A Taste of Luxury For Less

Some of your clients, for whatever reason, just aren’t going to pony up for a luxury cruise — at least not until they’ve had a taste of luxury.

By: By Ralph Grizzle


Carnival Cruise Lines
Itineraries: The 23 Fun Ships of Carnival Cruise Lines sail to more than 60 destinations worldwide in 2008. Destinations include Alaska, Bermuda, the Caribbean, Europe, Hawaii, Mexico, the Panama Canal and South America.

Celebrity Cruises
Itineraries: Celebrity Cruises expands its fleet to nine vessels in 2008. The line sails to Alaska, Australia/New Zealand, Canada/New England, the Caribbean, Europe, Hawaii, Pacific Northwest and South America as well as transatlantic crossings.

Holland America Line
Itineraries: The Holland America Line fleet will grow to 14 vessels in 2008. Itineraries include Alaska, Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Australia/New Zealand, Canada/New England, the Caribbean, Europe, Hawaii, Mexico, Pacific Northwest, South America and the Panama Canal as well as several Grand Voyages.

Norwegian Cruise Line
Itineraries: NCL’s 13-ship fleet sails to Alaska, the Bahamas and Florida, Bermuda, Canada/New England, the Caribbean, Europe, Hawaii, Mexico, Pacific Coastal and South America.

Princess Cruises
Itineraries: Princess Cruises operates itineraries in Alaska, Asia, Australia/New Zealand, Canada/New England, the Caribbean, Europe, Hawaii, Mexico, the Panama Canal and South America as well as a world cruise.

Luxury Cruising

Luxury Cruising CoverPlease visit our Guides & Brochures page to browse a full version of our Luxury Cruising supplement.

Celebrity Cruises stateroom’s offer luxurious amenities // © Celebrity CruisesSome of your clients, for whatever reason, just aren’t going to pony up for a luxury cruise — at least not until they’ve had a taste of luxury. Their reasons may be the cost itself (although luxury cruises should be presented for the value they provide) or your clients may believe they would not feel comfortable in the social setting (maybe your clients don’t want to wear jackets and ties or evening gowns, a perception of luxury cruises if not necessarily the reality). Or, as Bob Sharak, CLIA’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer, notes, maybe luxury means something different to your client. Sharak reminds us that luxury is in the mind of the beholder.

“A corporate titan may consider a luxury vacation experience to be a high-end cruise coupled with a custom FIT package in a villa in France or Italy,” Sharak said. “My Mom in Ohio, on the other hand, considers a cruise on every CLIA member line to be the ultimate in luxury and pampering.”

I fall in the camp of Bob’s mom. During the nearly 20 years that I’ve been cruising, I’ve learned that you can find luxury moments for your clients on most ships, even on so-called “contemporary” cruise lines, like Carnival Cruise Lines.

This lesson really hit home when I had the pleasure of cruising on Carnival with Bob Dickinson before his retirement at the end of last year.

“Thirty years ago we were lower than a snake’s hips,” Carnival’s former president and CEO quipped. But today, Dickinson said, Carnival succeeds in “blurring the lines” of distinction between contemporary, premium and luxury lines.

While Carnival’s newest ships could never be called luxury vessels, they present many opportunities for luxury experiences. Spend an intimate evening in the supper clubs on Spirit- and Conquest-class vessels; enjoy signature dishes created by Michelin-starred chef Georges Blanc in the main dining room; sip a glass of fine wine in the wine bar, then tuck in for coma-like slumber on Carnival’s Comfort Bedding — featuring premium mattresses, fluffy duvets and high-thread-count cotton sheets, and you’ll realize the Fun Ships have grown up and taken on some sophistication.

On Norwegian Cruise Line, your clients can experience luxury moments by booking accommodations in the expansive Garden Villa suites, or for somewhat less money, the Courtyard Villa suites. All of these accommodations provide for what NCL’s Andy Stuart calls the “ship within a ship” experience. With butler and concierge service, your clients booking these high-end NCL accommodations will come away with a completely different experience than passengers booked in accommodations in lower categories.

Holland America Line is challenging the luxury brands with its Signature of Excellence initiative, an investment of $425 million. Across the fleet, standard stateroom amenities now include flat-panel TVs, high-thread-count linens, large fluffy cotton towels, deluxe bathrobes and plush Euro-top Mariner’s Dream Beds.

Put your clients in a Deluxe Verandah Suite or a Penthouse Verandah Suite for all sorts of perks: including exclusive access to the Neptune Lounge, a living-room like
environment that features worktables, TVs, library, sofas and chairs as well as refreshments. Membership comes with privileges, such as a concierge who makes all shore-excursion arrangements, dinner reservations at the specialty restaurants and more.

Celebrity’s Concierge Class provides your clients with a welcome bottle of champagne, fresh-cut flowers and fresh fruit daily as well as early embarkation/disembarkation, priority tender service and more. Bedding offers pillow-top mattresses with duvets instead of blankets, and bath amenities feature oversized Egyptian cotton towels and double-thick Frette bathrobes.

Another luxury on ships not within the luxury category: Princess Cruises’ Chef’s Table is currently being rolled out across the fleet. Designed as a treat for “foodies,” the Chef’s Table experience offers a select group of gourmands the rare opportunity to be welcomed into the ship’s galley to enjoy a full evening of memorable sights, tastes and conversation hosted by the executive chef.

The Chef’s Table experience takes diners behind the scenes during the height of dinner preparation where they’ll enjoy cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, followed by a special multi-course tasting dinner paired with selected wines in the dining room. Priced at $75 per person, it’s hard to imagine such an exclusive taste of luxury for less.