Sailing With the Stars

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Silversea sails to elegant sought-after destinations, including Monte Carlo.
Silversea sails to elegant sought-after destinations, including Monte Carlo.

How do we love luxury cruising? Let us count the ways. Seductive spa facilities. Fine art, fine wine, fine cuisine. Curated enrichment programs. Personal butlers bearing caviar. Walk-in closets and mini-bars stocked with passenger preferences. Posh linens and marshmallow pillows.

Not to mention the gorgeous ships that serve up the above—plus compelling ports of call, and service of the sort that doesn’t say no. All-inclusive programs are blossoming like balconies.

By spring of 2015, 61 percent of North American CLIA-certified travel consultants were reporting noticeable increases in cruise bookings, and 2016 promises to be another banner year for the industry. While interest in river trips continues to ignite, a sea voyage aboard a luxurious vessel maintains a strong and enduring hold on the romantic imagination. It’s a truth well known to industry leaders, numbers of which are launching a slate of superstars this year and next, all sure to capture your clients who dream of sailing exotic seas in style and solid comfort.

Silversea Cruises
Set for a Mediterranean splash on April 20 is the elegant 298-suite Silver Muse, which will offer the greatest number of large suites in the ultra-luxury fleet—along with eight restaurants and a sumptuous spa. Included in the fare for all cruises is gourmet dining; beautifully trained butlers serving all suites; beverages from select wines and spirits to specialty coffees and bottled water; a stocked in-suite bar; gratuities; and WiFi for each guest.

In November 2017, Silversea will move Silver Cloud, the line’s birth beauty, to its elite expedition fleet bound for bucket-list destinations. Following an extensive refurbishment, Silver Cloud will be converted into a 260-guest ice-class craft. As the fourth all-suite addition to the expedition ships, the newcomer will boast the highest space ratio and staff-to-guest ratio (nearly one-to-one) among ice-class vessels as well as another ice-class rarity: five dining venues.

Crystal Cruises
On Dec. 20, 2015, Crystal—famed for its love of tradition—christened Crystal Esprit in the Seychelles, kicking off a game-changing brand expansion as the first of nine new vessels to debut in three years. After a 2013 introduction of an all-inclusive platform, from fine wines and spirits to gratuities to WiFi, the high-end cruise line is charting global journeys by ocean, yacht, river, and air.

First up, Crystal Esprit signals the new Crystal Yacht Cruises as an all-suite, 62-guest vessel, outfitted with a 2-passenger submarine. To be followed in 2016 and 2017 by both Crystal River Cruises—five new river yachts—and Crystal Luxury Air, for 60 high-flying cruisers in fully reclining business class seats. In late 2018, it’s back to the high seas with three new 1,000-passenger, all-suite ocean vessels. The trio will be expedition capable, with generous guest-to-space breathing room. Situated on the top decks will be Crystal Residences—48 homes with 600 to 4,000 sq. ft. of interior living area.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Clients who crave complimentary shore excursions? They’ll find a plentitude offered in their Regent Seven Seas fare, along with roundtrip air, gratuities, wines and spirits, a stocked mini-bar, and WiFi.

Newest on the Seven Seas scene is the 750-passenger Seven Seas Explorer, set to sail its ultra-luxe maiden voyage on July 20, spending an inaugural season in Europe before heading to Miami for a series of Caribbean jaunts.

A highlight of the new ship is the lavish Canyon Ranch SpaClub, a sophisticated design laid out on deck five. Part of the spa, but set on a private deck, is a teak terrace with lounge chairs wrapping an infinity plunge pool. Then there’s the 3,875-sq.ft., $9,799 per night Regent Suite, which sports its own in-room spa retreat and unlimited Canyon Ranch services.

Oceania Cruises
Prior to entering service on April 27, Oceania’s newest entry, Sirena, will be on the receiving end of a 35-day, $40 million refurbishment. The ship’s decks, lounges,
and staterooms will show off stylish makeovers, while Owner’s and Vista suites and the Horizons Lounge will unveil major design changes.

Included in the fare is roundtrip air, Internet, and dining at specialty restaurants (two new ones, Tuscan Steak and Red Ginger, are on tap).

Setting out on its inaugural season, the 684-passenger ship will embark on a 14-night cruise from Barcelona to Venice.

Seabourn
Joining the sleek Odyssey-class beauties of the luxury Seabourn fleet are the 600-guest, all-suite Seabourn Encore, set to bow in December 2016, and sister ship Seabourn Ovation, coming in spring 2018. Both newbuilds will boast one additional deck and expanded public areas.

Seabourn Encore’s maiden season will sail 16-day cruises spotlighting the Pacific Rim in Australia and New Zealand. The fare will wrap up a stocked in-suite bar, wines and spirits, and gratuities.

Headlining the food front is the line’s new partnership with celebrated restaurateur Thomas Keller. Aboard Seabourn Quest this spring, the curtain will rise on a new Keller-signature restaurant, destined to expand to the entire fleet.

Royal Caribbean
Starting in May, Royal Caribbean cruisers can shop among three options in the line’s new Royal Suite Class—beckoning aboard Anthem of the Seas, Quantum of the Seas, Allure of the Seas, and Oasis of the Seas, along with Harmony of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas when they debut this spring. Reigning as tops in services and amenities is Star Class, followed by Sky Class and Sea Class.

Depending on clients’ choice of suite category, they will be treated to such rewards as exclusive access to the Coastal Kitchen restaurant and a private Suite Sun Deck, and reserved seating for entertainment events.  Also a butler, free Internet, gratuities, and a beverage package.

Crystal Cruises: crystalcruises.com or crystalcruises.com/agent/login

Oceania Cruises: oceaniacruises.com or oceaniacruises.com/agent

Regent Seven Seas Cruises: rssc.com or rssc.com/agent

Royal Caribbean: royalcaribbean.com or cruisingpower.com

Seabourn: seabourn.com

Silversea Cruises: silversea.com or silversea.com/travel-agent-centre