Platinum List 2019: Best Boutique Cruising Experience

Silversea, Hurtigruten, Seabourn

September/ October 2019

From exploring legendary sites to attending exclusive performances, travelers on these luxury cruise lines enjoy a bounty of unique activities


On a Hurtigruten ship, the day begins by exploring the frozen terrain of Antarctica and ends with an discussion with a celebrated marine biologist. This engaging itinerary repeats for the entirety of the voyage. “We pride ourselves on providing adventures that feed your inner explorer,” says Hurtigruten president for the Americas John Downey. The Norwegian-based cruise line invites historians, geologists and ornithologists, among others, to act as lecturers on board and private guides onshore. The company has unparalleled access to UNESCO World Heritage Sites, where guests can chase the northern lights in Norway or kayak among icebergs in Iceland. They also have the option of breaking up their voyage to stay overnight at a port and catch the next ship to another destination. “Our guests enjoy the flexibility we offer with our year-round daily departures,” says Downey. The company’s 126-year commitment to environmental sustainability is cemented with its creation of the world’s first hybrid electric-powered cruise ship, MS Roald Amundsen, which launched this year. The new expedition vessel reduces fuel emissions by 20 percent and allows guests to sail without engine noise for a period of time.
—Shellie Frai

Seabourn Cruise Line

Miami, Florida, United States

On any Seabourn ship, audience members enter the Grand Salon to enjoy the exclusive show An Evening With Tim Rice. The concert-style presentation highlights the acclaimed English lyricist’s work from Jesus Christ Superstar to The Lion King. The show begins after guests finish a multicourse dinner at Michelin-starred chef Thomas Keller’s restaurant The Grill. On the menu are timeless steakhouse classics, including tableside preparations of Caesar salad and ice cream sundaes. During the day, travelers can enjoy treatments at The Onboard Spa by Steiner, which includes the new program Spa and Wellness With Dr. Andrew Weil, the celebrity doctor and advocate for holistic and integrative medicine. Dr. Weil sails on a number of Seabourn ships to deliver seminars and conduct small group discussions, accompanied by yoga and meditation practitioners. “Seabourn is luxurious yet relaxed, elegant yet casual,” says travel consultant Ashley Fenton.
—Shellie Frai


On Silversea, a voyage is never complete without unlimited champagne and caviar. The 25-year-old company is a pioneer of the luxury cruise experience, comparable to a floating five-star hotel. Every suite has an ocean view and is attended to by a personal butler, who is required to memorize guests’ dietary likes and keep the room stocked with their favorite amenities, from drinks in the fridge to the type of pillows on the bed. The ship boasts a staff-to-guest ratio of almost one to one, and most of the crew have been sailing with Silversea for years, creating a familiar environment throughout the ship. “Guests will request the same butler time and again, or if they love a maître d’ at one of our restaurants, they will wait to book their next voyage to make sure he is there—it’s like a family on our ships,” says Silversea’s Brad Ball. The line focuses on a local enrichment program, which creates authentic experiences for those on board. “When we dock in Seville, we host a flamenco dancing performance,” Ball says. “When we’re in Florence, a famous opera group comes on board, and in Monte-Carlo, their philharmonic orchestra performs.” Each ship holds only 100 to around 600 guests, making each performance feel intimate. 
—Shellie Frai


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