The Judi’s Choice Awards – It’s time we recognized the little things that make cruising great.


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And the winner is…And the winner is…And the winner is….

The Judi’s Choice Awards

It’s time we recognized the little things that make cruising great.

We all love Porthole Cruise Magazine’s “Readers’ Choice Awards,” those annual, prestigious honors that are determined each November by the magazine’s cruise-loving fans and quickly incorporated into the victors’ marketing efforts. But I often wonder why Porthole sticks to categories like Best Ships and Best Shore Excursions. I think it’s high time to venture beyond the predictable and, as such, I present the first-ever “Judi’s Choice Awards”:

BEST-LOOKING CAPTAIN: Movie star handsome in those dress blues, Seabourn’s Captain Dag Dvergastein is the George Clooney of the nautical set.

BEST PORT FOR THE SUPER LAZY: Turks & Caicos’ Grand Turk Cruise Center lets passengers shop, laze on a white-sand beach, swim in a pool, get drunk, and/or have the best conch fritters ever at Margaritaville, all within a short walking distance of their ship.

BEST CRUISE SHIP GYM FOR SHORT PEOPLE: Tie: Cunard Line’s Queen Victoria & Princess Cruises’ Crown Princess. Low ceilings, admittedly a problem in some cruise ship gyms, often prevent tall people from comfortably using ellipticals and treadmills — thereby increasing short people’s chances of getting a machine by 50 percent, even at the busiest times.

THE BEST “WOW!”-PRODUCING LITTLE THING: The doorbell of Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ Mariner suites. Runner-Up: The doorbell of Silver Shadow suites. Regent gets top billing for its ding-dong chime versus Silversea’s buzz.

BEST PUBLIC BATHROOM DOORS: Costa Luminosa wins this category with motion-sensored entrances, a high-tech wonder that eliminates the need to grab a paper towel to cover the doorknob when exiting.

MOST FEAR-INDUCING TOWEL “ANIMAL”: Aboard MSC Divina, I returned to my cabin to find a human form sitting on my cabin’s toilet. Towels stuffed down the legs of a pair of my jeans, the body and sleeves of a shirt stuffed and positioned the jeans, and a towel head sporting my sunglasses. I screamed like I encountered a lifeless body. Which I guess I did.

MOST VISITED CRUISE-SHIP ATTRACTION (SAN JUAN): You’ll find more cruise ship passengers at the CVS near the pier than at El Yunque Rain Forest, where you simply can’t pick up the reasonably priced toothpaste, sunscreen, sunglasses, or package of Oreos.

BEST ACCOMMODATIONS WHEN TRAVELING WITH AN ANNOYINGLY EARLY RISER: Silversea’s Silver Suite. These gorgeous suites feature a lovely wood-framed, glass-enclosed sleeping area with an adjoining dual-access bathroom that allows the early riser to rise and enter the living area of the suite without disturbing the sleeping partner.

MOST ENTERTAINING VOICE FROM THE BRIDGE: Captain Stefan, Norwegian Cruise Line. Captain Stefan not only delivers the date, time, and ship’s position, but adds his delightful Norwegian-accented stream-of-consciousness ramblings that go on…forevvvvver. He asks himself questions, answers them, seems to be signing off and then, Columbo-like, returns with other random thoughts. I love every word!

BEST LOTTERY-WINNING CRUISE FAN SPLURGE: An apartment on The World, where you can live on board, not just vacation there.

Congratulations to all the winners!


— Judi Cuervo

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Judi Cuervo is a New York City native who fell in love with cruising in 1976 during her first sailing aboard Carnival Cruises’ Mardi Gras. Twenty years later, she began her freelance cruise writing gig and, since that time, has covered mass market, ultra-premium, riverboat and expedition ships for regional, national and international publications as well as cruise websites.