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The Haven on Norwegian (Photo: Norwegian Cruise Line)
The Haven on Norwegian (Photo: Norwegian Cruise Line)

12 Super Splurges on Cruise Ships

The Haven on Norwegian (Photo: Norwegian Cruise Line)
The Haven on Norwegian (Photo: Norwegian Cruise Line)
Erica Silverstein

Last updated
Jan 8, 2020

Read time
5 min read

If you really want to live large on your next sailing, cruise lines offer plenty of ways for you to pamper yourself. (After all, the more you splurge, the more money they make.) From something as simple as a massage after a long day of sightseeing to something as extravagant as taking a shore tour by private plane, it's easy to throw fiscal responsibility to those ocean winds and treat yourself to a decadent day.

Want some ideas? Whether you're looking for an affordable splurge (something pricy but doable on an average cruise) or a once-in-a-lifetime experience saved for a special occasion, there's a wow-factor cruise activity for you. Go ahead: Live a little ... or a lot!

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1. Book a suite and throw a cocktail party in your cabin.

Most cruise ship suites have more space than two people know what to do with in one week. While you can spend most of your cruise luxuriating on your huge balcony, soaking in your whirlpool tub or watching movies on your private entertainment system, you'll be truly living the high life if you host an in-cabin soiree. Your butler can help you with logistics. If you're not traveling in a group, just invite a few newfound friends from the ship.

2. Rent a cabana.

The Retreat on Koningsdam (Photo: Holland America)
The Retreat on Koningsdam (Photo: Holland America)

Nothing says VIP like having a luxury cabana all to yourself. You can rent one for the cruise on lines like Princess Cruises or Holland America, or book one for the day on a cruise line private island, such as Norwegian's Great Stirrup Cay or Disney's Castaway Cay.

3. Plan a spa day.

Whether it's something as simple as getting your hair done for formal night, as unusual as a 24K gold spa treatment, as ritzy as a Botox injection or as elaborate as a whole day at the spa, complete with thermal suite pass and multiple pampering treatments, you can't go wrong with this type of splurge. To make it more special, drag hubby along for a couple's massage or rasul mud room experience, or bond with your family over mother-daughter or father-son treatments.

4. Book a romance package.

Champagne in Bucket Surrounded by Chocolate Covered Strawberries (Photo: RonTech3000/Shutterstock)
Champagne in Bucket Surrounded by Chocolate Covered Strawberries (Photo: RonTech3000/Shutterstock)

If you're traveling with your sweetheart, surprise him or her with a romance package. Offerings include Champagne, chocolate-covered strawberries and rose petals on the bed, or such luxuries as breakfast in bed, a framed keepsake portrait, spa treatments, specialty restaurant dinners and even matching bathrobes.

5. Take dinner to new heights.

Skip the plebeian buffet, and eat dinner in a specialty restaurant -- or perhaps a different specialty restaurant every night. For an even bigger splurge, book a private dinner in a private dining room, such as Crystal's Vintage Room, Oceania's Privee or the private rooms in Disney's Palo and Remy. If you've gone all out with a luxury ship or high-end suite, you can also request dinner served, course by course, in your stateroom.

6. Splurge on a shore excursion.

Helicopter Ride Near Napali Coast, Kauai, Hawaii (Photo: kyrien/Shutterstock)
Helicopter Ride Near Napali Coast, Kauai, Hawaii (Photo: kyrien/Shutterstock)

Maybe it's a helicopter ride in Hawaii or sport-fishing in Alaska or flying a fighter jet in Europe. Maybe it's just ditching the bus for the private car. Whatever it is, you'll get bang for your buck when you put down the hundreds (or thousands) of dollars on an exceptional shore tour and live your dreams. If you want to splurge big time, hire a helicopter, private plane or even a limousine to take you touring. Millionaires just don't do coach tours.

7. Hire a personal trainer.

If you've always wanted the full-on body composition analysis, complete with a personalized training plan and a buff Australian shouting encouragement, a cruise is the perfect opportunity. Fitness centers onboard offer state-of-the-art equipment (think Kinesis walls and Peloton bikes) and popular group classes like TRX and Zumba, not to mention gorgeous sea views. Plus, if you splurge on getting fit onboard, you can also splurge on dessert in the dining room guilt-free.

8. Buy an expensive souvenir.

Expensive Jewelry on Display (Photo: Kwangmoozaa/Shutterstock)
Expensive Jewelry on Display (Photo: Kwangmoozaa/Shutterstock)

A diamond might be forever, but a diamond in a bracelet bought on a special cruise vacation will also bring back fabulous memories forever. So go ahead and splurge on a pricy keepsake, bought onboard or in port -- an expensive piece of jewelry, art to hang in your home or a foreign-label piece of designer clothing.

9. Use the travel concierge to book a private event.

Did you know that many lines, especially the luxury ones, have travel concierges who can help you plan shoreside activities? Maybe your whole family group wants to have a fancy lunch to celebrate a big birthday or anniversary, or you want to arrange a private tour to a nearby attraction or a group outing to go hiking, fishing or diving. Get someone else to do the planning and make the arrangements while you spend more time lounging on deck.

10. Do the overnight, overland tour.

Angkor Wat in Cambodia (Photo: Olena Tur/Shutterstock)
Angkor Wat in Cambodia (Photo: Olena Tur/Shutterstock)

Many exotic itineraries offer the chance to disembark the ship for an extended land tour, complete with hotel stay, and then re-board in a subsequent port. These overnight tours usually take you to key attractions that can't be reached during a day-long port call. Consider an overnight in Cairo to see the Pyramids and Sphinx, a trip to Angkor Wat in Cambodia or an adventure to Machu Picchu.

11. Order the most expensive bottle of wine onboard.

Cruise ships pride themselves on their wine lists, and they usually have one super-expensive label onboard, usually just for show. For example, on select ships Celebrity carries Screaming Eagle wines that sell for more than $5,000 a bottle, and Disney Cruise Line's Dream and Fantasy offer a 1947 Chateau Cheval Blanc for a whopping $25,000 (apparently because it's the wine a food critic orders in the Disney movie "Ratatouille," whose main character inspired the name of Disney's specialty restaurant Remy).

12. Book up an exclusive section of the ship, or charter an entire yacht.

Crystal Esprit (Photo: Crystal Cruises)
Crystal Esprit (Photo: Crystal Cruises)

A few cruise lines have suite complexes that are gated off from the rest of the ship, often with private amenities like sun decks and lounges. Think Norwegian's The Haven and MSC's Yacht Club. While it's a splurge to just book one suite in these areas, you know you're a VIP when you can take over the entire area with your large group of guests (or simply book up cabins to sail empty so you have more space for your friends without any unwanted riff-raff). If you really want to splash out, consider chartering an entire yacht -- such as Crystal Esprit or one of SeaDream's twin yachts -- for your own private cruise party.

Publish date January 08, 2020
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