Value, though, is a very personal calculation, and when it comes to a cruise vacation, you might find it worthwhile to splurge for an incredible hassle-free experience. You may be willing to shell out a few more bucks on a cruise that makes you feel so relaxed and pampered that you know it was worth the added cost.
I have been on a handful of luxury cruises, and I must admit that it is not hard to get hooked on this type of travel experience. Many folks insist a luxury cruise is worth every penny and even make the case that the pricing is more similar than you would think to the a la carte style of cruising that you get with the mass-market lines.
I sailed most recently on Regent Seven Seas Mariner in Alaska and discovered plenty of things you’ll love about luxury cruises.
Everything is Included
Well almost. Luxury lines like Regent Seven Seas, Seabourn, Crystal Cruises and Silversea Cruises offer all-inclusive cruising, which means that your fare includes gourmet dining, fine wine, cocktails, beers and other beverages like bottled waters and premium coffees. Your fare also likely covers gratuities, specialty restaurants, airport transfers, fitness classes, WiFi and 24-hour in-suite dining. It also might encompass excursions (though certain enhanced shore excursions may incur added fees) and flights, depending on the cruise line. You pay extra for goodies like massages and other spa and salon services.
Regent Seven Seas offers included premium dining options like its Prime 7 steakhouse and Chartreuse French eatery. Seabourn has partnered with chef Thomas Keller to offer included gourmet dining experiences at the specialty restaurant The Grill and with special menu items for the poolside grill.
These are just a few examples of the type of ramped-up dining experiences you get on a luxury cruise, which make these sailings a draw for foodies.
The Suite Life
Staterooms are so nice on luxury ships that you might find yourself spending quite a bit more time in them than you would on your standard cruise ship. On a luxury cruise ship, all or most of the cabins will be larger suites with balconies. Every stateroom on Regent Seven Seas Mariner features a balcony. And veteran cruisers will tell you that once you’ve sailed with a balcony cabin you’ll never go back to an interior. The delightful views, as well as the calming sounds and sea-salt aroma available by just sliding open the door to your verandah are fantastic treats that enhance any journey.
The added level of service and amenities in your accommodations on a luxury cruise can include shower/bath combos, upscale toiletries, luxury bedding, butler service, daily canapes, stocked minibar, in-suite dining (24 hours), laundry services and daily fruit baskets.
No Crowds and Touches of Elegance
Luxury cruise ships sail with about 450 to 750 passengers compared with the multiple thousands you find on major cruise lines. This means you get more space, more personal attention from crew and generally, a more relaxing environment onboard.
I’ve never seen people fighting over poolside loungers on a luxury cruise ship, and these seats come with comfy padding, too. I personally like the large day beds that you can find poolside. (I aim to do a little afternoon reading and always end up blissfully falling into a nap.)
The ships also feature plenty of classy design touches, smartly utilizing glass, leather, marble, shiny metals and art pieces like paintings and sculpture to complete the upscale feel. Restaurants are bedecked with crisp white table linens and dinnerware. Regent Seven Seas Mariner has specially designed Versace plates, for example. They might not make the food taste better, but they add a touch of class.
You’ll also most certainly appreciate the attentive and friendly service afforded by the low passenger-to-crew ratio.
John Roberts is a freelance writer and operator of InTheLoopTravel.com. He writes about cruising and active travel, highlighting how people can connect with the world and other cultures through rewarding travel experiences.