Cruise professional gives her take on luxury lines upgrades

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NEW YORK -- To hear luxury cruise lines tell it, theyre all pretty great. Food? Great. Service? Wonderful. Destinations? Fantastic. Appointments? Luxurious.

Lately, there have been upgrades in beds and bedding, toiletries, food, wine and wireless and cell phone services.

TravelWeekly.com asked Mary Jean Tully, CEO of Cruise Professionals in Mississauga, Ontario, to sift through a few of the announcements and tell us why theyre important. Cruise Professionals is a top producer for Crystal Cruises, Silversea, Radisson Seven Seas and Cunard Line.

Crystal

 

" News: Crystal introduced the second vintage bottled under its C Wines brand.

Crystal:Featuring softer tannins, the six new 2004 California wines are the perfect complement to the fresh, quality ingredients distinguishing Crystals cuisine.

Tully: I really dont think the wine makes more of a difference. It is nice that they have their own wines, but it is the service, other amenities, the Learning Institute and the enrichment program that makes Crystal a superior product.

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" News: Crystal will host a photography exhibition through May called Documenting China: Contemporary Photography and Social Change.

Crystal:Focusing on the impact of urbanization and industrialization in China, the exhibit portrays the country from an insiders point of view.

Tully: This adds to the enrichment programs passengers expect. Not only are they going to fabulous ports, but on sea days they are learning and feeling enriched.

Windstar

" News: The Degrees of Difference refurbishment includes adding Bose SoundDocks to cabins and lending passengers iPod Nanos, while a new partnership puts LOccitane toiletries in cabins.

Windstar:Apple iPod Nanos fully loaded with a ... selection of music may be checked out. [LOccitane is a] maker of fine, natural body products manufactured with ingredients from Provence.

Tully: I just dont feel that this has anything to do with luxury other than extra choices for the passenger. The bathroom amenities are nicer than before, but that alone does not make a product luxurious.

Seabourn

" News: Starting in March, Seabourn plans to transform casual Veranda Cafes into venues called 2, to feature tasting menus and small plates of paired dishes.

Seabourn:A stylish, contemporary dining venue serving imaginative tasting menus that will feature playful pairings and creative culinary combinations.

Tully: With all of the cruise lines offering different dining venues, it was important for Seabourn to change theirs.

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" News: Seabourn will offer wine packages that allow passengers to select wines off a specific list of premium vintages.

Seabourn:Experience these special wines at prices you will never see on land.

Tully: No one wants to feel that they do not have an abundance of choices. This includes wines, menus, etc.

Silversea

" News: The line forgoes nightly themed dinners in the Terrace cafe for an Italian restaurant called La Terrazza.

Silversea:The new dining concept and menu for La Terrazza ... are a further product enhancement designed to reflect the lines unique concept of luxury -- one that arises from ... its Italian heritage.

Tully: It certainly reflects [Silverseas] Italian heritage, and it is some of the finest Italian food that I have ever eaten.

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" News: Silversea added wireless Internet service and revamped its Internet centers with new computers and monitors.

Silversea:Many of our sophisticated, well-traveled guests need to stay connected with family, friends and business associates while on vacation.

Tully: It is a definite move in the right direction, as ships are finally understanding the importance of how connected passengers need to be.

To contact Rebecca Tobin, managing editor of the print edition of Travel Weekly, send e-mail to [email protected].

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