Luxury travel: The most expensive tour of Europe imaginable

Enjoy Emirates Airline’s Airbus A380-800 Business Class Lounge. Photo / Getty Images

In Byron and Shelley’s time, the Grand Tour was a lot of travel. The rich young nobles gathered household money, linen, various servants and teachers and left for Europe for several months. Or maybe a few years if the father is so generous.

Today we’ll do the Grand Tour again in today’s style and currency, but maybe skip Shelley’s yachting holiday in Italy and Byron’s military derring-do in Greece, because neither of those were very good.

Our first or first class decision. Fly to Europe or take a slow boat?

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Arcadia, one of P&O Cruises’ two adult-only ships, departs on February 14 (yes, Valentine’s Day) for a 58-night voyage from Auckland to London. The 2016 passenger plane offers everything you need to soothe your body while nourishing your mind with theatre, art and film.

“On a baby-free ship, you’re guaranteed a quiet and contemplative cruise… Relax in your spacious stateroom, dine at Marco Pierre White’s Sea Grill, stargaze at the Globe Theater or admire 3,000 works in the Art Gallery.”

You’ll be visiting galleries and museums over the next few weeks. Suite? $34,097, one-way.

Arcadia is one of P&O Cruises' two adult-only ships.  Photo / Getty Images
Arcadia is one of P&O Cruises’ two adult-only ships. Photo / Getty Images

If you’re not ready to spend that much time on the ship at the moment, there are other options. Airline options are still a bit limited, but the best option seems to be the long 27-hour flight from Emirates via Dubai to Paris, especially now that the A380 is back in our skies.

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If you’re paying full fare, it’s $15,515 for a first-class round trip. For this, transport the driver to the airport, quickly pass through customs, access the lounge, and take the flight.

The 14 First Class seats become suites when the sliding doors are closed (wall panels in the middle row), with 2m flat beds, touch-panel entertainment, mini-bars, a la carte meals, a lounge bar and two ‘shower spas’. – spacious and well-cleaned bathrooms.

Emirates Airline Airbus SE A380-800 first class cabin.  Photo / Getty Images
Emirates Airline Airbus SE A380-800 first class cabin. Photo / Getty Images

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Next is the City of Light. We are staying at the Ritz but will not use the hotel driver to take us on the river cruise. Not even a riverboat.

In our case, the executive coach of La Nouvelle Etoile, a superbly furnished hotel barge that sleeps eight passengers in four suites. Traditional elegance – air-conditioned, light-lined dining room, piano bar and sun deck; Disadvantages of mode – Internet connection, exercise room, bike.

We’re going on a champagne cruise – what else? – Six nights from Paris, $14,000, visits to chateaux, Brie de Meaux cheese tasting, Moet & Chandon private wine tasting, wartime site visits, trips to Reims and Champagne capital Epernay.

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We will enjoy our 4-course dinner on Wedgwood china using Christofle silver, paired with appropriate wines and cheeses by a Michelin-starred chef. This ship is the most important of the whole route, and they will take us back to Paris.

Imagine cruising through Paris on La Nouvelle Étoile, a luxury hotel barge that can accommodate just 8 passengers.  Photo / Getty Images
Imagine cruising through Paris on La Nouvelle Étoile, a luxury hotel barge that can accommodate just 8 passengers. Photo / Getty Images

Guess we should dip our toes into the Med. Given the air miles we’re already racking up, we have to be responsible travelers and take the fast train south, but anyone can get on one of these.

Remember, this is just a fantasy, so we’ll be booking a two-person jet from Le Bourget, Europe’s busiest private aviation hub, adjacent to Charles de Gaulle Airport, where everyday people live.

A light jet with a cabin and two seats will take us to Athens in four hours for $30,350. Hey, that includes a 300 percent carbon offset.

We chose Silversea’s 11-day cruise from Athens (okay, Piraeus to appease the pedants) to Fusina (not even close to Venice. We know how the locals feel about cruise ships).

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Why this ship, this trip? Silversea is a small cruise and luxury line where the destination is as important as the onboard experience. It’s aboard the refurbished Silver Spirit, which boasts one of the industry’s highest space-to-guest ratios — the ship carries just 608 adults; This line delivers more than most on the beach, especially with its SALT food, wine and cultural programs.

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The cruise covers 20 ports in five countries: Athens, Crete, Izmir, Istanbul, Mykonos, Santorini and Kotor, Split and Dubrovnik in Montenegro. Rats, ticks and another tick off the bucket list. Maybe take a side trip to go hot air ballooning in Cappadocia. Does it require carbon offsets?

We would really like to get a 120m2 one or two bedroom apartment with a veranda, living room, kitchen, dining area, water heater and utility room for the Owner’s Suite…but the website says there is a waiting list. Also for the next two floor suites. We may have to settle for the 4th silver, Silver Deluxe. If we flew from Australia it would be $22,250.

Silversea's revamped Silver Spirit carries 608 passengers.  Photo / Getty Images
Silversea’s revamped Silver Spirit carries 608 passengers. Photo / Getty Images

Since we’re here, it might be worth checking out the other end of the lake. We thought about chartering a superyacht – there seem to be quite a few moored in ports around Europe at the moment, but there seems to be a legal hurdle or two.

So a superyacht instead. Our eyes lit up on the Sea of ​​Clouds. Look at how the main flag was installed: it was built in 1931 by business tycoon E.F. Hutton built a luxury yacht for his heiress, Marjorie Merriweather Post, a four-masted bark, and we like it better. cut off his hand.

Accommodating 58 passengers, “her sleek, snow-white hull curves elegantly from the stem, her masts reaching for the sky. The ship’s deck reflects the majesty of rich mahogany, teak, and gleaming brass, while the magnificent silhouette of a golden eagle is poised to soar over the water.” . No ship compares for grace, good service, and joy of sailing.”

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It will hurt again. Sea Cloud’s itinerary doesn’t exactly match ours, so we’ll be sailing to Valletta, Malta on a less glamorous sister ship. TBH, I’d rather stop on his neighboring island. I have family there and can’t resist visiting Gozo.

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Cruise to Valletta, Malta on a luxury superyacht.  Photo / Getty Images
Cruise to Valletta, Malta on a luxury superyacht. Photo / Getty Images

At this point we really need to go back to Aotearoa and make sure the Auckland airport, the resort in Omaha and the alpacas are all shared. Oh yes, grandchildren too.

We can charter a helicopter – haven’t used one of these yet – to the nearest reasonably sized city, just over two hours away, for $9,850, but I just saw the fine print, but there is a “luxury tax”. .

Don’t worry. If anyone had the right to end their fantasy vacation in Taormina, Sicily for The White Lotus, it would be our legend.

Unless we’re completely done. We have to somehow get back to Paris and get home.

Whether it’s fantasy or reality, there’s always something complicated about such journeys. We may have to pretend and gasp! – Scheduled ferries to Monaco.

However, the embarrassment will not last long. Our driver is waiting in the captain’s quarters – which sounds much better than “port” – the motor is running in the best Tesla.

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As nice as they are, we’ve already seen the Mercedes options. After all, it’s only a nine-hour drive back to Paris, mini-bar unlocked and loaded, we can stop for lunch in Lyon, and the visa costs just $11,387.

And one must watch one’s carbon footprint. Even in first class, it’s going to be a long flight home.

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