Silversea is one of the most luxurious -- and pricey -- cruise lines in the business, and it's known for exquisite service, gourmet cuisine, and spacious and elegant all-suite accommodations. The line offers an impressive enrichment program with naturalists, well-known authors, and even celebrity chefs mingling with passengers nightly. A cooking school program allows for cooking lessons at sea. Entertainment is more low-key than on the big ship lines, but the passengers seem to enjoy the cabaret-type acts. The company offers niceties including free alcohol and a fine selection of complimentary wines at lunch and dinner -- and probably at breakfast as well, if you're really interested. A friend of Fran's is fond of telling about the time he ordered a late-night hot dog from room service and it came elaborately presented on a silver tray. For Alaska, the line offers 7- to 10-night Gulf of Alaska cruises between Vancouver and Seward, Alaska.

Passenger Profile -- Look for the 60-something set, well heeled, well educated, and knowing what to look for when they lay out the kind of money it takes to get a place on one of this company's ships.

Ships -- While Silversea has a growing fleet of six ships, it sends just one to Alaska, the 382-passenger Silver Shadow. There are no rock-climbing facilities, but there are two alternative restaurants, one of which doubles as the breakfast and lunch buffet room, and there's a small casino. There is no children's program; it's not a ship for kids. Sample nightly rates per person: Least expensive suite is $508 for a 7-night cruise.