Archive for August, 2013

Huge Cruise Ships With Intimate Spaces: See Your Travel Agent To Find One

by Chris Owen on AUGUST 22, 2013

Post image for Huge Cruise Ships With Intimate Spaces: See Your Travel Agent To Find OneGreat big cruise ships with thousands of passengers on board might bring thoughts of crowded decks, lines for everything and anything but an intimate experience.  Those who book staterooms with a private balcony may do so to escape just such scenes.  But  while private verandah’s are surely a common way to customize our cruise experience, they are surely not the only choice.

As new cruise ships are rolled out, the do indeed include more balcony options than ever before.  New Royal Princess debuted not long ago and oceanview staterooms with only a window were not even an option, speaking to the popularity of private spaces.

“Increasingly, cruise lines are creating intimate spaces for guests, even on the largest ships,” says Christine Duffy, President & CEO, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), noting that while cruise travelers embrace the entertainment and activity experiences of cruising, they are also looking for quiet time and increased personalized service.

a10lon gTopping that list are balcony accommodations with new generation Disney ships sporting them on 70% of all staterooms. So popular are balconies that Royal Caribbean International’s refurbished Navigator of the Seas will emerge next year with “virtual” balconies – LED projection screens showing live images taken by exterior cameras–for interior cabins.

Need more evidence that intimate spaces are high on the cruise line priority list in what they offer passengers? CLIA presents more proof:

Club sections take exclusivity and pampering to new levels. Similar to luxury hotel concierge floors, many ships have club or concierge level cabins with upgraded services and intimate lounges. For example:

  • Holland America Line’s Neptune Lounge, open to guests in a Neptune or Pinnacle Suite, is a private lounge with a wide screen TV, continental breakfast and coffee, tea and snacks throughout the day as well as concierge service.
  • Oceania Cruises’ Executive Lounge, available to guests in Owners, Vista, Oceania and Penthouse Suites, features complimentary soft drinks, coffees and snacks throughout the day and a dedicated concierge; a separate Concierge Lounge is provided for guests in Concierge Level Veranda Staterooms.
  • Royal Caribbean’s Concierge Lounges, available to upper-tier past guests and those who book suites are a special place to visit with a full-time concierge on duty to arrange just about anything they can think of

Cabanas, usually rentable by the day or for the whole cruise, put guests in the heart of the action while indulging them with special services. For example:a5

  • Celebrity Cruises’ “The Alcoves,” on Celebrity Silhouette and Celebrity Reflection come with fresh fruit, chilled towels, use of a pre-loaded iPad and more. An attendant is also on hand to arrange for spa treatments, food and other services.
  • Holland America Line’s “Cabana Club” on the Nieuw Amsterdam offers airy, tented cabanas with plush upholstered seating where guests receive extras such as bathrobes, chocolate-covered strawberries, champagne and a pre-loaded iPod.

Adults-only areas are becoming increasingly popular, especially on kid-friendly sailings. While spas have long been serene retreats, adults-only spaces for everything from dining to swimming and sunning are now popping on a wide array of ships. For example:

  • Princess Cruises pioneered the Adults-only Serenity area which has become an integral part of the Princess a7longEscape Completely experience.
  • Disney Cruise Line’s Quiet Cove Pool and Cove Barinvites adults to sunbathe, swim, sip a cool drink or soak in a hot tub overlooking the ocean.
  • Royal Caribbean International’s glass-canopied Solarium pool area and café, with cantilevered whirlpools that jut out over the sea, are popular adults-only spots.
  • Carnival Cruises Lines’ Serenity adult-only area, offered on many of its ships, features plush lounge chairs, bar and food service, whirlpools and soothing music.

Hidden hot tubs, tree houses and more are also adding fun, new twists on serenity on many ships. For example

  • Celebrity Cruises’ “The Hideaway,” available on Celebrity Silhouette and Celebrity Reflection, resembles an avant-garde tree house with cozy suspended “nests” and pods where guests can try out Apple products from the Celebrity iLounge or cuddle up with a good book
  • Seabourn’s new ships, Seabourn Odyssey, Seabourn Sojourn and Seabourn Quest, offer tucked away nooks such as the top deck Sun Terrace, with double sun-beds nestled behind a clear windscreen. And all Seabourn ships feature a secluded whirlpool spa on the open foredeck, ideal for a celebratory glass of champagne as the ship leaves port.

The cocooning concept goes one step further with the creation of the new wave of elite sections on some ships. Here, guestsa3 find everything they need in their own private retreat. For example:

  • MSC Cruises’ MSC Yacht Club, called a “ship within a ship,” wraps guests in a private pool, solarium, restaurant and butler-serviced suites.
  • Norwegian Cruise Line’s “The Haven” has butler-serviced cabins that surround a private two-story courtyard with pools, whirlpools, a massage room, private restaurant, cocktail bar and concierge lounge.

Libraries aren’t just about books any more, either. Large or small, ship libraries offer quiet yet sociable spots for reading, writing and board games. For example:

  • Azamara white IMG_9067-0002Azamara Club Cruises’ Drawing Room by Assouline is a quiet spot to relax with its collection of lifestyle and travel books by Assouline.
  • Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2 has the largest library at sea which displays more than 9,500 books, audio books and publications in a relaxing setting for readers.
  • The Library Bar on Carnival Cruise Lines’ newest ships, Carnival Breeze and Carnival Sunshine, feature self-serve wine dispensers and bartenders set the mood for quiet conversation, board games.

Exotic dining spaces set the scene for personal evenings. These very private areas can be ideal for special anniversaries or other occasions. For example

  • Paul Gauguin Cruises’ M/s Paul Gauguin offers private dining on the water sports marina for up to four guests to enjoy gourmet cuisine at a table set with white linen, fine china and crystal glasses along with live Polynesian entertainment
  • Oceania Cruises’ Riviera and Marina both offer Privée, a dining room that can be reserved for up to 10 guests, where the plush décor features a white Venini glass chandelier, white baby crocodile throne chairs and backlit onyx-clad walls.

Cozy dining rooms with special wine and food pairings are another way ships are creating distinctive, intimate dining experiences. For example:555 tabletop

  • Crystal Cruises’ Vintage Room seats up to 14 for multi-course wine and food pairings at its private tasting table.
  • Oceania Cruises’ Riviera and Marina offer seven-course wine and food pairings for up to 24 guests in its La Reserve by Wine Spectator room.

After dinner lounges, piano bars and jazz clubs provide a tranquil oasis on a wide array of ships, but on some, cigar bars and original designs add to the sense of exclusivity. For example:

  • Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2 provides Churchill’s, a 12-seat salon for cigar and pipe smokers.
  • Crystal Cruises’ Connoisseur Club offers a clubby Old World ambience for cigar smokers, while Pulse on the Crystal Serenity and Luxe on the Crystal Symphony are designed for quiet dancing, karaoke and relaxed conversation.
  • Disney Cruise Line’s intimate lounges include Disney Fantasy’s Ooh La La, a French boudoir-style club, and Disney Dream’s Pink, a small, upscale cocktail lounge.

How do we find such customizable options?  For expert advice, travelers can turn to CLIA travel professionals, who stay current on the latest offerings and trends, and can help their clients select the ship with the features that will fulfill their dreams. To find a CLIA travel professional in your area, visit http://www.cruising.org and click on Vacations.

Photos- Chris Owen

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