The best luxury cruises come with all the perks. You dine on exquisite cuisine, rest your head on fancy linens in a spacious suite, snack on champagne and caviar, and are served by a crew that remembers your name and preferences. It’s why you pay the big bucks to be onboard, as you explore bucket list destinations around the world.
These cruises can run anywhere from a few thousand dollars per person, for a week-long sailing, all the way to hundreds of thousands of dollars for months-long around-the-world cruises in the top suites.
Best for foodies
On Seabourn’s five, swanky 450- and 600-passenger ships, chef Thomas Keller (of French Laundry fame) is the prime person to blame when you find yourself needing a trip to the gym. Book a table at The Grill by Thomas Keller, and no matter where you are cruising, anywhere in the world, you can revel in 1960s splendor as you dine on lobster Thermidor or rib eye flown to Keller’s sultry, retro-chic steakhouses from his preferred vendor in Idaho. Best for opulence
Regent Seven Seas Cruises goes for substance over subtlety in everything from inclusions (air and shore excursions are covered in your fare) to extravagant decor. At the apex is the 750-passenger Seven Seas Explorer, decked out with Carrara marble here, gold leaf there, and a couple of Picassos for good measure. Everyone stays in a roomy suite (307 square feet and up) with an oversized balcony and marble bathroom. Book the Regent Suite for a mansion-sized, 4,443-square-foot space with a personal sauna and steam room, plus a bed outfitted with a $90,000 mattress.
Best for butler service
If you want butler bragging rights, book a penthouse or higher category suite on Crystal Cruises’s classy, globe-trekking 848-passenger Crystal Symphony or the 980-passenger Crystal Serenity. If you do, your dedicated, tuxedo-clad butler will check in with you regularly and ask, “What can I do for you today?”—and mean it. If you want a nosh, give a call and your butler will deliver an eye-popping array of sushi from the shipboard Nobu eatery. The butler can also set up a cocktail party so you can invite a few friends over, get a button sewed back on for you, make your dinner reservations, and unpack your luggage, among other requests. Best itineraries
With nine ships ranging in size from 100 to 596 passengers, including ice-class expedition vessels Silver Cloud and Silver Explorer, Silversea Cruises covers the world like no other luxury line and does so while providing butler service for all its passengers. Snap your Instagram photos in the icy waters of the Arctic, Greenland, or Antarctica, get eye-to-eye with a blue-footed boobie in the Galápagos, or go diving in the South Pacific or Indian Ocean. Book a world cruise and you’ll touch on all seven continents. Best for total escapism
It’s easy to feel as though you’re on a wealthy friend’s yacht when sailing aboard the SeaDream I or SeaDream II. SeaDream Yacht Club’s 112-passenger ships are venues appropriate for flaunting your designer bathing suit while a crew of 95 caters to your every whim. Nothing feels fussy, and yet everything is personalized as you explore such places as the British Virgin Islands, the French Riviera, and the Greek isles. Borrow a Jet Ski, snooze on a Balinese daybed (in sunshine or under the stars), and enjoy an excellent Thai massage. These sailings are the ultimate getaway in every sense of the word. Best for families
The luxury experience of a transatlantic cruise in a Queens Grill suite on Cunard Line’s 2,630-passenger Queen Mary 2 includes amusements that even youngsters can appreciate. Yes, this is a slow, traditional way to travel. But the week across the Atlantic (between New York and Southampton in the United Kingdom) comes with such distractions as the latest PlayStations in the Queens Grill suites, a shipboard planetarium, organized activities programs for kids and teens, and a children’s high tea. At night, kids can dress up in their mini ball gowns and tuxes to dance with their parents at fancy galas. Best for oenophiles
View this post on Instagram Minuty o’clock ! A post shared by Minuty (@chateauminuty) on Nov 29, 2018 at 9:47am PST
SeaDream Yacht Club’s Wine Voyages are the best up-close-and-personal experience for wine aficionados. Visits to vineyards, winemaker’s degustation dinners, and exclusive tastings are all part of the sailings. Upcoming in May on the 112-passenger SeaDream II, sailing from Barcelona to Nice, is the opportunity to mingle with pros and taste wines from Spain’s Bodegas Torres (full-bodied reds), the Olivier Leflaive Fréres wine estate in Burgundy (known for the Puligny-Montrachet appellation), and Provence’s Château de Minuty (where Provençal rosé reigns supreme).
Best for water toys
On warm weather cruises on lines such as Seabourn and SeaDream, water fun includes kayaks, paddleboards, waterskiing, and riding a banana boat. Crystal Cruises, with its all-suite, 62-passenger yacht Crystal Esprit, goes one step further in the brag-worthy department with a private submarine for two. Dive 1,000 feet down with a pilot, and explore the depths of places such as the West Indies and Seychelles (for an additional $599 per person). >> Next: Aid Conservationists as You Sail Around Indonesia on a Luxury Yacht