Luxury Vacation Guide 2012: Caviar in the surf

No Luxury Vacation Guide would be complete without a nod to cruise vacations. But there are cruises and then there are luxury cruise vacations. Seabourn sails a fleet of small yacht-like ships to exotic destinations around the world. On board, passengers are pampered with fine cuisine, luxury suite accommodations and the highest crew to passenger ratio in the cruise business. That allows for personal attention like no other line can provide and special events exclusive to Seabourn.

One of those special events is called Caviar in the Surf where passengers are taken ashore for a day of fun and sun on a private beach. About half-way through the day, a siren is heard in the distance, signaling the arrival of fine champagne and caviar via speedboat from the Seabourn ship anchored not far from shore.

On arrival, passengers wade into the surf, waist-deep in warm Caribbean waters, to enjoy the ship’s best caviar and French champagne. It’s a signature event unique to Seabourn that draws a crowd whenever they do it.

The event is followed closely by a beach barbecue featuring grilled fresh lobster, steaks and a variety of accompaniments while the champagne continues to flow.

Full bar service, beach sports and activities ranging from kayaks to water skiing are all included in the fun day and a local band is usually playing throughout the event.

Luxury does come at a price though with fares starting at $2799 per person for a seven-day Caribbean sailing. Still, luxury cruising is gaining in popularity as almost everything is included in the price. Even the caviar and champagne.

[flickr image via GeishaBoy500]

Buying a cruise? Look at value, not price

Cruise vacations can be a good travel value because the fare paid includes much of what travelers might pay separately for with other vacation options. In recent years though, mainstream cruise lines have come under criticism for offering desirable options guests can buy on top of the cruise fare paid. The basic experience has not changed but upgrade options like special dining venues, might make it seem so. Some lines have gone a different direction, including more in the price.

Regent Seven Seas cruises
, used to charge for shore excursions, as most cruise lines do. Not long ago, they did away with that, making most shore excursions part of the deal for the premium line.

“We realized that the largest spend anyone had on board was shore excursions. So, we decided to give them away.” Regent’s President Mark Conroy told

Results have been good for the line that costs an average of $600 per person, per day. Guest feedback is that they like the more all-inclusive nature of Regent sailings as opposed to other lines.

“Our ticket price is probably more expensive than others, but the vacation in the end doesn’t cost much more … because so much is included.” Conroy added, noting that 2010 will be the company’s best year on record.

Another premium line, Seabourn, shares the more all-inclusive philosophy with complementary fine wines poured at lunch and dinner and open bars throughout their small yacht-sized fleet of six ships. Seabourn also promotes that tipping is neither required or expected, another area that can add up on other lines.

More than ever, finding the cruise line that is a good fit for you involves considering the entire experience. While the discount fares being offered by major lines may sound attractive, the end cost may actually be greater than a premium line that includes much more in the price.

Daily Pampering: ‘Suite’ ride on the Seabourn Sojourn world cruise

If you’re going to see the world, you might as well do it in style. The Yachts of Seabourn just unveiled its Seabourn Sojourn in London and is preparing the ship for a 2011 sail around the world.

The 110-day World Cruise from Los Angeles to London via the South Pacific, New Zealand, around Western Australia, Indonesia and Southeast Asia, India, Arabia and the Mediterranean will be beautiful from the Seabourn’s Grand Suite, which offers guests up to 534 square feet of space.

How much for the journey of a lifetime? The good news is that you don’t have to stay in the Grand Suite, in which case it will only cost you around $50,000 to sail the world. But, this column is about the ultimate in luxurious experiences and I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t try to convince you to go around the world in the Grand Suite for $233,285.

If it helps, price of the cruise includes first class round-trip airfare, private transfers, 300 lbs of luggage shipping, and $1000 shipboard credit.

p.s. You’re totally worth it!

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