While it may seem that cruising is strictly a mass market vacation with ships carrying up to 6,000 passengers and activities geared towards families with little kids, endless buffets and cabins smaller than most kitchens, there's another side that is decidedly more refined. Aboard a handful of luxury ships are suites with sublime creature comforts like butler service, private verandas for watching the sun sink below the horizon with a glass of bubbly, separate embarkation, marble bathrooms and space so enormous you can throw a party for dozens of fellow passengers.
Granted, these enormous staterooms (frequently called the owner's suite) come with a hefty price tag but sometimes one wants to sell the family farm and hock the silver just to experience the ultimate in pampering.
If these super suites tempt you, don't wait to book one. The top suites, no matter how expensive, sell first!
Heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post -- Sea Cloud's first owner -- had exquisite taste and you can book her personal suite on this glorious tall ship. With 441 sq. ft. it's not the largest owner's suite, but you'll find golden bath fixtures, Carrara marble, precious woods, solid brass and antique furniture. Carrying only 64 passengers, Sea Cloud was built in the 1930's and calls in the toniest ports. An eight day Baltic voyage will cost around $10,000 per couple when staying in this opulent stateroom.
Your butler will greet you in this 2,249 square-foot duplex suite with champagne and strawberries before unpacking your bags. You may want to book massages at the Canyon Ranch Spa before heading to the Queen's Grill, a very exclusive restaurant only used by guests in the highest category suites. A seven-day crossing between New York and Southampton costs $44,927 per couple in this stateroom.
Oceania Marina enters service in January and promises to be top-of-the-line with outstanding cuisine overseen by master chef Jaques Pepin and a choice of six gourmet restaurants. Why not opt for the 2,000 sq. ft. owner's suite with private butler, enormous private veranda and Ralph Lauren fabrics? It's a mere $32,000 per couple (including airfare) on a 12-day cruise.
Crystal Cruises is known for its sublime food, service and enticing itineraries as well as sumptuous suites with butlers. Aboard Crystal Serenity you'll find the 1,345-sq. ft. Penthouse Suite with Veranda offering all the creature comforts one could dream of, including butler, large private balcony, dining room, large bathroom with jacuzzi, large flat screen TV in all rooms and a workout area. Book this suite on a 12-day South Pacific voyage and pay only $68,800 per couple.
While Silversea Cruises has suites twice this size, I personally love the 701 sq. ft. Silver Suite (available on all ships in the fleet) the best. It's a wonderful layout: large living room with guest bathroom and separate dining area, enormous balcony, a marble bath with bidet, shower and separate tub, walk-in closet and large bedroom with lots of light. Take a 10-day Mediterranean cruise on Silver Wind in this suite and you'll pay $23,000 per couple.
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