The upper echelon of cruising, the pinnacle, the ultimate in finery… luxury cruising has now gone above and beyond to provide luxury cruisers with the very best.

Regent Seven Seas, Scenic Ocean, Pinang, Silversea and Seabourn are the lines where you will find service and experiences like no other. 

What sets luxury cruise line apart is the size of the ships. These vessels have very few guests and the crew-to-passenger ratio is almost 1:1. And what you will find is that most suites have balconies. There are rarely any interior cabins. Butlers are expected, and your suite will be topped up daily with fresh fruit and beverages of your choice. Staff will unpack for you and organise times for dinner, book shore excursions and attend to any personal needs.

You should also expect that the luxury cruise line will offer door-to-door services such as private airport transfers and, depending on the category of the suite, you will get pre or post-cruise hotel accommodation, laundry and dry-cleaning service, shoe shining, caviar service and access to included spa treatments.

These ships, like mid-size vessels, are small enough to manoeuvre into intimate ports that give guests very localised shore excursions. You’ll cook and eat with Italian grandmothers off the coast of Italy or visit family-owned vineyards. 

Luxury cruise lines are generally where you will meet older cruisers, couples and more intellectual travellers. You won’t find big Broadway-style entertainment or kids’ activities, as these ships are not designed for families. There’ll be no high-tech activities or water slides, but rather libraries, lounges and thoughtful touches. 

Luxury lines tend to have fewer passengers and a high crew to guest ratio
Luxury lines tend to have fewer passengers and a high crew-to-guest ratio

Each luxury cruise ship has its own identity in terms of décor, furnishings and food. But what they all excel in is excellent service and attention to detail.

Regent Seven Seas has a keen focus on artworks on its ships. Their newest vessel, the Seven Seas Grandeur, will have its very own Faberge egg as part of the ship’s extensive art collection. It is said that millions of dollars are spent on the Regent Seven Seas fleet’s art collection. Guests will find a Buddhist prayer wheel on the Seven Seas Explorer, and a Picasso on the Seven Seas Splendor.

In the luxury sector, all the accommodation is suites. But depending on how much you want to spend, you can opt for a balcony or veranda suite – or, in Regent’s case, the Regent Suite on the Seven Seas Splendor has two spacious bedrooms, a living room, three walk-in wardrobes and, best of all, an in-suite spa with sauna and steam room, as well as a jetted tub. 

Scenic has recently joined the ocean sector and has made waves with Scenic Eclipse and Scenic Eclipse II, which won Cruise Passenger’s Best for Yachts award. These luxury yachts have an Owner’s Penthouse suite with two luscious bedrooms and a private sitting room, which is located at the bow of the yacht for optimum privacy. But what makes the suite so special is its curved terrace with sun loungers and a private spa pool which is the ideal place to be when the ship sails in destinations such as Antarctica or the Mediterranean. 

Fine dining with Thomas Keller on Seabourn
Fine dining with Thomas Keller on Seabourn

The dining experience on luxury vessels rivals Michelin-starred restaurants. All dining is generally included. Silversea has its French restaurant La Dame and Japanese restaurant Kaiseki. 

Seabourn has had a long-standing relationship with the godfather of American cuisine, Thomas Keller. Inspired by 1950s and 1960s classic American dishes, The Grill by Thomas Keller is where you’ll find creamed spinach, lobster thermidor and ice cream sundaes. Regent Seven Sean’s beautiful Pacific Rim restaurant serves Pan-Asian dishes.

While you might not find the latest gadgets or the biggest entertainment, luxury lines are for a certain type of cruiser looking for a more intimate experience. These lines offer beautiful spa treatments, lovely public spaces and outdoor areas – but on the subdued and sophisticated side of cruising.

HOT TIP: Luxury lines offer fairly similar itineraries. They all have excellent service, but it’s the differences that you need to look for. Consider whether the line visits a unique destination the others do not visit, or has a suite that is particularly appealing. Also, consider the crowd you will be travelling with.