Travel ‘One family might easily have been the inspiration for...

‘One family might easily have been the inspiration for Succession’: the cruise that’s better than a superyacht

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And that’s exactly what I had done. The limo that had collected me in ­Athens glided past the multistorey megaliths, and came to a halt beside one comparatively small, pretty cruise ship – one that you might, at first, mistake for one of the superyachts: the ­pristine- white Seabourn Encore.

Even before the door had been opened by my chauffeur, some uniformed porters had sprung into action to collect my bags, while white-­uniformed crew members leapt forward to greet me, exchange my passport for my ship’s identity card, and escort me on board.

There are no mere “cabins” on board the Seabourn Encore, I discovered. My Veranda Suite, as the name suggests, was far more than a room with a balcony: frankly, it would have left many five-star hotel suites in the shade. Not only was there a huge bed, a bathroom, a sofa and an easy chair, but also a ­dining table, a walk-in wardrobe and a dressing room, and, of course, a fridge stocked with complimentary drinks.

I was distracted by a ring at the doorbell: my personal butler had arrived to introduce herself and ask whether there was anything else I needed. I mentioned a bottle of gin and some lemons to go with the tonics in the fridge, and no sooner had I started unpacking than they had arrived.

Not that you need your own complimentary minibar on this ship. During an exploratory stroll, I soon discovered that the moment you take a seat anywhere – by the pool, in any of the lounges or restaurants – a smartly dressed crew member appears to ask if they may get you anything.

And just like on your own superyacht, it is all part of the deal, with all food and drinks included in the price (unless you choose to splash out on “premium” brands – but I fail to see the need for that when the house champagne, spirits and wine of the day are so good).

There is also an excellent selection of res­taurants and, with the exception of one, The Grill by Thomas Keller (something of a superstar on the US culinary scene, and therefore particularly popular with the American passengers), never any need to book.

Admittedly, there are more passengers here than you would find on your own superyacht – but they number in the hundreds rather than the thousands. This means that you are very rarely aware of them, and when you are, it’s a marvellous opportunity for people-watching.

Among the ­stylish passengers on my sailing was one extended family group who displayed such an ever-­increasing show of wealth that they might easily have been the inspiration for Succession; an English couple from somewhere in Surrey who could often be heard lamenting what they were missing at the golf club; while a delightful French couple put even the best-dressed among us to shame with their three or four daily costume changes.

Standards, unsurprisingly, remained as high on land as on board. I had chosen a seven-day sailing to the Greek islands of Spetses, Crete, Mykonos and Skiathos, with a stop at the Turkish island of Bozcaada before ending in Istanbul. A splendid roll call of places, but the highlight was at the Turkish port of Kusadasi, where we spent an evening among the ancient ruins of Ephesus – empty of its ­daytime crowds – enjoying a private classical concert.

There is something magical about being served an endless parade of snacks and drinks while listening to a chamber orchestra play works by Bach, Vivaldi, Boccherini, Shostakovich, Mozart, Dvorak and Brahms against a backdrop of magnificent ancient ruins. And I bet you don’t get that on a superyacht.

Essentials

Jeffrey Mills was a guest of Seabourn (0843 373 2000), which has a similar seven-day Greek Isles and Ephesus cruise on board Seabourn Encore from £4,699 per person, based on two sharing a Veranda Suite, visiting Piraeus, Gythion (for Sparta), Chania, Mykonos, Kusadasi (for Ephesus), Cesme and Istanbul. Departs May 19 2024.

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