NORWALK, Conn. --
If you were to make your grand entrance into the Cote dAzur by
yacht, the Le Ponant would be a good way to go.
three-masted power yacht with a 30-person French crew and a
canopied, al fresco casual dining area. Its lines are sleek -- with
sails unfurled it looks like a racing yacht, just the thing for
sunbathing on the French Riviera. And its Tauck World Discoverys
chartered vessel in the Mediterranean.
typically dont own the cruise ships they sell. They charter them
for one or several sailings, which often makes for an unusual
cruise programs use river ships from Viking River Cruises and Peter
Deilmanns fleets. Abercrombie & Kent, meanwhile, makes use of
several wildly different (but all luxury) vessels: the legendary
Sea Cloud, American Safari Cruises Safari Quest, two Bora Bora
Cruises yachts in the Tahitian Islands, Windstars Wind Surf and the
The programs can
be anywhere from a full-ship charter to a few cabins on reserve for
tour passengers. Each cruise, just like each cruise ship, is a
The cruises also
can give enthusiasts a chance to sail the seas on a ship thats
usually not marketed to North Americans.
Take Le Ponant,
for example, which typically sells in the French market. Up to 60
discerning guests -- thats Taucks word -- can sail Le Ponant on
voyages like its nine- or 11-day A Week in the Mediterranean
voyages, which include a cruise from Malta to Nice by way of the
Amalfi coast and Corsica. The tours include visits to Monacos famed
Monte Carlo -- but its on the land-based side of the
Treasures of the Aegean, a 14-night tour and cruise between Athens
and Istanbul, a seven-night land tour bookends a seven-day cruise.
This tour doesnt use Le Ponant, though. Tauck blocked 20 cabins on
nine sailings of the Wind Star, a 149-passenger, five-masted
Tauck also uses
Le Levant, Le Ponants sister ship in the Baltic region, the
Dalmatian coast and the Panama Canal. Its a super-sleek,
90-passenger power yacht.
One of Taucks new
programs for 2005 is a 12-day Blue Danube cruise on the
110-passenger river ship, the Switzerland II.
Kents cruises on the Sea Cloud, meanwhile, are a different sort of
experience. The Sea Cloud was built in 1931 as the private yacht of
cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post. Its features include
fireplaces in the cabins, oak paneling, oil paintings and marble
bathtubs. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a frequent guest
onboard the ship.
two options for guests eager to try the Sea Cloud: a seven-day
roundtrip cruise from Antigua to the British Virgin Islands,
Dominica and Ilses des Saintes departing Feb. 12, and a 10-night
Greece tour with a seven-day cruise built in, departing Oct.
reporter Rebecca Tobin, send e-mail to [email protected].