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The best cruise lines for 2022 have been announced

In:
09 Nov 2021
By: 
Matt Hochberg

The best cruise line may be a very subjective question, but U.S. News & World Report has released their opinion of the best lines across various categories.

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The 2022 Best Cruises rankings were announced on Tuesday, which is an annual look at which cruise lines rank among the top picks.

There are six categories of categories for ranking 17 different cruise lines.

Royal Caribbean did not come out as the winner in any one category, but did rank near the top in a few.

Rankings

U.S. News & World Report scouted the cruise lines across six categories to give readers an idea of the strengths each line has.

Royal Caribbean came in the top 3 for two categories this year, Best Cruise Lines for the Money & Best Cruise Lines for Families.

Royal Caribbean came in fourth place for Best Cruise Lines in the Caribbean, and almost last for the Mediterranean rankings.

Best Luxury Cruise Lines

  1. Viking Ocean Cruises
  2. Seabourn Cruise Line
  3. Regent Seven Seas Cruises
  4. Azamara
  5. Crystal Cruises
  6. Silversea Cruises
  7. Oceania Cruises

Best Cruise Lines for the Money

  1. Celebrity Cruises
  2. Holland America Line
  3. Royal Caribbean International
  4. Norwegian Cruise Line
  5. Carnival Cruise Line
  6. Princess Cruises
  7. Costa Cruises
  8. MSC Cruises

Best Cruise Lines in the Caribbean

  1. Disney Cruise Line
  2. Celebrity Cruises
  3. Seabourn Cruise Line
  4. Royal Caribbean International
  5. Crystal Cruises
  6. Regent Seven Seas Cruises
  7. Holland America Line
  8. Carnival Cruise Line
  9. Norwegian Cruise Line
  10. Oceania Cruises
  11. Princess Cruises
  12. MSC Cruises

Best Cruise Lines for Couples

  1. Viking Ocean Cruises
  2. Seabourn Cruise Line
  3. Azamara
  4. Crystal Cruises
  5. Regent Seven Seas Cruises
  6. Celebrity Cruises
  7. Oceania Cruises
  8. Silversea Cruises
  9. Cunard Line
  10. Holland America Line

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Best Cruise Lines for Families

  1. Disney Cruise Line
  2. Royal Caribbean International
  3. Carnival Cruise Line
  4. Norwegian Cruise Line
  5. MSC Cruises
  6. Costa Cruises

Best Cruise Lines in the Mediterranean

  1. Viking Ocean Cruises
  2. Seabourn Cruise Line
  3. Azamara
  4. Regent Seven Seas Cruises
  5. Celebrity Cruises
  6. Oceania Cruises
  7. Crystal Cruises
  8. Costa Cruises
  9. MSC Cruises
  10. Silversea Cruises
  11. Holland America Line
  12. Norwegian Cruise Line
  13. Princess Cruises
  14. Royal Caribbean International
  15. Cunard Line

How they picked the winners

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If you're reading these rankings and want to know how winners were picked (or why one line did better than another), then here is the methodology used.

Here is how U.S. News & World Report explained the way they got to their rankings.

Expert Rating (30 percent weight): Our editors assign each ship an Expert Rating between 1 and 5 based on the ship's level of luxury, with 5 being the highest score. This score represents our editors' analysis of a ship's atmosphere, facilities, activities, cabins, cuisine and service.

Traveler Rating (50 percent weight): A ship's traveler rating is provided under license by Cruiseline.com. Reviewers assign a rating between 1 and 5 based on their level of satisfaction with their cruise experience.

Health Rating (20 percent weight): A ship's health rating is based on sanitation inspection scores published by the Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Individual ship inspection reports can be found here. The CDC defines "Satisfactory Scores" as those that are 86 or above (out of a possible 100 points). A ship's Health Rating is the average of the vessel's individual inspection reports from the 22 months prior to the calculation of the U.S. News Best Cruises rankings. For our rankings, CDC scores are translated to a five-point scale as follows: Vessels with average CDC ratings greater than 97.5 received a score of 5; vessels with average CDC ratings greater than 95 and up to 97.5 received a score of 4.5; vessels with average CDC scores greater than 92.5 and up to 95 received a score of 4; vessels with average CDC scores greater than 90 and up to 92.5 received a score of 3.5; vessels with average CDC scores greater than 87.5 and up to 90 received a score of 3; vessels with average ratings greater than 85.1 and up to 87.5 received a score of 2.5 and vessels with an average CDC rating of 85.1 or lower received a score of 1. If a ship has not received a health inspection score within the past 22 months, the average Health Rating of all CDC-rated ships within the cruise line is used as proxy in the calculation of the ship's Overall Rating.

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Filtering Lists by Criteria: Cutoff points and other criteria are used to identify cruise ships or cruise lines that qualify for a given ranking list.

Traveler Type: Each cruise ship and cruise line's placement on our traveler type cruise rankings takes into account the aggregate traveler rating among specific types of travelers. Cruise ships and lines with the highest Overall Ratings and the greatest approval rating among a certain traveler type (e.g., families), appear on such lists. To qualify for a cruise ship traveler type ranking list, a ship had to have a minimum of 10 total guest reviews, and a certain percentage of reviews had to come from the specified traveler type; the percentage required varies by list.

Region: We rank the best cruise ships in seven popular regions: Alaska, Europe, the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, Mexico, the Pacific and Hawaii. We also rank the Best Cruise Lines in the Caribbean and Best Cruise Lines in the Mediterranean. Regional scores are assigned based on percentage of itineraries a ship has in each of these regions over a 24-month basis. The ship-level regional scores are updated as new information is made available; however, the list of the Best Cruise Lines in the Caribbean and the Best Cruise Lines in the Mediterranean will only be updated once a year.

Price Class: A cruise ship's price class rating is based on its average daily price. Ships with average daily rates of $300 or more are rated 4; average daily rates of $150 to $299 are rated 3; average daily rates of $100 to $149 are rated 2; ships with average daily rates below $100 are rated 1. Cruise lines with average price class ratings of 3.5 and above are included in the Best Luxury Cruise Lines rankings. Cruise lines with average price class ratings of 2.5 or lower are included in the Best Cruise Lines for the Money rankings.

Calculating the Cruise Line Rankings

Best Luxury Cruise Lines: For our luxury cruise lines ranking, we include only cruise lines with a price class rating of 3.5 or above. Qualifying cruise lines are ranked highest to lowest based on their Overall Rating. 

Best Cruise Lines for the Money: For our affordable cruise lines ranking, we include only cruise lines with a price class rating less than 2.5. Qualifying cruise lines are ranked highest to lowest based on their average Overall Rating, which carries a 40 percent weight and their price class rating, which carries a 60 percent weight.

Best Cruise Lines for Couples: This ranking factors in (1) each line's Overall Rating as well as (2) the aggregate traveler rating by "couples" travelers and (3) the percentage of a cruise line's reviews on Cruiseline.com that are left by couples. For example, a cruise line that receives a high percentage of its reviews from couples is more likely to be couples-oriented. Cruise lines are ranked according to the weighted average of their rank within each of these three factors. For a cruise line to be eligible for inclusion in this ranking, at least 62 percent of its total traveler reviews had to come from couples.

Best Cruise Lines for Families: This ranking factors in (1) each line's Overall Rating as well as (2) the aggregate traveler rating by "families with kids" and (3) the percentage of a cruise line's reviews on Cruiseline.com that are left by family travelers. For example, a cruise line that receives a high percentage of its reviews from families is more likely to attract family travelers. Cruise lines are ranked according to the weighted average of their rank within each of these three factors. For a cruise line to qualify for this ranking, at least 25 percent of its total traveler reviews had to come from families.

Best Cruise Lines in the Caribbean: This ranking is based on (1) each line's Overall Rating as well as (2) the percentage of scheduled itineraries in the Caribbean over a 24-month period (3) the number and variety of Caribbean itineraries available over a 24-month period. Cruise lines are ranked highest to lowest according to the weighted average of their rank combined with the annualized rate of scheduled itineraries and the number of total Caribbean itinerary options over a two-year period. The Overall Rating carries a 50 percent weight. Line coverage components are both weighted at 25 percent. 

Best Cruise Lines in the Mediterranean: This ranking is based on (1) each line's Overall Rating as well as (2) the percentage of scheduled itineraries in the Mediterranean over a 24-month period and (3) the number and variety of Mediterranean itineraries available over a 24-month period. Cruise lines are ranked highest to lowest according to the weighted average of their rank combined with the annualized rate of scheduled itineraries and the number of total Mediterranean itinerary options over a two-year period. The Overall Rating carries a 50 percent weight. Line coverage components are both weighted at 25 percent.

Online reviews

This is also a good time to remind readers of how subjective online reviews of cruise ships can be, especially for a cruise line or ship, where everyone has different experiences. Everyone on a sailing does not interact with the exact same staff, do the same activities, or stay in the same kind of room.

The reality is cruise ships offer such a varied and experiential vacation that it cannot be properly reviewed in its entirety based on a single experience.  Cruises are by their very design a "create your own adventure" experience.  You could sit at the pool every day of the cruise and never do one activity, whereas the guy next to you could be zip lining, crocheting, belly flopping and dancing the night away.  In short, we all cruise differently.

Read moreWhy you can't trust online reviews of cruise ships