Luxury Cruises, Crystal, Regent, Seabourn, Silversea (2019 update)

Luxury Cruises, Pricey, But They Offer A Lot Of Value

Crystal Espirit. Photo courtesy of Crystal Cruises

Luxury cruises are normally the most expensive of all cruises, but these all inclusive cruises can provide a lot of value. Small, luxury ship cruises are going to cost you more than $500 per person per day. But while they cost more up front, they also provide value in all that they include – and in our opinion, offer some of the best cruise experiences to be had. You can also find cruise deals that make the cost of entry more palatable than the brochure prices.

Our favorite luxury players are Crystal CruisesRegent Seven Seas Cruises, SeaDream Yacht ClubSilversea Cruises and Seabourn. All of these companies operate ships that carry fewer than 1,000 guests (with the exception of the slightly larger Crystal Serenity).

Luxury cruises, catering to a sophisticated traveler, also strive to create creative itineraries that appeal to people who are looking for new insights. On board, personal service standards contribute to a vacation that is truly a relaxing escape from the rigors of everyday life. The food is gourmet, the spa is exquisite, and all the details of travel are taken care of unobtrusively.

Nearly all luxury cruise lines offer:

  • all-inclusive beverages, including fines wines and champagnes as well as spirits,
  • gratuities, neither required nor expected,
  • large staterooms and suites,
  • enrichment programs,
  • and more

One aspect of luxury cruises that we enjoy most is just how hassle-free they are. Coupled with sometimes-included business-class airfare (as on Regent), luxury cruises begin and end in a relaxed fashion, with highly personalized service and all of your needs catered to. Close runners-up to luxury cruisers are the small ships operated by Azamara Club Cruises, Oceania Cruises, Paul Gauguin Cruises, and Viking Ocean Cruises. Cruises on the ships operated by these companies generally will come in at a lower price point but make no mistake, the luxury players mentioned below are the cream of the crop.

Higher Space Ratios Than Big Ships

Luxury cruise vessels also offer higher “space ratios” than do large ships. A measure of cubic space per passenger, space ratio is derived by dividing gross tons by the number of passengers, double occupancy (by contrast, total occupancy counts for all occupied berths in a cabin, including third and fourth beds).

The greater the space ratio, in theory, the less crowded the ship feels. So if you want a ship that does not feel crowded, choose one with a generous space ratio. On the other hand, if you’re worried about feeling all alone, choose a ship with a smaller space ratio. You can expect space ratios of 70 and above on most luxury ships. By contrast, the world’s largest cruise ships, operated by Royal Caribbean International, each have a space ratio of about 40. You get nearly double the space on most luxury ships, when compared to big ships –

Don’t be fooled by the sticker price. Do the math, consider the value-added extras and the intangibles such as space ratio, and you may find that those pricey luxury cruises are a better value than you initially imagined.

Crystal Cruises Overview

Offering the best of both worlds, Crystal Cruises has years experience in offering an intimate, upscale cruising experience on a variety of ships with itineraries that span the globe. The line offers a unique blend of luxury coupled with the amenities and venues typically found on much larger vessels. With just 848 and 1,080 passengers apiece, Crystal’s two classic ships, Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity, globetrot around the world, spending significant time in the Caribbean, Alaska, Europe and New England and Canada, not to mention voyages to the Far East, the South Pacific and South America.

The company also operates world cruises, and has completed a  transit of the fabled Northwest Passage.

In December of 2015, Crystal Cruises marked a major milestone back in the history of the company by taking delivery of its third ship – and first addition to the fleet in over a decade.  Although not a new ship, the adventurous Crystal Esprit underwent a stem-to-stern refurbishment that has made the ship, originally constructed in 1991, into a completely new vessel. Crystal also operates luxury river cruises in Europe.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises Overview

Regent Seven Seas Cruises strives to offer unrivaled experiences to luxury travelers. The cruise line’s four-ship fleet visits more than 450 destinations worldwide. A fifth ship, Seven Seas Splendor, debuts in 2020, and a sixth will join the fleet in 2023. All luxuries are included in Regent voyages, such as all-suite accommodations, round-trip business-class air on intercontinental flights from U.S. and Canada, unlimited shore excursions, unlimited internet access, highly personalized service, exquisite cuisine, fine wines and spirits, gratuities, ground transfers and one-night, pre-cruise hotel packages for guests staying in Concierge-level suites and higher.

In 2018 the cruise line concluded a $125 million refurbishment program of Seven Seas Mariner, Seven Seas Voyager and Seven Seas Navigator to elevate the fleet’s elegance to the benchmark set by Seven Seas Explorer.

Seabourn Overview

For more than a quarter century, the Seabourn Cruises name has been synonymous with luxury cruising. Founded in 1987 by legendary cruise mogul Warren Titus (who’d also founded Royal Viking Line 15 years earlier) and Norwegian businessman Atle Brynestad (owner and chairman of SeaDream Yacht Club), the line early on established a distinct cruising style: quiet, refined, and genteel, with nearly clairvoyant service, exceptional food and wine, and itineraries that concentrate on intimate ports where the big ships don’t go.

Now part of the Carnival Corporation of brands, Seabourn has been on the receiving end of a major investment over the past decade. The line’s fleet of modern, ultra-luxury ships include the 450-guest trio Seabourn Odyssey, Seabourn Quest and Seabourn Sojourn, all of which were launched between 2009 and 2011. Two larger ships capable of carrying 600 guests apiece – Seabourn Encore and Seabourn Ovation – debuted in 2016 and 2018, respectively. Both are the largest vessels to be built for Seabourn Cruises.

Seabourn’s pre-2009 ships have all left the fleet, having been sold off to Windstar Cruises. Seabourn also has two new expedition vessels on order for 2021 and 2022.

SeaDream, Think Yacht, Not Ship

The phrase “casually elegant” gets thrown around a lot, but those words are truly right on the mark when it comes to describing the two intimate 112-passenger ships of Seadream Yacht Club. The mostly 40- and 50-something couples who make up the bulk of their guest list appreciate the finer things in life — sans stuffiness. Dress codes are smart casual even at dinner and when not in port, daily life mostly revolves around hanging out on the mini cruisers’ open decks as the ships makes their way to off-beat ports in the Caribbean and Europe.

The ships often stay late in ports, say in St. Barts, so passengers can check out the local restaurant and pub scene. Otherwise, on board, evenings are spent socializing and enjoying cocktails at the Top of the Yacht bar, as a guitarist or piano player provides the background music. Occasionally a local band is brought on for some evening entertainment and one night per cruise a movie is shown on a large screen set up on deck under the stars. There’s also a tiny casino area with two poker tables and a handful of slots.

The expansive open decks sport queen-size sun beds, a pool and a hot tub, the later a great place to enjoy a complimentary order of jumbo shrimp cocktail and a glass of bubbly. All you have to do is ask. The doting crew of 95 is there to please. SeaDream ranks among our favorite cruise experience. Though it’s dated, it’s still relevant until SeaDream builds new ships, which is happening soon. See Top Ten Reasons To Sail SeaDream

Silversea Cruises Overview

Created in the early 1990s by the Italian family behind legendary Sitmar Cruises, Silversea Cruises operates five luxury cruise ships and four luxury expedition vessels, all built to the highest standards and with service, dining, and itineraries to match. There’s nothing showy here: no dramatic architectural features, no overabundance of detail, no glitz. Instead, everything is quiet, refined and precise.

Carrying between 296 and 596 guests, the line’s five classic ocean ships are the ideal size for luxury — not so big that crowds form, not so small that you feel obligated to socialize if you don’t want to. The luxury cruise operator also has four expedition vessels, including the Silver Explorer, which carries 132 guests, and the converted Silver Cloud, to the Arctic and Antarctic and points between. Announced in late 2018, Silver Wind will be converted for expedition cruises also, and Silversea will gain a new vessel for its classic fleet, the Silver Moon.

Yes, Ralph, Send Me Your Recommendations

Would you like my personalized recommendations for a cruise that's perfect for you? Fill out my form, and I'll do my best to help you.

Step 1 of 4 - Where Do You Want To Cruise?

0%
  • Please choose only one for now. We can chat later about other destinations.

All Luxury Cruise Ship Reviews

Crystal Cruises Reviews

To read a review of a particular ship, click the link under "Read the Review." If applicable, our Live Voyage Reports offer a day-by-day overview of an actual cruise onboard. In some cases, there may be more than one report, to be sure to see if your favorite destination is represented.
Ship ReviewLive Voyage Report
Crystal Serenity Review
Crystal Symphony Review
Crystal Esprit Review

Cunard Line Reviews

To read a review of a particular ship, click the link under "Read the Review." If applicable, our Live Voyage Reports offer a day-by-day overview of an actual cruise onboard. In some cases, there may be more than one report, to be sure to see if your favorite destination is represented.
Ship ReviewLive Voyage Report
Queen Mary 2 Review• Eastbound Transatlantic Crossing
Queen Victoria Review
Queen Elizabeth Review

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises Reviews

To read a review of a particular ship, click the link under "Read the Review." If applicable, our Live Voyage Reports offer a day-by-day overview of an actual cruise onboard. In some cases, there may be more than one report, to be sure to see if your favorite destination is represented.
Ship ReviewLive Voyage Report
Europa Review
Europa 2 Review• Greece to Malta
• Istanbul to Kusadasi

Paul Gauguin Reviews

Ship Review 
Paul Gauguin

Regent Seven Seas Cruises Reviews

To read a review of a particular ship, click the link under "Read the Review." If applicable, our Live Voyage Reports offer a day-by-day overview of an actual cruise onboard. In some cases, there may be more than one report, to be sure to see if your favorite destination is represented.
Ship ReviewLive Voyage Report
Seven Seas Mariner Review
Seven Seas Navigator Review
Seven Seas Voyager Review
Seven Seas Explorer

Seabourn Reviews

To read a review of a particular ship, click the link under "Read the Review." If applicable, our Live Voyage Reports offer a day-by-day overview of an actual cruise onboard. In some cases, there may be more than one report, to be sure to see if your favorite destination is represented.
Ship ReviewLive Voyage Report
Seabourn Odyssey Review
Seabourn Quest Review• Antarctica
Seabourn Sojourn Review
Seabourn Encore Review
Seabourn Ovation Review

Silversea Cruises Reviews

To read a review of a particular ship, click the link under "Read the Review." If applicable, our Live Voyage Reports offer a day-by-day overview of an actual cruise onboard. In some cases, there may be more than one report, to be sure to see if your favorite destination is represented.
Ship ReviewLive Voyage Report
Silver Cloud ReviewAn Antarctic Voyage: On Silversea, A Veritable Feast
Silver Wind ReviewSouth African Safari
• Rome to Athens
• Rome to Malaga
Silver Shadow Review• Exotic Alaska
• Bali to Singapore
Silver Whisper Review
Silver Spirit ReviewAthens To Venice

• Eastbound Transatlantic
Silver Explorer Review• Antarctica
• Greenland
• Arctic
• British Isles
Silver Galapagos Review• Western Galapagos Islands
Silver Discoverer Review• Christening Ceremonies
• Australia's Kimberley Coast
• Russia's Far East
Silver Muse Review• Keel Laying

SeaDream Reviews

To read a review of a particular ship, click the link under "Read the Review." If applicable, our Live Voyage Reports offer a day-by-day overview of an actual cruise onboard. In some cases, there may be more than one report, to be sure to see if your favorite destination is represented.
Ship ReviewLive Voyage Report
SeaDream I Review
SeaDream II Review

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Just completed our 3rd Regent Seven Seas Cruise. We noticed a considerable drop-off in their level of quality and service since their acquisition by Norwegian. ln-suite butler service was still OK, but not as good. Condition of ship and quality of food and entertainment were not up to standard. Very disappointing. We loved Regent, but now we would choose another cruise line. Tours are much more crowded. Our clothes were stolen from the laundry. Clientele is deteriorating as well. Everything appears to have been cheapened since Norwegian bought Regent.

Leave a Reply

Close Menu