Luxury at Sea
There's something for everyone in today's world of cruising and those looking to be pampered in sumptuous surroundings will not be disappointed. Cruise ships offer the finest luxury travel experience you could wish for. You might be surprised by the exceptional amenities you can enjoy at sea these days.
The Garden Route
Photo: South African Tourism
The Elements of Luxury at Sea
While luxury has been a hallmark of cruising since the beginning, the level of sybaritic pleasures aboard ships today is quite overwhelming. Cruise lines continue to introduce new concepts and amenities with the launch of every new ship. These are the elements which make cruising a very luxurious experience:
- Deluxe accommodation appointed with the finest décor and amenities
- A range of sumptuous public rooms designed for your personal comfort
- Fine dining created by leading chefs in a variety of stunning restaurants
- Special linens, crystal and china
- Wine cellars filled with the world's premium vintages
- Impeccable personal service
- Additional amenities offered by luxury cruise lines, or for those staying in suites aboard other ships, may include:
- Open seating dining
- Wine or champagne served upon boarding
- Complimentary wine and spirits
- Luxurious sleep systems with euro-top mattresses
- Pillow menus
- High end soaps and shampoos
- Personalized stationery
- Private lounge
- Concierge service
- Butler service
- Personalized experiences ashore, customized just for you
Take a look at these outstanding examples of the luxury experience at sea which will enhance your vacation, making it something extra special:
Cunard Line - Grill Class
A legend in cruising, Cunard has operated ocean liners since 1840. Their ships recapture the finesse of a bygone era combined with the finest in modern amenities. The Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria have wine cellars and cigar and brandy menus which are recognized by connoisseurs around the world.
Cunard's Grill Class is one of cruising's ultimate experiences. This is the way royalty, heads of state and celebrities have travelled with Cunard over the years. Spacious suites range from 335 to 2,249 square feet, some on two levels with the bedroom upstairs. Suites feature separate livings areas, marble bathrooms, private balconies, a pillow menu with nine options and butler service. You'll dine at Cunard's Grill restaurants which are rated as amongst the best at sea with the most refined standards of service.
Celebrity Cruises - Concierge Class & AquaSpa Staterooms
Aboard the ships of Celebrity Cruises you'll be enchanted by the spectacular surroundings and many innovative features. Enjoy a game of croquet played on a real lawn at the Lawn Club; join in the many unique enrichment options offered as part of the Celebrity Life program like dance, computer, language or hands on art classes; dine at some of the best restaurants at sea; relax at the Champagne High Tea with traditional cream scones and a range of premium teas and coffees.
Two of Celebrity's unique stateroom categories are the Concierge Class and AquaSpa:
- Those in Concierge Class staterooms will enjoy a private veranda with fresh fruit and flowers, personalized stationery, golf umbrella, complimentary use of high-quality binoculars, complimentary shoeshine service, a pillow menu and expanded room-service breakfast menu. You'll also have preferred seating in the dining room and specialty restaurants.
- Aboard the Solstice-class ships, the AquaSpa staterooms are found close to AquaSpa® by Elemis® Relaxation Room, the Solarium and the Persian Garden. These veranda staterooms have many special perks like priority seating in Blu, a specialty restaurant that also serves a complimentary and healthy continental breakfast every day; a personal Spa Concierge to arrange AquaSpa® treatments; free, unlimited access to the Persian Garden and Relaxation Room; special programming and wellness classes and many in-room amenities, including Hansgrohe®shower panels, aromatherapy selections, a pillow menu, enhanced personal care products and daily deliveries of bottled water and teas.
Oceania Cruises - Country Club Ambience & Fine Dining
Aboard the ships of Oceania Cruises you'll enjoy a resort-casual dress code at all times, open seating dining, spas operated by famous Canyon Ranch and butler service in the top suites. These smaller ships are relaxed and friendly with the ambience of a country club.
One of Oceania's most popular features is the outstanding cuisine created by Master Chef Jacques Pépin. Specialty restaurants include the fabulous Italian eatery, Toscana, and the Polo Grill for steak and seafood, both available at no extra charge. The Marina, which entered service last January, has taken the culinary experience up a notch with several new venues: Exquisite private dining is available in Privée, wine pairing events in La Reserve and contemporary interpretations of Asian classics in Red Ginger. Don't miss Jacques, the first restaurant to bear the name of the line's Master Chef, where some very special meals are served. How about an appetizer of Baked Escargots with Burgundy Garlic Sauce in Puff Pastry followed by a Classic Baked Onion Soup with Gruyere Cheese Crust. For the main course; Brittany Style Maine Lobster baked in Shell with Tarragon and Coral Butter.
The 'Ultra-Luxe' Experience
While you'll find a high level of luxury aboard the cruise ships of our preferred partners, these lines cater specifically to travellers looking for a deluxe experience:
- Seabourn and Silversea Cruises feature mid-size, all-suite ships with open-seating dining and complimentary wines and spirits. Dining and stateroom gratuities are also included in the fare.
- Regent Seven Seas Cruises has three mid-size ships, two of which are all-suite and all-balcony. Fares include air, one night pre-cruise hotel stay, gratuities, complimentary wines and spirits and a shore excursion in each port.
- Crystal Cruises has bigger ships but all the elements the luxury traveler is looking for - attention to detail, exquisite dining and deluxe accommodation. Crystal is also moving to a more all-inclusive fare structure in 2012 with complimentary fine wines and premium spirits throughout the ship, pre-paid gratuities and no charge for specialty restaurants.
- Paul Gauguin Cruises offers all-inclusive fares and all-ocean view staterooms and suites aboard the beautiful Paul Gauguin, sailing year-round from Tahiti.
- Sea Dream Yacht Club owns two large yachts each carrying 55 guests in pampered luxury to small ports and yacht havens in Europe and the Caribbean. They feature open seating dining and yacht-casual dress code.
Luxury and Adventure
- Orion Expedition Cruises, Silversea Cruises and Celebrity Cruises offer luxury expedition sailings aboard elegant small ships specially fitted out for adventure.
It certainly sounds inviting. Isn't it time for some relaxation and pampering in luxurious surroundings on your next vacation?
By Susan Milne