The moment you step aboard a luxury cruise ship, a hostess is at your arm proffering a glass of bubbly, while a capable room steward offers to heft your carry-on as he escorts you to what will be your home-away-from-home for the next few days. You stow your things (likely in a walk-in closet) and then emerge from your suite to get the lay of the ship. As you walk the decks, friendly crewmembers greet you … by name. How can that be? You just set foot onboard!
First-class, personalized service is just one of the hallmarks of luxury cruise lines. You can also expect exotic itineraries, varying degrees of inclusivity in pricing, fine wines and gourmet cuisine, as well as universally high crew-to-passenger ratios.
That being the case, you might think any old luxury cruise ship will do, but that’s not quite true. Like people, cruise ships have their own unique personalities, and some will be more suited to your vacation style than others. Yacht lines like SeaDream and Windstar may not offer the most spacious suites, but their intimate ships can stealthily visit ports that large ships can’t. Regent Seven Seas and Oceania Cruises may be owned by the same parent company, but Regent offers a completely inclusive vacation experience, while Oceania draws travelers with a more independent streak.
Popular Luxury Cruise lines include Silversea, Regent, Paul Gauguin, Seabourn, Crystal, Oceania, Sea Dream Yacht Club, Ponant, Windstar, Abercrombie and Kent.