Tom Stieghorst
Tom Stieghorst

Travel sellers, particularly luxury agents, may want to reserve some time to look at the latest issue of Town & Country Travel which includes the publication's first ever recognition awards for cruise lines.

T&C Travel may not be a familiar name to many agents. For one thing it only comes out twice a year and is a spin-off of the better-known Town & Country magazine, targeted to affluent, sophisticated readers. Its executive editor since 2014 is Klara Glowczewska, whose background includes 26 years editing Conde Nast Traveler.

To evaluate the cruise sector, T&C retained Cruise Critic Editor-in-Chief Carolyn Spencer Brown, who divided her assessments into five categories  mainstream, classic and contemporary luxury, river cruises and expedition cruises.

The winners in most categories seem spot on to me  Celebrity Cruises (Best in Design) or Cunard Line's Queen Mary 2 (Best for Pet Lovers).

And the selection of Norwegian Cruise Line as best overall in the Mainstream Luxury category, while it may have raised some eyebrows among the elite Town & Country set, is a nice win for the line which has been striving to gain recognition for its service and product quality.

Norwegian's overall award in a category that overlapped luxury with megaship attributes was undoubtedly given a boost by The Haven luxury enclave, available on just eight of Norwegian's 14 ships.

Brown writes that megaships are a solution for luxury travelers cruising with an extended family. "Some ships do it far more luxuriously than others," she writes, such as the Haven-equipped Norwegian ships.

Norwegian also took the Best for Food award in the mainstream division. Brown writes: "Norwegian has long trumpeted its wide range of dining options: teppanyaki, French, Brazilian churrascaria, American steakhouse, and many more. Its recent acquisition of the similarly culinarily committed Oceania Cruises means that now the quality of the food offerings matches the variety."

T&C's ratings include some whimsical categories, such as Best Ship You've Never Heard Of (Hapag Lloyd's Europa 2) and Best Match of Ship and Destination (the Paul Gauguin Cruises' ship Paul Gauguin).  But there's general consistency across categories, with awards for Best for Onboard Activities, Best for Active Travelers, and so forth.

Besides Norwegian, other winners in the Best Overall category include Crystal Cruises (Classic Luxury), Viking Ocean Cruises (Contemporary Luxury), Amawaterways (River Cruises), and Abercrombie & Kent/Ponant (Expedition Cruises).

For a closer look at the awards, visit the Town & Country Travel website

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