Be Sure To Evaluate The Entire Package When Deciding
No matter which of the hundreds of destinations you are looking to explore on a luxury ocean or river cruise, it’s not a low-cost purchase. But it’s one of the best values out there. Here’s why.
1. Everything is included for one price. Really. The amount you pay to get on the ship, is NOT the how much it will cost to get off! With lines like Regent Seven Seas and Crystal Cruises your price covers everything from airfare, suite accommodations, excursions and gourmet meals. Try experiencing all that with on other cruise lines, and your final bill is likely to be much higher.
2. You get flights and airport transfers to and from your cruise. And, depending on your cabin choice, a pre-cruise hotel stay! You have to find and book your flights separately for most cruise vacations. On luxury lines like Regent Seven Seas and Crystal Cruises, international travel includes business class tickets with all the perks — airport lounges, attentive service, food and wine. Domestic itineraries like Alaska, include coach airfare. Once you land, transfers to your pre-cruise hotel or directly to the ship are part of the package!
3. You can take unlimited shore excursions. There are hundreds of included experiences available, from active adventures to those that cater to travelers with limited mobility. You can explore museums, historical towns, art, culture and nature with guidance from local experts. Take a pub crawl in Antwerp, ; drive an ATV or birdwatch through Icy Strait Point; explore the Elephanta Caves in Mumbai; see the hilltop villages in Saint-Tropez; view ancient oracle centers in Lima; or visit the orchard region and Cu Chi tunnels in Saigon. The choice is yours. If an excursion books up early, the luxury cruise lines do their best to add more availability so you don’t miss out.
4. Smaller ships enrich your journey. There are luxury ships that hold as few as 250 people and yachts and river boats that hold less than that! My personal favorite ship size holds approximately 750 passengers. Lines like Regent and Crystal allow you to keep the perks found on mass market lines while enhancing the entire experience further. The entertainment options and service are Top Notch! You get a more personalized, intimate experience with a staff-to-guest ratios of 1 to 1-1.5. Because they are smaller ships you get to less traveled ports and destinations the larger ships can't access. Closer to glaciers and waterfalls, and ports like Kotor, Montenegro or Rijeka, Croatia, for example. This is a feature that really appeals to well traveled cruisers who have visited a destination before, but now want a more in-depth experience.
5. You get a suite. Smaller ships mean bigger accommodations! Entry level suites are approximately the size of most hotel rooms. Ninety-eight percent of them come with private balconies. Balconies are a must when sailing to scenic destinations found in places like Alaska, Hawaii, Bora Bora and Europe. All suites include a marble bathroom, sitting area, in-suite mini-bar replenished daily, large or walk-in closet, luxury bath products like L’Occitane or Guerlain, plus a welcome bottle of champagne and fresh fruit. If you love the cabin so much you don’t want to leave, not to worry. There is twenty-four-hour room service included so you can dine on your veranda in the complimentary plush bathrobe or silk kimono, while you take in the fresh sea air between bites!
6. Sophisticated but, definitely NOT pretentious. Lines like Regent Seven Seas, Crystal Cruises and Avalon Waterways have country club causal environments. Everyone is welcoming and friendly and there is no tux or black tie requirement. Of course if you enjoy getting dressed to the nines, that is your prerogative. These lines also feature fascinating lecturers who provide passionate firsthand accounts and scholarly insights about destinations on the itinerary. Speakers include television personalities, noted architects and former diplomats. Alaska cruises often include programs led by authors who have written guidebooks on the region. European voyages might spotlight archaeologists and art or culinary historians who can bring illuminating detail to each port. The featured speakers stay for the entire voyage and are there to mix and mingle with you.
7. All meals are as good as, or better than those found at your favorite restaurants. Offering some of the best food on the seas, these lines’ on-board restaurants serve a variety of world cuisine (French, Pan-Asian and fine steakhouse fare, for example). Yes, the whole Maine lobster is included, along with choices like jumbo lump crab cakes, Korean barbecue lamb chops, Chilean sea bass and escargot in burgundy-dijon sauce. Every menu has vegetarian options, and vegan, diabetic-friendly, gluten-free options, and Kosher meals are all available upon request. Aboard Regent’s newest ship Seven Seas Explorer (“The Most Luxurious Cruise Ship Ever Built”), guests can also head into town with the Chef Instructor from the Culinary Arts Kitchen at various Mediterranean ports to shop for fresh local ingredients, and then prepare gourmet destination-specific cuisine during a hands-on cooking class.
8. Your top shelf drinks and fancy coffees are on the house. Fine wine and premium spirits, from Montaudon Brut Champagne to Grey Goose are poured freely. So yes, you can have your Tanqueray and tonic. The in suite mini-bars are stocked with wine, beer and spirits as well. Don’t drink alcohol? These lines host daily themed tea times (often with live music) so guests can enjoy diverse teas and coffees. Ships also have coffee bars serving intricate lattes, espresso, cappuccinos and more, all included. If you have taken a mass market cruise, you know you will pay extra for the likes of these.
Bottom line: If you want an all-inclusive cruise that offers a complete luxury experience, one of a few cruise lines are the way to go. I’ve done it both ways and I can tell you there is a significant difference. I tell my clients, “you get what you pay for” and that is the honest truth! Can you have fun and good vacation on a mass market line? Absolutely. Will you get more for your money and have a better experience on the right luxury ocean or river line? MOST DEFINITELY without a doubt.
When you are ready to explore options and start planning your next cruise, contact me 919.589.2437. I'm a cruise and all inclusive expert who will steer you in the right direction.