February 21, 2024

Set Sail in 2024: Best Cruise Ships and Cruise Lines of the Year Revealed

Start planning your perfect cruise vacation

Cruising is among the most popular ways to see the world. Unpack once and take in the sights of the world’s rivers and seas from your floating hotel, all while enjoying top-notch entertainment, dining, and amenities. And with more than a dozen new vessels introduced each year, the sheer variety of cruises can be overwhelming.

To help narrow it down, USA TODAY 10Best asked a panel of cruise industry experts to nominate their favorite cruise lines and ships across nine categories. Then, readers voted over a period of four weeks to decide the winners, and the results are in.

Best Adults Only Cruise: Wind Spirit - Windstar Cruises

When sailing on Windstar's Wind Spirit, guests will feel like they're on their own private yacht. This four-masted sailing yacht accommodates just 148 guests, so intimacy rules throughout your cruise. Amenities include two primary restaurants, a spa, swimming pool and hot tub, and a water sports platform. Plus, you'll find fresh fruit in your room each afternoon. To sail on the Wind Spirit, guests must be at least 8 years old, but the intimate nature of the ship is geared more towards adults.

Best Alaska Cruise: Eurodam - Holland America Line

Eurodam, an exquisite Holland America Line vessel, invites passengers to experience Alaska's magnificence in elegance and style. With a 2,100-passenger capacity, it's the largest of the Holland America "Signature Class" ships. Gourmet dining, cultural enrichment, and enthralling shore excursions (including whale watching and seaplane tours featuring jaw-dropping scenery), ensure an enjoyable and adventurous cruise.

Best Boutique Cruise Line: Windstar Cruises

With fewer than 350 guests per sailing, Windstar Cruises promises passengers a cruising experience free of lines and waiting. Since their six boutique ships are smaller than typical cruise ships, they can sail into small European villages, off-the-beaten-path harbors, and hidden coves, giving guests the opportunity to visit both major capitals and smaller ports. Windstar’s shore excursions offer guests the opportunity to immerse themselves into the local culture and cuisines of these special ports of call.

Best Cruise Line for Families: Adventure Canada

If your intent is to offer your kids the experience of a lifetime, look no further than Adventure Canada, which cruises to the vast wonders of the north with a mix of sailing yachts and ice-defying exploration vessels. Expert-led excursions introduce young travelers to everything from archaeology and botany to the science of glaciers through interpretive hikes, photography outings, and other unique programs.

Best Cruise Line for Solo Travelers: Grand Circle Cruise Line

Grand Circle Cruise Line has been an industry leader when it comes to solo travel, thanks to small-group (no more than 47 people) shore excursions and free or low-cost single supplements. A roommate matching program helps pair same-gender travelers, and an online forum allows solo travelers to start connecting well before the departure date.

Best Cruise Ship for Dining: Carnival Celebration - Carnival Cruise Line

The Carnival Celebration features many of Carnival Cruise Line's favorite eateries such as Guy's Burger Joint and Cucina del Capitano, but it also includes Emeril's Bistro 1397, serving up international dishes finished with the famed chef's unique flair. The ship also includes Street Eats, which emulates food truck fare with such dishes as cheesesteak fries, pot stickers, and kebabs.

Best Cruise Ship for Entertainment: Carnival Celebration - Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival is known as the "fun" cruise line and their Celebration ship is made for good times! This lively vessel boasts an abundance of high-caliber entertainment venues, live music happening throughout the ship all day long, a Punchliner comedy club, thrilling waterslides, and their famous roller coaster at sea, Bolt. With many casual and upscale dining options and nightly deck festivities, the Carnival Celebration is truly a nonstop party.

Best Ocean Cruise Line: Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival Cruise Line caters to families and casual cruisers with its fleet of "Fun Ships." On these large cruises, passengers have no excuse to feel bored; ships come equipped with water parks, glitzy casinos, live entertainment, and a focus on diverse, casual dining, highlighted by a partnership with celebrity chef Guy Fieri to bring Guy's Burger Joint to the fleet. All of this comes at affordable price points.

Best River Cruise Line: Viking River Cruises

Founded in 1997, Viking River Cruises plies the waterways of Europe, Asia, the U.S., and Egypt with its fleet of more than 60 vessels. While Viking has also launched an award-winning ocean cruise line, the company built its reputation in river cruising. These all-inclusive cruises feature outside staterooms, Wi-Fi, wine and beer with meals, shore excursions in every port, and cultural enrichment programs.

Copyright 2024 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Satellite Information Network, LLC. All rights reserved. From https://www.usatoday.com. By 10Best Editors.

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