It’s the holiday most of us dream of. Heading off on a luxury cruise ship (maybe even for months!) to sunnier climes, being waited on hand and foot, and enjoying sumptuous food we’d never have at home. Nowadays, it could be argued that all cruises are luxury cruises, with cruise lines offering fine-dining restaurants, relaxing spas and endless activities to ensure no one gets bored. It’s a tough gig deciding which cruise to opt for, but Tui offers a wide range of luxury deals to help you make the right choice.
So, what makes a luxury cruise? As well as outstanding service and opulent surroundings, the top luxury cruise lines tend to offer holidays to more exotic locations and specialist itineraries.
Azamara Club Cruises
Azamara is known for ‘destination immersion’. You get to spend more time in port, stay overnight and take night tours. Where a cruise will usually take you to several different countries, Azamara has introduced country-intensive tours where you visit the ports in one country.
For example, its 14-night Circle Japan Intensive Voyage takes you all the way around Japan. This iconic country is a fusion of sprawling metropolises, beautiful landscapes and ancient temples and pagodas. The cruise takes you to famous destinations such as Tokyo, Mt Fuji, and even Hiroshima, where you may pay your respects in the Peace Memorial Park. You also get to spend a night in Busan in neighbouring South Korea, where you can see Buddhist temples galore. Eat sushi in Akita, drink sake in Kobe and buy gold leaf in Kanazawa, whose name when translated, means ‘marsh of gold’.
With some of the most famous ships in the world (think Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth), the line offers deluxe cruises with a distinctly British feel. With grand ballrooms and ritzy dining rooms, you could be forgiven for thinking you’d stepped back in time. For an entirely different cruise itinerary, try one of Cunard’s special-event cruises, where the cruise revolves around a popular theme, including the shore excursions and the onboard events.
Its Literature Festival at Sea cruise, on the Queen Mary 2, is a transatlantic trip from New York to Southampton, in association with the Cheltenham Literature Festival. You can attend workshops with best selling writers, see a special screening of a book to film adaption, or chat with an author or journalist over afternoon tea.
Regent Seven Seas
The epitome of all-inclusive luxury cruising, everything from the flights to shore excursions, premium drinks to gratuities, are included on Regent’s deluxe cruises. They offer more intimate cruises on smaller ships where you can enjoy butler service in the higher-level suites.
One advantage of cruising on a smaller ship is it can travel to places the larger ships can’t, like down the world-famous Panama Canal. Regent’s Miami to San Francisco cruise will take you from Cartagena, Columbia, to Panama, where you will traverse one of the greatest engineering masterpieces of the modern world. You’ll get up close and personal with nature, as the canal passes through lush rainforests, home to exotic birds and monkeys. You’ll also admire man-made wonders like the Miraflores Locks and the Bridge of the Americas. Then it’s up the west coast of the Americas, stopping in Costa Rica and Mexico before cruising up to San Francisco.
Seabourn prides itself on its fleet of smaller ships, which offer a private-club atmosphere, and providing their guests with unique excursion opportunities. Its cruises include decadent shore experiences like Caviar in the Surf, available on its warm-weather itineraries. Officers from Seabourn serve you Champagne and caviar while standing waist-deep in water on a tropical beach. Then you can tuck into a sumptuous buffet lunch, before partaking in some water sports to finish the day.
Seabourn also offers ‘Ventures’, guided excursions where you can interact with nature on a whole different level. An expedition team of experts will take you on sea-based adventures, like kayaking around fjords in Alaska, where you can see whales and bears, or a zodiac tour around the icebergs in Antartica, where you will visit a penguin colony.
Silversea sets itself apart from other cruise lines with their fleet of Expedition vessels, which will take you to more remote destinations such as the Galapagos Islands, and the Arctic and Greenland.
Nature and luxury aren’t the most obvious of bedmates, but that’s what you get on one of Silversea’s expedition cruises. One minute you’re on board indulging in a gastronomic experience of cooking your own meal on a volcanic stone, the next you’re looking for polar bears and walruses on glaciers or sitting in a hot spring watching icebergs float past.
Whatever luxury cruise line you decide to travel with, you are guaranteed a once in a lifetime holiday you’ll never forget.