Best Cruises to Take During the Summer
Luxist readers have nominated their favorite cruises to take around the world during the summer months. From Istanbul to Hong Kong and Egypt, what these cruises have in common are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to see the world while enjoying luxurious accommodations and other incredible amenities. What's best, is you will be able to explore the beauty and culture of faraway places without having to spend half of your time in confusing and crowded airports.
The top five cruises to take during the summer, according to our readers, are:
The Yachts of Seabourn's Fabled Far East Cruise
The Yachts of Seabourn's Fabled Far East Cruise (seen in photo above) offers a 24-day itinerary that begins in Bangkok, Thailand and ends in Kobe, Japan, with stops in five cities along the Pacific coastline. The first week includes stops in Vietnam's sprawling Ho Chih Minh City and bustling port of Da Nang before chugging over to Hong Kong, where shore excursions include a helicopter ride and high tea at the Peninsula Hotel.
Week two starts with a journey to mainland China's seaside city of Xiamen; the trip continues with two days in Shanghai, the "Paris of China," and wraps up with a day on the Yellow Sea. The third week takes visitors to South Korea, first to the mountain-backed city of Mokpo, then to Jeju, a volcanic island formed from eruptions nearly 2 million years ago. The trip ends with stops at Nagasaki, Kagoshima and Kobe, Japan.
The Fabled Far East cruise takes place on the Seabourn Pride, a boat that boasts both a restaurant and spa. Best Available Fares per person, based on double occupancy, start at $11,400 for wait list spot, while the brochure fare is $22,800. Fares go all the way up to $32,800 for a wait list spot in a deluxe owner's suite (the stated brochure fare is $65,600), not including airfare.
Gallery: The Yachts of Seabourn
Mediterranean Medley on Cunard's Queen Mary 2
Taking its name from Mary of Teck, grandmother of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, Cunard's Queen Mary 2is a regal ship indeed. Of all its voyages, the Mediterranean Medley is perhaps the most fitting of royalty---although its Caribbean cruise during the winter months is worth looking into also. In January, the Queen Mary 2 won the Luxist Awards Readers' Choice Award for Best Caribbean Cruise Line.
The twelve-day Mediterranean trip departs from Mayflower Pier in Southampton, England and begins with three days at sea en route to the soaring spires of Barcelona. After a full day in Spain, the ship chugs to Monte Carlo for a day of James Bond-esque diversion before heading down the Italian coast from Rome to Naples. On the tail end, stops include Gibraltar and Lisbon before returning to the U.K.
There are few better ways to experience the Mediterranean than this cruise, thanks in part to the ship itself. Upon its completion in 2004, the 1,132 feet long Queen Mary 2 became the largest ocean liner ever built---bigger than even the Titanic---a distinction it retains to this day. Built at a cost of nearly $1 billion, its cruising speed of 30 mph is about 5 mph higher than that of most modern cruise ships; as such, the exterior decks sport wind screens to protect passengers. The breathtakingly beautiful ship also boasts 14 decks, 5 swimming pools and dozens of dining rooms (fittingly, two of the most expensive options are the Princess Grill and Queens Grill) bars, ballrooms, theaters and lounges, including a Veuve Clicquot Champagne Bar.
Fares for the Mediterranean Melange itinerary start at $2,000 per person, based on double-occupancy, and can exceed $8,000 for the pricier suites.
Sea Cloud's Cruise to Greece and Turkey
Some 2,500 years ago, the warm waters between Greece and what is now Turkey were filled with the warring fleets of Persia's King Xerxes and his Greek foes. These days, the ships sailing through the Aegean are of a much more peaceful variety---none more majestic than the vessels of Sea Cloud.
One of Sea Cloud's most popular itineraries takes guests from Athens through the Greek Isles to Turkey and back again. The eight-day trip includes stops at Delos, an entire island designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site; Rhodes, where the Palace of the Grand Master still stands; and Bodrum, the Turkish town that was once home to the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, one of the original seven wonders of the world.
For those wishing to venture farther East, Sea Cloud's Athens to Cyprus trip includes stops at Knossos, island home of the fabled Minotaur; Latakia and Aleppo, one of the world's oldest continually-inhabited cities; and Tartarus, home to the Krak de Chevaliers, a Christian castle from the time of the first crusade. The trip terminates in the Cypriot city of Lanarca.
Both itineraries (which start at $3,995 per person and go all the way up to $7,995 person, not counting an early booking discount of $500) feature one of two ships: the Sea Cloud and the Sea Cloud II. The latter bristles with teak and brass, holds 94 people and is sure to instill envy in any observer---perhaps even King Xerxes himself.
Gallery: Sea Cloud Cruises
Oberoi Zahra Luxury Nile Cruise
In the play Antony and Cleopatra, Shakespeare likens Cleopatra's barge to a burnished throne burning on the water. For modern travelers with an eye for Egyptian opulence, there's no need to look farther than the Oberoi Zahra Luxury Nile Cruiser.
The eight-day voyages depart from Luxor and terminate in Aswan, or vice versa, giving passengers a taste of 5,000 years of history along the way. English-speaking Egyptologists are always available on board, and one accompanies each group of guests in the small luxury coaches that transport them to sightseeing stops onshore.
Highlights of the trip include stops at the twin temple of Komombo, where one side is dedicated to the falcon god Haroeis, the other to the crocodile god Sobek, creator of the world; the Valley of the Kings, where pharaohs from Ramses to Tut are buried; and the West Bank of ancient Thebes.
Perhaps the best part of the trip is the ship itself. The Oberoi Zahra boasts elegant cabins with wide windows, a gourmet restaurant and the only in-boat spa on the Nile. The spa includes four therapy rooms, each with a private shower and steam room-clearly facilities that Cleopatra would have demanded on a modern-day take on her barge.
Land of the Ice Bears cruise by Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic
Sea and sun are the hallmarks of most summer vacations, but the Land of the Ice Bears cruise is one of few to offer an unlimited quantity of both. Dreamed up by Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic, the getaway features a never-setting sun and plenty of polar bears.
Fly from the United States to Oslo, where you'll spend your first full day taking in the sights and sounds of metropolitan Scandinavia. Then board the fully stabilized ice-class expedition cruise ship that will transport you to Svalbard, a remote archipelago 350 miles beyond Norway's North Cape. This is the farthest that vessels are allowed to travel without an ice-breaker; still, there are plenty of floes bobbing in the icy fjords.
The wildlife, however, is anything but frozen. From the comfort of Zodiac boats and kayaks, you'll observe a plethora of creatures-reindeer, walruses, seals, arctic foxes, and of course, polar bears-frolicking amid the thawing tundra and surrounding seas. In the evening, you'll retire to your ship and its myriad amenities, including a bar, restaurant, gallery, library and lounge.
Spots on the Land of the Ice Bears cruise start at $7,500 per person (based on double occupancy) and run as high as $14,000 for the finest cabins, not including airfare. But for those intent on catching plenty of summer sun and really cooling off, this cruise is hard to beat.
Vote for the Summer Cruise that you think is the best of breed. The winner will be announced on September 1st.