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Luxury Cruising Is it a state of mind?

Discussion to include, but not limited to: Abercrombie & Kent • American Safari • Aqua Expeditions • Azamara • Bora Bora Cruises • Compagnie du Ponant • Cruise Asia Ltd. • Crystal • Cunard • French Country Waterways • Go Barging • Hapag-Lloyd • Hebridean • Heritage Line • Lindblad Expeditions • Oberoi Group • Oceania • Orion Expedition Cruises • Paul Gauguin Cruises • Regent Seven Seas • Sea Cloud Cruises • Seabourn • SeaDream • Silversea • Star Clippers • Travel Dynamics • Uniworld • Windstar

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  #21  
Old March 6th, 2013, 01:36 PM
martinsfo martinsfo is offline
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I have only sailed on Crystal and I find their service to be amongst the best in the world, land or sea. Being in the hospitality industry, I wish I could send my staff members on on of their ships so they can see what classic service is like. Also, Crystal will not nickel and dime you, and there is only one announcement, at 9 AM every morning.

There is a saying in real estate, better the lowest price house in a very affluent area than the most expensive house in a cheaper area. I feel the same about cruise ships.
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  #22  
Old March 13th, 2013, 09:29 PM
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Agree with an earlier post that some of Regent's excursions are very crowded and not much luxury....... but you are not paying $500/couple for the excursion (none of us know how much of Regent's fare is for excursions). My vote is still for Paul Gauguin cruises, Regent, Silversea or Oceania (although it is not luxury -- the two new ships are as luxurious as any luxury ship that has been built to date).

martinsfo: With all due respect (really), how can you compare Crystal with any other luxury line if you have only been on Crystal? IMO, there is no comparison between a cruise experience and a land experience.

Although I have not sailed on Crystal or Seabourn, they are not on our "to do" list because of their smoking policy. We prefer cruise lines where there is no smoking in any suites or balconies. Seabourn permits smoking in both and I believe Crystal still allows smoking in suites.
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  #23  
Old March 14th, 2013, 06:38 PM
latsyrc latsyrc is offline
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If you really are set on Santorini in April 2014 you can chose between Silver Wind 4/14 Monte Carlo to Istanbul @ $4350 for 11 nights($5450 balcony) or Oceania Riviera 4/21 Barcelona to Athens @$2849 for 10 nights ($4049 balcony). If it were my vacation I would postpone it until 5/7 and take Crystal Istanbul to Venice for $3568 for 11 nights ($4806 balcony) I have never traveled Silver Seas so cannot comment but am due to leave on Oceania in 5 weeks and find them to be nickel and diming me to death by comparison to Crystal. Drinks are extra ($55/day/person) laundry is charged for, if you go a day early they charge air deviation, extra for transfers EVEN WITH THEIR AIR. Can let you know in June if they are up to Crystal in other regards.
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  #24  
Old March 17th, 2013, 07:04 PM
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Premium cruise lines do seem to nickel and dime you. This is not true of the luxury lines. I still am strongly in favor of avoiding summer months (June/July/August). The Med. was quite warm in early May, 2012. While nobody is able to predict the weather lately, I would not risk sailing in later than May.

While I have been a bit negative about Regent excursions, it should be said that they are a whole lot better than paying $100-300/person for ship tours on other lines. Some of us use the Regent tour for transportation to a particular location -- tell the tour guide that we are going out on our own and pay for the return bus/taxi fare.

Since the Silver Wind sails in April, that would be my personal choice.

Last edited by Travelcat2; March 17th, 2013 at 07:04 PM.
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  #25  
Old March 18th, 2013, 02:32 AM
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Travelcat, my comparison was about service, and service is service. Whether it is on land or sea. Having been trained in that discipline, I believe that I have the expertise to comment on that. True, I have not been on the other luxury lines, but I plan to correct that in the future. And from what I've heard, they all do service very well.
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  #26  
Old April 2nd, 2013, 12:41 AM
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This is a hard question to answer because it really depends on what you are looking for. Most luxury lines are more formal than mainstream lines. I like the suggestion of a Windstar Cruise. I can see that being very informal and romantic.

My husband and I did a Silverseas cruise around Seychelles. We were probably less than half the age of everyone else on the ship, but we had the most amazing time. For our Safety Drill all the passengers fit in a small room. Compare that with carnival and the multiple stations / loud announcements etc.. no comparison.

We took two cruises on Regent and personally do not feel they compare to the small ship we had on Silverseas. The food was fantastic, however they are still *big* ships and for us had a big ship atmosphere. To us luxury means smaller with customized service.
Also there were many people upset with their bill at the end of one of our Regent cruises. If you get a massage package, make sure they don't upsell you without knowing it. When some guests arrived they were asked if they wanted a special massage, but it wasn't made clear there was an extra cost for this. Then they saw it the last day of the cruise on their bill. Regent said the massage service was offered by a separate company so they couldn't do anything to help. This happened a few years ago so things have hopefully changed, but still not something you'd expect on a luxury line.

My 2 cents for what it's worth... You can visit the Greek islands on many major lines for a reasonable price. We found the Greek Islands interesting, but pretty much the Caribbean equivalent of Europe. If you're going to shell out the big bucks for a luxury line consider booking one of their more unique itineraries.
I also would second St. Barts as special port. Only small ships and very very small planes can travel there. We loved that island.
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  #27  
Old April 2nd, 2013, 01:23 PM
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Originally Posted by carygirl View Post
This is a hard question to answer because it really depends on what you are looking for. Most luxury lines are more formal than mainstream lines. I like the suggestion of a Windstar Cruise. I can see that being very informal and romantic.

My husband and I did a Silverseas cruise around Seychelles. We were probably less than half the age of everyone else on the ship, but we had the most amazing time. For our Safety Drill all the passengers fit in a small room. Compare that with carnival and the multiple stations / loud announcements etc.. no comparison.

We took two cruises on Regent and personally do not feel they compare to the small ship we had on Silverseas. The food was fantastic, however they are still *big* ships and for us had a big ship atmosphere. To us luxury means smaller with customized service.
Also there were many people upset with their bill at the end of one of our Regent cruises. If you get a massage package, make sure they don't upsell you without knowing it. When some guests arrived they were asked if they wanted a special massage, but it wasn't made clear there was an extra cost for this. Then they saw it the last day of the cruise on their bill. Regent said the massage service was offered by a separate company so they couldn't do anything to help. This happened a few years ago so things have hopefully changed, but still not something you'd expect on a luxury line.

My 2 cents for what it's worth... You can visit the Greek islands on many major lines for a reasonable price. We found the Greek Islands interesting, but pretty much the Caribbean equivalent of Europe. If you're going to shell out the big bucks for a luxury line consider booking one of their more unique itineraries.
I also would second St. Barts as special port. Only small ships and very very small planes can travel there. We loved that island.
Agree with much of what you say. Windstar is romantic and casual -- one of our favorites despite many cruises on most luxury lines. Small islands or ports that big ships can't sail into are a special treat for a cruise. In that respect, I can highly recommend French Polynesia on the Paul Gauguin or Windstar. However, I must disagree with you on the Greek Islands being the European equivalent of the Caribbean. No comparsion. Many of the Greek Islands (e.g. Crete, Santorini, Delos) have wonderful history and archeological dig sites that are fantastic. Nothing like it in the Caribbean.
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  #28  
Old April 4th, 2013, 12:27 AM
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When we lived in Europe everyone went to the Greek Islands for a cheap holiday, the same way friends here go to the Caribbean for a cheap holiday. Hence my comparison. However smaller ships will show you a different side of either destination and probably make for a better trip.

If you are interested in the archaeological digs that is something very unique to the Greek Islands. We enjoyed viewing the digs, but I do remember them being very hot with little shade so I'd keep this in mind when picking dates.

We never got to sail on the Paul Gauguin but it has a great reputation. Sailing around Tahiti on honeymoon sounds pretty good to me!
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  #29  
Old April 4th, 2013, 02:19 PM
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Originally Posted by carygirl View Post
When we lived in Europe everyone went to the Greek Islands for a cheap holiday, the same way friends here go to the Caribbean for a cheap holiday. Hence my comparison. However smaller ships will show you a different side of either destination and probably make for a better trip.

If you are interested in the archaeological digs that is something very unique to the Greek Islands. We enjoyed viewing the digs, but I do remember them being very hot with little shade so I'd keep this in mind when picking dates.

We never got to sail on the Paul Gauguin but it has a great reputation. Sailing around Tahiti on honeymoon sounds pretty good to me!
We've done 2 French Polynesian cruises on the Paul Gauguin (one a 7-day to the Society Islands, the other a 12-day that included the Marquesa Islands). Both are at or near the top of our favorite distination list. Windstar has also announced they are returning to Tahiti next winter. So you have two good choices, and I can heartily recommend both.
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  #30  
Old April 16th, 2013, 09:54 AM
kikki21 kikki21 is offline
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Nice to see some good healthy debate on this thread!

Well we are back from our Jade cruise which was very good and now considering our options again!

It looks like we will go later now than planned due to work and we are definitely going to choose the Med, we have to go later than 18th June and before the middle of July and this actually gives us more choice in cruises and cruise lines.

This means that we have a choice of Oceania x 2, Silversea x 1, NCL x 2, Seabourn x 2, Azamara x 1 and Celebrity x 2 cruises.

At the moment, I like the Azamara option as they have a special offer on but it's a 7 night cruise and no sea days so if we choose that one, we would have a week on a Greek island beforehand, handy as the cruise goes to/from Athens.
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  #31  
Old April 19th, 2013, 03:58 PM
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Travelcat, my comparison was about service, and service is service. Whether it is on land or sea. Having been trained in that discipline, I believe that I have the expertise to comment on that. True, I have not been on the other luxury lines, but I plan to correct that in the future. And from what I've heard, they all do service very well.
I was extremely disappointed with the service on our recent Navigator cruise. It was no better than on any of our 25 cruises on Celebrity, RCCL, HAL, NCL and Princess. Somedays good, others not so good. For the first couple of nights , there was only ONE waiter in the show lounge. Once, room service never delivered our breakfast order. We had to reorder from the room service menu as it was then past the normal breakfast hours--and that took 35 min.!! Once, they ran out of eggs 20 minutes before breakfast was over! Another time, all the tables were dirty and the dining room manager did not help us find a clean table!! That doesn't sound like luxury to me, that's for sure. This was our second Regent cruise. I don't think I met a single person who was completely satisfied with the service. And, I read on CC the previous cruise wasn't much better, service wise. Perhaps Regent thinks if the passengers are always inebreated, they won't notice the mediocre service! These issues perhaps occurred only once, but they should not have happened at all.

No, luxury lines do not always offer exemplary service!!!
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  #32  
Old April 20th, 2013, 01:22 PM
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We have never had poor service on Regent or Silversea. However, we also avoid the Navigator as, IMO, it carries to many passengers for the size of the ship. Fortunately, the Navigator does not sail in the Med.

As stated previously, there is no accurate way to compare luxury cruise lines with mainstream (NCL) unless you wrote a book You are also looking at dramatic price differences. There is a thread on the CruiseCritic "Luxury" board that discusses top cabins on mainstream cruise lines vs. the lower categories on luxury cruise lines. Interestingly, it was started by kikki21 Here in a link http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1799226 .

When considering Oceania, Silversea, Seabourn, Azamara or Celebrity, I would not sail on Celebrity -- it just isn't in the same class as the others. For luxury, either Silversea or Seabourn would work -- as long as it is not on one of the Seabourn small ships (209 passengers). For Oceania and Azamara -- Oceania is rated a bit higher than Azamara but I've heard good reviews about both.

And, for the record, for us, service is completely different on a ship than it is on land. On a ship you are interfacing with your stewardess/steward, butler, servers and bartenders on a daily basis. Even if you stay at a hotel for 7 or more days, you don't necessarily dine there three times a day, etc.
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  #33  
Old April 20th, 2013, 04:26 PM
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I just want to offer my opinion that the small ships of Seabourn offer the best food and service of all. What they lack in the latest technology they more than make up for in every other area. This is such a subjective topic though. Some people prefer 50000 ton ships. To me the smaller the better, especially in the luxury category.
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  #34  
Old April 20th, 2013, 07:56 PM
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We have never had poor service on Regent or Silversea. However, we also avoid the Navigator as, IMO, it carries to many passengers for the size of the ship. Fortunately, the Navigator does not sail in the Med.

As stated previously, there is no accurate way to compare luxury cruise lines with mainstream (NCL) unless you wrote a book You are also looking at dramatic price differences. There is a thread on the CruiseCritic "Luxury" board that discusses top cabins on mainstream cruise lines vs. the lower categories on luxury cruise lines. Interestingly, it was started by kikki21 Here in a link http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1799226 .

When considering Oceania, Silversea, Seabourn, Azamara or Celebrity, I would not sail on Celebrity -- it just isn't in the same class as the others. For luxury, either Silversea or Seabourn would work -- as long as it is not on one of the Seabourn small ships (209 passengers). For Oceania and Azamara -- Oceania is rated a bit higher than Azamara but I've heard good reviews about both.

And, for the record, for us, service is completely different on a ship than it is on land. On a ship you are interfacing with your stewardess/steward, butler, servers and bartenders on a daily basis. Even if you stay at a hotel for 7 or more days, you don't necessarily dine there three times a day, etc.
I LOVE Navigator. To me, it is the most perfectly designed ship. I am not trying to bad mouth Regent. I just want them to be aware that someone is not doing their job on Navigator. I want them to weed out the slackers so the ship will be "luxury" when we return. You cannot call a ship "luxury" if the service is no better than on mainstream cruiselines.
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  #35  
Old April 20th, 2013, 08:49 PM
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In my opinion, you should think of it like buying real estate -- buy a home in the most expensive neighbourhood you can, and the best value is the smallest home in the richest neighbourhood. So, translated to cruise vacations, that would be a smaller cabin on a more luxurious ship, rather than a larger cabin on non-luxury ship. The reasons are the same......to take advantage of the food, service, and amenities of the luxury ship, but stay within your budget. From my own cruise research, the service and food quality on the luxury lines can't be matched, even though other lines may offer larger cabins/suites.

Well, that's my philosophy, and I'll be sticking to luxury or premium lines.
This is totally spot on!

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  #36  
Old April 21st, 2013, 12:10 AM
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I LOVE Navigator. To me, it is the most perfectly designed ship. I am not trying to bad mouth Regent. I just want them to be aware that someone is not doing their job on Navigator. I want them to weed out the slackers so the ship will be "luxury" when we return. You cannot call a ship "luxury" if the service is no better than on mainstream cruiselines.
While I respect your opinion, I could not disagree more. IMO, the "perfectly designed ship" is the Silver Whisper. It is the same size as the Navigator with 50 less suites -- much more open space -- really beautiful. I am interested to know what ships you are comparing the Navigator to.

As you probably know, the hull of the ship was designed as an ice breaker/spy ship for the former Soviet Union. With the fall of the Soviet Union, it sat around rusting for a few years. Radisson picked it up and did the best it could to make it a passenger ship. For the first few years it had every possible problem....... losing power and drifting aimlessly at sea (similar to Carnival)...... it had a horrendous aft vibration, etc. When Radisson/Regent was purchased by Prestige Cruise Holdings, it spent around $100M to fix the Navigator. While most items were fixed, they were not able to completely do away with the aft vibration -- even with the expensive "duck tail" that was installed to stabilize the aft of the ship. Unfortunately, the Navigator, while physically beautiful, is the least stable of Regent's three ships. This is a fact -- not my opinion.

In terms of service, Regent compares the fare of their ships to Princess and Celebrity (wish they did not do that). As a result, during the summer and school breaks, the Navigator is, IMO, about the same as Carnival, NCL, etc. They are sailing in the same areas and the lower "suites" are priced at not much more than main stream cruise lines. Many Regent regulars avoid the Navigator like the plague during the summer, Christmas and February - April as it is not typical. While I agree that passengers on the Navigator should have the same experience as on the Mariner and Voyager, experience tells me that this is not the case.
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  #37  
Old April 21st, 2013, 06:52 AM
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You don't have to wait for the funicular -- we just walk up the path to Thira -- mind you do have to watch put for the donkeys coming down the path at a good clip -- they get fed at the bottom!
Do they still use the donkeys? I was last there in 1972 - brings back memories.
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Old April 21st, 2013, 04:42 PM
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Yes, they still use the donkeys but presumably not the same ones as in 1972!
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  #39  
Old April 22nd, 2013, 08:02 AM
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Yes, they still use the donkeys but presumably not the same ones as in 1972!
Some may be the same since donkeys have a life span of 30-50 years.
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  #40  
Old May 16th, 2013, 12:23 PM
kikki21 kikki21 is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Leicestershire, England
Posts: 986
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Thanks for all the input - After all that, we choose Azamara. Price wise and what they included far outweighed everyone else so we plumped for them!

I have been to all the ports of call on the cruise so excursions are not a problem as we will do our own thing anyway as we want a relaxing holiday, just glad to be going on another cruise!

We have a lot of cruises we want to do one day so we may yet get to Tahiti and I don't mind trying other cruise lines either.
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SAILED!

Azamara Quest - Azamara Club Cruises - Honeymoon cruise to the Greek Islands and Turkey - June 2014
7 nights (Balcony)
REVIEW! http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2063572

Norwegian Jade - NCL - Eastern Med from Rome - March 2013 - 10 nights (Mini Suite Balcony) REVIEW! http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showt...hlight=kikki21

Norwegian Epic - NCL - Hurricane Earl West/East
Caribbean special from Miami - August 2010 - 7 nights (Balcony)

Splendour of the Seas - RCCL - Eastern Med from Venice - October 2009 - 7 nights (Outside)

Celebrity Galaxy - Celebrity - Eastern Med from Rome - October 2008 - 10 nights (Concierge Class Balcony)

Majesty of the Seas - RCCL - Bahamas from Miami - Nov 2007 - 4 nights (Outside)
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