NIGEL THOMPSON MARJORIE YUE Wave reviews
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.
bigweekends.com/on-the-decks 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-direct.co.uk
VALUE MarellaINDEPENDENCE DAY
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