2016 AU Editors’ Picks Awards: Ocean Cruise Lines

2016 Editors' Picks for Cruise Critic

Editors' Picks Awards

The Cruise Critic Editors' Picks Awards are chosen by Cruise Critic's international team of editors, based on the lines and ships they feel best represent excellence in each of the designated categories. Awards announced October 2016.

Best New Cruise Ship

Ovation of the Seas
Royal Caribbean International

Royal Caribbean's Ovation of the Seas takes local cruising to the next level, introducing Australians to simulated skydiving, robotic bartenders, dodgem cars, roller-skating, an aerial observation pod and dozens of new bars and restaurants at sea. At night, Broadway-style theatre and high-tech shows blow the competition out of the water. As Australia's largest and newest ship, Ovation is a convincing case that bigger may be better.

Read our review of Ovation of the Seas, Royal Caribbean International

Best Cruise Ship Refurbishment

Pacific Aria & Pacific Eden
P&O Cruises Australia

P&O breathed fresh air into its two latest ships, transforming the public areas into vibrant, stylish spaces. Full marks for the live music venues, elegant restaurants and classy pool decks that would not look out of place on a much more expensive ship. Free specialty restaurants, great bars and quirky artwork enhance the fun atmosphere onboard.

Read our review of Pacific Aria & Pacific Eden, P&O Cruises Australia

Best Cruise Line for Luxury

Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Regent Seven Seas Explorer lived up to this year's hype as the world's most luxurious cruise ship through its impeccable service, lavish use of marble and chandeliers, an incredible art collection, world-class restaurants and an uplifting sense of space. The all-inclusive line is bringing the rest of its fleet up to these standards, giving good reason to travel afar for this experience.

Read our review of Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Best Cruise Line for Dining

Celebrity Cruises

From the spectacular and complimentary main dining room to the French, Italian and Asian specialty restaurants, Celebrity dishes up some of the best meals at sea. A recent addition is Luminae for suite passengers, raising the bar once again. Aside from the food, the decor and service are superb.

Read our review of Celebrity Cruises

Best Cruise Line for Entertainment

Royal Caribbean International

When it comes to the wow factor and technical wizardry, Royal Caribbean nails it. Shows range from multisensory spectacles and Tony Award-winning musicals to aerial performances in the atrium. The line's smaller Sydney-based ships have Broadway-style theatre and ice spectaculars starring professional skaters. For kids, the promenade parades and dining with DreamWorks characters create captivating and priceless moments.

Read our review of Royal Caribbean International

Best Cruise Line Cabins

Holland America Line

When it comes to space, Holland America has some of the largest inside, outside and balcony cabins in the industry. Balconies are huge, and most bathrooms have bathtubs. A unique category is the Lanai stateroom, which has a sliding door that opens directly onto the oceanfront promenade deck (with your own sun loungers). This year's new Koningsdam stands out for its modern Family Ocean-View rooms, Spa Verandah and solo cabins.

Read our review of Holland America Line

Best Cruise Line Suites

Celebrity Cruises

Exclusive access to private bars and restaurants, butlers and in-suite meal service are among the basic perks of Celebrity's spacious, stylish suites. A standout is Celebrity Solstice's Penthouse, with a separate dining room for eight, baby grand piano, huge bathroom and extra inclusions like free drinks, laundry and internet.

Read our review of Celebrity Cruises

Best Cruise Line Itineraries

P&O Cruises Australia

P&O has led the charge to open up cruising to more Australian regions, most recently Fraser Island, with convenient departures from seven cities (plus Singapore). Short themed cruises add to the wide range of local options, but the line now ventures overseas, beyond the usual South Pacific routes, to Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, Papua New Guinea and the private Conflict Islands.

Read our review of P&O Cruises Australia

Best Cruise Line Shore Excursions

Azamara Club Cruises

Azamara's ships often dock in ports until late evening or overnight, allowing for more immersive excursions, after-dinner tours and free nighttime events. In some destinations, passengers can leave the ship for two or three days on guided excursions that include meals, activities and hotel accommodation. Shorter tours and behind-the-scenes experiences with small groups are other specialities.

Read our review of Azamara Club Cruises
North Star Cruises cruise line

Best Cruise Line for Adventure

North Star Cruises

This one-ship line packs a lot of punch. North Star's True North is the only adventure vessel in the southern hemisphere featuring an onboard helicopter and six expedition boats led by six Australian guides for just 36 passengers. Expertly-run activities, from fishing and diving to heli-picnics, bring out the best of our west and south coasts, the Kimberley, Melanesia, West Papua and PNG.

Read our review of North Star Cruises

Best Cruise Line for Romance

Princess Cruises

Ever since 'The Love Boat' was set on a Princess ship, the line has enhanced romance at sea. Couples can enjoy dinner served by waiters on their private balconies, chocolate and wine pairings, chocolate spa treatments, Movies Under the Stars, adults-only pools, and weddings officiated by the captain. Sealing the prize, new Princess Luxury Beds are coming soon to every cabin.

Read our review of Princess Cruises

Best Cruise Line for Families

Royal Caribbean International

From its baby nursery to teen clubs, Royal Caribbean's big ships and exceptional youth staff cater to kids of all ages. Adventurous and creative activities, themed parties, supervised dinners and nightly parades keep them occupied all day and night. The whole family can also enjoy free shows, games and sports, such as surfing and ice-skating.

Read our review of Royal Caribbean International

Best Cruise Line for Value

Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival has two of the most affordable ships based in Sydney, but quality remains high, with great crew, activities, waterslides and dining (including lots of free options, from poolside ice cream to 24-hour pizza). Pricing in Australian dollars and no tipping keep costs down, but it's best to wait for deals with onboard credit and fares from AU$70 per day.

Read our review of Carnival Cruise Line

Best Cruise Line for Nightlife

Carnival Cruise Line

Known as the 'fun ship' cruise line, Carnival is lively at any time but ramps it up at night. Multiple bars, live music, karaoke with a band and backup singers, standup comedians, a buzzing casino, sing-along piano bar and two-storey nightclub keep the party pumping until late.

Read our review of Carnival Cruise Line

Best River Cruise Line


As its popularity grows worldwide, Scenic is consistently rated highly by passengers. This year, new ships were launched in Southeast Asia and Europe and continue to impress with the line's attention to detail in all areas, especially service, dining and cabin comforts. Generous inclusions and the addition of butlers for everyone are welcome steps in a more luxurious direction.

Read our review of Scenic
Sydney cruise port

Best Australian Homeport


Sydney boasts the world's best harbour, where cruise ships can sail up close to the famous Opera House and berth in the heart of the city. Many of Australia's best restaurants, bars, beaches, arts venues and animal attractions are within walking distance or a ferry ride from the Overseas Passenger Terminal or the second cruise facility at White Bay.

Read our review of Sydney
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