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Luxury Cruise Lines

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Old Jan 26, 04, 12:46 am
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Luxury Cruise Lines

I would like to sail on a luxury cruise line. I am pretty flexible about my itinerary and destination. However, I am leaning towards Europe right now.

At present, I am seeking suggestions on reputable lines and advice regarding pricing and available discounts. My schedule allows for last minute trips and off season travel.

Your suggestions are greatly appreciated.
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Old Jan 26, 04, 10:36 am
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<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">At present, I am seeking suggestions on reputable lines and advice regarding pricing and available discounts. My schedule allows for last minute trips and off season travel...[/B]</font>
I've been fortunate to be a veteran of many cruises (even met my wife on one of them!). If your schedule is really flexible, I highly recommend checking out Crystal Cruises "stand by" program (I'm assuming it's still around). We paid $200 to join it. The premise is that the offer you up to three cruises (I think it's like a 4 or 6 week advance notification prior to each.) If you turn them all down, they get to keep the $200. If the offer one you like, you get an incredible discount. We did the Symphony from Athens to Venice (14 days) for about 25% of the lowest published fare.

I would guess that many other lines have a similar program.

Also, while all the attention has been on the launching of the mega ships, we find that we prefer somewhat smaller ships. Just returned from a Christmas sail on Celebrity Mercury that was a perfect combination -- big enough to offer a lot of features (awsome stage & show, many public areas and programs for the kids), yet small enough to feel like we weren't a anonomous person of a city at sea.

Good luck -- there are some great destinations out there to be savored!
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Old Jan 31, 04, 8:00 pm
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There are 5 luxury lines. The American market has Seabourn, Silversea and SeaDream for those who like smaller ships, and Crystal for the large ship crowd. Peter Dielman caters to the German market.

Which is the best is a matter of personal preference. On the three small ships you dine when you wish, with table partners of your choosing and where you want to sit. The ships are more like large yachts. There are no preassigned seatings and individual meals are cooked to order as you would enjoy in a fine restaurant. Liquor and wine is included. There is no tipping. The only way to spend money on board is to gamble, buy a very special bottle of wine or purchase something from the boutique.

I've sailed only twice on big ships (QE2 and Norwegian) but have cruised many times on Seabourn. The service there is individualized and all staff must know your name. Seabourn ships hold only 200 passengers but most of my trips had only 90 passengers -- and 155 staff!! I like the intimacy of the small ship and interaction with other people. The passengers tend to be better educated and better off.

You'll pay more for a luxury trip, of course, but I don't find the difference to be vast. I sailed on a Seabourn crossing two years ago (12 days and no stops) for only $157/day per person. All the caviar and lobster I could eat; champagne whenever I wished served while I floated alone in one of the jacuzzis; never having to reserve or wait for a deckchair; staff who welcomed me on board again and greeted me by name. Granted my trip was a bargain for that time but current prices are not much greater. Silversea has a 26-day February Auckland-Bangkok itinerary for $184 a day. Crystal can average $300 daily for selected cruises.

The Four Seasons Hotels differ from Holiday Inns; first class service on Singapore Airlines differs from coach service on United; and Taillevent Restaurant in Paris differs from Applebee's. If you have the discretionary income try them and determine if the difference is worth it.

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Old Feb 1, 04, 10:36 pm
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I'd say Windstar is a touch below luxury, but very nice and there are some good prices available. Drinks are not included (and are a ripoff) and staff are not allowed to solicit tips (but people do lurk a bit as you leave). The line has decent food, single seating dining with no assigned tables, good privacy. Tends to attract a younger crowd. Casual dress is OK for everything. Not for kids.

Extra costs you can get hit with on most all cruise lines also include laundry and shore excursions, both of which are huge profit centers (and both of which should be avoided unless you need the security of doing it their way).
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Old Feb 13, 04, 10:16 pm
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I strongly recommend Sea Cloud and River Cloud cruises. I've traveled in Italy down the Po River--Cremona to Venice. Elegant great food and
only 80 passengers.

The Sea Cloud travels on oceans, obviously. Popular trips are London to Dublin, around the Greek Isles, etc.

They are often booked by Academic Arrangements Abroad for art tours by the Met. Excellent lecturers and museum guides.

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Old Feb 14, 04, 12:17 pm
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Thank you all for your suggestions. You've given me a lot to consider.
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Old Mar 2, 04, 1:58 pm
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I highly recommend Silversea. Also like Radisson & Seabourne for their itins, but feel SS is by far the best. Gorgeous huge suites, most with veranda (a must!), everything included - drinks, tips, etc. Wonderful service & food - we're going on our 3rd cruise with them this May. Get on their email mailing list - I've received some great offers - up to 50% off on some cruises, which is an incredible bargain considering all that is included.
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Old Mar 7, 04, 8:14 pm
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I suggest that Radisson (RSSC) be added to the list of luxury lines.

Silversea is my favorite. But RSSC comes a very close second (and it is second largely because I prefer the somewhat smaller Silversea ships).

Seabourn is great. But the ships are very small, a bit old, do not have "real" balconies, and have a swimming pool that is little more than an oversized bathtub.

To my mind, single, open seating at dinner is a hallmark of a luxury line -- eating whenever one likes, with whomever one likes. By that criterion, Crystal falls out of the luxury category.
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Old Mar 7, 04, 10:49 pm
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Radisson usually isn't included due to their lower fares (not a complaint - excellent value for $$) & extra charges for drinks outside of wine in the dining room (none of the other 'deluxe' smaller lines do this, although the large ones do). We enjoyed our cruise, but I thought they had the dinkiest little closets I'd ever seen - we were on a short 5 nighter & I couldn't begin to cram it in! Of course, I travel rather well provisioned, but a 12" closet was ridiculous!

Totally agree w/ you on Seabourne & I still can't figure out why people get so excited over Crystal - I love the smaller ships & not getting nickel and dimed constantly. Only sailed on them once, but I've never seem so many pompous wealth-displaying obnoxious guests in my life - much prefer Silversea, where people are usually much lower key.
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Old Mar 8, 04, 11:52 am
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Your reference to a small RSSC closet suggests to me that you were cruising on the Diamond (or perhaps the Song of Flower.)

The closests on the larger/newer ships (Navigator, Mariner, Voyager)are true walk-in closests. They could easily hold two or three people (if two or three people wanted to gather in a closet!).
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Old Mar 8, 04, 1:40 pm
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Thanks for the info - we were on the Diamond. I LOVE walk-in closets!
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Old Mar 8, 04, 6:42 pm
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Walk-in closets?!

You can dance in the closets on Silversea, Seabourn, and the newer RSSC ships.

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Old Mar 8, 04, 10:54 pm
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among other things...
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Old Mar 11, 04, 3:16 pm
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In 2000 I was on the Song of Flower (then RSSC, now sold) and it was all inclusive (all drinks, incl. Piper Heidsick champagne, tips, etc.). The Australia/New Zealand Tour was awesome. Great food, just about 100 pax and 114 staff members. Full capacity of the Song of Flower was 182 at that time.

The amenity I liked most was the open bridge policy. Just walk onto the bridge and have a snack with the officers there.

I was allowed to steer the ship under supervision for an hour, change the course, do minor adjustments to several things. Very cool!

Thanks to a great crew.
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Old Mar 15, 04, 12:52 pm
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<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Originally posted by brendamc:
Radisson usually isn't included due to their lower fares (not a complaint - excellent value for $$) & extra charges for drinks outside of wine in the dining room (none of the other 'deluxe' smaller lines do this, although the large ones do). We enjoyed our cruise, but I thought they had the dinkiest little closets I'd ever seen - we were on a short 5 nighter & I couldn't begin to cram it in! Of course, I travel rather well provisioned, but a 12" closet was ridiculous!

Totally agree w/ you on Seabourne & I still can't figure out why people get so excited over Crystal - I love the smaller ships & not getting nickel and dimed constantly. Only sailed on them once, but I've never seem so many pompous wealth-displaying obnoxious guests in my life - much prefer Silversea, where people are usually much lower key.
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We're sailing on the Diamond in a couple of weeks. My understanding is that beverages are totally comp, but that may because we've got a suite.

Our trip on Crystal last year was great. Once you start sailing on 6* ships, you sure don't want to go back. Haven't tried Silversea or Seabourn. Other than the smaller ships, is there any other reason you prefer them over Crystal?


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