There is great lists annually in Condé Nast Traveler, all of which have changed due to the events of the last two years: the Readers’ Choice Awards, which you, our beloved audience, select; the Hot List, which compiles the new and notable of the previous year; and this one, which is ultimately about the places and experiences our editors carry in their hearts. This year, when we say our editors, we mean CNT’s entire global crew, working in locations from California to Beijing; we’ve also expanded the parameters of the list to include not just the hotels and cruises you’ve seen in years past, but also the destinations we treasure. The Gold List is made by humans for other humans—something we need more than ever in this day and age. Here, our favorite cruise ships in the world.
Wonder of the Seas (Royal Caribbean)
Wonder of the Seas, the fifth Oasis-class vessel took the title of world’s largest cruise ship from her sister ship Symphony of the Seas. The new vessel was built at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in Saint Nazaire, France, and delivered to the cruise line on January 27, 2022.
Just like her sister ships, Wonder of the Seas is divided into themed neighborhoods, but this ship has the addition of a new Suite Neighborhood. The eighth neighborhood offers Royal Suite Guest a Suite Sun Deck with a plunge pool, private restaurant, deck bar, and lounges. The area also has the largest Ultimate Family Suite.
Symphony Of the Seas
The Symphony of the Seas is the second-largest cruise ship in the world. She held the top spot until she was beaten by her sister ship “Wonder of the Sea”. The giant cruise ship has 228,081 gross registered tons, measures 238 feet tall and spans 361.011 meters long.
Symphony of the seas is termed as the ultimate family’s vacation destination with a bold lineup of energy-filled, heart-pumping experiences.
This cruise ship offers the chance to go head-to-head in a glow-in-the-dark laser tag adventure, take the plunge down the Ultimate Abyss – the tallest slide at sea towering 10 stories high – or soak up some sun after getting drenched on epic waterslides and FlowRider surf simulators.
Riviera, Oceania Cruises
Riviera is known for its myriad dining venues, including complimentary specialty restaurants. Dining venues include the Grand Dining Room and other favorites like Jacques, a French bistro with menus designed by famed chef Jacques Pepin; Polo Grill, a refined steakhouse serving USDA prime and dry-aged beef; the Italian restaurant Toscana, where tables are set with custom-designed Versace china; and Red Ginger, which serves Asian classics. Two very special, intimate dining options are also offered for a fee. Each evening, 24 passengers can enjoy a seven-course meal at La Reserve by “Wine Spectator.” As you can imagine, the wine pairings are of special note there. Three menus are available, starting at $95 per person. Privee is an even more exclusive option and can be reserved for up to 10 people for a fee of $250 per evening. Dinner from either Polo Grill or Toscana is included in the price, but wine is not.
Foodies might also wish to pay a visit to the well-equipped Culinary Center onboard Riviera (as well as on twin sister Marina). It’s a self-contained cooking school at sea that offers a hands-on experience at 12 individual cooking stations (two people per station). Classes focusing on a variety of topics do incur an extra fee, but get rave reviews from participants.
Allure of the Sea
Another 362m-long Oasis-class cruise ship, Allure of the Seas, stands fourth after her sister vessel on the list.
Built at the STX Europe shipyards in Turku, Finland, Allure of the Seas is the second Royal Caribbean cruise ship in the Oasis-class series. At one point, she was the largest passenger ship in service.
The vessel has a gross tonnage of 225,282GT, a height of 72m and a maximum beam of 60.5m.
Delivered in October 2010, Allure of the Seas has the capacity to house 5,400 passengers at double occupancy. Features of the luxurious cruise ship include a two-deck dance hall, a theatre with 1,380 seats, an ice skating rink, a concierge club and spa, and fitness facilities, among others.
Like Oceania, Viking Ocean Cruises is more of an upper-premium line, but it rivals luxury lines when it comes to the inclusiveness of its fares, spa options and design aesthetic. The first thing you notice about Viking Star is its open, airy feel and the care put into the design of every space onboard.
All accommodations include a veranda, and the tightest quarters — the Deluxe Veranda and the Veranda categories — are comfortably sized at 270 square feet. Larger accommodations include the Penthouse Veranda at 338 square feet, the 405-square-foot Penthouse Junior Suite and the Explorer Suite, which spans more than 757 square feet. Thoughtful touches in all cabins include bedside USB ports, quiet-closing drawers, heated bathroom floors and anti-fog mirrors.