So what are the top reasons to consider Luxury Cruising?
We cruise a lot and so when someone asks the question which is the best cruise line, or what was your best ever cruise – this is a difficult question to answer. The choice for cruisers is becoming more difficult with so many itineraries and cruise lines to choose from. They are all fighting for your business and so there is much to consider when deciding which cruise line to choose. Everything from mainstream Mega ships to River Cruises, Expedition Cruises and more. So when you are thinking about your trip why not consider the Luxury Cruise Option? While a luxury cruise is certainly not a small financial investment, the per-person per-day cruise fare compared with other holiday options can represent good value when you consider all that is included.
So before you book with your usual cruise line, do some calculations. Work out your cruise fare, plus any extras like gratuities, wine and soft drinks packages, specialty restaurant fees, internet, laundry services, etc. etc. Now, compare that with the fare of the luxury cruise lines on your wish list remembering that most of them are all-inclusive.
You might be shocked to find what you’re paying on a mega-ship isn’t a lot different than what you would pay for sailing on a high-end Luxury Cruise ship. Don’t be lured by the headline price of a cruise as you may be in for a shock when you get your final bill on the last day. All those drinks and extras soon add up.
But remember it’s not always just about the money. If you’re planning a special occasion, anniversary or just treating yourselves, you might want to consider the Luxury Cruise option. Luxury Cruise ships are generally smaller than the large mega-ships, and there is a real focus on personalised service.
Luxury Cruise lines like Seabourn, Silversea Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Paul Gauguin Cruises, SeaDream Yacht Club Cruises, Oceania Cruises, Azamara Club Cruises and the new Viking Ocean Cruises are all worth a look.
Pre and Post-Cruise Add-Ons
All travellers expect a well organised transfer from the airport to port and back. Luxury cruise lines do this well, unlike the mass-market lines that normally just offer transfer by bus. Luxury lines tend to feature a range of options — from taxis, private cars and buses.
Luxury lines also tend to have superb pre- and post-cruise land packages enabling you can make the most of your time away. Regent Seven Seas Cruises featured the Rocky Mountaineer train as a pre-cruise option from Banff to Vancouver and then picked up a cruise ship In Vancouver. We did this trip and it was stunning and very well organised with tour escorts all the way.
Staterooms and Suites
Cabins, Staterooms or Suites – whatever you want to call them are generally larger and more comfortable on the luxury cruise lines. The reality is that most offer all-suite accommodation with ocean views and the majority of suites or staterooms have a balcony. Generally there are few, if any inside staterooms.
Luxury staterooms and suites tend to be quite spacious with high-end toiletries from Bulgari, L’Occitane, and Mouton Brown. Flat-screen TVs, en-suite Wi-Fi and iPod docking stations are pretty standard.
Beverages Included, Including Alcohol
On most of the luxury lines — Seabourn, Silversea, Crystal, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Paul Gauguin, SeaDream — there is no charge for alcoholic beverages or soft drinks and water– at the bar, in the restaurants and lounges, or even in your stateroom. Some of the mega-lines have drinks packages but these can be very expensive and may not include you preferred option. Some cruise lines even charge for water!!
Luxury Cruise Lines lines like Seabourn, Silversea, Crystal and Regent Seven Seas take pride in their crew and have in depth training programs for their crew members. On the smaller ships of Seabourn and SeaDream, cabin stewards, bar staff and waiters all seem to know your name from the moment you set foot onboard. This is all part of their training. Being treated as an individual and not just one of a huge number of guests on a ship really allows you to chill out – which after all is what it is all about.
Despite the high levels of personalised service you will experience on Luxury Cruise Lines, many include gratuities in the cruise fare and so you are not required to individually tip staff members. However, if someone goes above and beyond the call of duty, you can always offer something extra by making a donation to the crew fund.
Fine Dining Experiences
Many renowned chefs have teamed with luxury lines to develop memorable dining experiences. The luxury hotel and restaurant brand Relais & Chateaux created Le Champagne for Silversea ships and Nobu Matsuhisa created the Japanese-centric Silk Road for Crystal Cruises.
Beyond great chefs, you’ll find that most maitre d’s will be happy to arrange special requests for specific meals for special occasions. Watch out for Food and Wine Themed cruise like the Seabourn Food and Wine Cruises as these can be extremely good with celebrity chefs competing against each other for bragging rights!
The smaller ships generally found with the Luxury Cruise Lines have a big advantage over their larger counterparts. They can get into ports that the large ships can’t or won’t go to. That’s why you will find some really fabulous itineraries. In the Mediterranean this means exclusive ports such as Portofino and Capri. Exotic stops like Indonesia’s Komodo Island in southeast Asia. Antartica is another destination for smaller ships. See article about Seabourn cruises to Antartica.
In a growing trend, luxury cruise lines also tend to overnight in popular ports so travellers can get a real sense of the place and enjoy both daytime and night-time shore excursions. Azamara Club Cruises do this well with their AzAmazining Evenings program
Shore Excursions and Exclusive Events
One of the most compelling things about the luxury cruise lines is the importance they place on developing special shore events for passengers.
In addition to regular excursions, lines such Seabourn and Azamara host complimentary outings, just for clients. One of Seabourn’s most famous complimentary excursions is a lovely evening of classical music at the Odeon theatre at Ephesus in Turkey.
One of my favourites…. Unlike the mega ships, the onboard photographers are not trying to snap you every few minutes and then charge a fortune for the prints. In fact Luxury Lines tend not to have onboard photographers. A much more civilised experience.
Getting to Know People
On big ships, you may be dining at the same table with the same people every day. You may get to know them quite well! Big ships with freestyle dining and alternative restaurants, suffer the problem of often meeting people once and then never see them again. On a smaller Luxury Cruise Ships, you tend to be mix more easily, and more often. Many luxury cruisers make friendships that last long after the journey.
So there you have it. Hopefully some helpful Tips to try and help you make the transition to your first Luxury Cruise. Once you have tried it you will never look back!