Clients who want to push the boat out are spoilt for choice with the ongoing boom in luxury cruising.
According to the Collins English Dictionary, luxury is “very great comfort, especially among beautiful and expensive surroundings”. That said, it can mean different things to different people. Some clients see it as sumptuous suites and 24-hour butler service. Others will define it as laid-back barefoot luxury in exotic destinations.
Lines these days appreciate that luxury cruises are about choice and specific preferences, so there are high-end cruises to suit all tastes and different budgets.
“There is an ever-growing demand for luxury cruises from past cruisers and affluent yet-to-cruise travellers who demand the very best,” explains CLIA UK & Ireland director Andy Harmer. “The luxury cruise industry is not only meeting these demands, but also going above and beyond expectations.”
Latest innovations include ultra-luxurious suites, epitomised by the 4,443 square foot Regent Suite on Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ Splendor, launching in 2020, with a $200,000 bed and an in-room spa with unlimited treatments, a personal sauna and steam room.
“The Regent Suite is the ultimate example of how Splendor will astonish luxury travellers with an unrivalled experience. It reflects the superior level of detail you’ll uncover throughout this stunning ship,” says the line’s president and CEO Jason Montague.
Culinary creations, new destinations
Regent has also picked up on the growing demand for vegetarian and vegan food and menus will soon feature more than 200 gourmet plant-based options. In addition, Ponant has redesigned catering across its entire fleet using the tagline ‘healthy, tasty, elegant’ to reflect even higher standards in its trademark French cuisine.
Meanwhile, Silversea’s new culinary programme, SALT (Sea and Land Taste) will debut when Silver Moon launches in 2020. Reflecting global food cultures, there will be eight restaurants plus the SALT Kitchen showcasing flavours of destinations visited along with food-related shore excursions.
Oceania Cruises’ fleet-wide OceaniaNEXT enhancement continues with Riviera, which recently left dry dock with an all-new coffee bar and lounge, and Owner’s Suites furnished exclusively with the Ralph Lauren Home Collection and featuring a self-playing grand piano.
Similar improvements will be carried out on Riviera’s sister ship Marina in 2020. The line also recently launched its 2020/2021 Tropics & Exotics Collection of 85 worldwide cruises, 69 of them entirely new. The line’s president and CEO, Bob Binder, explains:
“This new collection of itineraries unveils iconic ports of call and offers a wealth of opportunities to explore corners of the globe nearly untouched by tourism. [And] with the debut of our re-inspired fleet of ships, the journey is just as rewarding as the destination.”
Hapag-Lloyd has also announced its 2020/2021 season, with a first-ever cruise to Western Australia. The line is also launching a new ship later this year, the 230-passenger Hanseatic Inspiration, which is designed to serve international English-speaking markets.
Hapag-Lloyd head of international sales Michael Steffl says: “The experience of the guest is increasingly at the centre and defines itself by being and doing, and no longer just by having. It is a matter of sensation, experience, moments and no longer one mainly of possession.”
Luxury isn’t confined to mainstream cruises, however, and Silversea’s 100-passenger Silver Origin, launching in 2020 to sail in the Galapagos, will feature suites that have ocean-view bathtubs and showers. Aurora Expeditions has also announced that it is building a sister ship to the 120-passenger Greg Mortimer, itself launching this year.
The second ship, to be delivered in 2021, will feature the same technology to provide comfortable sailing on polar expeditions. Aurora’s director of sales for the UK and Europe, Craig Upshall, has some tips for agents selling the product, highlighting the cabin-mate matching service for solo travellers to avoid single supplements.
“Antarctica is the last frontier of expeditionary travel with the type of client who is most likely to have been an African safari booker, and so agents should target their more intrepid clientele who may have already travelled to Africa and other destinations that are wildlife orientated,” he explains.
Final word goes to Crystal Cruises’ senior UK sales and marketing manager, Elaine Gillard, who says:
“At Crystal, luxury has a multitude of meanings but the delivery boils down to a handful of key attributes – listening, learning and anticipating. Our new brand campaign is titled ‘Where Luxury is Personal’, a sentiment that has always been the central philosophy of the Crystal brand.”
- Highlight the different on-board experiences offered by cruise lines
- Emphasise high level of inclusions in the fare
- Suggest high-end sailings for special occasions
- Stress that the food and wine will be on a par with the best restaurants found on land
- These ships offer the chance to explore destinations in comfort
19-night Athens to Barcelona cruise on Crystal Symphony, calling at Monaco to coincide with the Grand Prix and offering a grandstand viewing experience as an excursion. Departing 11 May 2021, prices from £6,459pp, cruise only; crystalcruises.co.uk
15-night Melbourne to Benoa (Bali) sailing as part of its Western Australia maiden season on Europa 2. Including visits to Adelaide, Kangaroo Island, Albany and Margaret River wine region, with excursions such as desert sandboarding. Departing 6 January 2022, prices from £8,360pp, cruise only; hl-cruises.com
A new seven-night round-trip Puerto Morelos itinerary aboard Le Champlain discovering the treasures of the Mayan civilisation, including visits to the ancient city of Chichen Itza and historic fortified town of Campeche. Prices from £2,398pp departing 14 December 2019, including an open bar package and 24/7 room service; ponant.com