Smaller is better when it comes to cruising, says guide

If you're looking for a perfect cruise experience, your best bet is to choose a small or "boutique" liner.

That's the guidance from the most recent edition of the Berlitz Complete Guide to Cruising and Cruise Ships, which suggests that the 11 best cruise liners in the world are considerably smaller than the massive cruise ships that we've seen launch over the past year or so.

The book's author, Douglas Ward, chose the11-year old Europa from Hapag Lloyd Cruises as the best ship in the world, saying that it "looks almost new, thanks to the dedication of its crew and owners."

Five ships from small luxury cruise line the Yachts of Seabourn also made the list, along with three vessels from Silversea Cruises and two from the SeaDream Yacht Club.

The guide uses a points system to rank the ships out of 100 for 20 categories such as food, entertainment and service. While all of the top ten vessels were given more than 1750 points (with Europa gaining 1,853), last year's star the Oasis of the Seas from Royal Caribbean was awarded 1,524 points.

At the bottom of the rankings, with 743 points each were Sea Lion and Sea Bird, two ships operated by National Geographic Cruises.

The World's Best Cruise Ships

Europa (1,853 points)
SeaDream II (1,788 points)
Seabourn Odyssey (1,787 points)
Seabourn Sojourn (1,787 points)
SeaDream I  (1,786 points)
Seabourn Legend (1,774 points)
Silver Spirit (1,772 points)
Seabourn Spirit (1,770 points)
Seabourn Pride (1,769 points)
Silver Whisper (1,753 points)
Silver Shadow (1,750 points)

Compiled by Berlitz Complete Guide to Cruising & Cruise Ships