Close your eyes and picture this: You’re on the Christina O(nassis) with Jackie-O and Ari sailing the Greek Isles. Oh Jackie-O this is marvelous. So cool. Cocktail hour and then a fabulous dinner of the freshest daily catch followed by great conversation. Ari did what! And laughter. Next a rousing game of charades with J & A. She’s so funny—who knew! Please don’t wake me.
That exact scenario may be a dream but your ability to afford a luxury cruise may not be. Some of the best cruise promotions being offered today are in the premium market. Premium sailings serve up the good life and a whole lot more. Luxury cruises are capturing a younger, more sophisticated yet less stuffy crowd. While mass market cruise lines carry 2000+ passengers, making it hard from them to indulge passengers with fine dining and highly personalized service, luxury cruises offer a more upscale and intimate environment. And who doesn’t want a little more luxury and a little more pampering on their vacation?
A year ago we would not have been able to say premium cruising is affordable. Now we can say: Luxury is affordable and you can go on a luxury cruise. I can, yes I can! And I will!
Here are our three luxury cruise lines of choice. Each are currently offering outstanding promotions:
The Yachts of Seabourn
The Yachts of Seabourn fleet is composed of four fabulous ships each accommodating a maximum of 450 guests; a fifth ship is scheduled to debut in 2010.
From the moment your room steward opens the door to your stateroom you’ll be smiling. All staterooms are classified as suites ranging in size from 295 to 1682 sq. feet. Suites include walk-in closets (yes on a ship), flat screen TVs, fully stocked bars replenished daily (and access to the open bars throughout the ship). 90% with of the suites also have their own private verandahs.
I’ll invite the Morgans, the Rockefellers and the Rothschilds to a cocktail party in our stateroom. Drinks on us—open bar all night long. Cin cin Seabourn.
And the dining is not just dining, it is “gourmet dining for the adventurous spirit.” The ship may be small but it offers four restaurants in addition to in-suite dining. And the menus: everything from avant-garde tasting menus to casual fare. With an array of activities and the ability to sail to less traveled ports of call, Seabourn cruises are a very attractive and affordable alternative to mass market cruising.
- For a limited time Seabourn is offering up to 65% off on sailings through April 2010 with prices starting as low as $1499 for a 5-day December 16 Caribbean Getaway. And on most sailings Seabourn offers their “Exclusively Seabourn” Complimentary Shore Experience.
Regent Seven Seas
“Luxury goes Exploring” on Regent Seven Seas Cruises with six-star all-suite luxury. Service, service and more service. And food, food and more food featuring impeccable cuise in the Prime 7—reservations required—contemporary Steakhouse, Compass Rose Restaurant and La Veranda. I just peeked at the dessert menu and all I can say is Chocolate Symphony. Afraid of coming home with a little extra baggage. Okay, they also have the Low Carb Espresso Custard.
All 2010 voyages feature: 2 for 1 fares, *free* air, free unlimited shore excursions. Book by September 30, 2009 and save an additional $1000 per guest. But wait, there’s more! All gratuities are included and beverages—fine wines, premium spirits, soft drinks, bottled water, coffee, tea—are complimentary.
- Seven Seas Navigator 10 nights sailing round trip Ft Lauderdale January 13, 2010 from: $3965
- Seven Seas Navigator 5 nights sailing round trip Ft Lauderdale April 9, 2010 from: $2465
- Seven Seas Mariner 10 nights sailing from Ft Lauderdale to Funchal March 22, 2010 from: $3675
Azamara is a relatively recent offering in the premium market under the helm of newly appointed Larry Pimentel and the enthusiastic VP of Food & Beverage Jacques Van Staden. They promise a boutique hotel/ship experience with the emphasis on service and dining. Chef Van Staden creates each meal with an element of surprise to complement his culinary magic.
All staterooms aboard Azamara come complete with complimentary butler service. How do I act with a butler? Breathe deep and be cool. Act like you always cruise on a luxury ship. Remain calm. Repeat. Om.
Non-alcoholic beverages and two nights of complimentary specialty dining are also included. Dress is resort casual and tuxedos are not required. Oh darn, I hope you are not too disappointed that you won’t have to wear a tux. I’ll manage.
Azamara has two ships—the Journey and the Quest—that sail to over 120 unique destinations around the world. By sailing smaller ships Azamara is able to visit out-of-the-ordinary ports of call in the Caribbean, Asia, Europe, South America and Mexico.
The value with Azamara has been tremendous. Be forewarned: prices will rise in the not-so-distant future so now is the time to indulge in luxury while it is still a great rate.
- 14 night Barcelona to Miami transatlantic sailing December 4, 2009 from $999
- 12 night Rome to Barcelona Western Mediterranean sailing November 22, 2009 from $1449
- 12 night Caribbean January 19, 2010 round trip Miami from $1649
Book as early as possible! With all the deep discounting the premium market had a whirlwind of a year.
A tip o’ our sailor’s cap to Jill Love for guest writing this post. Jill is the Creative Director of Marketing for BuyCruises.com, a travel industry consulatant for Gerson Lehrman, a social media enthusiast and a lover of all things travel. With over 20 years in the travel industry (with a specialty in cruises) Jill & her associates will assist in personally planning your luxury cruise vacation. Contract her through BuyCruises.com, by phone (800-510-1786 x 2412) or via Twitter (@buycruises).