Readers’ Choice Awards 2015

A note from the publisher; Cruise Passenger magazine has run its Reader’s Choice awards for many years now. But we have never had as many entries as we received in 2015. Your response to an expanded range of awards was nothing short of amazing.
Here we present the winners you selected. Thank you for taking part.


Best ocean cruise line overall

Princess Cruises

What we say: Cruise Passenger readers love Princess Cruises – and Princess loves you right back. Australia is the line’s biggest market outside the USA with a record five ships based here for the 2015/16 wave season, sailing from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Fremantle. The 3,114-passenger Emerald Princess, one of the largest in the Princess fleet, will join them next year to be based in Sydney for the 2016/2017 season. The line even charges in Australian dollars, a
big plus at a time when our
currency is falling.

What you say: “From the moment you step on a Princess ship, you feel like part of the Princess family and you are well looked after so you can have the most enjoyable time of your life.” Neville Jessen

What they say: “We are so honoured to be named the best overall ocean cruise line by Cruise Passenger readers. As the destination experts, we take Australians to more places than any other cruise line, delivering holidays designed to enrich our guests, so this acknowledgement is fantastic. We’re thrilled that it coincides with our biggest-ever season of cruising in Australia. The perfect way to celebrate our 50th anniversary!” Stuart Allison, Vice President Australia & New Zealand


Notable mention

P&O Cruises

Last year’s favourite still ranked highly in 2015. P&O has just wrapped up a huge celebration in Sydney Harbour to welcome two new ships to the fleet and we can’t wait to see what the line has in store for 2016.


Best luxury cruise line


What we say: Silversea has unseated reigning champion Crystal Cruises for the first time in 2015. Once on board a Silversea ship, everything is included from white-gloved butler service to Relais & Châteaux quality dining and champagne to match it. The launch of the new Silver Muse in 2017 will bring the line’s fleet of plush, boutique vessels to nine with itineraries sailing around the world.

What you say: “They are, quite simply, the best at everything that they do!” Peter Watson

What they say: “We are honoured to be named Best Luxury Cruise Line for this year’s annual Readers’ Choice Awards. We are privileged to have the opportunity to create our guests’ travel memories, enabling them to sail to all seven continents and explore their dream destinations, all in the elegant comfort and style of a Silversea cruise. We look forward to adding to our fleet and continuing to provide our guests with extraordinary voyages, unforgettable itineraries and unparalleled service.”
Karen Christensen, General Manager & Director Sales/Marketing, Australasia


Notable mention

Crystal Cruises

Not content with offering some of the best ocean ships around, ultra luxe Crystal is going for world domination in the coming months, launching the yacht Crystal Esprit, a private jet for world tours and breaking into the river cruise market.


Best premium cruise line

Princess Cruises

What we say: It’s no surprise that Princess takes out this category – it’s the category they do best. It’s not just the smaller ship size that sets premium lines apart. Princess focuses on service, destinations and onboard essentials such as food, wellness and entertainment. The line also consistently refurbishes its fleet, giving passengers the feeling that they’re stepping onto a brand-new ship every time they sail.

What you say: “They go the extra mile with everything they do!”
Karen Bonham

“You just feel a bit more special on Princess. I love all the activities and destinations, and the food is very good.” Janet Callahan

What they say: “It’s wonderful to be recognised once more as the best premium cruise line by Cruise Passenger readers. We take our role as the consummate host very seriously and have worked hard to ensure we constantly exceed the expectations of our guests, and that’s why we have the strongest repeat rate in the industry. We’re committed to helping our guests ‘come back new’ so it’s great to see that Australians enjoy our itineraries and onboard products so much.”
Stuart Allison, Vice President Australia & New Zealand


Notable mention

Holland America Line

Holland America has some big developments coming up, starting with the launch of the newly built Koningsdam in April next year. Add to that fleet-wide upgrades, a focus on experiential and immersive shore excursions, and some cool new amenities and you have a premium line we want to get aboard.


Best mid-range cruise line

Royal Caribbean

What we say: Australian cruisers love the Royal Caribbean ships that currently sail in our waters, but we think everyone is really excited about what’s coming next – Ovation of the Seas. The 4,180 passenger megaliner will be the biggest ship ever to homeport down under and is stuffed to the gills with high-tech gadgets, from robot bartenders to skydiving simulators and high-speed internet from bow to stern.

What you say: “Service, crew, food, onboard entertainment and activities, decor, amenities: they’re all five-star.” Kate South

What they say: “Royal Caribbean wouldn’t be where we are today without the ongoing support of Australia’s cruisers, and of course, the readers of Cruise Passenger, and we’d like to thank each and every one of you for your support. In a little over five years, we have enjoyed tremendous growth by introducing unique, world-class ships to the region, which have truly captured the imagination of Australian cruisers.” Adam Armstrong, International Commercial Director


Notable mention

P&O Cruises

The small ships from P&O can still compete with the big boys in the mid-range category, offering celebrity restaurants (courtesy of Luke Mangan), exciting adventure sports, adults’ only hideaways, kids’ clubs and pumping dance parties.


Best adventure cruise line


What we say: Adventure cruising is all about combining incredible destinations, immersive experiences and just the right ship. APT’s fleet of small ships are tough enough to make it to Antarctica yet stylish enough that they aren’t out of place when docked in the Seychelles. Itineraries are flexible, so the captain can choose to stop at a remote island or to follow a pod of whales as they move across the ocean.

What you say: “Nothing is too much trouble. Their service is wonderful, their ships beautiful and their staff unbelievably helpful.” Kaye Tyter

What they say: “We are delighted to receive the Cruise Passenger Readers’ Choice Award for Best Adventure Cruise Line, especially given that it is voted on by the people who are well versed in both the cruise industry and the APT product, our valued guests. We will continue to remain focused on delivering the unforgettable holiday experiences that keep our cruise guests coming back to book APT trips time and time again.” Debra Fox, Executive General Manager Global Sales and Marketing


Notable mention

Captain Cook Cruises

All the major cruise lines travel to the South Pacific, but there’s nothing like getting up close and personal with the islands of Fiji from a small ship. Captain Cook combines the usual swimming, snorkelling and sunbathing with visits to local schools, bustling markets and tiny churches to learn more about the real Fiji.


Best river cruise line overall


What we say: If you want to tour the back streets of Saigon with celebrity chef Luke Nguyen, then there’s only one river-cruise line to choose. APT has partnered with Nguyen to create regional menus for its ships, train the onboard chefs and personally host cruises. It’s just one of the ways that APT works to create an immersive experience for its passengers.

What you say: “APT river cruising is pure luxury. All-inclusive tours, activities, itinerary, gourmet meals, fine wines. APT has the best of them all.” Anne Flavel

What they say: “Receiving this accolade is no easy feat and it can only be achieved through exceptional service delivery from all parts of our business around the globe. So as well as thanking our guests and Cruise Passenger readers for their support and votes,
I would also like to thank all our staff for their continued dedication in delivering the highest calibre of river cruise product.” Debra Fox, Executive General Manager Global Sales and Marketing


Notable mention


There’s a lot of loyalty to your other favourite Australian river-cruise line. Scenic’s two new Asian river ships launching in 2016 were more than 50 per cent sold out before the brochures were even printed.


Best luxury river cruise line


What we say: With a new name and a stylish new look for 2015, Scenic has really amped up the luxury on the rivers. The Australian line is known for its all-inclusive promise, so everything from airport transfers to the minibar to the butler (and their tips) is already paid for once you step on board. Its newest Space-Ships have the largest suites on the water in Europe and Scenic Spirit will have the largest suite on the Mekong when it launches in January 2016.

What you say: “They really look after you!” Sylvia Hoffman

“It is the ultimate experience in cruising.” Leonie Bichel

What they say: “These awards really do mean so much to us as they are proof that we are delivering a world-class luxury river-cruise product that we can be proud of. 2015 has been a huge year for us in terms of river cruising with the launch of four new ships in three new destinations, including our expansion into Southeast Asia, and we can’t wait to welcome our guests on board and share these new destinations with them in 2016.” Michelle Black, General Manager Sales and Marketing.


Notable mention


Immersion, unique experiences and cultural interaction are the hallmarks of APT’s brand of luxury. Add to that some of the newest ships on the water and an ever-increasing range of itineraries and you have a pretty impressive product.


Best for first timers

P&O Cruises

What we say: With the launch of two new ships in November and another on the way for 2017, P&O is certainly making its presence felt in Australian waters. It has also introduced plenty of innovative features on board to tempt Aussie cruisers. The buffet has been replaced with the food court-style The Pantry dining venue, the adults-only Oasis retreat has been revamped and the new entertainment line-up dazzles passengers with Gatsby-themed cocktail soirees, Las Vegas pool parties and high-energy shows designed just for P&O.

What you say: “Love the balance of entertainment, relaxing and beautiful food P&O Cruises offers, together with fabulous happy staff. Always a perfect holiday.” Andrew Letts

What they say: “We are thrilled to receive this award from Cruise Passenger readers, as it shows we are the first port of call for the many Australians looking to take their first holiday at sea. Many of our holidaymakers keep coming back – once people try a cruise they are hooked!” Sture Myrmell, Senior Vice President, P&O Cruises Australia.


Notable mention

Princess Cruises

This is the line for first timers who want a top-notch introduction to the world of cruising. Princess offers these cruisers smaller ships, great destinations and impeccable service.


Best for wellness/spa

Princess Cruises

What we say: Last year, Princess Cruises changed the game for onboard spas, introducing the largest Japanese bathhouse-style wellness facility at sea on Diamond Princess. The tranquil space includes cedar and stone soaking tubs (swimsuits optional), a eucalyptus scented sauna, traditional wooden water ladles and buckets for washing, and a hydrotherapy pool that overlooks the wake of the ship. Diamond Princess spends half the year sailing in Australian waters, so local passengers can dip their toes in the water soon.

What you say: “They treat me like royalty when I sail with them.” Pat O’Donnell

What they say: “At Princess, we want our guests to come back new, so our focus is on providing them with a relaxing and rejuvenating retreat at sea. Our local ships have wonderful features designed to help guests unwind, from the beautiful Lotus Spas to the child-free Sanctuary retreats and we’re delighted to hear these features are being embraced and recognised by Cruise Passenger readers.” Stuart Allison, Vice President Australia & New Zealand


Notable mention

Royal Caribbean

Everything is big on a Royal Caribbean ship and the spa is no exception. With some of the largest wellness facilities at sea, there’s everything from sunrise yoga classes and beach bootcamps to relaxing steam rooms and full-body massage. You can even indulge in a little nip and tuck with the onboard MediSpa.


Best cruise line for food

Princess Cruises

What we say: Princess is the latest line to bring a celebrity chef on board to jazz up its menus, partnering with Australian Curtis Stone. His new menu items for the main dining room debuted on Melbourne-based Golden Princess in October and will roll out across the rest of the fleet. Curtis will also launch his signature SHARE restaurant and a private chef’s table experience.

What you say: “Princess made my friends and I feel like kings and queens during our stay. The food was fantastic and there was always something new to try.” Winston Tang

What they say: “At Princess, we’re passionate about good food, which is one of the many reasons we have just partnered with chef Curtis Stone. We take tremendous pride and care in preparing and serving our guests freshly made dishes in our many dining venues, so we are thrilled to be recognised by Cruise Passenger readers as having the best onboard food.” Stuart Allison, Vice President Australia & New Zealand.


Notable mention

Royal Caribbean

There are more than 20 dining options on board the world’s largest ship, Allure of the Seas, so we know Royal Caribbean can do volume. But they are also producing high quality, innovative food across the fleet, plus there’s Jamie Oliver at the helm of his signature Jamie’s Italian restaurant.


Best for onboard entertainment

Princess Cruises

What we say: Big-screen movies on the top deck with free popcorn and blankets? Yes, please. Movies Under the Stars is one of the most popular entertainment options on board Princess ships. If you’re looking for more traditional cruise entertainment, each ship in Princess’ local fleet has at least five shows playing, such as British Invasion, featuring UK chart toppers from the 1960s onwards, and the R&B tribute Sweet Soul Music.

What you say: “Great ship, amazing service and unforgettable entertainment onboard.” Anna Prencipe

What they say: “We’ve introduced some great new entertainment initiatives across our fleet over the past 12 months, including our exciting partnership with Discovery, which offers interactive onboard programs and exclusive shore excursions based on top-rated Discovery network properties. We’re delighted to hear this partnership is hitting the mark with guests and look forward to developing it further, alongside our many other entertainment offerings that our guests know and love.” Stuart Allison, Vice President Australia & New Zealand.

Notable mention

Royal Caribbean

Want to watch the Broadway musicals Cats, Mamma Mia, Saturday Night Fever or We Will Rock You at sea? Then Royal Caribbean is your line of choice. That’s if you have any spare time after the skydiving and surfing simulators, rock-climbing walls, dodgem cars and mini golf, of course.


Best for families

Disney Cruise Line

What we say: For families, it’s hard to go past Mickey Mouse. The winning combination of Disney characters, onboard facilities such as water parks, kids’ clubs and child-friendly activities puts Disney Cruise Line at the top for families. The line is also planning to break the mould for river cruising when it launches new Adventures by Disney river journeys in Europe next year.

What you say: “Disney Cruise Line is magical. The activities they have on board keep you busy for hours on end. Everything is themed and creates the most perfect atmosphere. The best days of my life were spent on Disney cruise ships.” Emily Plater

What they say: “Each and every day, our dedicated crew members deliver exceptional vacation experiences for our guests. We’re most proud of awards like these that come directly from readers – our guests – and are truly honoured to be named the Best For Families by Cruise Passenger readers.” Karl Holz, President of New Vacations & Disney Cruise Line.

Notable mention

P&O Cruises

P&O is Australia’s very own family fun line with kids’ clubs for all ages, plenty of outdoor activities and itineraries that call at kid-friendly destinations such as the South Pacific and New Zealand.


Celebrity Cruises

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