Forget the mega-ship cast-of-thousands, theme-park cruising experience – the trend these days is the smaller ship cruises, offering luxurious accommodations, elegant dining, and unique itineraries. Some provide a yacht-like experience or the experience of a true sailing ship, others focus on expedition cruising, and finally there are river cruises. Let’s explore the three main categories of specialty cruises:
YACHTING and SAILING
Sea yachting was once reserve for the likes of Princess Caroline of Monaco, but now there are a range of options available to you. Sea Dream Yacht Club is one of my favorites with unique itineraries in the Mediterranean, Caribbean, and Trans-Atlantic crossings. I recently sailed from Barbados to St Martin exploring the Southern Caribbean islands.
SeaDream Yacht Club’s tag line is “It’s yachting not cruising.” From the moment you are welcomed aboard, the smiling faces make you feel as if you are with friends aboard a private yacht! Be as relaxed or as active as you like; it’s all about personal choice. They offer 7 to 15 day voyages visiting small harbors and ports in the Caribbean & Mediterranean Seas, not accessible to larger ships. Sea Dreams twin mega yachts are a balance of casual comfort and refined elegance.
- Both ships have a maximum of just 112 guests and a 95-person crew. Thus they are able to offer extremely personalized attentive & anticipatory service
- The dress code is casual & sporty
- All suites have ocean-views
- Open bar with select premium spirits and daily wine selection
- Al fresco dining with world class cuisine prepared a la minute.
- Join a complimentary shoreside activity with the crew
- Play with water toys or swim from the yacht’s marina
- Stay overnight in port and enjoy the nightlife
Other great yacht cruising options include the Crystal Esprit, Windstar yachts, or Star Clippers.
More adventure and exploration await you on specialty cruises that focus on “expedition style experiences.” SilverSea Expeditions is the leader in high end luxury expedition style itineraries to Galapogos, Polar Regions, South Pacific and Oceania, Northern Europe, Africa, the Caribbean. One of my favorites is the Greenland to Eastern Canada itinerary.
Silversea Expedition brought expedition cruising to a new level. For those who have “been there, done that” around the world, these off the beaten path expedition cruises may just be the thing for you! Silversea’s three expedition ships are specially designed for those who yearn to explore by day and return to refined luxury and exquisite cuisine at night.
- Intimate and comfortable expedition ships with just 100 to 132 guests
- Superb value for ultra luxury and all inclusive
- Diverse voyages, differing levels of exploration: diving to explore underwater flora and fauna, photography workshops to capture memorable moments, ornithology experts to help you spot rare birds, culinary tours to fully savour authentic cuisine and yoga classes to relax and rejuvenate.
- Field expeditions and activities – exploration of the world’s most remote and remarkable landscapes in an incredibly immersive way. Exploration ashore is guided by an expert team of naturalists, geologists, biologists, historians and ornithologists
- Best crew to guest ratio in expedition cruising
- In suite bar with your preferred beverages
- All ocean-view accommodations with butler service
Another great expedition cruise option is Celebrity Xpedition Cruises.
Whether you’re yearning for cultural immersion or slow-paced exploration, river cruising offers an intimate and leisurely alternative to the ocean cruise experience. This mode of specialty cruising allows travelers to interact with local cultures and experience the slow pace of life in smaller European villages. Uniworld River Cruises is well established in Europe yet they offer itineraries farther afield in Russia, India, China, Vietnam, Cambodia and Egypt. Imagine cruising the Ganges in India and River Tosca in Egypt in style and luxury.
Uniworld is the world’s only authentic “boutique” cruise line. Like its sister company, Red Carnation Hotels, the design and personality of these ships are individual and unique. Uniworld combines luxury and incomparable service with personalized experiences, exquisite cuisine, and unmatched amenities. Around the globe, Uniworld provides an up-close view of some of the world’s oldest civilizations.
- Ships with an average capacity of 130 guests; fewer staterooms and more staff = impeccable service.
- Critics agree, these are luxurious one-of-a-kind ships: Uniworld was the only river cruise line mentioned in SAVEUR’s “Finest Cruise Line Dining” category for the 2015 Good Taste Awards, and Food & Travel readers voted Uniworld the “River Cruise Line of the Year.”
Another great river cruise option is Avalon Waterways and, for families, we love the Tauck river cruise itineraries.
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