Cruising Goes Glam Again


Cruising has always had a sense of sophistication and it has become increasingly popular in the last five years.

The launch of Ocean Village, the cruise line ‘for people who don’t do cruises’, led this trend and soon everyone was jumping on the cheap-charters-across-the-seven-seas bandwagon.

Even Easyjet started sailing orange ships to the Med!

You could have thought the age of sophisticated sailings was over.

But a raft of new ships launched in the past year could tempt any glamorous girl back onto the ocean wave…

Queen Victoria

Cunard is a name synonymous with old world glamour. After all they brought us the QE2 – now set to become a luxury floating hotel in Dubai. The company was the first to offer transatlantic sailings back in 1840, pioneering the golden age of cruise liner travel.

This experience and Cunard’s sense of unabashed grandeur has been instilled in their latest ship, Queen Victoria. A small ship by today’s standards – carrying just 2,000 passengers – Queen Victoria is elegant, traditional and yet modern enough to keep you entertained.

Highlights include a Todd English restaurant, serving the celebrity chef’s Mediterranean specialities; the Royal Court Theatre, complete with private boxes; and the beautiful Winter Garden conservatory with a retractable roof.

Then there’s the spectacular Queen’s Ballroom, with cantilevered balconies and frescoes, reminiscent of the ballroom at Queen Victoria’s much loved home Osborne House. This is the venue for afternoon tea, the Captain’s cocktail parties and ballroom dancing.

The Cunard Royal Spa is one of the most impressive on the ocean waves, offering a fabulous range of treatments including Ayurveda, ritual scrubs, and O2 Star facial system – oxygen treatments to reverse the ageing process.

Forthcoming itineraries

Queen Victoria sails a number of itineraries from Southampton in 2009; including: the Mediterranean; the Baltic and Fjords; and an inaugural sailing to Canada and New England, USA.

Glamour rating

Total elegance – take your ball gown.


Described as the ‘Superliner designed for Britain’, Ventura is P&O Cruises latest ship.

P&O have joined forces with some of the most respected people in their field to bring contemporary design and fine dining to the ship.


The White Room is a stunning restaurant that brings the food of Marco Pierre White to the high seas. Designer Nick Munro’s accessories lend stylish curves to the amenities in the 1,546 cabins, while 7,000 specially commissioned pieces of art are featured onboard.

Ventura has some of the sexiest bars at sea with Metropolis taking the style top spot. Sip a Cosmopolitan while you watch the sun set over New York, Sydney or Paris on the bar’s 20 metre wide floor to ceiling video wall. After dinner you have a choice of ten other bars, before partying the night away at the ship’s Latin club, Havana.

Finally if you’re feeling adventurous get up to the top deck and try your hand at circus skills at Cirque Ventura. It might not be the most glamorous activity but it’s certainly exhilarating and fun.

Forthcoming itineraries

Ventura will sail the Caribbean islands for the first three months of 2009, before starting itineraries from Southampton, heading to the Baltic, Fjords, and the Mediterranean, in the summer. She will return to the Caribbean from October.

Glamour rating

Contemporary chic – bring your Jimmy Choos.


Independence of the Seas

Everything about Royal Caribbean’s latest ship is larger than life. But then the largest cruise ship in the world is bound to be big on style and things to do.

The really clever thing about Independence is that it doesn’t feel exhaustively large – an incredible feat given that it’s the length of three and a half football pitches and caters for 3,634 guests.

Features onboard are among the most varied and best in the industry and include an ice skating rink, rock climbing wall, and Royal Promenade, full of shops, bars and restaurants.

Then there’s the entertainment – a fantastic ice show, West End style theatre productions, and regular street parties along Royal Promenade.

But where Independence wins glamour points is in the facilities for families. Yes, it has a Champagne Bar, a spa and cantilevered whirlpools floating high above the sea, but it’s got great kids facilities too. From the swimming pools and slides of the H2O zone to the Sports Deck featuring basketball courts, a golf course and surfing simulator FlowRider, to the fantastic kid’s clubs there’s loads to keep them amused.

Teenagers even have their own nightclub – so there’s no chance of bored teens.

Forthcoming itineraries

Independence of the Seas will sail from Southampton in April with a mixture of 10 and 11 night Canary Island cruises, 14 night Mediterranean sailings and a four night Cork short cruise, before heading back to Fort Lauderdale for Caribbean itineraries, in November.

Glamour rating

Bring the brood. Independence is big on style and family activities – a definite for Brad and Angelina.

Celebrity Solstice

The newest kid on the block is Celebrity Cruises Solstice, which launched in November 2008.

Celebrity has become known for boutique hotel-styled luxury and Solstice is no exception.


The largest ship in Celebrity’s fleet, but still with a manageable 2,850 passengers, Solstice is a ship for couples looking for a little indulgence. It’s cruising for design conscious grown-ups. Not for Solstice the stuffy grandeur of the main dining room. Yes, the two-level Grand Epernay dining room is grand, but white leather seating and modern crystal chandeliers put it in a cool class of its own.

Following dinner, a stop at the Martini bar is a must, not only is the bar topped with a layer of ice, but the waiters serve around 100 different types of Martini. Next to this is Crush, an ice filled table where you can sample caviar and vodka pairings. Next hit Quasar, the ship’s nightclub adorned with retro pod chairs and more cocktail shaking barmen.

Days on Solstice are perfect for rest and relaxation. The ship even has a special category of spa accommodation, with access to their own speciality restaurant and select areas of the AquaSpa.

Features that really steal the show though are the solarium – a fantastic place to relax in giant hammocks by a pool with jumping waterfalls. Then there’s the Lawn Club – a 14,000sq ft area of lawn on the top deck, which begs to be walked on barefoot while enjoying a sundowner.

Forthcoming itineraries

Celebrity Solstice’s inaugural season sees it sailing seven-night Eastern Caribbean cruises from Fort Lauderdale. In the spring she will sail10 and 11-night Mediterranean cruises from Rome.

Glamour rating

Effortlessly stylish – one for the Sarah Jessica Parker’s out there.


Sarah Lee is a freelance travel writer and editor. Her early career was spent writing for a range of media including Teletext, That's Life and national newspapers. Following years travelling the world she decided to combine her passion for travel with her work. As former managing editor of RCI Holiday and Ventures magazines, she is expert on the shared vacation ownership and fractional markets and writes on these, cruising, city breaks, luxury travel and various destinations for consumer and B2B titles. She also writes for RCI, the Press Association and numerous websites. Her favourite destinations are Thailand and South Africa, but she believes every country provides endless fascination. website

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