In looking at today's top luxury cruise lines, we've picked favorites that span an entire range of travel styles. While all fit the key "luxury" criteria -- outstanding cuisine and top-notch personal service -- some boast more sumptuous interiors, and some are more all-inclusive than others.
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What's different these days about luxury cruise lines is that they come in all shapes and sizes, fitting a far wider range of passengers. Luxury can be experienced in the guise of sailing yacht-style vessels, or formal, near-mega ship traditional experiences.
Anchors away the "creme de la creme" of the seas, these 296-passenger twin sister ships provide flawless service, authentic gourmet cuisine, free-flowing wines, open bars, spacious suite-like staterooms (stocked with Frette terry robes), decks of balconied staterooms, friendly crew and gorgeous interiors.
These 960- to 1,080-passenger luxury liners redefine elegance with the company's "never say no" motto: extravagant butler-manned penthouse suites, gorgeous staterooms, irreproachable service, lavishly staged production shows and a floating Caesar's Palace casino. The ships' facilities are amazing, from a Feng Shui-inspired spa to the most exclusive collection of boutique restaurants (Prego by Valentino, Nobu Matsuhisu's Silk Road) at sea.
Aimed at active, luxury-loving travelers of any age, sailing these 110-passenger yachts is the next best thing to having your own! Cuisine is superb, service is also superb, and the yachts' interiors are un-ostentatiously elegant. Each ship has a small but incredibly lovely Asian-influenced spa. There are no private verandahs (most yachts, after all, don't need 'em) but cabins are outfitted with sumptuous amenities, such as DVD players, cotton duvets and lovely bathrooms with showers for two. Another plus: This is one of the industry's most all-inclusive options. Everything from cocktails to gratuities to watersports fun off its platform is included in the price -- even the caviar, available around the clock.
If You Want Tropical Elegance ...
Try: Radisson Seven Seas Cruises' Paul Gauguin
The 304-passenger ship, which sails year-round itineraries in French Polynesia, offers casual, laid-back luxury, romantic ambiance, fabulous food, big, beautiful staterooms (many with verandahs), great service and amenities. What's particularly special about Paul Gauguin is that its interior was designed for French Polynesia -- and so the onboard art and ambiance very elegantly reflects the itinerary.
If You Want Hip, Funky and Trendy ...
Try: Radisson Seven Seas Cruises' Seven Seas Voyager
Seven Seas Voyager is a bit like a fabulous boutique hotel at sea. It's got theatrical -- and memorable -- restaurants, such as the oh-so-French Signatures, and the whimsical Latitudes. Stateroom accommodations are roomy -- there's a plethora of suites, which all come with butler service.
This spiffy, "casually relaxed" sailing fleet of two identical 148-passenger, four-masted computer-operated sisters (the 312-passenger Wind Surf joined the line in 1998) is popular with a preppy, sporty, Docksiders-wearing crowd that wants to travel to out-of-the-way ports without sacrificing comfort and style.
While verandahs would greatly enhance the appeal (note that some cabins have French windows that open out but you cannot actually venture onto them), this polished fleet of 204-passenger luxury liners compensate for the lack of balconies with flawless service, dreamy cuisine with complimentary wine, plush staterooms, fascinating ports, and a farewell beach party drenched with caviar and champagne to complete the experience.
Cruise Critic, which launched in 1995, is a comprehensive cruise vacation planning guide providing objective cruise ship reviews, cruise line profiles, destination content on 125+ worldwide ports, cruise bargains, tips, industry news, and cruise message boards.
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