Cruise lovers, your ship has come in


There are exciting developments at (Silversea, the planet’s most luxe cruise line, which swept every cruise award in 2007. Not only is the all-suite, 382-guest Silver Shadow (crew-to-guest ratio 1 to 1.29) the only ultra-luxury cruise ship in Alaska this summer, but for those who think Alaska a little tame, Silversea is launching the first ultra-luxurious explorer ship in June. As yet unnamed, the explorer ship is the former World Discoverer, and is currently undergoing a multi-million pound refit to provide the kind of comfort and amenities formerly lacking in explorer ships. And for those who hate to fly, the maiden voyage will depart from London’s Tower Bridge (0844 770 9030).

For those who do not think Alaska is too tame, Silversea is offering 10 itineraries of nine to 12 days taking in America’s most remote state, with round-trip sailings from Vancouver, or voyages from Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seward. There are savings of up to 40 per cent on cruises, which feature Pacific ports, the Inside Passage and plenty of add-ons (0844 770 9030).

If you are planning a trip to Israel after mid-March, don’t forget UK airline bmi launches daily flights from Heathrow to Tel Aviv on March 13. The airline, which is promoting Israel’s buzziest city in a national ad campaign for the route’s launch, is offering returns from £244. The flight schedule has been designed to offer connections to bmi services to and from regional airports (0870 6070 555).

With more than a third of British families part of a step-family, demand for villas to accommodate the modern extended family has grown exponentially, say online villa specialists Villas To Go. The firm offers a range of properties, categorised as “Flagship” (such as Casa Da Infanta owned by the Portuguese royal family, accommodating eight, from £3,017 per week); “Signature Plus” (like La Casita, Majorca, accommodates six, from £693 per week); and “Simple” (Villa Marachino, above Albufeira, with pool and terrace, accommodating five, from £294 per week).

If you have been envious of American friends who can book up-scale cruises at down-scale prices, you will welcome the new cruise website launched by cruise and boating holiday online specialists (Blue Water Holidays. It features live availability data from the major cruise lines, giving an online choice of cruises and showing available cabins — even where they are located. It also provides guides to the cruise lines and ports and destinations.

Oberoi Exotic Vacations, package arm of luxurious Oberoi Hotel and Resort chain, is offering some alluring accommodation deals for those who wish to explore India in style. Itineraries of eight, 10 and 12 nights in their various hotels around the country, include Delhi, Agra, Mumbai and Udaipur with its romantic lakeside palaces. The deals, valid from May 1 to September 30, cost from £1,810 for eight-nights’ accommodation for two and include transfers from airport or station (00 800 1234 0101).

Savvy shoppers heading to Las Vegas can visit Shoppes at The Palazzo, the gambling city’s newest luxury hotel. The mall, which opened earlier this month offers shops from Chloe, Diane Von Furstenberg and Jimmy Choo along with Barneys New York. Punters can also stock up on Anya Hindmarch bags and Christian Louboutin shoes (0870 523 8832).

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