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Editors Choice Awards for 2017
Wednesday, February 14, 2018  

2017 Editors' Choice AwardsBelow are the cruise lines, airlines, hotels and products that we feel are worthy of special recognition in 2017. Awards are based upon our personal experience with cruise lines, ships, hotels, resorts, attractions and other travel-related products, during the calendar year.


Best Luxury Cruise Ship -
Silversea Cruises' Silver Muse

Silver Muse raises the bar in luxury cruising to a new level. No other word in the cruise industry is as overused (and incorrectly used) as "luxury." Silver Muse is a ship that not only earns that designation, it defines it. Read our review.

Silver Muse

Best Accommodations - Silversea Cruises' Silver Muse - Deluxe Veranda Suite

Just about everything we have ever asked for in a cruise ship stateroom has been integrated into the Deluxe Veranda Suite on Silversea's new Silver Muse. USB charging ports, a wireless phone charging station, an alarm clock, spacious balcony, super-comfortable mattress, tons of storage space, the list goes on and on. Read our review.

Best Food and Dining - Silversea Cruises' Silver Muse

With eight different restaurants, Silver Muse is the first cruise ship to ditch the traditional "main dining room" concept. It took a few days for us to get used to the new system, but once we did, we became big fans. THIS is how cruise ship dining should work! Every restaurant has a unique theme and menu, and the implementation was typical Silversea...excellent! Read our review.

Amazing seared scallops with strawberries at Atlantide on Silver Muse

Best Bar Service - Silversea Cruises' Silver Muse

All beer, wine, cocktails, bottled water, and soft drinks are complimentary on Silversea. But, excellent bar service is more than just "free" drinks. Waiters remember your favorite drinks, bartenders pour generously, and if you want something special, all you have to do is ask. And, each evening, waiters deliver delicious hors d' oeuvres.

Best Shore Excursions - Silversea Cruises

This was a tough category because many cruise lines do a good job with shore excursions. Silversea's complimentary shuttle service in most ports is a huge benefit. A lot of seasoned travelers like to go "on their own", and the shuttle service makes that a breeze. Complimentary bottles of water are always available as you disembark the ship, and a Silversea representative accompanies most excursions. The quality and variety of excursions is also top notch. Read our review.

Lunch in a Michelin-star restaurant in Sorrento on Silver Muse

Viking Ocean Cruises

Best New Ship -
Viking Ocean Cruises' Viking Sea

Our first sailing aboard Viking Ocean Cruises blew us away. Viking Sea (and her identical sister ships) are perhaps the best-designed ships currently sailing. A lot of thought has gone into creature comforts. Decor is predictably Scandinavian, but surprisingly elegant. Everything about this ship has the feel of a 5-star vessel. Comfortable staterooms, great dining options, a wonderful panorama lounge and the best afternoon tea you will find anywhere were just a few of our favorite things about this ship. Read our review.

Best Entertainment - Viking Ocean Cruises' Viking Sea

The quality of entertainment on Viking Sea caught us completely by surprise. I can't remember the last time we attended every single show on a cruise, but we did on Viking Sea! Excellent singers, great choreography, and talented dancers combined to make each show so enjoyable. Viking Ocean definitely punches above its weight class in the area of entertainment. Read our review.

Best Cruise Director - Viking Ocean Cruises - Heather Clancy

This was an easy decision. Heather Clancy (or, is it Clooney?) has that rare combination of personality, tireless energy and talent. In addition to overseeing the entertainment on board Viking Sea, she is an accomplished opera singer. We can only think of two or three other cruise directors over the past 16 years that have made such a fantastic impression on us.

Heather Clancy

Best Dining Concept - Viking Ocean Cruises' Viking Sea - The Kitchen Table

We really enjoyed this intimate dining concept. The demonstration kitchen puts guests right in the middle of the action with the Executive Chef. Each course was expertly prepared and presented. They only offer The Kitchen Table once per cruise, and it costs a hefty $199 per person to experience it. However, if you are a true gourmand, you will not want to miss the opportunity. Read our review.

Best Buffet - Viking Ocean Cruises' Viking Sea - World Cafe

If you follow our blog, you know that Rickee and I are not big fans of buffets. The food is usually cold, tired and bland. But, World Cafe is different. First of all, the seating is very comfortable and there are tables inside and out. We love the fresh shrimp and crab available each evening, along with delicious sushi. A few items are also available each evening prepared á la minute. Food quality, variety and taste are above what you will find on most any other cruise line buffet.

The Ship We Would Most Like To Sail On Again - Viking Ocean Cruises' Viking Sea

This was a very close call between Viking Sea and Silver Muse. However, the combination of dining options, entertainment, high-tech features, excellent service, and a ship that feels much smaller than it is, won us over. Read our review.

Best Lounge Entertainment - Carnival Cruise Line - Carnival Vista - Punchliner Comedy

This was our second Carnival cruise with a Punchliner Comedy Club and there is a reason why guests start lining up to get in an hour before the show. Carnival has brought some of the best comedians in the country on board to entertain guests. Both family-friendly and adult-only shows are featured each night. We enjoyed four different comedians during our seven-night cruise. Read our review.

Most Fun Cruise - Carnival Cruise Line - Carnival Vista

Carnival has been promoting its ships as as the "fun ships", and we certainly found that to be an accurate description. The cruise staff is excellent and provides dozens of activities through the day. The SkyRide was super cool and fun. Carnival Waterworks is fun for kids of all ages. If you want to have non-stop fun for a week, Carnival is your cruise! Read our review.

Best Burger - Carnival Vista - Guy's Burger Joint

The burgers here are so good they are worthy of special recognition. For some reason, many cruise lines struggle with delivering a good, juicy burger. They should learn from Carnival's partnership with Food Network star, Guy Fieri. Whenever we board a Carnival ship, our first stop is always Guy's Burger Joint. A seven-night cruise means at least four visits to Guy's for the delicious burgers and fries.

Most Romantic Cruise - Paul Gauguin Cruises' Tahiti & Society Islands

There is no place on Earth like Tahiti and French Polynesia. And, no other other cruise line knows this unique destination like Paul Gauguin Cruises. The ms Paul Gauguin was purpose-built to sail the waters of French Polynesia and everything from the staff to the decor immerses guests in the local culture. Go out on deck at sunset and prepare to fall in love all over again. Read our review.

Best Panama Canal Cruise - Azamara Club Cruises' Azamara Quest

We have transited the Panama Canal three times and our 2017 Panama Canal cruise aboard Azamara Quest was our all-time favorite. This is the perfect size of ship to enjoy the canal transit. There's plenty of open deck space and, of course, there is nothing like hanging out on your private balcony as you go through the locks of the canal.


Tauck River Cruises

Best Christmas Markets River Cruise -
Tauck River Cruises

We have now experienced four Christmas Markets river cruises on four different cruise lines. They are all good, but, in our opinion, Tauck River Cruises has them all beat. All Tauck river cruises are all-inclusive and they always throw in some special surprises. If you want to immerse yourself in the Christmas spirit, Tauck is the best choice. Read our review.

Tauck ms Savor docked in Vienna

Best River Cruise Excursions - Tauck River Cruises

With 90 years experience in escorting tours all over the world, no other river cruise line has the experience that Tauck has, and it shows. Excellent local guides, comfortable motor coaches, personal audio devices, and included special events that cost extra on other river cruises are just a few of the features that put Tauck at the top of our list.

Tauck includes a tour of Shönbrunn Palace in Vienna. Other cruise lines charge extra for this excursion

Best River Cruise Dining - Tauck River Cruises

We experienced exceptional breakfast and lunch buffet service at Compass Rose restaurant with one of the best buffet service designs of any river cruise ship. There were no traffic jams when guests lined up at the buffet. And, Arthur's offers all-day alternate dining.

The Gala Dinner is something special on Tauck ms Savor

Best River Cruise Accommodations - Avalon Waterways' Avalon Vista - Panorama Suite

This was a close call because Tauck's ms Savor has excellent accommodations with lots of storage and a spacious bathroom. However, the expansive glass wall/sliding door, well-insulated stateroom and super-comfortable mattress with memory foam topper won us over. The only thing missing are 110 US-Style outlets and USB charging ports. Read our review.

Avalon Vista is modern, sleek and has super-comfortable accommodations

Best Panorama Lounge - Avalon Waterways' Avalon Vista

One of the best features of a river cruise is the ability to sit in the panorama lounge and watch the landscape go by. The Panorama Lounge on Avalon Vista (and we presume, other Avalon Waterways ships) has a virtually unobstructed view of the river. Glass panels are separated by narrow seams that are hardly noticeable. The lounge is also very comfortable with a variety of seating choices.


BEST Travel Service - Luggage Forward - Luggage Delivery Service

We have used Luggage Forward's luggage shipping service on several occasions and continue to be impressed with the efficiency and level of service. On our 2017 Christmas Markets assignment, we had Luggage Forward ship our two large duffel bags to our pre-cruise hotel in Prague. The luggage arrived three days before we did and was in our hotel room when we arrived. When we disembarked Tauck ms Savor in Nuremburg, we left our bags with Reception and DHL retrieved them later that day. They arrived at our home, in perfect condition, six days later. This means we did not have to schlep our bags through airports or bother with them when we cleared Customs at DFW. Luggage Forward's service is a real treat! Read our review.



BEST Travel Technology - Camera/Lens Rental

When we decided we needed to get some wide-angle shots during our 2017 river cruise assignments, we were faced with the added expense of purchasing a pricey new wide-angle lens. Enter, a company that rents digital camera gear, including lenses! For a fraction of the cost of purchasing a new wide-angle lens, we were able to rent a lens for two weeks. We were very impressed with the variety of camera gear they offer,  and the service was top-notch. For the second year in a row, Aperturent has earned our Editors' Choice award! Read our review.

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