The seas are calling and we do love a good luxury cruise. We pick eight of the cruises that stood out from the rest for us this year as a result of unique itineraries, facilities, and comfort
Ovation of the Seas
The Ovation of the Seas is the third and currently the newest ship of the “Quantum” class, in the Royal Caribbean family. With a length of almost 350 meters, the ship offers space for up to 4,180 passengers, who can find plenty of variety, entertainment and recreation on 16 decks.
The Ovation of the Seas is a ship for all ages, with a special focus on guests looking to enjoy the full range of entertainment on this large cruise ship. The atmosphere is relaxed, the service friendly and very professional, just typically American. Numerous restaurants, bars, lounges and cafes offer a huge variety of delicious food at any time of the day. As on all cruise lines, the Ovation of the Seas offers entertainment for all tastes: from quiet evening tunes to wild party nights at the club – here everyone gets their money’s worth. And to top it, there are 79 cruises to choose from.
Alexa – Indo Yachts
If big cruises or yachts are not your cup of tea, then Alexa, the one-cabin superyacht might just be what you are looking for. Available from as little as three nights, a seven-day charter aboard Alexa could see guests on a romantic cruise from Labuan Bajo in Flores to Moyo Island in Sumbawa, through some of the most pristine and untouched areas of the Indonesian archipelago. During a tour of Indonesia’s exotic wilderness, the yacht’s two sole guests will visit The Komodo National Park and cruise through the Pacific ‘Ring of Fire’, with a dedicated crew on hand to cater to their every whim, and almost every conceivable amenity on board. Once-in-a-lifetime experiences include arrival on board via seaplane, beach dining on Wai Nilu beach, on-deck barbecues, spa treatments, swimming with turtles and Manta Rays, and trekking for Komodo Dragons and other native Indonesian wildlife. For downtime, a single, master cabin offers 270-degree views out on to Indonesia’s beautiful scenery from a king-size bed, with uninterrupted viewing granted from her adjoining private balcony aft.
Gypsy Mekong Kingdoms
A river cruise is one of our indulgences and the Gypsy has shot right up pioneering a stylish new way of exploring the Mekong River with modern boats, bespoke itineraries and a playful, artistic spirit, and we are proud to announce the maiden voyage of Gypsy, an ultra-exclusive two-cabin river cruiser, between the ancient Laos capital of Luang Prabang and Thailand’s Golden Triangle, in May 2018. A private tailored three nights, four days cruise from Luang Prabang to the Golden Triangle and two nights, three days return cruise for up to four passengers are on offer. And both Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort and AVANI+ Luang Prabang can, of course, be added to the journey. Meticulously designed to accommodate the modern-day lifestyle of the most discerning wanderlust souls, the 41-metre, two-cabin vessel epitomises a fine balance between playful mingling and reflective solitude. With ample indoor and outdoor living spaces to comfortably accommodate families or small groups, Gypsy also features a communal mid-ship lounge, bar and dining area, as well as a separate veranda style lounge with an al fresco panorama deck at the bow of the boat.
Queen Mary 2
We chose Queen Mary 2 for a special reason – the renowned English National Ballet goes on board for the first time ever, in a very exclusive voyage that celebrates the world of dance. This Transatlantic Crossing will offer an up-close and personal perspective of the elegant magic the English National Ballet create on stage – and the effort that goes into it. Guests will be joined on board by six ballet dances including Lead Principal Erina Takahashi and First Soloist James Streeter, watch their morning ballet class and drop in on afternoon rehearsals. Guests can also take part in dance workshops throughout the week with a fantastic opportunity to experience the joy of dancing and learn from professionals. There will also be insight talks, offering a fascinating understanding of the dedication and exhilaration of the dancer’s life, along with dance-themed films and documentaries. Queen Mary 2 is a remarkable flagship that places value on luxury, comfort, and service. This special cruise sets sail from Southampton to New York.
The all-suite Crystal Esprit mesmerizes guests by sailing to destinations that are difficult to reach and often accessible only by private yacht. From the Dalmatian Coast and Greek Isles to the Seychelles and West Indies, each itinerary is thoughtfully planned to ensure vacation time is best spent exploring cultural delights. On the West Indies Yachting Explorer itinerary, you will garner front-row access to indulgent islands like St. Barts, Saba and Nevis, places where large cruise ships are typically precluded from docking due to size. Crystal Yacht Expeditions boast 6-star service with 90 staff catering to just 62 guests in 31 butler-serviced suites.
Independence of the Seas
We love Independence of the Seas for its fun and activities-led features. The phenomenal features onboard include the FlowRider® surf simulator, a rock-climbing wall, ice-skating rink, cantilevered whirlpools, Royal Promenade, mini golf course, and much more. The Sky Pad, which made its debut on Independence, is all about providing passengers with a unique, high-tech immersive experience on board. A virtual reality bungee trampoline activity, Sky Pad’s nine-tonne yellow globe looks like a modern art sculpture. Water parks are one of the most popular activities on board for families and the H2O Zone has been replaced by a bigger Splashaway Bay water park. Two racing waterslides called the Perfect Storm have also been added. The ship travels on the Caribbean and Mediterranean routes this year.
U by Uniworld
For anyone looking for a fun, eclectic and hip cruise, the new U by Uniworld gets our votes. The river cruise which begins in Amsterdam, you’ll have three days to spend in the laid-back and forward-thinking Dutch hotspot, along with stops in Haarlem, Cologne, Koblenz and Frankfurt. You’ll spend several nights out on the town — Amsterdam After Dark is a prime example. And you’ll get your fix of famous artwork, incredible scenery and a look into Europe’s history and culture. Whatever your travel personality, this cruise is sure to please. Uniword is sailing into the next generation of cruising with the launch of U by Uniworld, a new take on river cruising for the experiential travel generation.
A sleek, 4-masted sailing ship, Wind Star accommodates 148 guests and features four decks and a gross tonnage of 5,307, making the small vessel seem like your own private small ship. Wind Star teak decks are wide open — quite unusual for small ships. Guests will find hidden nooks for private moments giving them a feeling of being on their own private veranda. All staterooms have ocean views, queen beds, flat-screen TV with DVD player, and Bose SoundDock speakers for Apple iPods. The Owner’s Suite includes a sitting area. Wind Star offers two primary dining venues. Amphora restaurant offers gourmet, course-by-course cuisine in the evenings and Veranda restaurant offers casual buffet and full-service dining for breakfast and lunch.