Travel Weekly Readers Choice 2015

Cruise ships

Allure of the Seas

Royal Caribbean International


The 5,400-passenger Allure of the Seas, second in Royal Caribbean’s Oasis class of ships, is the largest ship ever built, surpassing sister ship the Oasis of the Seas in length by 2 inches. Like the Oasis, the Allure boasts novel features such as seven themed “neighborhoods,” two-story loft suites, a zipline course, a minigolf course, multiple nightclubs and five swimming pools.




AmaWaterways’ 164-passenger AmaSonata features multiple dining venues, a piano bar and lounge, massage and salon services, a heated swimming pool with swim-up bar, a fitness room, walking track and complimentary onboard bicycles. The staterooms range from a 160-square-foot lower-deck cabin to a 300-square-foot upper-deck suite, and the majority feature Ama’s twin balcony concept (a French balcony adjacent to a full balcony).

Anthem of the Seas

Royal Caribbean International


With its iFly skydiving simulator, North Star observation gondola and Two70 Lounge, the Anthem continues the long tradition of new “Wow” features on Royal Caribbean ships. It carries 4,200 passengers on 18 decks and cruises from Cape Liberty in Bayonne, N.J., to Bermuda, the Bahamas and the Caribbean. Artwork includes a large sculptural giraffe in a floatie next to the SeaPlex activities center.

Avalon Tapestry II

Avalon Waterways 


The 128-passenger Avalon Tapestry II marks Avalon’s second vessel on France’s Seine River, and the company’s first Suite Ship class of vessels on the Seine. The 361-foot Avalon Tapestry II represents a handful of Avalon Suite Ship vessels that have been built slightly shorter in length than their 443-foot, 166-passenger Suite Ship counterparts in order to better navigate certain waterways such as the Seine. It features open and airy public areas, such as a main lobby with a skylight. The Avalon Tapestry II’s lower-deck staterooms are 172 square feet each, and the staterooms on the second and third decks are 200 square feet each and feature the Suite Ships’ defining amenity: a floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall sliding glass door that can be opened to create a French balcony. There are also two 300-square-foot suites onboard.

Azamara Quest

Azamara Club Cruises 


An R-ship built for Renaissance Cruises, the Azamara Quest has the country club interior of those vessels. The 686-passenger ship is scheduled for a major drydock and refurbishment in April in Singapore in which the look and feel of the ship will be lightened and modernized. New carpets, curtains and soft furnishings will be added in creams, coffee brown and soft beiges. Dark wood paneling will be lightened. Initial plans to replace the Sunset Bar with an Asian restaurant have been shelved.

Celebrity Reflection

Celebrity Cruises 


The fifth and largest of the Celebrity Solstice-class ships, the 3,046-passenger Reflection debuted in October 2012 with 72 more cabins, adding capacity for between 150 and 200 more passengers than its sisters. Boasting the class’ signature amenities like the Lawn Club and Solarium, the Reflection added more cabin categories, including Celebrity’s first two-bedroom suite, a 1,636-square-foot apartment that offers a glass-sided shower cantilevered over the ocean, one of a half-dozen new suites with extra-tall ceilings and butler service.

Crystal Symphony

Crystal Cruises 


The smaller of Crystal’s two luxury ships at 922 passengers, the Crystal Symphony remains one of the roomiest ships at sea. The 20-year-old vessel was refurbished in 2012 and received a $25 million makeover in 2009. Amenities include a cinema, a casino and two specialty restaurants, Silk Road and Prego. Every cabin has an ocean view and most have balconies.


Oceania Cruises 


The 1,250-passenger Marina debuted in February 2011 as Oceania’s first newly built cruise ship. The Marina has eight dining venues, and 90% of its cabins boast private verandas. The ship has a Bon Appetit Culinary Center, a cooking school, and the Artists Loft, where artists-in-residence teach fine arts.

MSC Divina

MSC Cruises 


The 3,500-passenger MSC Divina, launched in 2012, is MSC Cruises’ first ship dedicated to a North American audience. Sailing from Miami to the Caribbean as well as in the Mediterranean, with options to embark in both Civitavecchia, Italy, and Barcelona, the ship boasts Italian-style dining; 18 bars and lounges; Balinese-style massage and treatments; and the MSC Yacht Club, an all-inclusive, private VIP club level with personal butlers.

Nieuw Amsterdam

Holland America Line 


The 2,106-passenger Nieuw Amsterdam debuted in 2010 as the second in Holland America Line’s Signature Class series of vessels. Named by Princess Maxima of the Netherlands, the vessel is a sister ship to 2008’s Eurodam. The Nieuw Amsterdam features pan-Asian and Italian restaurants, 86% of cabins on the outside of the ship, and 67% with balconies. Ten units boast floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall windows, and the ship’s art collection pays homage to its namesake city, New York.

Norwegian Getaway

Norwegian Cruise Line 


Launched in January 2014, the 4,028-passenger Norwegian Getaway is the twin sister ship to the Norwegian Breakaway. Sailing year-round Caribbean cruises from Miami, the ship offers tropical food, music and decor, including a Flamingo Bar & Grill, a Tropicana Room, a Sugarcane Mojito Bar and the Waterfront, an outdoor seating for many of the ship’s 28 restaurants, themed to Miami Beach and Key West. The Getaway entertains with Illusionarium, a magic show and dinner experience, and the seven-time Tony Award-nominated musical “Legally Blonde.”

Quantum of the Seas

Royal Caribbean International 


The Quantum of the Seas is the originator of the Quantum class, which now includes the Anthem and the upcoming Ovation of the Seas. The Quantum switched to sailings from China in 2015. It has been customized somewhat for Chinese guests but remains a Royal ship. In addition to its iFly skydiving simulator, North Star observation gondola and Two70 Lounge, the Quantum has a large magenta bear as a signature sculpture.

Queen Mary 2

Cunard Line 


The QM2’s amenities include a Canyon Ranch SpaClub, a cultural enrichment program, a kennel for up to 12 dogs and the first planetarium at sea. The 13-deck, 1,132-foot ship has room for up to 2,620 passengers. In a 25-day drydock scheduled next year, Cunard will add 15 single-occupancy cabins, 30 more Brittania Club Balcony staterooms and another 10 spaces in the kennel.

Regal Princess

Princess Cruises 


The cast of “The Love Boat” named the 3,560-passenger Regal Princess in 2014 in Fort Lauderdale. The sister ship to the Royal Princess, which debuted in 2013, it has been sailing since its inaugural cruise from Venice in May 2014. It has many of the Royal Princess’ signature features, like the SeaWalk, a 60-foot-long glass walkway hovering 128 feet above the ocean.  Princess offers its own craft beer on the ship, Seawitch West Coast IPA, produced for Princess by the Strike Brewing Co. of San Jose, Calif.




In June 2014, the launch of the 130-passenger Savor helped usher in Tauck’s new Inspiration class of vessels, debuting eight lofted lower-deck cabins with high ceilings and a raised seating area with windows that can be opened, a concept that completely upended the standard lower-deck cabins with small porthole windows. The Savor also features four, 150-square-foot lower-deck cabins with no single supplement for solo travelers. The Savor also has 22 suites measuring 300 square feet, 24 staterooms that measure 225 square feet, and 11 cabins that range from between 150 and 190 square feet. There is also a main dining room; an alternative dining venue for light meals at the aft of the vessel, Arthur’s; a lounge and bar; and a sun deck with seating, a putting green and a Jacuzzi. The Savor sails several Danube River itineraries.

Seabourn Odyssey

Seabourn Cruise Line 


Launched in Venice in 2009, the Seabourn Odyssey has capacity for 450 passengers. Its 229 oceanview suites are divided into 13 categories, with interior measurements from 295 to over 1,200 square feet. Ninety percent have private verandas. The design includes Seabourn Square, the line’s “living room” concept that replaces the conventional reception lobby with a lounge/library/guest services area that also has computer workstations and a European-style coffee bar with sandwiches, pastries and gelati.

Seven Seas Voyager

Regent Seven Seas Cruises 


After a drydock in 2013, the 700-passenger Seven Seas Voyager emerged with new interior decor and refreshed exterior decks. New teak was installed on the balconies of all 350 suites, while decks in common areas were resurfaced.  In addition to the main Compass Rose dining room, restaurant alternatives include Prime 7 (steakhouse), Signatures (French) and Sette Mari at La Veranda (Italian).

Silver Spirit



The 540-passenger, 36,000-gross-ton Silver Spirit debuted in 2009 as Silversea’s largest ship. The Spirit has six restaurants, including new venues like Stars Supper Club, modeled after the Rainbow Room in New York, and the 24-seat, Japanese-inspired Seishin; the line’s largest spa at 8,300 square feet; and balconies in 95% of its cabins

S.S. Catherine

Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection 

NOMINATED: River cruising

Christened in the south of France in March 2014, Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection’s 159-passenger S.S. Catherine took Uniworld’s penchant for lavish interiors to new heights. From the countless mirrored walls reminiscent of the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles, to its over-the-top atrium complete with Murano chandelier, the S.S. Catherine is a floating ode to extravagance. The French theme abounds in the unique and plentiful artwork throughout the vessel as well as in French-influenced cuisine served onboard. The S.S. Catherine sails on the Rhone and Saone rivers in the south of France.

S.S. Maria Theresa

Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection 


Uniworld christened its newest vessel, the 150-passenger S.S. Maria Theresa, in March. The vessel features antique mirrors throughout, gold leaf details and custom furniture pieces from around the world. The public areas include a Viennese cafe, Uniworld’s signature Leopard Bar at the aft of the ship, a 10-seat cinema, a fitness center, a swimming pool and a spa. There are 64 staterooms that measure between 162 and 194 square feet, 10 suites at 305 square feet each, and one Royal Suite at 410 square feet. The S.S. Maria Theresa sails Uniworld’s European Jewels itinerary from Budapest to Amsterdam, as well as the Tulips & Windmills, European Holiday Markets and Grand Christmas & New Year’s Cruise itineraries.

Viking Longship Tor

Viking River Cruises 


The Viking Longship Tor launched in 2013, and features two Explorer suites, seven Veranda suites, 39 Veranda staterooms, 22 French balcony staterooms, and 25 standard staterooms. The public areas include the Aquavit Terrace with an indoor/outdoor viewing area at the bow of the ship and al fresco dining; a lounge and bar; the main restaurant; a library; boutique; and a sun deck with a shaded sitting area, organic herb garden, solar panels, putting green and a walking track. Like all Longships, the Tor has been outfitted with ecofriendly hybrid engines.

Viking Star

Viking Ocean Cruises 


The 930-passenger Viking Star is the first oceangoing ship built for Viking Ocean Cruises, a sister to the river cruise company. It has Scandinavian modern interiors, like Viking’s river ships. The top deck features an aft infinity pool, a midship area for afternoon tea called the Wintergarden and a two-story Explorers Lounge in the bow. In its inaugural season, the Viking Star sailed mainly in Europe.

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