Dispelling Myths: The Cruise

From glamorous ocean liners to super-sized floating hotels, cruises have a controversial reputation. In recent years, travelers have scoffed at the thought of cramming themselves onto a massive boat with hundreds of strangers, deeming the scene unsophisticated and the experiences inauthentic. However, when done well, and in specific regions, a cruise can offer the ultimate getaway complete with larger-than-life adventures and elegant accommodations.

Silversea, Ama Waterways, Crystal Cruises and Ponant are several of Indagare’s­ preferred cruise lines. A departure from the stereotypical mega-cruise, these ships provide truly authentic getaways to both classic and hard-to-reach locations, from Anguilla to the Arctic. Paired with five-star experiences and exquisite cuisine, these cruises proudly contradict many of the industry’s widely known clichés. Here, Indagare debunks some myths about setting sail.

Interested in traveling on a cruise? Contact Indagare for customized recommendations, tips and preferred pricing and amenities.

Myth: Cruises are crowded
One of the many concerns of cruise-goers is that they will never ‘get away from it all’—which is, for some, the very aim of a vacation. Fortunately, Ama Waterways’ ships accommodate a maximum of 165 passengers on each journey, meaning guest cabins, common spaces and restaurants are decidedly un-crowded. Crystal Cruises boasts the Espirit, a “boutique hotel on water,” with 62 elegant suites, and the French cruise line Ponant offers similarly small ships, which range from 32-132 rooms and more closely resemble private yacht charters than cruises. Each of these journeys features experiences and excursions that tactfully aim to avoid crowds, moving along alternative routes and planning activities that are far from the typical tourist track.

Myth: Activities are limited
While many cruise lines adhere to the ‘hop on, hop off’ method (featuring large, hurried tours that limit guests’ experience), the best cruises fully immerse visitors in each destination. From the cultural riches of China to the icy shores of Antarctica, journeys with Indagare’s preferred cruise lines offer a plethora of exciting, unique excursions. Smaller ships often pull into ports that larger vessels cannot (to provide guests with the most exclusive access to locations), be it the hidden jewels of Sicily, the natural wonders of Greenland or secret inlets in French Polynesia. On board, the much-lauded Silversea cruise line features guest chefs and vintners, plus elegant card rooms with bridge instructors; Ama Waterways hosts live music (be it a pianist or Bavarian quartet) each night; and many Crystal Cruises ships have tennis courts, libraries, swim-up bars and wine tastings and cooking classes on offer.

Related: Boutique Luxury at Sea: Le Lyrial

Myth: Cruises are not sophisticated
More reminiscent of sleek, modern hotels than of cruise ships, many of the best vessels boast refined décor and contemporary design. Crystal Cruises ships offer a number of elegant hangouts, including gentlemen’s club­–style saloons and alfresco dining spaces. Each of Ponant’s five ships is distinct in design and layout (one is a three-masted sailing yacht). Guest cabins on board are comfortable and stylish and many feature panoramic windows allowing for sublime views. All Indagare preferred cruises have spas and salons with a variety of high-end therapies such as massages and hammam treatments. And foodies will not be disappointed, as these cruise lines put a premium on their sophisticated on-board cuisines: Ama Waterways integrates culinary offerings with the destination, serving dishes like bratwurst in Vienna or camembert cheese in France, while Ponant highlights French fare and frequently features ingredients sourced from the ports.

Myth: They’re inauthentic
Indagare’s preferred cruises aim to immerse travelers in the destination and provide opportunities for meaningful interaction with locals and notable experts, be it traveling to Antarctica with the Pole’s former ambassador or exploring European capitals with a famed pianist. A draw for Francophiles, Ponant cruises are rich with French influence and ‘joie de vivre.’ Each ship is staffed with a French crew, and guests enjoy special touches like Ladurée macaroons and Veuve Clicquot Champagne. The cruise line further distinguishes itself with its commitment to environmental protection, as vessels are designed to minimize their ecological impact.

Related: The Importance of Guides

Myth: Cruises provide a canned experience
In addition to the five-star amenities of a large ship, these cruise lines provide the flexibility, privacy and exclusivity of a yacht charter. Guests are invited to design their own schedule around outings that cater to their specific interests. Many expeditions from Silversea, Ponant and Ama Waterways are themed and customized for foodies, families or die-hard adventurers, and excursions are led by experts in such fields as geology, photography, wildlife and marine biology. Many of these specialists also give lectures for guests in tandem with activities. Ama Waterways carries complimentary bicycles on board, so guests can explore each port on their own or with a guide. (Guided hikes are also offered in some destinations). Further distinguishing itself from the norm, Silversea hosts expeditions to destinations as far-flung as the Russian Far East (including visits to hot springs and volcanoes), Greenland (for polar bear encounters) and New Zealand.

Related: Indagare Journey: A Family Sabbatical

Interested in traveling on a cruise? Contact Indagare for customized recommendations, tips and preferred pricing and amenities.

– Blair West on April 13, 2017

Quotable

For those who wish to do a multi-country itinerary with ease, cruise ships offer an undeniable appeal: you only have to unpack once, yet each day you wake up in a new city.
~ Indagare's Eliza Harris

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