Awards for big and small

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Holidays Afloat - Barry Oliver

AUS­TRALIAN-BASED cruise ship Orion has scooped three awards in Cruise Pas­sen­ger mag­a­zine’s an­nual read­ers’ choice awards. The Orion was voted best small ship and best ad­ven­ture ship, and took out the prize for best cui­sine as well.

The 106-pas­sen­ger Orion, with a crew of 76, is known for its imag­i­na­tive itin­er­ar­ies com­bined with lux­ury travel.

Best large ship was the Queen Mary 2, nudg­ing last year’s win­ner, the re­tir­ing QE2, into sec­ond spot.

Ed­i­tor Kayte Nunn cred­its QM2’s suc­cess to a raised profile af­ter its re­cent visit to this part of the world.

It was also voted best lux­ury ship for the third year run­ning.

Dis­ney Magic was a sur­prise win­ner in the best fam­ily ship cat­e­gory, an area dom­i­nated in the past by P & O, whose ves­sels are bet­ter known in lo­cal wa­ters.

Nunn says the vote sug­gests Aus­tralians are be­com­ing more ad­ven­tur­ous with their cruis­ing: they are trav­el­ling farther afield and aren’t afraid to take the fam­ily. ‘‘ It helps that the Aus­tralian dol­lar is a lot stronger.’’

She says Aus­tralians are wak­ing up to the fact that there’s a wide range of cruis­ing op­tions and that cruises of­fer good value for money, ‘‘ par­tic­u­larly in places like Europe, where the cost of ho­tels can be ex­or­bi­tant’’. On a cruise, ‘‘ you’re on a float­ing ho­tel, you stop at a num­ber of dif­fer­ent ports, and with a lot of itin­er­ar­ies travel is at night and you have a whole day in port. So you re­ally get to see and ex­plore a lot.’’

Best cruise re­gion was the Mediter­ranean, closely fol­lowed by the South Pa­cific. Best cabin and best spa awards went to the Seven Seas Mariner.

Free­dom of the Seas won for best pool area and best gym. Pos­si­bly dis­play­ing a lit­tle bias, read­ers awarded Syd­ney the best port award, with Van­u­atu’s Port Vila sec­ond.

Triple win­ner: Queen Mary 2 in Syd­ney

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