If you are looking for a premium cruise line with a touch of luxury to take you away from everyday life, here is our selection of the six best luxury cruise lines that sea you across the waters today.
All these cruise lines offer classic cruises on board ships that provide similar experiences.
By that, we mean dining is generally excellent on board. All these premium lines have improved tremendously, and menus are becoming more and more diverse. Some even have a partnership with particular chefs.
Staterooms are not vastly different in size. But you may find extra nice touches such as branded toiletries included in your room.
Activities and entertainment are good with a wide variety to suit all tastes. Some are more focused on families than others. While some are offering a calmer, more elegant cruise with more low-key activities.
What makes a luxury or premium cruise line?
First of all, there are no official categories. We describe a luxury cruise line as a sophisticated experience on board a smaller cruise ship, with personalized service, excellent cuisine, and unique destinations.
Some cruise lines do it better than others. Here are 6 of the best.
Celebrity Cruises has a reputation for being a modern, premium cruise line. And you can see this in the design and decor on board. All the newer and even the older but refurbished ships are just fantastic. The entire fleet is stylish and contemporary while still giving you the classic cruise experience.
Marketed to appeal to the mostly over 40 age group, in our experience on board, we have seen that a high proportion of guests are older. Most are 50+ right up to the older generation.
And while it is primarily adults on board, if you want to cruise with kids or teens, you should (we did)!
Celebrity Cruises has launched “Always Included” pricing. The pricing offers an all-inclusive cruise, to make the booking process a bit easier for you.
What this means is, whichever class of cabin you book, your price includes the cost of gratuities, classic beverage package, and wifi (for one device per cabin).
Many of the ships in Celebrity’s fleet are, more or less, the same ships – except for the new Edge class. The Celebrity Edge class of ships is very different, super modern, and perfect if you are looking for a contemporary cruise ship. The architecture is simply fantastic onboard.
Holland America Line
Holland America Line is a classic cruise line with a slightly older guest age profile of 65+.
Many of their ships feature excellent musical entertainment with numerous venues offering various musical experiences. The standard of cuisine and service on board is impressive, and it’s a fantastic all-around cruise line offering an American experience on board.
The focus is on destination immersion. Onboard guest speakers talk about the ports you visit to help you get the most out of your shore day.
The ships are gorgeous, the food is excellent, and the service is impeccable. It is an adult-only cruise company, and you must be 18 or over to climb aboard.
It’s an excellent choice for singles, couples, and families looking for a small ship cruise experience, a cut above the rest.
Viking Cruises initially only offered river cruises. And they have continued their trend of all-inclusive prices. Included is one shore excursion per port, all the dining, drinks during mealtimes, and gratuities.
Don’t expect big entertainment shows, rather more low-key productions.
Choose your Viking cruise based on the itinerary you want. Each ship is more or less the same, so there is not one that is better than the other. All cabins have a balcony; however, there are different-sized cabins, and you’ll see this reflected in the price of various categories.
Earlier this year, MSC Cruises announced its arrival into the luxury cruise market by introducing a new brand called Explora Journeys.
Between now and 2026, MSC Cruises will launch MSC four new energy-efficient ships, offering cruise guests the chance to experience sea journeys in luxury. The first ship will have 461 suites, each with a private terrace, 9 restaurants, and 4 swimming pools. In contrast to the big classic cruise ships, the MSC Cruises currently have, there will be no loud announcements on board, no hard selling of drinks packages and shore excursions, and no loud anything.
This time MSC wants their guests to experience the luxurious way of traveling as a calm, intimate and elegant cruise. The maiden journey is planned for May 2023, with an 11-night cruise from Barcelona and ending in Athens.
Cunard, owned by Carnival, is famous for its transatlantic crossings between Southampton and New York onboard the one genuine ocean liner at sea, Queen Mary 2. And more than deserving to be in the category of one of the best luxury cruise lines.
Expect balls and gala evenings, afternoon tea, a wide range of daily activities on sea days, and overall a very British experience. Life on board is reminiscent of the glory days of sailing. Cunard cruise ships are genuinely memorable on the inside and as elegant as on the outside.
In their Britishness, they have captured the formal concept of cruising in a friendly yet meticulous way. Expect excellent service, attention to detail, and afternoon tea. Lining the walls are photos of the stars, celebrities, and members of Royalty who have been on board.
This is the type of cruise where you will pack your best evening wear, for sure. And while it is a British cruise line, the sails are tailored for a very international crowd.
Included in your fare are your accommodation, dining, onboard activities, traditional afternoon tea, and gala evenings.
You’ll pay extra for the beverage package, any shopping you enjoy, shore excursions, and use of wifi on board. In addition, some specialty dining and afternoon tea experiences cost extra.
Azamara Club Cruises
Once owned by Royal Caribbean, Azamara has now been sold to a private equity firm but continues to be one of the best luxury cruise lines we have ever experienced.
What do you love the most about Azamara? There is a lot to shout about however two things about Azamara that are really great are the land programs, and the extended shore excursions.
The Azamara land programs offer up to 5 nights of pre- and post-cruise hotel accommodation in many of their ports. And in the package, you get transfers and guided tours. It’s a great way to see your origin and destination port city, and have it all organized by the cruise line.
In particular ports, your Azamara cruise ship will stay in port overnight. That means no hurrying to get back to the ship in the early evening. You can stay on shore and really experience the destination, at your own pace. All this with a boutique-style floating hotel to come back to. What a good life.
Oceania Cruises, owned by Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, have 7 luxury ships for you to choose between. The maximum number of guests on any one ship is 1250, which means you can expect great service, and the style and elegance of the ship’s decor make this line worthy of being one of the best luxury cruise lines.
If you are interested in culinary experiences in unique destinations around the world then Oceania Cruises could be for you. Look out especially for new itineraries on board their brand new ship Vista, which is the first in the new Allura class. They promise a country club atmosphere and new, additional eating venues on board.