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When it comes time to take a vacation, consider a cruise. Cruises take passengers around the world to some of the most beautiful, exotic and exciting locales on the planet. Each cruise line features different amenities like spas, stage shows and high-quality restaurants along the way to the destination.
Using a poll created by Condé Nast, Stacker created a list of the world’s best cruise lines, including large, medium and small ship lines, as well as river cruises. The poll, from October 2017, and users rated each line on a five-point scale, from excellent to poor. These multiple categories are compiled—so there may be some duplicate lines with different offerings—to create this definitive list of cruise vacations.
How do large ships compare to river ships? Which line will take you to Egypt? What about Antarctica? Read on to find out. We begin with a cruise line from Scandinavia.
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Norwegian Cruise Line is actually based in Florida, and sails to Hawaii, Asia, Bermuda, the Caribbean, the Bahamas, Panama and Alaska. Some of their cruises cost less than $400 for a seven-day trip, and go as high as $1,000.
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Based in Southampton, England, P&O Cruises offer trips to the Baltic, South Pacific, Norwegian fjords and Arabian Gulf. Their Belgium cruise starts at $392 for three days. A visit to the Canary Islands costs $1141. One of the medium ships, the Oriana, is adults-only with seven bars and pubs.
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Celebrity Cruises features trips to the Galapagos Islands, Alaska and Europe. The company also has a flight booking service to help its customers reach the ship stress-free. While trips to the Caribbean are more common on the medium ships, Celebrity now offers a Southeast Asia cruise starting at $1,269 per person.
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Costa Cruises has trips to the Caribbean, Dubai and the Indian Ocean. These trips start around $500 per person. Some of their cruise lines feature an in-cabin spa.
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Based in Southampton, England, P&O Cruises have trips to the Baltic, South Pacific, Norwegian fjords and Arabian Gulf. These larger ships are more family-oriented, with luxurious suites complete with private balconies.
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Royal Caribbean International, based in Florida, runs weekend getaways and longer trips to destinations like Bermuda and Cuba. The weekend trips start at $189 per person, with a four-night trip to Havana starting at $329 per person.
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American Queen Steamboat Co. features a Mississippi River cruise with themed trips, such as Mark Twain or the Civil War. The river tours include trips on the Columbia and Ohio Rivers, as well.
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Silversea boasts “ultra-luxury” cruises to Antarctica, Asia, and Central America. The company is based in Monaco. A 16-day trip with Silversea from Tokyo to Hong Kong costs $10,000.
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Celebrity Cruises promotes its destinations more than the actual ships themselves, but the larger ships offer more on-ship experiences—all while cruising through the Caribbean, around Asian countries, or near Alaska.
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French Country Waterways features trips throughout French wine country, complete with tastings and meals at renowned French restaurants. Guests travel on a private barge, starting at $4,195 per person.
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Holland America Line offers trips to Mexico, the Pacific Northwest and Thailand. A 19-day trip through Scandinavia, tracing the routes of the Vikings, starts at $3,699 per person.
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Holland America Line offers trips to Mexico, the Pacific Northwest and Thailand. Some of the ship amenities and activities include a night with the B.B. King's All-Star Band.
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MSC Cruises features trips to South Africa, India and Uruguay. Depending on the room, MSC Cruises offers 24-hour butler service and free massages.
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Silversea boasts “ultra-luxury” cruises, one of them being on a ship called the Silver Whisper, which has the amenities of a "grand resort"—all in the middle of the ocean.
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Based in Seattle, Seabourn Cruise Line offers trips throughout the Mediterranean, Caribbean, and Patagonia. A 21-day trip to Antarctica and Patagonia starts at $11,999 per person. Currently, they're promoting a trip to Cuba, which was not available by air or sea before.
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Owned by the Walt Disney Company, Disney Cruise Line offers trips to Mexico, Bermuda and Alaska. A seven-night trip through the British Virgin Islands starts at $2,565 per person.
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American Cruise Lines operates trips on the Mississippi River, around New England and to Alaska. Taking a trip on the Cumberland River starts at $3,995 per person.
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Oceania Cruises runs six cruise ships to locations like South Africa, Singapore and Tahiti. A 12-day voyage around Polynesia starts at $2,999 per person.
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Princess Cruises offers trips through the Panama Canal, along the California coast and to South America. For $449 per person, you can enjoy a three-day trip around Japan with Princess Cruises.
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Quark Expeditions specializes in Arctic and Antarctic cruises, with trips to South Georgia Island. A 10-day trip to Greenland starts at $6,395.
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Compagnie du Ponant sends passengers to a variety of locations throughout Corsica, Greenland and Croatia. An eight-day trip to Croatia starts at $5,386 per person.
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Owned by Carnival Corporation, Cunard Line will take you to the British Isles, Ireland and Cape Town. A 22-day trip to Melbourne starts at $3,359 per person.
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Viking Ocean Cruises operates trips throughout the Mediterranean, West Africa and Australia. An eight-day cruise around Namibia and Morocco starts at $10,999 per person.
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Regent Seven Seas Cruises features cruise destinations like the Pacific Rim and Alaska. A 22-night cruise from Miami to Honolulu starts at $10,299 per person.
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Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic takes passengers on trips to Belize, the Galápagos Islands and Scotland. Its partnership with the exploration magazine gives passengers the opportunity to travel alongside environmental researchers, photographers and writers. A 10-day trip to Baja starts at $7,530.
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Celebrity Cruises features Cruises to the Caribbean starting at $649 per person. One of their smallest ships, the Celebrity Flora, holds only 100 people and is selling tickets to the Galapagos starting in 2020.
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Owned by Carnival Corporation, Cunard Line will take you to the British Isles, Ireland and Cape Town. A 12-night cruise to the Canary Islands starts at $1,629 per person. In 2022, there will be a new large ship in the fleet, but the name has not been announced.
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Owned by the Walt Disney Company, Disney Cruise Line offers trips to Mexico, Bermuda and Alaska. A two-night trip to Mexico starts at $1,280 per person.
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Vantage cruises rivers around the world, including through Portugal, Spain and Greece. A 13-day trip through Croatia starts at $4,198 per person.
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SeaDream Yacht Club has voyages through Mediterranean wine country and to Barbados. A 14-day trip to Puerto Rico starts at $2,999 per person.
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Paul Gauguin Cruises offers passengers trips to Fiji, Bali and Tahiti. A trip to the Cook Islands, Fiji and Tonga starts at $7,045.
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Regent Seven Seas Cruises features destinations like the Pacific Rim and Alaska. A 36-night cruise from Sydney to Singapore starts at $26,799 per person.
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Windstar Cruises takes passengers to Greece, Alaska and Italy. A 39-day voyage from Vancouver to San Juan starts at $9,999 per person.
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Avalon Waterways offers river cruises through Holland, Germany Vietnam, and India. An 11-day cruise through the Amazon starts at $4,669 per person.
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Crystal Cruises’ yacht line takes voyagers to destinations like the Greek Isles and the United Arab Emirates. A 10-day round-trip to Dubai starts at $5,395 per person.
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Crystal Cruises’ full-sized cruises go to South Africa, Monaco and Antarctica. The line features a 33-day Christmas cruise from New Orleans to Rio de Janeiro.
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Aqua Expeditions take river trips in the Amazon, Vietnam, and Cambodia. A seven-night trip along the Mekong and Tonle Sap River starts at $9,450 per person.
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Seabourn Cruise Line features small-ship cruises to France, Greece and Canada. A 19-day trip from Greece to Dubai starts at $4,999 per person.
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Amawaterways travels rivers in Vietnam, Botswana and South Africa. The line features special wine tours in Bordeaux, France as well. A seven-night round-trip stopping in Paris and Normandy starts at $3,599 per person.
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Tauck river cruises take passengers to iconic German castles and French historic sites. An 11-day trip from Switzerland to the Netherlands starts at $6,290 per person.
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Uniworld Boutique River Cruises bring its guests through Russia, India and Egypt. A 13-day trip from Moscow to St. Petersburg starts at $6,299 per person.
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Grand Circle Cruise Line carries travelers through the rivers of Holland, Belgium and France. A 13-night trip through French wine country starts at $4,095 per person.
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With vessels designed similar to those of the historic Vikings, Viking River Cruises offers trips to Russia, Ukraine and Egypt. A 10-day river trip through Portugal starts at $2,799 per person.