Every year, Travel + Leisure selects the top 10 large-ship and small-ship cruise lines. The magazine’s readers judged the lines on cabin quality, food, service, itineraries/destinations, activities, and value. For 2007, the winning lines—Crystal (large) and SeaDream Yacht Club (small)—are not surprise finishers. However, I find the rest of the list to be more revealing.
Travel + Leisure made [% 13516 | | Crystal %], [% 9668 | | Regent Seven Seas %], and Oceania its top three large-ship lines. These luxury and upscale lines offer elegant accommodations and fine cuisine, so it’s no wonder they can beat out the likes of [% 11986 | | Carnival %] and [% 12025 | | Norwegian %], who didn’t even make the top 10.
More interesting to me is that family-friendly [% 13509 | | Disney Cruise Line %] came in fourth, beating out luxury-line [% 9732 | | Cunard %] (of Queen Mary 2 fame) and premium lines such as [% 14665 | | Celebrity %] and [% 9823 | | Holland America %]. Perhaps Disney’s dedication to creating equal space for kids and adults, as well as new expanded itineraries, bumped it up from sixth last year to fourth this year. Interestingly, [% 15420 | | Royal Caribbean %] was the only true mainstream line to make the list.
On the small-ship side, SeaDream Yacht Club, which is known for its intimate and romantic cruises, beat out [% 11070 | | Seabourn %] and [% 16844 | | Silversea %], last year’s number one and two. It seems like the smallest ships are now quite big with Travel + Leisure’s readers. SeaDream ships can only carry 110 guests at double occupancy, making Seabourn’s 208 and Silversea’s 296 to 382 look downright huge.
The rest of the list is populated with a mix of big names ([% 11985 | | Windstar %]), river cruises (Avalon Waterways), and newbies (Majestic America Line, which scored big despite its [% 2362069 | | Alaska crash %] this spring). It doesn’t seem quite right to put these very different cruise lines in the same category, and potential cruisers should certainly take these rankings with a grain of salt.
Remember, too, that Travel + Leisure caters to an affluent readership. We smarter travelers appreciate the finer things in life, but perhaps we value value a little more than the people who voted in this poll.