“Cut-backs” and “budgeting” might be the buzz words for this summer, but the rough economy does have its advantages, luxury is now available for much less, according to cruise reviews and news Web site, CruiseCritic.co.uk.
Cruise travellers are finding that luxury packages and the best cabins are much more affordable, and they can get much more for their money than in previous years. Anticipating a tough year for luxury sales, cruise lines are offering significant discounts on their best cabins, suites and members-only facilities. It is a tactic that appears to be working—many luxury agents have reported record sales inquiries in the past few months, likely stimulated by the generous discounts being offered.
In response to demand for more information on high-end cruise travel, Cruise Critic has re-launched its dedicated luxury cruise section, which provides comprehensive information on luxury cruise lines and ships, exotic ports of call and tips for travellers considering their first upscale cruises.
“High-end cruise ships are one of the few places you can still find real luxury, and—crazy as it might seem—this year may actually be the right time to take that exotic trip or luxury cruise you have always dreamed of,” says Carolyn Spencer Brown, editor in chief, Cruise Critic. “Decide on a budget, and see what you can get for your money.”
Below, Cruise Critic looks at the top luxury cruise trends for 2009:
• More For Less - 2009 is the year of discounts and deals. Cruise lines are reducing prices across the board, including the best suites and the most exotic cruises. Upgrades, onboard credit and discounted (or even free) shore excursions are also on offer.
• New Destinations - The smaller, luxury and soft expedition vessels are able to call at ports that are not accessible to many larger ships. This has led to more varied itineraries that include exotic, less visited places like Portofino and Capri in the Mediterranean, as well as Wrangell, Haines and Misty Fjords in Alaska.
• More First Time Luxury Cruisers - Due in part to reduced prices—but also to the wider variety of luxury cruises available—more people are opting to upgrade or take trips on luxury lines for the first time.
• Less Stuffy - Many people enjoy traditional cruises where formal attire, butler-service and set-seating for dinner are de rigueur, but there is a trend towards more relaxed luxury ships and yachts, where the rules are less rigid and the accommodations are just as opulent. Alternatively, you can also opt for one of the handful of big cruise lines offering “boutique hotel’ style accommodations within mammoth ships so you can enjoy the best of both worlds.
• New Ships - Luxury lines, which have not introduced new ships at the same pace as the mass market cruise lines, will this year introduce a handful of brand new designs from Seabourn, Uniworld and Silversea.
• More Variety - Overall, the major trend is more variety. There’s something for everyone: all ages and tastes and at a range of prices. Whatever your idea of luxury cruising—whether it is white-glove service, sumptuous accommodations, stimulating lectures and activities or a trip to an exotic destination—there’s a cruise that will fit your style.