Thinking about a vacation and want to pamper yourself? Thinking about vacation and don’t want to be in the middle of crowds? Thinking of vacation and want unique adventure? Want to meet some other like-minded world travelers? Look no further than a cruise on a luxury cruise line.
I often hear stories about how much someone hated their cruise vacation. Having any reason from too crowded to buffet food, I assure them that they just haven’t found their match yet. Luxury cruise lines are set up to accommodate the most discriminating and sophisticated travelers and the market is growing. Growth in this segment of the cruise business is expected to experience 17 to 21 percent growth this coming year.
Interested in going to Europe but hate to fly? Cruise a trans-Atlantic crossing on Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 out of New York harbor arriving into Southampton, England (or reverse). You can have high tea with white glove service while enjoying their Enrichment series. The series offers access to renowned actors, politicians, academics and industry leaders. All this while having your dog or cat transported along with you in the Royal Kennels. Don’t worry, they will also be transported in style with a grass play area and a walking zone with generous owner access.
Want to get away from the crowds? Silverseas Explorer, one of Silverseas ships, was built for navigating remote waters, particularly, the earth’s arctic region. A strengthened hull allows it to push through ice floes with ease. A fleet of Zodiac boats with expert expedition teams take you to off-the-beaten path locations and then return you to your cabin with high thread counts and five-star cuisine. No one said you had to suffer while traveling.
Crystal Cruise Line often tops the list of luxury cruise lines. While having the best crew to guest ratio, its service wins all the industry awards. Known for over-the-top excursions if you can dream it (and afford it) the experience is available to you. Want to raft in the rain forest in Cairns, Australia, do a triathlon in Dubrovnik, Croatia, take a cooking lesson at a Michelin-starred restaurant in Sorrento, or help at a rhino conservation location in South Africa? These are some of the many excursions available on Crystal’s ships. It recently expanded into the European river cruise market and is expected to continue its customer service winning ways.
Oceania Cruise Lines with six mid-size ships is known for a great value in luxury and a real “foodie” ship. Master Chef Jacques Pepin is the culinary director and the food at all of the ship’s restaurants is superior (and included). There are cooking classes by the chefs and private vintage wine and gourmet food pairings. Cabins range from balcony to concierge class to butler service in the suites and penthouse. Pricing for the cruise includes airfare and a choice of excursions or some onboard credit giving you a chance to get a massage at the ship’s fabulous spa.
One of my favorite luxury cruise lines is Regent. It currently has four ships that only hold 500 to 700 passengers and offers only suites. All alcohol, all internet, all shore excursions and specialty restaurant dining are included in the pricing. What’s your favorite scotch? It’ll be waiting in your cabin. Can’t make up your mind on which shore excursion — take two, they are included in the price. Flights to and from the port are included as well as transfers and a hotel night at a luxury hotel prior to cruise. No lines and pampering are this vendor’s trademark. If you are traveling to a region that has lots of expensive excursions such as Alaska on another popular cruise line, you want to do some price comparison. It might cost more to get on a Regent ship, but certainly less to get off.
Luxury travel is a growing market and a great way to see the world. I’m often reminded about the difference between cost and value. The way you prefer to travel will help you determine what the best cruise line for you. Luxury travel might be both a great value and price that you can afford. Happy cruising.
Marci DeWitt owns a local travel agency, Anchor and Away Travel, a Dream Vacations franchise. She can be reached by email at mdewitt@DreamVacations.com.