USA. Grand Circle no2 World Best Small Ship Cruise Line Condé Nast Traveler’s Readers Choice Awards Print E-mail
Friday, 20 October 2006
Awards news:

Grand Circle Corporation, the leader in international travel, adventure and discovery for Americans aged 50-plus, was ranked #2 in the World’s Best Small Ship Cruise Line category of Condé Nast Traveler’s 2006 Readers’ Choice Awards. This is the second year in a row that Grand Circle Cruise Line has made the list and this year, the cruise line moved up from 5th to 2nd place.

“We are thankful to Condé Nast Traveler and to its readers for recognizing our efforts to provide authentic, small-ship vacations for our travelers, “ said Alan E. Lewis, Grand Circle’s Chairman and CEO. “We are very proud of our ability to provide such top quality, while keeping our pricing hundreds, even thousands of dollars less than the other cruise lines cited in the poll. We entered the small ship arena nine years ago and listened hard to what our travelers told us they wanted in a small-ship vacation: a comfortable ship, opportunities to interact with local people and experience their cultures, and excellent value. Today, we have a fleet of 50 small ships that we own or charter, and we continue to look for ways to further enhance both the cultural experiences and the value offer.”

Condé Nast Traveler readers also cited Grand Circle for its excellent itineraries (score: 99.3) and ship excursions (95.0)—higher scores than those given to SeaDream Yacht Club, the top ranked small-ship cruise line.

Connecting with local people and cultures is a key component of Grand Circle’s small ship itineraries and shore excursions. Grand Circle’s 45 offices around the world plan itineraries and hire local expert guides, known as Program Directors, to deliver them. Activities can include sharing meals in the homes of local families, spending a morning with local schoolchildren in their classrooms, meeting local artisans, farmers, and historians, language and cooking classes, and more. Grand Circle offers incentives to its Program Directors to speak frankly about the realities of their countries—even to discuss such difficult issues as the war in the former Yugoslavia or prostitution in Amsterdam. This summer, Lewis instituted a “Free Pass” program to Program Directors to encourage them to come up with new ideas to provide more authentic and/or unusual experiences for their travelers. If the ideas don’t succeed, there’s no penalty to a Program Director’s purse or future with the company. This summer, for example, 60 travelers jumped into a river near Wertheim, Germany along with their Program Director and ship’s captain for what their Program Director called, “the jump of a lifetime.”

More than 21,000 Condé Nast Traveler readers participated in its 19th Annual Readers’ Choice Awards in which readers rated the world’s best cities, hotels, airlines, cruise lines and more. In the small-ship category, readers rated by the following criteria: activities/facilities, cabins, crew/service, design/layout, food/dining, and itineraries.

In addition to the Condé Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards, the company has received additional recognition for its small-ship cruise line this year. In August, Travel + Leisure’s 2006 World’s Best Awards readers’ survey rated Grand Circle Cruise Line as a top 5 small-ship cruise line.

Grand Circle has won several awards for its philanthropic work and as an outstanding work place. In March, the Committee to Encourage Corporate Philanthropy’s (CECP), gave Grand Circle its “Excellence” Award for philanthropic leadership and innovation—the sole winner in the under $3B in sales category. Established in 1999 by Paul Newman (Newman’s Own) and Ken Derr (formerly of Chevron, Corp.), the CECP recognizes outstanding CEO commitment and innovation in corporate philanthropy, and includes such past winners as GE, Novartis, Pfizer, Hasbro, Target, Whole Foods, IBM, and Timberland.

In June, Lewis received the New England Ernst & Young’s Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award for outstanding philanthropic efforts and contributions to society. And in May, Grand Circle received the 2006 Tanzanian Tourism Humanitarian Award for the company’s support of local schools as part of the company’s “World Classroom Initiative”, a 5-year, $10 million program launched in 2004 to support more than 80 schools in more than 30 countries around the world. In June, the Great Place to Work® Institute name Grand Circle one of the “Top 25 Best Places to Work in America.”
Last Updated ( Friday, 20 October 2006 )
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