Best of Both Worlds

by Jun Igarashi
wifm_winter10_low-341Luxury fly-cruises save time and money

We’ve all dreamed of a luxury cruise, but many of us are put off by the perceived cost and time. However, the all-inclusive fly-cruise option is catching on with busy, value-conscious residents of Japan. By offering travel, accommodations, meals, entertainment, hospitality, and everything passengers need for a fixed price, fly-cruise packages have become a major niche market for experienced and first-time travelers alike. By flying outbound or return, guests reach their destination or home quicker and cheaper than by cruising both ways, say industry experts. And it’s easier for passengers to control their budgets and to avoid unexpected costs as everything is paid for in advance.

In Japan, luxury cruise-operator Silversea offers unique and fascinating voyages to seven continents, 80 countries and more than 400 destinations on six vessels.

Photos Courtesy Silversea With relatively smaller ships, Silversea says service and facilities are often better than on the mega-vessels that ply the oceans today. They are no less magnificent, however, with spacious suites, restaurants, bars, ocean-view spas, casinos and swimming pools — indeed, a floating resort.

“Silversea Cruise’s service motto is ‘we never say no,’” said Satoko Imagawa, president of ICM International Cruise Marketing Ltd., which represents Silversea in Japan.

With one staff member per 1.3 passengers, Silversea accommodates any reasonable request, such as special menus, packing and unpacking of luggage, private parties, and even the type of drinking water or number of clothes hangers a passenger requires.

Photos Courtesy SilverseaGuests can eat in any restaurant or in their cabin at any time 24-hours a day with mealsprovided by Relais & Chateux, the prestigious international association of boutique hotels and restaurants.

Silversea’s latest flagship is the Silver Spirit, which also boasts an Asian restaurant, supper club and larger spa and pools.

Imagawa recommends the Silver Spirit’s Mediterranean cruise this summer. “There are many attractions. The sea is calm, so you don’t need to worry about the waves. Most of our tours to the Mediterranean are shorter than other tours. Even if you only have one week’s holiday, you can still join our seven-day cruise.” The $4,000 (¥370,000) voyage starts from Tower Bridge in London and visits France, Spain, Portugal, Turkey and Greece, with optional destinations easy to arrange.

Photos Courtesy Silversea“The fare is not cheap, but it is very good value as it is all-inclusive. You only need to pay when you shop at the boutiques, use the spa or casino, or make a specific request for something not included. People from around the world enjoy our cruises.”

In 2010, Silversea voyages offer a 17-day Pacific Ocean trip from Vancouver to Tokyo via Alaska’s Tracy Arm, Sawyer Glacier and Kodiak. Although, this year’s 12-day trip from Tokyo to Shanghai is already sold out, reservations are being taken for Golden Week in 2011.