What defines luxury?
The concept of luxury is as varied and extensive as the tastes and requirements of the travellers. It could be the standard luxury services like exotic destinations, lavish accommodations, excellent cuisine, personal attention, etc. Or, it could be over-the-top cruise experiences that offer personal enrichment programmes, golf or language lessons, cultural nights, casinos, shopping malls, spas and salons, sports arenas, and many other on-board treats that make the cruisers themselves places to soak up and explore.
Selecting a luxury cruiser
A plethora of luxury cruise ships are already in the business along with a whole new lot of ships all ready to sail, offering the newest and the most exciting elements of splendour and delight. However, the choice of a cruiser depends hugely on what the traveller expects and how much they are ready to spend. Are they looking for the most basic luxury offers or do they long for a beyond-this-world experience? Selecting a luxury cruiser is easier if the traveller knows the criteria that make services or facilities a luxury. To qualify as a luxury cruiser, a ship must have at least the following hallmarks of luxury.
- A warm welcome aboard with the best welcome drink
- Personal escort to the accommodation facility
- Almost one-to-one crew-to-passenger ratio
- Well trained and refined hotel staff
- Toiletries, soaps, and cold towels of the best quality
- Refreshments and fresh fruit service
- The choicest of international cuisines
- Option to choose salted or unsalted butter
- The best sea salts, olive oils, and high quality branded drinks
- Superior china and silverware; no plastic plates, paper napkins, and sugar packets
- A good library and free in-room films
- The most learned lecturers and historians
The size of the ship is also a factor to consider while booking a luxury cruise. A big ship need not necessarily mean luxury. Most travellers would prefer a smaller or medium sized one as it provides better personal service. Individual attention is definitely one of the deciding elements of luxury. Small ships also have easy access to small and exclusive locales where the big ships cannot enter. While it is possible to stay in the exclusive luxury areas in large ships, it could limit the traveller to a specific part of the ship only where they have access to the lavish service.
Other accompaniments of luxury in a ship that need to be checked by the traveller include the finest details in each of the three important aspects of cruising, namely accommodation, service, and dining.
Accommodation: What to expect once onboard a luxurious cruise ship
Once the traveller is welcomed aboard and escorted to their suite, the butler or steward/stewardess must show them around their place of stay. Other duties of the crew include but are not limited to the following
- Unpacking clothes, ironing them and arranging them neatly in the wardrobe
- Polishing shoes
- Booking restaurants, spas, salons, and other amenities on your behalf
- Offering pillow menu and a range of exclusive natural, organic soaps
- Providing personalised stationery, slippers, bathrobe, fresh flowers, fresh fruit baskets, etc
The luxury suites will typically have the following.
- Separate bedrooms
- Lounges with tables
- Big couches
- Walk-in closets
- Huge flat screen TVs in multiple rooms
- Bathrooms with separate wash basins for the male and female passengers, bidets, whirlpool baths, and separate shower cubicles
Most of the new luxury liners have a vast expanse of balconies suitable for body massages or outdoor dinners.
Service onboard your chosen luxury cruise ship
A truly luxurious service aboard means
- Not giving you a chance to miss home
- The crew ensures that you are sailing in the lap of luxury by paying attention to all your penchants and special preferences
- You have access to well-trained crew members who are there with a genuine desire to be of service to you
Dining in luxury cruises is an affair to remember.
- There is no time restriction in most of the restaurants and the passengers can eat when they want.
- They can also choose alternative dining venues without any extra cost. These are mostly smaller spaces where even the cuisine will be different.
- The restaurants have a large number of tables for two with a lot of space around each table for ease of service.
- There will be the most exquisite china and cutlery, plates, and wine glasses of appropriate size.
- The food is always made from fresh ingredients, which mean no readymade or tinned products are used in cooking. Seasonal and regional ingredients are selected for the cuisine.
A Look at the Best Luxury Cruise Ships – The Floating Extravaganzas
Rating a luxury cruise ship based on the amenities and services provided can be pretty difficult since the elements of luxury vary from ship to ship.
Small in a world of big seems to be the signature style of the Silversea cruise ships that are smaller than many of the big luxury liners. One of the advantages of sailing in a small luxury cruiser is that even the smallest harbours are quite within reach, which are usually inaccessible to the larger ships. Another plus is the intimacy felt on-board. The days on the ships are spent in wine tasting, attending cooking demonstrations, dance classes, shopping, playing games, and indulging in spa treatments; in short, there is everything to satisfy the body as well as the mind.
Touted to have the most traditional style in luxury cruisers, the two ships of Crystal Cruises can each carry around 1,000 passengers accommodated mostly in suites. The service of the crew members is exceptional who anticipate the needs and remember the personal preferences of the passengers. Some special offers of the Crystal Cruises include the following.
- Crystal Adventures shore excursions like African safaris and Antarctic expeditions that take the passengers to popular or undiscovered destinations across the world
- Theme cruises that offer on-board lectures and demonstrations, shore side excursions and the like to make the voyage a beyond-the-ordinary experience
- Crystal casino with slot machines, blackjack, mini-baccarat, three-card poker, and many more
SeaDream Yacht Club
This is for those who wish to spend their days of leisure in a private yacht. The twin yachts of SeaDream are designed for luxury with spacious cabins, beautiful bathrooms with twin showers, and attractive lounging areas. The all-inclusive option of the SeaDream yachts is said to be the best in the luxury liner industry that includes ocean view accommodations, gourmet meals, gratuities, wine with lunch and dinner, and many more. The SeaDream yacht lifestyle also offers:
- 5-star service and cuisine
- Water sports marina
- Fitness centre
- Champagne and caviar splash Caribbean voyages
- SeaDream boutique
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
This line has three medium sized ships with a signature cruise called Grand Crossing across the Atlantic Ocean. Guests in Concierge Level Suites or higher get a range of privileges and value-added benefits like priority shore excursions and dinner reservations, discounts on top-shelf liquor, one hour of free Internet service, just to name a few. On-board activities include:
- Wine and cheese tasting
- Nightclub or cabaret
- On-board spa
Yachts of Seabourn
With six small ships that are renowned for their best dining experience, the Yachts of Seabourn incorporate small but fascinating ports into its travel destinations. Shore excursions often include the famous elephant rides of Thailand, guided tours to the ruins of Pompeii, horseback riding in Patagonia region of Chile, visit to the Auckland museum in New Zealand, and much more depending on the destination and port. Some of the other activities on-board are:
- Enrichment programmes
- Port lecture
- Food and wine tasting
- Complimentary on-deck massage
- Marina Day
- Farewell beach party with an abundant dose of caviar and champagne
Trends in Luxury Cruising – The Past and the Present
Trends in luxury cruising are constantly changing as more and more players and destinations have arrived on the scene. In the past two years, the trend was to come up with new ships. However, 2013 is showing a change in the new-build trend. Instead, the refurbishment trend where the existing liners are upgraded and refurbished to accommodate the changes in passenger tastes and advances in technology. More and more new brands are ready to sail with the luxury liners and menus are also witnessing a change to include dietary restrictions. With the all new changes and improvisations, the luxury cruise scene is expected to attract more cruise lovers in the coming months.