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Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Cruise awards spur debate

Posted: 11/2/2013 1:00 AM | Comments: 0

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Royal  Caribbean topped the best for entertainment category in Cruise Critic's 2013 editors' picks award. Pictured is the  Allure of the Seas.

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Royal Caribbean topped the best for entertainment category in Cruise Critic's 2013 editors' picks award. Pictured is the Allure of the Seas.

With drum rolls and red carpets, the entertainment industry is famous for its award shows -- all of them over the top and most of them in prime time. Plenty of dollars are spent promoting each show, each movie and each star in a plethora of categories.

Among the more modest are the cruise ship awards. Travel Weekly has its Magellan Awards, Travel + Leisure Awards are announced annually, and just last week two more made headlines.

Cruise Critic, one of the largest online websites, released its "best of" in numerous categories, with the winners determined by their writers and editors. Condé Nast lets the readers pick its awards. This year, nearly 80,000 -- the largest number ever -- selected everything from the best resorts to best cities to best cruise lines. You can find all the category winners in the November issue of Condé Nast Traveler.

I revel in awards. They generate controversy and that brings heated participation by you, the readers -- people who I find have deep loyalties when it comes to picking their favourite cruise line.

So let me know what you think at portsandbows in the following categories: small ship, mid-size ship, large ship, and river cruise lines. From these categories, Condé Nast picks its top 25. This year, the magazine noted that 11 ships scored 90 points or more, a jump from only five ships in 2012.

By picking the top 25 overall, some categories are shorter in actual numbers; for instance, only four are listed in large ship, but there are nine in the mid-size. It's all based on total points to reach the top 25.

Small ship -- Seabourn led the way again followed by Windstar, SeaDream, Silversea, Lindblad Expeditions and Star Clipper. Windstar and Star Clipper were not on the 2012 list.

Mid-size -- Crystal was tops again, followed by Regent Seven Seas, Oceania and Azamara. Following was Holland America, Cunard, Princess, Celebrity and Royal Caribbean.

Large ship -- Disney repeated in first place, with Celebrity second, followed by Royal Caribbean and Princess.

River cruise lines -- Grand Circle was again the winner but the line caters only to a U.S. market. So for a Canadian point of view, I dropped them from the list. That left Tauck -- making the list for the first time -- tops on the rivers, followed by Viking, Uniworld, Vantage and AmaWaterways.

Meanwhile, Cruise Critic's awards judged ships on features ranging from best bar to best cabin, making for many more categories.

Here are some of the winners from a few categories picked by their international editors:

-- Best new ship -- Norwegian Breakaway, home porting in New York.

-- Best for families -- Disney Cruise Lines.

-- Best itineraries -- Princess Cruises.

-- Best for value -- Azamara Club Cruises.

-- Best for dining -- Oceania Cruises.

-- Best for entertainment -- Royal Caribbean International.

-- Best for honeymoons -- Windstar Cruises.

-- Best North American home port -- Vancouver.

-- Best river cruise line -- Viking Cruises.

-- Best standard cabins -- Celebrity Cruises.

For the full list, visit Cruisecritic.com

-- Postmedia Network Inc. 2013

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 2, 2013 E4

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