How does a couple choose a luxury cruise? All high-end ships flaunt plush accommodations, attentive personalized service and dazzling food and wine. With so much personal space, romantic moments are guaranteed.
That's the good news and the bad. Such a wealth of amenities makes it difficult to discern differentials that can -- and should -- influence your choice. We've done the work for you, defining the subtleties that make it easier to find the luxury cruise that calls to you.
Silversea showcases a dizzying, delightful array of exotic itineraries for both its classic cruise ships and luxury expedition fleet -- perfect for couples who like to explore together. Choose from sailings wandering the entire world, showcasing bucket-list destinations like the Galapagos, Myanmar (Burma), Mumbai, Dubai and even Antarctica and the Arctic. The Russian Far East -- with its brown bears, Arctic foxes and remote villages -- ranks high among Silversea's more thrilling destinations that few other ships pursue.
On Silversea, heart-pumping, tick-every-box adventure comes accompanied by sensational style. In all-suite accommodations, passengers are privy to white-gloved, tuxedo-clad butlers, who draw candlelit, rose petal-strewn baths and can serve intimate dinners, course by course, in your suite. Celebrate your time together with exquisite complimentary caviar and its proper accoutrements, served whenever and wherever you like. (Yes, even under the stars, in the hot tub.)
Are you seeking luxury cruising with a casual vibe? Perhaps you want to enjoy a well-appointed stateroom or suite (Bvlgari toiletries, anyone?), flawless service and excellent food and wine but could care less about dressing up or packing lots of clothes.
If so, consider SeaDream Yacht Club for your idyllic cruise. The 112-passenger SeaDream I and II deliver sailing experiences that vibe like private yachts. The 95 crew members aboard each cruise ensure it's a luxury-driven getaway.
Elegant informality rules. With most cruises in warm climes -- the Caribbean or Mediterranean -- passengers dress mostly in shorts. Cruisers even receive personalized pajamas, designed for snuggling under the stars on SeaDream's signature Balinese Dream Beds dressed with soft Belgian linens or in comfy cabins, awash in richly polished wood.
At dinner, button-down shirts and slacks for men and sundresses or casual pants for ladies suffice. Expect your lavish multicourse meal, paired with fine wines, to look and taste Michelin-star worthy. Weather permitting, count on dining alfresco, in cozy corners under a sky ablaze with stars.
Few luxury cruise lines possess Seabourn's culinary bragging rights -- a partnership with world-famous chef Thomas Keller. Yes, that Thomas Keller, of New York's Per Se and Napa Valley's French Laundry. This top toque offers his only restaurant at sea, The Grill by Thomas Keller, aboard Seabourn ships. (Unlike when dining at top-dollar Per Se and French Laundry, dinner onboard is complimentary. However, due to its enormous popularity, passengers can dine here just once per cruise.)
A modern take on an old-school steakhouse, The Grill utilizes the same primo ingredients Keller insists upon for his restaurants ashore, such as the marvelous Maytag blue cheese and juicy Snake River Farms beef. It's a date night to remember.
Feast, also, on Keller's cuisine in the most romantic Restaurant, where on select nights, four such specialties are offered. Count sophisticated plates -- like buckwheat gnocchi with tamari-glazed shiitake mushrooms, golden beets, savoy cabbage and yuzu -- as highlights. Find more Thomas Keller dishes during special theme nights in the Colonnade; tuck into classic comfort fare, like luscious barbecued ribs, served family-style, so you can share with your sweetie.
Keller's culinary footprint also rules at the poolside Patio Grill. Take a snack break from sun worshipping on a double lounger and order the much loved signature Napa burger and artisanal "Yountwurst." And with Keller's current partnership in a caviar company, Seabourn now serves Regiis Ova, co-founded by Keller. Foodies should love the complimentary Siberian Reserve, which can be served to couples in their suite, on private verandas -- wherever you fancy.
Most luxury cruise lines place their emphasis everywhere but entertainment, traditionally the strong suit of mainstream and premium lines. Crystal Cruises is the rule's exception, as the line notably invests in diversified, compelling entertainment.
Seeking a romantic piano bar? Avenue Saloon fits the bill. This intimate lounge consistently stars accomplished pianists and singers who often entertain in the world's leading hotels. Many couples visit Avenue Saloon nightly, sipping custom cocktails and cozying up in dark corners for shows.
The line's affiliation with Hollywood's famed Magic Castle ranks as another primo attraction. Attend small intimate shows with an onboard Magic Castle magician, who wows with sleight-of-hand tricks from just inches away.
If your ultimate date night includes a Broadway show, take note: Many Crystal cruises sail with a theater theme, created in partnership with a multi-Tony award-winning Broadway producer, where "Great White Way" cast members perform onboard. Outstanding jazz and cabaret artists, many of international acclaim, also entertain for other musical-themed voyages.
Perhaps your dream cruise entails holing up in a sumptuous suite with your significant other, spending most of your time chilling as a twosome in swank surroundings. Regent Seven Seas Cruises presents the dreamiest suites at sea. They do vary in design from ship to ship, but all share gush-worthy commonalities with no expense spared.
For instance, take the Regent Suite on Deck 14 aboard Seven Seas Splendor, debuting February 2020. This 4,443-square-foot palace includes its own spa retreat, glass-enclosed solarium and 1,300 square-foot wraparound veranda. And did we mention the $200,000 handcrafted bed?
On the popular Seven Seas Explorer, a far more minor splurge is worth it for a Concierge Suite; far from the biggest suite onboard, but it sure feels extravagant and uber-comfy. Wallow in 332 square feet of luxury, which includes a spacious veranda -- 132 square feet to call your own. Brew Java in your suite espresso machine and sip outdoors, swathed in plush Regent robes and soft slippers.
Come nighttime, drape yourselves in cashmere blankets and revel in that private balcony a deux. Inside, a king bed, mini-bar, sofa for two and marble-and-stone bathroom with the fluffiest towels await. And since you're hunkering down in a Concierge Suite, expect priority dining reservations (should you care to forgo 24-hour complimentary room service), among several other enviable perks.
Updated October 10, 2019