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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.
It’s just about the most wonderful time of the year for cruisers in search of jaw-dropping value, when summering cruise ships from Alaska, Europe, and other northerly locales point their hulls south toward the warmer waters and their winter bases in the Caribbean, Florida, Mexican Riviera, and more. And the direction of these sailings is not the only thing headed south – rates on these “repositioning” sailings are slashed as much as a whopping 80 percent off, as cruise lines look to woo vacationers with discounted rates on these relocation runs, while offering passengers access to off-the-path ports and plenty of extra time at sea for some quality R&R. Read our Repositioning Cruises 101 Guide for our expert advice on planning your next repositioning cruise vacation, and then make it happen with one of the exceptional deals outlined below – we’ve rounded up four cruise deal steals with radically reduced rates that are sure to have you hitting the high seas with financial ease this fall: Read more
Two cruise ships couldn’t possibly be more different than Seabourn Sojourn (www.seabourn.com; shown at left; courtesy of the Yachts of Seabourn) and Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas (www.royalcaribbean.com). I was recently onboard preview sailings of both as they arrived in Fort Lauderdale, FL, and I can tell you they only have two things in common: They are the newest vessels in their fleets (both debuted in 2010) and they are truly fantastic ships. Come to think of it, comparing them is kind of like comparing a Yorkshire Terrier and a Great Dane. Both are best in show, but for very different reasons!
Here’s a rundown of what to expect, beginning with an aft-to-stern comparison:
The latest ship in the class of 2010, the Seabourn Sojourn has embarked on her maiden season in the waters of Northern Europe. The addition of Sojourn brings the Seabourn family to a total of five luxury yachts (but a sixth ship is slated to debut in June 2011). Being the sister ship to the Odyssey, there’s little difference between the two, however on the Sojourn, it’s the spa that truly shines. Passengers can experience the new Kneipp Walk, a holistic therapy treatment that will have them walking on water in a circular basin, soothing aches and pains and aiding in circulation. The two-deck spa also features an aroma steam bath, a cabana-style lounge, and an herbal bath facility.
Other highlights of the ship include Seabourn’s onboard marina, four-dining venues, and 250 oceanview suites – 90 percent of which boast private balconies. The 450-passenger Sojourn will navigate the Scottish Isles, Baltic Sea, and Norwegian fjords through September before relocating to Port Everglades for the winter months where it wll sail a series of 10 – to 26-day Caribbean cruises. This year’s cruise fares start at $4,999 for Northern Europe, and $3,299 for the Caribbean itineraries.
Thailand’s indigenous wildlife, aromatic cuisine, and Zen-worship ignite wanderlust in many – a call not gone unheard by the cruise industry. However, recent eruption of civil conflict in Bangkok has had implications for voyages scheduled during the next few months. Roused by growing economic disparities between the Thai plebeian class and government officials, protesters arrived from rural areas of Thailand, taking refuge in temples located in the affluent business center of Bangkok. The government responded by sending in troops and blockading zones harboring protesters. With 53 dead and 399 injured, the tension remains thick.
The Luxury Some cruise passengers favor spending multiple days at sea, while others love waking up at a new port of call each morning. For those in the latter group, a seven-day Mediterranean cruise aboard the Seabourn Odyssey is the way to go. The ship will leave Venice on September 5, after the region’s hottest temperatures have subsided. The itinerary is packed with unique destinations starting with the first port of call in Trogir, Croatia (which will be followed by Bari, Italy). After that will come a series of calls in Greece, including Kefalonia, Katakolon, Gythion, Mykonos, and Athens.
After six years of anticipation, a new luxury vessel, the Seabourn Odyssey, has been unveiled as the newest addition to The Yachts of Seabourn. This 640 foot vessel was launched on June 24 on its maiden voyage from Venice to Istanbul, and is exemplary of quintessential decadence throughout its 225 suites. The ship weighs in at a staggering 32,000 tons, and suites are equipped with décor equaled to that of a 5-star hotel, 90 percent of which contain verandas to overlook picturesque waterways while sipping on complimentary champagne. Seabourn Odyssey redefines cabins from small spaces used for changing, sleeping and showering, to spacious staterooms like the Grand Wintergarden Suite, which showcases ocean views from the glass-enclosed solarium, as well as outdoors on its two verandas.
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