Some cabins are floating houses for 14 with own butlers, private balconies, adjoining spa
Cruise ships are getting so luxurious it's like being in an episode of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. And there's plenty of extra pampering to look forward to this year.
In the industry's ongoing game of one-upmanship, cabins were the first to get an overhaul. Beds got bigger and linens became more luxurious. Bathrooms were next. They are often lined with marble (or faux marble) and stocked with spa-quality lotions and potions, thirsty towels and sumptuous bathrobes.
Then the butlers arrived. Certain staterooms include a butler to unpack and pack your luggage, iron your shirts, shine your shoes and run errands for you – whether it's returning towels to the pool, books to the library or anything else you require 24/7.
Now cabins are getting supersized — to apartments of about 457 square metres that accommodate up to 14 guests. These are increasingly popular for the newest cruise group at sea – multi-generation families who are making a cruise their annual reunion. Many smaller cabins are getting connecting doors so parents can keep close to their kids while still giving them their own space.
Here is a sampling of other lap-of-luxury amenities and services to enjoy.
CARNIVAL CRUISE LINES: When the 3,006-passenger Carnival Splendor arrives this July, it will feature the line's first spa staterooms, next to a luxurious 6,400-square-metre spa. Accessed through a private elevator and stairway, the 68 spa suites include priority spa appointments, free fitness classes and unlimited use of the elaborate Thalasso-therapy pool and thermal facilities. carnival.com 888-CARNIVAL
AZAMARA CRUISES: Azamara's two 694-passenger ships, Journey and Quest, offer guests in all staterooms butler service, fresh-cut flowers, afternoon canapés, plush bathrobes, European linens and towels and one night of free dining in the specialty restaurant. The ships also have six penthouse suites, four royal suites and 32 sky suites. These suites are more spacious, more luxurious and in areas for optimum privacy and the best views. Guests receive champagne, two nights of free dining in the specialty restaurant, some spa services in the suite and many more treats. azamaracruises.com 877-999-9553
CELEBRITY CRUISES: Guests of certain suites get priority check-in and departure; welcome champagne; priority tender services in some ports; dining room seating preference; invitations to exclusive cocktail parties and a private portrait photography sitting. Butler service, full meals served in your suite if you want, as well as hors d'oeuvres, espresso, cappuccino or tea served every afternoon in your cabin, are also included. celebritycruises.com 800-647-2251
NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE: Guests can cruise in style in a Garden Villa. These villas span up to 1,750 square metres and offer a living room, dining room and three separate bedrooms, each with a private bathroom. Garden Villa guests also enjoy their own private sun beds, hot tub and steam room in a private garden, plus butler and concierge service. Other luxury stateroom categories include Courtyard Villa suites. These 10 suites share a private courtyard and have their own lap pool, hot tub, steam rooms and fitness area. ncl.com 866-625-1166
REGENT SEVEN SEAS CRUISES: No need to ponder the pros and cons of suite accommodation on the Mariner or Voyager because both ships offer nothing but suites, some as large as 610 square metres and all with private balconies. In-suite amenities include high-tech TV systems, marble-appointed bathrooms with separate showers and full tubs, separate sitting areas, walk-in closets and, in Penthouse B suites and above, butler service. The Navigator ship also features oceanview suites and 90 per cent have balconies. About 10 of the suites are interconnecting, creating a living space of more than 457 square metres. rssc.com 877-505-5370
ROYAL CARIBBEAN INTERNATIONAL: With more than 609 square metres of indoor and outdoor living space, the Presidential Family Suite can be found on the line's Freedom Class ships accommodating up to 14 guests. It has four bedrooms, including two with ensuite bathrooms and 30-inch flat-screen TVs, a common area with two additional bathrooms with showers, a spacious living room with a sectional sofa that sleeps two and an extensive entertainment centre. The balcony has a hot tub, wet bar, lounge chairs and dining table. If the Presidential Family Suite is too large, consider the two-bedroom Royal Family Suite. royalcaribbean.com 866-562-7625