Small ships packing big wallop

The majestic Royal Clipper at sunset. Small-ship sailing experiences are gaining favor with young and old alike. Image courtesy Michael Coleman

By Michael Coleman

Romance or just sheer family adventure awaits passengers on three distinctive, small-ship cruise lines.

Star Clippers’ Caribbean

The Star Clippers’ fleet — Royal Clipper (227 passengers), Star Clipper (170 passengers) and Star Flyer (170 passengers) — is offering 45 per cent off select seven-and 14-night sailings roundtrip from Barbados, St. Maarten and Costa Rica this winter.

Each an authentic tall ship, guests can immerse themselves in respective journeys where the wind charts one’s course. Climb the mast for a better view of the horizon or simply relax in the net suspended over the bow with nothing but crystalline waters below.

Look for the vessels to seek out hidden harbors and destinations untouched by larger ships. No long lines on board, no crowds plus a casually elegant atmosphere.

On the web: starclippers.com

SeaDream’s Caribbean

The twin mega-yacht cruisers are offering overnight and late night Caribbean island visits plus an array of new water toys for the young and the young at heart this fall in the Caribbean.

Look for overnight calls at St. Bart’s and tiny, exclusive Norman Island as well as active stops at the Spanish Virgin Islands of Culebra, Culebrita and Vieques with its bioluminescent bays. 

SeaDream I and II — each with just 112 guests – are now offering a new array of water toys for guests to enjoy from the vessels’ stern marinas. In addition to its zodiacs, water skis, banana boats, wave runners, floating island and snorkeling equipment, it has added twin-hulled Hobie cats, laser sailboats and glass bottom molokini kayaks and glass bottom hanauma II inflatable kayaks to the mix.

On the web: seadream.com

Galapagos Adventures

The Galapagos Explorer II, operating in the Galapagos Islands, is offering a family adventure package featuring a discount of 75 percent off the cruise rate for two children under 15 years, and an additional 50 percent discount for a third child. 

Look for snorkeling equipment, Internet access, special activities for children, and a family picture to be included in the cruise fare.

The all-suite, 100-passenger vessel features excursions led by bilingual naturalist guides. The end result? Guests enjoy a personal experience on the islands and a greater understanding of wildlife and evolution.

The adventure package is available for departures through September 2010.

On the web: galapagosexplorer.com

Days-at-sea voyages in vogue

Cunard Line is the only company that offers regularly scheduled transatlantic crossings, most often aboard the Queen Mary 2. Transocean voyages are in vogue among today’s cruise travelers. Image courtesy Cunard

By Michael Coleman

Transocean cruise travel opportunities are gaining in popularity as luxury, premium and mass market operators offer longer haul, sea-going choices than ever before.

As cruise ships large and small are seasonally repositioned from one cruising destination to another, travelers have dozens of opportunities to enjoy one of life’s most memorable and unique experiences — a voyage by ship from one continent to another.

The Cunard Line, for decades, was literally built via the transatlantic voyages offered aboard her ships and today is the only company that offers regularly scheduled transatlantic crossings on the Queen Mary 2 from April to November.

But, in this highly-competitive global industry that is cruise travel, more and more lines are offering a host of transocean opportunities as well.

In this the first of a two-part series, we’ll look at the transocean voyages being offered by the world’s best luxury cruise lines, each a member of the Cruise Lines International Association.

Next week, we’ll take a closer look at the transocean voyages being offered by the world’s top mass market and premium cruise lines.

CUNARD LINE Queen Mary 2 — Twenty-one transatlantic crossings, April-November, including classic six-day voyages between New York and Southampton, plus a seven-day option as well as eight- and nine-day crossings to Cherbourg and Hamburg,

CRYSTAL CRUISESCrystal Symphony — From Dubai to Athens, departing May 12; from London to New York, departing September 5; from New York to Los Angeles, departing November 2; Crystal Serenity — From Dubai to Athens (part of the 2010 World Cruise), departing March 15; from Rome to Barcelona, departing October 19.

REGENT SEVEN SEAS CRUISESSeven Seas Mariner — 16 nights from Fort Lauderdale to Monte Carlo departing March 22; Seven Seas Navigator — 20 nights from Fort Lauderdale to San Francisco departing May 6; 18 nights from Seward to Tianjin (Beijing) departing September 15; Seven Seas Voyager — 14 nights from Fort Lauderdale to Reykjavik departing May 12; 15 nights from Barcelona to Fort Lauderdale departing November 8.

SEABOURN CRUISE LINESeabourn Spirit — 13 days from Fort Lauderdale to Lisbon departing March 19; Seabourn Legend — 13 days from Fort Lauderdale to Lisbon departing April 8; Seabourn Legend — 13 days from Malaga to Fort Lauderdale departing November 20; Seabourn Odyssey — 13 days from Nice to Fort Lauderdale departing December 6.

SEADREAM YACHT CLUBSeaDream I — 13 days from San Juan to Malaga departing April 30; 12 days from Malaga to San Juan departing October 14; SeaDream II — 12 days from Barbados to Malaga departing April 25; 2 days from Barbados to Malaga departing November 8.

SILVERSEA CRUISESSilver Spirit — 14 days from New York to Southampton departing April 23; Silver Cloud — 15 Days from San Juan, Puerto Rico to Barcelona, Spain, departing April 14; Silver Whisper — 12 Days from Southampton, U.K. to New York City, New York, departing September 2; Silver Shadow — 16 Days from Vancouver, British Columbia to Tokyo, Japan, departing Sept. 12.

SeaDream I to receive an Admiral Suite and a sprucing up

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When SeaDream I, one of two luxurious twin mega yacht cruisers, returns from her scheduled dry docking in Lisbon in June she’ll feature a new and additional passenger accommodation, The Admiral Suite. It’s a 375-square foot seagoing hideaway. Her sister yacht, SeaDream II, received an Admiral Suite late last year. Continue reading “SeaDream I to receive an Admiral Suite and a sprucing up”