Each year, we index the best, brightest openings, but for the 26th edition of Condé Nast Traveler’s Hot List, we’ve upped the ante: This time, editors at all seven worldwide editions had a hand in scouting and selecting the entries. At its heart, this is still a hotel list—a whopping 96 made the cut this year, which is a true testament to the industry’s resilience. But because (almost) no hotel is an island, we’ve widened the lens to include the restaurants, culture, transportation, and cruises you need to know, and the destinations that are reinventing themselves. We mean it when we say this may be the hottest Hot List yet. Here, the 11 best new cruises to take.
Click here to see the entire Hot List for 2022.
All listings featured in this story are independently selected by our editors. However, when you book something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Celebrity Cruises Celebrity Apex
Sailing the Caribbean and Mediterranean Seas, Celebrity Apex is already a star. It made a splashy debut in 2020 with interior design by Kelly Hoppen MBE and more than two dozen onboard spots to sip and sup, including some with Michelin-star heft. Celebrity chef Daniel Boulud and outdoor-space architect Tom Wright (of Burj Al Arab in Dubai fame) have certainly made their marks on board. Never mind the nearly 3,385 passengers; chances are you’ll rarely see them. Like sister ship Celebrity Edge, Celebrity Apex appeals with its lesser-expected details on a cruise ship, like sculpture-lined pool decks, a rooftop garden and theater, a decadent spa, and the cantilevered Magic Carpet lounge, which glides up and down the exterior of the ship serving cocktails from the best view in the house. Hiding away in The Retreat, an all-inclusive pool deck and lounge reserved for the top suites, is another favorite panoramic escape. Never fear calories either, thanks to an onboard Iyashi Dome using infrared radiation to combat cellulite, plus the first-ever F45 high-intensity workout classes at sea. From $1,218. —Ramsey Quebin
Royal Caribbean Odyssey of the Seas
This ship proves that it’s possible for a cruise to appeal to everyone. It performs well as a floating all-inclusive resort, but with offerings that go beyond duty-free shopping and mai tais. Odyssey of the Seas boasts quality food, advanced technology, and 16 decks’ worth of activities. Those who like active vacations can rock climb, run on the 15th-deck track, take a yoga class—or even play basketball. Foodies can taste-test their way through menus crafted by culinary experts. Show fans can flex their best karaoke skills, or sit back and watch a performance featuring talented dancers and singers accompanied by mind-bending technology—all before returning to cozy and modern salons. The adventure continues when passengers disembark at the various Caribbean ports leaving from Fort Lauderdale. As of May 2022, Odyssey of the Seas will leave from Rome and sail along the Mediterranean. From $530 per person. —Tonya Russell
Atlas Ocean Voyages World Navigator and World Traveller
Meet the game-changing new cruise line solely devoted to exploration. Its first ship, the environmentally sensitive, ice-class, 196-passenger World Navigator launched in 2021, flaunting a ’40s-style retro-chic ocean-liner design. World Traveller arrives in October, with three more siblings debuting through 2024. Atlas vessels vibe casually elegant rather than opulent, luring passengers more obsessed with energetic adventure than with butlers, although suite occupants do score the pampering personnel. World Navigator leans livelier and trendier than many competitors, welcoming younger-than-typical cruisers with craft cocktails, personalized complimentary minibars, and nightly piano-side sing-alongs. Exhale in the holistic-inspired SeaSpa, the first L’Occitane spa at sea; snuggle on heated seats in the Water’s Edge bow observation area—imagine seeing whales breach when you’re sitting just 30 feet above the sea. Bravo to two atypical shipboard dining experiences: Porto presents time-honored Portuguese dishes reflecting the line’s heritage, and 7Aft Grill charcoal-grills its chops. Passengers welcome Atlas’s noteworthy inclusions, like emergency medical-evacuation insurance, all beverages including alcohol, and gratuities. From $3,499 per person. —Janice Wald Henderson
Viking Venus is the newest addition to the brand’s collection of ocean liners—and with her launch in May 2021 came exciting new itineraries like Malta & Adriatic Jewels, marking the brand’s first time home porting in the UNESCO World Heritage city of Valletta. Venus is delightfully small in the world of ocean ships, but this 745-foot-long vessel still has plenty of breathing room for a total of 930 guests in all-veranda staterooms. Expect to find sparkling new renditions of the brand’s beloved dining concepts (there are nine altogether), from the sun-drenched Wintergarden, which hosts afternoon tea service with live music, to Italian trattoria Manfredi’s, where fresh pasta and seafood crudos mean reservations are a must (as on all Viking ships, there is no additional charge for specialty restaurants). Best of all, though, is the infinity pool spilling over the top deck of the stern—the indisputable envy of every ship that docks beside Venus. That pool will likely get plenty of use as the ship makes her way through the Mediterranean and into Northern Europe over the coming year. From $2,599 per person, based on double occupancy. —Megan Spurrell
Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady and Valiant Lady
We’ve been waiting for Sir Richard Branson’s adults-only Virgin Voyages to launch for years, and its first two ships, the Scarlet Lady and Valiant Lady, have finally hit the water. To entice potential cruisers, Virgin has brought new life to on-ship amenities, from the much-talked-about tattoo parlor to nighttime entertainment from the ship’s resident sexologist, plus so many outdoor seating areas that you’ll never be fighting for a lounger. Doing away with cruise buffets, they’re offering a Korean BBQ joint, a mirror-filled molecular-gastronomy kitchen, and an elegant steak house—and enlisting the likes of Tom Dixon and Roman and Williams, among others, to design the interiors so you spend just as much time admiring the decor, which rivals that of most landlocked restaurants, as the food. From $1,400 for a four-night Fire & Sunset Soiree voyage on Scarlet Lady. —Meredith Carey
Silversea Cruises Silver Origin
The latest game-changer to come to the Galapagos, the sleek, understated 100-passenger Silver Origin is Silversea Cruises’ first purpose-built vessel, replacing the slightly-long-of-tooth ship the company had been operating in the region for years. That means guests get the best of both worlds: wise, warm expedition guides who draw on a wealth of experience, and a host of modern ship amenities. Dining, drink, and discovery are a blast onboard, what with the guides’ evening lectures, countless varieties of ceviche open-air at The Grill, and nightly danceathons at the piano bar, The Explorer Lounge. But where Silver Origin most sings is the way it connects guests with the beauty and wonder of the Galapagos, from the Stargazing Deck, where they can spot dolphins by day and constellations and lava flows by night, to Basecamp, where the crew runs an astonishingly smooth operation for getting passengers into Zodiacs for deep-water snorkeling, sea kayaking, and hiking on the islands. Perhaps the most important features are the ones guests don’t see: zero plastics on board, best-in-class energy efficiency, and a dynamic positioning system to protect delicate seabeds. From $7,750 per person. —Jesse Ashlock
Silversea Cruises Silver Moon
On luxury Silversea Cruises, guests are guaranteed a few bells and whistles: white-gloved butlers, complimentary caviar. But with Silver Moon, the brand has done something unprecedented—created a soup-to-nuts program that deeply immerses the traveler in food. Their innovative S.A.L.T. (Sea and Land Taste) program lets passengers eat all-local foods on routes like Athens to Lisbon and learn about the source of ingredients during shore excursions. On Latin American sailings, guests can opt into a Panamanian culinary lesson in the vessel’s S.A.L.T. Lab or join a Costa Rican jungle trek to pick herbs and pluck fruit with local chefs. Daily menus in the onboard kitchens rotate depending on the port. The entire Silver Moon experience represents next-wave cruising, where the journey leads guests to authentic encounters that couldn’t happen anywhere else in the industry. From $5,100 per person. —Janice Wald Henderson
This 378-passenger expedition ship, which just wrapped her first season in Antarctica, is an exciting departure from the European river cruising Viking has staked its reputation on. Alongside the line’s hallmark Scandinavian-style blond-wood interiors, rich azure textiles, and comfy midcentury slingback chairs facing floor-to-ceiling windows, guests have a hangar packed with toys like Zodiacs and two submarines (excursions on all are included in the cost of booking). New onboard spaces make students of passengers, with the Aula auditorium hosting daily natural-science lectures and documentary screenings; the 36-person onboard expedition team also includes ornithologists, geologists, historians, and a wildlife photographer. After a guided kayak alongside seals at icy Deception Island, the heated pool in the spa may just feel like the greatest place on Earth to return to. From $3,995 per person, based on double occupancy. —Megan Spurrell
Princess Cruises Enchanted Princess
What most of us want from our vacations is to let the fuss of the everyday float away. Part of the magic of Enchanted Princess is that it lets you do just that with MedallionClass. With this feature, most transactions—dining at one of its many restaurants, picking up a beach hat at the gift shop, even entering your stateroom—are touch-free, facilitated by the Medallion, a wearable button and veritable golden ticket. It’s a location device, too, that allows your OceanNow room-service order (use the affiliated app to check out the menu) to reach you no matter where you are. Suffice it to say, lifting a finger is optional. For maximum relaxation, flop onto a lounge chair beside one of the two glittering top deck pools and let the Caribbean Blue pass you by seemingly without a care in the world. Ten-day sails from $849 per person. —Betsy Blumenthal
MSC Cruises MSC Seashore
If work from home has become always working from home, MSC Cruises’ MSC Seashore has the antidote: a Caribbean-cruising oasis with plenty of places to savor il dolce far niente. Start at the aft-facing pool of the Swiss line’s 5,632-passenger, 19th ship, where a sweep of sensuously curved lounge chairs sit semi-submerged. Or at the Jungle pool (one of six onboard), a hothouse-style haven with faux ferns and a waterfall wall. Sun, sea, and serenity are found at Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, a former mineral-mining site transformed by millions of dollars and thousands of coconut palms and other trees into a private island with eight beaches. Its centerpiece: a candy-striped lighthouse that offers sweeping views of those legendary Bahama blues. On days when you’d rather live la dolce vita than lounge around, MSC Seashore also delivers. Live entertainment 16 hours a day, five specialty restaurants, four main dining places, and 18 bars are welcome diversions. So, too, is the Bridge of Sighs, a glass catwalk that soars 72 feet above the pool and makes for a stimulating stroll. From $159. —Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon
Holland America Line Rotterdam
There is a refreshingly slower pace onboard Holland America Line’s latest Rotterdam, which has been sailing the Caribbean since November. Onboard entertainment includes the classical-music venue Lincoln Center Stage, while the Pinnacle Grill is the ideal spot to not rush what will be a perfectly cooked aged steak. If guests opt to forgo shore excursions in places like the Dutch-influenced Kralendijk, the pool on deck nine, one deck up, has ample views of the blue Caribbean sprawl. With the volume-raising competition sailing these waterways these days, Holland America Line is a trusted option that knows the best spots to bring guests, and how to keep them happy on deck, too. Cruises from $549. —Erin Florio