The record-breaking vote in this year’s Cruise Passenger Readers’ Choice Awards has produced a strong result for river cruise, with APT and Avalon Waterways sharing top honours.
A total of 11,451 readers voted an astonishing 286,275 times – with some interesting results on your view on sustainability and overtourism.
Eighty per cent said a cruise line’s stance on protecting the environment would or could make a difference to whether or not they booked; and just over half said reports of overtourism could or would affect their decision on where they cruised.
Just under 40 per cent said it would make no difference.
These awards are the largest poll of true cruise passengers in the southern hemisphere – over half of our readers have been on more than six cruises, and 30 per cent on 12.
More than 85 per cent said they were planning a cruise in the next 12 months.
Chris Hall, managing Director of APT, which took out best cruise line, said of the result: “There is so much effort that goes into creating the best experience for the customer. From the first enquiry, booking process and getting on board.
“We try our best to meet and exceed expectations regardless of whether it is the hardware, shore excursions, personalised experience. Our guests are recognised on board and the staff remember their favourite drink.
“Guests can also freely choose between exploring independently and as a group. They can organise a private bike tour just as easily as joining a group tour if they wish. It is an end-to-end experience.
“We would also like to thank all the readers who voted for APT.”
Chris Fundell, Director of Marketing at Avalon maintained:“We may not have white gloved luxury but the relaxed luxury that we provide really suits the Australian traveller. Our five-star luxury is unstuffy and we offer good food, service to create a home away from home with a relaxed atmosphere.”
And the winners are:
Best River Cruise Line
One of Australia’s favourite touring brands, APT has once again taken out the award for the Best River Cruise Line overall. The beauty of APT is that it takes you to hundreds of different river destinations through Europe, Asia and Africa. On the Nile, guests can explore the ancient Egyptian world on a stunning river voyage. In Europe, there is the world’s largest river ship, the AmaMagna which boasts some stunning features like a full-sized spa as well as water sports deck, will take you up and down the Danube. You’ll sail past the stunning parliament house in Budapest as well as under the iconic Charles Bridge. In China, a cruise with APT on the tranquil Yangtze River will take you to see the Three Gorges.
While on the Mekong through Vietnam and Cambodia, celebrity chef Luke Nguyen will take you on a food excursion through the local markets and show you how to make delectable Vietnamese cuisine. Also new this year, is APT with AmaWaterways offerings on the green and lush Douro River in Portugal. Some of the new amenities onboard the AmaDouro include the panoramic lounge and a dedicated massage and fitness room.
Guests can watch the rolling hills of the Douro pass by while soaking in the heated sundeck swimming pool, and guests will get to try local Portuguese delicacies and wines, which the region is renowned for. The line also offers specialised cruises like journeys with Botanica where landscapes that inspired Monet’s water lilies. What also makes APT stand out from the crowd is its all-inclusive offerings like premium wines, beautiful and spacious suites and bespoke shore excursions.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: VIKING RIVER CRUISES
Like its ocean ships, a voyage aboard a Viking River Cruise vessel is like coming home. The bright and airy designs are emulated across the entire fleet, so most ships are the same. It makes return cruisers feel like they are coming home. The ship has light and bright staterooms, expansive public spaces and the beautiful Aquavit Terrace. Aside from a beautiful fleet, the line offers voyages through Asia, Egypt and Europe.
Best Luxury River Cruise Line
WINNER: AVALON WATERWAYS
This year, Avalon Waterways has taken out the category for the Best Luxury River Cruise Line. It’s the Australian company’s attention to detail and modern take to luxury river cruising which has made it stand out from the crowd. Avalon Waterways has ships based in European destinations like France and Germany as well as in Asia in Cambodia and Vietnam. Avalon has won awards for its innovative Panorama Suites. The line pioneered wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling windows which makes guests feel like they are part of the scenery as they sail past. But it’s Avalon’s recent investment into improving its shore offerings and theme cruises which have made the Avalon voyages much more luxurious.
Their ethos – luxury is about having the ability to choose your own holiday. The line now offers cruisers a range of excursions ranging from bespoke culinary cruises, to active themed ventures like kayaking and more. For example, on one of the line’s culinary cruises, you’ll explore different destinations in France. A Master of Wine will travel with you and will hold tastings and introduce you to the concept of food and wine pairing. In Lyon, a showcase of medieval and Renaissance architecture, you’ll join a culinary walk and taste Lyonnaise and French delicacies. On board, a French chef will share with you his secrets and expertise during a pastry demonstration. And in the city of Tournon, which is nestled among the vineyards, you’ll learn about the art of wine making, including drinking it.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: APT
The line’s all-inclusive offerings aboard its luxurious ships and great service, makes it a favourite among luxury river cruisers. The line also offers free flights with a lot of their European river cruises. But aside from European rivers, you can also find their stunning fleet on the Yangtze in China as well as the Mekong. Many of our readers have said that they feel incredibly pampered on an APT river cruise.
To see the full list of winners from the 2019 Cruise Passenger Readers’ Choice Awards, click here.