Imagine our disgust. There we were enjoying our usual breakfast of a hard-boiled egg and kippers (for him) and a croissant with Harrods marmalade (her), when up popped a message in our Inbox marked ‘British Travel Awards Winners!’
We thought a little gentle information would help the digestion, but what we saw was enough to bring on the most fearful case of dyspepsia. Tenny damned nearly choked on his fish.
“Ultra-luxury? Celebrity? Expedition Line? Cunard?” What on earth were we seeing? We’ve never actually seen eye-to-eye with whoever compiles the cruise honours at the annual back-slapping fest that is the British Travel Awards, but this was tantamount to giving an award for good seamanship to the captain of the Titanic.
How on God’s green earth does Cunard fit into the category for adventure cruising, with three ships that have never undertaken an expedition voyage in their entire existence? And what utter clot places Marella (the awful moniker for the former Thomson Cruises) in the Best No-Fly Cruises category? The very FIRST thing that comes up on Marella’s website for narrowing down your choice is which Airport you want to fly from!
Yes, we may be overdoing the outrage a touch, but, in all seriousness, how is this utter cowpat of a system allowed to exist? Who is responsible for it, and how did they get the job? Have they ever seen a cruise ship? Do they know what ships do? Ye gods. We are practically beside ourselves with righteous indignation.
Let’s take things case by case, starting with the first category, Best Ultra-Luxury Cruise Line.
As everyone with a scintilla of common sense knows, there are only six genuine ultra-luxe lines – Crystal, Hapag-Lloyd, Regent, Seabourn, SeaDream and Silversea. That’s it. End of story. Yet here are the 2019 winners (in Gold, Silver and Bronze): Silversea, Celebrity, Regent.
We have no quibbles with Gold and Bronze, but Celebrity? They are a genuine premium cruise line at best, with no ship smaller than 91,000 tons and six of more than 120,000, carrying up to 3,000 passengers. No-one can deliver ultra-luxury on something that large, darlings. It’s simply impossible. We’ll brook no argument on that score. And Crystal doesn’t make the top three? Scandalous.
Best Luxury Line: Cunard, Viking, Celebrity.
Hard to nitpick with Gold and Silver in this case. Both lines deliver an Upper Premium experience in our book, albeit we would never stoop to calling them luxury (unless you are in the Queen’s Grill suites on Cunard). But here are Celebrity. Again. Trying to claim luxury status. Again. (Well, not them, per se, but the Awards organisers). They can only be in one category or the other, or your Awards are totally bogus.
Best Family Cruise Line: P&O, Royal Caribbean, MSC Cruises.
Everyone knows Disney Cruise Line is the best for families. Everyone else is just scrambling for second place. Therefore, this award is complete nonsense from start to finish. By the by, there were five nominees for this category, none of them called Disney. Even Cunard got a nomination ahead of The Mouse. Utter balderdash.
Best Specialist Cruise Line (Ocean & Expedition): Silversea, Cunard, Hurtigruten.
Now, we’re presuming they do mean expedition-style lines who specialise in adventure-style voyaging. You know, the likes of Hapag-Lloyd, Lindblad Expeditions, Hurtigruten, Aurora Expeditions and Noble Caledonia. What Cunard – with three extra-large ships – are doing in this category is totally baffling. Specialist line? What are they trying to say here? Oh, and Silversea as the winner? With just three of their nine vessels dedicated to expedition voyaging? Sketchy, to say the least. Neither Hapag-Lloyd nor Noble Caledonia was even nominated. *Sigh*
Best River Cruise Line: Viking, Titan Travel, Saga.
Okay, we’re ready to give up here. The best river cruise line in the world (Crystal) doesn’t even merit a mention, while two companies who are primarily travel agents and charter river-cruise boats get the nod. Ri-bloody-diculous. Just to add extra toxicity to this great, steaming pile of manure, Uniworld River Cruises – who received a nomination for Best Luxury Line – are completely ignored in their obvious category, as are Tauck and Scenic Cruises. The problems are just PILING up.
Best No-Fly Cruise Line: P&O, Saga, Cunard.
MSC Cruises and Marella Cruises (with no ships based year-round in the UK) get nominations and Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines don’t? Can you see another problem here?
Best Large Ships Cruise Line: P&O, Royal Caribbean, Cunard.
Ho hum, this is all about name recognition. Next…!
Best Midsize Ships Cruise Line: Cunard, Marella, MSC?
And now we are in CLT (Completely Laughable Territory). Cunard – in both Large and Midsize? Please. And Marella getting an award ahead of Holland America? And not even a mention for Princess? Hahahahahahahahaha!!
Best Small Ships Cruise Line: Saga, Viking, Silversea.
Saga and Viking ahead of Silversea? No nomination for any of SeaDream, Seabourn, Oceania, Azamara, Ponant OR Paul Gauguin? Rearrange these two words to form a well-known phrase or saying: Real. Get.
Best Ultra-Small/Boutique Cruise Line: Saga, Silversea, Crystal.
Saving the best (or worst) for last, here is what looks to be a catch-all, lets-make-up-for-all-the-previous-nonsense category that attempts to correct earlier discrepancies – and fails in every way possible. Just to start with, we now have Saga and Silversea in both Small and Ultra-Small classes. Which one is it, BTA? You can’t have it both ways. We have Crystal making a belated appearance (with both ships at 50,000-plus tons, hardly ultra-small by anyone’s definition). G Adventures (an expedition line) are thrown into the nominees for some peculiar reason, and Windstar Cruises are also tossed in, like Crystal, to make sure they got nominated for something. What a complete bugger’s muddle.
Of course, part of this runaway problem is the complete and utter bastardisation – excuse our French – of the word ‘luxury,’ which is now used by Uncle Tom Cobley and all when it comes to the holiday vernacular. Even the dingiest little pension in rural Provence is now labelled ‘luxurious’ in some way or other, so the word has all but lost its meaning. And the fact the British Travel Awards totally fail to specify what is ‘Large,’ ‘Midsize’ or ‘Small’ in any way is such a massive oversight that they can’t produce categories that even begin to make sense.
The ultimate condemnation, of course, is that if we can see all these iceberg-sized errors in the Cruise section of the Awards, how mistake-prone were all the other categories (with no fewer than 72 other gongs to hand out)?
For example, is Traveleyes really the best Assisted/Accessible Holiday Company, or are they another Marella in disguise? We have no way of knowing. Nor, it seems, do the British Travel Awards.
No, in our view, this has gone from being good or bad to just downright ugly. And, for once, we’re not talking about the election.
Treadwell & Tenny
So, are we right or are we right? Give us your thoughts in the Comments section below.