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Baltimore-based ships win notice from cruise critics

While Disney Cruise Line sailed to 13 first-place finishes in the 2014 Cruise Critic Cruisers' Choice Awards, Baltimore-based ships also cruised to Top 10 finishes in a number of categories.

Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas ranked No. 8 overall best ship in the "midsize" category. The recently renovated ship, which returned to the port of Baltimore last May after undergoing $48 million in upgrades, also scored among the 10 best midsize ships for dining, embarkation, entertainment, fitness, public rooms, service and shore excursions. It ranked third in the value-for-money category.

The Carnival Pride was listed in the Top 10 "Best Cruises to the Bahamas" and the "Best Cruises from the Northeast."

The honors for the Grandeur of the Seas are notable considering the ship suffered severe damage when a fire broke out during a cruise to the Bahamas less than month after it returned to Baltimore.

The awards, based on passenger feedback at the cruise review site, are reflective of cruises taken in 2013. The online site offers more than 600 reviews of the Grandeur of the Seas and nearly 1,000 reviews of the Carnival Pride.

Disney took first place in the "Best Ship" category for its liner Fantasy. It was the second year in a row that ship has taken first-place honors in the large-ship category. Disney's ship Wonder was awarded first place in the same category for midsize ships, and it was awarded two other first-place awards, as well, for "Best Entertainment" and "Best Service."

The Fantasy, Disney's newest cruise liner, took a total of nine first-place awards. Other categories for which it won included "Best Cabins," "Best Dining" and "Best for Families."

The Disney Wonder won first-place honors in the "Best Entertainment" and "Best Service" sub-categories for midsize ships.

In the small-ship category of the judging contest, the Seabourn Quest was chosen as the first-place winner.

Cruise Critic is a leading cruise review website, and the judging for the contest was based solely on member reviews posted at the website.

In a press release, Carolyn Spencer Brown, editor-in-chief of Cruise Critic, lauded the winners.

"The Cruisers' Choice Awards are a fantastic honor for cruise lines to receive as they're based on personal experiences shared by cruisers themselves," said Brown. "This list of winners truly reflects excellence in the industry, and serves as a seal of approval from consumers who have sailed on these ships over the past year."

The three ship classes cited in the awards are based on passenger capacity. Large is for ships that accommodate 2,000-plus passengers. The midsize category is for ships that take 1,200 to 1,999 passengers. The small-ship category is for vessels that have 1,199 or fewer passengers.

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