Janine Kelso takes a look at what makes luxury cruises, including profiles of the latest luxury ships and the most luxurious suites at sea
“Luxury means exclusive, unique experiences and delivering the highest quality of personalised service. APT raises the bar by combining exciting destinations, immersive sightseeing, flexibility and meticulous attention to detail.” Paul Melinis, managing director, APT
“Exceptional service and dining, elegant cabins with sea views plus every element of your voyage taken care of by a well-trained and welcoming crew, so all you need to do is enjoy.” Amanda Norey, head of marketing and distribution, Tradewind Voyages
“Luxury means an all-inclusive cruise that provides seamless and personalised experiences, where guests can enjoy food and drink at their fingertips, West End-style entertainment, unlimited wi-fi and warm and conscientious service by crew.” Rachel Poultney, sales director, Princess Cruises
“It’s more than getting from one iconic destination to another. Onboard guests are treated to excellent service, premium cuisine, compelling scenery and social atmosphere in the custom-designed train carriages.” Steve Harris, sales director EMEA, Rocky Mountaineer
A crop of new luxury ships are set to dazzle the high seas this year. We round-up five of the best.
Ritz-Carlton is poised to debut its first-ever cruise ship Evrima in July 2021 after several shipyard delays pushed back the 2020 launch date. Inspired by private super-yachts, the long-awaited luxury ship has 149 suites with 24-hour room service and spacious ocean-facing terraces. The top-end Owner’s Suites are a cavernous 102 square metres, with whirlpool tubs on the terrace and a separate living room. There’s a spa offering relaxing treatments in ocean-view rooms and five restaurants, including a poolside grill, an Asian-fusion option and SEA specialty dining experience with a tasting menu crafted by Michelin-starred celebrity chef Sven Elverfeld.
One of 2021’s most buzzworthy launches, Seabourn’s first purpose-built expedition ship Seabourn Venture is due to depart from Greenwich in December. The ultra-luxury ship will sail on a series of 10 to 14-day Norwegian Winter voyages in search of the northern lights between December and April 2022, exploring snowcapped mountains and giant fjords. In the summer months, it will sail to the Arctic, Caribbean and South America. The 132-suite vessel will carry two custom-built submarines, 24 Zodiacs, sea kayaks, mountain bikes and e-bikes to enable guests to explore the rugged landscape in style. Once-in-a-lifetime experiences on offer will include snorkelling with whales, snowshoeing and dogsledding.
Sea Cloud Cruises’ long-awaited rigged sailing ship Sea Cloud Spirit will sail its maiden voyage from Rome on September 14, following years of delays. With a capacity for 136 passengers in 69 cabins, 25 of which have their own balconies, this is the third ship in Sea Cloud’s fleet of private yacht-style vessels. Cabins have large windows and are elegantly decked out with dark wood, while facilities include a library, spa, Finnish sauna, steam bath, fitness room and four Zodiacs. It will also achieve a first for a sailing ship with a passenger lift connecting the decks. Like its sibling ships, there’s an emphasis on fresh, organic and locally-sourced food, with a mix of laid-back and fine-dining restaurant options. Future sailings will include France, Spain, Morocco, the Canary Islands and the Caribbean, and the ship’s small size means it can visit smaller ports in Nicaragua, Honduras, Belize and Panama.
Silver Dawn is the 10th ship to be added to ultra-luxury cruise line Silversea’s fleet. Following the delivery of sister ships Silver Origin and Silver Moon in 2020, Silver Dawn is due to be unveiled in November. With eight dining options, the ship will accommodate 596 guests in 298 ocean-view suites, 96 per cent of which will have a private veranda. Silversea promises to deliver a sense of small-ship intimacy, with a crew-to-guest ratio of one to 1.45. The line has revealed that the vessel will feature “pioneering enhancements” that its sibling ships do not have, but details are yet to be revealed. Upcoming sailings include epic South America and transatlantic voyages as well as shorter Mediterranean itineraries.
Launched last month with a glitzy naming event with the ship’s ceremonial godmother, broadcaster Anne Diamond, Viking Venus is the latest vessel to join Viking’s ocean fleet of five small ships. With 465 all-veranda rooms to accommodate 930 guests, the luxury ship offers outdoor dining options and Scandinavian decor. Inaugural voyages began on May 22, with the first of five eight-day round-trip Welcome Back sailings in England. The schedule will eventually include sailings to Iceland and Bermuda, with more to be announced as government restrictions ease. Bookings are open to vaccinated guests only.
Luxury for family
Tucked away at the top of its ship, The Haven by Norwegian is home to NCL’s most luxurious and spacious accommodation. Guests staying in this opulent ‘resort’ will have exclusive access to The Haven Lounge, The Haven Restaurant and The Haven Courtyard and Sundeck, the personal service of a concierge and 24-hour butler throughout the cruise. The most impressive suite on offer is the three-bedroom Garden Villa, described as “a sanctuary of contemporary design”, the area stretches up to 622 square metres, sleeping up to eight guests, and features three full baths, a half bath, private dining area and outdoor terraces.
Silversea has excelled at offering a mix of luxury and adventure. On board Silver Explorer, its ice-strengthened purpose-built luxury expedition ship, guests can enjoy the opulence of the 68 square metre Owner’s Suite while sailing to some of the world’s most incredible destinations. Butler service, dinner at the officer’s table, laundry service and wi-fi are, of course, included.
Featuring two deluxe bedrooms with en-suite baths, living and dining areas, and suite-wide triple Panoramic Balcony-window, Crystal River Cruises’ Two-Bedroom Crystal Suite is among the most impressive on the rivers. This “enclave of excellence” totals 71 square metres in size and comes with a “European-trained butler”.
When the all-suite Seven Seas Explorer launched a few years ago, one room in particular took all the headlines. Described as “the most exclusive address at sea,” the 413 square metre Regent Suite was billed as cruise’s most expensive suite. Made up of two spacious bedrooms, plus living and dining rooms, it offers an ocean-front view from the top deck, plus guests get a private car and driver in every port, private dining in The Study and an in-suite spa. If that wasn’t enough, the room features two rare, original lithographs by Pablo Picasso and a custom Steinway Grand Baroque piano.
With only 62 guests on board and a staff-to-guest ratio of 1.5 to one, Crystal Cruises’ all-suite Crystal Esprit is perfect for those seeking yacht-style cruising with itineraries spanning the Mediterranean, Middle East and Seychelles. The yacht boasts a dazzling array of watersports, including jet skis, scuba equipment and even a two-person submarine! When it comes to accommodation options, the ship’s star attraction is its opulent 48 square metre Owner’s Suite which features panoramic windows, a separate living room and dining area, a bathroom with a bathtub and rain shower, interactive bedside iPads and a dedicated 24-hour butler.
Tall ship cruising
A near replica of the 1913-built France II, Tradewind Voyages’ majestic Golden Horizon is the world’s largest square-rigged sailing ship. Oozing the romance of a historic tall ship, all of its 140 cabins are outside facing, but the Owner’s Suite is the most prestigious option. Accommodating up to four guests, the lavish suite has a dining area and living room with a double sofa bed for guests, a balcony, walk-in wardrobe and en suite bathroom with a shower and bathtub. The 53 square metre nautical-themed suite comes complete with butler service, 24-hour room service, complimentary mini-bar and laundry and daily canapés.
Depart the UK in style aboard Saga’s Spirit of Discovery where there are four individually-designed Forward Suites to choose from, including the 69 square metre Art Deco-inspired Sidney De Haan Suite and the 61 square metre Rose Suite which provides larger seating and dining areas along with botanical paintings by artist Sally Pond. A butler will pamper guests staying in the plush suites, each equipped with a walk-in wardrobe and whirlpool bath. Other benefits for suite-dwellers include a morning wake-up tray, pre-dinner canapés, a private afternoon tea service and in-cabin dining.