Your Luxury Guide To Cruising

Hit the high waters in style

Blame it on the Titanic; cruise ships have long had an image problem. If you believe the hype, they are a playground for newlyweds, the overfed and the nearly dead, a constant cycle of buffets and bad magic shows. But the tides are turning. Today, millennials and gen Xers account for more than half of all Australian passengers taking to the seas, and cruise companies are responding with world-class dining, international DJs and unabashed luxury. Coupled with the convenience of having to unpack only once, it’s no wonder boating holidays are becoming the travel trend du jour.

Adventure seekers

Eye-opening, pulse-quickening, life-changing …   cruising in Alaska is a truly YOLO experience. Celebrity Cruises operates a seven-day Tracy Arm fjord cruise onboard its Celebrity Solstice ship – the perfect way to capture rugged natural marvels, like the twin Sawyer glaciers. Those who can tear themselves away from the spa can go kayaking or bear spotting, or head out in a Zodiac vessel in search of orca whales. Most tours operate mid-May to mid-September, as the weather is warmer. (seven-night itinerary from $1889 per person;

Royal Caribbean is literally making waves aboard its Ovation of the Seas, with surf- and skydiving simulators (eight-night South Pacific itinerary from $1197 per person;   

Lindblad Expeditions has joined forces with National Geographic to create seafaring adventures worthy of a David Attenborough doco. Part research vessel, part smart hotel, the Orion explores remote waters, taking in rare wildlife with a team of scientists (12-day Antarctica itinerary from $17,380 per person;

luxury cruising guide

Party boats

In cruising’s golden age, circa 1900, lavish balls lured transatlantic travellers by night. And history may be repeating, just with a deeper bass line. Departing from Miami, Groove Cruise is the world’s largest floating festival: think non-stop EDM against a blissful backdrop of the Bahamas and Mexico (four-day itinerary from approx $900 per person;

Across the pond, P&O offers a decadent 1920s-style affair on each of its five super-cruisers. Post-party, plush poolside cabanas provide perfect respite (four-night Whitsundays itinerary from $483 per person;

A new concept, U by Uniworld made its maiden voyage in April. Chic black vessels tackle the Seine, Rhine and Danube rivers, docking in Euro cities for nights out. On board, mixology classes and silent discos beckon (eight-day France itinerary, $2159 per person;

Gourmet getaways

The offshore dining halls and day spas of yesterday have stepped up their game to entice a new generation of cruisers. Foodies should hotfoot it to the Emerald Princess, which boasts Curtis Stone’s only restaurant outside of LA, where diners can indulge in six courses of his signature “surf and turf” (seven-night Mexican Riviera itinerary from approx $1180 per person;

The culinary journey continues on Aqua Expeditions’ intimate 40-guest ships, which glide through the rivers of the Amazon, Cambodia and Vietnam. In 2019, they will host foodie tours led by Michelin-starred chefs and will include market visits and cooking classes (four-night Amazon itinerary approx $6950 per person;

A yachting weekend in Italy, lunching with local crew, brings a big hit of authenticity to seafaring adventures. Digital boating platform Nowboat connects travellers with local vessels (four-day itineraries from $343 per person;

Floating sanctuaries

What’s better than a five-star hotel with dazzling design and royal service? All of that at sea. In 2020, The Ritz-Carlton will set sail in the form of a luxury liner featuring 149 suites, a glamorous marina bar and a helipad. The ship’s small size means it can reach the shores of Portofino and St Barts (four-night itineraries from approx $4200;

Equally extravagant is the Amandira, a floating outpost of Aman Resorts. The two-masted dream boat sails through the coral-laced reefs of Indonesia’s UNESCO-listed Komodo National Park; extend with a couple of nights of glamping on a private island (five-night itinerary from approx $55,520 per couple;

If all else fails, why not charter? Sailing Collective is a boutique boating company that curates escapes to the most instagrammable spots. But forget the phone – you won’t miss it (seven-day private charter from approx $15,400;

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