Originally appeared in May 2015 issue of Virtuoso Life
Note: In April 2015 issue of Virtuoso Traveler, a feature ran entitled "26 Reasons To Take A Cruise Right Now." Read that here.
1. Hassle-Free Relaxation
Unplug and enjoy the world. Whether it’s a transatlantic crossing or a port-a-day cultural immersion, few things relax us like life on a ship. Stroll the outdoor promenade under the stars. Watch the wake bubble off into the horizon. Breathe in the salty breeze. Exhale and repeat.
2. Making Yourself At Home
There’s a secret thrill in stowing the suitcase under the bed, on the closet’s top shelf, or wherever’s out of sight for 7, 15, or 90 days (or more). Call the bell desk for more hangers. Destination-hopping without the nightly repacking ritual has unique-to-cruising charm.
3. The World At Your Gangway
Cruising is great for checking places off your list – and if you have kids, it’s an easy way to introduce them to other cultures and set them on the path to global citizenship.
4. The Deal
Hands down, cruises are the best luxury-travel value going.
5. The Tradition
Windstar’s dramatic sail-away tradition, unfurling the ship’s massive sails to the theme from 1492: Conquest of Paradise.
6. The Chefs
Geoffrey Zakarian, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Getaway and Breakaway
Jacques Pépin, Oceania Cruises’ Marina and Riviera
- Snack on ceviche, shrimp, oysters, and littleneck clams at The Raw Bar.
- Ocean Blue serves up roasted scallops, Dover sole, and crab risotto.
- Go casual with crab toast and lobster rolls at Ocean Blue on The Waterfront.
Nobu Matsuhisa, Crystal Cruises’ Serenity and Symphony
- Sit down to bouillabaisse, tapenade-marinated rack of veal, and bistro classics at Jacques.
You Want A Cookout With Friends?
- Roll up to The Sushi Bar for specialties such as yellowtail tartare with caviar.
- Silk Road temptations include lobster spring rolls and Matsuhisa’s signature miso-glazed black cod.
Select a rib eye or filet and join other grill-it-yourself masters at Celebrity Cruises’ outdoor Lawn Club Grills on Silhouette
How About A Refined Classic?
7. Not Being Nickel-And-Dimed
- Special-order veal marsala or steak tartare, with a Caesar salad and crêpes suzette – all prepared tableside – at the Queens Grill on Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2.
- Pop over to Le Champagne (the only Relais & Châteaux restaurant at sea) on select Silversea ships for six courses, including the likes of edible gold-leaf risotto and New Zealand lamb.
Top lines’ all-inclusive pricing means there’s no reason to hold back.
“I tried all ten of Crystal’s unusual and creative martinis on my last cruise. Since alcohol is included, if you don’t like it, set it aside and try something else.” – Ruth Turpin, travel agency owner, Fort Worth
Learn from the pros at Holland America Line’s Culinary Arts Centers. Along with demonstrations by guest chefs, the show kitchens found on 15 of the line’s ships host winetastings, bartending lessons, and an array of hands-on cooking classes – including kid-specific lessons.
9. More Family-Friendly Activities
Cruise lines have homed in on age-specific entertainment. Xbox studios and GoPro expeditions bring a smile to even the surliest teenagers. That leads to...
10. Big-Time Fun
FlowRider surf simulators, zip lines, bumper cars, water coasters, rock walls, DJ deck parties, and more – mega-ships flex their muscles with onboard entertainment.
- Norwegian Breakaway’s salt room is an industry first.
- Start them young: Disney Dream’s Chill Spa offers kids lemon-ginger Surfer’s Scrubs as well as ice-cream mani-pedis.
Relaxing in the bowsprit net on Star Clippers’ sailing ship Royal Clipper.
13. Happy Hours
Forget fussy cocktail shakers and vintage barware: The world’s most exhilarating cocktail comes from a no-nonsense thermos, poured by a Swede in a plastic Viking hat.
My standout memory traveling aboard Lindblad Expeditions’ National Geographic Explorer
to Antarctica was the payoff for surviving the traditional “polar plunge” – a life-affirming dip into 29-degree waters. It’s as epic as it sounds. (The expedition physician stands by with a defibrillator, just in case.)
As a reward, the first officer motored his Zodiac through a field of 40-foot icebergs to offer two beverage options: hot chocolate, or hot chocolate with a tipple. “Swedish schnapps – it keeps you warm; it makes you happy,” he said with a smile. That was all the convincing I needed. – David Hochman, contributing writer
14-17. Movies, BBQs, Dives, and Jogging
- Princess Cruises’ movies under the stars.
- Seabourn cruise line’s Caviar in the Surf beach barbecues.
- Diving with Jean-Michel Cousteau on select Paul Gauguin voyages (plus PADI certification classes on all cruises).
- Top-deck jogging tracks — yes, really.
18. Invite-Only Events
You’re on the list: Virtuoso Voyager Club
celebrates 25 years of exclusive shore excursions and onboard cocktail parties this year. Your travel advisor is your ticket into the complimentary club. A teaser:
- Tour the Croatian island of Hvar and sample Dalmatian specialties in a family-owned tavern when Azamara Club Cruises’ Journey overnights there on June 7.
- Skip the group excursions and explore the Amalfi Coast with a private guide and driver when Regent’s Seven Seas Mariner calls in Sorrento on October 9.
- Visit an organic farm in San José del Cabo before lunch at La Panga Antigua, one of Cabo’s best restaurants for seafood and modern Mexican cuisine, during Silversea’s December 21 sailing from Los Angeles.
Voyager Club excursions book up quickly. Ask your advisor to reserve yours when you confirm the cruise.
19. Going With The Flow
Tulip tours, biking European vineyards, Amazon and Southeast Asia expeditions – the river-cruising boom rolls on with good reason.
“AmaWaterways does Vietnam and Cambodia in a flawless and delightful way that would be impossible as a DIY trip.” – Linda Allen, travel advisor, Harrison, Arkansas
20. New Ships
The most anticipated debut this year is Viking Cruises’ first ocean liner, the 930-passenger Viking Star
. Virtuoso Life’s
Fran Golden will report on its christening cruise in our next issue.
21-23. Planetariums, Madonna, and Daybeds
If you'd be interested in planning a cruise vacation with a Virtuoso advisor, click below to connect with one.
- Cunard’s planetarium – the only one at sea – on the QM2.
- Bringing out your inner Michael and Madonna beneath fireworks during Norwegian Breakaway and Getaway’s outdoor ’80s dance parties.
- Sleeping under the stars on a Balinese daybed for two on SeaDream I or II.