Did We Mention the Gold Leaf Risotto?
Food is always one of the highlights of any cruise, particularly in the speciality restaurants. On luxury cruise lines, the quality of the food is of course consistently excellent, and there may or may not be a cover charge to eat in the speciality restaurants.
Whether it’s gold leaf risotto in Silversea’s Le Champagne restaurant, authentic French food in Tarragon on Europa 2 or caviar brunches with Regent Seven Seas Cruises – food is superb, and wine is usually included with meals, while on some lines (Uniworld, for example) the Champagne and spirits flow freely too. On board Oceania’s new Sirena, fresh from its $40m makeover, dining in all the speciality restaurants, including new Italian restaurant Tuscan Steak, serving fresh seafood and sublime steaks, and contemporary Asian-inspired Red Ginger, is complimentary.
Viking Cruises’ ships Viking Star and Viking Sea combine the features of some of the larger ships with the intimate atmosphere of a boutique luxury vessel. Dining options on board include main venue The Restaurant as well as The Chef’s Table, serving different themed offerings every night, cafés serving afternoon tea and even a waffle house, all with complimentary drinks. “Viking continues to offer excellent cuisine and guests are free to dine in any of our restaurants without paying extra,” says Wendy Atkin-Smith, MD of Viking Cruises.
Sophisticated but never dull, entertainment on board luxury cruise lines is diverse, with everything from intimate cabaret-style shows and piano bars to top-name affiliations.
Holland America Line’s new MS Koningsdam features the fabulous BB King’s Blues Club, while music legend Midge Ure will be appearing in an exclusive acoustic show during Cunard’s Queen Mary 2’s transatlantic crossing to New York in September. The ship also boasts the only planetarium at sea, with shows voiced by performers including Tom Hanks.
Smaller ships, particularly the river cruise lines, often bring local performers on board, and offer a wide variety of enrichment programmes, including guest speakers.
The Silver Perspectives Enrichment Programme from Silversea includes onboard guest speakers, shore side activities and even specialist culinary and wine voyages.
On board Regent’s new Seven Seas Explorer, the state-of-the-art Culinary Arts Kitchen will host hands on cooking classes all with personal instruction.
Seen and Not Heard?
Of course, just because you choose a luxury cruise, it doesn’t mean that you can’t take the children with you.
Luxury cruise lines want to portray a relaxed and elegant atmosphere so although many provide activities for children, they don’t tend to promote them too vigorously.
Managing Director of Iglu and Planet Cruises, Simone Clark, agrees: “The six star luxury lines tend to be smaller ships and although they aren’t strictly adults only, there aren’t many children on board as they aren’t especially catered for, although they are made to feel welcome.”
Some luxury cruise lines – Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, for example – offers small but perfectly formed and very cool spaces for children along with interconnecting staterooms.
The trend for multi-generational cruising is booming and most cruise lines offer family or interconnecting staterooms.
Holland America Line offers Club HAL, with supervised activities for kids from 3 to 17 years old, including special cooking classes in the onboard Culinary Arts Centre.