The Luxury Cruise
Cruising High on the Sale!
THE BIG SHIPS
The viable and explosive cruise ship scene, changing from day to day, is mind boggling at best. All major cruise lines offer "fancy digs" and pricing for the privilege of deep pockets, or for cruisers who simply demand the best accommodations and are always in search of a refuge from the mundane.
The luxury cruise business is booming and popular with vacationers of all ages who on land might drive a sleek Jaguar convertible, stay at the Four Seasons Resorts and fly on the exclusive Concorde.
With this in mind, some cruise lines are specifically designed for the upscale market. Elaborate onboard amenities and spirited indulgences reflect this niche. But the cruise fees vary more than a Southern California used car lot on a Sunday afternoon. Days at sea also affect the pricing as well as the itinerary.
According to a recent study released by Lou Hammond & Associates, some cruisers may prefer the space of a large suite on a mid market ship to having another ship's best accommodations. Some simply will not pay luxury cruise per diems for certain destinations such as the Caribbean.
For example, Princess is offering a popular 10-day, Fall Foliage, 1999 Canada/New England sailing on the ROYAL PRINCESS with cruise fees ranging from $3,573 to $9,957. At the low end a special Love Boat offering begins at $2,099. Princess financing available.
At the top of the luxury showcase are Crystal Cruise's two Six-Star rated cruise ships, CRYSTAL HARMONY and CRYSTAL SYMPHONY. The 10 year old company has been awarded "World's Best Cruise Line" and "Best Large Ship Line." The ships sail on worldwide itineraries and offer a splendid table and top service throughout.
Traditionally the upscale cruise lines (also with packages and deals) are the sailing/motor vessels. Smaller offerings sell the feel and romance of a private yacht with all the amenities of a larger ship. Personal attention, fine wines and cuisine offered at a one only dinner seating, and ports of call that larger ships are unable to negotiate are features that pampered clients love.
Not to be left at port, upscale Seabourn Cruise Line, now under the Cunard flag, and it's SEABOURN LEGEND, SEABOURN PRIDE AND SEABOURN SPIRIT, slick 200-passenger all-suite sister ships, are the essence of luxury cruise vacations. Some lavish suites seem large enough to party the night away with friends. Cuisine, service and decor are the backbone of a dazzling ambience.
Cunard's SEA GODDESS I & II likes to say, "You deserve it all; champagne, caviar, private picnics in a secluded cove, and snorkeling from a platform astern." The guests are 75 percent Yanks with incomes in excess of $250,000 a year.
Enticements include some suites with two separate baths and complimentary shore excursions at selected ports. Gratuities are included, as are selected wines and liquor and transfers between the airport and yacht on the day of embarkation and disembarkation. A staff of 89 pampers the whims of 116 guests who they categorize as connoisseurs of life.
A level of luxury haunted by another era of transatlantic crossings, the QE2 addresses the fine life with Grand Suites and sea view verandas, a butler at the ready and English-style graciousness.
For others, the ultra-luxury SILVERSEA is the way to sail. The ship has worldwide itineraries, all ocean-view suites, 75 percent with private verandas.
Windstar Cruises, a Holland America Line Company, is noted for casually sophisticated cruises on luxurious 4-masted sailing yachts. Nonregimented casual cruising means jackets and ties not required, no dining table assignment, an open bridge for passengers, no flashy Broadway-style shows, but an active onboard lifestyle that includes watersports. Itineraries include the Greek and Turkish Isles, Southeast Asia and the Mediterranean.
But hold on to your anchor. The affluent will have yet another choice when ResidenSea Ltd. introduces the 86,000 ton luxury ship THE WORLD OF RESIDENSEA. This exclusive residential community at sea will have 286 private homes, 183 guest suites to be marketed as cruise and hotel accommodations with a variety of dining, entertainment, sports and retail facilities.