For many, the idea of cruise holidays conjure up images of traditional indulgence – elegant dresses, exquisite dining rooms, lavish spa treatments, cocktails in chic bars and white-gloved butlers serving bottomless glasses of champagne. Believe it or not, many luxury liners are ready and waiting to take it one step further. Take these luxurious amenities up a notch with culinary courses, complimentary shore excursions and a jazz-laced atmosphere that’ll have you wanting to stay at sea forever.

With this handy guide, we’ll take you inside luxury cruise ships and show you just what a luxury cruise entails.

Ambiance

Certain elements of luxury liners help to make their onboard ambiance markedly different from mass-market ships. To start, they’re notably smaller – Celebrity Cruises®’ Xpedition only has room for 92 passengers, which ensures each and every cruiser is afforded special attention from staff.

The general feel of a luxury liner is different too. Ship interiors are often specially-designed, clad in artwork by well-known artists, whether they be originals or prints. These swish vibes are only added to by designer names at the onboard boutiques or in the spas, plus cabaret nights and jazz music wafting through the lobby.

Restaurants onboard luxury liners tend to come with white table cloth service and are of a more gourmet variety. Out here, you can expect wine lists that reach the floor and seven-course tasting menus. Dress codes are largely similar to mass-market cruises, though some lines bump things up with formal nights where tuxedos and gowns are a must.

Top amenities on a luxury cruise

Complimentary daytrips

Many operators run day trips as part of the price of cruise packages – this is yet another symbol of luxury cruise holidays. You’ll find everything from watersports to shopping tours and cookery classes with a local chef. Certain luxury lines also include a set amount or particular range of free shore excursions, while Regent Seven Seas significantly takes things up a step with free, unlimited shore excursions in each port they visit. It’s what ranks their itineraries easily among the top luxury cruises around.

Impeccable service

Staff-to-guest ratios tend to be lower on luxury liners, which means you’ll enjoy the utmost attention and have just about every wish fulfilled. Cunard in particular pride themselves on offering unique ‘White Star Service’ – a training method for staff that provides them with the expertise necessary to cater to every passenger demand. Silversea ships also assign butlers to every room, each of whom have been trained by the Guild of Professional English butlers.

All Inclusive packages

Many top-quality cruise operators are now dedicating attention to providing truly All Inclusive packages, which means you can turn your thoughts to onboard indulgence instead of worrying about spending cash. Drinks, gratuities, WiFi and spending credit for your journey are often factored into the price so that you can simply sit back and enjoy your cruise. Some uber luxury lines like Seabourn even offer complimentary visits to the specialty restaurants, an amenity that’s practically unheard of on mass-market cruises.

Several operators still take a more traditional approach with fixed dining times and additional onboard costs, but, on ships like Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth, other perks are offered instead. Take your pick from ballroom dancing and afternoon tea served by waiters in white gloves.

Luxury activities

Food lovers can find solace onboard luxury cruises, and not just because the specialised restaurants are top notch. Luxury liners will often host exclusive cooking classes and tasting opportunities with chefs and sommeliers for the ultimate tastebud-pleasing experience. Oceania Cruises features a program known as The Culinary Center, which is a state-of-the-art cooking school, while Regent Seven Seas has the Culinary Arts Kitchen. Classes here range from afternoon tea to cooking the perfect roast.

You’re also bound to find a higher number of cultural enrichment classes and lectures onboard a luxury cruise ship. Cunard in particular offers events that see writers, politicians, scientists and historians taking to the stage. You can even expect activities and entertainment like astrology classes, casinos, cigar bars, ballroom dancing classes and performances by multi-piece bands.

The best lines for luxurious living

Azamara Club Cruises

The boutique arm of Royal Caribbean®Azamara Club Cruises, specialises in luxury cruising. Azamara Club Cruises’ mid-sized ships are 5* rated, and it’s not hard to see why. The luxurious staterooms come with everything you’d expect from a hotel on land, as well as a couple of thoughtful extras.

The staterooms themselves are tastefully decorated and furnished with everything you’ll need for a relaxing stay, including freshly-cut flowers, a welcome fruit basket and special treats at turn-down. If you upgrade to a luxury suite, you’ll have a Triple S trained butler at your beck and call 24-hours a day. Not only will they deliver any room service you require and help you to arrange in-suite treatments, they’ll also unpack and pack your luggage at the beginning and end of your holiday.

Seabourn

Seabourn ships pride themselves on the ample size of their rooms, which are each at least 227 square feet and offer stunning sea views. Each suite has a luxuriously comfy bed dressed in the finest Egyptian cotton, with feather down duvets and pillows.

You’ll also be able to take advantage of having a personal suite steward, who can cater to your every need. Services include running you a bath with products from the upmarket body care brand Molton Brown.

Regent Seven Seas

If your room absolutely must come with a sea view, then a suite onboard Regent Seven Seas is right up your street. All of their suites come complete with ocean views, and the vast majority have private balconies, too. Cruisers will love the walk-in wardrobe included in most suites, as well as the luxurious marble-floored bathrooms, which have a lovely relaxing tub or shower.

After a long day by the pool, wash the stresses of everyday life away with gorgeous L’Occitane products included in suites as standard. Afterwards, it’s straight to the king-sized bed, where you can relax while wearing plush bathrobes and slippers, planning an adventure for your next port of call.

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