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Announcing winners of the 2023 Seatrade Cruise Awards

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At left, Seatrade Cruise Personality of the Year Wybcke Meier with V. Ships' Per Bjørnsen and Seatrade's Mary Bond. At right, Seatrade Outstanding Achievement Award winner Mai Elmar with Bond
TUI Cruises’ Wybcke Meier, Cruise Port Rotterdam’s Mai Elmar, Cruise Gate Hamburg, Atlas Ocean Voyages, National Geographic Expeditions & Intercruises Shoreside & Ports Services, American Queen Voyages, Port of Haugesund, Silverstream Technologies and MSC Cruises were all winners at the 2023 Seatrade Cruise Awards.

The awards were announced Wednesday evening at Seatrade Europe's 'Celebrating Brilliance and Speakers Reception' in Hamburg.

Cruise Personality of the Year: Wybcke Meier

Meier, CEO of TUI Cruises, was awarded the Seatrade Cruise Personality of the Year Award sponsored by V.Ships Leisure and presented by Per Bjørnsen, CEO, V.Ships Leisure, and Seatrade Cruise Portfolio Director Mary Bond.

Meier has been steering TUI Cruises for nine years, joining when the line was entering a crucial stage in its development, from fledging brand with three ships to full maturity. Since then she has overseen the introduction of five new ships with another three arriving in as many years, starting in 2024. The first initially will run on low-sulphur fuel with the capability of using green methanol in future, and sights are firmly set to offering climate-neutral cruises by 2030.

Under Meier, TUI Cruises has been highly focussed on decarbonization and the use of low-emission fuels and sustainable bio-fuels, shore power and energy efficiency measures.

Bond noted TUI was one of the first to return to cruising during the pandemic, with Meier and her team setting an example to the wider industry that it was possible to safely resume cruising in summer 2020. Earlier this year the brand was one of a handful of international lines to return to Asia.

Meier said: ‘I’m very honored and this award goes out to the entire team at TUI Cruises. We managed to get through the pandemic and now we have a focus to grow our fleet … I feel very privileged to be in this industry. I dedicate this award to the great TUI team.’

She went on to add TUI Cruises has big ambitions to become climate neutral. 

Outstanding Achievement Award: Mai Elmar

The Seatrade Outstanding Achievement Award went to Elmar, director of Cruise Port Rotterdam.

She has been leading Rotterdam's cruise business since the early 2000s, with calls growing to a record in 2023. Rotterdam also has been at the forefront of sustainable and environmental initiatives in support of the EU’s Fit for 55 and expects that by 2025, 75% of all visiting cruise vessels will use shore power.

Bond said: 'This is not her first accolade as she has received a medal for her social and economic contribution to the city, bestowed the title of Mrs. "Port man of the year" and even moves in royal circles, having been appointed Knight in the Order of Orange Nassau by the king of the Netherlands in 2016.'

‘I’m astounded,' Elmar said. 'I think we all deserve an award like this … We represent some 170 maritime businesses in our chain so we have a huge responsibility … We’re family, that feeling is there. I’m humble and thankful that I have been allowed, and am still working,  in this beautiful industry. I’m very touched.’

Port of the Year: Haugesund

Port of the Year is Haugesund (Karmsund Port Authority), Norway. Finalists were Thessaloniki Port Authority and Port Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada    

Expedition Cruise Initiative: Atlas Epicurean Expeditions

Expedition Cruise Initiative of the Year is Atlas Ocean Voyages' Epicurean Expeditions. Finalists were Colombia57's Colombia Caribbean Coast Exploration and Sourcetoad’s OnDeck Experience Communication System.

'We have continually challenged ourselves to innovate and redefine the expedition definition to be inclusive of immersive adventures that can be focused on both epicurean and now cultural pursuits,' said James Rodriguez, president and CEO of Atlas Ocean Voyages. 'Today's Seatrade Expedition Initiative of the Year Award validates this vision of year-round expeditions beyond the polar regions, and I wish to congratulate the entire Atlas Ocean Voyages team who have made this possible.'

Innovative Shorex: National Geographic Marine Treasures of Mallorca

Innovative Shorex of the Year is National Geographic Expeditions & Intercruises Shoreside & Port Services' National Geographic Day Tour: Marine Treasures of Mallorca. Finalists were Global Cruises' Let’s Bond Together: 007 Agents in Nassau and Silversea Cruises' S.A.L.T - Beauty of the French Riviera with Market and Lunch at Mirazur, one of the World’s Best Restaurants.

Destination of the Year: Hamburg

Destination of the Year is Cruise Gate Hamburg. Finalists were Cruise Saudi and Haifa, Israel.

River Cruise Initiative: American Queen Voyages

River Cruise Initiative of the Year is American Queen Voyages' regionally inspired culinary experience. Finalists were American Cruise Lines' American Serenade and Century Cruises' Century Oasis.

Sustainability: MSC Euribia's net zero emissions cruise

Sustainability Initiative of the Year is the world's first net zero emissions cruise on MSC Cruises’ MSC Euribia. Finalists were the Pacific Northwest to Alaska Ports' Green Corridor and Tillberg Design of Sweden. The award is sponsored by Cruise Baltic and was presented by Cruise Baltic Director Klaus Bondam.

Product of the Year: Silverstream air lubrication

Product of the Year Award goes to Silverstream Technologies for the Silverstream System Air Lubrication Technology. Finalists were ESpace Networks' Connectivity Management Platform and Speedcast's TrueBeam Intelligent Automation Solution.

Record 145 nominations

'The Seatrade Cruise Awards program recognises the best in the cruise industry, setting new standards for innovation, creativity and technology,' Bond said. 'These awards are a testament to our resilient sector and the vision of those who drive it. We congratulate our recipients and express gratitude to our group of judges for their efforts in selecting our prestigious winners.'

A record 145 nominations were received.

The winners were determined by an independent panel of leading voices from across the international cruise community, from consultants to professors, editors to operations executives.

Sponsored by Oracle Hospitality

Sponsored by Oracle Hospitality and Ocean Technologies Group, the awards were presented by Bond alongside Ingo Sørensen, area VP, global cruise sales, Oracle Hospitality, and Joost van Ree, global cruise director, Ocean Technologies Group, as well as Cruise Baltic’s Bondam and V.Ships Leisure’s Bjørnsen.

Finalists were announced in early August.