Thursday, September 18, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Going to sea in grand style

In a Garden Villa on Norwegian's Jewel, you have room to roam (5,750 square feet) and a baby grand piano in case the musical spirit moves you.
In a Garden Villa on Norwegian's Jewel, you have room to roam (5,750 square feet) and a baby grand piano in case the musical spirit moves you.
In a Garden Villa on Norwegian's Jewel, you have room to roam (5,750 square feet) and a baby grand piano in case the musical spirit moves you. Gallery: Going to sea in grand style
You certainly can live large, at least for a week or two, by cruising on almost any of today's mega ocean liners or on any of the small fleet of luxury vessels that crisscross the Seven Seas.

In some of the poshest digs afloat, you can dream the big dream. As your ship roams the oceans, you can roam an elegant suite - a duplex apartment the size of a modest house! - soak in marble tubs with solid-gold faucets, dine on your private veranda overlooking azure waters, and have a white-gloved butler at your beck and call around the clock.

If you want to go all out, blow the whole wad and cruise like a movie star. Here are a few of the most regal digs afloat that knocked our socks off. And we do mean posh, drop-dead gorgeous suites suitable for the millionaire in you.

Crystal Cruises

Turn up the volume on your state-of-the-art Bang & Olufsen sound system and tune out the world in any of four penthouse suites on Crystal Serenity. In these plush, 1,300-square-foot-plus pads, you get your own treadmill and private workout area. That's in addition to the master bath and Jacuzzi with ocean view. Not to mention a private veranda, library, and free wine, beer and soft drinks. But you might have to fight with one of Crystal's seasoned travelers for the privilege. One woman regularly books a Crystal penthouse for herself on the line's world cruises at a cost of $500,000, we're told. For mere mortals, fares range from roughly $19,570 to $49,320 per person double occupancy, depending on itinerary and length of cruise.

Norwegian Cruise Line

NCL's high-end suites offer a combination that's hard to beat: big-ship amenities with small-ship intimacy. The line's swanky Garden Villas on the Jewel and Pearl, for instance, really let you stretch your legs in as much as 5,750 square feet of space. The villas have a living room, dining room and three bedrooms, each with a private bathroom. In the Garden Villas' private courtyard, shared by 10 suites, passengers also get to laze in their own sun beds, soak in a hot tub, revitalize in male or female steam rooms, and exercise in a small fitness area - plus get the personal attention of a butler and concierge service.

If you're lucky, you might rub elbows with Rosie O'Donnell, who, we're told, especially likes the posh digs with the baby grand piano. The tab for luxuriating in a private resort within a ship: $26,000. But that's for up to six people.

Cunard Cruise Line

For any of Queen Mary 2's five duplex apartments with two stories of glass windows overlooking the sea, you might have to line up behind Uma Thurman, Angela Bassett and John Cleese. This legendary line shouts upper-crust and refined taste. But in any of the accommodations in its high-rent district, ranging from 1,566 to 2,249 square feet (or combined to create a 9,000-square-foot seagoing home), you get more than just attentive butler service and tea at 4 - a lot more. You get your own exercise area, balcony, two marble bathrooms with tub and shower, and a guest bathroom with shower. With apartments dubbed the Windsor or Buckingham, premium prices come with the territory. Six days crossing the Atlantic in one of the duplexes runs about $23,000 per person. Decide to spend three months circling the globe, and fork over about $200,000.

Seabourn Cruise Line

We may be sticking our necks out here, but probably not too far, to suggest that when the Odyssey debuts in June 2009, its Winter Garden Grand Suite will be a stunner. The super-luxe line already boasts some knockout owner suites on its yachtlike vessels - Pride, Spirit and Legend. But the Odyssey will go further. Combined with a smaller suite, the Grand Suite will encompass 1,182 square feet, plus 215 square feet of private veranda, including a glass-enclosed solarium (hence the "Winter Garden" moniker). The price of luxury: nearly $50,000 per person to spend two weeks afloat in the Mediterranean.

Silversea Cruises

You can loll about in understated luxury in either of the 1,264-square-foot Owner's Suites aboard the Silver Shadow or Silver Whisper. Accommodating up to six, the spacious two-bedroom suites with cherry wood furnishings open out toward the sea with two private teak verandas spanning an additional 280 square feet. Each of the bedrooms sports two walk-in closets, two marble baths with separate showers, a powder room, and a full-sized Jacuzzi. Let's not forget the LavAzza espresso maker for your breakfast Joe or the Aqua di Parma bath amenities, 320-thread-count Egyptian-cotton bed linens and goose-down pillows, plus Pommery champagne upon arrival and replenished as you please. Prix fixe is about $2,400 per person - that's per day, based on double occupancy - that includes gratuities for the butler and everyone else.

Sea Cloud Cruises

Still considered among the poshest digs for swells on the swells are the incomparable owners' suites aboard the Sea Cloud, the largest private luxury yacht when it was launched in 1931. The restored, 360-foot, four-masted barque, built as the private playground for cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post and market mogul E.F. Hutton, continues to pamper 64 passengers in a manner still suitable for high-hat frolicking.

Lady Marjorie's and Sir Edward Francis Hutton's suites (410 and 366 square feet, respectively) retain the grandeur of old with rich woods, decor and amenities. Lady Marjorie's all-white suite, for example, lets you sleep in a Louis XIV-style, king-sized bed and bathe in a 97-square-foot bathroom with a pink Carrara marble tub and marble sink with golden swan fixtures. After your bath, tuck your feet under your yummy robe and warm yourself befroe a marble fireplace. What price luxury? Less than $9,000 per person for a week of pampering and indulgence.


Living It Up

Crystal Cruises

1-888-722-0021

www.crystalcruises.com

Norwegian Cruise Line

1-866-234-0292

www.ncl.com

Cunard Cruise Line

1-800-728-6273

www.cunard.com

Seabourn Cruise Line

1-800-929-9391

www.seabourn.com

Silversea Cruises

1-800-722-9955

www.silversea.com

Sea Cloud Cruises

1-800-628-8929

www.seacloud.com

Arline and Sam Bleecker Chicago Tribune
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