Q – (1-26-24) I just received my issue of Travel & Leisure, and I counted eight cruise lines that were touting the fact that they had won “World’s Best” Awards. Viking claims they have won top line in several categories including Riverboats and Cruises. As we are in the New Year, I wonder if there is any consensus as to which cruise line, based on objective factors, is really the top-rated line in the world. We have only done a four-day cruise to the Bahamas many years ago but are now ready to commit the money to sail the best line at sea. 

A  – No answer to your question is truly “objective”. We look at many criteria, several of which involve sources  based abroad. We also maintain our own program of CSI Inspectors who sail all of the top ships at full tariff and undercover. We have achieved this by training sophisticated world travelers who have luxury cruise experience. They use the same evaluations and tests that we use when comparing cruise products.

There are two things to note that are important:

  • Numerous companies sell full sets or partial sets of A!-produced online reviews. For that reason, they are virtually meaningless. 
  • Print Media believes, and studies do show, that “Lists” or “Ratings” increase circulation. The major consumer magazines try to create as many categories as possible so that every potential cruise advertiser has an award to reference. This is all big business and the consumer is supposed to believe that the line they want to sail, or the one their travel agent recommends, is really top-of-the-line. In most cases that is false.

In 2024, the top-ranked cruise line is Hapag-Lloyd. The top-ranked ship is the Europa 2. Following Hapag-Lloyd there is a close bunching of excellence as Silversea, Regent Seven Seas, and Seabourn battle for second place. 

Hapag-Lloyd is a German Line and guests who do not speak German may be at a conviviality disadvantage. Silversea is a more formal alternative to Regent Seven Seas. Seabourn does more creative itineraries and Regent is, by a significant margin, the better value as they include round-trip Business Class Air and shore excursions on all sailings.

When you ask this question next year, we think you will see some major shits in the Cruisetruth Rankings as smaller luxury lines like Four Seasons and Aman begin to launch their products. This will squeeze out non-inclusive higher density lines like Viking from Top Ten consideration. Our team is busy updating our www.cruisetruth.com website where you will soon see the updated rankings.