The Lap of
By Susan J. Young
Luxury lines go the distance to serve and pamper their guests. But what if cruisers want something “above and beyond,” and are willing to pay for it?
In our Lap of Luxury Column this month, we showcase a few of the extreme pampering options. Whether you're a luxury traveler or just an armchair one, it's fun to examine the options.
Concierge At Your Service
For discriminating guests who seek the most unique way to experience a destination with family or friends, turn to the Travel Concierge at Regent Seven Seas (www.regentexperience.com).
Concierge a la Carte offers the ultimate in personalized service. Your concierge will custom design virtually any shore request.
Want a vintage sports car to drive at a particular port of call? How about a private helicopter tour of a Caribbean isle? (see the photo at right for a Regent Seven Seas private helicopter tour*) Or, perhaps you'd like to rent a luxurious villa for the day? No problem.
Regent's Travel Concierge can also handle trips for guests with special needs, such as a private rainforest tour in Costa Rica (see photo at left*) for a physically-challenged guest
The service charge for the concierge's customized planning is $100 per port, plus the cost of the tour. Call 888-Tour-321 before you depart on your cruise.
Rent a Private Dining Room
Yes, you too can live like a king or queen by reserving the Vintage Room on Crystal Cruises (www.crystalcruises.com) or Le Champagne or Saletta on Silversea Cruises (www.silversea.com).
Other lines as well offer private dining options. Just talk to the maitre d’ or concierge onboard your ship.
"We do offer Le Champagne and Saletta for private functions,” says Brad Ball, director of communications, Silversea Cruises. “There is a minimum cost for 12 people of $2,400 ($200 per person).
Ball says the private dinner (as in the photo at right*) features a degustation menu and includes a "Celebration of Wine by Relais & Châteaux" where guests have the opportunity to enjoy a different fine and rare wine with each course. And of course, if you want to rent the room just for two, it's yours if you pay that minimum price.
Similarly, on Crystal Symphony or Crystal Serenity, guests may reserve the Vintage Room (shown in the photo at the very top of this page*) for a special wine pairing dinner for up to 12 or 14 guests, or just have a romantic dinner for two.
Cost is the same no matter how many guests you have – at $2,000 for Crystal Symphony or $2,100 for Crystal Serenity.
Both lines also have specialized dining in these venues, at a more affordable cost. Crystal’s wine-makers dinners – available on every itinerary – are approximately $200 per person.
Shop ‘Till You Drop … with a Personal Shopper
Seabourn's Personal Shopper is an indulgent – but also extremely efficient -- way to engage in a favorite pastime of many travelers: the retail safari.
If you’re into shopping and sailing on Seabourn Cruise Line (www.seabourn.com), why not save time and find the best spots with the help of a skilled local shopping maven.
The cost for a Personal Shopper ranges from about $400 to $1,500 per person (not including any purchases) per experience, depending on the location and duration of the assistance.
The fortunate travelers who book this option might enjoy a leisurely breakfast al fresco (such as the couple at left*) on their Seabourn ship prior to their shopping excursion. At the appointed time, they'll be met at the pier and their private driver will whisk them away in a luxury car. Then they’ll head off with the shopper to the best spots.
Seabourn's Personal Shopper is available in many ports of call worldwide, and may be customized to target everything from fashion to fine art, antiques and real estate.
In Florence, for instance, they might wish to visit the exclusive stationers' Pineider, established in 1774 as a purveyor of exquisite writing papers, note cards and superb leather goods.
Another stop might be at the Antica Officina di Santa Maria Novella for rare lotions, essences and perfumes, some of which were originally formulated by monks for Caterina de' Medici in the 16th century.
The Personal Shopper might even arrange for a private trunk show at the flagship Ferragamo store, or go for the gold at the incomparable Mario Buccellati jewelry studio
Spa Treatments That Are A Cut Above
Most luxury travelers head for the spa during their stay onboard ship, and increasingly they’re seeking “combination packages” with multiple spa treatments.
For example, Silversea offers a “Journey of Enlightenment” spa package. This 175-minute Elemis spa experience includes Aroma Stone Therapy, a Visible Brilliance Facial, and a Frangipani Hair and Scalp Ritual; cost is $380. A pampering Silversea spa treatment is shown at right.*
But you don’t have to head for the spa. Couples on Silversea might enjoy a luxurious, 80-minute Swedish massage for two in the comfort and privacy of their suite; cost for the private pampering is $385 per person.
Extreme Shore Adventures
Going ashore, most luxury lines can arrange for private adventures customized to your specific needs. Some charge an additional fee; others will charge only the cost of the trip itself.
Some lines including Crystal will do this in advance, so you'll know your private shore trip details before you even leave for the cruise pier. That assures you'll get just what you're seeking.
Increasingly, too, the lines are developing their own exotic shore trips. For example in Belize, Regent guests may book a new Helicopter Adventure to a 1,000 foot waterfall and Victoria Peak. This tour is operated with a minimum of four guests and priced at $795 per person.
So whether you're a shopper or an eco-traveler, whether you're sailing on a romantic getaway or a family trip, the luxury lines have many new and unusual options to entice and satisfy you.
Customization rules. So just use your imagination. And talk to your line; they can likely make it happen.
*Photos are owned, copyrighted and used courtesy of the cruise lines mentioned in this article. All rights reserved. Please do not link to nor copy these photos. Thank you.