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Being a kid can be rough, but being the adults traveling with tykes can be difficult as well. Coordinating activities for youngsters of varying ages is a challenge (little Tommy wants to visit the petting zoo, while teen Tammy would rather go shopping), as is attempting to stay on a budget. For parents planning a trip for the whole clan, we have good news (and bad news).
Continuing a trend in upscale cruising, luxury yacht cruise line Compagnie du Ponant has ditched the pay-as-you-go model for onboard amenities in favor of a single price tag for the entire cruise. Effective immediately, pricing for all new bookings will now include meals, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages (both from the in-room mini-bars and onboard restaurants), welcome cocktail party, 24-hour room service, scheduled onboard entertainment, gratuities, port charges, and taxes and fees.
All-inclusive pricing has become the standard on luxury small ship lines like Seabourn, Silversea, and Regent Seven Seas, where the base price also includes shore excursions, round-trip airfare, and ground transfers. Crystal Cruises also began the transition to all-inclusive earlier this year with free alcoholic beverages and pre-paid gratuities.
Appealing to today’s more value-conscious upscale traveler, luxury line Crystal Cruises has added all-inclusive amenities to their standard pricing. These new benefits began with Crystal Symphony‘s first transatlantic voyage from Miami to Lisbon on March 19 (the next all-inclusive sailing will be the Crystal Serenity‘s trip from New York to London on May 8).
The new all-inclusive pricing includes prepaid gratuities for housekeeping, butler, and dining staff, an impressive selection of fine wine and premium spirits in the restaurants, open-bar service throughout the ship, 24-hour room service, and more.
As repeat passengers, my husband and I anticipated exceptional cuisine and a world of imaginative itineraries when we had the pleasure of taking an 11-day cruise through the Panama Canal in January. It was the perfect time of the year to sail from Costa Rica into the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea, stopping at the colorful ports of Curacao, St. Maarten and St. Thomas before arriving in Miami.
Unfortunately, it was too soon in the year for us to take advantage of Crystal’s all-inclusive pricing – but there’s always a next time. Read more
Make way for some revelry à la Rio during the annual Carnival celebration, courtesy of Crystal Cruises’ brand-new “Samba Serenade” sailing, set to embark on February 20. The luxury cruise line’s 12-night itinerary debut will feature five maiden calls in Brazil (Buzios, Ilha Grande, Paraty, Santos/São Paulo, and Itajai), kicking off with an overnight stop in Rio during the height of the samba- and caipirinha-fueled Carnival festivities. The cruise then continues on to Uruguay, where guests can explore wineries in Montevideo, or lap up the high life on the glamorous beaches of Punta del Este, before rounding out the trip in legendary Buenos Aires. Read more
Sarah Palin isn’t the only one making waves in the 49th state. Thanks to a voter-enacted head tax and skyrocketing fuel costs, cruise ships have been unmooring from its ports for the past couple of years – but the tides are changing. Liners like Disney are newly bound for Alaskan waters, and a bevy of other boats are debuting new routes and intrepid Last Frontier excursions in 2011.
Oceania: The 684-passenger Regatta makes its inaugural voyage through the Inside Passage this May, with ports of call in Juneau and Ketchikan before slicing through Hoonah’s rugged terrain. Travelers can choose from four itineraries – Majestic Alaska, Alaskan Grandeur, Frontiers and Glaciers, and Glacial Wilderness – that depart from San Francisco or Vancouver. Ten-day trips from $3,299; www.oceaniacruises.com.
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