|Victoria Cruises, Shangri-La Suites on VC Jenna rank as the most luxurious, measuring up to 646 square feet.|
Cruisers looking for highly specialized level of service in an intimate setting will love sailing aboard smaller ships. If your discerning clients want to cruise in style, here are our picks for some of the most high-end options.
Variety Cruises has just launched its 223-foot mega yacht, Variety Voyager. The 36-cabin vessel debuts on a “Romantic Rivieras” itinerary, departing from Nice on July 14. Following that sailing, the yacht will go on the Treasures of South Italy and Malta, sailing from September 15 through October 13. Future sailings include the Arabian Journeys route from Muscat and the Arabian Journeys route from Abu Dhabi.
|Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ MS EUROPA suites have living areas and walk-in closet.|
Twenty-eight cabins are located at the Marina and Main decks, and eight staterooms at the Horizons deck. Room sizes range from 170 to 216 square feet. Tip: Request Category P cabins on the Upper Deck, which have large windows and marble bathrooms. All cabins have individually controlled A/C, TVs with DVD players, mini-fridges and 24-hour Wi-Fi access.
Nice Touch: The yacht has been signed on as the first sea-going vessel to become a member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts’ Preferred Boutique collection.
Well-heeled cruisers looking for luxury land excursions can arrange outings with the ship’s cruise director, who can organize a private land excursion in any port (think private rooftop dining).
The ship itself has an indoor restaurant that seats 64 people, with floor-to-ceiling glass windows for a little view with your meal. There is an outdoor restaurant area that can seat 50.
|Variety Cruises’ Category P cabins are the most luxurious accommodations.|
Night owls will love the outdoor Upper Deck Bar Lounge with late-night entertainment from resident DJs. By day, guests can lounge on Balinese bed and sun loungers on the Sun Deck. Fitness buffs can explore the Wellness Zone on the Marina Deck (think Balinese Spa with massages, sauna, steam rooms and a fitness area).
A tried-and-true option is Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ MS EUROPA. This 204-all-suite vessel has staterooms no smaller than 290 square feet; 80 percent of the rooms have their own verandas, as well. All suites have separate sleeping and living areas and walk-in closets.
Top Tip: Your most VIP clients will feel at home in the 915-square-foot Penthouse Grand Suites or the 484-square-foot Penthouse Deluxe Suites. The Penthouse Deluxe Suites are even more spacious with an entryway, a larger lounging area, two TVs, double bathroom vanities and Jacuzzi bathtubs. The two Penthouse Grand Suites feature wraparound balconies, a large living room with dining table for up to six, giant bathrooms with private saunas, and an additional guest bathroom. Nice Touch: All the penthouse suites offer 24-hour butler service, free laundry, fresh fruit, canapés and caviar upon request, and free in-suite alcoholic beverages.
|Victoria Cruises offers exclusive dining options to its Executive Deck passengers.|
What’s Hot: This year the EUROPA launched a new travel concierge service. Translation: Advanced excursion bookings alongside cruises booked for the 2012 season and beyond. There will still be a concierge desk onboard, where guests can fulfill requests for individual outings during a cruise, but now guests will have the option of having their shore activities prearranged in a customized package. Some of these high-end offerings include swimming with the dolphins and a New Zealand exploration, including five-star accommodations.
While onboard, cruisers can take advantage of the four SPA Suites, which are adjacent to the OCEAN Spa. Treatments like baths, massages and cosmetic applications are included when guests book Spa Suites. The rooms have lighted whirlpool tubs and rain showers, and a window by the tub that offers views of the ocean from the bathroom. Want even more pampering? The Spa Suites have special audio and video selections with restful music, a spa beverage list, small treats and a wide range of services.
|Le Boreal by Abercrombie & Kent can take travelers way down under.|
There are four restaurants and six bars onboard, but if your clients want a truly gourmet experience, we suggest booking a table in Restaurant Dieter Müller. Michelin-starred Chef Dieter Müller welcomes guests with select culinary creations each night. This intimate experience caters to a maximum of 26 diners.
Other dining options include the Europa Restaurant, the Restaurant Venezia and the Lido Café. The Europa Restaurant serves up country-specific specialties, while Restaurant Venezia offers Italian cuisine. For something a little more informal, dine at the Lido Café, which has a full buffet and an open barbecue.
Unwind after dinner in Havana Bar, where guests can sip on premium-quality Cognac and puff on fine cigars. Guests may also like Sansibar, Clipper Lounge or Club Belvedere.
This year, the EUROPA will sail the Pacific, South Seas, Southeast Asia, East Asia, Indian Ocean, Middle East, Mediterranean, Atlantic, Western Europe, Baltic Sea and the North Sea.
|Victoria Cruises Shangri La suites measure up to 646 square feet.|
Looking to travel to the Far East? Victoria Cruises has a fleet of seven new or newly rebuilt vessels, each accommodating less than 400 passengers, sailing down China’s historic Yangtze River.
Note: Last year, Victoria Lianna, Victoria Selina and Victoria Prince underwent complete overhauls, sporting renovated lobbies and hallways.
On each ship, the Shangri-La Suites rank as the most luxurious, measuring up to 646 square feet. The suites have private balconies, “living room” seating areas, marble-top bathroom counters, in-room refrigerators, 42-inch LCD flat-screen TVs, and international cable TV broadcasts of HBO and CNN.
For the most exclusive services, each ship features the Executive Deck VIP program (think enhanced ship placement, access to VIP areas, exclusive shore excursions for groups of six or more, enhanced dining privileges and more).
|Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ MS Europa has launched a new travel concierge service.|
Shore excursions include a tour of the “Ghost City” of Fengdu at Mingshan Hill; an excursion to the Three Gorges Dam site in Sandouping; a sailing through the Three Little Gorges of the Daning River and more.
Victoria Cruises has amped up its VIP program recently with the addition of a welcome fruit basket, free laundry, shoe shine service, complimentary wine and beer with dinner, and reserved seating for entertainment.
Victoria Cruises sails four- to nine-day itineraries downstream or upstream between Chongqing and Shanghai on the Grand Yangtze Discovery, or Chongqing and Yichang on the Three Gorges Highlights. The eight-day Three Gorges Explorer itinerary travels roundtrip from Chongqing to Yichang.
Note: Avalon Waterways has access to Victoria Cruises’ Executive Suites for its 2012 Yangtze River programs. Three China programs will be offered aboard Victoria Anna and Victoria Jenna. A highlight of each of Avalon Waterways’ China programs is in the Yangtze River Cruise Experience.
Luxury travel advisors can reach out to Tom Antonucci ([email protected]; 212-818-1680, ext. 335) with questions.
Cruisers can also head way down under aboard MV Le Boreal by Abercrombie & Kent. Sailings to Antarctica are limited to less than 200 voyagers on this sleek vessel.
We suggest booking your clients in one of the 13 suites on Deck 6. These passengers are entitled to the exclusive butler service. Each butler provides a point of contact for your clients. He will welcome you with champagne, clean your shoes, take care of your food preferences and provide personalized service on the day-to-day details. (Think private cocktail in your suite, a reserved table in the restaurant or a treatment in the spa.)
Guest rooms on board offer a choice of bedding configurations, including two-room, two-bath suites to accommodate families. Nice Touch: Each cabin has its own private balcony. (We hear this is perfect for taking in wildlife and the midnight sun.)
The ship is equipped with a roster of star naturalists, geologists, historians, marine biologists, ornithologists and photographers, all of whom give lectures and lead shore excursions so that cruisers can make the most out of these exotic journeys.
For your shutterbugs, we suggest booking the Classic Antarctica itinerary. This voyage is designed specifically with photographers in mind. It sails from November 27 through December 10, when Antarctica hosts dramatic sunrises and sunsets and the ice packs begin to break up. This is also the most active time of year in the penguin rookeries.
A&K has three other sailings: Fighting Climate Change in Antarctica (December 7-20); Family Holiday-Antarctica, South Georgia & the Falkland Islands (December 17-January 5); and Antarctica, South Georgia & the Falkland Islands (January 2-20).
Round out your cruise experience with a pre- or post-stay in Santiago or charter flights to and from Ushuaia.