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Luxury cruise trends | the sea suite | animal magic

Cool, understated elegance that belies inner sparkle and sizzle.

From penthouses at sea to safaris by private jet, Australians’ passion for top-end travel knows no bounds

In 2019, at least 30 million people embarked on a cruise, up 6% from 2018. According to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), 1.34 millon of them were Australians.

The 10 most popular cruise destinations last year were the Mediterranean, European rivers, Alaska, the Caribbean, Greek Isles, the Baltic region, Galapagos Islands, Antarctica, Australia/New Zealand, and South America.

Trending in the cruise sphere: intimate river cruises, smaller ports less visited, “digital nomads” working remotely, cold climates (for the Northern Lights, penguins in Antarctica, Christmas markets in Europe), solo travel, and dedicated women’s cruises.

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Just like home, only different … the Regent Suite dining room

Lisa Pile, Regent Seven Seas Cruises Vice President Sales Australia & New Zealand, reports a strong demand for “boundless” Alaska – stopping at Anchorage, Icy Strait, Juneau, Ketchikan, Sitka, Skagway, Wrangell and the Hubbard Glacier – and a new push for Cuba, Egypt and Israel.

Personal touches and one-of-a-kind experiences are most sought after by luxury cruisers, says Pile. Personalised shore excursions, butlers, culinary workshops, distinguished lecturers. Featured guest lecturers with RSSC this year include Sir Tony Brenton, British diplomat and commentator on international affairs; David Lee, the co-creator of the sitcom Frasier; and Kathleen Wulf, an historian, anthropologist and former consultant to the US Peace Corps.

Related article: The search for authenticity

Budget, what budget?

For the cashed-up and curious, there’s the Regent Suite on the cruise line’s Seven Seas Splendor, launching in February. It has 293 sq m of interior space and a 120 sq m wraparound veranda. A seven-night cruise from Barcelona to Rome costs $48,490 per person, twin share. With its crystal chandeliers, cool art, Italian marble, a personal spa and a $282,300 (US$200,000) Swedish bed, that’s luxury cruising.

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And the living is easy … in the new Regent Suite

Those not at sea are in the jungle … animal-related experiences are now high on bucket lists.

One of Abercrombie & Kent’s big-ticket offerings is an upcoming 25-day Wildlife Safari by private jet, taking in Rwanda, Kenya, Madagascar, India, China and Japan. Come face to face with Japan’s snow monkey and the tiny rare Philippine tarsier. Swim with whale sharks, feed orphaned orangutans, and help care for the giant panda. You finish up with a safari in East Africa, and a hunt for the Big Five in Kenya’s Masai Mara.

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Lion-taming in East Africa

A&K’s privately-chartered Boring 757 is fitted out with 50 Italian leather seats (each with its own personal massage system), which open to fully lie-flat beds 6.5 feet long.

Point of difference? A dedicated photo enrichment coach with invaluable advice on how to best snap animals – in their natural habitat, and in focus! Accommodation is pretty enticing, too – from the classic Peninsula Tokyo and the Oberoi Vanyavilas in Rathambore, to lesser known places such as the Temple House in Chendu, and Angama Mara, perched on the edge of the Great Rift Valley of the Masai Mara, and luxury lodges in Rwanda. All for a neat superannuation withdrawal of $205,810.

Says Sujata Raman, Regional Managing Director of Abercrombie & Kent in Australia and New Zealand, “We are seeing a deep interest in philanthropy across our portfolio. Travellers want to know what is being put back into the destinations they visit. It’s more than just visiting a local school; travellers want to go with companies that have a proven, sustainable commitment to working with the communities they visit.”

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Winging it … a wildlife safari is the trip of a lifetime

The average spend, says Raman, has almost doubled in the past decade, to around $10-$15,000 per person per trip. “And the total spend on travel has gone up significantly. We are seeing our guests book multiple trips with us, even in one year.”

In a survey published last year by premium Australian travel advisers, The Goldman Group, 19 per cent of those surveyed planned to spend $50,000 or more on travel in the next 12 months and 45 per cent planned outlays of at least $30,000. Only 14 per cent were budgeting less.



Editor. Writer. Traveller. Keeping tabs on all things fab.

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Copyright © Susan Skelly 2020.