(7 a.m. AEST) -- Majestic Princess and Viking Orion have been declared Australia's best new ships of 2018 in Cruise Critic's annual Editors' Picks Awards. A further 18 winners were also recognised for excellence in categories such as entertainment, dining, cabins, service, shore excursions and value for money.
Princess Cruises' Majestic Princess topped the ocean cruise lines category for Best New Ship, praised for its all-weather pool club with enclosed cabanas, hot tubs and bar; a glass-bottomed walkway extending over the sea; a private karaoke room; and the line's first French and Cantonese restaurants created in partnership with Michelin-starred chefs.
Viking Cruises' new Viking Orion took the honours in the luxury category, winning Best New Luxury Ship, thanks to fun features that include a planetarium for stargazing at sea and thoughtfully designed public spaces and accommodation. Ponant won the overall prize for Best Luxury Cruise Line, due to its underwater observation lounges and one-of-a-kind sailings that focus on cultural and adventurous experiences.
The other standout in the ocean category was Royal Caribbean, which won three awards for Best Entertainment, Best Nightlife and Best Suites. Carnival Cruise Line was judged Best for Families and Best Value, Azamara Club Cruises also scored two awards for Best Service and Best Shore Excursions, and Princess Cruises snagged a second gong for Best Dining. P&O Cruises' Brisbane-based Pacific Aria received the Best Ship Refurbishment, Celebrity Cruises won Best Cabins, and Norwegian Cruise Line was deemed Best for Solo Travellers, particularly for its overseas ships with one-person studios and for its single supplement deals on local sailings.
Smaller Australian-owned lines scooped a couple of coveted categories, with Coral Expeditions winning Best for Adventure and Aurora Expeditions winning Best Itineraries for its voyages to remote destinations across the world, from the Kimberley to Antarctica.
Editors also named Sydney the Best Australian Homeport, while the Best Port of Call was Papua New Guinea's Conflict Islands, offering a combination of natural beauty, great snorkelling, interesting tours and a turtle conservation programme.
"Cruising has undergone massive changes over the past decade, and especially this year we have seen impressive developments in design, technology, itineraries and activities, both onboard ships and at the places they visit," said Louise Goldsbury, Managing Editor (Australia/NZ), Cruise Critic. "With a global team of editors, who are constantly reviewing and researching the latest innovations in cruising, Cruise Critic selects these awards to help travellers make the best cruise choice from an increasing number of options."
The Editors' Picks Awards are judged by Cruise Critic's international panel of editors, known for their impartial cruise expertise and honest, first-hand reviews. The Australian awards focus on locally based ships, as well as cruise lines favoured by Aussies when they cruise overseas.
See the full list of winners.