Luxury cruising has become harder to define in recent years, with mainstream cruise lines and mega-ships providing high-end, state-of-the-art facilities and experiences that could be considered luxury. However, when looking at what is a luxury cruise, there are some key differences that make them extra special.
In this article, we take a closer look at luxury cruising and the most luxurious cruise ships to explore the benefits that elevate these cruise holidays to the more extraordinary.
What is luxury cruising?
Unlike hotel accommodations, there is no official classification for cruise ships. A cruise line can describe its ships as a luxury or offering luxury cruising experiences without any industry-approved distinctions.
In fact, many of the leading cruise lines and certainly the more premium ones, such as Celebrity Cruises, Cunard Cruises, Holland America and Princess Cruises, offer amazing experiences that could be considered part of luxury cruising. For example, you can find speciality dining, adults-only retreats and high-end spas on many of today’s cruise ships.
So, where do the luxury cruise differences lie? There is one aspect of luxury cruises that makes these holidays stand apart from any other – exclusivity. This exclusivity is delivered via four main elements throughout the cruise holiday: space, service, destinations and included extras.
What do you get on a luxury cruise?
Let’s explore how luxury cruise lines deliver on these four aspects of exclusivity to earn recognition as one of the most luxurious cruise lines.
Space is one of the most significant luxury cruise benefits. Luxury cruise ships are typically smaller than the leading mass-market cruise ships and designed to deliver a more intimate, niche experience.
However, a smaller ship doesn’t equate to less space, as the number of guests a luxury cruise ship accommodates is much lower.
For example, on Regent Seven Seas ships, the capacity is less than 750 guests, with only 490 guests on its Seven Seas Navigator. Meanwhile, on Silversea Cruises, the maximum number of guests their ultra-luxury cruise ships take is 728, going down to around 200 guests on their expedition ships.
This is quite a difference compared to the 3,500-plus guests on a mega-ship!
As well as giving a more boutique feel to the whole experience, fewer cruise guests on board a luxury cruise ship means fewer crowds; no time wasted in line for the buffet, ordering drinks, or signing up for excursions.
There are also no lengthy waits during embarkation and disembarkation. With more space and fewer people, time is not wasted waiting on a luxury cruise; you can just make the most of every moment.
You can also expect the accommodation space to be next level in luxury cruising. Many vessels are all-suite cruise ships. Inside cabins are a rarity, while most luxury cruise ship cabins have a balcony at the very least.
The excellent standards of service you receive onboard are another significant luxury cruise benefit. On luxury cruise ships, the crew-to-passenger ratio is much higher.
This higher ratio means more crew available to attend to your wishes and a much more personalised service. Silversea Cruises and Seabourn regularly top the list for having the best crew-to-passenger ratios, with 1:0.8 on many of their ships.
The crew on luxury cruise ships are fully trained to provide exclusive, personalised experiences for each one of their guests. With more time to get to know you and be attentive to your needs, crew members will remember your name and your preferences.
For example, often the crew will not only know your favourite poolside drink but have it ready for you when you return to your sun lounger. These are little details that make you feel extra special on your cruise holiday.
With luxury cruising, you will also usually have access to a personalised concierge service and, often, an in-suite butler service, again making it easy for you to enjoy your cruise holiday to the fullest.
Access to destinations
A key highlight of your cruise holiday is the fantastic destinations you get to visit. Another of the luxury cruise differences is that their smaller ships can dock at smaller, more exclusive ports, meaning you get to experience stunning places away from the tourist masses.
Think stunning fjords in Norway, faraway, idyllic islands and locations right into the heart of spectacular cities.
In other destinations, larger cruise ships sometimes have to dock much further away due to their size. Therefore, on these smaller ships, your port day transfer times will be a lot shorter, again giving you more time to do the things that matter.
When it comes to shore excursions from luxury cruise lines, you can expect these to be more exclusive too. Your excursions could include unique culinary experiences, on-shore live performances, fascinating destination talks, or hands-on workshops; experiences that can only accommodate small groups.
Most luxury cruise lines offer all-inclusive cruise holidays, taking away the hassle of paying for things individually as and when you need them. Typically, you can enjoy things such as speciality dining, onboard drinks, a fully stocked and customised mini-bar and Wi-Fi, all as part of your cruise fare.
Often gratuities are included too, and some luxury cruise lines even have shore excursions included in their cruise fares.
With luxury cruising, you’ll often come across other little thoughtful extras that make your holiday all the more special. Examples include a glass of champagne ready for you upon arrival after a port day, finding your shoes polished and formal clothes pressed without needing to ask or having binoculars in the cabins to take in the gorgeous views.
Which cruise lines are luxury?
A handful of cruise lines are undeniably considered part of the luxury cruising category. These include Silversea Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Seabourn and Oceania Cruises. Each of these cruise lines has its own unique style and range of offerings.
Regent Seven Seas arguably has some of the most luxurious cruise ships currently at sea, offering a feeling of traditional, grand luxury, opulent décor and much more included in their all-inclusive cruise packages.
Silversea Cruises is also renowned for being one of the most luxurious cruise lines. Alongside its ‘classic’ luxury ships, its standout offering is its incredible expedition ships.
Going to remote places such as the Galapagos Islands, Antarctica and the South Pacific Islands, Silversea expedition ships have helicopters and submarines onboard to deliver ultimate adventurous experiences.
Seabourn’s smaller, all-suite ships offer unpretentious, contemporary experiences likened to those found on a superyacht.
Meanwhile, Oceania Cruises is considered a more affordable luxury cruise line option, offering exclusive foodie experiences.
How to book a luxury cruise
If you are sold on the idea of luxury cruising and are looking to find the best luxury cruise deals for your next holiday, our best advice is to book early. With fewer places to fill, these cruise ships are often sold-out fast, so you’re more likely to get better deals early on.
Keep an eye on their website for any updates on the best cruise deals with luxury lines and ships. You can also speak to cruise agents, such as Cruise.co.uk, too, as we’ll be able to help you with getting the best luxury cruise deals for your specific requirements.// END - About the Author ?>