There’s nothing quite like sailing on a luxury cruise. Having attentive, friendly staff on hand to answer your every whim, being able to relax in opulent surroundings and having the privilege of dining in some of the finest establishments at sea.
Much to our delight, cruising is now more luxuries than ever, and five- and six-star cruise lines are falling over themselves to give their guests the trip of a lifetime, from restaurants launched by Michelin-starred chefs and unique culinary experiences, to spas to rival the grandest hotels and Downton Abbey-esque butlers. You won’t want to disembark from the ship…
Best cruise lines for butlers
Emulating the five-star service of institutions such as The Ritz and The Lanesborough, many luxury cruise lines offer personal butler services on board. Butlers will set up your suite, plan unique excursions and reservations, give make deliveries to your room and take care of your laundry. Azamara Club Cruises is just one of the lines that provides a butler to customers, with its butlers trained by the same company that trains butlers for superyachts.
Along with Azamara, Crystal Cruises is known for its world-class service, with passengers booked into penthouses on Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony, and all passengers on Crystal River Cruises having the privilege. It’s a little known story that one Crystal butler arranged for a World War II veteran and gold lover to tee off from the Great Wall of China… imagine what they could do for you.
For Hapag-Lloyd level of service is of utmost importance, and all of its butlers train in hospitality and service in a European school. Available to Penthouse Deck, Owner Suites, Grand Penthouse Suites and the Penthouse Suites passengers, butlers will take care of luggage, serve meals to your suite and even iron your clothes. Along with English and German, they also speak fluent French.
Passengers in Oceania‘s Penthouse suites and higher can experience the incredible service that comes with butlers trained by the English Guild of Butlers. Leaving for a shore excursion? Your butler will make sure you have everything you need, along with welcoming you back with your favourite drinks and snacks.
Best for wellbeing
There’s nothing more luxurious than feeling pampered from head to toe, and it’s no surprise that some of the most luxurious cruise lines in the world also boast the best spa and wellbeing offerings. Oozing refined and understated luxury, Seabourn has mastered the art of an onboard spa, with many ships housing thermal suites, shimmering pools and offering its signature Kneipp Walk, along with a plethora of massages. The walk sees guests walk through a series of water basins ar different temperatures, set to improve circulation and leave you feeling like you’ve been born again.
Regent Seven Seas is of a similar luxury, with guests aboard Explorer able to indulge in its legendary Canyon Ranch Spa-endorsed. The spa offers an array of experiences like massages, bodywork, aromatherapy, facials, ayurvedic and seaweed treatments, with luxurious beauty treatments also on hand for guests. Feel your finest with stylish hair cuts, blowdries, manicures and pedicures, preparing you for luxurious days at sea.
Helping prepare guests for glittering dinners and the glamour of Golden Era voyages, those travelling on Cunard‘s iconic Queen Mary 2 will also be able to sample the delights of Canyon Ranch at sea. Think an opulent list of treatments including seaweed-and-peat wraps, Thai massages and an Aqua Therapy Centre with jetted-pools, scented steam rooms and an ice fountain.
Best for dining
Dining is one of the highlights of any cruiser’s day, and luxury cruise lines know how to wine and dine their guests. Making waves in the industry is Silversea Cruises with its exciting SALT food programme, bringing the flavours of its destinations to the plates of passengers, creating an immersive culinary experience.
While Silversea excites, Saga Cruises delights with fine dining and the freedom of open seating. Dining on Saga Sapphire is akin to having reservations at the best restaurant in town, each and every night, with guests able to choose from the main Pole to Pole restaurant or a la carte Verandah. Bringing the luxury of fine dining to your suite, there’s even an exclusive room service menu.
Sometimes luxury is about an abundance of choice, and that’s what Holland America Line does best, with its elegant dining rooms, laid-back burger joints and extravagant tasting rooms. The culinary programme is all headed up by master chef Rudi Sodamin, who also runs the Culinary Council.
The pinnacle of dining extravagance, many luxury cruise lines are now playing host to the fare of Michelin-starred chefs, like Paul Gaugin Cruises, whose five-star culinary adventure was designed by some of the world’s most talented chefs, including two-Michelin-Starred chef Jean-Pierre Vigato. What’s more, every morsel at The Gauguin‘s three restaurants is included in your cruise fare. Bon appétit!
Best for intimate luxury
Luxury cruising comes in many shapes and sizes, and often the smaller appeals to those who are looking for a more personalised, intimate experience. This is encapsulated on the line SeaDream, who’s Yacht Club offers Mediterranean, Caribbean, Transatlantic and wine voyages, all aboard its uber-luxurious twin mega-yachts SeaDream I & II.
Those with a penchant for yachts will delight at the five-mast sailboat the Club Med 2, a majestic white vessel that grazes the coast of the Mediterranean each summer. With personalised luxury at its helm, Club Med offers onboard visits to the ship’s wheel and a host of other remarkable experiences – now that’s luxury.
Taking its guests to destinations previously inaccessible to many travellers, Scenic Discovery Yacht‘s fleet of state-of-the-art ships travel the world’s oceans and rivers. Whether in the Arctic or an island in Greece, life on ship remains one of consistent opulence and luxury, with cinemas, tailor-made seating, heated indoor and outdoor pools, helicopters and submarines capable of diving down to 200 metres.
With just two ships in its fleet, Hebridean Cruise Line has had the time to helm in its luxury offering, allowing passengers to cruise the breathtaking Highlands and Islands of Scotland. Its flagship Hebridean Princess carries just 50 passengers and boasts 38 members of attentive staff, while River Crown explores the romantic towns and colourful cities of Europe’s rivers.