These 6 luxury ships are like nothing you have ever seen before
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Cruisers who like to be in vogue, have big bucks to spend and like their adventurous, brag-worthy experiences with a big dose of pampering will thrill to the array of new luxury expedition cruise ships.
By day, head 1,000 feet below the sea in a submarine, helicopter over mountains and soaring waterfalls or get close to icebergs, penguins and whales from inflatable Zodiacs. Take a hike escorted by a member of your ship’s expedition team, then treat yourself to a cosy, warm treatment in the spa. By night, dine on gourmet cuisine, enjoy the free-flowing champagne and unwind in a sophisticated environment with contemporary design features.
These six ships all go over-the-top with the “wow” factor of impressive suite accommodations and all-inclusive fares. Perks such as drinks and Wi-Fi are typically part of the package as are shore excursions. There’s no nickel-and-diming, though there will be a charge for extravagant experiences such as a submarine or helicopter ride (available on select ships) or that splurge-worthy bottle of Châteauneuf-du-Pape or other rare wine.
And remember: Whether it’s a treat delivered on a silver tray or a bath warmed for you after a day out exploring — the butler did it!
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On luxury line Crystal Cruises’ 200-passenger, polar-class mega-yacht, everyone stays in a suite with butler service. The sleek ship is more spacious than its peers, with room for some of the finer moments in travel, from the excellent spa and the stogie collection in the cigar bar to the only casino on an expedition ship – complete with blackjack, roulette and slots. Catch extraordinary views from the ship’s own pair of seven-seat helicopters and a seven-seat submarine (a fee is involved for both experiences). When you’re not on Zodiacs and kayaks with the expedition team, indulge in scones at afternoon tea with music in the elegant Palm Court. Fans of the luxury line are drawn, too, to fine dining experiences such as complimentary sushi and miso-marinated black cod by Nobu chef Nobu Matsuhisa.
Seabourn is known for ultra-luxury cruising and the line’s first purpose-built expedition ship carries on that tradition. The 264-passenger all-suite Seabourn Venture is designed to explore — including icy destinations with its polar-class rating. A 26-person expedition team – including scientists and naturalists – assures everyone a front row seat as passengers walk off the ship to board Zodiacs for close-up views of wildlife and jaw-dropping scenery. The ship’s interior, created by leading hospitality designer Adam Tihany, includes an Expedition Lounge and adjacent Discovery Center and every suite has a veranda. Restaurants serve extraordinary cuisine including roasted chicken and other dishes from leading American Chef Thomas Keller. Two custom-built, seven-person submarines provide undersea views (which are broadcast onboard) with other toys for exploring including kayaks, mountain bikes and Ebikes.
This 228-passenger, all-suite, polar-class “Discovery Yacht” – from Australian line Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours – was designed to replicate a billionaire’s yacht, complete with two seven-seat helicopters, and a submarine and a fleet of Zodiacs and kayaks for exploring. Hangout spots include a whiskey bar stocked with 110 bottles and a serene yoga and meditation studio near the spa’s his and her steam rooms, saunas and plunge pools. A separate indoor pool is a handy feature in icy climates. When not in roomy suites that include a house-sized penthouse, guests schmooze over meals in eight dining venues that include a cooking classroom where you can help a chef prepare your meal, a French restaurant and a sushi bar (with fish flown in from Japan).
On this classy new 100-passenger, all-suite ship from ultraluxury brand Silversea, your butler will wear a tux, even as you explore the rugged landscape of the Galapagos. The ship was built as a posh basecamp for exploration of the remote Ecuadorian islands with a dynamic positioning system that allows for sailing over delicate seabed without disturbing the ecosystem. A fleet of eight Zodiacs brings guests ashore. The ship’s design incorporates wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling windows in most spaces so you won’t miss views – should, for instance, sea lions come by to check you out. After dining on Ecuadorian cuisine prepared by local chefs, head to the stargazing platform to check out the night sky.
New expedition line Atlas Ocean Voyages is launching its first ship this summer, the 196-passenger, polar-class World Navigator. It’s targeting luxe-adventure travellers who are looking for experiences that include exploring via Zodiac and other adventure toys as well as relaxation time in the first-ever SeaSpa by L’OCCITANE. The ship has the nifty feature of a GPS positioning system, so it does not need to drop anchor. A silent, hydro jet propulsion system also allows World Navigator to sail silently at up to five knots in wildlife-rich areas without stressing fish and other marine creatures. Atlas is promising pampering and more fare-inclusive choices than on other lines, even private jet charter service with Antarctica itineraries. Top suites come with butler service.
Le Commandant Charcot
This 270-passenger ship from French line Ponant is the cleanest of the luxury expedition ships – with ability to sail up to eight hours on zero-emission electricity and the rest of the time on LNG (Liquified Natural Gas). Created by French designers, the polar-class ship’s décor focuses on the environment, with spaces that include a wellbeing area with sauna and Snow Room, indoor and outdoor pools and a giant outdoor firepit (that runs on eco-friendly bioethanol). Dine at the Gastronomique restaurant or the indoor/outdoor grill. Suite choices include two-level duplexes with private Jacuzzis on outdoor terraces. Exploring via Zodiac is exciting — but get crazy on social media to let your friends know you’ve also experienced sightseeing from the ship’s most unusual feature: A tethered hot air balloon.
Planning a cruise? Start with these stories:
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- The 8 worst cabin locations on any cruise ship
- A quick guide to the most popular cruise lines
- 21 tips and tricks that will make your cruise go smoothly
- 15 ways cruisers waste money
- 12 best cruises for people who never want to grow up
- What to pack for your first cruise
Featured image of courtesy of Celebrity Cruises
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