Steve Odell is so good, that he retired 12 months ago and has been persuaded to return to Regent Seven Seas, the line that claims the most luxurious fleet at sea.

How do you make sure you get the best deal on your next luxury cruise? Here’s what Steve told us about booking a luxury cruise:

1. What are the attributes of the best luxury cruise ships:

A glamorous atmosphere that equals top hotels around the World for style, contemporary design, attention to detail, and exemplary service casual and relaxed. Add to that world-class cuisine with multiple dining options among a smaller amount of fellow travellers. It’s difficult to deliver this level of experience above 750 guests. Think smaller boutique hotels on land. They offer so much more attention to detail. Relaxation is key and the target is mature adults, well-educated and well travelled.

Personalisation is an important part of this, don’t you think? Someone who looks out for you and knows exactly what you want. Authenticity – there may be machines out there that let you order a drink (Princess, Virgin!) but that’s not the same as a barman who knows exactly how much tonic you like in your gin.  

And space. Fine furnishings and art. Books and entertainment for grown-ups…

2. What happens at the destination?

Luxury cruise lines have smaller ships that can access smaller ports off the beaten track, meaning fewer people at the destination and many overnight stops. It’s also important to look at what’s included in the fare: Regent for example offers free unlimited shore excursions included in the fare in all ports – it’s a real point of distinction and represents incredible value.

Immersion is important – getting a real feel for a place.  An authentic meal with a local. A guide that knows the place…but also knows you and what you want.  It’s all about you. You need to feel you’ve taken something home from each place.

3. Not everything called luxury IS luxury

It’s always important to do your research and look beneath the surface when booking a luxury cruise. Luxury means many things but most of all it means exclusivity and excellence of service – a place where you are recognised and treated as an individual – it means being in a ‘like-minded’ crowd and not one of the thousands. Fares are higher but value for money is key – always look at inclusions. Not even top luxury hotels can compete with the cruise offering from a value perspective

4. Why is a luxury cruise is better value 

In general, there are little or no hidden extras with ultra-luxury cruises – always check inclusions but it’s possible to put your wallet away for your whole time on board and have a relaxed and carefree time!

5. How to get the best deal possible and still travel in style?

The best deals are nearly always found by booking as early as possible. Look out for these special savings by registering interest with preferred travel agents who have early access to information or by signing up for company newsletters on cruise line websites. Look out for low deposit offers for these voyages for early commitment to travel.

These are the top tips for booking a luxury cruise.

See the podcast on Regent Seven Seas Grandeur here