If you’re going to spend your vacation on a cruise ship, it may as well be one that will envelop you in luxury. After all, who wants to spend a holiday fending for themselves when they could have a butler serve breakfast in bed? Thankfully, there’s no shortage of luxury cruise lines ready to cater to your every whim while ferrying you to and from some of the world’s most mesmerising destinations in plush comfort. By Meena Thiruvengadam
These are 11 of the best luxury cruise lines
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
This just debuted, 750-passenger ship is the Regent’s first new build in over a decade. It has tons of exciting features, from a Canyon Ranch SpaClub to Chartreuse, an impressive Parisian-style brasserie, and the most expensive suite at sea—a two-bedroom stunner with nearly 4,000-square feet and its own mini spa, naturally. Mediterranean cruisers can participate in exclusive Gourmet Explorer Tours (a pesto-making class in Portofino, shopping for olive oil in Corfu) and will appreciate the all-balcony accommodations.
When this luxury cruise line says it’s all-inclusive, it means it. Literally, everything from shore excursions, wifi, and laundry to gratuities, top-shelf liquor, and business-class intercontinental flights are included with Regent Seven Seas cruise fares. Onboard, each luxurious suite features ocean views. But nothing beats the view from the sprawling 4,000-square-foot Regent Suite. That epic two-bedroom suite has two wraparound balconies, three walk-in closets, two Picasso lithographs, and a grand piano.
Oceania Cruises has just seven small ships, but it calls on some of the most interesting destinations in the world. Each Oceania vessel carries up to 1,250 guests, calling on more than 450 ports around the world. On board, you’ll find art workshops, cooking classes, and wine tastings in addition to dreamy spas, gorgeous libraries, and sleek gyms. Butlers are formally trained members of the Guild of Professional English Butlers and kitchen staff come from some of the best restaurants in the world.
If you’ve ever dreamed of having your own butler, Silversea is the cruise line for you. Silversea is the only luxury cruise line that provides butler service for every single suite on the ship, and Silversea’s butlers take white-glove service to a whole other level. They’ll handle your laundry with more care than you do, scour port towns to find your favourite tastes of home, and even help you pack and unpack your suitcase. If you’re a foodie, a new culinary program nicknamed SALT for Sea and Land Taste brings the taste of destinations onboard through cooking classes. Of course, there’s no need to cook for yourself onboard a Silversea ship. Each ship features several restaurants with multi-course menus guaranteed to make your mouth water every night.
Viking is a river and ocean cruise line that added expedition cruising to its lineup in 2022. Viking already has more than 70 vessels sailing Europe’s charming rivers and the world’s oceans. In 2022, it’s adding the Mississippi River and the Great Lakes to its itineraries. Viking’s ships are known for their thoughtful design that seamlessly blends indoors and outdoors using expansive windows and verandas. Viking’s river ship menus are heavily influenced by cruise itineraries while Viking’s ocean cruise ships are large enough to feel like a cruise ship but small enough to access difficult ports.
This French luxury cruise line aims to make passengers feel as if they’re travelling on their own private yachts. Onboard, guests are met with Laduree macaroons, Veuve Clicquot Champagne, and luxurious Hermes bath products. Each of the company’s ships features an onboard spa with massage cabins and either a Turkish bath or sauna. Ponant’s luxurious small ships sail to remote destinations like Antarctica, incorporating once-in-a-lifetime experiences like eclipse spotting from the edge of the earth. The company partners with Smithsonian and with Disney on certain sailings.
Seabourn cruises to all seven continents and at all the right times. It aims to evoke the feeling of a private club for passengers on board its small ships. Each Seabourn suite comes with an ocean view, a walk-in closet, and a proper dining area. Ships accommodate a maximum of 600 passengers, ensuring plenty of space for guests to spread out as they take in some of the most interesting landscapes in the world. Seabourn prices include everything, even premium liquors. And while there is no formally-trained butler, each suite comes with an attendant to cater to your every need, even drawing you a relaxing bath should you need a soak after an adventurous day in port.
If you prefer your cruises without thousands of other guests, Windstar is a perfect luxury cruise line for you. Windstar operates a fleet of small ships that carry a maximum of 342 guests each. It’s luxury small ships call on 150 ports in Europe, Central America, the Caribbean, and the South Pacific, and there’s no way you’ll go hungry on the journey. Exquisite onboard menus have been designed by James Beard Award-winning and Michelin-star chefs. You’ll have to pay extra for alcohol, but all meals and a Windstar signature onboard barbecue — a feast of whole suckling pig, shrimp brochette, and more — are included.
Whether it’s a river or an ocean you want to cruise, Scenic’s luxury cruise line can take you there in style. Scenic operates river cruises in Europe and Asia. Ocean cruises take guests to far-flung destinations on what Scenic calls the world’s first discovery yachts. Each vessel has just 114 suites, meaning there will never be more than 230 passengers on board — fewer for the Arctic and Antarctic itineraries. Onboard, you’ll find fine dining, expansive spas and fitness facilities, and a butler to cater to your every need.
This British luxury cruise line is known for its transatlantic service, which transports pets as well as people, between headquarters in Southampton, England and New York City. It operates three ships with a fourth in the works, though only one sails its transatlantic route. Cunard is a cruise line that takes formality seriously. It is home to the largest ballroom at sea and gala nights where passengers break out their black-tie best. White-gloved waiters serve afternoon tea each day at 3:30 pm. Staterooms include 24-hour room service and evening turndown service with chocolates. Don’t forget your tux.
This luxury cruise line operates just one ship, but it is exquisite. The ship can accommodate just 330 guests and sails only in the South Pacific, stopping in remote places like Tahiti, Fiji, Tonga, and the Cook Islands. The ship is small enough to access private ports at remote beaches and take travellers off well-beaten tourist paths. Several classes of service include butler service, should you want help with unpacking, marking a special occasion with a private in-suite cocktail party, or anything else.
Celebrity is an upscale cruise line with lots of luxurious extras, like welcome Champagne, free wifi, and included beverages. But its new Edge Series ships are taking things up a notch. Celebrity’s signature Iconic Suites onboard the Celebrity Edge and Apex offer panoramic views from above the ship’s bridge. Each suite boasts over 2,500 square feet of space, including expansive 690-square-foot terraces. Each suite has two bedrooms and two bathrooms. If you’ve ever wanted to soak in a gorgeous bathtub while watching the ocean waves from your bathroom window, this is the suite for you.