Yes, you’ve read that right. Sea cruises have finally moved on from the traditional stereotype of being for the newlywed or the nearly dead and instead have become, if not achingly hip, then at least far cooler than they used to be. Attractions aimed at a younger market, plus a rethink of what luxury on the high seas means for a new generation of moneyed, sophisticated travellers, means the most recently launched vessels come with a startling array of entertainment and F&B options. And while the average age of British cruisers is still relatively high, at 56, travel industry body ABTA recently reported a surprising jump in the number of 16-24-year- olds who expressed an interest in taking a cruise. Today’s passenger is looking for a floating theme park that offers all-night parties, surfing simulators, rock climbing walls and the very latest in luxury. >>
Even fashionable US music festival Coachella has got on board, running a music cruise a few years back with Pulp headlining. More recently, Groove Cruise ran party boats from LA to Mexico and Miami to the Bahamas, with the soundtrack provided by some of the world’s best DJs. We’ve come a long way from the days when ice sculptures and all-you-can-eat midnight bu ets were considered the high points of a holiday on the high seas. Here are some of the oceanic delights that will surely turn the cruise-curious into a cruise convert.
Read on for our pick of the very best... >>
With its Kelly Hoppen-designed interiors (yes, there’s a fair bit of taupe), six split-level Edge Villas and two huge Iconic Suites situated above the bridge for views even better than the Captain’s, this new ship is the epitome of modern luxury cruising. One big USP is the Magic Carpet – a platform that slides between decks. At the bottom it helps people get on board, while towards the top it turns into an alfresco restaurant and, further up still, a high-end “Dinner on the Edge” gastronomic experience.
Look out too for the Infinite Veranda Staterooms where, at the touch of a button, guests will be able to expand their stateroom by almost a quarter, stretching it to the water’s edge. Although not yet launched, bookings for the inaugural trip are lling up fast. So move quickly if you want to get on board.
This classy ship combines fabulous food and drink options – a wine bar from the Mondavi family and two restaurants from award- winning US chef Jose Garces – plus a host of entertainment options for its 4,200 passengers. From Broadway shows, to waterslides, a ropes course, a 19,000sqft casino and even a “snow room” in the spa where guests can roll around in fresh powder – Scandi style – after coming out of the sauna. Sailing out of Miami, the ship o ers 7-night Eastern Caribbean itineraries.
Sailing to several European destinations (plus a couple of North American options too), the smaller size of this state-of-the-art ship gives it a more intimate, stealth wealth feel – underscored by design that channels the best of modern Scandinavian elegance. Every room has a private balcony with the 757 sq ft Explorer Suite being the one to book. ere are never more than 930 guests on board (and no kids), all served by 15 restaurants – including the beautiful tea room with its retractable roof, live jazz and towering layers of cakes and crustless sandwiches. The glass-walled infinity swimming pool has to be seen to be believed, too.
Entering service in April 2017 with a capacity for 3,833 passengers (and 1,700 staff), this giant of the seas has a multitude of special features that make it one of the world’s finest cruise ships. For a start, there’s The Haven – a ship-within-a-ship that’s keycard accessible only, with butler service, a concierge, specialty dining and entertainment, a private restaurant and an enclosed courtyard with a swimming pool and hot tubs. It also has its own high- roller casino and a stunning observation deck that offers views comparable with those from the ship’s bridge. There’s also a rock climbing wall, a virtual reality room (try the simulated Star Wars Death Star attack), a laser battle deck, an aqua park with two slides that allow you to race side by side and, incredibly, a two-level electric cart race track that sees up to 10 drivers competing across a huge course. Oh, and there’s 29 restaurants to choose from. Boredom is impossible on this ship.
The vessel is the cruise line’s fourth ship, and also its biggest, built to accommodate 600 passengers. This expansion sees no drop in the brand’s trademark luxury experience though, with a sense of airiness and openness throughout – thanks to designer Adam D. Tihany, who was behind the brilliant Cipriani chain of hotels and restaurants. Opulence and indulgence are the watchwords here – from the massive, swirling suspended staircase that links seven of the twelve decks to the sweeping curves of the statement bar and beautiful banquette seating, this is a ship you’ll never want to leave. Thomas Keller, one of the US’s top chefs, has overseen the menu of The Grill – the best restaurant on board – although Japanese restaurant Sushi comes a close second. The rooms are also no slouch, with each offering a private veranda. The clincher, though, is the fact that this floating luxury hotel can access places larger vessels cannot. Better still, the company’s UNESCO partnership brings world heritage experts on board to talk about the fabulous spots the ship visits.