A luxury cruise is just what the name implies, a cruise at the upper end of the spectrum, not just five stars but a six-star cruise. There are six cruise lines that are in the luxury class: Crystal Cruise Line, Cunard Cruise Line, Radisson Seven Seas, The Yachts of Seabourn, Silversea Cruise Line, and Windstar Cruises.
Crystal Cruise Line has received numerous awards for excellence. For the last nine years, Conde Nast Traveler has named Crystal “Best Large-Ship Cruise Line”. Also for the last nine years, Travel + Leisure magazine has given Crystal the status of “World's Best Large-Ship Cruise Line”. And for service, a Travel + Leisure reader's poll voted Crystal “World's Best”. Crystal Cruise Line operates only three ships: Crystal Harmony, Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity. These ships carry approximately 1,000 passengers each and Crystal Cruise Line boasts the greatest passenger space per guest of any cruise line.
Do you recognize the ship names Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth? These great ships come from Cunard, a name long synonymous with luxury and elegance in cruises. “With Cunard, the journey may be even more magnificent than the destination” states their promotional literature. Cunard operates just two award-winning luxury ships. The Queen Mary 2, launched in January, 2004, is known as the longest, tallest and largest ocean liner and carries 2,620 passengers. It is replacing the Queen Elizabeth 2 for transatlantic crosses but the QE2 will still be available for cruises.
Radisson Seven Seas is a small luxury cruise line. Small here means that the ships carry a small number of passengers. Fewer than 700 fortress passengers per cruise are pampered by attentive staff. Radisson Seven Seas has been named by Conde Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure magazines to be the “World's Best Small Cruise Line”. Radisson Seven Seas appeals to the sophisticated traveler.
The Yachts of Seabourn cruise line advertisements that they provide “Ultra Luxury” by “delivering the highest levels of personalized service to an exclusive group of guests aboard intimate, elegant ships that could visit the most enticing destinations worldwide.” Seabourn sails three identical all-suite ships that cater to only 208 passengers each. Of course, dining and service is world-class.
Silversea Cruises is a new company, founded in 1994, for the express purpose of providing an ultra-luxury cruise experience aboard small and intimate ships with all the features of a large cruise vessel. The Silverseas ships Cloud, Wind, Shadow, and Whisper provide all-suite accommodations that between 250 square feet and over 1,300 square feet in size. Silversea vies with Radisson Seven Seas and Crystal Cruise Lines for the accolades of Conde Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure in the world's best categories. Silversea Cruises has also been named by Conde Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure magazines to be the “World's Best Small Cruise Line” many times since its inception.
Windstar Cruises offers a totally different sailing experience. Windstar Cruises offers motor-sail-yachts instead of cruise ships. Yes, their ships actually have sails that are computer-controlled with the latest in technology. Windstar's four ships carry just 148 to 308 passengers in staterooms or luxurious suites, giving the feeling of being aboard a personal yacht. Even with such a small fleet, Windstar Cruises sail to over 47 countries around the world.
If you're in the market for a luxury cruise, there are a number of excellent cruise lines to chose from.