For passengers at sea, a suite has three advantages over a standard, cramped stateroom: a surplus of space, a largesse of luxuries and a plethora of perks.
Consider the experience of residing for a week in an owner’s suite on either of Oceania Cruises’ newest ships, the Marina or the Riviera. First you get space, oodles of it, with 2,000 square feet inside and a veranda outside spacious enough for its own whirlpool tub and flat-screen TV. Then there are luxury enhancements: separate living and dining rooms, a state-of-the-art media center, a fitness room and — what’s surely sheer luxury on any ship — his-and-her walk-in closets. Oh, yes, there’s a baby grand piano in there somewhere, too. Beyond sheer poshness, residents of Oceania’s owner’s suite receive early boarding, en-suite dining, access to private lounges and whatever else a passenger and the suite’s butler can dream up.
Every cruise company offers its own lineup of suites, from slightly enlarged staterooms to over-the-top maritime villas like those on Oceania. Suites exude their own sense of style and character, too. Cunard Line’s flagship Queen Mary 2, for example, has tailored its suites to reflect the Art Deco era. Cunard was the first company to take passengers on regularly scheduled trans-Atlantic crossings, and from the beginning it divided its accommodations by class, from steerage for the common man to suites for the upper crust. Something of this distinction survives today aboard the QM2, where Britannia Class passengers (85 percent) have an entire floating city to explore, but Grill Class passengers (15 percent) claim the grandest cabins. QM2’s suites, which come in many sizes and configurations, are grand indeed. The two-story Balmoral and Sandringham duplexes, with sweeping staircases and domed ceilings, are the largest, covering some 2,249 square feet, while the junior suites with private balconies and whirlpool tubs occupy a mere 381 square feet — still twice the size of standard Britannia Class cabins. Grill Class passengers enjoy their own concierge, lounge and sundeck and their own top-grade restaurant and afternoon high tea served by the fabled White Star staff.
Many premium cruise lines, such as Crystal Cruises, do not sail in the past, however. Instead, they add the latest technology and plenty of bling to their suites. After a redesign in November 2013, the 1,100-passenger Crystal Serenity gave its four 1,345-square-foot penthouse suites a thoroughly contemporary polish, introducing 3-D TVs to its den-library-media rooms and equipping its spacious ocean-view bathrooms with whirlpool tubs, separate showers, bidets, two sinks and two more TVs. Suites occupy their own two decks on the Crystal Serenity, and all come with butlers, afternoon tea service and evening hors d’oeuvres.
The suite experience, with its plus-size measurements, ample amenities and privileges, is not confined to larger lines like Cunard and Crystal. The 332-passenger M/S Paul Gauguin plies the South Pacific with nine suites aboard, four of which provide butler service, verandas and a complimentary cocktail party for eight. The suites on the 148-passenger Wind Star, a yacht-styled cruiser with computer-controlled sails, are not vast (376–575 square feet), but they cover more than twice the floor space of the standard cabins. The even smaller Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer, with 62 cabins, offers luxury river cruises for top-of-the-line Abercrombie & Kent tours in China; and two of its suites, at 1,183 square feet each, are the largest on the Yangzi. Even the tiny 88-guest S.S. Legacy, the newest vessel in the Un-Cruise Adventures fleet, has room for one suite, perched just behind the bridge on this replica turn-of-the-century coastal steamer now sailing Alaska and the Columbia and Snake rivers. The owner’s suite has a separate living room, bedroom and bathroom with whirlpool and period tile work. The living room features a library and dining table, evening hors d’oeuvres service, a 56-inch TV and a wet bar with Gold Rush-era copper sinks.
Suites are also an option on cruise lines that cater to families with children and grandchildren. Disney Cruise Line’s two newest ships, the Disney Dream and the Disney Fantasy, offer Concierge suites with living rooms, walk-in closets, media players, plush amenities and verandas. The Concierge Royal Suite, with hot tub and wet bar, is more than 10 times as large as Disney’s smallest standard cabin. And suite holders enjoy plenty of perks, including priority boarding and a special welcome reception, iPods on loan and the use of a private lounge and sundeck.
Some premium cruise lines, such as Silversea Cruises, offer nothing but suites, in categories defined by size and price. On Silversea’s newest ship, the 540-passenger Silver Spirit, choices range from the 312-square-foot Vista suites, with no balconies, to the two-bedroom owner’s suite with 1,614 square feet, making for a fully appointed apartment at sea. And while size matters, Silversea suites in all categories come with personalized butler service, a choice of nine pillow types, walk-in closets, separate showers and Laura Tonatto-brand diffused aromatherapy air fragrances.
On a recent cruise aboard the 450-passenger Seabourn Odyssey, another all-suite vessel, we booked a Verandah Suite. While not a large suite at 365 square feet, it was a stunningly spacious stateroom compared to a standard cabin. We had our own private balcony, a very welcome walk-in closet, his-and-her sinks, separate shower and tub, a flat-screen TV, makeup counter, veranda, sofa and dining table. While we needed no more, Seabourn offers larger accommodations. The Wintergreen suites are nearly three times roomier and provide dining for six, a pantry with wet bar, two flat-screen TVs, complimentary WiFi, a glassed-in solarium with soaking tub and lounge bed, and a veranda bowed out over the side of the ship. Wintergreen accommodations are certainly enhanced, but our smaller suite delivered all we desired, and more than we had ever received with any standard cabin, making the voyage especially enjoyable. A suite on a cruise ship is like a business-class seat on a plane or an executive-floor room in a hotel — it can make all the difference, especially over the long haul. If one expects to stretch out, satisfy the senses and recharge the brain cells on a cruise, a suite is the stateroom of choice.
Get to know Mexico with ONE FREE NIGHT With Fiesta Americana Get to know Mexico with the largest hotel company in the country, offering more than 185 options in the best city and resort destinations. Book at any of our hotels with the best available rate at the time of booking and get one night free.
As part of Germany’s climate package, a plan to reduce emissions, the country will raise departure taxes at German airports. Taxes will go up as much as 60 percent, and are expected to raise up to €740 million. The funds will then be used to lower VAT on rail fares from 19 percent to 7 percent.
Norwegian Cruise Line took delivery of its newest ship, Norwegian Encore, ahead of its naming ceremony Nov. 21. The 1,100-foot-long ship boasts a guest capacity of nearly 4,000. Since Norwegian Cruise Line took delivery of the shi, Oct. 30, Norwegian Encore sailed from Germany to England before making its way to New York City, then Miami, where the christening ceremony takes place next week.
Experience a big-city hotel stay that doesn’t feel like your typical urban visit at Chicago’s Claridge House, nestled in the sought-after Gold Coast neighborhood. The hotel’s sophisticated décor and serene residential ambience foster the atmosphere of an oasis amid the hustle and bustle of a busy metropolis.
Welcome to Rhodes, a medieval treasure beautifully preserved throughout the centuries. Rhodes is the capital of the Dodecanese, an island ideal not only for those who want to relax, but also for those looking for an action-packed holiday! With its bright green hills, rich green valleys and uninterrupted line of golden beaches, Rhodes is truly a blessed place. “The sun island” has more sunshiny days and milder temperatures throughout the year than any other location in Greece. It is, after all, one of the country’s easternmost places and among the first to welcome summer on its impressive beaches. Add in the excellent facilities for tourism, the island’s special blend of cosmopolitan and traditional, and numerous cultural and archaeological sites, the most important being the Medieval (Old) Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and you’ve got the perfect holiday destination. While on Rhodes, don’t miss a daytrip to nearby Sými. An island of sponge divers and seamen, Sými used to have 30,000 inhabitants before the Second World War and was the richest island in the Dodecanese, despite its small size. Today, Sými attracts many visitors thanks to its beautifully preserved Neo-Classical buildings and the famous Archangel Michael monastery at Panormitis.
Swiss-Belhotel International boasts an impressive portfolio throughout 22 countries, including 10 ASEAN member countries. This growth is continuing with the group’s new plans to debut four properties in Thailand.