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Lifestyles of the rich and famous: seaside edition

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On September - 2 - 2007

Who says you can’t travel in luxury style on a mass-market cruise ship? In recent years, cruise lines have courted the wealthy with some extravagant – and pricey – offerings designed to register high on the “Wow!” meter. Want to sip from a bottle of 1959 Château Lafite-Rothschild? How about a private party on a private island, or a massage in your own cabana, or maybe a personal portside shopper? No problem. Check out these offerings for folks with money to burn.

Holland America’s costly cabanas

The cabanas on Holland America’s private island, Half Moon Cay, are very posh and pricey. Dubbed “The Private Oasis,” each of these 15 cabanas measures 1,620 square feet and can accommodate 25 people. Each comes equipped with a sun deck, a covered deck, an eight-person hot tub, teak furniture, a barbeque area, a wet bar, a refrigerator, a massage table, an iPod entertainment system, men’s and women’s changing rooms, indoor and outdoor showers with heated fresh water, and a 100-foot walkway with misting stations. And, oh yeah, each cabana has its own private beach with a water slide and a lifeguard.

How much does all this cost for the day? The “Palm Package” has a base price of $1,195 for up to 12 people, including all beverages (alcoholic and nonalcoholic), assorted snacks and a barbeque lunch prepared by a personal chef and served by a butler. Each additional guest is another $99. Upgrades are available. For example, lunch can be upgraded to fresh seafood and include a masseuse for short massages; cost: an extra $500 for the first 12 people and $125 for each additional person. For those who want to go all-out, there is the “Ultimate Oasis Package,” which includes Russian caviar served with iced vodka, iced crab legs and unlimited Dom Perignon. The lunch is served with fine china, crystal, crisp white linens and silverware. Cost: $5,995 for the first 12 people; $395 for each additional guest.

Can’t afford the ultimate? Don’t fret. Holland America does offer more affordable beach cabanas, for four people, which come equipped with a refrigerator, ceiling fan, air conditioner and a private terrace with lounges and misting showers. The starting price is $249 and includes nonalcoholic beverages and snacks. For an additional $270 you can upgrade to the “Butler Service Package,” which adds the butler along with a wider selection of drinks and a picnic lunch.

Crystal Cruises’ wine-and-dine

This year, Crystal Cruises introduced its “Ultimate Vintage Room Dinner,” a luxury dining experience featuring some of the rarest wines in the world. The first eight-course French dinner was prepared by Master Chef André Soltner, former chef/owner of world-famous Lutèce, and it was paired with, among other wines, a nearly impossible-to-get 1959 Château Lafite-Rothschild Bordeaux and a Screaming Eagle cabernet sauvignon from Napa Valley, vintage 1996, considered its dream year. The dinners are held a few times a year on both Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity, and are priced at $1,000 per person.

Norwegian Cruise Lines’ Garden Villas

Want to be king of the ship? For $26,000 a week, you can stay in one of the two 5,000-square- foot “Garden Villa Suites” available on the Norwegian Dawn, Norwegian Gem, Norwegian Jewel, Norwegian Pearl, Norwegian Star and Pride of Hawaii. For that not-insignificant sum you get three bedrooms, three baths, a private roof terrace, a private living room with a grand piano, a private garden, your own private hot tub, a butler and private limousine service to and from the pier.

Cunard Line’s royal accommodations

Champagne, fresh orchids, Waterford crystal and a white-gloved butler to cater to your whims – welcome to the world of Cunard Line’s luxury “Grills” staterooms. Ranging in size from 508 to 2,121 square feet, these accommodations feature full-sized bathrooms, an in-room bar and the finest linens. In addition to posh accommodations, Grills passengers receive the services of a concierge and their own exclusive dining rooms and lounges — the Queens Grill and Princess Grill (hence the name of the staterooms). When the line’s newest ship, Queen Victoria, launches in December, Grill-level facilities will be even more secluded and will offer private elevators to the dining areas and a private open-air terrace. What’s the price for the royal treatment? On a Queen Mary 26-day summer trans-Atlantic crossing, Grills staterooms range in price from $4,795 to a whopping $24,645 per person (based on double occupancy).

Silversea’s silver palate

Ultraluxury line Silversea Cruises is already known for its fantastic cuisine, but it, too, offers some exclusive dining opportunities, including separately priced menus and wine lists, for its most discriminating passengers. For example, aboard the Silver Shadow and the Silver Whisper, guests can dine at “Le Champagne,” a specialty wine restaurant presented by Relais & Châteaux. Aboard the Silver Wind and the Silver Cloud, it’s “La Saletta,” also a Relais & Châteaux creation.

These intimate, reservations-only venues, which are limited to 30 diners each evening, offer menus that pair fine cuisine with celebrated wines — some costing more than $1,000 a bottle. The “dégustation” menus change daily and cost $200 per person.

Seabourn helps you shop till you drop

For local expertise in buying the best merchandise a city has to offer, Seabourn offers guests access to its personal shopping specialists. A customized tour with one of these experts includes the use of a luxury private car and visits to the boutiques and ateliers of the finest local designers, craftsmen and artists. The service is available at an array of ports from Florence to Bangkok at prices ranging from $295 to $895, depending on the location and length of the shopping trip.

Ah … Costa spa

For those more interested in the spa experience than in the ship’s other facilities, Costa Cruises offers Samsara Spa staterooms and suites on board the Costa Concordia and Costa Serena. On the Concordia there are 55 Samsara staterooms and 12 Samsara suites; on the Serena there are 87 Samsara staterooms and 12 Samsara suites. These staterooms have a private elevator to the spa and a few extras that don’t come with an ordinary cabin, such as flat-screen TVs and bathrobes. Guests in the Samsara cabins and suites have unlimited access to the spa plus two treatments and fitness or meditation lessons as part of their package. How much for all this pampering? Costa says it charges 20 percent more for these staterooms.

For my money, cruising is always a great experience. But if I had money to burn, I’d take it straight down to the cruise dock. The Cunard Grills accommodations and Seabourn’s personal shopper sure sound good to me.

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