Special complimentary excursions. Endless cocktails, wine and dessert. Private in-suite dinners. Turndown chocolates. Evian spritzes at the pool.
Yawn. Can you tell we’re blasé? That’s because these little luxuries have become standard on premium cruise lines. (Before we go further, full disclosure: In our view, no mass-market lines need apply here.) Furthermore, the upscale envelope has been pushed even further, as travelers become more sophisticated, and every luxury cruise line clamors for even more points of differentiation. Nowadays, you can truly enjoy Trump-like travel on the upper-crust cruise lines, where you’re sure to find personalized surprises; over-the-top experiences; and the ultimate in service and convenience. Yes, luxury has gone overboard, and our list here of the Top 10 Cruise Lines (many of them with awards too numerous to mention), which will float you to the top – and then some.
The Yachts Of Seabourn, www.Seabourn.com
What’s Included:Suite-level accommodations, all meals onboard (with no charge for any alternative dining venues), complimentary open bars including a broad range of wines and spirits, and gratuities.
Why We Get Goosebumps:Once, the staff lugged two extremely heavy electric massage chairs from the reception area, “Seabourn Square,” to a private room with a very large TV screen, just so that we could be more comfortable while watching a movie. We were floored! Turndown service always includes a treat and a surprise from your stewardess. Beds are award-winning mattresses from the Eastbourn company in The Netherlands, and high-thread-count linens from Hilden in England. Seabourn’s advertising says that “Clairvoyance is a job requirement,” and we can attest that this is true, as the line offers incredibly intuitive service that company spokesperson Bruce Good described as “practically a religion on board…It is very relaxing to put yourself in the care of a skilled professional who simply wants to delight you.” These go-the-extra-mile experiences include everything from sewing a button on a blazer (without being asked), to having your favorite coffee creamer delivered to your suite – even though you’re sailing halfway across the Atlantic. The spa also has the only Thai massage technicians on the high seas. Also, try the gold facial – it’s the ultimate “gilt trip.”
Famous For:Seabourn’s spa staff administers healthy free doses of “Massage Moments” on deck at the pool. Seabourn’s CEO, Micky Arison, created the fabulous “Seabourn Square” reception concept that is more of a living room than anything resembling a typical reception area, and unlike any other similar public space at sea. A Personal Valet luggage shipping service can also deliver your luggage from home to ship.
Food For Thought:Executive Chefs meet with guests every couple of days to tailor menus to their dietary restrictions and preferences. Gluten-free bread is practically standard on board.
Ultimate Excursion:The Champagne and Caviar in the Surf beach barbecue, on warm-water cruises, and the complimentary Evening at Ephesus, in the ruins, after it is closed to the public, with a private classical concert, cocktails and desserts. Guests might also meet the curator of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice – when it’s closed to the public – and an art tour and picnic at Rome’s Villa Borghese.
Superlative Suite:The Wintergarden Suites offer 914 sq. feet of inside space with an additional 183 sq. foot verandah. They feature a glass-enclosed solarium with soaking tub, dining for six (great for parties), Wellness Bag exercise kit, designer soaps, complimentary internet access, and complimentary car transfers from home to airport and to the ship. All designed to make a bon voyage even better.
SeaDream Yacht Club, www.Seadream.com
What’s Included:Oceanview accommodations, gourmet meals, wine with lunch and dinner, open bar with selected premium brands, gratuities, water sports toys, and mountain bikes.
Why We Get Goosebumps:Nightly turndown services on this five-star floating hotel with just 56 staterooms include a surprise pillow gift or a small sweet from the pastry chef. The spa staff also offers complimentary upper body “massage moments” as they sit in special massage chairs. But nothing beats the incredible Balinese Dream beds on Deck Six, offering unobstructed views for sunbathing – or sleeping under the stars at night.
Famous For: SeaDream’s signature Champagne and Caviar Splash beach barbecue in which the staff serves caviar and champagne from a floating surfboard.
Food For Thought:Just about every diet can be accommodated including gluten-free, vegan and low-sodium. One guest was thrilled when he presented the chef with a recipe for a specific cabbage soup he wished to enjoy, and his request was fulfilled. The cruise line also recently partnered with Jon Greenseid, a nationally recognized kosher consultant, to offer Glatt-Kosher private charters under strict rabbinical supervision.
Ultimate Excursion:The “Godfather Villa” exclusive tour and lunch in Taormina, Sicily, featuring the property that was used in the legendary movie as the home of Don Tomasino Corleone.
Superlative Suite:The Owner’s Suite featuring Bulgari amenities, Belgian bedding and oceanview tub.
VIDEO: SEADREAM YACHT CLUB - MEDITERRANEAN CRUISES