Let’s just go ahead and stipulate that cruises make wonderful vacations. You unpack once and get to travel to multiple places. You don’t have to cook, make the bed or take out the trash once, so you vacation like royalty. The cruise market has exploded and cruise lines launch new ships one after the other. But all ships and cruise experiences are not equal so we’re going to look at what you can expect on a luxury cruise.
5 Benefits to Expect on a Luxury Cruise
The first thing to understand is that there are multiple luxury cruise experiences across different lines. Ships range from 100 passengers to 800 passengers. Some are expedition ships, others are large yachts, and still others look more like traditional ocean liners. Some luxury cruise lines have a more formal feel, while others maintain a comfortably casual atmosphere with no ties required. But there is some common ground (er, water?) for what to expect on a luxury cruise.
Personalized Experience – One benefit that all luxury lines pride themselves on is attentive service. Staff will call you by name the second time they meet you, remember your favorite drink, and be ready to assist with any need. Since luxury ships are considerably smaller than traditional mega-ships, they employ a higher crew-to-guest ratio and an onboard concierge is typically available to assist with special requests or individual shore-side arrangements. You’ll feel more personal space in staterooms and public areas, too. Dining is usually open seating, giving you the ability to dine when and with whom you like.
Destination Focus – Whether it’s a historian discussing how the destination’s social strata influenced master artists or how the geography affects the fine wines grown locally, you can expect luxury cruises to make your visits more meaningful by sharing enriching insights into the local culture. A local music group might perform onboard or you may visit a market with the ship’s chef. Often luxury cruise itineraries include longer stays in port and even overnight stays so you can experience a different perspective at night. Especially enticing, smaller ships can take you to smaller, less-visited ports where the mega-ships simply can’t go, providing unique itineraries to interesting places.
Fine Dining – For many, food is a big part of both cultural engagement and vacation enjoyment so naturally, luxury cruise lines take dining to the next level. You can expect multiple stylish dining venues and innovative menus, from a poolside grill to romantic fine dining. Several luxury lines partner with world-renowned chefs who lead Michelin-starred restaurants on land. Chef Nobu Matsuhisa oversees Crystal Cruises’ popular Silk Road restaurant and Silversea’s Le Champagne is a member of the venerable Relais & Chateaux group. Jacques Pepin is the executive culinary director for Oceania, Thomas Keller teams with Seabourn for The Grill on all its ships, and Charlie Palmer brings his culinary skills to Seabourn.
More Inclusive – It’s true that luxury cruises cost more upfront than traditional and premium cruises; however, they include much more in that price. Most luxury lines include bar drinks and gratuities. Many include Wi-Fi access, particularly in the Mediterranean. Often suite class guests have no-charge access to alternative restaurants. Regent Seven Seas Cruises is the most inclusive luxury line with round trip air (conditions apply), ground transfers, and all government fees and taxes, in addition to all the previously mentioned values included in the fare. It you intend to partake in these amenities, it’s worthwhile to do a fair comparison of the price per day for a luxury cruise versus a premium line. Most guests find that in the end, the price is comparable, and the value of the luxury line is greater.
Which Cruise Lines Are Luxury?
Each of these luxury cruise lines has it’s own personality and all offer superb service, interesting itineraries, excellent culinary experiences, and high value.
- Azamara Club Cruises
- Crystal Cruises
- Oceania Cruises
- Paul Gauguin Cruises
- Regent Seven Seas Cruises
- Seabourn Cruise Line
- SeaDream Yacht Club
- Silversea Cruises
- Viking Ocean Cruises
To find out more about which luxury cruise line best suits your lifestyle and travel style, contact one of our cruise specialists.
* All images courtesy of Regent Seven Seas Cruises.