The best and worst cruises for 2023 have been named by Which? – and it’s Noble Caledonia that’s number one.
The small cruise line, which has also been named the best luxury cruise line, is followed by Viking Cruises in second place.
Third place goes to the British company Saga, which has also been named the best mid-range cruise company.
At the bottom of the table is Princess Cruises, delineated by the Which? study as ‘to be avoided’.
The study looked at 23 ocean cruise lines and asked more than 1,700 passengers to rate their experience five in 11 categories, including cabin quality, port excursions, entertainment, social atmosphere and onboard facilities.
The best and worst cruises for 2023 have been named by Which? – and it’s Noble Caledonia that’s number one
Noble Caledonia, a small cruise company, is not only the #1 overall, but also voted the best luxury cruise line. Which? notes: ‘Noble Caledonia’s cruises are eye-wateringly expensive, but worth every penny according to its loyal customers’
First Place Noble Caledonia receives a 90 percent customer rating, with five stars in categories such as customer service, passenger experience and itinerary, and is the only cruise line to receive the full five stars for excursions – which are included in the headline rate.
The line’s cruises, which take passengers anywhere from Antarctica to Japan, cost a hefty £675 per night, though Which? notes, “Noble Caledonia’s cruises are eye-wateringly expensive, but worth every penny according to loyal customers.”
Viking is now in second place with a customer score of 87 percent. With cruises costing £413 per night, it gets five stars for value for money, also receiving a five star rating in categories such as food and drink and cabin quality.
Bronze medalist Saga, who earns an 85 percent customer rating, is described by Which? as ‘difficult to criticize’. It says the liner, with cruises costing £351 per night, is “an (almost) all-inclusive, high-end experience without the luxury price.”
The rest of the top five consists of Seabourn Cruises in fourth place with a score of 84 percent and Oceania (83 percent) in fifth place.
Costa Cruises and Azamara move to the bottom of the table, jointly ranking third (14th) with a 69 percent customer rating.
Second from the bottom is MSC Cruises (15th), with a customer score of 68 percent. The Italian cruise line only gets two stars for customer service, though it scores four stars in categories such as cabin quality and port excursions.
Finally, Princess Cruises ranks last (16th) with an overall customer score of 67 percent, with three stars in categories such as entertainment and customer service.
The watchdog looked at 23 ocean cruise lines and asked more than 1,700 passengers to rate their experience out of five in 11 categories
Viking Cruises takes second place – it receives five stars for value for money, also receiving a five star rating in categories such as food and drink and cabin quality
Viking Cruises’ voyages generally cost £413 per night, which ones? reveals. Upstairs is an infinity pool aboard Viking Star
Third place goes to the British company Saga, which has been voted the best mid-range cruise company
Saga, which earns an 85 percent customer score, is described by Which? as ‘difficult to criticize’
That said, the cruise brand earns no less than three stars in any of its categories and has received several four-star ratings.
Which? says: ‘This American cruise line’s huge ships have decent facilities, but almost everything else is mediocre, according to our research. The long list of add-ons also irked passengers, who had to pay extra for everything from special guest appearances to better food.”
Overall, the watchdog’s verdict is that “the alternative options are better.”
Breaking down the results into separate awards, which ones? hands Marella Cruises (sixth, 81 percent) the gong for the best value cruise line.
With cruises costing £212 per night, the cruise line’s ‘casual cruises’ get higher ratings than many much more expensive lines, and offer great value for money,” said Which?
It reads: ‘Several customers complimented the “efficient and friendly” staff, a large number of specialty restaurants (some cost extra) and “top quality” entertainment, which ranges from ballroom dancing lessons to glitzy West End-style shows and an open-air cinema.’
Which? also pitted cruise lines from major brands P&O Cruises, Cunard and Carnival head to head. Carnival (eighth overall) came out on top with a customer score of 79 percent, with the watchdog noting, “If you’re looking for big rides and American-style entertainment, this beats rivals.”
At the bottom of the table – or 16th overall – is Princess Cruises, delineated by the Which? studying as ‘to be avoided’
Although ranked last, Princess Cruises earns no less than three stars in each of its categories and has received several four-star ratings
Second from the bottom is MSC Cruises (15th), with a customer score of 68 percent
MSC Cruises only receives two stars for customer service, although it achieves four stars in categories such as cabin quality and port excursions
Which? hands Marella Cruises (sixth) the gong for the best value cruise line
With cruises costing £212 per night, Marella Cruises’ ‘casual cruises’ get higher ratings than many much more expensive lines, and offer great value for money,” said Which?
Of the three, Cunard (12th overall) is second with a score of 73 percent, while P&O Cruises (13th overall) lags behind with 72 percent.
Elsewhere, the study looked at cruise lines designed specifically for adults or children. It found that Richard Branson’s adults-only Virgin Voyages (joint seventh, £296 per night) is “highly rated by passengers” with a score of 80 per cent, with the line’s food and drink offerings particularly notable and a five-star rating. valuation.
Which? notes, however, that “traditionalists may want to steer clear of the cruise line,” with one customer telling the watchdog, “It’s aimed at younger people, but I still enjoyed the atmosphere and the party vibe.”
Child-friendly Disney Cruise Line ranks ninth with a customer score of 78 percent.
Which? says that unless you’ve set your sights on meeting Elsa from Frozen aboard one of these ‘floating theme parks’, which cost £478 per night, ‘you can save a bundle by booking with a cruise line that includes facilities and entertainment only as good as carnival’.
Four cruise lines have won the coveted Which? Recommended provider status – Noble Caledonia, Viking, Saga and Marella Cruises.
Reflecting on the survey, a statement from Which? says, “It’s no coincidence that this year’s top-rated ocean cruise companies are all-inclusive. Some brands lure you in with a low top price, but expensive extras can quickly add up once you’re on board, from drinks and meals to excursions and service charges… with so many extras, it’s often cheaper to opt for a more expensive brand that throws most things in.”
Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, added: “This year, the highest-rated cruises in our survey all had one thing in common: excellent customer service and a sense of real value for money. Vacationers particularly appreciated the value offered by all-inclusive cruises, finding that even with lower upfront costs, paying for tips and perks on other cruises can really add up.
‘Whatever type of trip you choose, always make sure you take out comprehensive insurance at the time of booking and pay attention to the medical cover included. This can help protect you from high bills if you need to be treated on board for minor accidents or illnesses.”
MailOnline Travel has approached Princess Cruises for comment.