By Greg Aragon
When considering a big, exciting trip such as a cruise, it’s good to get an early start on planning. So when I recently received brochures from a couple of cruise lines I’ve been wanting to experience, I knew it was time to start researching.
The cruise lines that I am looking at for a possible trip in late 2019 or early 2020 are Oceania Cruises (www.oceaniacruises.com) and Regent Seven Seas Cruises (www.rssc.com). Both companies specialize in boutique luxury, with relatively small ships, intimate port experiences, and premium amenities and customer service.
Formed in 2002, Oceania Cruises says it is the world’s largest upper premium cruise line. “The finest cuisine at sea, destination specialists and intimate & luxurious ships are the pillars that define Oceania Cruises’ five-star product, positioning the line as the cruise company of choice for travelers seeking a truly refined and casually elegant travel experience,” reads the company’s website.
Featuring a fleet of six luxurious ships, Oceania offers a vacation experience renowned for gourmet culinary programs inspired by Master Chef Jacques Pépin, and an array of destination-rich itineraries spanning the globe. Seasoned world travelers are drawn to Oceania Cruises’ diverse voyages, which call on more than 400 ports across Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, the South Pacific and the Americas. Spacious and elegant accommodations aboard the 684-guest Regatta, Insignia, Nautica and Sirena and the 1,250-guest Marina and Riviera invite guests to explore the world in unparalleled comfort and style.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises says it is the “world’s most inclusive luxury experience” with a five-ship fleet that visits more than 450 destinations around the world. The final phase of Regent Seven Seas Cruises $125 million fleet-wide refurbishment was recently completed, elevating the elegance of its fleet to the standard set by the all-balcony, all-suite Seven Seas Explorer, which entered service on July 20, 2016.
Seven Seas Explorer is joined by all-balcony, all-suite sister-ships Seven Seas Voyager, Seven Seas Mariner, and all-suite, 90 percent-balcony Seven Seas Navigator. In early 2020, Regent will perfect luxury with the launch of Seven Seas Splendor.
One of the most exciting cruises I am looking at is a 7-day Los Angeles to Los Angeles voyage aboard the ship Sirena. Departing on December 7, this journey leaves LA and heads for Catalina Island, where it will spend the day 2. Guests will have the opportunity to snorkel, take a glass bottom boat, hike, bike or zip line. From here, the boat will sail the west coast of Baja California to Ensenada, Mexico, a sportsman’s paradise with popular pursuits including surfing, sport fishing, sea kayaking, horseback riding and mountain biking.
After cruising the Pacific Ocean on day 4, the ship will anchor in San Francisco on day 5. On day 6, the ship arrives in Monterey, California for nine hours. The last stop on the cruise will be Santa Barbara, California.
The 684-passenger Sirena, which was completely refurbished in 2016, is Oceania Cruises’ newest fleet addition. Across its 11 decks, the ship boasts luxury suites and staterooms with decorated in soothing palettes with traditional hardwoods, rich fabrics, fine furnishings and original art. Rooms feature goose-down pillows with all-new, Ultra Tranquility Beds; plush couches; flat screen TVs; and private teak verandas – a feature of the vast majority of accommodations.
Another voyage that I am looking at is a 10-day Miami to Miami cruise aboard Regent Seven Seas Cruises. Entitled Exotic Islands & Luxe Seascapes, this journey departs Miami on January 8, 2020. Sailing aboard the Seven Seas Explorer, this cruise cruises the Bahamian waters and Atlantic Ocean for two days before arriving in Philipsburg, St. Maarten, the smallest piece of land shared by two sovereign states, St. Maarten.
The next port of call is Roseau, Dominica, a small town with plenty of colonial charm. Here passengers can visit the a colorful open air market and sip refreshing coconut drinks, and explore the island’s unspoiled natural landscape of dense rain forests, lush foliage, natural springs and rivers, and tall, smoldering peaks.
Castries, St. Lucia is the next stop. This is the capital, commercial center and main cruise port of St Lucia, which was founded by the French in 1768. From here it’s on to the beautiful beaches colorful coral reefs of St. John’s. The last port is St. Kitts, a stunning tropical island of unforgettable beaches, a lush rainforest and a smoldering volcano.