When cruises are bargains and luxury villas look like good deals, what does it take to blow real money on a holiday?
Sunday 13 June 1999
I've been wondering what I would do if I was forced to take the most expensive holiday in the world. A cruise perhaps? How about a ride on a ship called the Crystal Symphony, due to set off on a 104-day journey next January from Los Angeles to Southampton via Asia and Africa? The brochure price is given as "from" pounds 25,000. Plenty of money - but still only pounds 240 a day. The amazing thing about cruises is how disappointingly cheap they can be. A 127-day cruise on the Ocean Explorer I, travelling over the millennium, starts from a mere pounds 7,455, which (at less than pounds 60 a day full-board) sounds little better than a poor-house.
A rather quicker way to get through the same amount of money would be to rent a luxury villa on an island like Mustique in the Caribbean. Glancing through brochures, I have found a nice looking place called Frangipani with an 18-metre swimming pool, four acres of landscaped gardens, "unparalleled" views over the Caribbean Sea, four cars and a staff of six. The rental price in high season is around pounds 15,000 a week which is slightly less than the purchase price of a small cottage in Wales.
But even this strikes me as surprisingly modest - after all, the villa has seven bedrooms and can house up to 14 people. If you have a large family, this brings the price down to only just over pounds 1,000 per person per week. I've probably been on holidays as expensive as that.
To move into the super-league of really expensive holidays, do you then have to move away from luxury and get more into the expeditionary line of holiday? I've just received an extraordinary brochure from a company called Adventure Network (tel: 01494 671808) which offers holidays to the South and North Poles.
It may sound like a bad joke at the expense of Captain Scott, but it is even possible to book a holiday which involves travelling on skis all the way to the South Pole from a base camp known as Patriot Hills. The trip lasts about nine weeks, takes place under the midnight sun, and is apparently quite safe given the availability of instant relief from light aircraft which can land anywhere on the ice.
According to the brochure, smoked salmon, chocolate mousse, Mexican tacos and Roquefort spinach ravioli are all on the menu, as well as fresh fruit, vegetables and "excellent local wines" flown in from Chile. The price? Well blow me down with a 60-knot wind. Even this extravaganza will only cost about pounds 28,000 (starting and finishing your journey in Chile). Barely more than a cruise.
To spend more than this it looks as though you would have to risk your neck climbing Mount Everest or being blasted into space. I think I would rather take a luxury holiday for two.
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