by Cathy Larsen, Departures Travel Sidney –
“Luxury” is probably the most overused word in travel, but for lack of a better one, perhaps it is the definition of luxury travel that has changed and evolved. To some it is the luxury of time, an authentic experience, immersion into culture or simply sitting in an outdoor café, enjoying a gelato and taking in the local life.
On a recent trip onboard a “luxury” cruise line, luxury to me was defined by relaxation, enrichment and the all-inclusive experience: to enjoy every day, exactly as I wished, while exploring the world’s most beautiful places – with everything included. As my husband was busy, I had two girlfriends that were only too happy to pack their bags and join me.
The voyage began in the beautiful port of Monte Carlo. Walking onto the small ship of just 600 guests, I was struck by the peacefulness and personal space. Nowhere in sight was a photographer, a staff member selling beverage packages, shore excursions or the latest in fashion accessories. Our suite was elegantly decorated, with an ample sitting area and a stunning marbled bathroom. Opening a chilled bottle of prosecco from our complimentary in-suite bar, we stepped out onto our veranda and toasted to the experiences to come.
We stopped at small, little-known ports, without another ship in sight, and were able to wander the towns and historical sites at leisure. With longer port stays, we had time to immerse ourselves in the local culture. We discovered the best bruschetta in Olbia (Sardinia); the ancient (580 BC) Greek city of Akragas in Agrigento (Sicily) and the walled city of Mdina (Malta) with its deep moat and cobbled streets.
On a 14-hour port call in Dubrovnik we were able to walk the old wall of Dubrovnik before the heat of the day, take a local taxi boat to the island of Lokrum to enjoy an afternoon swim in the Dead Sea and finish off the day in Old Town, wandering the floodlit streets with the mesmerizing Alpine Swifts above. Magical!
Sailing into Venice is an experience not to be missed. At dawn on our last day, our small ship wound through the Venetian Lagoon, making its final stop near Piazza San Marco. What an entrance. As we prepared to disembark we were given the best gift of all: a $0 balance onboard account! With everything included up front we could have an amazing stress-free vacation, personalized for us.
Luxury travel is no longer about the external: it’s about the people we meet and the experiences we share. The new definition of luxury is less formal, more personal, yet still exceeds expectations at a price that represents value for money.
For more information visit www.departurestravel.com.