Luxury Cruise Line Makes Bedding A Status Thing

luxury bedding
Ridge Tahoe Resort Hotel/Flickr

On a luxury cruise vacation, travelers are pampered with everything from butler service to their selection from a menu of pillows. Taking that idea a step further, Celebrity Cruises is in the process of upgrading bedding, teaming with a sleep system manufacturer to get the job done. Every stateroom on every Celebrity ship will eventually have the new sleep system, but some passengers will get a better experience than others.

Already outfitting four of Celebrity Cruises ships with Celebrity eXhale bedding, sleep system/adjustable bed manufacturer Reverie is moving through the 11-vessel fleet, most recently outfitting Celebrity Constellation.

Over 2000 cruise travelers on Celebrity Constellation will enjoy the comfort of either an 8-inch or 10-inch Dream mattress. The Dream Sleep Systems feature air cylinder technology that allows guests to adjust the level of firmness in their mattress with some allowing the base of the mattress to be manipulated remotely, via iPad. Perfect for couples, each side of the bed can be re-configured at different firmness levels to accommodate varying sleep preferences.Celebrity guests staying in a suite will get the 10-inch mattress and experience butler service that includes a personalized introduction to the customizable aspects of eXhale bedding. Those in other accommodations will get the 8-inch mattress, no butler intro.

Guests who stay in Celebrity’s top digs Reflection Suite also get an in-room iPad that can be used to wirelessly control the adjustable base of the bed as well as other bedroom appliances using Reverie’s remote app. That one feature alone has a bunch of possibilities for fun in-stateroom games.

'GoSleep' Sleeping Pods Début At Abu Dhabi International Airport

A Tiny Cruise Line With A Big Impact

cruise lineLike them or hate them, travelers have heard of cruise lines that travel around the world on city-like ships, ply the rivers of Europe or sail from convenient home ports around North America. Some have ships designed to be destinations in and of themselves, while others have purpose-built vessels with a shore-side focus, stopping at world class destinations. Between the brands of Royal Caribbean International and Carnival Corporation alone, millions of travelers take to the sea each year. A comparative handful of cruise travelers choose small, boutique lines that sail just a few ships to many of the same places with their own signature travel experience.

Lüftner Cruises, a family-owned Austrian company, is one of those tiny cruise lines. Lüftner operates Amadeus Cruises, a luxury river cruise line with just six ships that sail along Europe’s Rhine, Main and Danube Rivers in opulent luxury on voyages lasting four to 15 days.

Just launched, 443-foot Amadeus Silver is their largest and most luxurious river ship ever. The 90-cabin vessel is adorned in first-class interior furnishings, luxurious accommodations, authentic Austrian programming and an environmentally-friendly design.

Featured on the Amadeus Silver is Café Vienna, a traditional Austrian coffee shop serving Sachertorte specialties. An open-air lounge named the River Terrace is located in the ship’s bow and has special glazed windows to protect passengers from a windy or rainy day. The ship also has a two-story fitness studio, two restaurants and a sundeck with a golf putting green.

Passenger cabins are a roomy 172 square feet and have innovative French balconies with drop-down windows affording panoramic views. Spacious suites are 258 square feet and have walk-out exterior balconies with seating areas.

On the ship, activities include folklore shows, lectures on the history of the Rhine-Main-Danube canal and Bavarian evenings with live music. Off the ship, city excursions showcase the region’s rich cultural diversity and feature concerts in Vienna, wine tastings in Wuerzburg and castle tours.

Lüftner Cruises also has an uber focus on the environment, earning certification by Green Globe, the global travel and tourism industries’ certification program for sustainable tourism as well as Atmosfair, a climate protection organization with a focus on travel.

“We are well aware that tourism always impacts on the environment despite increasing efforts to offer environmentally-friendly travel arrangements,” said Dr. Wolfgang Lueftner, Founder and Owner of Lueftner Cruises in an Eturbonews report.

On board Lueftner ships, cruise travelers have the opportunity to positively impact the environment. Passengers can, and do, choose to offset their own CO2 consumption with a donation and are given the option to pay a suggested climate protection levy of €2 per day per cabin.

[Photo Credit – Amadeus Cruises]

Ultimate Dinner Parties At Sea, Just $1000 To Attend

dinner parties at sea

Have a conversation about cruise ships and the topic of dining options usually comes up. It’s just a popular topic that cruise lines invest a lot of time and resources in, striving to provide exactly what their passengers desire. Now, more than ever, cruise lines are doing just that, often tapping well-known culinary experts to bring their shore-side influence aboard the ships. Crystal Cruises is no exception and has their own unique twist on the food focus with what they call Ultimate Dinner Parties At Sea.

To begin the name-dropping we have Napa Valley vintners Bo and Heidi Barrett and multiple Michelin star-winning Master Chef Nobu Matsuhisa each hosting one of Crystal Cruises’ 2013 Ultimate Vintage Room Dinners, all for the first time ever.

“The Ultimate Vintage Room dinners allow us to push the culinary envelope over the top, with each event truly a once-in-a-lifetime affair created just for Crystal guests,” said Toni Neumeister, Crystal Cruises vice president, food and beverage operations in a World Traveler article.

The exclusive events can accommodate just 12 to 14 guests (per event) who will have the opportunity to attend one of the seven-course, ultra-rare, wine-pairing feasts, either while sailing a Mediterranean cruise aboard Crystal Serenity (starting May 18) or the Black Sea aboard Crystal Symphony (departing July 13), respectively.

Held in the ships’ private Vintage Rooms just once or twice a year, the “dinner tab” to attend is $1,000 per guest.

Will it be worth the price? First, check the pedigrees of the hosts:

dinner parties at seaChef Nobu Matsuhisa
A noted celebrity chef, restaurateur and the brains behind a culinary empire, Matsuhisa will be on board with his first-ever “ultimate” meal for Crystal, accompanied by rare wine and champagne pairings.

Nobu will also hold autograph sessions, cooking classes, and larger omakase dinners throughout the sailing.

Bo and Heidi Barrett
Between Bo’s Chateau Montelena winery, depicted in the film “Bottle Shock,” and Heidi’s award-winning “cult” offering 1992 Screaming Eagle (averaging $6700 per bottle), the Napa couple is aptly credited for putting California wines on the map.

Accordingly, they will be personally selecting each vintage served for the evening.

The cruise itself? Not shabby either, a choice of two, 12-day voyages boast equally interesting itineraries that chime in on the destination focus craze staying late in port if not overnight.

The May 18 sailing actually overnights three times, in Monte Carlo (during the Grand Prix) and in Istanbul and Barcelona with visits to Mykonos, Santorini/Thíra, Sorrento, Bonifacio/Corsica and Florence/Livorno.

The July 13 Black Sea voyage explores Rome/Civitavecchia, Sorrento, Sicily/Taormina, Contanþa, Yalta and Sochi, with overnights in Odessa and Istanbul.

Cruise lines have been charging extra for upscale dining for quite some time. This is nothing new. But ultra-lux Crystal Cruises touts a more-inclusive way of doing things and fabulous culinary experiences as part of what they do.

Standard fare on a Crystal cruise includes the line’s unique cheese and wine cellars, overseen by on-board, certified cheese and wine sommeliers. Passengers enjoy fresh, chef-like cocktails served by certified mixologists too. Featuring gourmet dining options at every meal, whether in the Crystal Dining Room, at afternoon tea, or in the privacy of a stateroom, Crystal seemed to have all the bases covered.

Still, even Crystal has to draw the line somewhere.

Why not a $1000 upcharge for a lifetime dining event with world-class culinary experts? It’s probably a bargain.


[Photo credit – Crystal Cruises]

Cruise Line Adds Focus On Learning And Self-Discovery

cruise linesCommon thoughts about a standard cruise line experience include bellying up to the buffet, ’70s Vegas-like entertainment and non-stop bingo with a few thousand strangers sailing through the Caribbean.

That experience can still be found, but these days, cruise lines are focusing on engaging passengers in a variety of new ways. From a focus on destination immersion to revamped onboard programming, today’s cruise experience can be a voyage of learning and self-discovery.

Luxury line Crystal Cruises has a 74-day world cruise coming up this winter. Like other lines offering world cruises, Crystal allows travelers to sign up for what they call “segments” of the world cruise, shorter journeys in specific areas of the world.

The February 2, 24-day segment from Lima to Buenos Aires is one of those experiences where passengers can choose from dozens of classes, hands-on lessons and interactive workshops in everything from golf to global affairs, Pilates to painting and memoir writing to magic.Via Crystal’s Creative Learning Institute curriculum, guests can learn how to make a movie of the Chilean fjords with an iPad through USC’s School of Cinematic Arts’ Digital Filmmaking classes. They can learn how to cook a traditional Peruvian meal at a Lima culinary school or learn to tread lightly in Antarctica, with a choice of two excursions to the remote continent.

This kind of cruise vacation does have its price though. All-inclusive fares for the 24-day segment start at $12,760 per person.

Overview of Buenos Aires



[Flickr photo by d[-_-]b Jonathan d[-_-]b]

Grand Prix Package A Special Event At Sea

Grand Prix

Monaco’s Grand Prix has brought out the best of Formula One auto racing each year, and to race fans waiting for that starting flag to drop, there’s nothing better. In 1929, the first winner was a sleek Bugatti, completing the difficult course in just under four hours. Last year, racing legend Mark Weber crossed the finish line in less than two.

Want to know what next year will bring? Add the Grand Prix with Windstar package to a Yachting the Riviera yacht vacation.

Sail into the glamorous port of Monaco, on Windstar Cruises elegant sailing yacht Wind Surf, to experience the world’s most legendary auto racing event. With Windstar’s exclusive Grand Prix package added on to Wind Surf’s Yachting the Rivera voyage, race fans get preferred seating for the preliminaries on Saturday.

They’ll also get a glimpse at all the preparation that goes into the famous race, then the race itself on Sunday where they can cheer on their favorite driver with select seats.

Other highlights of the package include a night out in Monaco with dinner at the Café De Paris, followed by a night of gambling at Monte Carlo’s Grand Casino. Also included is an exclusive cocktail reception and Grand Prix dinner on board the yacht in Cannes as well as a special Sunday brunch the day of the race.

Rubbing elbows with the rich and famous has its cost though. The optional Grand Prix Package starts at $2,299 per person (in addition to cruise fare starting at $2999).

Mark Webber Wins 2012 Monaco Grand Prix



[Flickr photo by fusky]