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Cruise Guide: Luxury lines unveil shorter itineraries

By Michael Coleman 

Short cruise getaways are now being offered by many of the worlds leading premium and luxury brands.

Best known for in-depth itineraries and longer days at sea, premium lines like Celebrity and Holland America and luxury brands (Cunard, Regent, Silversea) are tapping into consumer demand.

Celebrity Century, for instance, will return from a summer/fall season in Europe to offer a host of short itineraries departing from Miami in 2009. These include a two-night roundtrip to the Bahamas; four-night roundtrips to Key West and Cozumel; and five-night voyages to Ocho Rios, Jamaica and Georgetown, Grand Cayman. An alternate five-night itinerary combines Key West with Georgetown. Look for these voyages through April, 2009.

The pioneer of transatlantic travel, Cunard, continues to be the only cruise line to offer regularly scheduled, six-day transatlantic crossings aboard Queen Mary 2. In addition, the ship will offer two special short cruises, roundtrip from New York in 2009: a five-day Fourth of July Getaway to Halifax, Nova Scotia and Boston July 1-6; and a four-day Labor Day Getaway to St. John, New Brunswick over the Labor Day weekend. 

Cunards Queen Victoria will offer four, four-day trips in Europe in 2009, all roundtrips from Southampton: the Spring Adventure featuring Cherbourg, Rotterdam and Zeebrugge departing May 2; and the “Gallic Getaway” featuring the same ports and departing August 29, October 22 and December 5. 

The West Coast, Caribbean and Australia/New Zealand will be the star attractions for Holland Americas short cruise program in the coming year. Five ships will offer one- to five-day sailings from Vancouver in September as the vessels are repositioned to other parts of the world. Destinations include San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle. The Oosterdam also will make a three-day trip on September 27, from Seattle to Vancouver. 

Newly-christened Eurodam offers a three-day roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale October 15 to the Bahamas. On March 16, 2009, the Volendam will feature a three-day sailing between Auckland and Sydney.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises has one itinerary that is less than one week in length. On May 10, 2009, the Seven Seas Navigator will depart from Funchal on the island of Madeira and arrive, six nights later, in Monte Carlo on the European Riviera. After a day at sea, the ship will call at Malaga, Valencia, Barcelona, and St. Tropez. 

Silversea, meanwhile, offers a unique twist for potential passengers. The lines Personalized Voyages program enables vacationers to check in and check out from their voyage according to their own needs and wishes. 

Instead of being locked into a fixed number of days aboard ship, Silversea guests are able to customize their voyage by selecting their ports of embarkation and disembarkation, creating a journey as short as five days. This could mean a few days on the French or Italian rivieras or a luxurious honeymoon experience completely tailored to individual interests and personalized time frames.

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