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Signature Luxury Travel & Style honours the best-of-the-best in luxury cruising at Cruise Awards Presentation Lunch

River Ships: Cathy Tees (Crystal River Cruises), Justine Sealey (panellist, Ramsgate Travel Service), Sally Morgan (Aqua Expeditions), Juliana Higgins (Tauck), Fiona Dalton (Uniworld), Chris Fundell (Avalon Waterways)

Signature Luxury Travel and Style held its inaugural Cruise Awards Presentation Lunch on 08 August at Sails on Lavender Bay in Sydney.

The sun-filled McMahons Point restaurant, nestled on the edge of Sydney Harbour, was buzzing with Australian representatives from the world’s finest luxury cruise lines who were all celebrating their recent wins in the Best-of-the-Best Luxury Cruise Awards 2017.

Founder, CEO & Group Editor, Cathy Wagstaff, delivered the opening remarks, commending all winners for their unrelenting pursuit of excellence. MC and TV personality Andrew Daddo entertained the crowd with his personal tales of cruising and luxury travel (or rather, its opposite). The awards were judged by a panel of 10 respected luxury travel advisors across seven categories: Large Ships, Small Ships, Boutique Ships, Tall Ships, River Ships, Expedition: Luxury and Expedition: Four-star ship, five-star experience.

Joel Katz, Managing Director of CLIA Australasia, set the scene, with extraordinary figures from CLIA’s latest report on ocean cruising. In 2016, the industry grew 21 per cent to see 1.28 million Australians setting sail on an ocean cruise. Judges handing out awards added their own comments and experiences of the cruising boom, including Claudia Rossi Hudson from Mary Rossi Travel, Phil Hoffmann AM from Phil Hoffmann Travel (who generously flew up from Adelaide to attend), Jo Gostin from FBI Travel, Justine Sealey from Ramsgate Travel Service, and Carissa Johnson from Spencer Group of Companies (on behalf of Penny Spencer).

Taking out first place in each category were:

Between the presentation of the awards, guests feasted on a choice of seared scallops, Byron Bay Berkshire pork belly and comté fondue for entrée; pink snapper, Bannockburn chicken breast or Cape Grim beef tenderloin for main; with an exquisite selection of desserts, including rum baba, white and dark chocolate terrine, and a cheese plate. The 2016 Neudorf Sauvignon Blanc from Nelson, NZ and the 2012 Flowstone Cabernet Sauvignon Touriga from Margaret River served as the perfect complement.

As Australia’s first accolades dedicated solely to the luxury segment of cruising, the Cruise Awards were hailed by attendees as a resounding success, with the distinguished panellists bringing authority and expertise to the voting process.

For the full list of winners and the judging panel, please visit

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