When you hear the word 'cruise' perhaps you picture a kind of floating package tour aboard a vast and impersonal ship where thousands of passengers occupy identikit cabins in a kind of multi-storey floating hotel. There's another kind of cruise, though, where the vessel is a more modest size, where art work by famous artists complements the decor conceived by top international designers, and where the service is discrete and personal and up to the standard of the most exclusive hotels. Here we've chosen a selection of the best cruises available.
Adventures in Alaska
Crystal Cruises offer a full-board 12-night cruise aboard the Crystal Symphony, departing on August 1st, destination Alaska. Leaving from San Francisco, the route incudes Victoria, Vancouver, Juneau, Skagway, Hubbard Glacier, Sitka and Ketchikan. The ship's interiors are the work of designer Philippe Starck and are decorated with artwork by famous Venetian artists. There are a whole host of activities available aboard for passengers, from learning to play the piano to enjoying a veritable gastronomic adventure with Michelin-star chefs; there's also the chance to relax at the only feng-shui-inspired spa on board a boat.
Price: from € 3,900 per person.
From Venice to Athens
Launched in 2010, the glamorous Silver Spirit (Silversea) will be sailing from Venice on August 27th on a seven-night all-inclusive cruise around the Mediterranean with final destination Athens. The itinerary will include stops in Zadar (Croatia), Kotor (Montenegro), the island of Corfu and the Greek cities of Nafplion and Athens. The ship, with capacity for 540 passengers, boasts six restaurants, a 750 square meter spa, swimming pool, four jacuzzis and the fleet's largest suites, with private balconies looking out to sea.
Price: 2,074 € per person.
An alternative is the Seabourn Quest, a ship from the fleet of the Seabourn company, which was launched last June and will also be making a seven-night cruise from Venice to Athens. The voyage includes the Croatian bay of Tri Luke as well as Dubrovnik, Kotor, Corfu, Katakolon, Santorini and Piraeus. Departures August 1st and 29th, September 26th and October 24th
Price: from 1,799 € / person.
From Monaco to Athens
Another European option comes from Regent Seven Seas Cruises, who offer an all-inclusive Mediterranean cruise aboard the Seven Seas Voyager. Leaving Monte Carlo on September 17th the ten-night voyage includes ports of call at Saint-Tropez, the Italian cities of Livorno, Civitavecchia, Sorrento, Amalfi and Taormina as well as Kusadasi in Turkey, before arriving at Piraeus. The 350 suites look out over the water, with private balconies, and among the exclusive services available aboard, passengers can even arrange for the services of a personal butler.
Price: 3,444 € per person.
The Paul Gauguin - named for the artist who was so inspired by the South Seas – offers a true six-star experience sailing the clear waters around the islands of French Polynesia. With a maximum of 332 passengers aboard the vessel will ply its way between reefs and sand banks through the lagoons and channels of this natural paradise. The seven-day round trip departs on September 17th from Papet and takes in Raiatea, Tahaa, Bora Bora and Moorea.
Price: from € 2,240 / person (all inclusive).