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December 25, 2006

What makes a "luxury" cruise truly "ultra luxurious"?

Veteran cruisers, who have traveled on many ships, generally agree luxury cruise ships offer the following:

Inclusive pricing - In addition to wine with dinner, all alcoholic beverages, luxury lines also often include all tips in the fare. Ultra Luxury lines may also provide a special shore excursion for all guests as part of a cruise package.

Un-crowded with plenty of space - Ultra Luxury ships carry far fewer people than the mainstream ships, sometimes with as few as 110 guests. Cruisers rarely wait in line for anything.

Luxury cabin amenities - Fine quality lotions, shampoos, soaps, towels, bathrobes, bed linens and furniture are found in the cabins of luxury ships. Many cabins also offer butler service where they pack and unpack your luggage.

Gourmet cuisine - the food selections are renowned on ultra luxury ships, often prepared by world-class chefs. Only the finest ingredients are used and your meal arrives hot and fresh. Specialty restaurants also are popular, with no additional charge. In the Queens Grill of the QM2 you may order unlimited amounts of caviar and of course on all ultra luxury ships, if you do not see it on the menu, just ask and they will prepare it for you.

Recognition - With much fewer passengers to remember, a luxury ship's crew is more apt to remember you by name, especially in the dining room, at guest relations and certainly by your cabin steward.

So, which cruise lines live up to the ultra luxury standards of the most discerning travelers? Consider Crystal, Cunard (Queens & Princess Grill cabins), Regent, Seabourn, SeaDream, Silversea Cruises. All of their ships offer distinctive amenities that separate them from the "Luxury" cruises.

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