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Cruising by category: pick your preferences

A very fussy and savvy seafarer picks the best at sea--Crystal
A very fussy and savvy seafarer picks the best at sea--Crystal
Richard Pietschmann

This is a purely subjective opinion amassed from three decades of a very fussy, savvy seafarer’s extensive experiences on cruise ships that catalogues cruises by best offerings:

A suite on Silversea's Silver Spirit
Richard Pietschmann

Best cuisine

  • Oceania Cruises (some say, especially its repeat passengers, that food doesn’t get much better than on these ships, we loved the chow on the Marina which offer 10 places to dine, nine free of charge), Silversea, Seabourn, Crystal, Regent Seven Seas also serve food you don’t expect to find on a ship.
  • Princess Cruises alternative venue restaurants

Free-flowing booze, and we do mean complimentary is proffered aboard ships of:

  • Silversea the little luxury cruise line began life offering free wines, waters, soft drinks and spirits and continues to do so, however if you’re a snob of the grape you will want to purchase some finer vintages from its wine list.
  • Crystal Cruises this Los Angeles-based operator of two luxury ships, Symphony and Serenity, just started pouring free wines and libations about a year ago.
  • Seabourn this small luxury cruise line actually didn’t start out offering free drinks, in fact during its tenure it kind of yo-yo-ed between giving it away or selling it. Sometimes when we were on board, back in the day, they would pour free wine at meals or have hosted cocktail parties. Today the spirits flow freely (no charge).
  • Regent Seven Seas everything’s pretty much included in the fare on these ships from drinks to shore excursions, this cruise line does the most amazing promotions to attract passengers offering huge discounts on business class airfare and onboard perks such as free WiFi and more. BUT, it also has very high fares that in some comparisons might be in the same price range of a cruise line that doesn’t give stuff free and/or a bit lower. You really need to shop it out.

Young vibes can be found mostly on less expensive cruises aboard:

  • Disney well duh! Of course Mickey and Minnie are going to attract young people, and in this case we do mean tots with young parents, or sometimes grandparents and/or aunts and uncles. Some say it’s really not for adults who don’t bring a kid.
  • Carnival
  • Norwegian

Enrichment programs rule on:

  • Crystal Cruises, is hands down the leader of the pack in this category. It also offers some of the most amazing free courses in its Computer University at Sea program

Best looking staterooms and suites is pretty much a tie between:

  • Silversea mostly with private verandas; Seabourn also mostly with private verandas; Regent Seven Seas some of its ships are all verandas all the time others have plenty and Crystal Cruises penthouse deck accommodations.
  • Celebrity has some outstanding staterooms and suites
  • Princess Cruises top suites the ones in the back of the boat and with verandas rock (not literally)

Best and biggest pools

  • Crystal, Silversea, Oceania win fins down
  • Princess has good size pools too
  • Celebrity’s pool are large and inviting

Best Spas and fitness centers

  • Crystal (especially since they’ve upgraded the equipment on the Symphony. The spa treatments offered are a cut above other ships because Crystal insists (seagoing spas are all operated by the omnipotent Steiner), Carnival has big fitness centers and spas, Silversea and Seabourn do great jobs in their little seagoing sanctuaries, especially in the pampering department.
  • Seabourn for treatments


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