“Boutique ships” begin to define cruises

Attractions of being on an exclusive ship with 450 pax – or just 12

Attitudes are changing about the cruise line industry. Until now, the wow factor has come with bigger-is-better vessels such as Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, each of which can host around 6300 tourists. But greater numbers of agents and passengers are picking up on the more exclusive ships, which are also some of the smallest in the industry.
Some of the best “boutique cruise” experiences can be had on ships like Paul Gauguin, a one-ship fleet that cruises the South Pacific throughout the year. A second ship is due to launch later this year to fulfil demand. Paul Gauguin was built specifically for the region’s shallow waters, comes with a designer aesthetic, has a shipboard spa and can host up to 332 guests. Paul Gauguin currently has a two-week sale ending on March 10.
Seabourn has six vessels that take no more than 450 passengers, who are treated to white-glove service, luxury dining, caviar parties and arguably the finest spa facilities of any cruise ship. Other exclusive ships can be found courtesy of Regent Seven Seas Cruises and, for people who don’t warm to crowds at all, The Necker Belle – a managed yacht charter operated by Virgin Limited Edition that, for $110,000 a week, accommodates eight to 12 guests in four cabins together with a crew of seven.
The Street
[pictured: Paul Gauguin and Bora Bora]

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