Azamara CruisesNominated: Premium
Azamara, a Royal Caribbean Cruises brand, consists of two 694-passenger ships, the Azamara Journey and the Azamara Quest. Both feature butler service in staterooms, enrichment programs, two specialty restaurants and live entertainment nightly. The ships recently underwent a $17.5 million revitalization. Some 93% of the staterooms offer ocean views, and 68% have a private veranda. Azamara Cruisetours offers a cruise combined with a land tour.
Carnival Cruise LinesNominated: Alaska, Caribbean, Domestic, Overall, Sales & Service
The 130,000-ton Carnival Dream, the largest Fun Ship ever constructed, is slated to debut next September. The 3,646-passenger superliner will be a new class of vessel for the line, with a new layout, a sleek hull and a distinctive profile. The Carnival Dream will sail year-round, seven-day Caribbean cruises from Port Canaveral beginning Dec. 5, assuming the route of the Carnival Glory, which will be redeployed to Miami to operate year-round, seven-day Caribbean cruises beginning Oct. 3. In 2010, the Carnival Glory will operate four- and five-day Atlantic Canada cruises, expanding Carnival's capacity on its seasonal cruise program from New York. Meanwhile, in January, the Carnival Sensation will undergo a multimillion-dollar refurbishment, representing the next phase of the line's Evolutions of Fun product enhancement initiative for the line's eight Fantasy class vessels. The Carnival Sensation, which operates the line's three- and four-day Bahamas cruise program from Port Canaveral, will be the fourth Fantasy class ship to receive the full makeovers. The Carnival Inspiration, Carnival Imagination and Carnival Fantasy are the others.
Celebrity CruisesNominated: Alaska, Caribbean, Domestic, Europe, Overall, Premium, Sales & Service
Celebrity's fleet was joined by the Celebrity Solstice in October, the first ship in the line's five-ship Solstice class fleet. It will be followed by the Celebrity Equinox in 2009, the Celebrity Eclipse in 2010, a fourth Solstice class ship in 2011 and a fifth in 2012. The Celebrity Solstice embarked on its inaugural season Nov. 23, on a series of seven-night Eastern Caribbean cruises roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale. In the spring, the Celebrity Solstice will sail 10- and 11-night Mediterranean cruises roundtrip from Civitavecchia, Italy. The Solstice has five specialty restaurants compared with the Millennium class ships, which have only one. The 2,850-passenger Solstice ships have larger standard staterooms than Celebrity's other ships. Ninety percent of the staterooms will be outside, and 85% will have verandas. Celebrity also offers land-tour vacations in Alaska, Australia, Canada, Europe and South America.
Costa CruisesNominated: Europe
Costa Cruises is the fifth-largest cruise line in the world. Based in Genoa, Italy, with offices in 29 countries, Costa Cruises is still growing and expects to have a fleet of 17 ships by 2012. Its current ships provide an ambience that is distinctly Italian, and, this year, Costa is celebrating 60 years of Cruising Italian Style. Costa Cruises' 2009 Worldwide Voyages brochure features 100 different itineraries aboard 14 ships. Scheduled for delivery in 2009 are the new Costa Luminosa in April and the Costa Pacifica in June. Costa Cruises is a brand of Carnival Corp.
Crystal CruisesNominated: Luxury
Crystal Cruises operates the 940-guest Crystal Symphony and the 1,080-guest Crystal Serenity on itineraries of seven to 108 days. For its 15th annual world cruise, set to launch on Jan. 10, 2010, Crystal Cruises has added a Middle Eastern twist. The itinerary on the Crystal Serenity features maiden visits to Kuwait, Iran and Saudi Arabia and, for the first time, Black Sea ports. In the news for 2009, Crystal Cruises is expanding its Experiences of Discovery golf-themed cruises into Asia during the Crystal Symphony's 11-day Hong Kong to Singapore itinerary, beginning April 20. Crystal is owned by Tokyo-based Nippon Yusen Kaisha.
Cunard LineNominated: Luxury
Cunard's 41-year-old Queen Elizabeth 2 retired this year, making its final sailing in November from Southampton, England, to Dubai. There it will serve as a luxury floating hotel and entertainment destination. The Cunard fleet will be joined by a new Queen Elizabeth in 2010. The Queen Mary and Queen Victoria will depart in January 2010 on their world cruises. Guests who book by Feb. 28 receive an additional 10% off early booking fares. In addition to world cruises, the ships offer liner and segment voyages, which are now open for booking.
Holland America LineNominated: Alaska, Caribbean, Europe, Overall, Premium, Sales & Service
Holland America will name its next newbuild the Nieuw Amsterdam. The 2,106-passenger ship, the second in the Signature class, is scheduled for a 2010 delivery. The first vessel in this class, the Eurodam, joined the fleet in July. The Nieuw Amsterdam will be the 15th ship in HAL's fleet. Holland America Line's current fleet of 13 ships offers nearly 500 cruises to more than 320 ports on two- to 108-day itineraries. Holland America Line added six Express Tours to its Alaska program in 2009. Express Tours combine a weeklong cruise through the Inside Passage with two or three nights in Anchorage and Talkeetna.
Norwegian Cruise LineNominated: Alaska, Caribbean, Domestic, Europe, Overall, Sales & ServiceNorwegian Cruise Line is building a third-generation Freestyle Cruising project known as F3, for delivery in 2010. NCL today has the youngest fleet in the industry; in October 2007 it added its latest ship, the 2,400 passenger Norwegian Gem. Recently, NCL announced that the Norwegian Spirit will receive a multimillion-dollar renovation. In other news, as part of its commitment to Partnership 2.0 (a companywide initiative to strengthen its relationship with travel partners), NCL launched Groups 2.0, an enhanced group-booking program. Among its benefits, Group 2.0 enables agents to hold up to 16 staterooms with no deposit required until four months prior to sailing; allows individual bookings to be transferred into groups until the day prior to sailing; and enables travel partners to convert an existing group into new FIT pricing should overall rates be lowered.
Oceania CruisesNominated: Premium
Oceania Cruises is the world's largest upper-premium cruise line. The line's three 684-passenger ships are the Regatta, the Insignia and the Nautica. Itineraries span the globe: Africa, Arabia, the Black Sea, the Caribbean, Central America, China, the Greek isles, Iceland, India, the Mediterranean, Mexico, Russia, Scandinavia, Southeast Asia and South America. Oceania has two ships on order for 2010 and 2011, the first newbuilds in the line's five-year history. The ships will be twice the size of the three ships in the line's current fleet but will accommodate only 75% more passengers, giving them an improved staff-to-passenger ratio. The first of the two ships is to be called the Marina.
Princess CruisesNominated: Alaska, Caribbean, Domestic, Europe, Overall, Premium, Sales & ServicePrincess Cruises' fleet numbers 18 ships, including its 2008 launch, the Ruby Princess, which will sail the Mediterranean in the summer. The Star Princess, Caribbean Princess and Golden Princess will be renovated over the next year, as the line moves to add features from its three newest ships to the balance of its fleet. Princess has nearly 100 itineraries ranging from seven to 102 days. The line sails to all seven continents and calls at some 280 ports around the world. Princess' Adventures Ashore program features more than 2,000 in-port excursions worldwide, and the company's cruisetour offerings enable passengers to combine a cruise with a land tour.
Regent Seven Seas CruisesNominated: LuxuryRegent Seven Seas Cruises will offer two World Cruise itineraries in 2009, becoming the first luxury-cruise operator ever to offer two global winter cruises in the same year. The Seven Seas Voyager will embark Jan. 12 from Los Angeles on a journey to the South Pacific, Orient, Arabia and the Mediterranean, while the Seven Seas Mariner will depart Fort Lauderdale on Jan. 26 to explore the Pacific Rim, New Zealand, the South Pacific, Alaska and South America. The line's Paul Gauguin will sail its last season as a Regent Seven Seas ship in 2009.
Royal Caribbean InternationalNominated: Alaska, Caribbean, Domestic, Europe, Overall, Sales & ServiceRoyal Caribbean International is set to debut the largest ship in the world on Dec. 12, 2009, when the Oasis of the Seas embarks on its inaugural season with 19 consecutive seven-night sailings to the Eastern Caribbean. Starting May 1, 2010, the Oasis of the Seas will alternate its Eastern Caribbean itinerary with a Western Caribbean itinerary. The Oasis of the Seas will introduce a new concept to cruising: seven themed areas that include Central Park, Boardwalk and an enhanced Royal Promenade. The ship will sail from Fort Lauderdale. Royal Caribbean also offers land-tour vacations in Alaska, Asia, Australia, Canada, Europe, South America and New Zealand.
Seabourn Cruise LineNominated: LuxurySeabourn Cruise Line is owned by Carnival Corp. but operates independently from other Carnival Corp. brands. Seabourn has ordered three 32,000-ton, 450-passenger vessels to be delivered in 2009, 2010 and 2011, at a cost of $250 million each. The expansion project will increase Seabourn's capacity of luxury cruising accommodations significantly in the next three years. The Seabourn Odyssey is scheduled for a June delivery. It will represent the first newly built capacity in the ultraluxury end of the cruise industry in more than six years.
Silversea CruisesNominated: Luxury
Silversea plans to spend a half-billion dollars on its fleet over the next three years. Its two smallest ships, the Silver Wind and Silver Cloud, are targeted for multimillion-dollar refurbishments. Currently, the line's fleet of all-suite ships comprises the Silver Cloud, Silver Wind, Silver Shadow and Silver Whisper. Silversea expects that its new 540-passenger ship, the Silver Spirit, will be delivered in late 2009. Silversea Cruises launched itself into the expedition-sailing sphere last year with the Prince Albert II, a 132-passenger vessel that opened the door for Silversea to offer Arctic and Antarctica voyages. Silversea said demand for Antarctic and Arctic voyages has exceeded demand for Tahiti, causing the company to cancel the ship's Tahiti deployment scheduled for mid-March to late October 2009. The Prince Albert II will return to the Arctic on June 1 and operate nine sailings there before heading south to spend fall and winter in Antarctica, the Falkland Islands and South Georgia.
Azamara Journey (Azamara Cruises)Nominated: Premium
Azamara Cruises will operate a 114-day, 54-port world cruise on the 710-passenger Azamara Journey after the 2008 season. The Azamara Journey is the first in a new class of ship, a deluxe vessel that fills the void between premium and luxury. Azamara Journey cruises are priced at about 40% more than the cost of premium cruise lines but less than luxury cruise lines.
Azamara Quest (Azamara Cruises)Nominated: PremiumThe Azamara Quest, like its sister ship the Azamara Journey, was designed to be smaller and more sleek than most cruise ships, enabling it to access exotic destinations that larger ships cannot reach. Also like its sister ship, the Quest boasts two specialty restaurants, concierge amenities, a spa and wellness center, a piano bar, a wine bar, live entertainment and daily enrichment programs.
Carnival Splendor (Carnival)Nominated: Rookie
The first of Carnival's Splendor class of ships, the Carnival Splendor takes passengers on a variety of itineraries, including Europe and South America. Features include staterooms with flat-screen TVs; a 21,000-square-foot, two-level spa and gym facility; a 5,500-square-foot children's playroom; and a midship pool covered with a two-deck-high Sliding Sky Dome.
Caribbean Princess (Princess)Nominated: Premium
Princess Cruises calls the Caribbean Princess the granddaddy of its fleet because it boasts the largest carrying capacity of any of its ships. Its 900 balcony staterooms and a deck of minisuites offer private vistas. Hallmark features include Movies Under the Stars, the Lotus Spa and numerous formal and casual eating options, including the open-kitchen Cafe Caribe.
Constellation (Celebrity)Nominated: Overall, Premium
The Constellation, one of Celebrity's four Millennium ships, offers guests a specialty restaurant, Ocean Liners, which includes paneling from the historical ocean liner the Ile de France and features tableside cooking, carving and flambe in true French style.
Crystal Serenity (Crystal)Nominated: LuxuryAt 68,000 tons and capable of serving 1,080 guests, the Crystal Serenity, like its sister ship the Crystal Symphony, maintains one of the highest space-per-guest ratios at sea. Featuring many of the same popular public spaces and amenities as the Symphony, the Serenity serves up innovation in the form of new dining venues like Tastes, Silk Road and the Sushi Bar.
Crystal Symphony (Crystal)Nominated: Luxury
The 50,000-ton, 940-guest Crystal Symphony is one of the most spacious cruise ships at sea. Onboard amenities include grand lounges, a full-service fitness facility, a casino, a feng shui-inspired spa, a 360-degree teak promenade deck, two pools, a Jacuzzi, award-winning cuisine and entertainment plus private verandas on most staterooms.
Eurodam (Holland America)Nominated: Premium, RookieThe Eurodam, the first of Holland America Line's new Signature Class vessels, set sail on its maiden voyage from Copenhagen, Denmark, on July 5. Introduced on the Eurodam are the following features: a topside Pan-Asian restaurant and lounge with panoramic views, an Italian restaurant adjacent to the Lido, an atrium bar area, private cabanas on its upper decks and spa cabins that offer access to the spa. Also new on the Eurodam are a reconfigured show lounge and a photographic and imaging center.
Freedom of the Seas (RCI)Nominated: Overall
The Freedom of the Seas features the first-ever onboard surf park at sea; cantilevered whirlpools that extend 12 feet beyond the sides of the ship; an ice-skating rink; a boxing ring; the H2O Zone waterpark; and the line's largest rock-climbing wall. Extensive WiFi capabilities and connectivity for cellphones are available, and there are flat-screen TVs in every room.
Independence of the Seas (RCI)Nominated: Rookie
The third in Royal Caribbean International's Freedom class of ships, the Independence of the Seas is the largest ship ever to be homeported in Europe. It has all and more of the onboard innovations offered by the other Freedom class ships as well as a variety of European itineraries.
Liberty of the Seas (RCI)Nominated: Overall
The Liberty of the Seas made its mark in May 2007 by becoming the first major cruise vessel to have a travel agent serve as its godmother. The ship has the same features that made the Freedom of the Seas famous, including the Flowrider surf machine, cantilevered hot tubs off the side of the ship and the H2O Zone, a children's water park.
Norwegian Gem (NCL)Nominated: Rookie
The Norwegian Gem is the latest in the Jewel class family of ships, sister ship to the Norwegian Pearl. The ship has 11 bars and lounges, 12 restaurants, a four-lane bowling alley, an exclusive courtyard and garden villas, penthouses and suites, interconnecting staterooms and New York departures.
Oosterdam (Holland America)Nominated: Premium
Launched in 2003, the Oosterdam is the second in Holland America's Vista class of ships. Symbolic of the line's more than 135-year history of circumnavigating the globe, the centerpiece of the Oosterdam is a Waterford crystal globe, prominently displayed in a three-story atrium. The 1,848-passenger Oosterdam will embark on a 24-day Mediterranean cruise from Barcelona on April 29, May 31 and Aug. 11; a 16-day European cruise from Barcelona on Oct. 17; and a 17-day cruise of the Americas from Santiago, Chile, in 2010.
Queen Mary 2 (Cunard)Nominated: Luxury, OverallThe Queen Mary 2 departed on its 100th transatlantic voyage in September from Southampton, England, to New York. On arrival, the QM2 logged 711,288 nautical miles since its debut, with 316,729 nautical miles on transatlantic voyages alone. The QM2's regularly scheduled transatlantic service forms the cornerstone of its annual itineraries, which also include its second world cruise in 2009 and forays into the Caribbean, Mediterranean and Norway. The QM2's amenities include a Canyon Ranch SpaClub, a cultural enrichment program and the first planetarium at sea. The 13-deck, 1,132-foot ship has room for up to 2,592 passengers. Three-quarters of the rooms have balconies.
Queen Victoria (Cunard)Nominated: RookieIn January 2008, the Queen Victoria made its global debut, departing on a world cruise. The ship offers four- to 16-day voyages roundtrip from its homeport of Southampton. It will embark on a total of eight voyages to the Mediterranean in 2009 ranging from 12 to 16 days. The 14-day Baltic Splendours I voyage departs May 27. The Queen Victoria also will offer four four-day voyages, all calling at Cherbourg, France; Rotterdam, Netherlands (for visits to Amsterdam); and Zeebrugge, Belgium (for visits to Bruges). They depart May 2, Aug. 29, Oct. 22 and Dec. 5. A highlight for the Queen Victoria will be its 24-day inaugural voyage to Canada and New England. The original Cunard paddlesteamers sailed from Liverpool, England, to Boston via Halifax, Nova Scotia, making Queen Victoria's first call at these latter two ports special.
Seven Seas Voyager (Regent Seven Seas)Nominated: Luxury, OverallSeven Seas Voyager is the world's second all-suite, all-balcony ship and the second to feature a restaurant operated by Le Cordon Bleu of Paris, following its sister ship, the Seven Seas Mariner. There are four main dining venues, which have what Regent Seven Seas calls some of the highest space and service ratios at sea. Among the ship's amenities are all-suite, all-balcony accommodations for 700 guests; single, open-seating dining; a guest lecturer program; and a computer center and wireless Internet access throughout the ship.
Silver Whisper (Silversea Cruises)Nominated: LuxuryThe Silver Whisper, sister ship to the Silver Shadow, was launched in 2001. Each has a capacity for only 388 passengers, giving these Millennium class ships the highest passenger-to-space ratio in the world, according to the company. Each suite offers a view of sea and sky, and 80% have furnished teak verandas. Silversea features open seating in its dining venues.
RIVER CRUISE LINES
Avalon Waterways, a Globus brand, has a fleet that includes some of the youngest river ships in Europe. Last year, Avalon launched two sister ships, the Avalon Tranquility and the Avalon Imagery. This year, the Avalon Scenery set sail, and four more ships are being built, two to launch next year and two in 2010. Avalon ships sail the waters of China, Europe, Egypt and the Galapagos Islands. In an attempt to entice travel agents to sell its cruises, Avalon held its first agent fam cruise in November, a four-night Avalon Tranquility sailing along the Danube River, for 50 top-selling Globus agents. Avalon said it plans to offer at least one additional agent educational sailing in 2009.
Peter Deilmann Cruises
Peter Deilmann Cruises has been offering European river cruise vacations since 1983. The company owns and operates nine river vessels. In 2009, the Deutschland, an oceangoing vessel launched in 1998, will take a rare look at Iceland and Greenland on the same itinerary, along with Scotland, the Faroe Islands and Copenhagen. Departure date is July 25 from Hamburg, Germany. Also in 2009, eight ships will depart on 255 sailings in Europe. The line also sails itineraries to Africa, Asia and the Middle East. In addition to its lineup of cruise tours, Deilmann has special-interest cruises catering to music, golf, gardens, cycling, hiking and wellness/spa.
Tauck World DiscoveryTauck World Discovery's river cruise division dates to 2001, when the company created a business development group to look into new markets. By 2004, Tauck began offering chartered river cruises. In 2006, it launched the Swiss Emerald. This April, it christened the Swiss Sapphire, and in April 2009, it's on schedule to launch the Swiss Jewel. Tauck is increasing its European river departures in 2009 to 80, up from 64 in 2008. (Tauck also offers two- and three-night China and Egypt river cruises as part of land programs in those destinations.) Also in 2009, Tauck will introduce the first cruise to its Tauck Bridges family-oriented brand. River cruising has been the fastest-growing segment of Tauck's business for the past several years. The river ships are owned by Basel, Switzerland-based Scylla Tours AG but carry the Tauck name and is exclusive to the tour operator. Tauck and Scylla plan to add two new Tauck-branded ships on Europe's rivers over the next two years.
Uniworld River CruisesUniworld offers over 500 departures on more than 40 itineraries. The line sails on 12 rivers in 20 countries throughout China, Egypt, Europe and Russia. Since 2006, Uniworld has made major investments in its ships in an effort to position itself at the top end of the river-cruise market. The company owns eight ships, jointly operates three others (in Portugal and Egypt) and uses still others in Egypt under charter agreements. In China, space is booked through an affiliation with Victoria Cruises. In 2009, Uniworld will add two new ships. The River Beatrice will join the fleet in March along the Danube, and the River Tosca will come on board in April, sailing the Nile.
Viking River Cruises
Viking River Cruises, the world's largest river cruise line with a fleet of 21 vessels, sails the rivers of Europe, China and Russia and Ukraine. In 2008, the company launched its first Viking Tours itinerary, consisting of 10 ground packages of nine to 15 nights and encompassing 25 countries. Viking tours pricing covers meals, shore excursions, lectures and cultural performances; it also covers hotel accommodations during city portions of cruisetour itineraries. For guests who purchase air travel through Viking, transfers to and from the airport, ship and hotels are also included.
This article originally contained incorrect ship information for Holland America's Eurodam.