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Luca Locatelli

Experience an Unforgettable Cruise: Luxury, Wellness and Expeditions

State-of-the-art achievements in shipping make the appeal of a luxury cruise even more exciting. Indulge in gourmet and golf cruises, enjoy wellness on board and experience wonderful expeditions: Today, the high seas are more popular than ever before.

April 19, 2024


© MSC Rights

The beginnings of the cruise were of a practical nature. However, as in so many cases, a new lifestyle trend was promptly created that still enjoys great popularity today. The origins of today's luxury cruise can be found in 19th century passenger steamship travel across the Atlantic, which had become indispensable for emigration purposes in particular. But this journey was not only uncomfortable during the winter months but also dangerous. Which is why, in the late 19th century, large-scale pleasure cruises to warmer climes were planned so that passenger ships wouldn't be left unused in port during the cold season - and lose revenue as a result. However, the advent of the passenger airplane in the middle of the 20th century meant that Atlantic shipping became considerably less important. A new business model was needed, and luxury cruising, initially reserved for elite and wealthy circles, was expanded.

High society on the high seas

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For ladies and gentlemen of the upper classes, being a passenger on a cruise was truly a status symbol. Champagne flowed in torrents, caviar and oysters were consumed in abundance and lavish gala evenings were part of the regular evening program. The dress code was just as glamorous - a frequent change of outfit was a must.

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Over the decades, however, cruise ships demanded more customers and the pleasure of cruising became accessible to other income brackets. Larger ships in different price categories as well as themed and event cruises became the norm from the 1960s onwards. Casinos, hairdressers and discos on board made cruising a hit among the middle classes. However, the cruise slowly lost its luster and became a cliché for overcrowded mass tourism by the mid-1990s. Like the tides, however, this was soon to change again.

The renaissance of the luxury cruise

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With the arrival of providers such as Regent Seven Seas, Silversea and Seabourn, which are setting new standards in the industry, cruises are now back at the top of the luxury travel segment. Elegant ships with the best facilities, outstanding cuisine that can compete with the world's best restaurants, a manageable maximum number of passengers and an abundance of top staff have helped cruising to experience an absolute renaissance.

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For adventure seekers, a constantly growing range of destinations off the beaten track has made cruises more attractive than ever before. There's hardly a better way to explore Antarctica, including the infamous Drake Strait, cross Norwegian fjords or explore the Galapagos Islands. After all, caution is required when traveling to such destinations and experienced providers - such as Hurtigruten or PONANT - can guarantee the utmost safety and you'll be accompanied by experienced guides.

© Dietmar Denger

Never before in the history of cruises has there been such a diverse range of offers - and the trend is constantly growing. Current trends include gourmet cruises, as Explora Journeys skillfully demonstrates with award-winning star chefs from all over the world. Market-leading wellness concepts that blend time-honored traditions with modern innovation, as established by Silversea, also attract those seeking relaxation on the high seas. You'll find another renaissance in family-friendly adventure cruises, such as those offered by Princess Cruises, which are also enjoying renewed popularity among groups of friends.

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In the sports segment, the demand for golf trips to the best greens, as can be experienced with Hapag-Lloyd, is increasing considerably. And no matter how adventurous the destinations become, ultra-luxury is always in demand, whether in the form of the spectacular and magnificent ships of Regent Seven Seas, where guests want for nothing, or an expedition trip with the charm and privacy of a yacht à la Scenic. It'll be interesting to see which direction cruising will take next. One thing is certain: as long as the seas of this world are in motion, they'll be crossed by ships that regularly test the limits of the possible and make the impossible possible.

This article appeared in the Falstaff TRAVEL issue Spring 2024.

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