Luxury Cruises Go Beyond the Cruise Norm
No tipping. On luxury cruises, tips are usually either included in the cruise fare (without any break down) or are added to your bill automatically. This is a trend across all levels of cruising but has been standard on luxury lines for awhile. If you want to tip a steward or butler extra, feel free to leave a cash gift at the end of your cruise.
Alcohol is included in the price. Policies vary, but at a minimum, beer and wines are usually included with lunch and dinner on luxury lines. Most wines and spirits are included on Silversea, Seabourn, Regent Seven Seas, and Crystal.
The casino is quiet. That’s because it’s small. Most luxury lines have casinos that consist of a few table games and a handful of slot machines. They are far cry from the noisy hotspots of mainstream cruise ships.
No belly flop contests. Poolside entertainment usually consists of music or cultural dancing, not hairy-leg contests.
No towel animal demonstration. And, gasp– there may not even be towel animals.
There are more pool chairs than there are people who want them. One of the most delightful benefits of luxury cruising is a distinct lack of pool lounger hogging.
The shore excursion descriptions don’t all have the word “beach” in them. Luxury cruises tend to focus on destination-intensive excursions that include culinary, educational, and cultural experiences, with a few beaches thrown in for good measure.
The cheesecake is actual cheesecake. Expect the food of the highest quality on a luxury cruise– there won’t be any skimping.
The butler went to school to learn how to be a butler. If your suite has a butler, the service will be above and beyond what you would expect on a mainstream cruise.
There is not a food service area around every corner. There will be plenty of food, but don’t expect to find a donut shop or burger joint around every turn. Food service areas often do double duty, with breakfast buffets and pool grills converting to alternate dining venues in the evening.
There is not a disco ball in any venue. Luxury cruises are not exactly known for glittery nightlife. There are plenty of bars, maybe even one with dancing; it’s just a little more subdued.
There’s no disco trivia. That doesn’t mean there won’t be trivia– but it most likely won’t be about 80’s music.
Nobody really cares how many cruises you have been on. Most passengers on luxury cruises have probably been on multiple cruises before, but it’s definitely not a “thing” they announce with pins or badges. The cruise lines also tend to downplay “status” among previous guests as well. It is rare that any distinction is made between those who are on their first cruise with or someone on their fiftieth.
The cruise director will know your name by the end of the cruise. Luxury cruises operate on a smaller scale. As such, it becomes easier to get to know the crew. Lines like Silversea actually work extra hard to make it feel like the entire staff knows you personally by the end of the cruise.
There’s not a single selfie stick on board. You will see a wide variety of camera equipment, but most luxury cruisers are beyond the age of the selfie stick.
The smoothies are included. One of the best benefits of luxury cruises is that so many things are included in the price– smoothies, specialty coffees, and specialty dining venues, to name a few.
No bill for the mini bar. Obviously, every cruise line is different, and you should double check, but in most cases, at the very minimum, soft drinks in the mini-bar are included in your cabin price. On Viking Ocean, the mini bar is stocked each day with soft drinks and snacks at no charge. On Silversea, the butler ensures that your mini bar always has your favorite wine, beer, and soft drinks.
The Wifi is included and it actually works in your suite. It is rare to find additional charges for Wi-Fi on a luxury cruise, and the quality of the signal is usually much better than on mainstream ships.
There are very few inside cabins. Azamara has a few inside cabins, as to some Oceania ships. Most newer ships will have been configured with maximum space devoted to outside and balcony staterooms and suites.
Your ship may be the only one in port. Luxury cruises sail to ports that larger ships cannot accommodate. They also serve seasonal areas for extended periods of time. Those two things combine to make for a far more enjoyable port experience in most cases.
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Disclosure: Gary and I have been hosted by both Silversea and Viking Ocean cruise lines. Opinions are my own. Also, any outside links to articles with my name in the byline, are links to stories which I have been paid to write by the respective publication—I am not paid to place their links here.