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Sailawaze Excellence Awards 2024: Winners revealed – the coolest things in cruise right now

Sailawaze Excellence Awards 2024 are championing everything super cool about cruising in their first year – these are the cruise lines that took the crown.

The winners of this year’s Sailawaze Excellence Awards have finally been revealed at a glittering ceremony in central London.

Open to all cruise lines across ocean, river and expedition sectors, as well as ports, the awards welcomed over 150 nominations which a judging panel of cruise industry experts whittled down into a shortlist. The public then voted for their top brands with four consumer favourites awarded to each category,

From rides and robots to race tracks and raw food, the Sailawaze Excellence Awards 2024 celebrated it all – let’s see who was voted the hottest on the water this year.

Sailawaze Excellence Awards 2024 categories

Technology
Wellness
Entertainment
Excursions
Inclusion
Sustainability
Collaborations
Food & Beverage

Sailawaze Excellence Awards 2024 Winners

Technology

Be gone reams of paper and actual door keys, cruise tech is seriously impressive these days. Princess Cruises‘ Medallion unlocks cabin doors, offers personalised service and even helps you track down wayward cruise companions.

MSC Cruises doles out a wealth of high-tech fun, from a wine bar that uses the same tech as the CIA to an interactive cinema. There’s VR racing too, while Royal Caribbean has robots that can do everything from doubling as diving boards to mixing drinks.

Meanwhile, Scenic’s smorgasbord of technology gets you high – the brand’s Discovery Yachts have two helicopters. Rather get down low? There’s an onboard submersible for you to explore the deep in. Staying merely on the water is so last year.

Technology Winners

Princess Cruises

Royal Caribbean

Scenic

MSC Cruises

Wellness

Cruising is all about eating far too much and then sprawling, tummies swollen, on a sun lounger for the rest of the day, right? Incorrect!

Cruise lines are doing oh so much to boost onboard health and wellness. Virgin Voyages has an Athletic Club complete with a boxing ring, outdoor active training camp and basketball court, and Swan Hellenic has Deepak Chopra- certified meditation and yoga teachers. Ommm.

If spas are more your thing, Viking ships boast a snow grotto at sea while Silversea spas are inspired by the traditions of Ancient Rome. Expect 100-minute-long signature treatments with passengers free to quaff as much champagne and caviar as they like throughout. We rather like the sound of our Roman Emperor era…

Wellness Winners

Virgin Voyages

Silversea Cruises

Swan Hellenic

Viking

Entertainment

It’s not just bingo, deck quoits and quizzes on cruise ships these days – oh no. There’s a mind-boggling amount to keep passengers entertained both day and night in these modern floating hotels.

Carnival Cruise Line’s newest ship features a technology-rich underwater-themed area. Royal Caribbean has an AquaTheater showcasing acrobatics, synchronised swimming and high-dives, and an Ice Arena graced by the stunts of world-class professional figure skaters.

That’s not all! Norwegian Cruise Line boasts the world’s first freefall dry slide and a three-level racetrack at sea while Marella Cruises features an immersive secret speakeasy bar.

In our experience, no other sector of the travel industry is so keen to keep holidaymakers Having Fun At All Times as cruising – there’s simply no time for boredom!

Entertainment Winners

Royal Caribbean

Norwegian Cruise Line

Marella Cruises

Carnival Cruise Line

Excursions

Listen up guys, there is a crazy mountain of incredible stuff you can do while away on a cruise – even we hadn’t fully appreciated the full range until the Sailawaze Excellence Awards 2024 nominations started flooding in.

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines offers a beekeeping tour in Lithuania and RIB rides around the Giant’s Causeway in Belfast while Holland America Line is the only cruise line to take guests to Canada’s newest UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Adventure lovers will relish the opportunity to camp in Antarctica in the style of early explorers with HX Hurtigruten Expeditions or enjoy extended days in Japan with Azamara thanks to 10 or more hours to spend in port.

That’s right, cruise excursions are much more than tramping around a city after an umbrella-wielding guide these days!

Excursions Winners

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines

HX Hurtigruten Expeditions

Azamara

Holland America Line

Inclusion

White, able-bodied, heterosexual couples have long filled the imagery surrounding cruise holidays but lines are increasingly eager to break away from this and highlight the welcoming nature of cruising.

Celebrity Cruises’ Pride celebrations last the entire month of June along with famous mega bash, Pride Party at Sea, and VIVA Cruises offers specific LGBTQ+ cruises, even visiting the world’s largest archive of LGBTQ+ history in Amsterdam.

Saga Cruises provides chauffeur service as standard on all cruises, and Royal Caribbean offers an Autism Friendly Program, with autism-friendly dietary menu options available.

Inclusion Winners

Royal Caribbean

Celebrity Cruises

VIVA Cruises

Saga Cruises

Sustainability

Research shows many prospective cruisers have sustainability in mind when heading away – but the overwhelming majority don’t understand the extent of the cruise industry’s existing sustainability efforts.

Like, did you know that Hurtigruten has hybrid-powered ships equipped with large battery packs? Or that MSC Cruises operated the industry’s first net-zero greenhouse gas emissions voyage in 2023?

Elsewhere, AE Expeditions is big on sustainable food sourcing, eliminating fish eggs and tuna from menus while small Scottish brand The Majestic Line rescued and converted two Irish fishing vessels for its first two ships.

Sustainability Winners

MSC Cruises

The Majestic Line

AE Expeditions

Hurtigruten

Collaborations

Cruise lines dole out cool stuff all on their own, but sometimes they partner up with other fab brands to really get the good stuff to travellers looking for that little bit extra onboard and ashore.

For instance, Regent Seven Seas Cruises’s collab with Aston Martin Aramco Formula One Team has resulted in exclusive VIP Aston Martin Formula One Team driving experiences. Similarly, MSC Cruises’ partnership with Formula 1 offers fan hospitality packages comprising race weekend experiences at global Grand Prix.

Cricket fans will appreciate Ambassador Cruise Line’s relations with Essex Cricket Club, granting passengers free game tickets. They’ve partnered with ocean conservation charity ORCA, too, ensuring wildlife experts are onboard for select sailings, as well as Help for Heroes.

There are also celebrity partnerships – P&O Cruises has buddied up with singer Gary Barlow, now Musical Director of The 710 Club on newest ship Arvia.

Collaborations Winners

MSC Cruises

Regent Seven Seas Cruises

P&O Cruises

Ambassador Cruise Line

Food & Beverage

The myths about cruising would have it that all cruise food is from a buffet and dead boring – not so! TUI River Cruises offers a host of experiential events, from seasonal top-deck BBQs and ice cream parties to murder mystery afternoon teas and gala dinners with singing waiters!

It’s not always food and drink you’d expect onboard either; Explora Journeys boasts a sushi bar complete with sakes and shōchū, and Celestyal has a Specialist Alchemy cocktail menu with 23 innovative cocktails.

There are more celebs in this category too – Cunard has partnered up with renowned chef Michel Roux to guarantee the crème de la crème!

Food & Beverage Winners

Explora Journeys

Cunard

Celestyal

TUI River Cruises

Author

Harriet Mallinson

Sailawaze Editor Harriet has been a travel writer for nine years and specialised in cruising for more than three. Globetrotting highlights include flyboarding in Malaga, exploring waterfalls in Belize, ziplining in Costa Rica, truffle-hunting in Tuscany and whale-watching in Iceland. Next on her cruise bucket list is Antarctica – or any opportunity to see the Northern Lights! Next up: a Provence river cruise.

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Published 17.05.24