By David Barclay | December 14, 2022
If you are not very familiar with cruising, you may think that all cruise lines are pretty much the same and cruising a mass market vacation option. This couldn’t be further from the truth. While the mainstream and premium lines cater to the vast majority of cruisers, introducing bigger and bigger ships (some resembling floating amusement parks), there is a niche segment which caters to travelers who prefer a more elevated experience. Travelers who prefer 4-star and 5-star hotels and resorts will appreciate the quality of food and level of service on the luxury lines. In fact, 5-star hotel chains like the Four Seasons and Ritz-Carlton have noticed this segment and are launching their own luxury cruise lines.
When I mention cruising in conversations, many people immediately react by saying “I am not a cruiser”. When I ask questions about how they like to travel and what they like to do, many times I find that a luxury cruise would not only be a good option for them, in many cases it delivers on all of their travel desires.
In this blog post, I’ll cover a few of the reasons you might want to consider a luxury cruise for your next vacation and how a luxury cruise can deliver a memorable travel experience.
A great luxury resort
(that just happens to be at sea)
For travelers who enjoy staying at many of the finest luxury resorts on land (Four Seasons, St. Regis, Rosewood, One&Only, etc.) I like to highlight that a luxury cruise ship offers a similar experience, only one that travels with you as you move from location to location. Imagine staying for a week at one of your favorite luxury resorts. Now imagine that each morning when you wake up, your resort is in a new location. You can stay on property if you want, enjoying the pool area, sunshine, and calm ocean breezes. Or you can choose to travel “off-property” for daily activities and experiences that change with each new location (in contrast to a land resort where the off-property activities remain the same each day).
Luxury cruise ships deliver a very similar experience to luxury resorts. They have a high staff-to-guest ratio to ensure every guest’s needs are met. Many lines offer butler service (either for specific suite classes or for the entire ship). They have heightened culinary experiences, with multiple dining options, menus crafted by some of the world’s most famous chefs, and many are adding culinary kitchens to allow guests to try their hand at local specialties. The weather is usually nice and warm, as ships reposition throughout the year to sail in the warmer months of each region. And while many resorts have beautiful ocean views, you will never beat the views from your private balcony as you sail away each day for your next adventure.
Where I think a luxury cruise exceeds the experience of a luxury resort is in its all-inclusiveness. When staying at many luxury resorts guests are still responsible for meals, snacks, and beverages. After paying a premium for a suite at a resort, guests may feel nickel and dimed by the $20 margaritas and $200/pp dinners at the resort restaurants. Except for very premium bottles of wine, spa services, some off-ship activities and small premiums for a signature culinary experience on board, everything is included in your cruise fare, all you need to focus on is enjoying your vacation.
A global luxury safari
A bucket list item for many travelers is a luxury African safari to see unique animals in their natural environment. Those who have investigated going on an African safari understand that the animals don’t come to you, you need to go to the animals. For an African safari, this means driving or flying to remote lodges and going on animal drives during the day. Since many travelers do not want to leave behind the creature comforts of home and want a pampered experience, luxury lodges and tented camps have sprung up to cater to these travelers and deliver an unforgettable experience.
While African safaris are confined to the interior regions of Africa, expedition cruise itineraries on the luxury lines have created the opportunity to see unique wildlife throughout the world, many of which would be hard to see other than on a ship. Just as the luxury African lodges deliver unparalleled experiences and pamper guests, so do the luxury cruise ships. And there is no need to drive or fly to the animals, your floating luxury safari lodge travels with you as you search out the best locations to see the local wildlife. For game drives, many times guests will board oversized zodiacs and carefully approach the islands and other habitats of the local fauna.
Just a few of the places you can visit and the animals you can see on today’s luxury expedition cruises include; whales & grizzly bears in Alaska, emperor penguins on South Georgia Island, polar bears in the Arctic, river dolphins and monkeys on the Amazon River, and the huge variety of unique wildlife in the Galapagos. Anyone who’s gone on or thought about going on a luxury African safari should also consider a luxury expedition cruise.
A Luxury experience delivered to every part of the world
Finding a 4- or 5-star luxury resort in the locations you want to visit is getting easier, especially as many of the well-known luxury chains expand their global footprints. But there are still many parts of the world where there may only be a few options and they may not be in the exact area you want to visit and explore (especially true in more remote and developing countries). This means compromising on your accommodations or staying at a luxury resort but needing to incorporate long daytrips to reach the areas you want to explore.
Luxury cruising is a great solution to this challenge, as your luxury resorts travels with you to these more remote regions. And given the recent expansion in the luxury cruise segment, both through new ships added to existing lines’ fleets and new cruise lines launching over the past few years and in the coming years, within a 12-month calendar it’s possible to find a cruise itinerary visiting most coastal locations in the world.
While many travelers may not have a luxury cruise near the top of their travel wish list, I hope that some of you reading this blog will give it some consideration for a future vacation. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed with the experience.
Owner, Barclay & Company Travel
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