Luxury Cruises Can Offer A Lot Of Value
If you feel comfortable budgeting $300 to $1,000 per day per person, look to the luxury cruise players such as Crystal Cruises, Cunard Line (grill class), Hapag Lloyd, Paul Gauguin, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Silversea Cruises, SeaDream Yacht Club and Seabourn.
Actually, though these cruise lines command higher fares than other cruise lines, luxury cruises can be a great value.
Luxury, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder, and while cruise vacations are inherently luxurious, some are more luxurious than others.
Luxury On Large Ships
To an increasing degree, luxury is available from the major cruise lines who also cater to the hoi polloi. They are stratifying their ships with exclusive tiers, like private sun decks and V.I.P. pools, and offering shipboard services and shore excursions for those who prefer not to share and are willing to pay.
For instance, Cunard Line, which operates the legendary Queens, is taking the class divisions further. The ship’s top dining rooms are already reserved for guests in the so-called Queens and Princess Grill Suites. On Cunard’s Queen Victoria guests staying in those top suites will get their own elevator to take them to dinner, so they won’t have to rub elbows with the underclasses.
Many big ships also have exclusive areas of the ships designed to emulate luxury cruise experiences. See Crossing Lines: Big Ship, Small Ship Luxury Cruises
True Luxury Cruises
For luxury cruises where the underclasses aren’t admitted, unless they have the resources, several cruise lines provide an experience that stands up to any definition of luxury. Usually operating midsize or small ships, lines such as Crystal Cruises, Hapag-Lloyd, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Seabourn, Silversea Cruises and others provide an experience where the central theme is luxury.
Luxury cruises, catering to a sophisticated traveler, also strive to create itineraries that appeal to people who have already been there but are looking for new insights.
On board, personal service standards contribute to a vacation that is truly a relaxing escape from the rigors of everyday life. The food is gourmet, the spa is exquisite, and all the details of travel are taken care of unobtrusively.
Nearly all luxury cruise lines offer:
- all-inclusive beverages, including fines wines and champagnes as well as spirits
- gratuities not expected or required
- large staterooms and suites
- enrichment programs
- and more
Higher Space Ratios Than Big Ships
Luxury cruise vessels also offer higher “space ratios” than do large ships. A measure of cubic space per passenger, space ratio is derived by dividing gross tons by the number of passengers, double occupancy (by contrast, total occupancy counts for all occupied berths in a cabin, including third and fourth beds).
The greater the space ratio, in theory, the less crowded the ship feels. So if you want a ship that does not feel crowded, choose one with a generous space ratio. On the other hand, if you’re worried about feeling all alone, choose a ship with a smaller space ratio.
Europa 2, operated by Hapag-Lloyd, has a space ratio of 80, the highest among cruise ships. The world’s largest cruise ships, Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, operated by Royal Caribbean International, each have a space ratio of about 40.
So you get double the space on most luxury ships, when compared to big ships.
Don’t be fooled by the sticker price. Do the math, consider the value-added extras and the intangibles such as space ratio, and you may find that those pricey luxury cruises are a better value than you initially imagined.
Luxury Cruise Lines
- Crystal Cruises
- Cunard Line
- French Country Waterways (barging but worthy of consideration for luxury cruisers)
- Paul Gauguin Cruises
- Regent Seven Seas Cruises
- SeaDream Yacht Club
- Silversea Cruises