The upper echelon of cruise travel is the luxury category, but just what does “luxury” mean? Does it merely mean such a cruise will cost a pretty penny more than a standard sailing, or is there more to it than that?
The reality, to begin with, is that the very word luxury has been watered down in the industry. As lines outside the category employ it as a description of wares approaching luxurious, genuine brands – those like Crystal Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Silversea Cruises and Seabourn – are forced to use terms like ultra-luxury to even get the point across accurately.
As with everything, you get what you pay for, and the perceived value received from said cost is as subjective as art connoisseurship. At its simplest, ultra-luxury is all-inclusive, which itself has become a relative description as some brands are more so than others. However, luxury lines are sure to come with far more bundled in the fare than other cruise companies, from complimentary alcoholic beverages to free shore excursions.
As to which include the things you most desire, it’s a matter of checking with each specific line. But luxury, in this case, is often about paying more up front so that everything, or nearly everything, is fully taken care of once onboard. Luxury is not having to think about a la carte extras, save for perhaps spa treatments, shop purchases and the highest top shelf beverages.
Luxury is also hardware. It’s intimate ships with more space dedicated to each passenger than the biggest in the world crammed with thousands of staterooms. It’s plush suites with marbles and premium bath products. But it’s also software. It’s more service staff per guest, anticipating every need and desire. And it’s the finest food.
Luxury is mostly intangible, however, as it’s often simply the time to relax or explore, and to some personally it may not be nearly as palatial as all of that. Surely standard cruise brands like Carnival Cruise Line are luxurious to many, and those in the middle, anywhere from Celebrity Cruises to Oceania Cruises, are plenty perfect for lots others still.
For those seeking a hybrid, the ship-within-a-ship model has also emerged on some aforementioned giant ships from Norwegian Cruise Line and MSC Cruises, for instance, where a private complex of larger suites and facilities are available exclusively, providing access to the best of both worlds.
More than ever before, there truly is a cruise, a price and a “luxury” best suited to everyone these days. It’s just a matter of discovering it for yourself or using a travel agent to help you on your way.
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