Oceania Cruises

This stylish brand took over three ships from the former Renaissance Cruises (in 2003) and reintroduced them as more upmarket and intimate vessels, with a relaxed, informal ambience and top-notch cuisine. (Oceania claims to spend more per head on its ingredients than any other cruise line). Service is equally smooth and cabins feature high-quality fixtures and furnishings, while entertainment varies from the low-key to the glamorous, with a series of enrichment programmes and guest lecturers.

New ships Marina and Riviera (2011 and 2012) add a distinctive and expansive edge to the Oceania style, with two more restaurants for their already gourmet-quality selection, a Canyon Ranch Spa Club, the Bon Appetit Culinary Centre and some lavish suites.

Oceania was recently taken over by Norwegian Cruise Line, but customers have been promised that there will be no drastic changes to the ships’ operation. In the Mediterranean, northern Europe and Alaska in summer, with winter seasons in the Caribbean, South America, Africa and Asia. Gratuities not included. No under 12s.