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Sail Away In...A Yacht
Lillian Africano

For dedicated sunbathers, the Paul Gauguin's expansive pool deck is the perfect spot.

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Ponant's Le Boréal is a prime example of the new generation of small luxury ships known as mega-yachts.

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ou don’t have to be Donald Trump to experience the pleasures of a yachting holiday. If you prefer the intimacy of a single-seating dining room, the quiet of a ship with few or no children, the pleasures of exploring exotic ports that cannot accommodate big cruise ships, then consider booking a cruise on a small ship. While 2010 is the debut year of two new megaships — Norwegian’s Epic and Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas (sister to Oasis of the Seas) — seasoned, affluent cruisers often prefer the small ships, many resembling private yachts. These have a strong appeal to adults who want a sophisticated, luxurious, serviceoriented cruise holiday. The big ships carry thousands of passengers and resemble floating resorts; with activities like climbing walls and zip-line experiences, they have become destinations in themselves. In contrast, the small ships cater to passengers who are more interested in a high level of service, superior food, less-traveled destinations, and unique enrichment experiences onboard and at sea. A prime example of the new generation of small luxury ships is Ponant’s Le Boréal, designed by Jean-Phillipe Nuel and built at Italy’s Fincantieri shipyard. New to the North American market, Ponant (www.ponant.com) is the world’s only French-flagged cruise line, with three small vessels that sail the world. (In April

Le Boréal has just 132 elegant staterooms and suites; almost all have private balconies.

2011, Ponant will launch L’Austral, a second new mega yacht, the sister ship to Le Boréal.) Le Boréal, the newest of Ponant’s five yachts, has just 132 staterooms and suites, ranging from 200 to 484 square feet; 95 percent have private balconies. The staff-to-guest ratio, similar to that on other small ships, is one to two—which makes for the kind of service that simply isn’t possible on big ships. The décor tends to light, neutral colors accented with splashes of red. The effect: Philippe Starck/the Morgan hotel. Staterooms have satellite flat-screen TVs; international direct-dial phones; wireless Internet access; writing desks; mini-bars and plush robes. Some bathrooms have bathtubs in addition to showers. Three passenger elevators, numerous ramps and stair lifts accommodate disabled passengers. All the small ships have a single seating dining room. Though these vessels don’t generally have the space to offer multiple dining venues, they all have at least one option for alternative dining. Le Boréal’s main restaurant serves French and international cuisine, often tied to the destination. Buffet-style breakfast and lunch are served at the casual indoor-outdoor Grill restaurant; at lunch the executive chef prepares a specialty dish. As is the case on all the luxury small ships, complimentary wine, beer and soft drinks are offered. On Le Boréal, bar service is available on the sundeck; when weather permits, various meats and fish are prepared on the grill near the bar. As is the case on the best small ships, the food is imaginative and served with care; there is never a sense of eating something mass-produced. While the big ships feature Vegas-style revues, entertainment on the small vessels is in a lower key. Le Boréal, for example, does have a theater for lectures and shows, as well as Le Club for dancing and late-night mingling. A small library is stocked with newer books and is located in lounge with panoramic views and Internet access. Other ships showcase their chefs or feature extensive enrichment programs onboard. Though space may be limited, small luxury ships do not neglect passenger pampering. On Le Boréal, the Carita spa offers a variety of facials, body treatments, and massage therapies

The ship's striking reception area is where passengers board and are personally welcomed by smartly uniformed staff.

for men and women. The spa complex includes a fitness center with steam rooms and a Turkish bath, as well as a salon for hair and nail services. Boarding a huge ship with thousands of passengers can resemble controlled chaos; boarding a small ship is a gracious process where the “luxury” component of the cruise is reflected in a welcome at the dock, an escort onboard and a personal greeting by the captain. Le Boréal’s charming and knowledgeable Captain Etienne Garcia is so popular that repeat passengers book cruises on whatever vessel he is serving. As is the case on most luxury vessels, the international crew members speak English; many are multi-lingual. Once underway, the ship’s state-of-the-art propulsion system provides an exceptionally smooth, quiet and comfortable cruise, with little vibration or engine noise. Le Boréal has earned the international “green ship” designation for her numerous ecofriendly features. ELEGANT ACCENTS FALL 2010 X

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A Windstar ship docked at Monte Carlo at night creates a magical and romantic scene.

As there are no special facilities or programs for children (these can be added during periods when families tend to travel with children), Le Boréal should appeal to adults who prefer a quieter cruise experience, as well as those who enjoy luxury in a relaxed setting, without pomp or dress codes. At a gala dinner, for example, passengers will wear anything from couture gowns to jeans (probably designer jeans). Like several other small ships, Le Boréal travels the world, even sailing expedition-style cruises to Antarctica. (Aft of the main restaurant is a marina, from which her Zodiacs are launched.) For those who love the romance of the old-time sailing ships, Windstar’s (www.windstarcruises.com) three yachts – Wind Surf, Wind Star, and Wind Spirit – with their teak decks and towering sails, provide a sense of that experience, but in an atmosphere of luxury and with modern amenities. While the old-time ships depended on wind and current, Windstar’s motorized vessels, which carry between 148 and 312 passengers, are able to sail to 100 ports in Europe, the Americas, and the Caribbean. Though five-star dining with fine wines is part of every day, and personal pampering is routine, no one ever has to put on a gown or tuxedo, as Windstar cruises are laid back and unpretentious.

Onboard enrichment may include lectures and seminars by wellknown authors, chefs, and wine experts. At the vessels’ various destinations, passengers enjoy an interesting mix of shore excursions and complimentary water sports activities. They may explore archaeological ruins in Greece or go windsurfing from the ships’ water sports platform. A leader in small-ship luxury cruising, Seabourn (www.seabourn.com) is known not only for fine cuisine, superb service, and off-the-beaten path itineraries, but also for unique passenger experiences like hot air ballooning over Cappadocia in Turkey and romantic evenings for two in Paris. Seabourn’s small ships consistently rank high on “best” lists and in the Berlitz Guides, written by Douglas Ward, the preeminent authority on cruising and cruise ships. The ships – Sojourn, Odyssey and Quest (2011) carry 450 passengers; the Pride, Spirit and Legend carry 208. The ships sail to Arabia, Asia, South and Central America, the Caribbean, South Pacific, Africa, and India. On the smaller Seabourn vessels, there are 95 crew to 112 guests – which makes for five-star service on every cruise. The newer, bigger ships – Odyssey and Sojourn – feature superb alternative dining along with excellent service. Typically, passengers are greeted by name after a short time onboard. While

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all three meals are served in the ships’ traditional restaurants, it’s also possible to dine in one of the outside venues – or in your own suite, with course-by-course service on white linen and fine china. Celebrity Chef Charlie Palmer’s superb culinary talents are reflected in the Seabourn menus. Passengers enjoy programs like Shopping with the Chefs in ports around the world – and learning from the masters of Chef’s Circle, when guest chefs from wellknown restaurants share culinary secrets. Silversea Cruises (www.silversea.com) is synonomous with high luxury, with an Italian flair. The fleet is comprised of Silver Wind, Silver Cloud, Silver Shadow, Silver Whisper, Silver Spirit and one 132-guest luxurious expedition ship, Prince Albert II. The fleet sails worldwide, while Prince Albert II explores the polar regions. Their cabins and marble bathrooms are spacious and sumptuous. The newest ship, the 36,000-ton Silver Spirit is the largest; it carries 540 passengers; the added space means the ship has a total of six restaurants. A key element of Silversea luxury is the food, which may be the best at sea. Good Champagne flows freely and is part of a generous all-inclusive policy that not only covers alcoholic beverages, but also gratuities. Entertainment on Silversea includes plenty of enrichment: lectures and demonstrations by top authors, chefs, historians, and so on. Service is impeccable and formal, reflecting the somewhat formal atmosphere on the ships. For those who are attracted by the allure of the South Pacific, famously celebrated by Paul Gauguin’s paintings and later by Marlon Brando, who bought Tetiaroa Atoll in French Polynesia while filming “Mutiny on the Bounty,” the 320-passenger MS Paul Gauguin (www.pgcruises.com) is the longest continually sailing luxury vessel in those waters. Built in 1998 and designed specifically to sail the shallow waters of Tahiti and French Polynesia (and to visit small ports that larger vessels can’t reach), the ship underwent a multimillion-dollar enhancement in 2009, with upgrades to the staterooms, public areas and restaurants. Owned by Pacific Beachcomber S.C. the Paul Gauguin has a year-round schedule, with 42 itineraries in 2011, including the Cook and Society Islands, the Marquesas and Tuamotus. Tahiti, French Polynesia and the South Pacific. SeaDream (www.seadreamyachtclub.com) yachting is truly an intimate, personalized experience. The yachts – SeaDream I and SeaDream II – each carry between 94 and 112 guests based on double occupancy of the 54 Yacht Club staterooms, an Admiral Suite and the Owner’s Suite. Each of the yachts has a large retractable water sports marina, which allows guests to play with the latest water toys: kayaks, wave runners, a banana boat, tubes, a Zodiac and more. As you might expect, the atmosphere aboard SeaDream is as relaxed as it would be aboard a personal yacht. And the amenities and service are also of the standard you’d expect on your own yacht: your own onboard stationary, Bulgari products, multi-jet showers, luxury linens, a personal refreshment bar, a spa, of course, fitness center, mountain bikes, dataports for your email, and a laptop on request, should you need it. And finally, in any discussion of small luxury ships, it’s necessary to include Hapag Lloyd’s 450-passenger MS Europa (www.hl-cruises.com), which has, for years, won industry-wide accolades, and which for the 11th consecutive year, was awarded five stars in Douglas Ward’s “Complete Guide to Cruising & Cruise Ships. The Europa, which was fully reviewed in a previous issue of Elegant Accents, edged out the 269 other vessels that were rated by Ward. All of the luxury ships mentioned here are special; no two are exactly alike. To find a ship and a cruise with a “personality” to match your own, consult a good travel agent.

Windstar executive chef Zomi Concepcion cooks every dish to order, wowing guests with everything from Sevruga caviar with mini wild rice pancakes (blinis), asparagus and crème fraîche to seared Ahi tuna to warm chocolate soufflé.

RECIPE BY WINDSTAR EXECUTIVE CHEF CONCEPCION ZOCIMO

Seared Ahi Tuna Steak With Asian Vegetables In A Spicy Ponzu Sauce
Serves 10 INGREDIENTS 10 pieces fresh Ahi Tuna Steaks, 5 ounces each 15 heads of baby bok choy 3 bunches of green onion scallions 2 pounds shitake mushroom caps 10 ounces soy sauce 5 ounces rice wine vinegar 5 ounces lemon juice 3 tablespoons of garlic 3 tablespoons tomatoes 2 cups wonton skins FOR THE PONZU SAUCE Blanch the garlic 3 times and slice. Dice tomatoes. Then, in a bowl, mix the garlic and tomatoes with soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and lemon juice. PREPARATION Blanch baby bok choy and green onion scallions. Sauté the shitake mushroom caps. Julienne the wonton skins and fry until crispy. Sear the Ahi Tuna rate or to desired temperature. TO SERVE Place the hot vegetables in the center of a large plate. Lay the seared Ahi Tuna onto the vegetables. Spoon the ponzu sauce over the Ahi Tuna and vegetables. Garnish with crispy wonton strips.

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