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Size Matters, But Not in Boutique Cruising

Seabourn Quest, its newest ship, was built in T. Mariotti shipyard in Genoa with one of the largest spas of any cruise ship: six treatment rooms, a world-class gym, hydro-pool and full-service salon. A mini yacht club unloads off the back in select warm-water destinations so guests can go water-skiing, salt-water swimming and kayaking without ever having to go ashore. Fine dining comes at a choice of formal or more casual eateries, with dishes such as beef tataki with truffle tagliatelle or even fancier roasted poussin with rosemary gnocchi offered on a nightly basis.

Those looking for a somewhat bigger cruise experience should consider Regent Seven Seas Cruises and its 700-guest ships sailing to more than 300 ports of call on all seven continents. Owned by Prestige Cruise Holdings, which also operates Oceania Cruises, this three-ship fleet boasts an all-inclusive cruise experience that differs from upper-end lines such as Cunard and Princess. While also more expensive, Regent Seven Seas prices include fine wines, beer, premium spirits, soft drinks and even the most elaborate of espresso concoctions. Additionally, all gratuities, taxes as well as shore excursions and specialty restaurants, are included in the cost of the cruise.

Aboard Regent Seven Seas Cruises, guests discover an all-suite experience with one of the highest percentages of private balconies of any cruise line, as well as a staff-to-guest ratio that hovers above 2:1. Fine-dining options include the reservation-only Prime 7 steakhouses, as well as the French-favored Signatures Restaurants. This summer the cruise line will unveil Sette Mari at La Veranda, a Tuscan-inspired dining room with a la carte Italian specialties and a regional Italian wine list. In addition to culinary arts classes and a Canyon Ranch SpaClub, the Regent Seven Seas offers an enrichment program that invites world-renowned experts for a well-received lecture series.

But perhaps the idea of any fellow passengers on board sounds like too much. For those people there's The Necker Belle, a managed yacht charter operated by Virgin Limited Edition that allows travelers to literally charter Sir Richard Branson's private catamaran. Priced from a relatively affordable $110,000 per week, at least in yacht charter terms, the 32-meter catamaran comfortably accommodates eight to 12 guests in four cabins offering en suite bathrooms and stylish interiors. A crew of seven assists with all meals as well as seaborne adventures, everything from sports fishing to simply spritzing those sunbathing on the forward beam trampoline. Equipped for fun and adventure billionaire style, the ship offers access to a three-person submarine that goes to depths of 30 meters at an added fee for the ultimate boutique cruise experience.

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Michael Martin is the managing editor of, a luxury travel and lifestyle guide based in Los Angeles and London. His work has appeared in InStyle, Blackbook, Elle, U.K.'s Red magazine and on ITV and the BBC.
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