Today’s cruise ships, particularly in the luxury market, have impressive options for on board dining, wellness and enrichment programs, and the opportunity to explore the world’s ports of call with local experts and experience cultural immersion not previously offered before in cruising. Theme cruises are also popular, especially those with a culinary, wine and beverage focus, and feature guest chefs and sommeliers, along with unique itineraries. Many lines are also now offering all-inclusive fares and include tips, all meals (even at upscale restaurants), select wines with lunch and dinner, and house pour cocktails. Most will charge additional fees for premium beverages and vintage wines and on shore excursions or private tours, but this all-inclusive pricing makes cruising an even more attractive option for travellers and yet another reason to set sail on a cruise. Here are some of the latest trends, new ships, and programs offered in the luxury cruise market and comparisons between several different lines. Each has their own niche and on board ambiance and feel, and some travellers, once they find a style of cruising that best fits their lifestyle and interests, stay loyal to the brand as most cruise lines offer special incentives and discounts to their repeat customers, including discounted or free airfare from select gateways.
Silversea All-Inclusive Ultra-Luxury
For travellers interested in sailing to exotic destinations around the globe, Silversea Cruises offers an all suite and allinclusive luxury experience with exceptional on board service. Their current fleet of nine elegant ships carries between 296 and 540 passengers each. With a geographically diverse mix, their guests are well travelled and range in age (on average) 40s and up. Butler service in every suite is one of the perks of sailing with Silversea and they will indulge your every whim. The line also has three expedition ships with world-renowned experts and offer itineraries for the active adventurer that’s looking for onboard upscale amenities and dining. With the addition of the 596-passenger and new flagship, Silver Muse in April 2017, a representative for the line says the trend in the industry “Is all about choice and variety.” This ultra-luxury ship will raise the bar in ocean cruising with its new elegant public spaces, on board enhancements, and more culinary options than any other ship in its class. This luxuriously appointed ship will feature eight dining venues, including La Dame, their French restaurant that’s part of their exclusive partnership with Relais & Chateaux. silversea.com
Crystal Cruises Luxury and Beyond
Crystal Cruises, one of the world’s most luxurious cruise brands, recently launched its new All Exclusive™ campaign, which features an interactive and engaging website designed for the savvy traveler wanting to plan the ultimate cruise. From their expedition cruises aboard a luxury yacht to their exclusive AirCruises, where 12 privileged guests are transported from the U.S. by their long-range Bombardier Global Express XRS to cruise destinations in the Mediterranean, Indian Ocean and the Pacific, Crystal’s new cruising and air cruising experiences are targeted at the elite traveler. For the adventurous luxury traveler, the Crystal Serenity will make its second groundbreaking voyage in August 2017 through the Arctic’s Northwest Passage, on a 32-day expedition-style cruise, sailing from Anchorage/Seward to New York. The first luxury ship to make this sailing, guests will visit remote villages in Canada’s Arctic Archipelago and explore unspoiled territory, while viewing rarely seen wildlife. crystalcruises.com
Windstar Casual luxury
Windstar’s award–winning intimate luxury yachts, hosting between 148 to 310 guests, offer an upscale experience with a casual vibe. There are no formal nights and jackets required and with fewer passengers and an attentive and friendly staff, there’s a unique sense of camaraderie on board the ship not found on other cruise lines. With three sailing yachts and three power yachts, the type of ship you choose will offer a very different experience. Many of Windstar’s itineraries, especially on themed cruises, feature immersive experiences while on shore in the ports of call. With the smaller scale of the ships, these yachts can navigate into ports and harbours other larger ships are not able to, offering more on-shore time and unique excursions like cooking with local residents in farmhouses in Italy and attending an evening special event and wine tasting at a chateaux in Bordeaux, France. The largest ship in the fleet, Wind Surf, a stunning sailing ship, was recently refitted and renovated and features beautifully appointed suites, staterooms, and public spaces. The Silver Legend, one of the power yachts, hosts 212 guests and feels much like you’re sailing on a friend’s private luxury yacht. Windstar recently announced new itineraries in Asia on the Silver Legend for 2017 and 2018. The Wonders of Arabia, sailing in the fall of 2017, will travel from Athens to Dubai over 18 days and will reposition the ship in Asia. The new Asian itineraries include a 14-day Splendors of Japan & South Korea and Best of the Philippines & Borneo, also a 14-day cruise. windstarcruises.com
Viking Cruises Exploring your World
Viking’s Ocean Cruises are the newest in the industry and offer yet another approach to sailing the world’s vast waterways. Their two elegantly designed ships with their signature modern Scandinavian interior are larger, carrying 930 passengers each. All of the staterooms have verandas and include complimentary Wi-Fi for guests throughout the ship. They’ve taken their very successful river cruise model with all-inclusive cruising and highly immersive local programs and experiences at the destinations and have brought it to the high seas with this very popular and award winning new line. When on the ship, their exclusive onboard program, Culture Curriculum, offers dining inspired by local cuisine and regional wine tastings; a cooking school where guests can learn to prepare those dishes; lectures on the history and art of the destinations; educational port talks; and destination performances, which feature folkloric shows and musicians playing regional and classical music.With their unique guest experiences and success of the first two ships, Viking will be adding more exciting itineraries and launching two new ships in 2017, the Viking Sky in February and Viking Sun later in the year. vikingcruises.com
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