IMHO there's a major difference between "best ship" and "favorite ship".
My favorite ship continues to be the wonderful S/S "Norway". Full of history, she's a ship with a soul rather than a floating apartment block.
The best ship I have ever been on is probably Radisson Seven Seas Cruises' "Seven Seas Mariner", offering all-suite, all-balcony accommodations and - in contrast to many other luxury ships - "big ship" facilities such as a superb show lounge. I liked her even better than Hapag-Lloyd's "Europa", which has just been named the highest-rated cruise ship in the world again for the sixth year in a row by Berlitz cruise guru Douglas Ward (see the Cruise News Blog).
I don't think I've really be on enough cruises to determine which one is 'the best'. I'd say I need about 5 more ships before I can make a call.
Of the measly three I've been on, I would say I liked Caribbean Princess the best. She was very new, very pretty and filled with secluded public spaces, great facilities and lots to do. Many would find her immense and crowded but I didn't feel that way. So much so that I am scheduled on her sister ship, the soon to launch Crown.
I would love to try Oceania though. Though we've been on mid-big ships thus far, the ambience advertised on Oceania sounds right for me. If only the cost was!
RCI Sovereign of the Seas 2005
Caribbean Princess 2005
Carnival Paradise 2004
I am loving these replies! I have always loved the look of the Norway and almost sailed on her a while back. Unfortunately whenever I think of the Norway I think about the uncontrollable vermin problem she supposedly had. I read somewhere a long time ago that the problem was never able to be eradicated. Isn't that an awful thought for me to have???? She is such a beautiful ship.
I wish I could afford Oceania! I have to check out the Radisson prices... I have also been thinking about the QE2 again. Does anyone know of a good site to get good Cunard fares??? I hate to book through the cruise line and Expedia and Travelocity do not deal with Cunard as far as I can see.
I only have been on two cruises in my entire life. So, I may not be qualified to answer The Question Everyone Hates.
However, I can make a comparison and tell you my favorite of the two ships.
In Nov. 2004 I cruised on the pre-renovated R.C.'s Sovereign of the Seas. In fact, my cruise was the last cruise before major renovations began.
In Oct. 2005 I cruise on Carnival's Inspiration. In fact,this cruise was one of the last cruiseships to see the pre-distructed island of Cozumel (before Hurricane Wilma).
Between the two my favorite was the Inspiration. It is for these main reasons:
- My cabin aboard the Inspriation was much larger than the cabin aboard the Sovereign. 165 square feet as opposed to the cramped 118 square feet, respectively. Both cabins were the cheapest priced interior cabins. Also, on the Inspiration, inside the bathroom of my cabin, there was a basket of free samples of Proctor&Gamble toiletry products: soaps,shampoos, toothpaste; this was a nice touch.
- The Inspiration is younger than the Sovereign. Although the Sovereign may look younger post-renovation.
- I like the food better onboard the Inspiration. The food in the dinning room aboard the Inspiration looked fresher and had a better looking presentation to it. The Sovereign food in the dinning room looked like it could have been frozen then heated-up (microwaved?) just prior to it being served to me. The food on the pool decks and at buffets aboard both ships was about the same. There was one memborable stand-out I remember from the Inspiration dinning room (unlike anything I had on the Sovereign): On two different nights (as an appetizer) they served this chilled-sweented mango and lychee soup. It was fabulos. Allot like the best milkshake I ever had, only melted. I only wish I could have written to one of the staff onboard the Inspiration complimenting them on those chilled sweet soups. But I did not have time to do so..... As for the Sovereign, after renovations they added a few more themed restaurants (Johhny Rockets, Sorrentos, Seattle's Best , and Ben&Jerry's). So I don't know if the Sovereign has the best food now.
- I liked the décor of the Inspiration a little better. Some people around this website stated they did not like the way Carnival ships were decorated. They seemed to suggest the inside of Carnival ships looked "too goudy", "over the top Vegas Casino like". I did not get that impression. I thought all the purple and gold colors with the black marble flooring (in the atrium), and multitude of christmas lights adorning the soliarium (which changed colors) all looked quite nice.
- The entertainment onboard both ships was equally good. Both ships had equally highly talented singers, dancers, and musicians.
- I seemed to like the atmosphere and attitude of the Inspiration passengers. It seemed to be more of a party atmosphere. It seemed as if the Inspiration passengers were trying harder to have a good time.
- Most importantly, there was no construction work going on onboard the Inspiration. During my cruise onboard the Sovereign, although the major renovation work was yet to begin (in a dry dock in Freeport), some renovation was already in progress during my cruise. That meant sharing the cruiseship with construction workers, their tools and construction matierials. We had to manuver around the giant rolls of new carpeting in the hallways. We had to listen to all the hammering, sawing, drilling, and shouting from the construction workers. There were some public areas onboard the Sovereign that were closed due to renovation. All of this was the most dissapointing and worst part of my cruise onboard the Sovereign.
So, of the two cruise ships I cruised on, my favorite was Carnival's Inspiration. For all the above mentioned reason.
The Royal Princess was a very special ship. But to me all of the ships save possibly the Monarch of the Seas that I have been on, have been very enjoyable. The Royal had all of the elements of an outstanding cruise ship. The Monarch is in need of a major refurbishment because the ship is essentially a nice ship but RCCL uses this ship for training purposes, and the Monarch caries over 4,000 passengers per week on short cruises.
Like Kate, I need just a few more cruises under my belt to really make a solid decision. My favorite cruise line is Cruise West, but I have not been on their best ship. That said, I loved Spirit of Alaska. Intimate, fun, casual, and comfortable enough for me.
I'd love to try Oceania. Someday, perhaps. Out of all the other "big" ships I have been on, my favorite was Norwegian Sea. I loved the size of her, just big enough to have lots to do, and small enough to feel comfortable. It only took me a day or two to learn my way around, instead of most of the week! The best food I have had so far, outside of Cruise West, was on Carnival Triumph, on a pre-inaugural cruise (so the food may have been just a tad better than usual.)
For decor, my favorite ship so far has been Mississippi Queen. I think I'd like American Queen even better, from pictures I've seen of her.