The best and worst cruise lines of 2023 revealed by Which? – Noble Caledonia is No.1 and Viking is second… with Princess Cruises named ‘one to avoid’
- Which? looked at 23 ocean cruise companies and asked more than 1,700 passengers to rate their experiences
- Cruise companies were rated based on 11 categories, including value for money and entertainment
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The best and worst cruises for 2023 have been named by Which? – and it’s Noble Caledonia that’s number one.
The small ship cruising company, which has also been named the best cruise line for luxury, 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 line.
Bottom of the table, meanwhile, is Princess Cruises, marked out by the Which? study as ‘one to avoid’.
The research looked at 23 ocean cruise companies and asked more than 1,700 passengers to rate their experiences out of five across 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
Small ship cruising company Noble Caledonia, as well as being the overall No.1, has been named the best cruise line for luxury. 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 customer score of 90 per cent, 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 fare.
The line’s cruises, which take passengers everywhere from the Antarctic to Japan, are priced at a hefty £675 per night, though Which? notes: ‘Noble Caledonia’s cruises are eye-wateringly expensive, but worth every penny according to its loyal customers.’
Second-place Viking, meanwhile, earns a customer score of 87 per cent. With cruises costing £413 per night, it receives five stars for value for money, and also snaps up a five-star rating in categories such as food and drink and cabin quality.
Bronze medal winner Saga, which earns a customer score of 85 per cent, is described by Which? as ‘hard to fault’. It says that the liner, with cruises priced at £351 per night, is ‘an (almost) all-inclusive, high-end experience without the luxury price’.
The rest of the top five is comprised of Seabourn Cruises in fourth place with a score of 84 per cent, and Oceania (83 per cent) fifth.
Moving down to the lower end of the table, Costa Cruises and Azamara are joint-third-last (14th) with a customer score of 69 per cent.
Second from the bottom is MSC Cruises (15th), which lands a customer score of 68 per cent. The Italian cruise line receives just two stars for customer service, though it achieves four-star ratings in categories including cabin quality and port excursions.
Finally, last-place Princess Cruises (16th) earns an overall customer score of 67 per cent, with three-star ratings in categories such as entertainment and customer service.
Which? looked at 23 ocean cruise companies and asked more than 1,700 passengers to rate their experiences out of five across 11 categories
Viking Cruises ranks in second place – it receives five stars for value for money, and also snaps up a five-star rating in categories such as food and drink and cabin quality
Viking Cruises’ trips generally cost £413 per night, Which? reveals. Above is an infinity pool aboard Viking Star
Third place goes to the British company Saga, which has been named the best mid-range cruise line
Saga, which earns a customer score of 85 per cent, is described by Which? as ‘hard to fault’
That said, the cruise brand doesn’t earn any less than three stars across each of the categories, and has been awarded several four-star ratings.
Which? says: ‘This American cruise line’s enormous ships have decent facilities but almost everything else is mediocre, according to our survey. The long list of add-ons also irked passengers, who had to pay extra for everything from performances by special guests to better food.’
In general, the watchdog’s verdict is that ‘the alternative options are better’.
Breaking down the results into separate awards, Which? hands Marella Cruises (sixth, 81 per cent) the gong for the best bargain cruise line.
With cruises priced at £212 a night, the cruise line’s ‘informal cruises get higher ratings than many much more expensive lines, offering great value for money’, according to Which?
It says: ‘Several customers complimented the “efficient and friendly” staff, a raft of speciality restaurants (some cost extra) and “top-quality” entertainment, which ranges from ballroom dancing classes to glitzy West End-style shows and an open-air cinema.’
Which? also pitted big-brand cruise lines P&O Cruises, Cunard and Carnival head to head. Carnival (eighth overall) came out on top with a customer score of 79 per cent, with the watchdog noting: ‘If you’re after big-ticket attractions and American-style entertainment, this is better than rivals.’
Bottom of the table – or 16th overall – is Princess Cruises, marked out by the Which? study as ‘one to avoid’
Even though it ranks last, Princess Cruises doesn’t earn any less than three stars across each of the categories, and has been awarded several four-star ratings
Second from the bottom is MSC Cruises (15th), which lands a customer score of 68 per cent
MSC Cruises receives just two stars for customer service, though it achieves four-star ratings in categories including cabin quality and port excursions
Which? hands Marella Cruises (sixth) the gong for the best bargain cruise line
With cruises priced at £212 a night, Marella Cruises’ ‘informal cruises get higher ratings than many much more expensive lines, offering great value for money’, according to Which?
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The most ‘loved’ and the most ‘hated’ major airlines in the world have been revealed. And it’s Canada’s Bearskin Airlines that is the most adored – and India’s Go First that is the most disliked.
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Of the three, Cunard (12th overall) is second with a score of 73 per cent, while P&O Cruises (13th overall) falls behind at 72 per cent.
Elsewhere, the survey looked at cruise lines that are designed specifically for adults or kids. It found that Richard Branson’s adult-only Virgin Voyages (joint seventh, £296 per night) is ‘rated highly by passengers’ with a score of 80 per cent, with the line’s food and drink offering a particular stand out, earning a five-star rating.
Which? notes that ‘traditionalists might want to steer clear’ of the cruise company, however, with one customer telling the watchdog: ‘It’s aimed at younger people, but I still enjoyed the atmosphere and party vibe.’
Child-friendly Disney Cruise Line, meanwhile, ranks ninth with a customer score of 78 per cent.
Which? says that unless you have your heart set on meeting Elsa from Frozen aboard one of these ‘floating theme parks’, which are priced at £478 per night, then ‘you can save a bundle by booking with a cruise line with facilities and entertainment just as good, such as Carnival’.
Four cruise lines have been awarded 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 headline price, but costly extras can soon mount up once you’re on board, from drinks and meals to excursions and service charges… with so many extras, it’s often cheaper to go with a higher-rated 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 true value for money. Holidaymakers particularly appreciated the value on offer with all-inclusive cruises, finding that even with a lower upfront cost, paying for tips and extras on other cruises as you go can really stack up.
‘Whichever kind of trip you decide on, always make sure you take out a comprehensive insurance policy at the time of booking, and take note of the medical cover included. This can help protect you from costly bills in the event you need treatment for minor accidents or illnesses while on board.’
MailOnline Travel has approached Princess Cruises for comment.
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