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Top 10 luxury cruise companies

We’ve read the fine print, weighed up the inclusions, checked the shine on the cutlery and the comfort of the beds. Here, in no particular order, are the top 10 luxury cruise companies.

1 Silversea
Passengers 100-540
Where Worldwide
Best itinerary 7-night Galapagos Islands (year round from September 2013)
Restaurants 2-5
Bars 2-4
Alcohol Included
Weakness Specialty-restaurant surcharges.
Must do Make the most of your butler - provided for all guests.

2 Seabourn
Passengers 200-450
Where Worldwide
Best itinerary 23-night Antarctica, Patagonia and South Georgia Island (11 December 2013)
Restaurants 4
Bars 4-6
Alcohol Included
Weakness Older ships lack decent balconies.
Must do Caviar in the surf; massage on deck.

3 Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Passengers 490-700
Where Worldwide
Best itinerary 7-night round trip from Vancouver to Alaska (22 May 2013)
Restaurants 5-6
Bars 4-5
Alcohol Included
Weakness Butler service is only for some suites.
Must do Enjoy free shore excursions in every port.

4 Hapag-Lloyd Cruises
Passengers 164-698
Where Worldwide
Best itinerary 7-night Monte Carlo to Valletta, Malta (8 June 2013)
Restaurants 1-4
Bars 1-8
Alcohol Not included
Weakness Onboard language on some voyages is German.
Must do Michelin-starred chef Dieter Müller's restaurant.

5 Sea Dream Yacht Club
Passengers 112
Where Amazon, Adriatic, Black Sea, Mediterranean, Caribbean, Transatlantic, Costa Rica, Australasia
Best itinerary 14-night Benoa, Bali, to Cairns (18 January 2014)
Restaurants 2
Bars 3
Alcohol Included
Weakness Staterooms don't have balconies.
Must do Enjoy the signature Champagne and caviar splash.

6 Crystal Cruises
Passengers 922-1070
Where Worldwide
Best itinerary 9-night Istanbul to Rome via Çanakkale (25 July 2013)
Restaurants 10-11
Bars 9
Alcohol Included
Weakness High passenger numbers.
Must do A huge array of activities and classes.

7 Oceania Cruises
Passengers 684-1250.
Where Worldwide
Best itinerary 30-night Cape Town to Singapore via the Maldives (7 January 2014)
Restaurants 5-10
Bars 5
Alcohol Discount packages available
Weakness Surcharges for some dining.
Must do La Reserve, Polo Grill and Jacques restaurants; visit Canyon Ranch Spa Club.

8 Star Clippers
Passengers 170-227
Where Mediterranean, Baltic, Caribbean, Central America, Panama Canal, Transatlantic
Best itinerary 10-night Sweden, Russia and Finland (6 July 2013)
Restaurants 1
Bars 2
Alcohol Not included
Weakness Limited entertainment options.
Must do Climb the mast, raise the sails, take the wheel.

9 Sea Cloud Cruises
Passengers 64-94
Where Europe, Caribbean, Central America, Transatlantic
Best itinerary 7-night round trip from Bridgetown, Barbados (12 December 2013)
Restaurants 1
Bars 2
Alcohol Wine and beer with meals
Weakness No balconies and limited entertainment.
Must do Watch the crew - all sailing is done by hand.

10 Azamara Club Cruises
Passengers 694
Where Europe, Asia, West Indies, Caribbean, South America, Mediterranean
Best itinerary 13-night Hong Kong, Vietnam, Thailand (21 January 2014)
Restaurants 6
Bars 6
Alcohol Wine with meals; all included will roll out in March and May.
Weakness Premium rather than pure luxury.
Must do Experience the new complimentary evening events on land.

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