Our preference has always been for smaller, luxury cruise lines like Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Seabourn, Windstar Cruises, and Silversea to name a few. What we really love about them all is that the number of passengers ranges from just 148 to 750, all with incredible guest to staff ratios that exceed other cruise lines. They’re far more intimate but still have fabulous dining options, great customer service, and plenty to do on board and off the ship with their excursion programs.
Explora Journeys Explora I - Photo courtesy of Virtuoso.
Although cruising has taken a huge hit with COVID in the recent past, it’s making a speedy recovery with tremendous pent-up demand from people anxious to get back to traveling. Fortunately, they’re all starting to drop the protocols they’ve had in place with COVID so that fear of being denied boarding or quarantined on ship will thankfully be a thing of the past.
I’ve been meaning to write about these 3 amazing new ocean cruise lines that have crossed my path and although I’ve yet to experience them personally, I’ve studied them all and am thoroughly impressed with what I see and am hearing about them. Before too long, we’ll experience them as well firsthand!
In fact, these 3 fabulous new cruising experiences have dining alternatives ranging from 7 to 10 depending on the cruise line. This tremendous variation for culinary options in spite of the fewer number of passengers aboard. All of them also have a guest to staff ratio from 1.30 to 1.00 or better so that you can just imagine the level of service!
Explora Journeys Explora I - Photo courtesy of Virtuoso.
The very exciting 2023 launch of Explora Journeys commences with their inaugural sailing on the “Explora I”, the first of 4 luxury best-in-class ships. They challenge you to “Discover the ocean state of mind” and want to ‘inspire you to travel further, immerse deeper and linger a little longer”. Explora Journeys roots stem from the Aponte family and the MSC Group, ‘to redefine luxury ocean travel for discerning luxury travelers’.
Explora Journeys Lobby - Photo courtesy of Virtuoso.
The Explora ships feature 461 ocean front terraces with their suites starting at 301 square feet with the additional very spacious terraces ranging from an additional 75 to 118 square feet. And that’s just the starting point.
They welcome multi-generational families for all ages with infants between 6 months and 2 years old able to sail for free! Even young adults up the age of 18 years old will be eligible for savings up to 50%. They have inter-connecting suites available and even have ‘Young Explorers’ program during the usual school and seasonal holidays.
I have a number of great clients with younger Grandchildren that would be perfectly suited to this lovely new cruising option. They even have an indoor pool with a retractable roof so that even in inclement weather, one can enjoy this amazing space on the ship.
Explora Journeys Indoor/Outdoor Pool - Photo courtesy of Virtuoso.
This next one I’d like to talk about will be recognizable as it has a very familiar ‘ring’ to it since it’s called “The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection”. If you’ve stayed at a Ritz-Carlton anywhere around the world, you’ll know their quality reputation as a luxury hotel chain that cares about their guests and caters to their every comfort.
Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection Evrima - Photo courtesy of Virtuoso.
Similarly, their “Yacht Collection” promises the same in an “intimate setting with a heightened level of care and attention”. Their first of three custom built yachts, the Evrima, will be launching this Fall after some long shipyard delays that they’ve had to endure. This inaugural yacht will have 149 suites that start with their “Terrace Suite” at 300 square feet with a ‘terrace’ ranging from 54-81 square feet of extra space and their sizing moves up from there!
Ritz-Carlton Evrima Terrace Suite - Photo courtesy of Virtuoso.
Ritz-Carlton Yachts also cater to families with children as young as 6 years old. They even have their ‘Ritz Kids’ program on board with an educational and fun-filled program available that encourages children to explore the world around them.
Both the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection and Explora Journeys are Virtuoso preferred partners.
There’s also one that’s been around a little while longer, that is the Scenic Eclipse, that’s now expanding to a second expedition ship the Scenic Eclipse II coming in 2023. The original Eclipse has been sailing since 2019 with just 228 guests onboard in ‘6-star luxury’ with up to 10 dining experiences. Their veranda suites start at 345 square feet, and these include a 35 square foot balcony. Again, these are the smallest of what’s available, just like the others with owner’s suites over 2000 square feet in size!
Scenic Eclipse - Photo courtesy of Scenic.
The Scenic Eclipse ships are truly discovery yachts that are outstanding for travel to places including the Polar regions considering they’re equipped with helicopters, submarines, and Expert Discovery Teams who are incredibly talented in their fields.
Scenic Eclipse Helicopter/Pad - Photo of Scenic.
Expedition ships are becoming more prevalent on the scene including such great options as Ponant, Aurora Expeditions, Lindblad and more offering wonderful destination opportunities including far flung spots like Antarctica, the Arctic, and so much more.
When you’re ready to travel on any of these great options, I’m at the ready to help you sort through what will best suit you from an itinerary and venue perspective. It can really be very overwhelming, and it helps to have some background knowledge in order to sift through it all.