Words by David McGonigal

Each year Conde Nast Traveler in the US releases its Readers’ Choice awards which are eagerly awaited worldwide. Here’s a summary of the best airlines, airports, cities and cruise liners from around the world.

The best cities in the world

1. Tokyo: ‘A mix of contradictions, from ultramodern, neon-lit skyscrapers to tranquil temples, historic shrines, and expansive forests. A center for innovation, this Japanese capital has more Michelin stars than any other place on earth, and is – no surprise – one of the world’s best food destinations.’

2. Vienna: ‘Artistic, exquisite, and largely shaped by its musical and intellectual foundations, Austria’s capital and largest city is packed with culture.’

3. Kyoto: ‘One of the most well-preserved cities in Japan, Kyoto has approximately 1,600 Buddhist temples, 400 Shinto shrines, and nearly 100 Michelin-starred restaurants.’

Note: Sydney was in 6th place, just behind Paris and Melbourne came in 14th place, just in front of London.

The best airports in the world

1. Changi, Singapore: ‘The airport is practically a destination in itself, with an indoor waterfall, butterfly garden, and open-air decks and restaurants.’

2. Incheon, Seoul: ‘Seoul-Incheon gains points for its amenities. To wit: There’s an indoor skating rink, a spa, and a “Cultural Street” with local cuisine and dance performances.’

3. Dubai International: ‘New concourses and runways now in the works will eventually expand capacity to 200 million passengers a year, with enough space to dock 100 Airbus A380s, the world’s biggest jet, at a single time.’

Note: No Australia airport made it in the top 10.

Image credit: Sorbis /

The best airlines in the world

1. Air New Zealand: ‘With some of the longest flights in the world, the Kiwi carrier pays close attention to seat comfort; legroom is ample on its wide-body planes, and they also boast lie-flat economy seats – or “Skycouch,” which becomes a pull-out double bed.’

2. Qatar Airways
3. Singapore Airlines
4. Emirates
5. Swiss
6. Virgin Australia

Note: Qantas came in 12th and Etihad in 16th.

The best small ship cruise lines in the world

1. Seabourn Cruise Line: ‘Michelin-starred chef Thomas Keller designs specialty menus on the ships, and a partnership with UNESCO assures shore excursions and sustainable tourism practices at some of the most wild and wonderful destinations around the world.’

2. Crystal Cruises: ‘A two-ship line no longer, Crystal introduced an expedition yacht to its fleet in 2015. Crystal Esprit, equipped with its own two-person submersible and butler service for every suite (they’re all suites), has space for only 62 passengers to enjoy cruises within its focus regions of the Seychelles and West Indies.’

3. Windstar Cruises: ‘The line’s six ships – three sailing yachts and three all-suite motor yachts – specialize in visiting ports that ban larger ships, like the Byzantine hilltop town of Monemvasia in the Greek Islands and the sleepy, palm-fringed island of Bequia in the Windward Islands of the Caribbean.’

The best medium ship cruise lines in the world

1. Crystal Cruises: ‘Sushi bars by Nobu Matsuhisa, penthouse suites with Swarovski chandeliers, and more adventurous itineraries worldwide are just a few of the hallmarks.’

2. Regent Seven Seas Cruises: ‘Forget paying for every extra as the line’s four ships – Seven Seas Voyager, Mariner, Explorer and Navigator – indulge guests with all-inclusive features like unlimited shore excursions, open bars with premium wines (and in-room minibars), unlimited Wi-Fi, and dining in specialty restaurants.’

3. Viking Ocean Cruises (pictured above): ‘A cantilevered swimming pool with a view over the rear of the ship is just one striking feature of these four new ships, which debuted in 2015 as an expansion of Viking River Cruises.’

The best large ship cruise lines in the world

1. Disney: ‘Some 4,000 guests are able to sail on each of the line’s largest ships – Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy – so there’s always a party going on. Pack your craziest outfits to join in during special events like “Star Wars Day at Sea” and the “Frozen Deck Party,” unique to Disney Cruise Line.’

2. Cunard (pictured above): ‘Formal black-tie evenings, a ballroom with an orchestra, proper afternoon tea, and varied itineraries all around the world make Cunard a popular choice for travelers who long for the ocean liners of old.’

3. Princess: ‘The newest Princess ships thrill with a craft beer program, special menus designed by Chef Curtis Stone, and the “SeaWalk,” a glass-bottom walkway that extends out over the water.’

The best river ship cruise lines in the world

1. Viking River Cruises: ‘[It] has expanded feverishly in recent years, with 64 river ships and four ocean ships in its fleet; 48 of those are considered “longships” designed with Scandinavian–style influences just for Viking.’

2. Grand Circle Cruise Line: ‘Best of all, for solo travellers, Grand Circle offers single cabins and doesn’t charge the dreaded single supplement, so you’re welcome to cruise alone and not pay a premium for it.’

3. Uniworld Boutique River Cruises: ‘Fine details make the difference on Uniworld’s ships: The 154-passenger S.S. Antoinette features a 10-foot Strauss Baccarat chandelier filled with sapphires that once hung in New York’s Tavern on the Green.’

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