Luxury cruise lines have really stepped up their game in recent years, continually raising the bar for exclusive shore excursions, exotic itineraries, celebrity chef experiences and exciting entertainment. But before, after and in between all those fabulous activities, your stateroom is home base. It should offer a comfortable and relaxing environment to unwind and refresh for the next big event on your cruise vacation. Stay in one of these spacious suites and find everything you could ever need while out on the open seas—from cashmere lap blankets to use on your veranda, to Cristal Champagne upon arrival, and even attentive butlers who will do the dreaded packing/unpacking for you.
Found on several Norwegian Cruise Line vessels are the three-Bedroom Garden Villas with up to 5,750 square feet of space, easily rivaling the size of many luxury hotel room suites. They accommodate up to eight people in three bedrooms, each with their own full bathroom, plus a half bath. You’ll also find a large living area and dining room with floor-to-ceiling windows so you don’t miss any of the scenery while inside. There's an outdoor dining area and terrace (on some ships, the villas grant access to a private courtyard) as well as butler and concierge service to fulfill your every need. The room also has its very own private outdoor garden area with hot tub.
Cool factor: A stay here comes with complimentary limousine service from the dock to the airport at the conclusion of your cruise vacation; because taxis can be so unreliable.
Seabourn Odyssey, Sojourn and Quest all contain the 1,189-square-foot Grand Wintergarden Suite. They come complete with two bedrooms, three bathrooms (one with whirlpool tub), two verandas, two bars, three closets, three flat-screen TVs and dining for six people. You are also given complimentary Wi-Fi so you can brag to your friends during the cruise about your pimped out digs.
Cool factor: The glass-enclosed solarium with soaking tub and day bed; because it can get chilly bathing at night on an open-air terrace.
Aboard Oceania’s Marina and Riviera ships are three 2,000-square-foot Owner’s Suites. Furnishings from Ralph Lauren Home can be found throughout the living and dining areas, bedroom, foyer and music room. Take a dip in either of the indoor or outdoor whirlpool spas, watch movies on your flat-screen TVs or play around on the provided laptop, or newest amenity for 2013, an iPad. Booking one of these suites automatically grants access to Canyon Ranch SpaClub private Spa Terrace, complimentary shoe shine, clothing pressing, and an Oceania Cruises tote bag to take home in remembrance.
Cool factor: Stay in and order from any of the six gourmet restaurants under the helm of Executive Culinary Director and legendary Chef Jacques Pépin. Your butler will come and serve your meal course by course; because it’s so much more relaxing to dine in a robe and slippers than a suit or heels.
Appropriately so, the two-bedroom, 1,636-square-foot Reflection Suite can be found on Celebrity Reflection. Situated in an exclusive corner on the ship where only the special SeaPass card will allow entry, the suite features a Premium Reverie mattress with Dream Sleep System and iPad to control the lights, Samsung flat-screen TV, and massage and elevation functions of the bed. Slip on the cozy Frette robe and sip some of your welcome gift of Blanc de Blancs sparkling wine on the veranda. The 24/7 butler service can bring breakfast, lunch or dinner to your room, or take advantage of priority seating at any of the restaurants (book a six- or seven-night cruise and receive a complimentary dinner for two; eight or more nights and you get two complimentary dinners for two).
Cool factor: We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: the Reflection Shower makes this suite. One flip of the switch and this glass rain shower goes from transparent to translucent. It extends out over the 14th deck and showcases the stunning ocean and port city views from inside your bathroom; because regular showers don’t make you feel like an exhibitionist.
Crystal Serenity’s 1,345-square-foot Crystal Penthouse with Verandah is elegantly appointed with wood accents, rich fabrics and marble countertops. The master features a bathroom with ocean views from the Jacuzzi tub, separate shower and flat-panel TV. The verandah is accessible through the library and bedroom, and there’s also a dining room for six, living room with Bang & Olufsen sound system, two more flat-screens, and even a private workout area. You’ll be kept thoroughly hydrated while in your room, with a supply of beer, soda and bottled water, and the wine and spirits you’ll receive upon setting sail. But first thing’s first: where to pop open and enjoy your welcome bottle of Cristal?
Cool factor: They say the devil is in the details and Crystal Cruises’ penthouse has those covered—from Reidel stemware, to binoculars, a stocked fridge, and even personalized stationary upon request; because how will anyone know who wrote that note if your name isn’t already on the paper?
Found on Oasis Of The Seas, Allure Of The Seas and Quantum Of The Seas, these 1,600-square-foot Royal Loft Suites sprawl out over two decks and feature a huge 875-square-foot balcony with whirlpool and alfresco dining area (Quantum Of The Seas has three separate balconies; two on the main level and one on the upper level). Accommodating up to six guests, the first floor has a baby grand piano, dining room, media room, dry bar, bathroom and a couch that can pull out to a double bed. Upstairs, the loft contains the master bedroom with a soaking tub and separate shower in the bathroom. Not to mention, two-story-high windows mean never having to miss any of the sites outside even when taking a break from the action on board.
Cool factor: It’s two stories! They’re like the Vegas penthouse suites of the seas. Enough said.
Royal Caribbean isn’t the only one offering two levels of living space, however. Cunard’s Grill Suites include the 2,249-square-foot Balmoral and Sandringham Duplexes which are also two stories, and of course come with dedicated butler service. They feature a beautiful sweeping staircase, balcony with views out over the stern, dining table for eight and fully stocked bar. The master bedroom is up the stairs and features your own exercise equipment, and separate his and hers dressing areas connected by a marble bathroom complete with whirlpool and shower.
Cool factor: The full ‘Grills Experience’ is solely for those staying in a Queens Grill or Princess Grill Suite. This means intimate lounges, white glove tea service, priority luggage delivery and disembarkation, and dining venues just for you and other suite guests; because hanging out with people from the Inside Staterooms can’t possibly be as glamorous (they don’t even have a window!).