The best cruise lines for British holidaymakers range from luxury to value for money (Image: Getty Images)

There are countless cruises out there to choose from, so it can be tough to decide exactly which one is right for you. But the best in the business for UK holidaymakers have been crowned as part of the 2023 Cruise Critic Editor’s Pick Awards.

The awards aim to recognise the best cruise lines of the year for UK travellers, chosen by the site’s intentional team of cruise experts, and among the winners are brands boasting luxury, some value-for-money cruise lines and holidays that don’t scrimp on port time. 

P&O, Marella, and Ambassador Cruise Line are among the big names who came out on top for Britons this year.

po arvia cruise ship deck

The accolade for Best New Ship of the Year went to P&O’s Arvia (Image: P&O)

The accolade for Best New Ship of the Year went to P&O’s Arvia, the line’s brand-new mega-ship which first took to the waters in December 2022.

Editors applauded its seamless combination of the line’s popular spaces with new and exciting attractions onboard, including the state-of-the-art SkyDome with its retractable glass roof. The ship also features The 710 Club, which was the brainchild of pop sensation Gary Barlow. The adults-only club serves up a vintage vibe with plenty of live music, stylish cocktails and a dose of escapism.

For adventurers, Mission Control is an adventure room which transports guests to an underwater world where they need to solve puzzles and problems, in a realistic 3D environment.

Plus, there is also a spa, swim-up pool bar, 54-metre high tight rope experience, splash zone and even a four-screen cinema. Cruise Critic’s Editors said: “Arvia has all the P&O Cruises’ favourites like The Epicurean, Sindhu and Keel & Cow – plus new venues including Tidal Rum Bar (with distillery), the stunning Dome and a top deck high ropes course and swim-up bar – firsts for P&O Cruises.”

Ambassador Cruise Line ship

Ambassador Cruise Line was named best value for money (Image: Ambassador Cruise Line)

Ambassador Cruise Line was named the best value for money, and praised for its competitive fares and special offers. According to Cruise Critic’s Editors: “This UK-based, no-fly cruise line is a solid choice for cruisers seeking maximum value for money on one of its two ships.

“Buy-one-get-one-half-price savings, last-minute deals and reductions, combined with affordable lead-in fares, make Ambassador Cruise Line a clear winner in the Best Value category.”

At the time of writing, guests can save up to 59 percent on 2024/25 sailings with Ambassador Cruise lines.

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Marella Voyager, part of the TUI family, was named Best Ship Refurbishment, after a 36-day bow-to-stern makeover that not only updated public spaces but also cabins and suites – as well as introduced new-to-the-line venues.

Cruise Critic editors said: “We love that cabins and suites were included in the refurbishment, making them feel almost new, with public spaces and dining venues also given a complete makeover. Marella Voyager boasts an impressive array of new-to-the-line venues, from the speakeasy-style Exchange, to Silver Fork, one of the 17 dining venues onboard.”

Silversea Cruises and Crystal Cruises came out on top for those seeking a taste of luxury. Silversea, which won the title of Best Luxury Cruise Line for a second year in a row, and Best New Luxury Ship for the line’s newest ship, Silver Nova, was commended for going above and beyond what you might expect from an opulent ocean expedition.

“Silversea’s constant innovation and a desire to set the luxury bar ever higher sets it apart from all others,” said editors. “Sure, the line has suites, butlers, Champagne and caviar across the fleet, but it’s more than that – Silversea’s restaurants rival Michelin-starred establishments, its S.A.L.T. enrichment program is outstanding, and its art and décor are reminiscent of a five-star hotel.

“And Silver Nova is a giant step forward for a cruise line that has never been content with the status quo.”

Crystal Cruises, meanwhile, took home the award for Best Service in the luxury category. “Sailing on a Crystal ship feels like a vacation with family,” said editors. “No ask is too small – or too big – and service always comes with a sincere smile.”

Two river cruise lines also took home the gold, with Viking receiving the accolade for Best River Cruise Line of the Year, for its consistency, breadth of offerings and fare inclusions. Viva Cruises’ Viva Two was named Best New River Cruise Ship, with a special nod given to its three onboard restaurants which guests can enjoy as part of their cruise package.

Silversea ship

Silversea won the title of Best Luxury Cruise Line (Image: Silversea)

Alternatively, holidaymakers looking to eschew rivers in favour of exploring the high seas might want to consider Scenic Eclipse or Swan Helix.

Scenic Eclipse II was named this year’s Best New Expedition Ship, for the ship’s seamless combination of five-star luxury and destination immersion. Itineraries include Antarctica, the Arctic, Greenland and Australia’s wild Kimberley, with plenty to discover along the way. “The ship allows you to get the most of your destination, by Zodiac, kayak, helicopter and submersible – and return to the best in creature comforts,” said the panel of expert editors.

And, if getting more bang for your buck is essential, Swan Hellic took home the title of Best Value for Money in the expedition category. “Pair thoughtful inclusions like alcoholic drinks (not just at meals) and Wi-Fi, to gratuities and return regional flights and pre-cruise accommodations, with five-star luxury vessels complete with outstanding expedition guides and top-notch food from internationally acclaimed chefs – all for less than £10,000 to the Antarctic – Swan Hellenic is tough to beat when it comes to value for money,” said Cruise Critic.

Cruise lines and shops weren’t the only thing taking home accolades in the awards though, with Belfast being named as the Best UK & British Isles Port of Call for its overall experience provided to cruise visitors.

Ocean Category

  • Best New Ship: P&O Cruises’ Arvia
  • Best Ship Refurbishment: Marella Voyager
  • Best Cabins: Celebrity Cruises
  • Best Dining: Virgin Voyages
  • Best Entertainment: Virgin Voyages
  • Best for Families: Royal Caribbean International
  • Best Innovation/Tech: Princess Cruises
  • Best for LGBTQ+ Travelers: Virgin Voyages
  • Best Nightlife: MSC Cruises
  • Best Service: Celestyal Cruises
  • Best for Solo Travelers: Cunard Line
  • Best Spa: Celebrity Cruises
  • Best Specialty Dining: Norwegian Cruise Line
  • Best Suites: Royal Caribbean International
  • Best Suite Complex: MSC Cruises
  • Best Value for Money: Ambassador Cruise Line
  • Best App: Royal Caribbean International
  • Best UK Departure Port: Dover
  • Best UK & British Isles Port of Call: Belfast

Luxury Category

  • Best Luxury Cruise Line: Silversea Cruises
  • Best New Luxury Ship: Silversea Cruises’ Silver Nova
  • Best Cabins: Regent Seven Seas Cruises
  • Best Dining: Oceania Cruises
  • Best Enrichment: Silversea Cruises
  • Best Itineraries: Regent Seven Seas Cruises
  • Best Service: Crystal
  • Best Shore Excursions: Oceania Cruises
  • Best for Solo Travelers: Crystal
  • Best Spa: Viking
  • Best Value for Money: Viking

Expedition Category

  • Best New Luxury Ship: Scenic Eclipse II
  • Best for Adventure: Quark Expeditions
  • Best Cabins: Seabourn Cruise Line
  • Best Dining: Scenic
  • Best for Luxury: Silversea Expeditions
  • Best Service: Silversea Expeditions
  • Best Spa: Viking
  • Best Value for Money: Swan Hellenic
  • Best in Alaska: UnCruise Adventures
  • Best in Antarctica: Scenic
  • Best in the Arctic: Hurtigruten
  • Best in the Galapagos: Lindblad Expeditions

River Category

  • Best River Cruise Line: Viking
  • Best New River Cruise Ship: Viva Cruises’ Viva Two
  • Best for Active Cruisers: Emerald River Cruises
  • Best Cabins: Avalon Waterways
  • Best Dining: Riverside Luxury Cruises
  • Best Enrichment: AmaWaterways
  • Best for Families: A-ROSA
  • Best for First-Timers: TUI River Cruises
  • Best for Luxury: Uniworld Boutique River Cruises
  • Best Service: Viking
  • Best for Solo Travelers: Riviera River Cruises
  • Best Value for Money: TUI River Cruises