2010 was a good year for the cruise ship industry, with 15 million people taking cruises according to Cruise Lines International Association. It’s supposed to get better in 2011, with a huge 6.6% increase resulting in record-breaking numbers.
Just in time to kick off cruise season as tourists flee the cold winter months, Frommer’s has released the Best Cruise Ships of 2011 list: 20 ships representing design classes, and 19 other ships recognized for being “notable.”
The big hit this year? Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas, with a “radical new superstructure design” to open up the center of the vessel, allowing more light and space, and giving the feeling of walking through a gigantic seaborne city. It’s a winner in the entertainment category as well, especially for families.
Among the “notables” were those belonging to SeaDream Yacht Club, Windstar, and Crystal Cruises. These cruises were marked as “notables” because despite offering outstanding services and being wow-worthy, they just didn’t make the cut for one simple reason or another. The grading system is nit-picky, after all.
It’s no easy job being a cruise ship critic, of course (although definitely a fun one). Besides considering the overall satisfaction factor of a ship, there’s a whole set of categories that each ship must fit neatly into: luxury, premium, mainstream, small-scale, etc. As cruise ship critic and author of Frommer’s Cruises & Ports of Call Matt Hannafin points out, while he offers solid advice on which lines offer the best all-around package, it all comes down to an individual’s experience. You can sometimes have an amazing time on a sub-par ship, or a lousy time on a mega-luxury one. Otherwise, why would reviews exist in the first place?
In other words, don’t knock the notables!
[photo: Lisa Sanderson/flickr]