Cruise Adviser

The Cruise 20 Awards: all the winners

Introducing the inaugural Cruise Adviser awards. You’ve been voting for your favourite cruise lines in 20 categories, from the most environmentally friendly to the best pizza, here are our winners… 

Best overall cruise line (Ocean)
Viking Ocean Cruises

Tor Hagen, the founder of Viking, described his ocean ships as being “perfection” – one of the reasons why they’re all virtually identical. We’d struggle to disagree with him. There isn’t a single inch on board any of Viking’s 930-passenger ocean fleet that hasn’t been superbly designed and thought through, from the modern Viking Bar, where you can pick up a coffee before heading off on a morning shore excursion, to the infinity pool at the back of the Aquavit Terrace.

Tor Hagen, the founder of Viking, described his ocean ships as being “perfection” – one of the reasons why they’re all virtually identical. We’d struggle to disagree with him. There isn’t a single inch on board any of Viking’s 930-passenger ocean fleet that hasn’t been superbly designed and thought through, from the modern Viking Bar, where you can pick up a coffee before heading off on a morning shore excursion, to the infinity pool at the back of the Aquavit Terrace.

Accommodations have also been expertly designed and catered for. There are on-demand movies, USB plugs by the bed and free wifi throughout the ship. Room service is 24-hours a day and each stateroom has a refillable water bottle. 

Restaurants are free and sublime – our favourites include the waffles based on a family recipe in Mamsen’s, although nothing can beat the food in Manfredi’s, the speciality Italian. The perfect grown-up retreat.

Best overall cruise line (River)

Having recently launched AmaMagna, its first double-width ship for the Danube, there is plenty for the team at AmaWaterways to be excited about. The company sails on rivers around the world, from the Danube and Douro to more obscure waterways such as the Chobe or Mekong. And it does so extremely well. 

With sublime food and spacious cabins, AmaWaterways’ beautiful fleet of river ships have proven themselves the most wonderful way to saunter down a river, and head straight into the heart of a destination. On shore, guests can choose from a list of excursions, depending on their mobility and mood.

This is a cruise line that does things very well and, in an increasingly crowded market, has managed to stay ahead of the competition. 

Best kids’ club
Royal Caribbean International

Catering for children from six months to 17 years old, Royal Caribbean sets the standard when it comes to kids’ clubs. Not only does the line offer a range of activities – whether it’s discos for teens or dinosaur parties for young sailors – but it also caters for children with special needs. Royal Caribbean was also named the first certified Autism-friendly cruise line in 2014.

Best fast food restaurant
Royal Caribbean International

Whether it’s a burger at Johnny Rockets, a hot dog at Doghouse, or a slice at Sorrento’s Pizza – there is a world of choice on board any Royal Caribbean ship. With fast food available virtually around the clock, you’re spoilt for choice. Just remember to hit the SeaPlex for roller-skating, bumper cars and much more! 

Best spa
Viking Ocean Cruises

The vast spa on Viking Ocean Cruises is a cathedral to relaxation. All passengers get access for free, and then can pay extra for treatments. That means that the hydro-pool, sauna, steam room and snow grotto are all gratis. The hot-cold Nordic Spa Ritual is a must-try. 

Best pizza
MSC Cruises

It’s no surprise that when it comes to pizza, the Italians don’t mess about. On board MSC Cruises, the buffet is open 20 hours a day, which means that you can grab an authentic slice of heaven day and night. 

Best steak
Viking Cruises

The rib-eye steak in Manfredi’s – a restaurant named after the Silversea executive – is as good as anything we’ve had on land. It is even more impressive when you consider the fact that the chefs in Viking’s galley achieve such results without using an open flame. It might be witchcraft, but it makes for damn good eats. 

Best ex-UK specialist

All of the work Saga has done to appeal to the trade – including hosting hundreds of agents on its brand new ship for a couple of days – has paid dividends, as it’s your new favourite ex-UK specialist. Launching the boutique Spirit of Discovery has definitely helped, too. The 999-passenger luxury vessel plugs a much-needed gap in the UK market – especially for those who want to avoid the hassle of an airport.

Best for vegetarians and vegans
Oceania Cruises

Oceania Cruises’ claim to have the finest cuisine at sea is certainly well justified and, following on from the launch of its new plant-based dishes, it can be extended to vegetarians and vegans, too. Whether that’s poke bowls or falafel fritters – Oceania Cruises has got you covered.

Best wine list

With its own ‘Wine Line’ – a phone line dedicated to informing guests about wine pairings – and even the opportunity to achieve an industry recognised wine qualification during the cruise, there is little surprise that Cunard has been voted ‘best wine list’. There are often experts on board, giving lectures and hosting tastings. The perfect drop.

Best expedition line
Aurora Expeditions

With new ship Greg Mortimer about to launch, the focus on expedition cruise lines is huge right now. The ship benefits from the innovative X-Bow, which will cut Drake Passage crossings and ease sea sickness, as well as a sea-level loading area for easy access to the Zodiacs and shore excursions, and a separate pontoon for kayakers. All of this will be on board the 120-passenger ship, enabling more people more time on the Polar ice.

Best crew

The ultra-luxury line’s crew are often described as being clairvoyant. They know what you want before even you do. That’s quite a statement, but it seems that the trade agree with it – the service on Seabourn is the best in an industry that offers the best. 

Best UK-based ship
Spirit of Discovery

It’s no exaggeration to say that Saga’s Spirit of Discovery is a game changer. The boutique vessel is designed to serve a discerning British customer – with onboard partnerships with Jools Holland and a christening by the Duchess of Cornwall. It’s sure to become an institution itself.

Most environmentally friendly

After launching the hybrid powered MS Roald Amundsen, a ship that reduces CO2 emissions more than 20 percent compared to other ships of the same size, Hurtigruten followed it up by announcing climate neutral fuel deals – powering ships from dead fish – and that it would be making three of its ships hybrid power. The Norwegian line is setting the standard it seems.

Best water park

From the heart-stopping Ocean Loops on Norwegian Bliss and Joy, where the floor drops out from underneath the slider before taking you over the edge of the ship, to the trippy Aqua Racer, where you whiz past different light patterns – Norwegian Cruise Line is the cruise industry’s slide supremo. We can’t wait to see what they come up with next.

Best interior design
Celebrity Edge

With a world-famous design team that includes Kelly Hoppen MBE, it’s no surprise that Celebrity Edge was voted best for interior design. It pushes the envelope in every respect – from the multipurpose Eden, which delights day or night, to the Magic Carpet and infinite balconies providing 20 per cent more space. As far away from a traditional ship as you can get.

Best on-ship gadget
OceanMedallion (Princess Cruises)

OceanMedallion is the piece of industry technology right now. Capable of doing everything from opening your stateroom door to allowing waiters to bring a drink to your lounger, it promises to change the entire cruise experience and ushers in a new world of opportunity. As Dylan David of says, when a host greeted him by name, it made him feel like a VIP. 

Best agent rewards programme
Shine (Cunard + P&O Cruises)

Launched only a couple of years ago, Cunard and P&O Cruises’ Shine Rewards Club gives points for activities, including bookings made and completing training modules. Points can be exchanged for a choice of prizes including designer goods and cruises, of course. There is also a bit of gamification involved, for those who fancy spinning the wheel.

Best celebrity tie-in
Princess Cruises

Princess Cruises have used Phillip Schofield – the Schofe – expertly. Whether it’s in videos played at the Clia Conference or having him appear at press and trade events – there are few bigger names on our TVs with such an appeal to Princess’s target audience. We could all be more Schofe. 

Best for family
Royal Caribbean International

Royal Caribbean has swept the board in our family categories – winning best kids’ club and best for families. It’s easy to see why. Little can compare to a holiday on an Oasis-class ship – zip lines, surfing machines, carousels and arcades. More than enough to keep your clients’ little sailors busy. Leaving the adults more time to try out the 42 bars and lounges.

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