ships of 2018 – according to passenger reviews

by LaurettaCWright
Best Ships of 2018 - voted by the public!

Whether you're a seasoned cruiser or are yet to step on board, you'll still want to know which cruise ships are the best for this year.

Cruise Critic, a cruise review site and online cruise community, has announced the winners of the 2018 Cruise Critic UK Cruisers' Choice Awards, highlighting the cruise ships that UK travellers rank as particularly outstanding – from excellent service, amazing entertainment to the best dining experiences, cabins and shore excursions.
Let's dive straight in!

Large-Ship Category

In the Large Ship category, Royal Caribbean was the top-rated cruise line across most categories, winning six top position awards and three second place awards.

The line’s mega-ship, Oasis of the Seas was voted Best Overall, Best Entertainment and Best Shore Excursions. The ship was also named Best for First Timers across all size categories.

The line’s Brilliance of the Seas scooped the top ranking for Best Service, and Freedom of the Seas secured the Best Fitness & Recreation award.  Oasis of the Seas offers two rock climbing walls, a carousel, a FlowRider surf simulator, a basketball court, mini-golf course, table tennis area and a short zipline.

Celebrity Cruises won the highest ranking for Best Embarkation and Best Public Rooms, along with Best for Families across all size categories; whilst Cunard, whose Queen Elizabeth was ranked second Best Overall, secured pole position in the Best Cabins category.

Norwegian Spirit won the coveted Best Dining and Best for Value awards.

Mid-Size Ship Category

Another big winner, this time in the Mid-Size ship category was Marella Cruises, formerly Thomson Cruises.  The cruise line’s Marella Spirit secured four top awards, including: Best Overall, Best Service, Best for Valueand Best Shore Excursions.

Brits seem to love the fact that all tips are included in the price of the fare, which bypasses the often confusing mandatory tipping culture on international ships.

Cunard scooped another Best Cabins award, this time for Queen Victoria, as well as the Best Public Rooms accolade. One of the ship's signature features is the stunning three-tier Grand Lobby with its unique artwork, sweeping staircase and sculpted balconies.

The centerpiece of its Royal Arcade on Deck 3 is a custom-built, chiming pillar clock by English clockmaker Dent & Co. – clockmaker to Queen Victoria, whose most famous work is Big Ben in London.

Fred. Olsen’s Balmoral was favoured to win the Best Entertainment award. The ship’s daytime activities are numerous with everything from port lectures and enrichment seminars to line-dancing classes on offer on sea days.

Small-Ship Category

Hurtigruten’s newest ship, Spitsbergen, specifically adapted to reduce fuel emissions and consumption, stole the show in the Small Ship category, winning five top ranking awards for Best Overall, Best Cabins,Best Service, Best Shore Excursions and Best for Value.

Viking Ocean Cruises also continues to impress cruisers with its 2016-launched Viking Sea, which landed three top accolades for Best Dining, Best Embarkation and Best Public Rooms.

All meals are complimentary, including specialty restaurants and all menus include heart-healthy options as well as vegetarian choices. The Chef's Table menu is themed to a certain region or food style, such as Chinese, Norwegian or sweet and salty and menu rotates to a different theme every three days.

Fred. Olsen Cruise Line proved popular again for entertainment, winning the Best Entertainment also in the Small-Size ship category.

The UK Cruise Critic Cruisers’ Choice Awards are awarded in three ship classes, based on passenger capacity (Large: 2,000+ passengers; Mid-Size: 1,200 to 1,999 passengers; Small: 1,200 or fewer passengers) and are calculated using the ratings submitted with each Cruise Critic member review.

This year’s UK winners include:

Best Cruises Overall

Oasis of the Seas – Royal Caribbean International (Large)

Marella Spirit – Marella Cruises (Mid-Size)

Spitsbergen – Hurtigruten (Small)

Best Cruise Ship Cabins

Queen Elizabeth – Cunard Line (Large)

Queen Victoria – Cunard Line (Mid-Size)

Spitsbergen – Hurtigruten (Small)

Best Cruise Ships for Dining

Norwegian Spirit – Norwegian Cruise Line (Large)

Rhapsody of the Seas – Royal Caribbean International (Mid-Size)

Viking Sea – Viking Ocean Cruises (Small)

Best Cruise Ships for Embarkation

Celebrity Reflection– Celebrity Cruises (Large)

Marella Discovery – Marella Cruises (Mid-Size)

Viking Sea– Viking Ocean Cruises (Small)

Best Cruise Ships for Entertainment

Oasis of the Seas – Royal Caribbean International (Large)

Balmoral – Fred. Olsen Cruise Line (Mid-Size)

Boudicca – Fred. Olsen Cruise Line (Small)

Best Cruise Ships for Fitness

Freedom of the Seas – Royal Caribbean International (Large)

Queen Victoria – Cunard Line (Mid-Size)

Viking Sea – Viking Ocean Cruises (Small)

Best Cruise Ship Public Rooms

Celebrity Silhouette – Celebrity Cruises (Large)

Queen Victoria – Cunard Line (Mid-Size)

Viking Sea – Viking Ocean Cruises (Small)

Best Cruise Ships for Service

Brilliance of the Seas – Royal Caribbean International (Large)

Marella Cruises – Marella Spirit (Mid-Size)

Spitsberger – Hurtigruten (Small)

Best Cruise Ship Shore Excursions

Oasis of the Seas – Royal Caribbean (Large)

Marella Cruises – Marella Spirit (Mid-Size)

Spitsbergen – Hurtigruten (Small)

Best Cruise Ships for Value

Norwegian Spirit – Norwegian Cruise Line (Large)

Marella Spirit – Marella Cruises (Mid-Size)

Spitsbergen – Hurtigruten (Small)

Best Cruises for Families

Celebrity Reflection – Celebrity Cruises

Best for First-Timers

Oasis of the Seas – Royal Caribbean International

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A Pin For Your Travel BoardDiscover which ships are being voted as the best in their categories for 2018 - don't book a #cruise without reading this first!

23 comments

Zena’s Suitcase 27th March 2018 - 8:56 pm

This made for interesting reading! I can see why Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises stole the show. I also agree that NCL offers varied and flexible dining options
Zena’s Suitcase recently posted…Best Day Out in Cornwall? Visiting the Eden Project with KidsMy Profile

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Cal at Family Makes 1st March 2018 - 4:32 pm

I’m so excited to see Royal Caribbean mentioned so many times – we’ve just booked our cruise with them for just before Christmas and I can’t wait!!

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LaurettaCWright 7th March 2018 - 7:28 pm

Oh that’s amazing – you are going to have an awesome time!!

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Robert Price 27th February 2018 - 3:59 am

I’ll have to save up

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LaurettaCWright 27th February 2018 - 8:03 am

You and me both!

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Steph 18th February 2018 - 6:01 pm

There are some fab ships here, I’m from Southampton so get to see some big ones in the docks. After being on the cruise ship with you back in Oct I was so surprised by just HOW big they were!

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LaurettaCWright 19th February 2018 - 7:55 pm

Me too Steph – we could have got lost on there couldn’t we? I probably would have done had the trip not been organised.

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Kara 18th February 2018 - 10:22 am

I am a bit sad to see that Carnival didn’t win anything – we loved our cruise with them. Gives us lots of ideas though

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LaurettaCWright 19th February 2018 - 7:53 pm

Great to hear Kara – I can’t compare Carnival as I haven’t been with them before – but I wouldn’t mind giving them a try.

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Yeah Lifestyle 18th February 2018 - 9:59 am

Thanks for this, a great compilation. We love cruise ships so would like to know who is leading in each field

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LaurettaCWright 19th February 2018 - 7:56 pm

It’s handy to know isn’t it?

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Rachel Evans 17th February 2018 - 7:08 pm

I need to forward this to my parents. They love going on a cruise.

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LaurettaCWright 19th February 2018 - 7:56 pm

Thanks Rachel – hope they find it useful.

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Nadia 17th February 2018 - 8:18 am

We travelled with Royal Caribbean when I was a teenager, it was amazing. Want to take Caspian now. He would love it.

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LaurettaCWright 17th February 2018 - 8:31 am

One day I’ll do a family cruise too!

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Cath - BattleMum 16th February 2018 - 2:16 pm

We’ve never been on a cruise but this post is a great comparison point to start with I’d we ever start thinking about going on a cruise!

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LaurettaCWright 17th February 2018 - 8:31 am

Glad you think it’s useful Cath – thank you!

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Claire 16th February 2018 - 9:55 am

I have never been on a cruise ship before. It is something that I would love to do one day 🙂

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LaurettaCWright 16th February 2018 - 12:35 pm

You and me both Claire!

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Linda Hobbis 15th February 2018 - 2:21 pm

I am desperate to go on a ‘big ship’ cruise. I make the Husband watch Jane McDonald’s Cruising programme every week. He’s adamant he want to go on a smaller ship though. Might have to throw him overboard. Oasis of the Seas is top of my list.

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LaurettaCWright 16th February 2018 - 12:34 pm

Fantastic Linda! You might have to compromise – an ocean liner this time and then a river cruise next time. I haven’t done either yet so I can’t comment on which is better!

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Msddah 15th February 2018 - 4:26 am

This is such a perfect post to find as my girlfriends are I are planning a cruise. One of which is a travel agent. I will def be sharing this with her. Thanks for sharing!

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LaurettaCWright 16th February 2018 - 11:43 pm

That’s great to hear – and I hope you both have a wonderful time!

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