A Year Of Wonders On The Water
Vanessa Lee’s best cruise moments of 2017

by Vanessa Lee

Vanessa on RSSC Explorer

Vanessa with Ronnie the head butler on Explorer

Mockup of AmaMagna room

On AmaKristina

Vanessa with Gary Murphy AmaWaterways

On Silversea Silver Muse. Hard hat time for the pre-inaugural

Although I have one more cruise to get under my belt as the year wanes, I have been fondly reminiscing about my 2017 cruise experiences. Each year is naturally very different depending on how many ships are launched and with which brands. I find that each ocean and river ship has its own personality and one of the things I most enjoy about my job is having a unique cruise experience literally every time. 

I always keep travel professionals and their clients in mind when reviewing a new ship. The good news is that I have rarely sailed on a ship I didnt like to some degree.

But most of them are absolutely excelling at the experience they provide to their guests. They get things right the vast majority of the time and its rare to have major issues on board or in your stateroom. And I can safely say I have never had a bug appear in my bath on a ship -- which is what happened to me at a Sheraton in Miami a few weeks ago!

Your clients have preferences and personalities that will suit some ships and not others. You know how important it is to marry the guest, the ship and cruise line correctly.

And although I often write about luxury and small ships, as well as river ships, I do feel that almost anyone would feel at home and be very happy on most of these ships. No matter what level, its the nuances, the inclusions, the style and feel of a ship that usually resonates. And good service is always welcome.

Here are some of my best cruise moments of the year.

  • In May I sailed on one of the most perfectly designed ships imaginable. It was luscious and lyrical and I described the Seabourn Encore as such in my column. Encores interior designer Adam D. Tihany is a master of his craft and has helped deliver a ship nonpareil. Everything about this gorgeous and sexy super-yacht is impeccable, including the staff and the cuisine.

  • It was an honour to be included in the christening ceremony of AmaWaterways AmaKristina in the presence of her beautiful Godmother Kristin Karst, for whom the ship is named. I felt privileged to be among the Godmother Ladies-in-Waiting for Kristin, even though my ship is not in the Ama fleet. The vessel is lovely and it was fascinating to see the small but impressive changes that occur year over year at AmaWaterways. We also visited the shipyard in Holland where the amazing AmaMagna is being built for 2019. A ship twice as wide as a regular river vessel and a game-changer for sure.  Read my column here.
  • I was lucky enough to sail on Silver Muse twice this year, most recently from Buenos Aires to Rio de Janeiro, my first touchpoint on the South American continent. My first cruise on the Muse was from Genoa to Monte Carlo in April. We boarded her literally as she arrived from the shipyard and I was super impressed with the service onboard in every aspect, as you can read in my column. Returning in November it was good to see that the service we enjoyed in April had become even more polished. The cuisine is also very good and the dining choices are commendable. And I love having my own butler along with the spacious and comfortable suites.
  • I was also delighted to sail again on what is, in my opinion, the most beautiful ship in the world, the Regent Seven Seas Explorer. I can gorge myself on this ship constantly as she really suits my sensibilities, which frankly are a wee bit over the top. She is beyond beautiful in a glitzy and glam way with the most spectacular art, lighting fixtures and incredible attention to detail. As each current RSSC ship is Explorerized RSSCs word the fleet will get better and better. Check out more in my column.
  • I had a short but interesting experience on the Seabourn Quest in October, which was curtailed due to fierce storms along the Eastern Seaboard. I love the Odyssey Class ships and they are holding up very well, especially with the new Thomas Keller Grill on board. What resonated most for me was the way the ship and her crew handled the weather issues and made guests as comfortable and entertained as possible. You can read more here.
  • Just before Christmas I head down to MIA to sail on the new and apparently amazing, MSC Seaside. I have been following the development of this ship with its pushing-the-envelope design and Im anxious to see her in person. We all want to be closer to the sea and with the 360-degree deck low to the water, and many al fresco opportunities, I am sure she will be quite fabulous. You can read that column in the New Year.

Before I sign off, let me wish all of you a wonderful holiday season and best wishes for a happy, healthy, smooth-cruising 2018. Ill leave you with a few more tidbits of great cruise tidings from 2017.

  • The wow factor of Celebritys Edge Class ship design.
  • The announcement of the Ritz Carlton Yacht Collection.
  • Finally, a new ship coming for Azamara.
  • Cunards decision to build a fourth Queen. Who would have imagined even 10 years ago that Cunard would build new Queens and have four sailing at once!

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