Kortcruise med Cunard fra Southampton

Har du vurdert å bestille cruise med Cunard? Nå har du atter en god grunn: I høst kan du oppleve nyrenoverte Queen Victoria tur/retur Southampton fra kun 7.438,- p.p.
I november 2017 inviterer vi til et seks dagers Big Band Ball cruise tur/retur Southampton. Seilingen går via Zeebrügge, Amsterdam og Cherbourg, og om bord er det duket for feststemning når skipets storband spiller opp til Ballroom Dancing på kveldstid. Men dette er ikke en seiling kun for de danseglade; nyrenoverte Queen Victoria har mye mer å by på. Kombiner cruiset med et opphold i London før/etter cruiset – vi hjelper deg med fly og hotell

Vi inviterer alle danseglade mennesker med på Ballroom Dancing om bord på et av verdens flotteste cruiseskip; nyrenoverte Queen Victoria. Skipets Big Band Ball-cruise starter i Southampton 13. november 2017 og går via Zeebrügge, Amsterdam og Cherbourg før retur til Southampton 18. november (5 netters seiling).

På kveldstid er det duket for feststemning når storbandet spiller opp til dans i majestetiske Queens Room, og på dagtid kan du nyte tiden om bord med avslapning og deilig mat, eller ta en tur i land og utforske destinasjonene som besøkes. Vi hjelper vi deg gjerne med fly tur/retur London og hotellovernatting, slik at du har hele reisen samlet på ett sted. Velkommen om bord!

Seilingsrute Queen Victoria 13. – 18. november 2017

Southampton, England – Zeebrügge, Belgia – Amsterdam, Nederland – sjødag – Cherbourg, Frankrike – Southampton, England.

Pris per person i delt dobbeltlugar:

  • Innvendig lugar fra 7.438,- (kat. ID)
  • Utvendig lugar fra 8.074,- (kat. EF)
  • Utvendig lugar med balkong fra 10.143,- (kat .BB)
  • Singellugar fra 13.012,- (kat. ID)

Prisene gjelder per person i delt dobbeltlugar, dersom ikke annet er angitt. Prisene kan endres når som helst og uten varsel som følge av forandringer i valutakurs, kapasitet og/eller tilbud. Kontakt Cathrine Conradi på 67 43 02 00 / cathrine@cruise.no for mer informasjon/bestilling. Tips, fly, hotell, drikkevarer, etc. tilkommer.

 

Gurkemeie K2 PLUSS

Om Queen Victoria

  • Tonnasje: 90.000
  • Lengde: 293 meter
  • Passasjerkapasitet: 1.990 (basert på to personer i hver lugar)
  • Mannskap: 981
  • Byggår/renovert: 2007/2017
  • Registreringsland: Bermuda

Queen Victoria, også kjent som QV, er søster til Queen Elizabeth. Skipet er maritimt og elegant, innredet i Cunards tradisjonelle stil med marmor og trepaneler. Det er høyt under taket og atmosfæren er luftig.

Ved ombordstigning møtes man av den storslagne trappen og de flotte kunstverkene i Grand Lobby. Skipet har 12 dekk som innbyr til aktivitet, avslapning, revitalisering og opplevelser. Er man interessert i Cunards historie kan man besøke The Book Shop og Cunardia. Sistnevnte er en unik utstilling med gjenstander fra og historie om Cunards skip, og her kan man blant annet finne Queen Marys loggbok. I The Book Shop selges maritim litteratur, postkort og samleobjekter. Ønsker man å handle merker som Harrods, Hermés eller H.
Stern, da er Royal Arcade stedet.

Sportsentusiaster kan spille tennis, teste golfsvingen eller lære kunsten å fekte. Biblioteket har mer en 6.000 titler, og i The Cunard Book Club kan man diskutere litteratur med sine medpassasjerer. På kveldene arrangeres det Masquerade Ball, Royal Night Theme Ball og Black & White Ball med dans og storband i Queens Room. Man kan også lene seg tilbake og nyte god jazzmusikk i Chart Room, nyte pianospill i The Commodore Club, eller oppleve et av de påkostede showene i Royal Court Theatre

 

Queen Victoria renoveres 
Queen Victoria renoveres i perioden 5. mai – 4. juni 2017. Skipet vil blant annet få 43 Britiannia Club Balcony-lugarer, ny Britannia Restaurant, 30 nye Britannia Balcony-lugarer og innvendige lugarer.

Annonse:

€600 i rabatt per person med Silversea

Bestill innen 30. juni og spar 5.660,- per person på luksuscruise i Middelhavet.
Kampanjen gjelder utvalgte avreiser i perioden mai – november 2017.
Flere av våre cruisespesialister har seilt med Silversea – ring oss gjerne
på 67 43 02 00 for en hyggelig cruiseprat.

Rederiet er italiensk og byr på det beste av Italia – alt fra kjøkkenet og eleganse i vakre omgivelser, til atmosfæren om bord og et høyt personlig service nivå. Skipene er små og meget elegante, med 315 – 596 gjester. Her er det god plass og aldri kø. Rederiet er regnet som et av de beste innenfor luksussegmentet og har høstet lovord verden over, både innen reiselivsbransjen og fra sine gjester.

Stemningen om bord på Silverseas skip er elegant og eksklusiv, med fokus på at alle har individuelle ønsker og behov. Skipene tar omtrent halvparten så mange passasjerer som andre skip på samme størrelse, og med nesten like mange ansatte som gjester om bord, er servicen personlig og unik.

Om bord på skipene finnes kun suiter, alle med egen soveavdeling, salong og butlerservice. Badene i marmor har både dusj og badekar. Alle suiter har havutsikt, og så mange som 85% av suitene har privat balkong. Minibaren blir fylt opp etter eget ønske – uten at man betaler noe ekstra.

Luksuscruise er i vekst – les intervjuet med daglig leder i Cruise.no her (Travel News 17.04.17).

Silversea er kjent for sine utsøkte gourmetmåltider og samarbeider med Relais & Châteaux, en anerkjent kjede av hoteller og gourmetrestauranter. Frokost og lunsj kan inntas i hovedrestauranten, i buffeten, ute på dekk eller på balkongen. Middagen serveres i den elegante hovedrestauranten eller i en spesialrestaurantene om bord. I hovedrestauranten kan man spise når man vil og med hvem man vil, uten å måtte forholde seg til faste bordsettinger. I spesialrestaurantene må det reserveres bord på forhånd.

I hovedrestauranten er det vanlig å kle seg pent til middag, og et par kvelder per uke er dresskoden formell, som betyr smoking/mørk dress og galla-/cocktailkjole. Ønsker man ikke å delta på de formelle kveldene finnes det alltid et uformelt alternativ i en annen av skipets restauranter. Eventuelt kan man be om å få servert restaurantmenyen til sin egen suite eller på balkongen.

 

En rekke aktiviteter tilbys om bord – både for grupper, par og single. Blant annet finnes det spennende foredrag relatert til seilingen man er på, danseklasser, spabehandlinger, vinsmaking og egne arrangement for de som reiser alene. The Show Lounge presenterer kabaretinspirerte show, underholding av forskjellige slag og viser filmer. Om bord finnes også bassenger, boblebad, spa, treningssenter og joggebane for de aktive.

 

Gurkemeie K2 PLUSSGratis internett
På avreiser fra og med januar 2016 tilbys gratis internett om bord på alle Silverseas skip – gjelder alle gjester i alle suiter, på alle seilinger og over hele skipet. Dette blir den mest omfattende Wifi-pakken i cruisemarkedet så langt. Alle gjester vil få minst én time gratis WiFi per dag. Ubegrenset Wi-Fi blir tilgjengelig for gjester som reiser i Owner’s-, Grand-, Royal-, Silver- og Medallion-suiter på selskapets havgående skip, og som følger på ekspedisjonsskipene:

  • Silver Explorer: Owner’s-, Grand-, Silver-, Medallion- og Expedition-suiter.
  • Silver Galapagos: Silver-, Deluxe Veranda- og Veranda-suiter
  • Silver Discoverer: Medallion-, Veranda- og Vista-suiter.

Les mer om gratis internett på rederiets nettsider her.

Silver
Whisper
, host to the iconic World Cruise, will undergo a refurbishment that will take place by the
end of 2016, an
d has been largely influenced by feedback from World Cruisers, proving that Silversea
guests truly are at the heart of the company operations. This also ensures that 2017 World Cruisers will
get to experience a top coat of luxury, and be the first guests t
o help massage the fresh feel into the
understated glamour that the brand has become synonymous with.
The luxurious suites will be refurbished and the bathrooms adorned with dark emperor marble flooring,
delivering a tangible sense of elegance that can be
felt from head to toe. Public spaces will be the key
beneficiaries of the bursary, where a freshly tiled pool and new chaise longues will breathe new levels
of comfort and style into open air spaces. Dining areas at The Restaurant and La Terrazza will be r
e
skinned with plush new carpet and elegant hard
wood parquet respectively, and will each receive new
furniture, echoing the theme of contemporary glamour throughout the ship and augmenting the high
quality service packaged around the finest culinary offer
ings at sea.
Finally, Silver Whisper’s communications hub is set for a major overhaul with the addition of two satellite
antennas, vastly improving Internet speeds on board and enabling guests to take full advantage of the
new, interactive TVs and on deman
d movies available in every suite.

 

The refurbishment programme extends to
Silver
Wind
during her dry dock scheduled for October 2016.
Once again, refurbishment of furniture and furnishings, technology upgrades that include interactive TVs
and on demand mov
ies complete the contemporary, yet understated levels of luxury in every suite.
Additionally, the concept restaurant La Terrazza and the flagship Main Restaurant will both have new
flooring bestowed upon them, enhancing the overall feel of gastronomic exce
llence delivered on board.
The pool deck will undergo a complete rip
and
replace approach to one of its aesthetic jewels, the
exceptional teak flooring. This will reinstate the deck area as one of the most atmospheric aboard, more
akin to a luxury yacht th
an a cruise ship, while reaffirming Silver Wind’s status as a timeless classic
within the Silversea fleet.
Beyond the Classic fleet,
Silver
Discoverer
will also benefit from this investment in 2016, entering dry
dock this October. While service and suite p
resentation will of course be held strictly to Silversea’s high

standards, it is in the public areas of this Expedition vessel where guests will see the most visible
changes. The Restaurant will be remodelled with a lighter, more contemporary colour palett
e and the
ever popular pool grill area will flaunt new furniture.
The Discoverer lounge will go through a transformation from breakfast venue to a sophisticated lounge
in which to relax, read and reflect on the day’s excursions. Silversea continues to augm
ent the expedition
experience to the benefit of its guests, and this is illustrated with further investment in new AV technology
in the Explorer Lounge and new furniture from which to enjoy the lectures and briefings in unbridled
comfort.
Silversea is comm
itted to the continued evolution and progression of elegance at sea, a commitment
that is exemplified by this level of investment, and one that will continue to be driven by, and at the
service of its guests.

Cruise inkl. helikoptertur Nice – Monte Carlo

Cruise inkl. helikoptertur Nice – Monte Carlo
8 netters cruise Monte Carlo – Barcelona 17.10.17 med gratis helikoptertur
fra Nice til Monte Carlo (gjelder de 10 første som bestiller).
Vi har gleden av å invitere til en litt annerledes reise med Oceania Cruises i oktober. Cruiset tar deg til noen av rivieraens mest spektakulære steder, og i prisen inngår både internett samt valget mellom drikkepakke, 4 utflukter og $400 i ombordkreditt per lugar. I tillegg kan du nå sikre deg en fantastisk helikoptertur fra Nice flyplass til Monte Carlo før cruiset.

Svært fin seiling med Oceania Cruises’ Riviera i oktober 2017. Vi spanderer helikoptertur fra flyplassen i Nice til Monte Carlo  For en begrenset periode får du også med gratis, ubegrenset internettbruk og valget mellom 1) drikkepakken «House Select», 2) ombordkreditt på USD 400 per lugar, og 3) fire organiserte utflukter per lugar.

 

Seilingsrute med Riviera 17. – 25. oktober 2017 (8 netter)

Dato Sted Ankomst Avgang
17.10.17 Monte Carlo, Monaco – Ombordstigning kl. 13:00 23:00
18.10.17 Portofino, Italia 08:00 19:00
19.10.17 Firenze/Pisa/Toscana (Livorno), Italia 07:00 20:00
20.10.17 Roma (Civitacecchia), Italia 08:00 20:00
21.10.17 Villefranche, Frankrike 10:00 20:00
22.10.17 Provence (Marseille), Frankrike 08:00 23:00
23.10.17 Sete, Frankrike 08:00 17:00
24.10.17 Palma de Mallorca, Spania 09:00 18:00
25.10.17 Barcelona, Spania  – Ilandstigning kl. 08:00

  • Innvendig lugar: FULLTEGNET/VENTELISTE
  • Utvendig lugar: FULLTEGNET/VENTELISTE
  • Balkonglugar: Fra 19.250,- (€2.040) p.p. (kat .B3)
  • Concierge balkonglugar: Fra 21.670,-  (€2.296) p.p. (kat. A3)
  • Penthouse Suite: Fra 29.220,- (€3.096) p.p. (kat. PH3)
  • Oceania Suite: Fra 68.230,- (€7.229) p.p. (kat. OC)
  • Vista Suite: Fra 76.815,- (€8.139) p.p. (kat. VS)

 

 

Prisene inkluderer:

  • Helikoptertur fra flyplassen i Nice til Monte Carlo (væravhengig og plassbegrenset tilbud – førstemann til mølla-prinsippet gjelder)
  • 8 netters cruise i valgt lugar/suite
  • Ved tidlig bestilling får du med ubegrenset internett (1 login per lugar) samt valget mellom:
    • ​Drikkepakken «House Select» (utvalgte drikkevarer til lunsj og middag)
    • USD 400 i ombordkreditt per lugar
    • 4 utflukter per lugar
  • Alle måltider (måltider i spesialrestaurantene kommer i tillegg)
  • De fleste aktivitets- og underholdningstilbud
  • Romservice 24 timer i døgnet
  • Skatter og avgifter

 

 

Gurkemeie K2 PLUSS

Fly, hotell, visum, drikkevarer og evt. andre utgifter tilkommer.gjerne med å . Bonustilbudet (drikkepakke/ombordkredittIutflukter) gjelder ved bestilling innen 30. juni 2017. Gratis helikotpertur Nice – Monte Carlo er plassbegrenset og væravhengig.

 

 

                                                                                   

 

Prisene gjelder per person i delt dobbeltlugar/-suite og er basert på valutakurs  . Gratis helikopertur Nice – Monte Carlo er væravhengig og plassbegrenset – gjelder kun de 10 første personene som bestiller cruiset (5 lugarer m/2 personer i hver). Kontakt oss for mer informasjon. Kampanjetilbudet (drikkepakke/utflukter/ombordkreditt) gjelder ved bestilling innen 30. juni 2017 og verdien på ombordkreditt/antall utflukter gjelder per dobbeltlugar (for 2 personer). Tilbudet om inkluderte utflukter ekskluderer  «Oceania Choice», «Oceania Exclusive» og «Executive Collection». Ubegrenset internett inkluderer 1 login per lugar. Priser og -kampanjefordeler kan endres/stoppes når som helst og uten varsel som følge av endringer i valutakurs, priser og/eller kapasitet. Kontakt oss for tilbud til dagens pris. Vi hjelper deg også gjerne med fly og hotell, slik at du har hele reisen samlet på ett sted. Forbehold om feil samt endringer fram til

 

Tilbud på sommercruise fra København

 

12 netters cruise fra København til britiske øyer med
Holland America Line 30. juli 2017: Nå fra kun 9.430,- per person!
Seilingsrute 30.07. – 11.08.17: København – sjødag – Portree (Isle of Skye) – Belfast
– Dublin (overnatting) – Liverpool – Greenock (Glasgow) – sjødag – South Queensferry (Edingburgh, overnatting) – Kristiansand – København.

Seilingsrute med Zuiderdam 30. juli – 11. august 2017

Dato Sted Ankomst Avreise
30.07.17 København, Danmark 16:00
31.07.17 Sjødag
01.08.17 Portree (Isle of Skye), Skottland 10:00 17:00
02.08.17 Belfast, Nord-Irland 10:00 20:00
03.08.17 Dublin, Irland 08:00
04.08.17 Dublin, Irland 18:00
05.08.17 Liverpool, England 07:00 17:00
06.08.17 Greenock (Glasgow), Skottland 08:00 17:00
07.08.17 Sjødag
08.08.17 South Queensferry (Edinburgh), Skottland 10:00
09.08.17 South Queensferry (Edinburgh), Skottland 13:00
10.08.17 Kristiansand, Norge 07:00 16:00
11.08.17 København, Danmark 07:00

Pris per person i delt dobbeltlugar (mot full betaling innen 24 timer etter bestilling)

  • Innvendig lugar (kat. N): Fra 9.430,- (€999) per person
  • Utvendig lugar m/begrenset utsikt (kat. HH3): Fra 11.315,-  (€1.199) p.p.
  • Utvendig lugar m/standardutsikt (kat. F4): Fra 13.205,- (€1.399)
  • Balkonglugar (kat. VH): Fra 14.150,- (€1.499) p.p.

 

 

Holland America Line er et av verdens største og mest anerkjente rederier. Deres historie strekker seg helt tilbake til 1873 da rederiet ble grunnlagt som frakt- og passasjerlinjen «Nederlandsch-Amerikaansche Stoomvaart Maatschappij». Med sine karakteristiske mørkeblå skrog og klassiske linjer minner skipene om de tradisjonsrike linjeskipene som gikk mellom Europa og Amerika. Holland America Line tilbyr klassiske cruise med en følelse av luksus og tradisjon.

i dag er rederiet en del av Carnival Corporation og flåten består av 14 elegante skip som seiler til havner over hele verden under mottoet ”A Signature of Excellence”. Flåten består av romslige skip i den mellomstore klassen, og rederiet er klassifisert i premiumsegmentet. Her er det færre passasjerer og mer plass per passasjer enn på skip i tilsvarende størrelse hos andre rederier. Interiøret har et eksklusivt preg og her finnes store samlinger med kunst fra hele verden.

Holland America Line besøker over 300 fascinerende havner i hele verden hvor man kan oppleve alt fra natur og historie til kultur og shopping. Rederiet tilbyr et omfattende utfluktsprogram og besøker spennende destinasjoner. Seilingene har gjerne en varighet på 10-15 dager.

Lugarene om bord er romslige og elegante med sengetøy av god kvalitet, badekåper og store myke håndklær i egyptisk bomull. Samtlige lugarer har flatskjerm-TV, DVD-spiller og fruktkurver som fylles på daglig dersom man ønsker det. Om bord på et skip fra Holland America Line får du virkelig følelsen av å være en gjest som settes pris på. Servicen er i ypperste klasse og rederiet vinner stadig internasjonale utmerkelser.

Rederiet er også kjent for sitt gode kjøkken. I hovedrestauranten serveres 5-retters middager på Rosenthal-porselen. Menyene er varierte og byr på klassiske internasjonale retter så vel som regionalt inspirerte retter. Man kan velge mellom fast bordsetting hvor man hver kveld gjennom hele cruiset spiser til samme tid ved samme bord, eller en fleksibel ordning hvor man spiser når det måtte passe. Man kan også nyte en intim middag på balkongen eller i Pinnacle Grill – rederiets mest eksklusive restaurant. Pinnacle Grill har blant annet blitt tildelt tittelen “Beste Spesialitetsrestaurant” innenfor cruiseindustrien av prestisjetunge Port Hole Magazine i USA. Gjennom hele dagen er snacks, småmat og drikke tilgjengelig på skipet.

Klesstilen om bord er avslappet på dagen, mens på kveldstid er det vanlig å kle seg pent. Treningsfasilitetene og spaene om bord er velutstyrte, bassengene tiltalende og underholdningen påkostet. De åpne dekkene og solsenger i teak bidrar til det klassiske cruisemiljøet og er meget populære på sjødagene. Det tilbys opplevelser og aktiviteter for alle; fra kino og kasino til dansekurs, vinsmaking og fotokurs.

Om bord på skipene finnes også flotte områder dedikert til barn og ungdom. Det tilbys også mange ulike aktiviteter for de mellom 3 og 17 år. Barna blir tatt hånd om av erfarne og utdannede ansatte i trygge omgivelser.

Gurkemeie K2 PLUSS

Et cruise med Holland America Line anbefales både for erfarne og nye cruisere, enslige, par og familier med barn. Tidligere var gjennomsnittsalderen relativt høy, og på en del seilinger (gjerne de lengre seilingene) er snittalderen fortsatt høy, men det blir mer og mer vanlig med passasjerer i alle aldre om bord. Med barne- og ungdomsklubber samt nye og gode fasiliteter tiltrekker rederiet seg stadig flere familier. De fleste passasjerene kommer fra Nord-Amerika, men andelen passasjerer fra Europa og andre land er økende.

Holland America Line tilbyr cruise for de som ønsker kvalitet, tradisjon og ”det lille ekstra” til en meget gunstig pris.

Grand Circle vs. Vantage River Cruises

Grand Circle vs. Vantage River Cruise

On the value end of the river cruise spectrum, Grand Circle Cruise Line and Vantage Deluxe World Travel arose with similar missions and do have some similarities. In recent years, however, the two companies — both based in Boston — have diverged, with one focused on building new ships and the other committed to enrichment.

 

Price and Booking Policies

Fares on all cruises can vary, depending on the time of year and itinerary. Generally speaking, Grand Circle river cruises cost less than most other river cruise lines, including Vantage; the per diem on a 15-day Rhine River cruise on Grand Circle is generally about $30 to $50 less per day than a similar Vantage cruise, based on double occupancy. But that doesn’t mean that Vantage is less of a value than Grand Circle; as you’ll read below, Vantage’s ships are significantly newer and more modern than those used by Grand Circle. Neither cruise line includes gratuities in its price.

Gurkemeie K2 PLUSS

Both lines encourage direct booking instead of using travel agents. Both lines also have a reward-a-friend program, where passengers can earn a $100 price reduction if they bring a new cruiser onboard, and also give discounts when passengers pay in full in advance.

Both Vantage and Grand Circle encourage groups to book, and gives the organizer free travel if more than 10 passengers sign up. On Grand Circle, returning cruisers get credits based on the cost of the previous cruise and additional discounts on pricing for multiple cruises in one calendar year.

Both Vantage and Grand Circle are friendly to solo travelers. Vantage has a couple of single cabins on its new ships; while they are more expensive than half of a double, they are less than 200 percent — a single supplement commonly charged to solo travelers. One in four travelers on Grand Circle is a solo passenger; the line often drops its single supplement and offers a roommate matching service

Paris flower market tour

Shore Excursions and Enrichment

Both Grand Circle and Vantage include daily shore excursions in their prices. On both lines, you’ll take walking and coach tours of cities, castles, wineries and the scenic countryside. Tour groups are about the same size.

Grand Circle has a system where passengers are assigned to one of several program directors, who tend to spend a lot of time with each of their groups. This gives the trip more of a «tour» feeling than you might get on other river cruises. That said, these local guides can give passengers insights into the culture that you might not find elsewhere. (Tauck is another river cruise line that incorporates this style of programming.) Daily handouts, lectures, documentaries and port talks supplement the city walks and bus tours that are included in the cruise price.

Grand Circle also features at least one home-hosted meal during its river cruises, and most also take travelers to see projects that are sponsored by its charitable arm, the Grand Circle Foundation.

Vantage used to have the same system, but switched to a more traditional setup where the ship has one tour manager, as well as a concierge. Local guides lead tours on land. Lectures and enrichment activities are also held onboard.

Both Vantage and Grand Circle offer pre- and post-cruise land extensions, as well as optional excursions for a fee. In keeping with its more modern feel, Vantage also has bicycles to use in port

Grand Circle's River Anuket in Egypt

Itineraries and Fleet

Grand Circle has a fleet of 11 river ships ranging in age, launched between 1999 and 2007. In recent years, the company has been expanding its small ship fleet, buying ships from defunct operators such as Travel Dynamics or old vessels from Paul Gauguin, then refurbishing them.

Vantage has five of its own river ships, most of them built within the last few years. The ships are modern and have many of the capabilities seen on other European river lines, such as Wi-Fi. (Grand Circle added Wi-Fi to its ships in 2016.) Vantage charters ships on more exotic sailings, as well as small ships for ocean cruising.

Both lines sail European itineraries on the Seine, Rhone and Saone, Rhine, Danube, Main, Mosel, Elbe and Dutch waterways. (Grand Circle did offer Bordeaux itineraries, but canceled in 2016 due to lack of interest.) Vantage has trips on the Douro, Mekong, Yangtze, Irrawaddy — in Burma (Myanmar) — and Ganges Rivers as well, on chartered vessels. Both lines do Christmas market cruises.

On its small ships, Grand Circle also offers a wide range of sailings, with everything from Antarctica and Panama to the Greek Isles and Croatia’s Dalmatian coast. Vantage sells small ship itineraries on chartered vessels, with sailings to Norway, the Galapagos, Antarctica, Chilean Patagonia, the Dalmatian coast, the Canary Islands, the Seychelles, the Great Lakes and Panama. Both lines have British Isles cruises on tap. Vantage is also selling chartered cruises to Cuba, although in 2016, it’s still unclear whether the country will give approval for those to happen.

Choose Vantage if you like that new ship smell.

At least in Europe, Vantage’s ships are modern and new, with all the comfort that brings. The company seems to be keeping up with technology trends, and vessels feel up to date.

Choose Grand Circle if you prefer to travel on non-chartered ships.

Outside of Europe, Vantage’s cruises are all held on chartered ships, which means they can vary in age and amenities. Grand Circle has made a point of buying its own ships for oceangoing voyages, which means the company has a greater deal of control over the experience.


Demographics

The demographics for both cruise lines used to be remarkably similar, but show signs of changing.

Born out of the AARP in 1958, Grand Circle Travel tailors its voyages to mature Americans who are 55-plus and draws primarily from those in the upper age brackets. The line attracts a high percentage of repeat cruisers, with many coming from the company’s land travel arm, OAT (Overseas Adventures Travel).

While Vantage started out with similar marketing (and also has a land tour arm), the company has branched out and now actively recruits English-speakers in the U.K. and other countries. In 2017, the line will also start offering «Vantage Family Journeys» river cruises, open to children ages 8 and up (with kids between 8 and 21 cruising for free). The trips will be planned during summer and holidays and feature a family welcome reception, activities for tweens and teens, a dedicated host for families, kid-friendly menus, complimentary travel journals and visits to schools when appropriate.

 

Orange and brown cabin decor on Vantage's River Voyager

Cabins

Vantage’s ships vary in size, but its newer ships carry 176 passengers and have 92 cabins — 78 percent with French balconies. On its newest ship, standard cabins are 170 square feet; on older vessels, they’re 165 square feet. Lower-deck window cabins are 165 square feet.

Because the ships are older and aren’t standardized, Grand Circle’s passenger counts can vary. Its oldest river ship, River Melody (launched in 1999), carries 140 passengers in 70 cabins, most of which are 160 square feet — the average size on most of its vessels. On most Grand Circle ships, there’s at least one deck that has cabins with balconies.

An unusual feature of Grand Circle riverboats is the bed set-up — the room has fixed twin beds that convert into sofas during the day. A small flip-up table gives the room the appearance and feel of a train compartment.

While Vantage ships tend to be more upscale in appearance than Grand Circle, both ships have complimentary Wi-Fi and flat-screen TVs. Vantage has L’Occitane bath products and showers with real glass doors; Grand Circle’s amenities are decidedly less fancy with combo soap and shampoo gel, and there’s a curtain separating the shower from the toilet.

All in all, these cabins are where you’ll find the biggest difference between the two lines. Vantage’s ships are more modern and upscale in feel, with some luxury amenities. Grand Circle’s vessels are comfortable, yet outdated — we called it Elderhostel on the water.

Choose Vantage if you want a suite or a room with a queen bed.

Vantage has suites available on their newest ships. Vantage Owner’s Suites are 330 square feet and Deluxe Suites are 250 square feet. The cabins in Vantage are also set up more like a typical hotel room, with two twin beds that can be either pushed apart or put together to become a queen. There’s also a separate sofa and table.

Choose Grand Circle if you don’t mind sleeping apart.

While the convertible bed-sofas do give the cabin the feeling of more room during the day, the set-up isn’t conducive for couples who like to be together. We also found the sofas to be narrow and uncomfortable to sit on.

 

Dinner on Grand Circle's River Anuket

Dining

Grand Circle and Vantage both have similar types of dining on their ships. Both lines serve buffets at breakfast and lunch, along with made-to-order items off the menu. Both also have one set time at dinner, usually at 7 p.m., where you sit at larger tables with other passengers.

Vantage also has more casual alternatives onboard, should passengers want a lighter, less formal meal. On Vantage’s newest ship, River Voyager, the Cotton Club Lounge has floor-to-ceiling windows and a retractable glass roof for alfresco dining at lunch and dinner (the latter by reservation). On River Splendor, this is known as Captain’s Club.

On both Grand Circle and Vantage, alcoholic drinks are included at dinner. On Vantage, you can have as many glasses as you want. On Grand Circle, you are restricted to two glasses of wine.

Neither line has formal nights or room service, although if you’re feeling poorly, you can usually get broth delivered to your room. Dress on both is casual.


Onboard Amenities

Grand Circle’s ships are simple, but most do have small fitness rooms and a sauna or whirlpool; some boats have a masseuse onboard who charges reasonable prices (at least compared to ocean cruising).

Vantage also has a small fitness center, as well as bikes that passengers can use in port. None of Vantage’s ships have a spa or salon.


Bottom Line

Choose Grand Circle if you’re looking for a budget river line experience. With the line’s emphasis on enrichment, you’ll come away from the trips having learned something, albeit in comfortable — not fancy — surroundings.

Choose Vantage if you’re looking for a substantial river cruise that delivers value in more upscale surroundings with modern amenities such as bicycles.

What Makes The World’s Most Luxurious Cruise Ship So Luxurious?

 

Regent Seven Seas is calling its newest vessel, Seven Seas Explorer, the «World’s Most Luxurious Cruise Ship.» It’s a completely subjective claim but it does make us wonder: What exactly goes into the most luxurious ship in the world? What sets it apart? We’ve found five things on the 750-passenger ship that we know will have cruisers feeling like they’re living in the lap of luxury.

The Explorer Suite on Regent's Seven Seas Explorer

Cabins

All cabins on Seven Seas Explorer are classified as suites, with the smallest coming in at 219 square feet — not enormous by luxury standards, but certainly comfortable. What sets Explorer apart, though, is that every cabin includes a balcony — and many of even the lowest-class balconies are 10 feet deep — which is quite large when compared with other luxury ships and brands. The average balcony size is 138 square feet. All suites include indulgent touches, such as marble and stone bathrooms, rainfall showers, European Sleep Slumber beds and high-end linens. But the real wow factor is the ship’s Regent Suite, which is an astounding 2,917 square feet and features a 958-square-foot wraparound balcony. For about $5,000 per person, per day, the two-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath suite includes an in-suite spa with unlimited treatments available. The master bedroom features a gorgeous Savoir Bed (which cost an estimated $90,000 plus another $60,000 in linens), and the separate living area includes a $250,000 Steinway piano. Two Picasso paintings even hang just outside the suite. Plus, passengers are assigned a personal butler and a personal driver for exclusive use in port. Regent Seven Seas says this top-end suite has been a big seller, and demand is so high, the line is likely to raise the price

The French restaurant Chartreuse on Regent's Seven Seas Explorer

Culinary Options

Seven Seas Explorer has multiple fine-dining restaurants onboard, with specialty options included in the price of the cruise fare. The ship’s main dining venue is Compass Rose, the cruise line’s excellent flagship restaurant that features Continental cuisine. Just don’t miss the ship’s alternative restaurants; every passenger is entitled to at least one dinner at each during their cruise. Two new restaurants — Asian-inspired Pacific Rim and French venue Chartreuse — are exclusive to Seven Seas Explorer. Both are elegantly decorated: Pacific Rim includes a gasp-worthy floor-to-ceiling art installation that resembles a Tibetan prayer wheel along with handpainted murals; Chartreuse’s design is reminiscent of Paris, with filigree screens and a floor that imitates a cobblestone street. Dishes at Pacific Rim include dim sum options, miso glazed black cod, curried seafood laska and ramen noodles. At Chartreuse you can choose from options such as poached blue lobster tail glazed with caramelized lobster roe butter and hand-cut Charolais steak tartare. Seven Seas Explorer also has a Culinary Arts Kitchen, where passengers can get fun and individualized hands-on cooking and technique lessons in a top-of-the-line professional kitchen. Still want more food? Try one of the ship’s Gourmet Explorer Tours, which pair experiences like wine tastings with dinners at Michelin-starred restaurants. (Classes and gourmet tours are not included in your cruise fare.)

 

 

 

Ceramic loungers in the spa on Regent's Seven Seas Explorer

Spa

The Canyon Ranch Spa on Seven Seas Explorer offers exclusive experiences designed with Red Flower, a beauty products and lifestyle company. The high-end company emphasizes sustainability and has created treatments that source ingredients from the world’s seven seas. Treatments offered include the Red Flower North Atlantic Journey, which uses sea salt from the Atlantic Ocean, enhanced with sea algae and Icelandic moonflower. Canyon Ranch also has partnerships with Irish company Voya and Shankara. At 750 square feet, the spa is the fleet’s largest and has eight treatment rooms; a large thermal suite with heated ceramic loungers and a private outdoor deck; and an infinity plunge pool. It also includes infrared saunas, aroma steam rooms and cold rooms — one each in the men’s and women’s changing areas. Sweeping silk fabrics, Swarovski crystals and twinkling lights decorate the spa.

Regent Suite on Regent's Seven Seas Explorer

Inclusivity

Like many luxury cruise lines, Regent Seven Seas Explorer’s cruise fares includevirtually everything: unlimited shore excursions, specialty dining, unlimited beverages (including most premium spirits and fine wines), gratuities, Wi-Fi, fitness classes and entertainment. But this inclusion might put it on top: business class airfare for all intercontinental flights for North American passengers starting in 2017. (Economy class round-trip air is already included for all passengers, and business class air on Europe cruises for passengers staying in Penthouse Suites and above.) Depending on the suite class you choose, your cruise fare might also include extras such as a pre-cruise hotel stay, transfers to the ship, hotel breakfasts, porterage, and free laundry and pressing.

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The Penthouse Suite's bathroom on Regent's Seven Seas Explorer

The Little Things

In the world of luxury cruising, it’s often the little things that make the biggest impact. Consider the toiletries offered on Seven Seas Explorer — they vary, depending on suite class, and might include French-designed Guerlain, or L’Occitane’s Mer & Mistral line, which is exclusively carried on Explorer. Then, there’s the space ratio, which on paper sounds pretty dull but on a ship is essential to making you feel less crowded. While Seven Seas Explorer has the capacity for 750 passengers, its space ratio is the second-highest in the industry (behind Hapag-Lloyd’s Europa 2). Throw in a crew-to-passenger ratio of 1.38, and you can expect a high level of service and attention. Crew onboard anticipate the needs of passengers, providing services such as poolside sunglasses cleanings or carrying messy plates in buffets to avoid spillage. Passengers also will be blown away by the ship’s chandeliers: Explorer has almost 500 of them, including a nearly two-story oval crystal chandelier in the lobby and a gorgeous blue droplet light feature in Compass Rose. The ship’s elements, like floors, countertops and walls, utilize more than an acre of marble and an acre of granite.

10 Reasons Why Carnival Splendor Is the Cruise Ship for You

Carnival’s «Fun Ships» pledge fun for everyone and earn high marks indeed for their cross-generational appeal. The cheery and flashy 3,006-passenger Carnival Splendor is no exception, and as one of the line’s largest ships (and the only one in its class), it boasts a large canvas that’s been colored with some distinctive features. Not only has Splendor been a launching pad for Carnival innovations (like the line’s very first spa cabins or its newer Seuss at Sea program), but it comes chock-full of «wow factor» diversions, too, with an expansive spa, several age-appropriate kids’ spaces, a massive film screen for outdoor movies and much more. Here are 10 reasons why Carnival Splendor is just the ship for you.

 

1. You’re a spa-lover.

Carnival Splendor devotes a massive, bi-level 22,500-square-foot space on its forward-facing top decks to the health-and-wellness haven that is the Cloud 9 Spa — one of the largest spas at sea. Here, spa-lovers can luxuriate with a $40 day pass to the Asian design-inspired facilities, inclusive of a heated, glass-dome-covered thalassotherapy pool with bubbling jets of ionized mineral water; an elaborate thermal suite with four climate-controlled rooms (featuring heated loungers and aromatherapy mists); and a relaxation lounge (bonus: most spaces tout panoramic sea views). Passengers can also book a treatment in one of 17 treatment rooms, with Asian-, Middle Eastern- and European-style services like a «mud Rasul ritual» scrub or a Thai herbal poultice massage. For the ultimate in spa immersion, Splendor is one of only five Carnival ships to offer spa staterooms and suites. The 68 spa-designated cabins come clustered around the spa on Decks 10 and 11, and boast extras like private elevator/staircase access to the spa, unlimited access to the spa facilities, priority spa appointments, complimentary fitness classes and special in-room amenities like slippers, yoga mats and Elemis bath products.

2. You enjoy standup comedy.

Carnival keeps its onboard comedy offerings cutting-edge and fresh via its Punchliner Comedy Club concept, first debuted in 2011, now available fleetwide. With a performance list curated by comedian and TV personality George Lopez, several comedians are brought on and off Splendor on any given sailing — so for a weeklong cruise, there could be as many as two dozen performances from multiple comedians, ranging from established comics to up-and-coming talents. Typically, most nights feature earlier family-friendly sets and later adults-only shows. While venues vary from ship to ship, the shows on Splendor unfold in our favorite public onboard space, the 425-seat aft-side lounge, El Morocco, boasting a transporting, 1930s Moroccan-inspired decor complete with exotic tiles, animal prints, lanterns, and more.

Camp Carnival

3. You’re cruising with your kids.

Splendor’s robust onboard offerings for kids are so exciting that your wee ones will be positively enthralled. The three dedicated kids’ spaces onboard include Camp Carnival (ages 2 to 11), Circle C (ages 12 to 14) and Club O2 (ages 13 to 17); each facility plays host to age-appropriate, included-in-the-rates activities helmed by a well-trained and enthusiastic youth staff. For instance, youngsters can get into some serious fun in their 5,500-square-foot playroom and adjacent splash park; tweens will easily take to their club space, equipped with gaming consoles and a booming sound system; while older teens’ sophisticated lounge is cool enough that their folks will want to stick around (sorry, ma and pa — you can’t!). Scheduled activities are available for good chunks of the day, and well into the night, thanks to «night owls» programming (offered until as late as 1 a.m.) that features hosted activities for tweens and teens and babysitting (at a nominal fee) for under-11s.

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4. You’re a fan of Dr. Seuss.

Splendor is nearly unbeatable for its kid-friendly programming, and was the first ship to roll out Carnival’s 2014-debuted Seuss at Sea program, which will be featured fleetwide. In partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises, Carnival allows families to interact with popular Dr. Seuss characters like the Cat in the Hat, Thing One and Thing Two, and Sam-I-Am at several events like the «Seuss-a-palooza» character-and-family parade and interactive story time. Plus, there’s a Cat in the Hat-hosted breakfast, serving — what else? — green eggs and ham.

5. You want some adults-only relaxation time.

While Splendor is a fun-for-all-ages kind of ship, it hasn’t overlooked the need for some grown-ups-only havens, too. Adults can slip away into the quiet quarter that is Carnival’s signature Serenity sun deck, set along Deck 12 forward, where plush lounge chairs (including «clamshell» shaded loungers for two) and tables encourage low-key R&R. It’s the perfect spot to soak up some sun, stare out to sea or cuddle up with a good book in kid-free bliss. Or, look to the ship’s atmospheric aft-side pool on the Lido Deck, equipped with a duo of hot tubs and a full-service bar nearby — another adults-only space, it’s a favorite spot for grown-up company, expansive views out over the ship’s wake and proximity to the buffet, just steps away. 

 

 

Carnival Splendor pool deck

6. You love watching movies, but don’t want to give up your poolside lounger to catch a flick.

The days of drive-in movies might be behind us, but on Carnival, you can experience a «dive-in» movie. Splendor is one of the line’s two dozen or so ships to offer the nifty cinematic experience, which outfits the main pool deck with a jumbo 270-square-foot LED screen and 70,000-watt sound system. During the day, it’s known as the Seaside Theater, running a near-constant stream of concerts, news, cartoons and sporting events while families frolic in the pool. By night, it transforms into the setting for popular movie screenings, where passengers pull up loungers (or hang out in the pool) and order up drinks and complimentary popcorn, while a feature film is screened — all set under the alfresco night sky.

 

7. You want to be able to use the pool, rain or shine.

For anybody who’s had their poolside vacation dreams shattered by uncooperative weather, the retractable, sliding-glass roof above Splendor’s main midship pool is just the insurance policy you’re after. When employed, it effectively transforms the pool and its bi-level decks into the largest venue on the ship, containing within not only a pool, but twin hot tubs, a duo of bars, stage for live music, food stations and the aforementioned movie screen. That way, you’re ensured that a little chill or rain needn’t put a dark cloud over your poolside vacation plans. 

8. You want to make a splash on the water slide.

Kids of all ages can’t help but appreciate a fun run on Splendor’s three-deck-high Twister water slide (slides being a signature of Carnival’s fleet). Twisting and turning for a lengthy 214 feet, adrenaline junkies will get a respectable thrill, and can make a day of splashing about and hanging out in the small and lesser-used Thunderball pool, just adjacent to the slide’s landing zone. Bonus: The Twister’s starting point on the ship’s highest deck (14) grants one of the best viewpoints aboard Splendor, with vistas stretching out over ship and sea.

Carnival Splendor room service

9. You’ve got a hankering for succulent steak and seafood.

Splendor keeps most of its dining options refreshingly fee-free, but its one extra-fee alternative dining venue is well worth the splurge (at $35 a head). A destination dining venue, The Pinnacle Steakhouse dominates a top-level deck with an atmospheric 108-seat setting that boasts large windows looking out to sea and classic American steakhouse-style decor with subtle Art Deco influence. But the real draw is the well-executed menu, running over with juicy, cooked-to-order steaks (like filet mignon or New York strip), lobster tails, grilled lamb chops and fish. And don’t forget about gourmet appetizers (like escargot or lobster bisque), tasty desserts and a well-selected wine list, too. Reservations are recommended.

10. Your idea of vacation is to sleep in and enjoy a late brunch.

True to Carnival, Splendor isn’t necessarily an early-to-bed, early-to-rise kind of ship, with plenty of diversions to keep passengers dining and dancing into the wee hours of the night. Happily, on sea days, passengers can stay in bed till they please and still catch some breakfast/brunch favorites courtesy of the complimentary Seaday Brunch service, held until 1 p.m. in the aft-facing Gold Pearl. Enjoy soothing views of the ship’s wake while tucking in to brunch favorites like eggs Benedict or fat-stack pancakes. Plus, pair the fare with a hair-of-the-dog beverage courtesy of the (extra-fee) Bloody Mary bar, offering custom garnishes.

Trends in Cruise Ship Cabin Design

 

Cruise ship cabins don’t always have the best reputation. We’ve heard the complaints: They’re too small, the bathrooms are too cramped, there’s not enough storage space, etc. Passengers who don’t come nicely in groups of two gripe that they’re forced to pay double to book a cabin for one or that squeezing three or four in a standard stateroom is like fitting a basketball team inside a phone booth. cabin-collage

But with a boatload of ships debuting over the past few years, cruise lines have made vast improvements, not only in onboard amenities but in cabin configurations, as well. The majority of cabins remain the standard variety, but new ships are sporting some innovative new designs, including solo and family cabins, elaborate and spacious suites, and some clever updates of the inside, outside and balcony cabins we all know and love (or hate).

Whether you’re looking for a new cabin type that will best suit your traveling needs, or you’re simply curious as to what novelties have emerged from the brains of shipbuilders and designers, read on to find the latest trends in cruise-ship cabin design.


Solo Cabins — Living Quarters for One

Trendsetters: Norwegian Cruise Line, P&O epic-solo-cabinCruises

Old School: Most cruise ships only have cabins that sleep two or more, forcing solo travelers to pay as much as double the cruise fare of passengers who share cabins.

New and Nifty: Norwegian and P&O are turning things around with the addition of solo cabins on their newest ships. Azura is the first P&O ship to sport single staterooms — 18 to be exact. Solo cabins come in inside and outside categories, each measuring 130 square feet, and feature oversized single beds, desks/vanities and en-suite bathrooms with showers.

On Norwegian Epic, solo travelers will find 128 Studio cabins, each measuring a tiny 100 square feet; 90 of these connect together, though you must be 21 or older to book these staterooms-for-one. The Studios are all inside cabins, each with a round window facing the interior corridor and a full-size bed taking up most of the space. However, these small cabins come with a huge perk — access to the Studio Lounge, an exclusive social space with a bar, large TV’s, comfy seating and concierge service. It’s another version of Norwegian’s ship-within-a-ship concept (see below), but you don’t have to pay the highest fares for access.

Duplexes — Two Floors Are Better Than One

Trendsetters: Royal Caribbean, Cunard

Old School: Cruise lines like to squeeze the most cabins into the space available onboard. Standard staterooms line the hallways like ducks in a row, while suites occupy odd spaces like the «corners» of each deck or run the length of two or three lower-tier cabins.
royal-caibbean-cabin-duplex-loft
New and Nifty: To change things up, some lines are building up instead of out. Cunard certainly knows how to pamper its highest-paying Queens Grill passengers, and among its posh accommodations on Queen Mary 2, the line decided to break new ground with two-floor duplex suites. The 2,249-square-foot Balmoral and Sandringham suites feature large living and dining room areas, expansive balconies and marble bathrooms (with showers) on the lower floors; upstairs, the lavish master bedrooms are each accompanied by a bathroom with a whirlpool bath and ocean views. The Holyrood, Windsor, Buckingham, Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth suites are only slightly smaller duplexes with similar lavish amenities, ranging from 1,194 to 1,566 square feet.

Loft apartments are also tres chic, so when Royal Caribbean’s innovative Oasis and Allure of the Seas were designed, two-floor loft suite cabins were added into the cabin category mix. Loft suites come in three flavors: Royal, Sky and Crown. The king of the bunch — the 1,524-square-foot Royal Loft Suite — can sleep six. Downstairs, you’ll find a living and dining room and a wraparound balcony with outdoor dining area and whirlpool; upstairs holds the master bedroom and an enormous bathroom. The smaller Crown and Sky Loft Suites also feature extra-large balconies, roomy bathrooms, upstairs bedrooms and downstairs living spaces. Bringing the whole gang? The Royal Loft Suite connects to the adjacent Crown Loft Suite to create an enormous living space that can sleep 10.

Spa Cabins — Bring the Spa to You

Trendsetters: Costa, Celebrity, Holland America, Windstar, Carnival, Norwegian

Old School: In the past, luxury-seekers could spend all their time in the spa only by booking multiple treatments, signing up for fitness classes or purchasing cruise-long passes to the thermal suites or thalassotherapy pools.

New and Nifty: Costa Cruises was the first line to conceive of the concept of cruise ship as destination spa when it introduced the Samsara spa cabins and suites on Costa Concordia. Spa cabins are now found on Costa Fascinosa, Costa Favolosa, Costa neoRomantica, Costa Serena, Costa Pacifica, Costa Deliziosa and Costa Luminosa. These staterooms are clustered around the spa and include private elevator access, Zen-like decor, cushy bedding, Samsara bath products, mini-bars stocked with healthy drinks and tea kettles with a choice of herbal teas. Additional perks include an invitation to a spa tea ceremony, a choice of two treatments, a choice of two fitness or meditation lessons, two tanning sessions, unlimited use of the thalassotherapy pool and a reserved table in the Samsara Restaurant.

Other lines quickly followed suit with their own versions of spa cabins. Celebrity’s Solstice-class ships feature the AquaClass staterooms and suites. In addition to massaging showerheads a healthy-dining room service menu and upgraded bedding, residents get their own specialty restaurant, Blu; free use of the AquaSpa Relaxation Room and Persian Garden thermal suite; and access to a «spa concierge,» who can book treatments and provide product information. The line is adding AquaSpa cabins to older ships during refurbishments.

Windstar is taking a slightly different approach to this concept. Instead of having dedicated spa cabins, it offers suite passengers on Wind Surf the opportunity to upgrade their cabins to spa suites for an additional charge ($600 per suite on a seven-night cruise). Ten suites maximum per cruise will be able to receive upgraded spa robes, a pillow menu, O SPA London bath amenities and in-suite tea service. Spa-themed perks include a welcome cocktail party in the WindSpa, an invitation to «Spa Under the Stars» to sample alfresco spa treatments, a spa concierge, complimentary spa and salon treatments, and unlimited fitness classes.

Other ships that have jumped on the spa cabin bandwagon include Carnival Splendor, Dream, Magic and Breeze; Norwegian Epic; and Holland America’s Eurodam, Nieuw Amsterdam, Statendam, Maasdam, Ryndam, Veendam and Rotterdam.

 


cabin-oceania-luxury-suite Over-the-Top Suites — Lavish Luxury

Trendsetters: Oceania, Seabourn

Old School: Onboard suites can be anything from simple two-room spaces, still smaller than typical hotel rooms, to fancy affairs with Jacuzzis, pianos, wet bars, kitchens and private dining rooms (both indoors and out). Most are fairly cookie-cutter, simply larger versions of standard cabins.

New and Nifty: With cruise-ship suites becoming more lavish, each new ship seems to take the luxe factor up a notch. At the top of the over-the-top list are the Owner’s Suites on Oceania’s Marina and Riviera and the Wintergarden Suite on Seabourn’s Odyssey-class ships. Oceania’s knock-your-socks-off suites are more than 2,000 square feet and furnished by Ralph Lauren Home with touches like faux zebra rugs, enormous suede couches, wood paneling, velvet carpeting, pianos and bars. An entire wall in each is made of glass for expansive sea views. Each bedroom is done in cashmere and features a chandelier, while the bathroom has a tub you can practically do laps in. If that’s not enough, a second whirlpool on the balcony comes with a flat-screen TV for the dedicated TV-watcher.

Seabourn’s Wintergarden Suites are named for the glass-walled solarium found inside each suite. This area features a soaking tub, day-bed and seating. Add a few more plants, and you’d think you were bathing in a rain forest. The rest of the 914-square-foot cabin is equally luxurious, including a 183-square-foot verandah, a six-person dining table, wet bar, guest bath and master bedroom with whirlpool tub. They’re just steps away from Seabourn Square, a bustling hub featuring a coffee shop, Internet cafe, library, comfy chairs and concierge desks.

Innovative Insides — Say Goodbye to Claustrophobia

Trendsetters: Disney Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean

Old School: Tiny, windowless inside cabins have long been a claustrophobe’s worst nightmare. They may be cheap, but you sure don’t want to spend a lot of time in these low-end staterooms — unless you like living in a cave and not knowing whether it’s night or day.

New and Nifty: We’ve already mentioned Norwegian’s new take on inside cabins with its Studios, but two other lines are also working to make inside cabins more livable. In Disney Dream’s and Fantasy’s inside cabins, Disney Cruise Line has introduced «virtual portholes» — video screens that play actual footage of the seascape outside (filmed with four high-definition cameras positioned on the exterior). The live view is enhanced with Disney friends, including «Finding Nemo» characters and Mickey Mouse himself. Rough seas? Simply turn the sea views off.

Royal Caribbean takes a different approach. With the line’s Promenade cabins on Voyager-, Freedom- and Oasis-class ships, and Central Park and Boardwalk cabins on Oasis and Allure of the Seas, inside cabin residents can look out on the action taking place inside the ships. Residents have prime viewing spots for Royal Promenade parades or people-watching on Oasis and Allure’s Boardwalks. Some Central Park and Boardwalk inside cabins come with balconies — but don’t expect privacy on these interior-facing verandahs.

Ship-in-a-Ship — Exclusive Access for Cruising’s Elite

Trendsetters: MSC Cruises, Norwegian

Old School: On most ships, the highest-paying passengers may get access to a small concierge suite, but they have to fight for deck chairs on the pool deck, queue up at the bar and search for available treadmills at the fitness center — just like the rest of the rabble.

New and Nifty: Norwegian and MSC Cruises have brought back classed cruising with such expansive, exclusive play areas for certain passengers that the experience is almost like being on an entirely different ship.

Although Cunard has always clung to classed cruising with exclusive dining venues for its Queens and Princess Grill cruisers, Norwegian took the idea one step further when it introduced the Haven (formerly the Courtyard), a private courtyard with pools, hot tubs and sun decks surrounded by the line’s most luxe accommodations, the Courtyard Villas. The Haven can be found in various forms on Norwegian Jewel, Epic, Gem, Pearl, Jade and — coming in April 2013 — Breakaway. The complexes on Epic and Breakaway take it up a notch with an exclusive restaurant and bar.

MSC Cruises has created a similar effect on MSC Fantasia, Splendida and Divina with the Yacht Club. On each ship, people in these special cabins have access to a private club with complimentary open bar, a private pool area, grill, private lounge with meal service and 24-hour butler service. Yacht Club cruisers also get to eat in cordoned-off special sections of the main dining room, to maintain that exclusive vibe. On Disney Dream and Fantasy, Concierge-level passengers have access to a concierge lounge with food and drink, TV and Internet, as well as an exclusive sun deck with water misters, cushioned lounge chairs and a bar.

Family Cabins — More Room for Memories

Trendsetters: Royal Caribbean, Disney, Carnival, Norwegian, Princess

Old School: Cruising families are usually forced to squeeze into one cabin, employing a mixture of pullout sofa beds or bunks that pull down from the ceiling. Or, you can book the kids in an adjoining cabin or stateroom across the hall. Go for maximum togetherness, and you find yourself with no elbow room (and nowhere to hang out in-cabin once the kids are asleep).
family-cabin
New and Nifty: Cruise lines have begun to realize that families want to stay in the same cabin, but need enough room to do so.

Royal Caribbean offers an array of family-oriented cabins, ranging from outside family cabins to the Presidential Family Suite. Outside cabins can sleep six, with a combination of Pullman beds, sleep sofas and — on some ships — additional bunk beds in separate rooms within each cabin. Oasis and Allure of the Seas have balcony versions.

For even more space, the Royal Family Suite accommodates eight people in two bedrooms (plus Pullman beds and sofa beds), with multiple bathrooms, living areas, fridges and concierge service. The Presidential Family Suite (found only on Freedom- and Oasis-class ships) can sleep a whopping 14 family members with two master bedrooms and two additional bedrooms. These luxurious digs include a spacious living area, complete with dining table, and a private balcony with hot tub, dining table and padded teak loungers.

Disney has always offered family-friendly cabins with its family balcony cabins that sleep four or five people. Parents will enjoy the privacy curtain that separates the main sleeping area from the sitting room/kids’ sleeping area, so when the children are tucked in, it doesn’t have to be lights out for the grownups, too. Another innovative feature is Disney’s split bathroom design. One half has a toilet and sink, and the other has a sink and shower/tub combination.

Other lines making life onboard better for families include Norwegian, whose Norwegian Epic features hundreds of family balcony cabins on Decks 13 and 14, clustered around the expanded children’s facility. Cabins are standard but come with additional pull-down beds and pullout couches, and many connect to accommodate larger family groups.

Carnival Dream, Magic and Breeze include deluxe oceanview cabins that each feature two bathrooms (one with a shower, one with a kid-sized tub) and extra berths (some can sleep five) — perfect for bigger families. And Princess’ 500- to 600-square-foot Family Suites, which can accommodate six to eight passengers, are found on all nine Grand-class ships. The suites are each essentially two self-contained cabins connecting through a large living room with an expanded balcony, and at least one bathroom typically features a tub.

Design Modifications — Standard Cabins That Stand Out

Trendsetters: Norwegian, Carnival, Holland America

Old School: Standard cabins have been pretty, well, standard — and once you’ve seen one, you pretty much know what to expect everywhere else. Typically, you’ll find a boxy space with a bed, desk/vanity, closet and bathroom, and some sort of sitting area if you’re lucky.

New and Nifty: Cruise lines are thinking outside the prefabricated cabin box with their new ship designs. On Norwegian Epic, standard cabins sport a «New Wave» design, with curved walls and lines and more open living space. Bathrooms have also been tweaked, though somewhat contentiously. The shower stalls and toilet areas are split into separate areas behind the main bathroom doors, and the sinks and vanities are out in the open in the actual staterooms. The controversy is the smoked-glass doors that allow those on the outside to see the shadows of those within.

Holland America has created the first cabin with a back door. Called lanai cabins, they can be found only on Veendam and Rotterdam. These cabins have windows and a second door that face the wraparound Promenade Deck, so passengers can step from their cabins directly into this outdoor public area. Each cabin comes with two teak chairs outside the back door — though watch out for passengers from other decks who are tempted to use your lounges when you’re not home.

And Carnival introduced a new type of balcony cabin on Carnival Dream, Magic and Breeze. These «cove balconies» are located within the hull on Deck 2 and feature verandahs close to the waterline. Watertight doors keep out sea spray, and lifeboats directly above block the view so your shipmates can’t see down into your private verandah. While they’re great for extra privacy, they’re not so hot for sunbathing.

avalon-cabin-panorama-suite River Upgrades — Heading for Luxury

Trendsetters: Viking, Uniworld, Avalon

Old School: Riverboats have had the reputation of Spartan accommodations lacking space, balconies and modern niceties. Previously, the lines used the ships’ size limitations (they have to squeeze through locks and fit under bridges) as an excuse.

New and Nifty: The lines have gotten creative to offer more spacious, luxurious and innovative digs onboard. Viking Emerald and Prestige each have a pair of 840-square-foot presidential suites with separate sitting and sleeping areas, two flat-screen televisions, panoramic windows and private wraparound balconies. Standard accommodations boast 269 square feet of living space, and all have private balconies. The line’s current and forthcoming Long Ships also rock lavish suites with 445-square-foot Explorer Suites that offer multiple rooms and wraparound balconies, in addition to French balconies in the bedrooms.

Uniworld’s S.S. Antoinette sports fancy top-deck suites with alcoves that can be converted from glassed-in conservatories to open-air balconies by pushing a switch. And Avalon’s Panorama, Vista, Visionary and Avalon Artistry II and Expression (both slated to launch in 2013) feature suites with wall-to-wall panoramic windows, which open by some seven feet to transform the cabins into an open-air balconies.

How to Pick a Cruise Line Part 3

Best for Night Owls

Eagles Aft Lounge on Carnival Valor

Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian ships have an array of bars and lounges, from the bordello-meets-bowling-themed Bliss Ultra Lounge to Getaway’s Sugarcane Mojito Bar and other specialty venues focusing on beer, whiskey, cocktails or Champagne. Norwegian’s signature White Hot and Glow Parties (they vary depending on what ship class you are on) are the hottest dance parties aboard, where cruisers come dressed in white and the entertainment staff, bedecked with angel wings or layered in neon, keep the fun going with group dancing and on some ships, a mesmerizing video screen. We’ve also heard some mighty impressive karaoke on these ships.

Carnival Cruise Line

It’s no shock that the Fun Ships are ideal for night owls. Carnival’s piano bars just might be the happeningest in cruising (true night owls know the songs get raunchier after midnight), and karaoke is offered nightly. You’re never far from a bar or dance club, and the casino is often in the heart of the action. Late-night 18-plus comedy has always been a staple event at the line’s Punchliner Comedy Clubs.

MSC Cruises

When you’re cruising the European way, be sure to adjust to European bedtime, when even the smallest children are found in the nightclub around 10 p.m. That’s the vibe on MSC, even on its U.S.-geared ships. Piano bars, sports bars, lounges with wine-blending classes and hangouts with international beer — it’s all there. What keeps the nightlife lively isn’t only the atmosphere, it’s the clientele; MSC passengers typically keep the party going until the wee hours of the morning.

Best for Entertainment

Disney Dreams

Disney Cruise Line

Disney knows the entertainment biz better than anyone, and that shows in its cruise line offerings as well. Its onboard stage shows mix original productions with live versions of hit movies like «Frozen» and «Tangled,» but all feature catchy tunes, creative props and costumes, and favorite Disney characters. Its best known event is its once-a-cruise pirate-themed deck party, which combines an interactive musical show with dance parties and at-sea fireworks.

 

Royal Caribbean International

This line loves to the push the boundaries of onboard entertainment options. It’s the only line to offer ice-skating shows and water-based acrobatic shows. Plus, it was the first to bring Broadway to the high seas with condensed versions of «Chicago,» «Hairspray» and «Saturday Night Fever.» It utilizes every square inch of space onboard to keep the fun going, with toe-tapping parades along its indoor Promenade shopping and dining district and aerial performances in the atriums of its Vision-class ships.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian is RCI’s competitor when it comes to innovative entertainment options. The line has also introduced Broadway-quality shows including «After Midnight» and «Million Dollar Quartet.» Add to that a production featuring the cult hits of «16 Candles» director John Hughes, the unique Cirque Dreams and Dinner Show (part acrobatic show, part alternative dining venue), jazz and blues clubs, celebrity musician impersonators, dueling pianists and comedians, and it’s hard not to be entertained.

Best for Exploring Onshore

Azamara Club Cruises - Concert

Azamara Club Cruises

Azamara’s catch phrase is «destination immersion,» and its fleet of two small ships achieves this in several ways. Itineraries include less-touristed ports and cruise regions, and often feature late-night stays and overnights in port. Plus, nearly every cruise includes an «AzAmazing Evening,» a complimentary shoreside event that presents the local culture in an intimate or exclusive setting. When possible, Azamara also tries to schedule its cruises around major destination events, such as Carnaval in Rio or the Grand Prix in Monaco.

Celebrity Cruises

One of Celebrity’s goals is to offer sailings to every continent, including Antarctica, with more overnight calls and more small-group excursions. (Clearly, it’s following in sister Azamara’s footsteps.) A Destination Concierge is on every ship; these port experts assist passengers in making the most of their time ashore, even going as far as creating individual excursions tailormade to your touring desires. A fleet of three expedition ships cater to cruisers looking to explore the Galapagos.

Viking Ocean Cruises

Join a home visit in Stavanger, Norway, or a full-day walking tour in Rome. At least one shore excursion is included in each port on all Viking’s itineraries. Plus, itineraries tend to be port intensive, so expect to visit a new city nearly every day of your cruise. If you’re not impressed by a morning exploring the city, opt to pay for one of the line’s more custom shore tours like a helicopter ride or a journey through Nice in the footsteps of Henri Matisse. Want to arrange a private car ride in port? They’re a way to do that, too.

Best for Water Lovers

Kayaking couple

Windstar Cruises

Water-lovers have two reasons to love Windstar. First, the line’s yachts have plenty of open deck space, including alfresco dining options, for getting that sea-wind-in-your-hair feel. Second, the ships offer complimentary water sports from a built-in onboard marina. You can borrow kayaks, windsurf boards, small sailboats and inflatable boats and mats. Passengers have access to free snorkel equipment, and water skiing is offered by the ship’s staff. Select itineraries feature beach party days, as well.


Paul Gauguin Cruises

Paul Gauguin’s namesake ship sails in the South Pacific, an ideal place for savoring water-based activities and scenic island views from the sea. The ship has a retractable aft marina used for complimentary water sports, such as kayaking, windsurfing and water skiing. The ship also lends out snorkel equipment, but it can’t be used from the onboard marina, and offers a scuba program with both recreational dives and certification classes. Water-lovers will also enjoy beach days on a little island in Bora Bora and Motu Mahana, a tiny island off Taha’a complete with a floating bar offshore.

Seabourn Cruise Line

Another big-name luxury line with a water sports platform is Seabourn. Its marina is stocked with all the toys: banana boats, kayaks, pedal boats, water skis, windsurf boards and the «doughnut,» an inner tube in which you sit while being pulled along by a speedboat. If you’re excited about taking advantage of this option, choose your itinerary wisely — cooler weather sailings and busy ports are not conducive to marina use.

Best for Solo Travelers

Studio Cabin on Norwegian Getaway.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian’s much acclaimed Studio cabins proved to the world that solo travelers aren’t always overlooked. Norwegian Epic offers the line’s largest studio offering with 128 single cabins measuring 100 square feet with a corridor-facing window, mood lighting and access to a shared social space with large-screen TVs, coffee-making facilities and a bartender. You’ll find 82 studio rooms on Escape, with an area that includes a lounge bar and social space. Getaway has 59 studio cabins, with access to a two-deck lounge, complete with a 50-inch TV and a self-service wine bar, as well as a tea and coffee machine.

Holland America Line

Even before dedicated cabins, solo cruisers were choosing Holland for its social atmosphere and a ton of independent travelers sail the line every year. HAL’s Single Partners Program is designed for single cruisers with meetups, activities and events geared just toward solos. On longer itineraries, social hosts serve as greeters and dance partners for women. Prinsendam now features single cabins and Koningsdam, the line’s newest vessel, has solo cabins without a single supplement. If you’re sailing a ship without a solo cabin, the program can arrange for you to share your room with another same-sex single to save you money.

Crystal Cruises

A popular choice for solo travelers, Crystal entices lone travelers with its wide range of onboard activities, singles get-togethers, gentleman hosts and low solo supplements. Many single cruisers choose the line’s set-seating option to meet new friends over dinner, while its Table for 8 program matches solo travelers for group meals at the specialty dining venues. The onboard atmosphere is communal and social, so no passenger needs to feel lonely.

How to Pick a Cruise Line Part 2

Best for a Splurge

Relaxing on Seabourn's sundeck

Regent Seven Seas Cruises

This luxury line might be the most inclusive line out there. Its fares are astronomical, but they include pre-cruise hotel stays, nearly all shore excursions, gratuities, onboard alcohol and soft drinks, fine dining in main and specialty restaurants, attentive service and accommodations in suites (either with windows or balconies). If you want to splurge, you cannot go wrong with Regent.

Seabourn Cruise Line

Seabourn’s fleet of four modern ships, which carry 450 to 600 passengers, are havens of luxury. Indulge yourself at the two-level, 11,400-square-foot spa (complete with a spa pool and private spa villas); relax in a suite tricked out with marble bathrooms, high-end sound systems and upscale bedding; enjoy complimentary drinks and course-by-course in-cabin dining; and generally let the attentive staff cater to your every whim.

Norwegian’s The Haven

If you want an exclusive experience on a large, mainstream ship, splurge on a suite in Norwegian’s Haven. Depending on which ship you pick, The Haven will feature a communal area only for top suite residents with a private pool, sun deck, fitness center, restaurant and/or lounge. You can choose from an array of spacious suites, all with butler and concierge service, but still enjoy Norwegian’s big-ship amenities — multiple dining venues, a plethora of watering holes and plenty of top-notch entertainment.

Best for Foodies

Blu on Celebrity Reflection

Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity is all over the specialty dining scene, devoting tons of square footage on its ships to a variety of onboard restaurants. Choices range from upscale Tuscan steakhouse cuisine to an exclusive venue serving spa cuisine and a whimsical venue specializing in out-of-the-box international comfort food. Add in a grill-your-own-meat/bake-your-own-pizza eatery, delectable gelato and an alfresco soup and sandwich venue, and you might forget to stop at the cruise ship staple main dining room or buffet.

Oceania Cruises

You can’t go wrong when Jacques Pepin is overseeing your onboard restaurants. All of Oceania’s ships have superb cuisine in both main and specialty venues, but its newest and biggest ships have a wide array of dining venues. Go for fee-free Asian, Italian, steak and continental cuisine, or for a splurge, pony up for an exclusive dining event that pairs seven courses with an equal number of fine wines

Crystal Cruises

Crystal doesn’t go overboard with restaurants, but what it does, it does well. It partners with celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa to offer a sushi bar and pan-Asian cuisine in its Silk Road restaurant and with Piero Selvaggio, proprietor of Valentino’s in Santa Monica and Las Vegas Prego, to serve up Northern Italian in its other specialty venue, Prego. But the regular dining options also shine, and poolside buffets and afternoon tea are always special treats.

Best for Enrichment

Guest lecture hosted on Queen Mary 2

Cunard Line

With sea day-filled ocean crossings and other sailings, Cunard is experienced in finding top-notch enrichment programs to fill passengers’ days. Its Cunard Insights speaker series and Cunard Book Club literary discussions are offered on all three ships, while flagship Queen Mary 2 offers even more programs. Embrace your inner thespian with Royal Academy of Dramatic Art acting workshops, gaze skyward with members of the Royal Astronomical Society, and get intellectual about your musical entertainment with Juilliard Jazz groups.

Crystal Cruises

Crystal made onboard enrichment a priority before other lines decided «edu-tainment» was cool. Its Creative Learning Institute offers computer skills training, language classes, golf instruction and art workshops, as well as cooking demos and music lessons. Guest lecturers are always on hand to speak about region-specific topics, as well as popular interests such as political science, current affairs, food and wine, astronomy, and art and antiques. Theme sailings bring in big names to speak or perform.

Oceania Cruises

Oceania’s options aren’t diverse, but what it does, it does well. Hands-on cooking classes, demos and lectures on culinary topics all take place in the high-end Culinary Center on Marina and Riviera, while onshore, Culinary Discovery Tours take foodies on visits to artisan cheese-makers, chocolatiers, vineyards or fish markets. Budding artists can find their happy place in the Artist Loft, where artists-in-residence give instruction in watercolors, needlepoint, and arts and crafts.

 

Crystal Cruises

Crystal doesn’t go overboard with restaurants, but what it does, it does well. It partners with celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa to offer a sushi bar and pan-Asian cuisine in its Silk Road restaurant and with Piero Selvaggio, proprietor of Valentino’s in Santa Monica and Las Vegas Prego, to serve up Northern Italian in its other specialty venue, Prego. But the regular dining options also shine, and poolside buffets and afternoon tea are always special treats.