Lunch with a view and exceptionally good values on luxury cruises

The photo above was snapped yesterday from the balcony of stateroom 720 on Seabourn Sojourn during a transit of Norway’s UNESCO World Heritage Geirangerfjord. Small ships such as Seabourn Sojourn, carrying a maximum of 450 passengers, can easily navigate the Norwegian fjords and dock or drop anchor in small ports of call where the big ships can’t.

Small ships offer several other advantages, such as fewer lines for activities ranging from dining to disembarking, and greater space ratio, meaning fewer guest per square foot. Small ships generally feel more intimate and less crowded than larger ships as well.

Small ships typically also represent the upper-end of the product line, the luxury segment. While luxury cruise fares are sometimes three times more than fares on cruises of a similar length on large ships, luxury cruises are more inclusive. For example, alcohol is served free of charge as are specialty coffees and soft drinks. Gratuities, which are added to passengers’ final bills on larger ships, are also included on luxury cruises.

Luxury cruise fares are also at – or near – historic lows. Today, for example, Seabourn announced cruises beginning at less $200 per day per person during a special One Week Sale (the lowest fare, $2499, is for a 13-day transatlantic from Monte Carlo to Fort Lauderdale on December 6).

More typically, cruises can be found for around $300 per day per person, not bad when you consider the fare includes wining and dining in Seabourn’s gourmet restaurants – or on your balcony as you sail by some of the world’s most attractive sites.

Other luxury players, Silversea Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Crystal Cruises and SeaDream Yacht Club, offer similar savings in the ever-competitive luxury cruise segment.