SPECIALTY CRUISE REVOLUTION
Many people associate cruising with giant ships, thousands of passengers, and undesirable demographics. But there has been a revolution in cruising. There has been a move to smaller boutique cruises that can provide a yacht-like experience, a sailing ship, an expedition cruise, or a river cruise. And all with fine dining and luxurious touches.
You do not have to be a billionaire to have a luxury yacht experience. You can have that experience on, for example, a Sea Dream Yacht, Crystal Esprit, Windstar Yachts, or Star Clippers. Because the yachts are small they can visit small harbors and ports that larger ships cannot – avoiding the “cast of thousands” aspect of a large-ship stop.
Sea Dream. Sea Dream has two twin luxury yachts and with cruise itineraries in the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, and Trans-Atlantic crossings. The itineraries range from 7 to 15 days. Sea Dream yachts manage to be truly elegant while also maintaining a casual relaxed atmosphere.
Both ships have a maximum of just 112 guests and a 95-person crew so they can provide personalized service that is not merely attentive to your requests: they routinely anticipate what you want and provide it before being asked. Sea Dream is right to say that this is “yachting not cruising.” The crew is not just attentive. they are playful and go out of their way to make you smile, relax, and feel like you are on a private yacht with your friends.
All suites have ocean-views. All meals are included and the cuisine is exquisite – all prepared "a la minute." There is an elegant dining room, but we loved equally elegant dining alfresco. Premium spirits and fine wine selections are also included. The dress code is casual & sporty.
Sea Dream Yachts have a swimming pool with pool side service. You can play with water toys or swim from the yacht’s aft marina. Click on Sea Dream Caribbean Cruise for a photo trip report on our cruise last December. Visit Sea Dream's website.
Some cruises are “expedition style” and can provide an adventure and exploration experience. You can have that experience on, for example, SilverSea Expeditions or Celebrity Xpedition Cruises.
SilverSea Expeditions. SilverSea Expeditions is the leader in luxury expedition cruises with itineraries in the Galapogos, the Caribbean, the South Pacific and Oceania, Northern Europe, Greenland, Eastern Canada, Africa, and Polar Regions.
Silversea Expedition provides expeditions to places off the beaten path so that even experienced travelers can have totally new experiences. Silversea has three expedition ships with just 100 to 132 guests. They are small enough to reach destinations that larger ships cannot and can preserve a feel of intimacy. And they offer elegance and exquisite cuisine when not exploring on land. And food and drink are all inclusive – including an in suite bar with your preferred beverages. All cabins have an ocean-view and have personal butler service.
Expedition cruises permit you to immersively explore out of the way places guided by an expert team of naturalists, geologists, biologists, historians and ornithologists. The cruises also feature various other aspects of exploration – underwater diving, photography workshops, excursions featuring authentic local cuisine, and more. In addition, there are other onboard activities including yoga classes.
Another great expedition cruise option is Celebrity Xpedition Cruises. See Cruise Alternatives.
River cruising offers an alternative to the ocean cruise experience. This mode of specialty cruising allows you to savor life in smaller towns and villages along the waterway and immerse in the local culture. You can have this experience on such lines as Uniworld River Cruises or Avalon Waterways.
Uniworld River Cruises. Uniworld River Cruises is well established in Europe yet they offer itineraries such as the Ganges in India and River Tosca in Egypt, and itineraries in Russia, China, Vietnam, and Cambodia.
Uniworld is a “boutique” river cruise line. Like its sister company, Red Carnation Hotels, the design and personality of these ships are individual and unique. Uniworld offers luxurious amenities, great service, and exquisite cuisine. Ships have an average capacity of 130 guests. Uniworld was the only river cruise line mentioned in SAVEUR’s “Finest Cruise Line Dining” category for the 2015 Good Taste Awards, and Food & Travel readers voted Uniworld the “River Cruise Line of the Year.” See Uniworld's river cruise website,