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Cruise Awards from the UK

There are so many cruise lines, passengers, critics and assorted opinions in North America that it's easy to forget about what the rest of the world thinks about cruise lines.

Today, we bring you a sampling.

It comes from the United Kingdom, where readers of Cruise International Magazine cast 20,000 ballots to pick the best of everything…everything from cruise agent to learning to well-being to — of course — cruise line.

You might be surprised by some of the results.

Instead of saving the best for last, let's reveal right off the top that the best cruise line is…Carnival. It's not exactly like winning Best Picture at the Oscars, but it's a feather in the cap of a cruise line that doesn't do much more than put its toe in the water in Europe. That makes it a curious choice.

Either Brits like to cross the ocean and sail on Carnival ships, or they're enamored with the British humor in the world according to John Heald, Carnival's blogger-in-chief. If you don't think that's possible, you should know that Best Cruise Blogger was one of the magazine awards, and Heald won it.

Meanwhile, elsewhere on the red carpet…

Best FoodCunard, with an honorable mention to Holland America

Best for ActivitiesRoyal Caribbean, followed by Celebrity

Best Innovation — Carnival's 5D Cinema, ahead of Norwegian's Ice Bar on the Epic

Best for LearningFred.Olsen first, Cunard second

Best Luxury Cruise LineSeabourn number one, Oceania second

Best EntertainmentPrincess, followed by Carnival, with nary a mention of Norwegian

Best Shore ExcursionsUniworld, and honorable mention for Fred.Olsen

Best for KidsDisney, with Carnival best of the others

Best Destination (Europe) — Norway, then Stockholm, even though one is a country and the other a city

Best Destination (Rest of World)Alaska, then Jamaica

And in the event you think any of those are strange choices, this has to be the strangest…

Best River Cruise LineViking first, Uniworld second

Best Luxury River Cruise Line — Uniworld first, Viking second

Carnival Breeze
15 nights
November 6, 2012
Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, Malaga, Las Palmas, Antigua, St. Maarten, Miami
Inside: $799
Cost per day: $53

Experience from River Cruisers

A friend of a friend was reading Cruising Done Right one day recently when he discovered, as all of you have, that we are neophytes when it comes to river cruising.

So he offered to help.

His name is Brian Forst and he went to the trouble of passing along a few thoughts for those of you who, like us, have little or no experience on the ships that cruise the rivers.

Brian and his wife have been river cruising for a decade and they have no intention of stopping now — this year they’ll be on the Rhone River in France. Here’s some information we all might find useful…

“We chose to do one of their shorter trips at first, the Moselle River in Germany. It’s worth Googling the sites and sights on these tours. For instance, at the beginning (or end) of the Moselle cruise is the oldest city in Germany, built by the Romans and called Trier. Who’d have thought it.

“We enjoyed that trip so much, we decided the next should be longer, Amsterdam to Vienna. The stops along the way with the inclusive walking tours were unforgettable. Part of most tours include a couple days at the point of origination…and usually three days at the end. They include the best hotels and of course, tours in these cities.

“We recently did Viking’s Prague-to-Paris cruise, extending our stay in Paris, which eclipsed Vienna as the most impressive European city for me. And our last trip with Viking was 17 days on the Yangtze River, Shanghai to Beijing…with side trips to The Great Wall, Forbidden City and the Terracotta Warriors.

Uniworld is supposed to be very much like Viking, including the price. You can step up to Avalon and Scenic Tours if you’re willing to pay more but they have the same stops and tours…and you can’t beat Viking’s dining. Some offer bigger windows and out-door decks for more money.

“Normally, the lower deck is less costly than those above (usually three levels). The windows are a little smaller but most of the time, the room is only for sleeping anyway. The only little thing to watch when booking is…to stay away from the stern of the boat to avoid engine sound.”

Carnival Victory
7 nights
February 19, 2012
San Juan: (return): St. Thomas, Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, St. Maarten
Inside $579

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