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.

Fincantieri to build a new ship for Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Fincantieri to build new ship for Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Fincantieri is building a new cruise ship for Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Fincantieri and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings have signed a contract to construct an ultra-luxury cruise ship for Regent Seven Seas Cruises to be delivered in 2023. The value of the agreement is approximately €474M.

The new vessel will be a sister ship to Seven Seas Explorer, delivered in 2016, and to Seven Seas Splendor, due for delivery in 2020.

Fincantieri said that at 54,000 tonnes, the unit will be able to accommodate up to 750 guests on board and that it will be the brand’s sixth all-suite vessel in Regent’s fleet. Like her sister ships, the new vessel will be built using the latest environmental protection technologies. The interiors will be particularly sophisticated, with every attention paid to passenger comfort.

“We are excited to build on the spectacular success of Seven Seas Explorer and Seven Seas Splendor as we embark on bringing to life a new vessel that will set even higher benchmarks for elegance, luxury and style”, said Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings president and chief executive, Frank Del Rio. “This new ship further strengthens our company’s robust yet measured growth profile with vessels now on order for all three of our award-winning brands, enabling us to expand our presence globally, further diversify our product offerings and continue to drive shareholder returns”.

Fincantieri chief executive Giuseppe Bono said “This agreement is the perfect seal of the work our Group has carried out over the years and the role we have gained on the market. We are able to enter and maintain a reference market presence in every niche, including the most unique and competitive as the ultra-luxury one, in which Regent Seven Seas Cruises operates. Quality is the shipowner’s hallmark and it entrusted Fincantieri once again.”

He said Fincantieri has 10 ships on order for Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings in its orderbook, five of which have been secured in the last five months, for all three brands in its portfolio.

Regent unveils interior details of Seven Seas Splendor

The grand staircase will be opposite the main entrance to the Compass Rose restaurant.Regent Seven Seas Cruises unveiled some interior details and renderings for the Seven Seas Splendor, the follow-on to 2016’s Seven Seas Explorer.

The ship, due in 2020, will be much the same as the Explorer, but a few details have changed.

Regent said that it has relocated the grand staircase on the Splendor so that it is opposite the entrance to the main dining room on the ship, the Compass Rose.

The move will “evoke an enchanting sense of arrival for guests,” Regent said.

Each Veranda Suite will be 207 square feet.
Each Veranda Suite will be 207 square feet.

Also, the Coffee Connection is moving to the port side of the ship and is being expanded with a new al fresco seating area. The Splendor’s Pan-Asian restaurant, Pacific Rim, will remain on the port side, offering guests an unobstructed view of the restaurant’s central sculpture from the reception area.

Suites on the 750-passenger Splendor range from the 307 square-foot, entry-level Veranda Suite, to the top end 4,443 square-foot Regent Suite.