Luxury Cruises take extravagance to a new level
New Delhi: Jeroo and Gustasp Irani tell us about their experience on a luxury cruise: a majestic affair of food, entertainment and relaxation.
It’s so tempting not to go on a shore excursion and revel instead in the on-board pampering that cruise ships offer. These nomads of the Seven Seas are self-contained hyper cities. The one key feature that differentiates them from their land- based counterparts is unadulterated self-indulgence. Luxury cruise liners may come in different sizes, but they all have one goal in mind and that is to pander almost endlessly to their guests’ needs. It could be fine dining options in plush restaurants; Broadway-style entertainment; open-air deck parties; spas; live music bars and cafes.
They even arrange shore excursions. Yes, do go on them as discovering new worlds—be it Alaska, the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, the South China Sea… is an important part of the cruise experience.
The most wonderful part of a cruise holiday is that it is an all-inclusive affair. You sleep in a comfortable bed, watch a razzamatazz Las Vegas type show, dance the night away in a disco, flirt with Lady Luck in a casino, soak in a pool-deck Jacuzzi under starry skies… as the ship swishes into one port after another. And all meals are included in the price tag. Indeed, the flow of food across the buffet spreads, poolside cafes and fine dining restaurants is seemingly endless. So, be on guard or you might lose the battle of the bulge.
Designed to Impress
Even the check-in procedure is a celebration: a welcome aboard party to a voyage that brims with endless possibilities. Step into a glittering atrium lobby with spiralling stairways that lead to airy lounges. Don’t get a crick in your neck looking up at the glitzy decor and the bubble-glass lifts that whiz across the many decks of
Cabins, especially in the later generation ships, are fitted with all the creature comforts of 5-star hotels. They have large picture windows (some with attached balconies) that embrace the oceans and the shoreline when the ship calls in at a port. Suites are the playgrounds of over-the-top interior designers who revel in throwing in grand pianos, fully-stocked bars with barstools and tables, bathtubs with a view andbalconies with Jacuzzis.
Big is Beautiful
With the launch of each new ship, cruise companies keep raising the stakes. When Royal Caribbean International built the 16-deck ship, The Oasis of the Seas, at a staggering cost of 1.5 billion US dollars, they did not believe in half measures. It was the embodiment of the ‘big is beautiful’ philosophy. Even though it weighed in at 220,000 tons (five times the tonnage of the Titanic) and a capacity to host 5,400-passengers, The Oasis managed to look elegant—like an over-sized swan.
The maritime marvel is the embodiment of Royal Caribbean’s corporate motto: ‘Why Not?’ Hence there are signs of extravagance everywhere— 25 restaurants and 37 bars; seven neighbourhoods, including a replica of New York’s Central Park with 93 plant varieties; the Vitality at Sea spa with 29 treatment rooms, the largest at sea; a jogging track, the longest on the ocean, for seafarers who want to limber up; gracefully choreographed shows on an ice-skating ring; two Flow Rider surf simulators; a mini golf course; a basketball court; a climbing wall; a zip line nine storeys above the main deck. Then there is the Boardwalk, lined with buzzing bars, pubs, candy store, donut shop, curios stores, high fashion boutiques and a hand-carved carousel. It even sports an Aqua Theatre where high divers perform amazing stunts for guests.
Standing on the deck, wafted by soft ocean breezes at night and gazing at a star-veined sky, is still one of the unbeatable pleasures of cruising— be it on the Oasis or the hundreds of pleasure ships, big and small, that speckle the oceans of the globe.
Below is a list of some of the major cruise companies that have representative offices in India.
Tirun Travel Marketing (http://tirun.com): Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises
Lotus Destinations (www.lotusdestinations.com): Costa Cruises
Star Cruises (www.starcruises.com)
Discover the World Marketing (www.discovertheworld.in): Carnival Cruise Lines and Louis Cruise Lines
Cruise Professionals (www.cruiseprofessionals.in) Princess, Cunard and P&O
STIC Travels (www.stictravel.com): Holland America Line