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Sunday, November 13, 2011

What's new in luxury cruising?

It is not just six-star lines that are more affordable. Oceania Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises, which bridge the gap between the mass market and the top, are giving away flights and including gratuities in the prices. Cunard has a seven-night transatlantic crossing in December from £599 per person including one-way flight.

New on board

Crystal Cruises is going more inclusive in 2012. From March (Crystal Symphony) and May (Crystal Serenity) alcoholic and soft drinks, and gratuities, will be included in the cruise price.

Silversea’s culinary trainer, David Bilsland, is running free Relais & Châteaux-designed cookery workshops on 20 of the line’s cruises next year. Courses cover everything from knife skills to sauces and baking.

Celebrity Cruises’ “extend your stay” option, available in Europe next year, lets you stay on board on disembarkation day until 90 minutes before the vessel sets sail. The $59 (£37) price includes coffee, tea and lunch.

Queen Mary 2’s Golden Lion Pub is to be redesigned as a pub-cum-American-country-club by December; enough carpet to fill 10 football fields will spruce up public areas; all cabins and suites will get new furnishings.

The perks

Free flights and transfers: Available on all 2012 cruises with Crystal. On Silversea it applies to all 2012 European cruises. Until November 30, Azamara Club Cruises is giving away free flights and a pre or post-cruise hotel night on selected 2012 cruises.

?Free credit: Silversea is giving away $1,500 (£934) per suite for cruises of 22 days or more, to be used on shore excursions, spa treatments and dining in the $200 (£125) per person Le Champagne restaurant. There’s $500 (£311) per suite for bookings of up to seven days; $1,000 (£623) for cruises of from eight to 21 days.

Free hotels: With all bookings for 2013, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, the world’s most inclusive cruise line, is adding a free night pre-cruise in a luxury hotel.

Grand discount: Oceania Cruises will pay your gratuities if you book before the end of 2011 one of its new “grand voyages” (between 23 and 71 days) launched for winter 2012/13. You will also get a five per cent discount and $250 on-board credit.

New itineraries

Regent Seven Seas Cruises is spending four days in Japan on a cruise from Hong Kong to Beijing departing on February 27, 2013. There’s a day in Naha, a day in Hiroshima and two in Osaka, plus visits to Taiwan, Shanghai, South Korea and Dalian in China. From £7,679 per person including flights, transfers, shore excursions, drinks and gratuities.

Richard Corrigan, who owns a London restaurant in Mayfair, will be sharing recipes and tips and hosting cookery demonstrations on Crystal Cruises’ food-and-wine-themed 21-night voyage from Dover to Civitavecchia (Rome) on May 24. From £3,005 per person including return flight, drinks and gratuities.

Seabourn is sailing Canada and New England cruises from Montreal next autumn. A 10-day cruise on September 29 visits towns and cities along the St Lawrence River including Gaspé, Halifax, Bar Harbor and Boston. From £3,150 per person including drinks and gratuities, but excluding flights.

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