Noth­ing could be finer

Our sea­soned sailors re­call their most mem­o­rable mo­ments on ves­sels large and small Mozart Af­ter­noon Tea is a high­light of ev­ery voy­age, with white­gloved at­ten­dants in 18th­cen­tury rig

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Destination Afloat - SU­SAN KUROSAWA DAVID MEAGHER MAGGY OEHLBECK

It is the small kind­nesses of a ship’s crew that can turn a good voy­age into an un­for­get­table ex­pe­ri­ence. Aboard Sil­ver Spirit from Cairns to Bali, but­ler Ku­mar from Ker­ala brings ‘‘bed cof­fee’’ each morn­ing dressed as if he is about to at­tend a for­mal wed­ding. Suite at­ten­dant Jo has a smile that could light up her home city of Manila. It is my birth­day and while I have been at din­ner, th­ese two have decked my suite with pa­per stream­ers, a for­est of bal­loons and tea lights (bat­tery-pow­ered, thank­fully) on a river of white silk and tow­els shaped as swans. The bath has been drawn and foamed to the ceil­ing. There’s a huge cake with can­dles ready to be lit and enough scat­tered rose petals to im­press a ma­ha­rani. Be­yond the gal­lons of cham­pagne and the alpine reaches of smoked salmon on five-star lin­ers, such play­ful at­ten­tive­ness is what true lux­ury is all about. More: sil­

Be­fore sail­ing on Com­pag­nie du Po­nant’s new­est ship, L’Austral, all I could re­mem­ber of cruise ship food was that there was plenty of it, but it was pretty bad. How times have changed. Com­pag­nie du Po­nant is, if you haven’t al­ready guessed, a French cruise line — France’s only one, in fact — and as such its cui­sine is very French. It seems noth­ing short of mirac­u­lous to find per­fect crois­sants and the best pain au cho­co­lat I’ve tasted (and be­lieve me there have been many) in the mid­dle of the Ti­mor Sea. And they were served ev­ery day, as if they’d been flown in from Paris. More: en.po­

This liner’s clas­si­cally ele­gant Palm Court Lounge, with its panoramic ocean views, might seem an odd spot for an au­then­tic Vi­en­nese ex­pe­ri­ence, but Mozart Af­ter­noon Tea is a high­light of ev­ery voy­age, with white-gloved at­ten­dants in 18th-cen­tury rig serenely serv­ing your tea of choice (or Vi­en­nese cof­fee) to the ac­com­pa­ni­ment of Mozart’s mu­sic per­formed by a tail-coated pi­anist. A choco­late bust of the mae­stro pre­sides over a glit­ter­ing ar­ray of Vi­en­nese del­i­ca­cies such as sacher­torte, apfel­strudel, kugel­hopf and linz­er­torte. I just miss bag­ging a tow­er­ing wing­back chair fac­ing the ocean, but what I never miss out on is the caviar and cham­pagne de­liv­ered to my pen­t­house suite ev­ery evening. More: crys­tal­ On the Ama­zon River, it is far eas­ier to spot a sloth or hook a pi­ranha than it is to dine in style. But aboard Aqua Ex­pe­di­tions’ two deluxe ves­sels, MV Aria and MV Aqua, quest­ing cruis­ers are re­warded each evening with tast­ing menus by Peru­vian ‘‘jun­gle chef’’ Pe­dro Miguel Schi­affino. His unique fu­sion of high cui­sine and rain­for­est foods pro­duces such sur­pris­ing de­lights as ar­moured cat-

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