Carnival Vista, Disney Cruise Line and Seabourn received top honors in Cruise Critic's 2016 Editors Picks Awards. For the last nine years, editors at the cruise-centric website have shared their favorites with readers. Carnival Vista, the largest ship in Carnival Cruise Line's fleet, was named best new cruise ship of 2016. The ship sailed its first itinerary in Europe and will return to New York City for an official naming ceremony Nov. 4. The ship, which holds 3,934 passengers, was singled out for its water park, on-board brewery and 14 restaurants, according to a Cruise Critic release Wednesday.
The winners of Cruise Critic's reader favorites were announced Wednesday, anointing four ships of varying sizes in the best overall category. The Best Cruises Overall awards went to Celebrity Cruises' Equinox, in the large-ship category; Oceania Cruises' Riviera, in the midsize category; Viking Cruises' Sun, in the medium-small category; and Silversea Cruises' Galápagos, in the small-ship category. Winners were chosen based on consumer reviews and ratings during the last year. Although some of these ships are less accessible to Southern California cruisers -- Equinox and Riviera, for instance, are sailing in the Caribbean -- some winners sail from San Pedro, making departures simple and decreasing the overall cost of a cruise. Princess Cruises' Coral Princess, for example, sails regularly from the World Cruise Center, based in San Pedro.
It's wave season, an old-school term that still means big savings on cruises this year and beyond. Each cruise line puts out its most tempting offers -- discounts fares, cabin upgrades, extra perks like free Wi-Fi or on-board credit -- in the first few months of the new year to lure travelers to book early. For you, wave season means locking in a price you like with extras you like too. Just remember: Prices you'll see online and elsewhere don't include taxes and port fees; some sales apply only to selected cruises; and a travel agent could be a good option to help you compare different cruise offers and itineraries. Royal Caribbean takes 30% off passenger fares and half off deposits during its wave season sale.
Those are among the siren calls of ocean and river cruises for 2017 that are expected to attract more than 25 million to set sail, an increase of more than a million from last year. Cruise companies such as Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises and Celebrity Cruises seem to have found a winning sales formula that goes something like this: Sweeten the pot with value-added itemsf such as free drinks, free Wi-Fi or an on-board spending credit and more people will book. Look for frequent promotions like these, but be aware they may be offered for only a limited time, said Mike Driscoll, the editor of Cruise Week, an industry publication. At-sea cooking classes are all the rage, and Holland America Line has jumped into the mix in collaboration with the public TV show "America's Test Kitchen." A replica of the show's set is already on the Westerdam, cruising this winter from San Diego to Mexico, and it's coming to the rest of the line by July.