What Are the Most Luxurious Cruise Ships in the World?

If you are thinking about going on a cruise this year, you’re in good company. Cruises are more popular than ever, with approximately 25.8 million passengers across the globe in 2017 — an increase of 4.5 percent from the previous year, which continues the upward trend in popularity. Indeed, over the last five years, demand for cruises has increased by more than 20 percent.

Thanks to the explosion in the popularity of cruising across the world, today’s cruise ships are more opulent and luxurious than ever. If you want to travel the high seas in true style, then, you are spoiled for choices. Most of today’s luxurious cruise ships are all-inclusive, and many include things like shore excursions that usually cost extra. With premium dining and entertainment on board, exciting ports of call and truly luxurious suites and cabins, you can’t go wrong by booking a trip on one of the seven ships below.

1. Regent Seven Seas Explorer

Fare: Starting at $4,300

Length: Itineraries for this ship range from 16 nights to 28 nights

Described as “the most luxurious ship ever built,” the Regent Seven Seas Explorer launched in July 2016. A super all-inclusive ship featuring all suites and some of the largest balconies in the industry, the Explorer is decked out with granite and marble trappings and hundreds of glittering crystal chandeliers. With two main restaurants and three specialty restaurants, it has something for everyone in terms of dining. The ship holds up to 750 passengers, and there is 542 crew on board.

One of the best things about this ship is the fact that nearly everything is included in the price of the fare — even business-class airfare and premium alcohol. However, the fare is pricey, and the ship tends to cater to older folks instead of families.

2. Oceania Riviera

Fare: Starting at $1,200

Length: Itineraries range from 10 nights to 28 nights

The newest ship in the Oceania fleet, the Riviera launched in 2012. Although it is not all-inclusive, it stands out for hitting smaller ports and for its upscale ambiance. Cuisine onboard is truly amazing, with wine-pairing dinners for those who partake. All specialty dining is included in the fare, but alcohol, shore excursions, and gratuities — which are recommended at $16 per person per day — are not. The ship holds 1,250 passengers and has a crew of 800.

A major perk of this ship is the reasonable fare. However, it is not all-inclusive, so it is easy to end up spending a lot more for extras.

3. Crystal Serenity

Fare: Starting at $1,675

Length: Itineraries range from seven nights to up to 26 nights

Having undergone a $52-million makeover in 2011, the Crystal Serenity is better than ever. Best known for offering impeccable service, inclusive fares, and unique enrichment activities, the ship has more of a formal vibe that may not appeal to all travelers.

Originally launched in 2003, the ship boasts 535 staterooms and can hold 1,080 passengers. Onboard, passengers can take classes via the Creative Learning Institute and sign up for Crystal Adventures experiences, which cost extra. However, a lot is included with the fare, including prepaid gratuities, wine and spirits, and even airfare.

A smaller ship, the Crystal Serenity offers a level of personalized service that is lacking across many cruise lines. All its cabins have been completely revamped, and the fare is fairly reasonable for everything it includes. However, repeat customers tend to give the ship a cliquish feel at times, and shore excursions cost extra.

4. Viking Star

Fare: Starting at $1,950

Length: Itineraries range from seven nights up to 28 nights

Viking’s first oceangoing ship — the line has solely offered river cruises up until now — the Viking Star has a crew of 550 and can hold 930 passengers. As a gorgeous, small ship, it lacks the wide array of entertainment options that are so ubiquitous across other cruise lines. Itineraries are port intensive, with longer calls for more exploration. You can take your pick from several included tours per port, which is nice. A lot is included with the fare, including complimentary wine and beer at lunch and dinner and free unlimited Wi-Fi. Best of all, Nordic spa services are included as well.

For those who want to get out and explore a lot, the Viking Star is a great choice. However, the ship doesn’t have as much to do on board, which may be a problem for some.

5. Seabourn Encore

Fare: Starting at $3,150

Length: Itineraries range from seven days to up to 40 days

This compact ship has an opulent, sophisticated look that makes it a definite standout. With 300 suites capable of holding 600 passengers and a crew of 450, personalized service is assured on the Seabourn Encore. You can take your pick from various themes to customize your cruise experience, which is a major perk, and several new shows were recently added to keep people entertained on board. Fare includes all meals, bar drinks and wine, champagne, gratuities, and shuttle buses in port.

Since this is a smaller ship, it may fall short in terms of features for some passengers. However, those who can afford the somewhat high fare are assured exceptional service and a truly amazing cruising experience.

6. Silver Muse

Fare: Starting at $4,400

Length: Itineraries range from seven nights to 19 nights

Debuted by Silversea in 2017, the Silver Muse exemplifies understated European luxury at its finest. With a crew of 411 and room for up to 596 passengers, it is safe to say that you never have to look far for service. Suites on board are massive, with the smallest one offering more than 400 square feet. Plus, there is lots of outdoor space to enjoy. Fare includes most meals, drinks, gratuities, room service, and even butler service. It does not include shore excursions or spa treatments.

With eight restaurants, the Silver Muse is a foodie’s dream come true. However, the spa and gym are a bit small, and there isn’t a ton of variety in terms of itineraries.

7. Sea Dream II

Fare: Starting at $3,000

Length: Itineraries range from four nights to 14 nights

Thanks to its ultra-small size and truly impeccable trappings, the Sea Dream II is as close as you can get to traveling the high seas in a private yacht. Although the ship is older, it is truly stunning and refined. With 110 passengers at 92 crew, you can rest assured that your every whim will be catered to — even if it means sending someone into port for something that you need. A ton is included with the fare — even extras like bike rentals — but spa treatments, premium wine, and shore excursions are not.

The primary advantage of the Sea Dream II is that it offers an unparalleled level of service. However, there is limited entertainment on board, and the ship can be pretty rocky in rough seas.

Cruise Ships of the Future

As luxurious and incredible as the above ships may be, they will soon enough be overshadowed by even more exciting features and touches. The cruise industry is always looking for ways to attract more passengers, and you can expect to see a lot of exciting developments in the not-too-distant future. Already, passengers are turning to tech tools to develop custom cruises on some lines, and this trend is expected to intensify. The days of scheduled meal times and buffets may soon be over.

Royal Caribbean International already has robot bartenders serving drinks on four of its ships, and robot crews will likely start appearing on more ships soon enough. You should also be on the lookout for pilotless ships and zero-emission cruises, which are expected to make their debut before very long. One thing’s for sure: cruising is one of the best ways to see the world.

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