If you’re looking for a perfect cruise experience, your best bet is to choose a small or “boutique” liner.
That’s the guidance from the most recent edition of the Berlitz Complete Guide to Cruising and Cruise Ships.
It suggests that the 11 best cruise liners in the world are considerably smaller than the massive cruise ships that we’ve seen launch over the past year or so.
The book’s author, Douglas Ward, chose the11-year old Europa from Hapag Lloyd Cruises (pictured above) as the best ship in the world, saying that it “looks almost new, thanks to the dedication of its crew and owners.”
The guide uses a points system to rank the ships out of 100 for 20 categories such as food, entertainment and service.
While all of the top ten vessels were given more than 1750 points (with Europa gaining 1,853), last year’s star the Oasis of the Seas from Royal Caribbean was awarded 1,524 points.
At the bottom of the rankings, with 743 points each were Sea Lion and Sea Bird, two ships operated by National Geographic Cruises.
The World’s Best Cruise Ships
Compiled by Berlitz Complete Guide to Cruising & Cruise Ships
1 – Europa
Europa, with 1,853 points, has been top-rated in several editions of the Berlitz guide.
2 – SeaDream II
SeaDream II came second with 1,786 points — it carries only 112 guests.
3 – Seabourn Odyssey
The Odyssey scored 1,787 points and carries 450 passengers.
4 – Seabourn Sojourn
Seabourn’s newest ship the Sojourn debuted June 2010 and scored 1,787 points.
5 – SeaDream I
SeaDream I was built in 1984 but still managed an impressive 1,786 points.
6- Seabourn Legend
Seabourn’s Legend scored 1,774 points (and was the star of ‘Speed 2: Cruise Control’).
7 – Silver Spirit
The Silver Spirit was awarded 1,772 points and carries 540 guests.
8 – Seabourn Spirit
The Seabourn Spirit can carry 208 passengers and notched up 1,770 points.
9 – Seabourn Pride
Seabourn’s Pride was inaugurated in 1988 and is the oldest in the Seabourn fleet, but still managed 1,769 points.
10 – Silver Whisper
Silver Whisper carries 382 passengers and was awarded 1,753 points.
11 – Silver Shadow
Silver Shadow is the sister ship of the Silver Whisper, yet dropped three points to be awarded 1,750 points.