The awards which celebrate excellence in cruise travel are selected by a panel of international cruise journalists. This year, the 2011 categories have a distinct gastro flavour with awards for, among others, “Best Dining,” “Best Alternative Restaurant,” “Best Buffet,” “Best Wine List” and “Best Bar”, as well as an award for “Best for Healthy Eating”.
Awards were widely distributed among the cruise lines offering itineraries for U.K. travellers, but Oceania collected top honours for “Best Dining”. The award citation stated “Not only does Oceania’s superb alternative dining come at no supplement, but it’s consistently excellent. The restaurants actually look like upmarket shoreside bistros and extra touches like an olive oil menu here and a proper cheese trolley there simply add to this class act. Better still, there’s no compromise on the outstanding cuisine in the elegant main dining room on each ship.”
Oceania was also judged to have the Best Buffet, a subject close to many a cruiser’s heart: “Oceania has successfully created a gourmet marketplace in Marina’s Terrace Café, as opposed to the canteen style into which many lines fall. Hot and cold tapas, pizzas from the oven, giant paellas, grilled-to-order meats and fish and decadently rich breakfasts on the sunny aft deck make this a place to linger over a meal at any time of day.”
Meanwhile, Cunard took home three top awards including “Best Alternative Restaurant” for The Verandah on its newest ship, Queen Elizabeth: “Cunard’s nostalgic venture back the Golden Age of cruising, when The Verandah on the original Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary was the most stylish restaurant at sea, has paid off in spades. The sumptuous cream-and-gold décor aside, chef Jean-Marie Zimmerman’s classic French dishes are exquisite.”
Another British favourite P&O Cruises took top honours in two categories including “Best Cruise Ship Bar” which was was awarded to The Glass House on the Azura: “Jolly Olly Smith’s exuberance and passion for wine are apparent throughout Azura’s stylish The Glass House, a bar/wine-pairing grill for which the TV presenter has tracked down unusual but affordable wines to taste by the glass, accompanied by irreverent but informative descriptions. The knowledgeable bartenders make this a fun place to hang out, chat and learn about the wines.”
Finally Celebrity Cruises Solstice-class ships were given the accolades of “Best for Wine Lovers” as well as “Best for Healthy Eating”. Commenting on cruise line’s wine offering, Cruise Critic said: “The enormous wine tower gracing one end of the light and airy main dining rooms on Celebrity’s four Solstice-class ships is a sure sign that this is a line that takes its wine seriously. As well as the extensive wine list, there’s a huge range of wines by the glass and regular on-board tastings.” And regarding Celebrity’s healthy eating option, comments included: “Celebrity’s focus on offering a wide range of healthy dishes in formal restaurants and more casual venues like the AquaSpa Café makes it easier to stay on a wellness track, even when faced with the usual cruise temptations.”
Talking about the Cruise Critic U.K. Awards for 2011, Carolyn Spencer Brown said, “The U.K. cruise industry continues to grow year-on-year, despite the tough economy, due in part to the exceptional standard of service and hospitality provided by the cruise lines that keep customers coming back time and time again. That’s something the industry as a whole can be proud of. With these awards, however, we aim to honour the cruise lines that deserve credit in specific areas, where we believe they truly excel, such as dining or onboard activities.”
The annual Cruise Critic U.K. Editors’ Picks Awards complement the Cruisers’ Choice Awards, which are announced in the spring and highlight the cruise ships which receive the highest ratings from reviews posted on Cruise Critic.
For the full list of winners, as well as information on why each award was given to a particular line, ship or port, please go to: http://www.cruisecritic.co.uk/news/news.cfm?ID=4660
There are 25 different categories embracing a wide variety of cruises, ships and onboard features and attractions available to U.K. travellers.
- Best for Dining: Oceania Cruises
- Best Alternative Restaurant: Cunard – Verandah Restaurant (Queen Elizabeth)
- Best Buffet: Oceania Cruises — Marina
- Best for Wine-Lovers: Celebrity Cruises — Solstice-Class Ships see Celebrity Eclipse and On the Celebrity Eclipse: The Cellar Masters Lounge
- Best Cruise Ship Bar: P&O Cruises — The Glass House (Azura)