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8 Best Luxury Cruise Experiences From British Ports

Jeannine Williamson

Aug 25, 2022

Read time
9 min read

If you're looking for a luxury cruise from the U.K. there are plenty of ships that sail from British ports with indulgent touches.

They are not classified as luxury cruise ships, but they are ships which offer a cruise ship luxury experience onboard -- if you choose the right cabins or suites.

We've taken a look at some of the vessels which offer treats and extras such as stunning staterooms, exclusive "ship-within-a-ship" enclaves and gourmet dining experiences, all of which add up to cruise line luxury on ships that sail from British ports.

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1. Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 Offers A Glimpse Into the Golden Age of Cruising

On Queen Mary 2 suites go up to the vast 1,600 square feet Grand Duplex Suites with a 649 square feet balcony, and on Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria there are 1,375 square feet Grand Suites. The ships' Britannia staterooms offer an excellent 'halfway house' between standard cabins and Grill accommodation, with passengers enjoying anytime dining in the intimate Britannia Club Restaurant.

Cunard's restaurants correlate to the cabin category booked, with passengers occupying penthouses and suites dining in the Queen's or Princess Grill and having access to the elegant Grills Lounge and Grills Terrace. But whatever accommodation you are in, Queen Mary 2's Britannia Restaurant will make you feel like you've stepped back into the Golden Age of cruising.

If you enjoy spas, QM2 boasts one of the best thermal suites at sea. On Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria cruisers can sign up for a Spa Passport providing access to the Royal Bath House with its indoor thalassotherapy pool and thermal suite.

Queens Grill Suites on new ship Queen Anne, will have the feel of private residences, with a dining room and butler's pantry, a large bedroom, walk-in wardrobes and marble bathrooms with ocean views -- as well as the largest balconies onboard.

2. Princess Cruises Sky Princess' Sky Suites Have the Line's Largest Balconies

Sky Princess is the newest addition to the Princess fleet and the pair of Sky Suites, located at top of the ship, have the line's biggest balconies, which Princess describes as the largest at sea.

The 1,000 square foot verandas, complete with a telescope for stargazing, wrap around the suites to provide sweeping views and the best seats on the ship for Movies Under the Stars; with the novel perk of Sky Suite occupants picking a movie to be screened on one night during the cruise.

Passengers in all suite accommodation can have breakfast and dinner in the Club Class dining room and a complimentary dinner in one of the speciality restaurants.

Get the day off to a sparkling start with the Ultimate Balcony Breakfast, available to all passengers with veranda cabins for an additional fee (which is well worth it). Cabin stewards lay the balcony table with starched white table linen and bring an array of treats including chilled Champagne, hot dishes, smoked salmon, pastries and fresh fruit. A vegetarian option is also available.

If you're looking for peace and quiet, The Sanctuary on Sky Princess is one of the largest in the fleet. The adult only enclave, which can be booked for half a day or a full day, has private cabanas and loungers and stewards are on hand to serve drinks, light meals and bring chilled towels. Massages are also available.

3. P&O Cruises' Biggest Cruise Ship Iona's Suites Include a Butler

Iona, the largest ship built for British cruisers, has an understated, quintessentially British feel with a nod to nautical traditions, and sophisticated technology. The largest suites measure in at 530 square feet and each comes with its own butler and goodies from The White Company in the over-sized bathrooms.

Passengers can also have breakfast in the smart Epicurean restaurant. New to P&O are the Conservatory Mini-suites, which are a fantastic halfway option between a balcony cabin and full-blown suite. They measure 274 square feet and have a glass-enclosed sitting area leading to the balcony.

Open to all passengers for a daily surcharge is The Retreat, an exclusive and peaceful outdoor area with plenty of wow-factor. There are loungers and day beds, two whirlpools and cabanas for spa treatments. Stewards are on hand to offer bathrobes, cold flannels, fruit platters, smoothies and healthy food choices.

The classy fine dining venue The Epicurean rivals some of the best land-based restaurants. The award-winning concept, created by P&O's in-house culinary team, offers classic British dishes re-interpreted for modern palates. On sea days the restaurant hosts master patissier Eric Lanlard's outstanding Afternoon Tea. Gin lovers will want to visit Anderson's bar which has the first gin still at sea.

4. Celebrity Cruises Celebrity Silhouette Boasts Two Huge Penthouse Suites

Celebrity Silhouette underwent a bow-to-stern refurbishment in 2020 which introduced several new and upmarket features. On the accommodation front the biggest staterooms on the ship are the two 1,291 square feet Penthouse Suites.

The makeover saw the addition of The Retreat for passengers staying in suites. This includes the option to dine in the private Luminae restaurant, with signature dishes created by the Celebrity's culinary ambassador Daniel Boulud, and access to the all-new Retreat lounge and sun deck.

Other perks for suite passengers include a complimentary Premium Beverage Package, shore excursion credit, premium Wi-Fi package and an onboard credit to spend on a variety of treats such as spa treatments.

Another modification that brought Celebrity Silhouette in line with other Solstice-class ships is the Lawn Club, an area of real grass on the sun deck that has an exclusive vibe. It has eight alcoves with private cabana rentals, the for-fee Lawn Club Grill where -- if you want -- you can cook your own food and The Porch, a casual lunch and dining venue also available at extra charge.

Inside the ship, there are plenty of other dining venues where you can treat yourself to a special occasion dinner. They include Murano, an upmarket French restaurant with a tasting menu, and the Italian Tuscan Grille, which has fantastic sunset views over the back of the ship. If you're travelling with children (or even if you're not) don't miss Le Petit Chef, a dining experience unique to Celebrity and also added during the refit. An animated story, involving the little chef preparing food, is projected onto your plate before each course is served, which corresponds to what he has been making. It's great fun.

5. Norwegian Cruise Line Has Two Huge Garden Villas That Are Private Enclaves

Norwegian Star has two huge Garden Villas that are huge private enclaves that tick all the boxes if you want to splash out on swanky accommodation. Covering 5,700 square feet, the three-bedroom suites can sleep up to seven and, as the name implies, have an expansive garden area and sun deck with hot tubs. The long list of perks include 24-hour butler service, meals from speciality restaurants served in the suite, daily treats and canapes and a cocktail party with the ship's officers.

For an extra special drinking spot head to Gatsby's Champagne bar, which is a sophisticated place to sip some bubbles or indulge in some vodka and caviar. If Scotch is more to your liking then head to the Proof Whiskey Bar for some classic malts and hand-crafted cocktails.

A memorable place for a special meal is Norwegian Star's signature French restaurant Le Bistro with its elegant decor and crisp white table linen.

6. Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas Has "Royal Genies" Assigned to Suites

Anthem of the Seas comes with a Royal Genie to take care of your every whim if you book into one of the luxury suites. The grandest stateroom of them all the two-storey Royal Loft Suite which can sleep up to six and measures 1,640 square feet and has a big balcony with a dining table and hot tub.

You'll also get to dine for free in speciality restaurants and have a complimentary drinks package. Passengers staying in Grand Suite level staterooms and higher also get access to the private Concierge Lounge and the Coastal Kitchen restaurant.

Elsewhere on the dining front, Chic lives up to its name. The stylish speciality restaurant serves the first dry-aged steaks at sea along with lobster and other dishes flavoured with sauces made with Champagne and truffles. Located in an intimate section of Chops Grille is Chef's Table, a private epicurean experience for up to 16 people. The five-course upgraded steakhouse menu and wine tasting is personally presented by the chef de cuisine and the sommelier pairs each course with a chosen wine.

7. Hebridean Island Cruises Hebridean Princess Is a Favourite of HM The Queen

Hebridean Princess is an amalgamation of a snug country house hotel and sublime small cruise ship with interiors that include polished brass clocks, an inglenook fireplace and wood-panelled library. Outside, the varnished teak decks are festooned with hanging flower baskets. There are 20 richly decorated, boutique-style twin and double cabins, including a two-room suite and some staterooms with balconies, and 10 single cabins.

This small luxury line really is fit for royalty as in 2012 it was granted a Royal Warrant by Her Majesty, The Queen, who chartered the Hebridean Princess for her 80th birthday in 2006 and enjoyed it so much she arranged another charter in 2010 to mark the 60th birthday of her daughter Anne, the Princess Royal. In keeping with its Scottish heritage, mealtimes showcase regional specialities and menus are written daily depending on the availability of fresh produce such as scallops from Orkney, langoustines from the Hebrides, Tweed Valley beef and Borders' lamb. There's also an abundance of Scottish cheeses and seasonal berries. Each course is paired with premium wine. Needless to say, the bar includes a huge selection of whisky and itineraries feature excursions to distilleries.

Sailing from Oban, Greenock and Invergordan for cruises around Scotland and the British Isles you can continue the opulent experience back on dry land with a sailing combined with a rail trip aboard the Belmond Royal Scotsman.

8. MSC Cruises' MSC Virtuosa Has a Suites-Only Area Onboard

MSC Virtuosa offers plenty of opportunity to live a life of luxury in the MSC Yacht Club, "ship-within-a-ship" concept. This private area, accessed by keycard,  is spread over three decks and features 103 suites, 24-hour butler service, private restaurant which is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the panoramic Top Sail Lounge and an exclusive pool area with shady cabanas, a pool and hot tubs. Other perks for passengers in the Yacht Club include complimentary access to MSC Virtuosa's thermal suite as well as free drinks and snacks all day.

Throughout the ship are MSC's trademark crystal-studded staircases and opulent, extravagant decor which creates a glamorous backdrop for cruising.

When it's time to eat you can dine around the world. The ship's speciality restaurants include the atmospheric French-themed L'Atelier Bistrot, Asian Indochine which occupies an elegant setting and theatrical Kaito Teppanyaki where food with flair is prepared in front of you.

Updated August 25, 2022
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