April 8, 2007

A £459,000 holiday for two: Got 103 days and half a million pounds to spare next year? Then join the rush to mega-expensive vacations

This article appeared in The Indepenent newspaper in the UK


By Lauren Veevers

Published: 08 April 2007

It's the ultimate holiday: private butler, unspoilt views from penthouse suites and 103 days of relaxation. But like all the greatest luxuries, it has a price tag as remarkable as its itinerary.
With a brochure price of £229,839 per person, it is one of the most expensive and extravagant round-the-world trips. Next January the Queen Elizabeth 2 cruise ship will set sail from Southampton on 103-day cruise that will cost £2,231 a day.

Those passengers will wake in their penthouse suites, take breakfast on a private verandah, bathe in a marble bathroom before walking into the massive wardrobe to pick out a fetching greatcoat to protect them from the winter Atlantic gales as they take a bracing walk on the private, forward-facing deck.

They may then use some of their £2,500 spending money in the ship's shops, casinos or the first seaborne branch of Harrods. The 103-day cruise travels first to New York, then calls at more than 30 destinations including Mexico, the Falkland Islands, New Zealand, Sydney and Singapore.

While £229,839 might buy most people a house, there is no shortage of takers for the top suites, according to Cunard spokesman Eric Flounders. He said: "The ship fills from the top: the more expensive suites are the first to go. We have our regulars who will have booked months ago. All the food and drink is included in whatever suite you choose, but the range of amenities available differs as the suites get more expensive. Some don't care what their suite is like because they are never in it. But others value the space more."

The luxury cruise market has had a sixfold increase in North America since 1980, and passengers spent $12.9bn (£6.5bn) on cruises last year.

The Queen Elizabeth 2's sister ship, Queen Mary 2, launched in 2004, is the biggest cruise ship ever built. Many regular "cruisers" are loyal to the 44-year-old QE2, preferring its history and traditional decor.

A cruise for two people will set you back almost half a million pounds on the 'Queen Elizabeth 2' from next January if you opt for a grand suite on the 103-day South America, Pacific and Orient Odyssey

Four weeks on the island of Little Whale Cay in the Bahamas can be arranged for up to 12 adults and two children at £4,158 per night

Will get you to New York - with no flight back. Admittedly it will be on board a private Gulfstream jet, but you will still have the hotel and return journey to pay for

A two-hour sub-orbital space flight with Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic will take passengers 62 miles above the Earth and will include up to 10 minutes of weightlessness


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