When only the best will do there's a clutch of palatial suites on ships sailing from British waters that are perfect for style-junkies and traditionalists alike. With plush furnishings, bespoke design elements, enormous bathrooms and expansive balconies, these elegant suites are generally situated high up on a ship -- far from the madding crowd. They come with upgraded benefits such as priority embarkation and disembarkation, concierge services and a butler to take care of speciality dining reservations, laundry and unpacking, mixing drinks and serving meals. Despite their high price tag suites often sell out fast, so if you've decided to splurge on a lavish pad don't leave it too late to secure your dream stateroom. Take a look at the best cruise suites at sea.
1. Celebrity Cruises' Penthouse Suite
Ship: Celebrity Eclipse
Why We Love it: Encompassing 1,291 square feet with a 389 square feet balcony, the two decadent Penthouse Suites on Deck 11 have a baby grand piano in the living room, master bedroom with marble bath and whirlpool tub, a dressing room, and a private balcony with another whirlpool and sunbeds. There's also a butler's pantry -- ideal if you want to invite shipmates to a cocktail party with the butler serving cocktails and canapes. Another perk is reserved tables at the Luminae Restaurant, which is exclusive to suite passengers, plus complimentary unlimited speciality dining in the Tuscan Grille, Murano, and Qsine restaurants and Michael's Club lounge. Additional complimentary items include a Premium Beverage Package, welcome bottle of Perrier-Jouet Champagne, mini-bar restocked daily, laundry service and unlimited internet access.
2. P&O Cruises' Piano Suite & Library Suite
Why We Love it: Although an older vessel in today's world of cruise ships brimming with hi-tech gadgetry and cool modern design, Aurora's two Penthouses are real gems. Distinguished by the fact that they are duplexes, spanning A and B Decks with the entrance on the lower level, he roomy Piano Suite (starboard side) and Library Suite (port side) have panoramic views similar to those enjoyed by the captain on the bridge directly above. As their names imply, one of these suites has a baby grand piano, the other a library with audio equipment. Connected by a gently curving wooden staircase, in both suites the 575 square feet lower level has an L-shaped sofa and armchairs in the lounge, a dining table seating six and separate bar area. This leads to a 72 square feet side balcony with reclining chairs and floor-to-ceiling doors. On the 363 square foot upper level there are two single beds that electronically adjust to form a king-size bed, a walk-in wardrobe, marble bathroom with whirlpool bath, dressing room, and a 72 square foot side balcony accessed by patio doors. Both suites have butler service.
3. Norwegian Cruise Line's The Haven Garden Villa
Ships: Norwegian Jade
Why we love it: Norwegian Jade's three-bedroom Garden Villa in the Haven on Deck 14 encompasses a massive 4,252 square feet of indoor living space with 1,875 square feet of outdoor balconies and garden. Accommodating eight, this is the most exclusive accommodation in the Haven, a private sanctuary at the top of the ship. Set within a wall of windows offering unimpeded sea views, the Garden Villa has a baby grand piano, semi-circular cream leather settee, dispense bar and dining table for eight. A standout feature is the private garden with another table for eight and alfresco hot tub. A corridor leads to the master bedroom with vast bathroom, plus two other bedrooms with balconies. Norwegian pioneered the "ship within a ship" concept and the Haven is a private preserve of the top suites tended by a team of butlers. There's also a private courtyard and sun deck with a pool and hot tub, a fitness area and exclusive restaurant for Haven passengers.
4. Royal Caribbean's Royal Suite
Ships: Independence of the Seas
Why we love it: The Royal Suite aboard this perennially popular ship is part of the "luxury zone" on Deck 10, where passengers revel in the area's decadent vibe. Measuring 1,358 square feet with a 313 square foot balcony, this lavish suite is decorated in tones of teal blue and slate grey, giving it a club-like ambiance. There are plush sofas, a baby grand piano playing a repertoire of programmed melodies and a surround-sound entertainment centre and interactive flat-screen televisions. In addition, there's a dining table and wet bar, plus private pantry for butler service. Floor-to-ceiling glass windows lead to a private balcony with whirlpool and loungers. Back inside, there are double doors through to the large bedroom with king-size bed and the adjacent oversized marble bathroom with gold-effect glass washbasins, whirlpool tub and separate shower with multiple jets. Passengers have access to the Concierge Club which offers breakfast, complimentary evening drinks and canapes as well as priority access to a variety of services such as shore tenders and restaurant reservations.
5. Cunard's Balmoral and Sandringham Suites
Ships: Queen Mary 2
Why we love it: These two Grand Duplex Suites are the most sumptuous enclaves on any ship sailing out of Southampton. The Balmoral Suite (port side) and Sandringham Suite (starboard side) are situated aft on Decks 9 and 10 aboard Cunard's flagship. Measuring 1,600 square feet with a 649 square foot balcony these suites can sleep up to four. Boasting an Art Deco theme, these suites received new fabrics during the recent "QM2 Remastered" makeover. The double-door entrance on Deck 9 leads to bright, airy lounge decorated in light walnut wood with grey carpets highlighted by a cherry-red motif, ivory settees, and dining table for eight. Floor-to-ceiling glass windows overlook the ship's stern and glass doors open on to a terrace that's large enough to dance on. Oozing Hollywood glamour, a glass-etched spiral staircase leads up to the master bedroom with its king-size bed adorned with a cherry-red throw. There are two marble "his and hers" dressing rooms with connecting bathrooms and separate whirlpool and shower. A butler will serve lunch and dinner from the Queen's Grill menu and there is a bar stocked with spirits, wine and soft drinks.