Even among the crème de la crème of luxury liners, some stand out from the rest. While the cruising industry took a large operational and financial hit during the pandemic, companies have adapted and brought back quality travel with health and safety in mind.
The emphasis is still on luxury and catering to vacationers’ needs, but the best high-end cruise lines offer something unique to its passengers, who are looking to get away and have the experience of a lifetime.
While mainstream cruise lines like Royal Caribbean, Disney or Carnival rule the seas with on-board amenities and activities for travelers of all ages, luxury lines can’t be beat for off-the-beaten-track destinations, customized travel, offboard excursions and top-shelf service.
In its 2022 Best Luxury Cruise Lines report, U.S. News & World Report rated the following six luxury cruise lines as the best. However, each of these luxury lines offer an equally diverse range of experiences and extravagances for the well-heeled traveler.
With input from sites like TripSavvy, The Richest, Travel + Leisure and Cruise Critic — who also rate all these six companies highly — it is easy to see that any of these six cruise lines could’ve topped a “best of” list for luxury cruise lines.
1. Viking Ocean Cruises
One of the best designed cruise lines is also one the most well-respected. With eight identical 930-passenger cruise ships in its fleet, Viking‘s smaller ships allows them to access more exclusive ports throughout Europe, Asia, Australia, the Caribbean and the Mediterranean. This adult-only luxury cruise line is perfect for those “looking for the perfect vacation to reignite the spark with their significant other, or perhaps wants something slightly different for their honeymoon,” according to The Richest.
Although mainly known for its European itineraries, Viking added Mississippi River and Great Lakes cruise offering this year, per Travel + Leisure. It’s easy to see why U.S. News has it ranked as its No. 1 Best Luxury Cruise Line.
2. Seabourn Cruise Line
Though it ranks second with U.S. News, The Richest ranks it at number 1 in its 10 Best Luxury Cruise Lines list for its intimate setting and detail to the finer things in life (like cultural and culinary partnerships with UNESCO and some of the most renowned chefs in the world respectively), but this cruise line is beloved for its exotic itineraries around the world. Whether you are itching to visit the Amazon or the Arctic — or anywhere in between and beyond — Seabourn caters to those looking to immerse themselves in a destination.
Its Seabourn expeditions allow adventurers the chance of a lifetime to visit popular and underexplored areas.
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3. Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Regent provides passengers with a luxury getaway with a personal touch. Although ranked third by U.S. News, Regent is consistently ranked near, if not at the top, of the best luxury cruise lines lists at outlets like Travel + Leisure and TripSavvy.
With one crew member for every 1-2 passengers, Regent’s Seven Seas ships offer all-suite accommodations and specialty culture and culinary lessons, per U.S. News. Regent’s all-inclusive packages include everything, from business-class flights to on-shore excursions plus any amenity you could wish for. With ocean views from every suite, voyages range from seven to 120 days. Its Seven Seas Explorer liner was billed as “the most luxurious ship ever built” upon its launch in July 2016, according to Cruise Critic.
With a smaller ship capacity and 1:2 ship member-to-passenger ratio, almost every luxury travel site describes Azamara cruises as “cozy,” and who are we to argue? According to Cruise Critic, Azamara’s fleet consists of four ships that travel to more than 300 ports in South America, Europe, the Caribbean, Australia and Asia. It also runs fashionable “county-intensive voyages,” which stick to one country but travel to multiple ports, so passengers can immerse themselves in a personalized country-culture cruise.
5. Silversea Cruises
Known for its beautiful vessels and specialty restaurants, Silversea is a popular choice among passengers wanting to cruise away to far-flung locales without the hustle and bustle of crowds. With a passenger capacity of around 700, according to U.S. News (The Richest claims between 100 and 596), Silversea was voted by TripSavvy as the Best Small Ships company.
The cruise line specializes in remote voyages (one of its most popular cruises travels to a host of Japanese and Russian ports) and boasts the best itineraries in the world. And what’s not to love about getting pampered by Silversea’s 24-hour butler service?
6. Oceania Cruises
Although some of their vessels hold over 1,200 guests, Oceania is recommended by TripSavvy as the best line for first-time cruisers because most of their ships sail with an average 850 guests, traveling to more than 450 ports around the world. TripSavvy also notes that Oceania cruises are less expensive than the larger luxury lines, but without skimping on the elegance.
Attention to detail is key with Oceania. Its butlers are graduates of the Guild of Professional English Butlers and its kitchen is staffed with world-class chefs, per Travel + Leisure.
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