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
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: silversea.com.
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.ponant.com.
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: crystalcruises.com. 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-