The UK’s favourite Royal Caribbean cruise ship has sailed away with a ma­jor award. In­de­pen­dence of the Seas was named in Southamp­ton a decade ago and has de­parted from the south coast ev­ery sum­mer for des­ti­na­tions in­clud­ing the Nor­we­gian Fjords and the Ca­naries.

Now Indy has taken the Best Re­fur­bish­ment hon­ours af­ter a multi-mil­lion up­grade that in­cluded the head­line-grab­bing VR tram­po­line Sky Pad, laser tag arena, Ob­ser­va­to­rium es­cape room and two new wa­ter­slides.

The an­nounce­ment was at this week’s 10th an­nual Cruise Critic UK Ed­i­tors’ Picks Awards and Royal Caribbean made it a quar­tet by also grab­bing Best En­ter­tain­ment, Best for Fam­i­lies and Best Suites.

TUI’s Marella, whose fares in­clude tips and ser­vice charges as well as al­co­holic drinks on some ships, won Best Value for Money, while Ce­lestyal took Best for Ser­vice.

Thanks to its wide range of desti-

na­tions cov­er­ing Africa, Asia, the Mid­dle East and be­yond, Fred Olsen got the Best Itin­er­ar­ies gong along with Best Shore Ex­cur­sions.

As the trend for sin­gle hol­i­day­ing con­tin­ues, Saga scored Best for Solo Trav­ellers, while Hur­tigruten won Best for Ad­ven­ture.

No sur­prises for Best New Ship. Celebrity Edge, which made its debut on Novem­ber 21, took the hon­ours thank to in­no­va­tions such as the Magic Car­pet, which trans- forms from ten­der platform to al­fresco sushi restau­rant, and the In­fi­nite Ve­randa, which changes the shape and size of a cabin. Celebrity also se­cured Best Din­ing for its fleetwide gourmet of­fer­ings.

Lon­don took Best UK De­par­ture Port for the first time. Guernsey won Best UK & Bri­tish Isles Port of Call.

Away from the oceans, Best River Cruise Line went to Uni­world. Its sis­ter line, U by Uni­world, won Best New Ship for The A and The B, which are aimed at younger trav­ellers.

big­week­ This is less of a torch, more of a search­light, with a beam range of al­most 1,000ft. Wa­ter re­sis­tant and shock­proof, it has four light modes. One charge lasts up to 24 hours. Plus it’s a back-up power source for smart­phones.

Indy picked up best re­furb gongBag a free At­trac­tion Tick­ets Di­rect Dis­ney Au­to­graph Book with ev­ery child ticket on book­ings for Walt Dis­ney World in Or­lando. It means kids can col­lect sig­na­tures from Mickey and friends in the parks. See at­trac­tion-tick­ets-di­


Spice Girl Mel C is head­ing up a host of su­per­star DJs at But­lin’s On The Decks week­end at its Mine­head re­sort from March 1519. Sporty will be spin­ning her ‘90s Mix Tape set along with for­mer JLS star Marvin Humes, DJs Danny Howard, Judge Jules, Art­ful Dodger and SASH! Prices from £109pp based on four shar­ing Sil­ver self-cater­ing ac­com­mo­da­tion. Book at

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