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5 Best Libraries at Sea

Brittany Chrusciel
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 (Photo: Cruise Critic)

If you believe sea days are for reading, cruises are for relaxing and that the cruise ship librarian should be just as important as the cruise director, then these next few slides might appeal to you. Whether you're an avid bibliophile or simply appreciate a quiet, scenic atmosphere to unwind indoors, it's hard not to fall in love with cruise ship reading rooms. In fact, some have a cult following. We've rounded up five of the best libraries at sea so you can rack up page counts along with nautical miles -- in style.

On This Page

  • Oceania Cruises' R Class
  • Celebrity's Solstice Class
  • Regent's Seven Seas Explorer
  • Holland America Line

Cunard Line

Revered for its maritime heritage, Cunard is also admired for its traditional elegance: ballrooms fit for dancing, dazzling planetariums and its staggering two-story libraries. On Queen Victoria, curved wooden balustrades line a spiral staircase and shelves upon shelves of volumes -- all housed under a stained-glass ceiling. Queen Mary 2 is home to one of the largest book collections on any cruise ship -- more than 10,000 tomes in six languages.

Oceania Cruises' R Class

Oceania Cruises' R Class

Envision yourself in the living room of a cozy countryside manor house -- it's not difficult to do with the deep leather lounge chairs, Oriental carpeting and marble mantelpieces that adorn the libraries on Oceania Cruises' R-class ships (Insignia, Regatta, Nautica and Sirena). Grab a copy of "Wuthering Heights" to dig into under the magnificent trompe l'oeil ceiling filled with birds and tropical plants. If the space looks familiar, you might recognize it from other former Renaissance ships like Azamara Quest and Journey, or Pacific Princess in the P&O Cruises Australia fleet.

Celebrity's Solstice Class

Celebrity's Solstice Class

The bright and modern book-lined areas of Celebrity Cruises' Solstice-class ships (Equinox, Eclipse, Silhouette, Reflection and Solstice) prove that libraries aren't all dust and dark wood. Enigmatic artwork towers over whimsical high-backed chairs and dizzying vertical bookshelves that span two decks. These open and attractive spaces are a focal point of the central atrium, and entice readers and onboard wanderers alike.

Regent's Seven Seas Explorer

Regent's Seven Seas Explorer

It only seems fitting that the floors of the library on the self-proclaimed "most luxurious ship in the world" would be made of leather; that's the case in the luxe reading venue aboard Regent's Seven Seas Explorer. Decor is striking here, with vibrant green leather chairs, diamond-shaped shelving, overhead lighting fixtures that resemble amber crystals and a sculpture of a stack of books. Plenty of real books adorn the shelves here, too.

Holland America Line

Holland America Line

Perhaps no other cruise line has embraced what a library can be quite like Holland America. The line's fan base are passionate library enthusiasts, waxing poetic about the classic reading rooms found on ships like Volendam, which boast rich color schemes, plenty of comfortable seating, and books and square footage to spare. However, the standard HAL library/cafe combo is quickly being transitioned to present day with Explorations Central (EXC) -- a place for reading, relaxing and destination immersion that trades in an older design for interactive touch screens and abundant natural light.

Updated November 21, 2019

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