Choose from Ocean Cruising, River Cruises or maybe something more adventurous….
There is pretty much a ship out there for everyone these days. The industry has grown to such a point at this stage (some may say it’s a slightly saturated market), that there is a fabulous cross-section of ships and river boats out there ranging from just 50/60 guests right up to around the 5,500 mark and anywhere in between.
Unless you are a seasoned cruiser and know exactly what you want, be under no illusion as to how much of a minefield the selection process can be. If you make the wrong decision about your long awaited cruise then it could be a massive disappointment. That’s where an experienced personal travel agent comes in. I’ll ask you all the relevant questions to narrow down, based upon your specific requirements, which ship(s) are going to be best suited to you to give you a fantastic memorable experience!
Just simply call me on 0333 121 8247 or fill in the short contact form at the bottom right and we can start putting together your ‘as close to perfect as I can get’ trip!
Cruising really is the most amazing way to visit a fabulous selection of worldwide ports of call (only needing to unpack once), with the ability to extend your trips pre and or post-cruise to further enhance your travel experience. With all the wonderful ships to choose from its fair to say that this way of getting around the world is absolutely suited to ALL age groups and a huge range of budgets.
Broadly speaking there really are just three categories of cruises and I have outlined them below.
This area of cruising can take you via the open seas and more enclosed waters, around the world to pretty much any destination you can think of – so long as there’s a port for you to arrive at. From the Artic in the north down to the southern-most White continent of Antarctica in the South and anywhere in between. Cruise duration’s range from as few as 1 or 2 nights up to spectacular World Cruise/Grand Voyage experiences which can extend to 3 or 4 months in duration. You have the option of sailing ex UK or selecting fly-cruise options.
This particular area of the market is arguably growing at the fastest rate at the moment as more and more ocean cruise clients (some of whom have been cruising now for 20 years plus), are sort of running out of world and requiring a different way to fulfill their desire to take their holidays on water.
River cruising also offers a different slant on the more known ocean cruising in so much as it’s a more sedate way to get from A to B as you slowly drift from one wonderful stop to the next. A large majority of the world’s rivers can be experienced in this way.
EXPEDITION & EXPLORATION CRUISING
This is a different area of the market again – only a small percentage of the ships out there really qualify for this status. Such ships as Silver Explorer, Silver Galapagos, Silver Discoverer, Orions 1 and 2, Hanseatic, Bremen, Linblad Expeditions (several ships including the spectacular Sea Cloud – one of the few ships in the industry that is under sail), Caledonian Sky, Sea Explorer, Island Sky, L’Austral, Le Soleal, to name a few. These, traditionally smaller ships will get you up close and personal with the seeming less endless wonders that our world has to offer. Your itinerary will be more flexible than when ocean or river cruising as often it can be the unscheduled stops/events that will define your experience. Following a whale for example, spotting rate flora/fauna. A well-qualified team of hand-picked experts will enhance your trip with lectures and exciting landings on your chosen voyage.
Love Golf ?
Ever imagined that you couldn’t possibly take a cruise as you’d miss this area of your life too much? Not the case. There are a small number of ships out there that have excellent Golf Simulators on board. Over and above that there are also sometimes, ‘Golf Theme’ voyages. Additionally, when you are in ports of call there are plenty of wonderful golf courses you could get to experience. Some of the ships where you will find simulators on board are:- Europa 2, SeaDream 1 and SeaDream 2, QM2, Aurora, Star Princess and several of the Royal Caribbean fleet. On Crystal Serenity there are driving nets aft on Deck 6.
These are the cruise lines I consider to make up the top luxury tier of this industry, most of which are all-inclusive. In order not to offend any of the companies I do most of my business with these are in no particular order.
Considered by some to have not just one but two of the highest rated ships in the world, Europa (400 guests) and Europa 2 (500 guests). Their other two ships are Hanseatic and Bremen at 175 and 155 guests respectively.
Europa 2 is probably THE most stunning ship I have ever sailed on and there just aren’t enough superlatives for me to use that could possibly cover what this wonderful ship brings to the industry. German is the first language on board BUT she is a dual speaking ship (English being the second language). I certainly didn’t find that this caused any sort of problem whilst on board.
Europa 2 has state of the art, pretty mind blowing technology on board and is an all-suite, all balcony ship. Her suite sizes range from an incredibly generous 376 square feet up to 1227 square feet.
She oozes a real feeling of exclusivity in an understated and elegant ambiance.
DESTINATIONS: Mediterranean, Arabian Peninsula & Asia
All-inclusive Silversea Cruises (who celebrated their 20th Anniversary in 2014), now proudly boast a fleet of 5 ocean cruise ships (Silver Cloud, Silver Wind (both 296 guests), Silver Shadow, Silver Whisper (both 382 guests), Silver Spirit (540 guests) and 3 expedition ships (between 100 & 132 guests) mentioned above under Soft Expedition Cruising.
During the first week of July 2015 Silversea announced the arrival of their latest flagship, Silver Muse. This addition to their fleet, Silver Muse, is anticipated to be Spring 2017. This ultra-luxury ship will bring their fleet to a total of nine. She will accommodate just 596 guests and will weigh in at 40,000 tonnes.
They offer a wonderful selection of suites ranging from 157 square feet (Silver Explorer), up to 1668 square feet (2 bedroom Owner’s suite on Silver Spirit). The majority of suite accommodations will offer you a private balcony.
The over-riding feedback received from my many Silversea regulars are that the crew on board this fleet of ships absolutely ‘make’ their voyages on board.
Seabourn’s all inclusive, all suite fleet currently consists of – Seabourn Odyssey, Seabourn Sojourn and Seabourn Quest (each of which are of the same design and accommodate a total of 450 guests. A new ship named Seabourn Encore will be joining the fleet at the end of 2016 followed by Seabourn Ovation who is due for delivery in 2018.
Suite accommodation ranges from ocean-view options at 295 square feet right up to the ultra-luxurious Grand Wintergarden Suite an ultra-generous 1189 square feet plus two balconies totalling 214 square feet.
The guest capacity on the two new ships will be 604 based upon double occupancy. Encore’s inaugural voyage sold out in just two days which is indicative of the popularity of this wonderful all inclusive cruise line.
The two new ships are simply going to be expanding on the already highly-acclaimed Odyssey-class ships. They will continue to offer one of the highest ratios of space per guest and are not far off one member of staff per guest.
A fleet of two at the moment – the most elegant Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony who are 1070 and 922 guests respectively. Crystal Cruises also offer an all-inclusive product which, regardless of which of these luxury cruise lines end up being the right one for you, really does offer an unquantifiable ambiance when compared to others who aren’t.
Crystal Cruises are also predominantly balcony staterooms/suites, though they have a selection of ocean view ones as well. Sizes with this operator range from 202 square feet (Symphony) up to 1345 square feet for a Crystal Penthouse on board Serenity. There are exciting plans ahead for a new ship that’s going to joining this fleet but at this stage no delivery date is know.
REGENT SEVEN SEAS CRUISES
Currently a fleet of three – Seven Seas Navigator, Seven Seas Voyager and Seven Seas Mariner at 490 and 700 x 2 respectively. When the eagerly anticipated Seven Seas Explorer joins the fleet (due for delivery Summer 2016), she will be slightly larger at 750 guests. With the exception of Seven Seas Navigator the fleet is an all-suite, all-balcony one.
Seven Seas Explorer is going to boast the largest suite in this part of the market – The Regent Suite at a massive 3875 square feet. Even the ‘smallest’ suite on Seven Seas Navigator is a very generous 301 square foot ocean-view accommodation.
SEADREAM YACHT CLUB
Two wonderful little all-inclusive boutique-feel ships – SeaDream 1 and 2. More like being on a private yacht rather than a cruise ship at just 110 guests per ship. The Seadream Yacht Club experience is all about lifestyle – predominantly outdoors – using the water sports platform and the complimentary water toys which are at your disposal, dining outdoors, sleeping under the stars on one of the fabulous Balinese sunbeds (which the crew will convert to be your bed for the night), to name but a few experiences.
The compromise here is the size of your accommodation (which you’ll probably hardly be in), and the fact that there is no balcony accommodation. Cabins start with Deck 2 offering portholes and then Deck’s 3/4 with picture windows offering up the same actual internal dimensions of 195 square feet up to the Owners Suite at 447 square feet.
The size of ships make them ideal for chartering should you have a corporate or family event/celebration you’d like to experience in ultimate of environments.
DESTINATIONS: Mainly Caribbean & Mediterranean plus other selected destinations from time to time.
A very niche market, cruise line, Paul Gauguin Cruises have just two ships in their fleet. The more known of them probably being Paul Gauguin herself accommodating just 332 guests and the Tere Moana with just 88 guests.
The Paul Gauguin’s design is very specific so she can meander around the shallow waters of Tahiti, Fiji & the South Pacific. She glides in with ease, to the smaller ports of call other ships can’t get to.
Paul Gauguin’s accommodations range from porthole ocean-view at 200 square feet up to 457+77 square feet for the Owners Suite.
The Tere Moana is also designed for warm-climate destinations such as the Mediterranean, Caribbean and Latin America.
Terra Moana’s select accommodations are just two different sizes, 194 square feet and 205+93 square feet.
Both are sophisticated intimate ships leaving you in no doubt that you are on board a really wonderful ship.
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The wonderful Oceania Cruises’s fleet currently comprises six beautiful ships – Regatta, Insignia and Nautica – 684 guests a-piece (these ships were originally from the Renaissance fleet); Riviera and Marina (built specifically for Oceania 2011/2012 each accommodating 1250 guests. Their newest addition, Sirena (also originally from the Renaissance fleet), will be commencing her inaugural season in the Spring of 2016. She will have had a stunning US$40 million refurbishment prior to commencing her new life with this fabulous premium cruise line.
The Oceania Cruises’s fleet provides a range of accommodation on board ranging from a small amount of inside cabins right up to breathtaking, ultra-luxurious suites – all with very generous proportions ranging from 160 square feet up to an awe-inspiring 2000 square feet Owners Suite (the latter classification being on Marina & Riviera), the Owners Suites on the smaller three ships are 1000 square feet in size.
Without exception, the cruise lines I have featured above are multiple-award winning fleets, which backs up the sort of quality and standards that are on offer.
They will all offer you fantastic dining in their main and alternative dining restaurants. The selection of options in this regard is directly related to the size of each particular ship.
All will offer you Spa & Fitness amenities, extensive excursion programmes, on board lectures and daily activities, 24 hour room service, evening entertainment (which you will find is best on Crystal due to being larger ships), casino and in-suite dining/stocked bar.
For the all-inclusive products within your price will also be your pre-paid gratuities along with your beverages on board, both alcoholic (premium spirits and extensive wine lists) and non-alcoholic. With Regent Seven Seas Cruises a selection of shore excursions will also be included. RSSC also include WIFI with their higher suite categories.
Silversea in the Mediterranean and in Asia are also now including a selection of shore excursions in their prices along with a certain amount of COMPLIMENTARY WIFI which will correlate with the level of suite you purchase.
There will always be changes/exceptions to this information as cruise lines tweak their terms and conditions and different offers are released into the market place so please bear in mind this information is as close as I can get it at the time of writing.
I have personally sailed on a large number of the ships included in the cruise lines mentioned herein and can offer you first hand, totally unbiased opinions on them.