by Vanessa Lee

SS Maria Theresa Royal SuiteSS Maria Theresa, Royal Suite - courtresy Uniworld

There are so many stunning ships cruising the seas, oceans and rivers of the world these days; and they come many sizes, with a wide range of onboard amenities to delight. Here's a taste of the good life on some of these yachts, river ships, luxury liners and gleaming cruise ships that beckon us to set sail.

Luxury, of course, means different things to different people. But one of the key attributes of a luxury experience is most often anchored in key factors. Service is invariably one of the most important elements, delivered with élan and panache and all these cruise and river lines have this in common. Bar none. And then there is the sensibility onboard these beautiful ships that will literally transport you, not just from port to port, but to a truly wonderful level of pampering and excellence. One that you will never forget and wish to repeat.

Ssea butlerCourtesy Silversea Cruises

Is it the Butler service, or the fact that the staff call you by name? On Silversea, in the top suites on Regent and on Crystal, the personalized service of a Butler is a fact of life and oh-so-enjoyable. Or perhaps it’s about your time onboard and those “Moments” that provide wonderful memories, warm your heart and put a smile on your face and those of fellow guests. That's where cruise lines such as Seabourn excel. Is it the intuitive yet discreet service - remembering your favorite cocktail or the type of newspaper you like to read every day. Or the attentive, caring service embodied by everyone with whom you come in contact? Yes, it is all of this, but so much more.

Regent Caviar TastingCourtesy Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Most luxurious ships tend to carry no more than about 950 guests, can be as intimate as a few hundred and even smaller with yachts and river ships. You are in the company of like-minded people with whom you will engage and dine, enjoy entertainment, an evening cocktail and take shore excursions with. The social camaraderie and interaction between guests and between the brigade of staff and guests onboard, is always a key component of such a cruise experience.

And having an all-inclusive atmosphere as with Seabourn Cruise Line, Crystal Cruises, Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Scenic River Cruises, Silversea Cruises, Crystal River Cruises and SeaDream Yacht Club certainly adds to the experience. No bills to sign - no thought of tipping; how glorious to simply relax and enjoy your time onboard as you sail to some of the most beautiful places in the world. Luxury is having your expectations exceeded. Luxury is also dressing as you wish, dining where and with whom you wish and living a life onboard that is exactly the way you prefer. Busy or relaxed; casual or more formal. Up early or to bed late, the choice is yours. Gorgeous suites and staterooms with every amenity you could wish for, including supremely comfortable beds - Uniworld has the best! Nothing is too much trouble with anticipatory service that will charm and delight.

Jacques PepinCourtesy Oceania Cruises

And then there's the cuisine. On each cruise line it’s truly superb. With names resonating across the oceans - Thomas Keller on Seabourn, Nobu on Crystal, Relais & Châteaux on Silversea, Jacques Pepin on Oceania - and more. Wheather it be culinary and palate pleasing extravaganzas or simple al fresco barbecues, it’s up to you.

Seabourn Encore The GrillSeabourn Encore, The Grill by Thomas Keller - courtesy Seabourn

Perhaps you'll cross the Atlantic on the iconic Queen Mary 2 where sailing in the Queens Grill is truly a lifetime experience. Or cruise with Windstar on a gleaming white yacht, sails raised, as you explore hidden harbors in casual comfort with only a few hundred others sharing those inky, starry nights at sea in the Caribbean, Greek Isles, Mediterranean or French Polynesia.

Try upscale luxury from culinary oriented Oceania Cruises with their remarkable cuisine, or the delights of Azamara Cruises and enriching cruises with many overnights in port emphasizing some of the best global destinations.

This - and more, is luxury cruising. 

Originally published in Dream Voyages Fall 2017 issue.


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