A luxury cruise was once a norm restricted amongst high nobility. With the arrival of a multitude of brands, an exhaustive catalogue of luxury ships and destinations open for re-exploration, a cruise is now an essential luxury travel experience.
A luxury cruise was once a norm restricted amongst high nobility. With the arrival of a multitude of brands, an exhaustive catalogue of luxury ships and destinations open for re-exploration, a cruise is now an essential luxury travel experience. We simplify this maze and grade some of the best luxury cruises and experiences that are worth their salt and need to be on your travel diary.
Our first annual features the Best Luxury Cruises 2019 and covers the following seven categories:
BEST LUXURY CRUISE LINES
Delight with a sail aboard Seabourn, an ultra- luxury cruise line owned by the Carnival Corporation. Checking all the boxes off any luxury traveller’s list, get ready for an unequalled cruise experience on the newest ship in the fleet Seabourn Ovation. With just five luxury ships Seabourn covers all the major cruise routes, voyaging to all seven continents – no sea/land combo gets left out. There is no question of ‘will we – won’t we’ when it comes to views or space as all rooms are ocean-front suites, most feature breathtaking verandas. Seabourn falls under the small-cruise liner category and this designation works to their advantage. Small size leads to fewer rooms on every passage, only 229 to 300 suites per ship. Fewer patrons mean more intuitive service. A complimentary personal suite stewardess provides thoughtful, unobtrusive catering to every need, letting new and seasoned travellers experience true freedom on the high seas – an element that’s the envy of other cruise lines. The overall ambience aboard, as well as the service, and sophisticated design feels like a private club. The attention to detail also infuses Seabourn’s galley. All dining venues are included and with complimentary premium spirits and wines – there is never an argument among new friends about who picks up the tab. For those seeking rejuvenation on the high seas, Seabourn’s spa & wellness see to your mindful living and wellness needs with an extensive, unique list of treatments and programs. Seabourn tops our list as the Best Luxury Cruise Lines for 2019. seabourn.com
2. Crystal Cruises
Crystal Cruises comes second in our Best Luxury Cruise Lines for 2019 and can be quickly summed up for its excellent service, premium rooms and vibrant entertainment. The cruise line’s offerings range from two ocean cruise ships, five river ships and the luxury yacht, Crystal Esprit. This small fleet of 8 is more than ample to enable travellers to extravagantly explore any destination, anywhere in the world, from a few days to a few months. The cruise line’s ocean-going ships come with a mix of bright, well-appointed penthouses and staterooms, most with stunning verandas – a hallmark of any luxury voyage. Their latest sailing vessel, Crystal Serenity, comes with numerous experiences onboard including two live theatre performances every night, a movie in the cinema, and live music in three different lounges. Adding to the excitement onboard is the Resorts World At Sea Casino (also found in Malaysia’s Genting Highlands and Singapore’s Resort World Sentosa) with a full range of table games, slots and private gaming rooms. Life onboard Crystal Cruises is excellent! Away from temptations, travellers can lean in toward their goal of a life of excellent wellness where one can recharge and revitalise at Crystal Life Spa. After a day of excursions, indulge with exceptional meals at signature speciality restaurants such as Nobu Matsuhisa’s Umi Uma and Sushi Bar, Italian Prego, Asian Silk Kitchen, Brazilian Churrascaria and Stardust Supper Club. crystalcruises.com
3. Regent Seven Seas
Regent Seven Seas Cruises is easily one of the most luxurious cruise lines in the world and lands at number three in our Best Luxury Cruise Lines list. This cruise line pushes the trend in cruising that small is sexy; small ships, with the right management, can be luxurious. Any of the Seven Seas cruise ships feels like a premium resort experience. Some essential luxuries, such as all-inclusive unlimited shore excursions, unlimited beverages and free speciality restaurants make sailing hassle-free.Made up of four ships, Regent Seven Seas’ fleet features small ships with Seven Seas Explorer the newest in the fleet. Despite the size, some of the best cabins can be found onboard Regent Seven Seas, offering a spacious and relaxing in-suite experience, with ample closets, high- end finishes, relaxing Elite Slumber™ beds and private balconies. When it comes to entertainment, a cabaret, casino and karaoke make for light and lively evenings. Eight culinary settings see to it that travellers are well-fed from chic Parisian fine dining to grilled-to-order burgers by the pool. With a whole lot of art and elegantly appointed interiors, you may never want to go home. The Regent Seven Seas tends to focus more on lounging and spending relaxed evenings in sophisticated conversation, tempo and adrenalin is thus expected to be restricted, a speed limit so to speak when cruising the seven seas. rssc.com
4. Oceania Cruises
Oceania Cruises comes in at number four in our Best Luxury Cruise Lines simply because of their all-round delights, great food and premium service. Of the six cruise ships that make up the fleet, MS Marina and MS Riviera, the sister ships, are their biggest and latest additions, however MS Nautica will undoubtedly steal your heart as well. The multiple dining venues are at the pulse of this cruise line which include open-air restaurants and excellent pairing dinners at La Reserve by Wine Spectator, only available aboard the Marina and Riviera. Entertainment is more for the older set so those travelling with families will want to explore other cruise lines. oceaniacruises.com
5. Silversea Cruises
Silversea anchors at number five on our list of the Best Luxury Cruise Lines. Their fleet currently consists of nine all-suite ships, featuring their newest Silver Muse. Silversea presents European luxury to its voyagers with a focus on excellent service. Their small to mid-sized ships are an excellent hybrid of adventure, exploration and luxury cruising. Onboard, guests will find a combination of all-inclusive pricing, a nearly 1-to-1 staff-to-guest ratio, eagle-eye service, and all-suites with ocean views, many boasting private teak verandas. A good combination of luxury suites, interesting destinations, overall refined experiences, and masterful culinary dining––not to mention butler service––make for a delightful, premium cruise experience. The cruise line’s polar-ice rated expedition ships set sail on discovery missions that include explorations of Galapagos, the Arctic and the Antarctic. silversea.com
BEST FAMILY CRUISE LINES
1. Disney Cruise Line
We rank Disney Cruise Line as the Best Family Cruise Lines. Disney sets sail with family- friendly entertainment options your little pirates will love, engaging kids and the young-at-heart such a uniquely immersive experience, you’ll feel like you visited the Magic Kingdom. Since1998, Disney has operated four successful cruise ships and with three new ships launching over the coming years you’ll be able to experience almost double the Disney magic at sea! The cruise line has its own dedicated island, Castaway Cay, in the Bahamas and operates their own terminal at Port Canaveral in Florida ensuring a seamless Disney experience. If world-class family entertainment is what you want, you’ve come to the right place where Disney exclusive activities help your family make the most of their magical memories on the passage – an elaborate Walt Disney Theatre, the Buena Vista Cinema, separate pools with kids, toddlers and (even) adults in mind, a waterpark-at-sea aptly named AquaDuck. With scheduled character greeters, who knows who you might bump into aboard, keeping the excitement high and the fun fresh. Multigenerational families will build life-long memories with deck parties, and themed cruises such as Marvel Day at Sea, Star Wars Day at Sea, Halloween Cruises and live shows. A dedicated deck for Disney’s Oceaneer Club & Lab provides supervised thrills for kids, tweens and teens. Kids aside, an adults’ only line of bars and nightclubs ensures that moms & dads make some of their own magical memories. Various tempting dining options such as Remy, Tiana’s Place, Rapunzel’s Royal Table and many more are crowd pleasers. Conclude your Disney voyage with fireworks at sea, a very happy ending as you set sail for home. disneycruise.disney.go.com
2. Royal Caribbean
The Royal Caribbean comes in second in our Best Family Cruise Lines list. Ships are packed with engaging entertainment designed for maximum family fun. Royal Caribbean’s fleet consists of 26 mighty ships including the newest in the fleet, Symphony of the Seas (2018), sohuge that Rome’s Colosseum pales in comparison to the ship’s shadow. The fleet’s size allows for a wide-variety of family offerings to pack the massive decks of the ship. From high-speed waterslides to surf simulators, rock climbing walls to an ice skating rink, and 70’s disco dance parties, 90’s street parties, Latin fiesta, and laser tag spices up the fun. Thrill-seekers will enjoy a zip line across the ship, the trapeze and game show – we haven’t even begun to list the many sports activities yet. With so many trendy activities your non-stop family-fun is guaranteed to take you from day to night. Night-out bars and clubs, kid’s oriented fast food joints and speciality dining venues will satisfy even the finickiest of appetites. They even have a Starbucks on board. royalcaribbean.com
3. Dream Cruises
Coming in third on our Best Family Cruise Lines list, Dream Cruises, proudly Asian at its core, has quickly won the hearts of travellers with Genting Dream and World Dream, and recently-launched Explorer Dream. With a firm focus on luxury cruising and family entertainment, Dream Cruises has, in a few short years, become South Asia’s go-to cruise line ideal for families featuring ‘The Palace’ – a ship-within-a-ship experience with all-suite, all-inclusive, 24-hour butler concierge service, premium priority access and exceptional gastronomy. A dedicated Palace Kids program with creative workshops and fun activities keeps children engaged while grown-ups enjoy spa dates at Crystal Life Spa. The saying ‘family that eats together stays together’ is certainly apropos aboard Dream Cruises 35 restaurants and bars, ranging from fine dining to bakery to dessert cafes. The cruise line’s entertainment quotient is awash with concerts, shows, branded discos, live musicals and the ESC Experience Lab – a cutting edge Virtual Reality zone where you can race Formula 1 cars, and virtually fly or even zoom into space with Star WarsTM Battle Pods. On the top of the cruise ships, we find their huge waterslide park perfect for beginners and daredevils alike. Rock climbing wall, mini- golf and the Zouk Beach Club add to the family fun with more than enough activities to keep a family engaged for a memorable passage. dreamcruiseline.com
4. Norwegian Cruise
Norwegian takes the fourth spot on our list of Best Family Cruise Lines. The cruise line consists of 17 ships, of which Norwegian Epic and Norwegian Breakaway are most noteworthy. A mix of family-oriented activities keeps crowds engaged and lets families set their own tempo for their cruise. Youth programs for all ages range from a Guppies Program for 6 months to under 3-year- olds to teenager-worthy hangout zones. A combination of broadway shows, high-octane dance numbers in the theatre, a colourful acrobat-themed dining experience, live music in themed clubs, comedy clubs, and game shows all lead to lively days and thrilling nights aboard the luxury pleasure crafts. ncl.com
5. MSC Cruises
MSC Cruises comes in fifth on our Best Family Cruise Line list. The Geneva-based cruise line consists of 16 ships and has a Mediterranean- influenced ambience where evenings come alive with music, parties and entertainment. MSC’s ship-within-a-ship ‘Yacht Club’ premium-class experience aboard selected ships provides guests with exclusivity, privacy and perks––featuring an all-inclusive cruise, complete with 24-hour butler service and a dedicated concierge. The cruise line’s young fleet provides unique family fun filled activities like the Aquapark, virtual simulators, and MSC Meraviglia’s exclusive partnership with Cirque Du Soleil at Sea featuring thrilling, colourful and imaginative feats of acrobatic art. Water rides and a good selection of dining avenues ensures your family will go home with life-long memories and incredible stories about their time at sea. msccruises.com
BEST CRUISE ITINERARIES
A favourite of millennials and retirees, cruising provides a kind of freedom to see incredible parts of the world free of roads and aeroplane security checks. A majestic home away from home where your ocean view changes with the port of call. With hundreds of global itineraries to choose from by a long list of cruise lines with fleets of luxurious ships – we’ll make it easy to find your dream cruise with our top 5 cruise itineraries.
1. Sail the savage seas of the South Pacific, in the wake of legends like Captain Cook and Gauguin
Hundreds of stunning islands make up the South Pacific, and while its almost impossible to chart them in one lifetime, with Paul Gauguin Cruises you’ll be able to visit ten exotic islands, giving you a priceless window into the beauty of the South Pacific.
Each of the ten islands on Paul Gauguin’s 14-day Marquesas, Tuamotus & Society Islands itinerary offers up its own unique selection of wonders and delights. Rich Polynesian culture unfolds among rugged islands with dramatic peaks and dense rainforests. Along stretches of tranquil beaches as far as the eye can see, you’ll scout out the best local hideaways each island has to offer with ease, leaving the management of reliable transport to the cruise lines and island-hopping to the tides and the winds.
But there’s plenty to do for thrill seekers at every port of call. Explore the island of Hiva Oa, where a wealth of archaeological ruins await – including a set of large stone sculptures, which some speculate may have even been precursors to the famous Easter Island figures.
To get up close and personal with the myriad of aquatic animals that inhabit the South Pacific, there’s an excellent half-day snorkel excursion in Bora Bora that finds you swimming in a coral garden, amongst stingrays and reef sharks. To top off a long day in the water, you’ll be treated to a sumptuous Polynesian feast, cooked in a traditional earth oven and served on a private island. Be sure to pack a waterproof sleeve for your iPhone, or bring an underwater camera, to take the ultimate South Sea selfies.
But why not take to the air instead and pilot your very own Cessna 172? On the luscious island of Moorea, where humongous, verdant mountains rise up above sandy beaches and azure waters, you can sign up for a scenic flight and pilot lesson – no experience needed. In one heart-pounding hour, you’ll learn how to control the plane and take it out for a spin. Reach new heights with breathtaking views Tetiaroa, just 30 miles north of Moorea, where a dozen idyllic islands surround an otherworldly lagoon.
No trip to the South Pacific would be complete without discovering one of its favourite treasures, the black pearl. In Taha’a, you’ll be able to get an insider’s look at a black pearl farm. The excursion is also book-ended by a refreshing snorkelling session and beachside BBQ.
Onboard dining and entertainment options aren’t as plentiful, but that’s because the real culinary treasure lies onshore with plentiful exotic fruits, and succulent beachside barbecues. Fill your Instagram feed with tropical drinks sipped from coconuts beneath swaying palm trees. After the fourteen-day cruise, you might want to get dropped off on a deserted island instead of setting sail for home. pgcruises.com
- Paul Gauguin Cruises’ Marquesas, Tuamotus & Society Islands 14–night itinerary
- November 23 – December 7, 2019
- The itinerary includes Tahiti – Fakarava – Fatu Hiva – Hiva Oa – Tahuata – Nuku Hiva – Huahine – Bora Bora – Taha’a – Moorer – Tahiti.
- All-inclusive suite rates start at $13,000 per person, for the Category B Veranda Stateroom, a 305 sq ft stateroom, of which 56 sq ft makes up the veranda.
2. Living the Mediterranean dream
If you have not cruised the Greek Isles, are you worthy of the title of world traveller? With its unmistakable white-walled villages and clifftop towns, the Mediterranean life is something that many dream about – and for 7-days, you’ll make your endlessly sunny dream come true.
Crystal Cruises 7-day Greek Isles Fantasy tour covers a lot of nautical miles and provides plenty of jaw-dropping views. Aside from the usual hotspots such as Santorini, Mykonos and Crete, the tour also includes a visit to the ancient town of Paphos in Cyprus, as well as a tour of Chania, notable for its gorgeous Venetian architecture and Egyptian and Ottoman influences.
It will be tough to decide whether to opt for pampering aboard Crystal Serenity or submerging in the culture and waters of the Mediterranean. The unique sulphur-spring treatment in AyiiAnargyri Natural Spa Resort, Paphos, is an ideal way to kick off your exploration of the ancient region. Hidden away in a valley of verdant springs and natural sulphur pools you will undoubtedly need some sumptuous wind on an indulgent Mediterranean afternoon. Twenty minutes away, the charming village of Kathikas is home to Vasilikon Winery, amongst the first Cyprus wineries. Taste some of the local vintages including Einalia Rose, a refreshing pomegranate-coloured rose wine with a distinct fresh floral character.
Alternatively, visit the Baths of Aphrodite & Agios Neophytos Monastery in Paphos. Regarded by most as the birthplace of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, legends says her spirit still lives on in the ancient ruins
dotting the island, especially in the sacred gardens in the coastal town of Yersokipou.
Create your very own Grecian feast with a private cooking class in one of Santorini’s prettiest towns, Megalochori. A hidden gem, its cobbled streets line elegant, classic mansions. Tucked away in one of those mansions is the Feggera restaurant, where its owner gives you an introduction to Santorini’s vibrant local produce before you roll up your sleeves to prepare a complete Greecian feast consisting of appetisers, a main course, and dessert.
There’s no way to round off a perfect trip to Greece than with a languid stroll down one of its golden beaches: but to truly make the experience one to remember, why not do it in style on horseback? On the final day in Mykonos, head to a countryside ranch. Once saddled-up on your steed, a guide leads you through the verdant countryside of Maou. The experience concludes with a trot along Fokos Beach, one of the island’s secluded stretches of sand.
Back onboard, Michelin-quality food awaits to feed your adventurous appetite in any of the ship’s ten dining locations – be sure to make reservations at the Umi Uma & Sushi Bar, created by celebrity Chef “Nobu” Matsuhisa. There are probably more entertainment venues onboard than you can possibly handle in just seven nights, but try. From a gentlemen’s club where you’ll savour fine hand-rolled cigars and sip cognacs to a lounge where you can enjoy Broadway-style performances, you’ll not only feel spoiled but satiated too. crystalcruises.com
- Crystal Cruises onboard Crystal Serenity Athens Roundtrip 7 nights itinerary. April 27 – May 4, 2019
- The itinerary includes: Athens – Paphos – Rhodes/Lindos – Souda Bay/Chania, Crete – Santorini – Mykonos – Athens
- Suite rates start at $8,500 per person for a Penthouse with Verandah, which covers 403 sq ft
3. A regal, timeless transatlantic passage
There’s something undeniably romantic – and epic – about a transatlantic cruise. Back in the Hollywood’s heyday, you’d find legends like Frank Sinatra, Audrey Hepburn and Clark Gable embarking on the iconic transatlantic crossing in lavish style – now, you can relive that bygone era. Even today, dressing up for dinner remains a must onboard the famed Queen Mary 2 – think dinner jackets, bowties, evening gowns – and you’ll be stopping at locations and ports at the top of any luxury traveller’s bucket list.
You’ll also earn bragging rights that you’ve crossed the Atlantic – and really, at 24 nights and crossing several continents, we’d say you deserve it.
The Queen Mary 2, Cunard’s legendary flagship, is about as storied as the route it undertakes. It is the largest ocean liner ever built and to date, the ship has completed over 200 transatlantic voyages. To reward the stalwart vessel, she endured a £90 million makeover in 2016, which added dozens of new rooms and facilities, and perhaps most importantly for animal lovers, ten more animal kennels.
Yes, the Queen Mary 2 welcomes pets onboard with open arms – it even has adorably themed kennels and decor, such as British lamp posts and New York fire hydrants, to make your furry friends feel like they’re really on an adventure.
Since the Queen Mary 2 is a British ship, expect to find some very British amenities onboard. Here, there’s no ritual more prized than the afternoon tea, served by white-gloved waiters every afternoon in the Queens Room. There’s even a live orchestra accompaniment as you sip fine Twinings leaf teas and avail yourself to a fine assortment of finger sandwiches, pastries – and of course – scones. Guests staying in suites can opt to have their tea in the more intimate Princess Grill restaurant. Cunard.com
- Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2 Transatlantic, Cape Town to New York 24 nights itinerary.
- April 1 – April 25, 2020
- The itinerary includes: Cape Town (South Africa), Walvis Bay (Namibia), Tenerife (Spain), Funchal (Portugal), Southampton (UK), New York (USA)
- Suite rates start at $14,000 per person for the Princess Grill, which covers 381 sq ft.
4. Navigate like a Norseman
The Norwegian Fjords have appeared at the top of many a travel list and may as well be declared one of the wonders of the natural world. There’s nothing like the awe of gliding between those dramatic fjords and the rugged, romantic Arctic wilderness of northern Norway to remind you how insignificant life in the city can be — and how beautiful the world truly is.
Cruise operator Hurtigruten offers year-round tours to satisfy any luxury traveller’s bucket list. Decide whether you want to cross the Arctic Circle under the Midnight Sun in the summer, or beneath the otherworldly Northern Lights in the winter––decisions, decisions. We recommend you visit the Arctic Circle in winter when the colours of the countryside dazzle just as bright as the best viewing of the Northern Lights.
Begin your journey in Bergen, a charismatic city brimming with colourful 14th-century wharves and charming street-side cafes. Set sail north along the Norwegian coast, in the direction of the ornate town of Ålesund. With its numerous spires, towers and beautiful art nouveau architecture, a stunning beauty that could even rival the fjords that surround it. Ålesund is also home to one of Europe’s largest salt-water aquariums — but if you’d prefer to venture in nature yourself, you’re in for a treat.
In the autumn, explore one of Norway’s most distinctive and stunning fjord, the Hjørundfjord. Meet with seclusion and rolling, unspoiled natural greenery here, located far from the bustle of civilisation and tourists alike. Its heights can reach over 5,000 ft above sea level and should you undertake the hike to the top, you’ll be rewarded with million dollar panoramic views of the surrounding mountains, isolated villages, and crystalline waters below. After your hiking adventure, head back down the barely-trodden farm road to a quaint village where a tall, cold glass of locally produced beer will quench your serious thirst.
Another exclusive adventure is the Sami Autumn tour. These fabled reindeer herders of northern Scandinavia cherish nature as an integral part of their culture, and you’ll get to see every aspect of their lives with an insider’s tour. Aside from learning to create some Sami handicrafts, you’ll also get to sample local berries and reindeer meat — a much tastier prospect than it sounds.
Ships on this route are Polar rated to withstand the rugged terrain and unforgiving weather of the region. It’s the luxury of expedition travel and therefore expect limited onboard entertainment and comforts. The real luxury is being close enough to rare sights of nature that transport you to cultures and traditions beyond the reach of standard luxury ship. Sitting on your balcony while sailing past the fjords with a soothing mug of hot chocolate in hand? Priceless. Hurtigruten.com
- Hurtigruten’s Voyage of Discovery 11 days itinerary.
- Departs all-year round; We recommend travelling in September when the skies are still clear and the weather is pleasant.
- The itinerary includes Bergen / Floro / Trondheim / Arctic Circle / Tromso / Kirkenes / Mehamn / Harstad / Trondheim.
- The Expedition suites start from € 7000 per person and range from 160 – 320 sq ft.
5. Travel to land’s end South Africa – luxurious Tierra del Fuego
Norway isn’t the only place where majestic fjords and stunning natural landscapes can be found. One of South America’s best kept secrets include the Chilean Fjords, a twining network of free, calm channels welcoming kayakers and wildlife enthusiasts with open arms.
This 15-night cruise aboard Azamara Pursuit combines the best of Patagonia. Surrounded by the Beagle Channel’s countless sweeping fjords, winding inlets and vast rainforests one day, enjoy being whisked away the next day to Uruguay’s charming capital city of Montevideo, with its broad boulevards, art deco buildings and irresistible sidewalk cafes, then round off your journey in the tango capital of the world, Buenos Aires.
The highlight of the trip are undoubtedly, the fjords themselves. Instead of admiring the fjords from afar, enjoy a fishing trip with a team of local fishermen from Beagle Channel. Head out on a traditional fishing boat with a guide and learn how to catch king crabs, mussels, and other succulent crustaceans. Best of all, cook your catch at the home of a local family afterwards. Not only can you brag that you’ve been to the literal ‘End of the World’ — you’ve fished it too.
For a tranquil experience with no equal, take up a leisurely kayak adventure in Lake Los Palos. After docking in Puerto Chacabuco, take a 45-minute drive through the scenic Chilean countryside to peaceful Lake Los Palos, rife with Patagonia’s native vegetation and birds. After you’ve spotted a bevvy of kingfishers, eagles and caiquenes, continue your paddle to a lush, secluded island within the lake for some refreshments surrounded by the peace of the Patagonian wilderness.
The cruise makes its final stop at Buenos Aires, but just because your seafaring adventure has taken its course, doesn’t mean that the fun stops here. No trip to Buenos Aires is complete without indulging in the city’s vibrant nightlife, and while heart racing tango shows can be found at virtually every major street corner, we recommend you head straight to the dinner-and-dance shows in the city. The Roko Tango Show showcases one of the city’s unique experiences, with an ensemble of talented dancers, musicians, and of course, savoury local cuisine.
Fifteen days may seem a touch lengthy for this region, but once you’re dwarfed by glacial fjords and snow-capped mountains on all sides, awestruck by how stunning this part of the world really is, you may very well wish to settle here for good! azamaraclubcruises.com
- Azamara Club Cruises’ Chilean Fjords Voyage onboard Azamara Pursuit 15 night itinerary
- February 4 —February 18, 202
- The itinerary includes Santiago – Puerto Montt – Puerto Chacabuco – Chilean Fjords – Punta Arenas – Beagle Channel – Ushuaia – Port Stanley – Montevideo – Buenos Aires.
- Suite rates start from €6000 per person, with the 266 sq ft Club Continent Suite.
BEST RIVER CRUISES
1. Indulge in France’s gourmet capital
There’s plenty to love about the south of France, with its verdant vineyards bursting with juicy grapes, sprawling, regent chateaus, and historic, Instagramable villages. Belmond Afloat’s barge Belmond Napoleon sets sail in Avignon, where you’ll get to observe the imposing Palace of the Popes and sample a little Châteauneuf-du-Pape before heading to La Voulte. The French countryside in full bloom is the stuff of poets and painters. Visit a local lavender producer in the town of Nyons to see how the fragrant plant is processed. Sail downriver to TainL’Hermitage and Tournon, two picturesque twin cities on either side of the Rhone. As you sail along the Rhone Valley, there are plenty of opportunities to admire the rolling hills – but if you’d like to explore onshore, don’t miss a walking tour of Vienne, a pleasant riverside Roman town.
World-class wine and food pairings abound here. But if you care for something epic enjoy a guided tour of several storied wineries which includes a truffle tasting session. Be sure to save some room for the day before the end of the tour. That’s when you’ll get a full day to explore the gastronomic haven of Lyon, home to Michelin- starred restaurants, hidden cafes and chic boutiques. But you might just want to grab a picnic lunch from a local patisserie and eat it along the river as you bask in the sunshine.
Round trip transfers from Paris are included in the itinerary. Since all excursions are also included and feature complimentary use of the barge’s bicycles, you’ll have the wonderful job of deciding which sights to visit.
Belmond Afloat in France onboard Belmond Napoleon — Avignon to Lyon tour starts at 6,700 Euro pp. covering Avignon, La Voulte, TainL’Hermitage, Vallee Du Rhone and Lyon and return trip to Paris. belmond.com/river-cruises
2. Lavish palaces, paintings, and power on display in Russia’s once-impregnable empire
Russia may seem to be a tough country for a traveller to crack with its impenetrable culture and language, but there are a multitude of gems to discover in the world’s largest country. Over the course of 13 days, uncover Russia through its mighty rivers and waterways. Cruise from the capital, along the Volga River, Volga-Baltic Waterway, Svir River, and Neva River to reach the ocean through the canals of St Petersburg.
From tasting authentic Russian caviar – perfectly paired with savoury blini pancakes – to sweating it out in a traditional banya located in a riverside village, and sailing past sprawling palaces and churches that line the country’s riverfront, you’ll be surprised at how much you can discover about this often misunderstood country. Guided tours at every port are also included in the trip, so no need to become fluent in Russian.
Begin the four-day tour in legendary Moscow. Explore its grand metro stations and famous landmarks before sailing Europe’s longest river, the Volga. You’ll pass by charming cities and villages each day, including enchanting Mandrogy, where you can create your own matryoshka doll, or visit a traditional Russian bathhouse.
With its lavish palaces, winding canals and vibrant arts scene, St Petersburg is the perfect place to spend the last four days of your tour. If you’re still not convinced why St Petersburg is referred to as the Venice of the North, perhaps the Peterhof Palace & Park will change your mind. Designed by Peter the Great – the 17th century Emperor that opened the country to Europe – this gilded palace and its perfectly manicured gardens were built to impress foreign dignitaries, and still does today.
Viking River Cruise’s Waterways of the Tsars onboard Viking Truvor this Oct 2019 for a 13 day Moscow to St Petersburg cruise in their Junior Suite starting at $10,499 per person and include free airfare from select cities. The 337 sq ft suite comes with floor to ceiling sliding glass door that open to a full-sized veranda. vikingrivercruises.com
3. Discover the Nile’s ancient secrets among ruins and hidden temples
What better way to explore the sights of ancient Egypt than on the very river that gives it life? It’s a surreal sight to behold a belt of greenery springing up in the middle of the desert, set against an endless backdrop of the yellow-and-gold sky. That’s the magic of the Nile. A river cruise is an incredible way to travel through the ruins of ancient Egypt which meld with modern life that thrives along the river, the wellspring of life for Egypt for over millennia.
On shore explore Luxor, the gateway to ancient Egypt, where you’ll walk into history at the staggering necropolis in the Valley of the Kings, on the western bank of the Nile. Numerous pharaohs were interred here for nearly 500 years, where rock-hewn tombs, each more elaborate and awe-inspiring than the last, marvels of ancient Egyptian engineering and audacity.
There’s plenty of thrills on this four-night tour including the Aswan Dam, like a rude bouncer, it stands in the way of upriver passages. In addition to the ancient temples and tombs, a plethora of activities and excursions will keep the adrenaline going.
In Aswan take a ride on a felucca, a traditional Egyptian sailboat, with a tall white mainsail, and enjoy a sunset sail around Elephantine Island, Lord Kitchener’s Botanical Gardens, and the Agha Khan Mausoleum — all stunning landmarks with secrets for you to unlock.
The Sanctuary Sun Boat IV sails you away from mere mortal life to the realm of the ancients with accommodations a Pharaoh would love. Presidential suites boast contemporary, Art Deco chic interiors that blend traditional Egyptian influences with modern designs. After a long day of spelunking, relax on the lush Sun Deck of the ship where a sunny afternoon finds you luxuriously lounging cocktail in hand while taking in stunning views of life, and life after death, along the Nile’s ruins set amidst the trappings of modern life.
Sanctuary Retreats’ Sanctuary Sun Boat IV 4-night Nile cruise from Luxor to Aswan. sanctuaryretreats.com
BEST BARS ON HIGH SEAS
You’ll have more fun than a pirate with a bottle of rum at these creative, top-of-their-game bars. You’ll wanting to celebrate 5 o’clock everywhere at our selection of the top 5 places to tip one back on the high seas. You can even sing 99 bottles of beer on the wall, if you want to.
1. Drink your way to the top with the Royal Caribbean’s Rising Tide Bar. Similar to the gentle waves on the ocean, this bar steadily rises and descends between Deck 5 and Deck 8 of the Symphony of the Seas, the world’s largest passenger ship.
2. Speaking of getting high, soar hundreds of feet above the sea in the North Star Bar, a sparkling glass capsule that dangles from a crane and hangs over the edge of the Royal Caribbean’s towering Ovation of the Seas. You’ll be toasting the stunning views as you hover 300 ft over the waves.
3. Indulge in a perfectly paired dinner experience at La Reserve by Wine Spectator, complete with Dom Pérignon vintages by the bottle, onboard Oceania Cruises’ Marina and Riviera ships. The excellent food alone is worth the experience, and to up the ante, try wines recommended by the sommelier with tastings varying from region to region.
4. Pull up a seat and warm up your vocal cords, because the Piano Bar on Carnival’s Horizon is built for a karaoke session to remember. This is the place where you call the shots and the tunes — after a few, you’ll sing like a rock star with the friendly piano player for back up.
5. Make like Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra at the decadent Stardust Supper Club on Crystal Cruises’ Crystal Serenity. The lounge is a tribute to the 1950s rat pack— a sexy, black-tie affair that offers slick cocktails and soulful live music along with your dram.
BEST GALLEYS AT SEA
Culinary journeys aboard certain cruise ships are legendary. After all the excursions are complete it is time to share the fun at a great feast. Just because you’re out at sea doesn’t mean you’ll have to survive on hard-tack. On the contrary, you’ll find a selection of exciting concepts and celebrity restaurants that outshine their land-lubber compadres. Here is our selection of the Top 5 Best Galleys At Sea.
1. Feast on a sumptuous barbecue under the stars at the Mandalay Grill with Belmond’s Road to Mandalay. Impossibly tender meats straight from the barbeque, fresh seafood, and crispy tempura are all paired with a tempting selection of wines under the star-studded night sky. Add a live band into the mix, and you’ve got the makings of a magical evening.
2. Celebrity Cruises’Moveable Feast event brings a ton of tasty events along with some of the world’s most recognisable chefs. This June, the Celebrity Equinox invites Latin chef Michelle Bernstein and Cake Boss Buddy Valastro aboard. Expect to see private cooking classes, hosted shore excursions, and exclusive restaurant menus — all hosted by the celeb chefs themselves.
3. Everyone knows Guy Fieri, the colourful and charismatic Food Network host. Fieri brings flavour-town to Carnival’s ships with Guy’s Burger Joint, a poolside spot for the juiciest burgers, hand-cut fries, and a sprawling toppings bar packed with tons of choices for you to make it your own. Order the Chillius Maximus, a burger with the works and super melty cheese – probably the best burger you’ll have on the high seas.
4. A Disney cruise may not be the place you’d expect to find Michelin-star cuisine, but Remy features incredible French cuisine. Chef Scott Hunnel and Three Michelin-starred chef Arnaud Lallement, who helms the l’AssietteChampenoise in France, serves as the advisor for Remy and sets your course for an excellent epicurean journey aboard Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy. The Remy Champagne Brunch is the ideal way to celebrate an extraordinary dining experience.
5. French master chef Jacques Pepin is often hailed as one of the great TV personalities of all time, and aboard Oceania Cruises’ Marina & Riviera, he offers his timeless French cooking at this namesake restaurant, Jacques. The dishes here burst with flavours. Coupled with the chic Parisian bistro decor, this is a five-star culinary voyage all its own
BEST SHOWBOATS SAILING THE SEVEN SEAS
One of the main reasons we choose to cruise is to enjoy world-class entertainment. With more activities and facilities than you can possibly imagine, you’ll be tempted to skip the excursions. Here is our selection of the Top 5 Showboats Sailing The Seven Seas.
1. In Asia, there are few clubs as iconic as Zouk – and if you’re struck by the itch to dance the night away while cruising, Genting Dream by Dream Cruises has you covered. It’s got the first Zouk on the high seas that plays host to a rotating roster of live artists, and famous DJs. Before the party gets started, the club transforms into the chilled out Glow Bowl, a four-lane bowling alley with all-neon balls, bowling pins, and furniture. For that viral snapshot for your Instagram feed, book a full-blown foam party in the outdoor area including humongous flamingo floaties that will keep you afloat after a few drinks.
2. Feel like getting your hands ‘dirty’ so to speak and create something delicious? Why not enjoy a tasty bonding experience on Oceania Cruises’ at La Reserve restaurant, which combines a meticulously curated list of wines with gourmet food pairings. Learn how to cook the dishes themselves! The Oceania Marina’s Culinary Centre is a hands-on cooking school at sea, and has a range of enriching culinary classes held by the ship’s master chefs. Alternatively, if you’d prefer to exercise your creative chops on an actual canvas, the onboard Artist Loft houses several talented in-house virtuosos that offer step-by-step instruction on how to create gorgeous oil paintings.
3. If you’re travelling with a multi-generational group, the Carnival Vista has something that will keep the whole family entertained, and even give the adults some time for themselves. Love board games? You’ll like them a lot more at Hasbro’s live Game Show, not just because they’re played onstage in a competition that puts your skills to the test, but because these classic boardgames come with giant, hilariously life-sized props.
4. Bigger is definitely better on the gargantuan Symphony of the Seas by Royal Caribbean where a packed roster of shows, onboard activities and facilities delight. An indoor ice skating rink puts on spectacular ice skating shows every night. If the graceful ice skating performance inspires you, you can try your hand at gliding on the ice yourself. If you’d like your entertainment more nautical, the towering AquaTheatre, set on the stern of the main deck, features dancers, divers and acrobats pulling off aquatic stunts set against the endless horizon of the sea.
5. The MSC Meraviglia is packed with extraordinary entertainment options. Why watch a movie when you can be a part of one? The Meraviglia comes with a 4D Cinema that lets you fully immerse yourself in a movie while the F1 Simulator helps to set a few lap records — there’s even a flight simulator if you wish to try your hand at piloting a plane. Or maybe you’d like to take your breath away with views of the sea on a Himalayan bridge that spans the main deck. When the sun sets, discover colourful acrobatic adventures twice every night, six nights a week, with the extravaganza of Cirque Du Soleil At Sea’s two original shows, Viaggio and Sonor, each with their own unique concepts, ambience, storyline, costume, and make-up.
© This article was first published in Apr-May 2019 edition of World Travel Magazine.
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