A subjective list of awards for cruise experiences

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Seven Seas Explorer

here’s no shortage of travel industry awards and accolades. 

Today I’ll offer some cruise-only nods — a mini Academy Awards lineup, if you will —  based on my seven years of cruising for Travel Weekly. Unlike the Oscars, in which categories of longstanding tradition are properly judged, my award categories and winners are completely subjective and based mostly on one moment on one ship, rather than a studious fleetwide evaluation over time.

Plus, mine aren’t broadcast on national television. And there’s no statuette. But they’re fun. See what you think, and offer your own winners in the comment section below.

So, with no further ado:

Best naming ceremony: Princess Cruises. Skies were grey in Southampton, England, on that June day in 2013, but who can beat royal princess Kate Middleton christening the Royal Princess? The British pomp and pageantry and the ladies in their gowns and fascinators made it unforgettable. Runner up: More royals, plus opera great Andrea Bocelli singing “Nessun Dorma” for the Seven Seas Explorer in Monaco.

Meal: Celebrity Cruises. I think it was on the Celebrity Reflection with former Celebrity public relations spokeswoman Liz Jakeway that I had a nearly flawless Italian dinner at the Tuscan Grille. Runner up: Guy Fieri’s burgers on Carnival Cruise Line.

Suite:  Viking Ocean Cruises. The Owner’s Suite on the Viking Star duplicates owner Tor Hagen’s book collection and comes with a (faux) fireplace and a sauna with a floor-to-ceiling glass wall for ocean viewing. Runner up: the duplex suites on Royal Caribbean.

Service: Azamara. I know, not what you’re expecting, but I say: try it. The relaxed style really made me feel at home on a 2016 Central America and Mexico cruise on the Azamara Journey. When my time was up, I didn’t want to leave. Runner up: Seabourn.

Entertainment: Norwegian Cruise Line. “After Midnight” and “Million Dollar Quartet” on the Norwegian Escape in 2016 was a knockout one-two punch, and Norwegian has kept up the pace with each new ship: “Jersey Boys,” “Kinky Boots.” Great value for guests. Runner up: Royal Caribbean, where too much is never enough.

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Pool: Seabourn. The cosy aft pool on Seabourn’s 450-passenger ships puts sunbathers close to the water in stylish luxury. Runner up: the Solarium Pool on Celebrity, with its dancing waters fountain.

Cruise Director: Star Clippers. The line’s longest-serving cruise director, Peter Kissner, hails from Bavaria and is the most personable, knowledgeable, interesting person I’ve yet encountered in the job.  Runner up: Azamara cruise director Eric de Gray does it all.

Internet: Royal Caribbean gets the nod for its Voom, which not only is fast and simple but was first to market. What a difference in seven years. Runner up: MedallionNet on Princess Cruises is also fast and simple (but was not first).

Children’s character: Disney Cruise Line for Cinderella. As played by one of Disney’s cast members, the Cinderella I saw could have stepped out of the 1950 animated feature film. The children were enchanted. Runner Up:  Ellie, the towel elephant that prowls the post-turn-down cabins on Carnival ships.

Deck BBQ: Windstar Cruises. A twilight summer deck party anchored off the coast of Portofino. Trust me, it doesn’t get any better than that. Runner up: Regent Seven Seas Cruises.

Celebrity Edge Booking At ‘Significant Premiums’

Celebrity Edge

Just weeks ahead of the Celebrity Edge’s delivery, the new Celebrity Cruises vessel continues to drive earnings growth for Royal Caribbean Cruises.

The first new Celebrity ship in six years following the 2012 introduction of the Celebrity Reflection, the Edge represents the first of four in a new class of Celebrity vessels, at 129,500 tons with capacity for 2,900 guests.

“Demand for cruising is booming, and guests are willing to pay for innovation, quality, and design. The timing of (the Celebrity Edge) could not be better,” said Richard Fain, chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises, speaking on the company’s third-quarter earnings call on Thursday, October 25.

“She’s clearly worth the wait. The Edge has been booking at significant premiums for the winter Caribbean season and for our European season next year,” said Jason Liberty, CFO of Royal Caribbean Cruises.

“The demand for our new hardware, especially for Edge, which has really come high on at a premium, has been very strong and encouraging,” Liberty added

The Edge will debut at the state-of-the-art Terminal 25 at Port Everglades later this month. The terminal is just days away from being finished and will be the homeport for the Edge for her inaugural season of seven-day winter Caribbean itineraries from Ft. Lauderdale.

Next summer the ship will transition to the European cruise market, with a crossing to Southampton where she arrives in the middle of May. From there, a repositioning voyage moves the ship to the Mediterranean for the summer season, where the Edge sails out Civitavecchia.

Celebrity Cruises orders pair of 2,900-passenger ships

By Tom Stieghorst

Celebrity Cruises said it has ordered two 2,900-passenger ships from the STX France shipyard in St. Nazaire.

The ships are scheduled for delivery in the fall of 2018 and early 2020.

Celebrity’s most recent ship, the 3,046-passenger Celebrity Reflection, was delivered in the fall of 2012.The line recently agreed to send its oldest ship, Celebrity Century, to a new joint venture in China.

Celebrity’s parent, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., said the ships are being built under the Project Edge name. RCCL said they will deliver small-ship itineraries with large-ship amenities.

“STX France designs and builds some of the most innovative and stylish cruise ships in the world, and Project Edge offers them the opportunity to again set a new standard for modern iconic architecture,” said Michael Bayley, presdient and CEO of Celebrity.

Contract costs for the ship were not disclosed. With the addition of the two new orders, RCCL said company-wide capacity is scheduled to increase by 2.4% this year, 5.5% next year, 6.7% in 2016, 3.8% in 2017 and 4.3% in 2018.

The 117,000-gross-ton ships will be part of a new class of vessels for Celebrity. the line currently operates five Solstice-class vessels, including Celebrity Reflection, and four Millennium-class vessels.

Celebrity competes in the premium segment with Holland America Line, which has a 2,650-passenger ship called Koningsdam under construction for delivery in February 2016.