Cruise Critic Celebrates Ten Years of Innovation with Cruise Line Award Program

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The awards program recognizes the accomplishments, in this contemporary era of cruising, of cruise lines that have genuinely blazed a new trail in areas such as dining, enrichment, and recreation.

Over the past ten years especially, cruise lines have been extraordinarily innovative in not only adapting to more contemporary travel trends but also in reshaping the cruise experience for years to come

Cruise Critic (http://www.CruiseCritic.com), the Internet’s most comprehensive cruise Web site, has created Cruise Critic’s Cruise Innovation Awards, in honor of Cruise Critic’s tenth anniversary. The awards program recognizes the accomplishments, in this contemporary era of cruising, of cruise lines that have genuinely blazed a new trail in areas such as dining, enrichment, and recreation.

“Over the past ten years especially, cruise lines have been extraordinarily innovative in not only adapting to more contemporary travel trends but also in reshaping the cruise experience for years to come,” notes Kathleen Tucker, founder and publisher of Cruise Critic. In choosing its winners, Tucker notes that Cruise Critic editor Carolyn Spencer Brown drew on her extensive experience chronicling the cruise industry. She also polled industry experts and consulted longtime Cruise Critic community members to compile the site’s list of winners.

Winners of Cruise Critic’s Cruise Innovation Awards are:

*Onboard Dining: Norwegian Cruise Line’s creation of the “freestyle dining” concept -- in which ships offer resort-style restaurant experiences -- has inspired other cruise lines to tweak if not completely overhaul the traditional “set seating, set-tablemates” cruise dining experience.

*Affordable Balconies: When Princess Cruises unveiled its then-new Crown Princess (no longer part of the fleet), the ship featured a whopping 184 cabins with balconies -- an amenity that at the time wasn’t even considered by other lines like Royal Caribbean and Carnival. From that start, Princess has continued to design and build ships with higher and higher ratios of balcony cabins, priced for all travel budgets.

*Pathfinding Itineraries (Luxury Lines): From exotic Caribbean to the furthest ports in Asia, Radisson Seven Seas Cruises has focused on distinctive destinations to attract adventurous passengers. RSSC hasn’t stopped there…once in port, its series of unique on-shore experiences and creation of a travel concierge maximize the experience.

*Pathfinding Itineraries (Big Ship Lines): For folks who are equally adventurous travelers but work with more modest budgets, Holland America, founded in 1873, has had plenty of time to hone its explorations of the world. In addition to its newfound status in offering 2007 world cruises on two ships, new ports of call in coming seasons include stops at Benghazi, Libya, the Turks & Caicos Islands, Quebec’s Saguenay Fjords, and South Georgia Island in the sub Antarctic.

*Family Friendly: Obvious but true -- Disney Cruise Line revolutionized family-oriented cruising when it launched Disney Magic, its first ship, in 1998. Special features include revolving dining, a children’s program that features a range of educational, theatrical and parent-child experiences, a parents-off-limits teen facility and adult-only areas such as pool, spa and nightclubs.

*Recreation and Fun-in-the-Sun: Royal Caribbean has long created distinctive and dynamic recreational opportunities – from rock climbing walls and ice rinks to roller blading and, coming soon, cruising’s first surf park! Its spa and fitness facilities, particularly on ships ranging from Radiance of the Seas to Mariner of the Seas, are elaborate and distinctive.

*Celebrity Chef. In the era in which quantity of food often usurped quality, Celebrity Cruises was the first to team up with a world-acclaimed chef to raise the level of its cuisine across all onboard restaurants. Michel Roux, a British-based Michelin-starred chef who established London’s legendary Le Gavroche and the acclaimed Waterside Inn in Bray on Thames, actually signed on with Celebrity before the line even launched its first ship. Roux, still a major presence there today, oversees menus, creates wine lists and trains restaurant staff.

*Enrichment Initiatives. On Crystal’s fleet, its comprehensive Creative Learning Institute is the next best thing to going back to school. The program comprises areas such as Arts and Entertainment, Business & Technology, Lifestyle, Wellness and Wine & Food.

*Introducing Cruise Travel to First Timers (Big Ships): No company has transformed so many land-based vacationers into cruise aficionados than Carnival Cruise Lines. From its very inception, when Carnival founder Ted Arison introduced the battered, quite second hand Mardi Gras to travelers as a cruise experience for the “average Joe”, he created a “fun ship” boom. Thirty-three years later, the ships have become larger, more amenity laden and more sophisticated than the late, lamented Mardi Gras…but Carnival’s original onboard joie de vivre still serves as a magnet to land-based travelers.

*Introducing Cruise Travel to First Timers (Small Ships): The latest entrant into the luxury cruising marketplace is SeaDream Yacht Club. With just two ships, holding only 110 folks apiece, the ultra-pampering, ultra flexible life onboard these ships, more like semi-private yachts than cruise vessels, means that passengers really are pretty much free to do whatever they please (whenever they please to do it). The ships are small enough to venture into the tiniest (and most exclusive ports of call), there’s a fabulous sports platform off the aft with everything from sailboats to Jet Skis, and SeaDream offers just about the most all-inclusive policies (save for shore excursions and spa treatments) at sea.

*Homeporting. While the concept of drive-to ports of embarkation is nothing new for folks who live in cruise-convenient places like the East Coast’s Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and Orlando, Norwegian Cruise Line was the first to genuinely explore the concept of “homeland cruising” from cities all around America’s coastal areas. Most innovative approach? A year-round schedule of sailings to the Bahamas and Caribbean from New York City – even in the dead of winter – has been so successful that other cruise lines are copying the move. NCL, via the creation of NCL America, is also the first contemporary line since the failure of American Hawaii to park itself in Honolulu.

About Cruise Critic

Cruise Critic, celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, is the leading cruise community site on the Internet and features cruise reviews, cruise line profiles, ports of call highlights, cruise features, cruise deals and cruise news. Cruise Critic also has the most heavily trafficked cruise message boards on the Web.

Cruise Critic, which this year was presented with a bronze in the prestigious Society of American Travel Writers’ Lowell Thomas Awards, has been critically lauded by publications such as The New York Times, The Washington Post and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, among others, and was named to Travel + Leisure’s “The 35 Best Travel Sites” in 2004.

Contact:

Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor

609-730-9155 X17

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