These are what we’d like to call ‘voyages of extravagance’.
The world around us brims with numerous opportunities for luxurious experiences—both vast and varied. While the pursuit of one-of-a-kind terrestrial experiences presents an extensive range of options for the carpe diem moment, the options of experiential indulgence on the open sea are far more limited in comparison, despite the expansive possibilities.
However, within the limited range of nautical travel, the experiences presented by lavish cruise ships and yachts go beyond the multitude of choices found on land. These floating paradises of sorts redefine the very essence of luxury journeying, blending aspirational moments with lavish amenities and impeccable service, creating a haven for avid travellers.
From sumptuously appointed suites to gourmet dining experiences, and from personalised pampering to exclusive itineraries, the 14 cruise lines we’re about to delve into have mastered the art of merging nautical escapades with the finest aspects of luxury living.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
The Regent fleet ranges from the smallest vessel which can carry 490 passengers to the largest one accommodating up to 750 guests. These opulent cruise liners are all about relaxation, boasting world-class spa facilities as part of their comprehensive all-inclusive packages. In November 2023, the Seven Seas Grandeur will join the ranks of beloved liners like the Seven Seas Splendor and Seven Seas Explorer. Regent’s packages encompass flights, shore excursions, and unique activities like glass-blowing lessons. They go the extra mile by offering behind-the-scenes experiences, giving you an insight into how things work. It’s a dream come true for inquisitive travellers!
Our recommendation: Seven Seas Explorer’s Majestic Pacific Passage from Vancouver (Canada) to Tokyo (Japan).
Norwegian Cruise Line
For years, NCL’s most expensive suite was the three-bedroom Garden Villa found on Dawn and Jewel-class ships. However, with the introduction of the Viva-class, the Haven Premier Owner’s Suite now claims that distinction. On the priciest option, a 2024 Christmas/New Year’s cruise, the cost comes to over $10,000 per person per night. Nonetheless, most sailings in 2024 and 2025 fall in the range of $7,000 to $7,700 per person per night. This extravagant 2,100-square-foot aft-facing suite can accommodate up to eight guests and boasts an 828-square-foot curved balcony with a hot tub, separate living and dining areas, three bedrooms with king-sized beds, a double sofa bed, three bathrooms with jetted showers, a guest half-bath, and an array of indulgent amenities. These include butler and concierge services, in-suite dining with white tablecloth service, a bottle of Moet Champagne upon embarkation, a customised liquor selection, daily replenishment of bottled water and sodas, exclusive breakfast and lunch invites, a cocktail party with the ship’s officers, access to an exclusive sundeck, pool, lounge, and much more.
Our recommendation: Norwegian Dawn’s Mediterranean Cruise from Athen (Greece) to Tel-Aviv (Israel).
Royal Caribbean International
Finding pricing for the Ultimate Family Suite proved challenging, mainly due to its consistent sell-out status on all four ships where it’s available (Symphony, Spectrum, Wonder of the Seas, and Icon of the Seas). However, with the assistance of a travel advisor, we located one available sailing: a one-week December cruise in 2024, priced at $34,295 per person. It’s worth noting that during the holiday season, this suite can reach prices upwards of $75,000 per person, potentially elevating its ranking on this list. This two-level suite is the ultimate haven for families, featuring a unique in-suite slide connecting the two levels. The spacious balcony offers entertainment with games like air hockey and table tennis, along with a Jacuzzi. Inside, a private game room boasts multiple video game systems. Similar to other Royal Suite Class accommodation options in the Star tier, the Ultimate Family Suite provides access to a Royal Genie, a stocked minibar, complimentary alcoholic and soft drinks, complimentary specialty dining, VOOM Internet access, and other such allied offerings. Additional perks encompass expedited boarding and departure, access to a suite lounge, sun deck, and Coastal Kitchen, free admission to the Thrill Waterpark at Perfect Day at CocoCay, and much more.
Our recommendation: Icon of the Seas’ from Miami (Florida).
What sets Silversea apart is its remarkable inclusion of uncommon destinations such as Russia, West Africa, and Bangladesh. Alongside the more traditional cruise spots, Silversea Expeditions opens doors to off-the-beaten-path locations. Like other luxury cruise lines, Silversea boasts exceptional service and a loyalty programme that entices repeat travellers. Those with a penchant for luxury Silversea cruises will be delighted to learn about the S.A.L.T. (Sea and Land Taste) programme available on their new Silver Dawn vessel. This initiative offers guests a unique chance to fully immerse themselves in the local cuisines and cultures of their chosen destinations.
Our recommendation: Silver Endeavour’s Expedition Cruise from Reykjavik (Iceland) to New York (US).
The new Edge Series ships from Celebrity Cruises are elevating the cruise experience to extraordinary heights. Among their standout features are the Iconic Suites found on the Celebrity Edge and Apex. These suites provide breathtaking panoramic views from a vantage point above the ship’s bridge, each encompassing over 2,500 square feet of space. They also include expansive 690-square-foot terraces, two bedrooms, and two bathrooms. Debuting in 2022, the Celebrity Beyond can accommodate 3,260 guests and boasts an impressive line-up of 32 bars and restaurants, including the renowned Le Voyage by chef Daniel Boulud. On-board, you’ll even find two-storey villas, adding a touch of opulence to your journey. The forthcoming sibling ship, Ascent, is set to join the fleet later this year, promising even more remarkable experiences.
Our recommendation: Celebrity Beyond’s Italy, Turkey & Greek Islands’ cruise from Rome (Italy).
An esteemed small-ship ocean cruise company, Viking boasts a fleet comprising more than 70 vessels. In 2022, Viking made waves by introducing new expedition voyages to extraordinary destinations like the Arctic, Antarctica, and the Great Lakes of North America. Furthermore, they’ve expanded their offerings to include Mississippi River cruises aboard the custom-built Viking Mississippi. Among Viking’s most prized options is the 93-day cruise from Auckland to Vancouver, a journey that encompasses visits to 13 countries along the route. Few experiences rival the opportunity to explore such a wide array of global sights.
Our recommendation: Viking Orion’s Grand Pacific Explorer from Auckland (New Zealand) to Vancouver (Canada).
Ponant, the prestigious French luxury cruise line, strives to create a sense of travelling on one’s own private yacht for its passengers. On-board, guests indulge in Ladurée macarons, Veuve Clicquot Champagne, and opulent Hermès bath products. Every ship in their fleet boasts a spa with massage cabins, as well as a Turkish bath or sauna. Ponant’s intimate small ships navigate to remote corners of the globe, including Antarctica, offering extraordinary experiences like witnessing eclipses from the ends of the Earth. Additionally, the company collaborates with esteemed partners like Smithsonian and Disney for select sailings.
Our recommendation: Le Champlain’s Adventure in Madagascar from Victoria, Mahe to Port Louis (Mauritius).
Seabourn sets a high standard by offering suites as the exclusive choice for accommodation on their cruises. This ensures that a luxury experience with breathtaking ocean views is guaranteed. They pay special attention to providing extensive deck space and exceptional cuisine served in elegant dining venues. What sets Seabourn apart is the freshness of their fleet, boasting one of the most modern and youthful collections of ships in the industry. The new vessels even come with private suite verandahs for added luxury. These opulent cruise ships are also renowned for their prestigious guest speakers and lecturers, who include celebrated chefs, artists, scientists, and explorers.
Our recommendation: Seabourn Sojourn’s 20-Day Riviera Romance & Tyrrhenian Treasures from Barcelona (Spain).
Windstar Cruises’ fleet of luxurious small ships chart a course to 150 captivating ports across Europe, Central America, the Caribbean, and the South Pacific, ensuring a diverse and exciting journey. You won’t have to worry about dining options either, as their exquisite on-board menus are curated by renowned chefs hailing from Michelin-starred restaurants. While alcoholic beverages may incur an extra cost, all meals and the signature Windstar on-board barbecue, featuring a sumptuous spread including whole suckling pig and shrimp brochette, are included in your package. Windstar Cruises not only holds a prestigious place in the T+L World’s Best Awards Hall of Fame but also maintains a longstanding partnership with the James Beard Foundation. They frequently invite top chefs on-board for culinary-focused sailings, enriching the gourmet experience for their passengers.
Our recommendation: Wind Spirit’s Dreams of Tahiti from Papeete (French Polynesia).
Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours
Scenic offers an extensive range of all-inclusive travel experiences, including ocean cruises, river cruises, and captivating land journeys. They affectionately refer to their vessels as “space-ships” to emphasise the generous room they provide. Among these, Scenic Eclipse stands out as their flagship vessel, proudly boasting the title of the world’s first discovery yacht. With a maximum capacity of 228 guests and an array of 114 luxurious suites, it promises a truly exceptional bucket-list adventure. Scenic cruises are also known for their delightful extras, which include indulging in gourmet cuisine sourced from the destinations visited and the option to use e-bikes provided for shore excursions. Alternatively, you can embark on your own path with a Freechoice tour. On-board experts are readily available to offer all the information you need to make the most informed choices during your journey.
Our recommendation: Scenic Eclipse’s Mawson Antarctica: Along the East Coast from Queenstown (New Zealand) to Hobart (Australia).
Established in 1840 by Samuel Cunard, this legendary cruise line pioneered the world’s first regular transatlantic steamship service. Cunard’s fleet carries a regal touch, as their three ships bear the names of English Queens, ensuring you receive a royal welcome from the start. The esteemed line-up features the iconic Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth, and Queen Victoria, with the Queen Anne cruise ship currently under construction in Italy, benefitting from the expertise of some of the world’s top interior designers. For the pinnacle of luxury, Cunard Grill Suites are unparalleled. They offer floor-to-ceiling port windows, a dedicated personal butler, indulgent Champagne and chocolates, and exclusive access to refined dining venues. On-board, you’ll also find delightful gastro pubs and steakhouse eateries. The timeless tradition of afternoon tea is impeccably observed, served by white-gloved waitstaff. For ultimate relaxation, treat yourself to The Mareel Spa with single or multi-day passes. It features a spacious thermal suite, hydrotherapy pool, and a tranquil relaxation area, ensuring a pampering experience beyond compare.
Our recommendation: Queen Mary 2’s 7-Day Transatlantic from Southampton (England) to New York (US).
Paul Gauguin Cruises
The Paul Gauguin Line subtly positions its flagship, the eponymous Paul Gauguin, as a backdrop to the true allure of its voyages: the enchanting French Polynesian islands. This luxury cruise line believes that the real highlight of the journey lies in exploring Tahiti, Fiji, and the South Pacific. On-board, passengers savour gourmet cuisine and receive exceptional service, making it an unparalleled way to immerse oneself in these idyllic destinations. Beyond the indulgent spa and relaxation offerings, guests can partake in enriching cultural tours and engage in activities that celebrate Polynesian culture, promising a cruise experience of a lifetime.
Our recommendation: The Gauguin’s Marquesas, Tuamotus & Society Islands cruise from Tahiti (French Polynesia).
Ideal for vegetarians and vegans, the Azamara Quest offers an inviting and informal atmosphere, adorned with contemporary decor reminiscent of a stylish boutique hotel. During the summer, this ship gracefully sails through northern Europe and the Mediterranean, while in the winter, it embarks on a captivating journey to the Caribbean and South America, including the renowned Rio carnival. The best part? Almost everything, including drinks, is included in your experience. For those who prefer plant-based dining, Azamara goes the extra mile by curating a creative and diverse menu of meat-free dishes available across all its restaurants. Additionally, the ship features two speciality restaurants: Aqualina, offering exquisite Italian cuisine, and the Prime C steakhouse, which may have an additional cover charge but boasts expansive sea views that make it an ideal choice for a sunset meal.
Our recommendation: Azamara Quest’s Scotland Intensive cruise from Oslo (Norway) to Dublin (Ireland).
Star Clippers Sailings
Perfect for sailing enthusiasts, the Royal Clipper offers an intimate experience with just 227 adventurous souls embarking on thrilling Caribbean escapades. This ship proudly claims the title of the world’s largest and most magnificent square-rigged vessel. Featuring three pools, ample sunbathing areas on sun-kissed teak decks, an elegant restaurant, and an alfresco bar, the Royal Clipper seamlessly blends the romance of sailing along with modern creature comforts. Infused with Edwardian charm, adorned with faux fireplaces, and gleaming with polished brass, the ship exudes character. It harnesses the power of 56,000 square feet of billowing sails, making it a cherished choice among avid sailors and boat owners. For an indulgent experience, consider one of the 14 deluxe suites on the main deck, or relax in the vast nets flanking the bowsprit—an exceptional spot for spotting dolphins racing alongside the ship. However, if you have mobility challenges, it’s advisable to opt for a different vessel, as the Royal Clipper spans four decks and lacks elevators, potentially making navigation challenging.
Our recommendation: Royal Clipper’s Classic Yachtsman Caribbean cruise from Antigua to Barbados.Add to favorites