If the bridge is the brain of a cruise ship, then the atrium is certainly the heart. Found on nearly every ocean vessel, the atrium is a hub for everyday activities, events and parties and central to a ship's shopping, dining and entertainment venues.
Some atriums stand out from the pack as being truly spectacular. Here, we've hand-picked our eight favorite cruise ship atriums.
Photos: Cruise Critic
Framed by a stainless steel sculpture of spokes and spirals, Koningsdam's atrium is like a three-deck-tall work of art. The atrium -- which is capped by a ceiling with ever-changing projections of sunny days and starry nights -- is central to passenger service desks and a variety of dining venues, including Pinnacle Grill, Sel de Mer and Grand Dutch Cafe.
Seven Seas Explorer
Regent's Seven Seas Explorer oozes luxury, and the opulent theme is only furthered by the ship's awe-inducing atrium. This central space -- which spans seven decks -- houses two impressive staircases, a massive crystal chandelier and a circular floor that's inlaid with fine Italian marble.
Queen Mary 2
The Grand Lobby on Queen Mary 2 received a major upgrade in 2016 during the ship's £90 million refurbishment. Cunard stripped out the lobby's two elevators and added high-back chairs, a baby grand piano and new decor, including a bright, starburst-style carpet.
Located on Deck 6, Norwegian Escape's atrium hosts a variety of classes and contests, movies and live demonstrations. Most notable is the space's floating glass staircase and its LED chandelier, which changes colors throughout the cruise.
Nothing is quite like MSC Divina's atrium, which houses four towering Swarovski staircases. Each step -- and there are 100 of them -- is inset with hundreds of tiny crystals.
Carnival Vista's atrium deviates from the line's typical decks-high design. Equipped with a relaxed seating area, a bar and a three-deck-high LCD funnel (called Dreamscape) with slow-moving digital images, Vista's atrium feels more like a hotel lobby than a cruise ship hub.
Empress of the Seas
Empress of the Seas may not be the newest Royal Caribbean ship, but its atrium feels almost space-age. Marked by a panoramic glass elevator and flanked by a variety of restaurants, shops and bars, this color-changing atrium also hosts acrobat acts, live music and cruise ship parties.
The Lawn Club isn't the only place you'll find foliage on Celebrity Eclipse. Located inside the ship's atrium is a living tree, suspended between the lobby's four glass elevators. Down below, cruisers will find a grand marble staircase and foyer, a wide variety of art and daily events -- including those from the line's popular Top Chef partnership.
8 Coolest Cruise Ship Atriums
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The moment you step aboard a luxury cruise ship, a hostess is at your arm proffering a glass of bubbly while a capable room steward offers to heft your carry-on as he escorts you to what will be your home-away-from-home for the next few days. You stow your things (likely in a walk-in closet) and then emerge from your suite to get the lay of the ship. As you walk the decks, friendly crew members greet you ... by name. How can that be? You just set foot onboard! First-class, personalized service is just one of the hallmarks of luxury cruise lines. You can also expect exotic itineraries, varying degrees of inclusivity in pricing, fine wines and gourmet cuisine as well as universally high crew-to-passenger ratios. That being the case, you might think any old luxury cruise ship will do, but that's not quite true. Like people, cruise ships have their own unique personalities -- and some will be more suited to your vacation style than others. Lines like SeaDream might not offer the most spacious suites, but their intimate yachts can stealthily visit ports that large ships can't manage. Regent Seven Seas and Oceania Cruises are owned by the same parent company but Regent offers a completely inclusive vacation experience, while Oceania draws travelers with a more independent streak. Take a look at Cruise Critic's list of best luxury cruise lines and ships to see which one resonates with you.
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