Many of our photos on the J5Travel website and that appear weekly in our newsletter are taken by our daughter, Maisie, who turns 18 today. Happy Birthday. She's grown up so quickly, makes us proud all the time, and loves her travel photography. With her off to college in 6 months time, we will feel less guilty about our own travels, and our plans are already starting to add up this year...more on that soon.
At our Charlotte workshop last week, we enjoyed a presentation from Scenic Cruises, who are about to change the game in cruising and herald a new era of ultra luxury small ships, sailing itineraries for the truly adventurous and discerning. It's the most I've ever been excited by a ship, and at some point we aim to enjoy a cruise such as the amazing opportunities below.
TOP 5 SMALL SHIP CRUISES - ADVENTURE WITHOUT THE CROWDS
1. Scenic Eclipse
Now only 6 months from launch, booking cruises through 2020, and with a sister ship to come next year. With a whole new design that will enable sailing as a "Discovery Yacht", guests will have access in different parts of the world to two seven-seat helicopters, a seven-seat submarine, zodiacs, kayaks and much more. The suites (above) will start at 410 sq ft. and the maximum number of passengers is capped at 228. Most exciting itinerary announced thus far - the 12 day Ultimate Antarctica. I do like Scenic's tagline - Where Luxury Meets Discovery.
I've highlighted this very small ship cruise line before, but they are well worth the air time. Whilst the cabins may not be luxurious, passengers adore the off-the-beaten-track and up-close-and-personal ecotourism combined with personal service as good as any upscale cruise. If you love wildlife, hiking, snorkeling, kayaking (directly off the back of the ship - photo), and you never want to dress up for dinner, this is for you. Would get my vote as the top cruise experience in the Galapagos aboard La Pinta - just 48 guests.
3. Seabourn Ovation
Launching in the Spring, this ship will maintain the cruise line's overall lead in the luxury small ship category. Seabourn excels at the quality and style of service on board. Staff number nearly as many as guests and they are recruited, trained and managed to encourage a focus on the delight of each guest as an individual. My favorite upcoming itinerary - 14 days Thailand and Vietnam beginning in Hong Kong, ending in Singapore.
4. Silversea - Silver Cloud Expedition
Refurbished last year, this 254 passenger luxury small ship sails where the large cruise lines can't go, and does it in absolute style. For example, from Edinburgh, Scotland, and across the North Sea. Then north along the Norwegian coast heading in to fjords along the way. Then in to the Arctic Circle to the Svalbard northern region and Longyearbyen, the world's most northerly city.
Reservations open in May for the first sailings after launch in 2019. Yes, Ritz-Carlton have 3 luxury mega-yachts on the way, each accommodating just under 300 guests in All-Suite accommodation. At the moment, we still have to guess on the itineraries, but I am thinking high end European destinations will be among the first. Sven Elverfeld of Aqua, the three Michelin-starred restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton, Wolfsburg is responsible for taking onboard dining to new heights.
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