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Best Overall: Regent Seven Seas "For an ultra-luxurious yacht voyage, Regent Seven Seas features all-inclusive pricing and premium service."
Runner-Up, Best Overall: Seabourn "From Alaska to the Amazon and the Mediterranean to Arabia, Seabourn sails exotic itineraries with experts onboard."
Best Luxury Expedition: Ponant "The French-influenced cruise line blends modern technology with traditional French luxury."
Best Excursions: Crystal Cruises "The company offers an impressive 2,000 excursions to choose from in ports all over the world."
Best Small Ships: Silversea "If you’re ready to be completely pampered, Silversea’s five-star service, smaller ships, and all-inclusive pricing is difficult to beat."
Best Yacht Cruise: SeaDream Yacht Club "For active adults, there’s a golf simulator, mountain bikes (for shore excursions), water skiing, and snorkel gear."
Best Tall Sailing Ships: Windstar Cruises "For a combination of traditional sailing and five-star service, consider Windstar Cruises, a luxury tall-sailing ship cruise line."
Best for First-Time Cruisers: Oceania Cruises "For guests who enjoy deluxe cruise lines like Celebrity or Holland America, Oceania is a perfect stepping stone into luxury cruising."
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Regent Seven Seas
For an ultra-luxurious yacht voyage, Regent Seven Seas features all-inclusive pricing and premium service. Regent operates four vessels (and a fifth debuting in 2020), with most carrying around 700 passengers in spacious suites (ranging from 300 to 4,000 square feet) offering modern, elegant furnishings, stocked minibars, and private balconies. On Regent, everything is included in the price: airfare, specialty restaurants, gratuities, Wi-Fi, and beverages. Private butlers and concierge service offer personalized attention to guests. There’s plenty of amenities onboard as well, ranging from a relaxing spa, onboard cooking lessons, trivia, and lively evening shows. Plus, Regent’s destinations span the globe —although they don’t have polar vessels.
Runner-Up, Best Overall: Seabourn
Seabourn operates a fleet of five vessels that carry an average of 450 passengers and offers premium, all-suite accommodations. A partnership with UNESCO brings passengers to the world’s best natural preserves and cultural attractions, and the company places an emphasis on destination immersion. From Alaska to the Amazon and the Mediterranean to Arabia, Seabourn sails exotic itineraries with experts onboard offering educational seminars in each area. All the award-winning, dining venues and alcoholic beverages are complimentary – there are no extra “specialty restaurants," plus gratuity is included. The company also has plans to debut two luxury polar ships in 2021 and 2022.
Best Luxury Expedition: Ponant
With cruise roots dating back to 1988, Ponant shifted its direction in 2009 and took the luxury cruise industry by storm with the introduction of Le Boréal, followed by four sister ships. The French-influenced cruise line blends modern technology with traditional French luxury in its yacht expedition vessels that boast more space and fewer passengers. Better yet, there are some cutting-edge industry “firsts” like an underwater viewing lounge with reinforced glass to gaze out below the water line, all while ocean sounds and visuals are projected. The current fleet consists of seven ships with five more in the pipeline – two that will debut in 2019. Dining onboard features French cuisine with plenty of open-air venues. Plus there’s a spa, fitness center, theater, and heated saltwater pools and solariums.
Best Excursions: Crystal Cruises
Crystal has greatly expanded its luxury cruise brand to include ocean and river cruise ships, yachts, expedition ships, and even a private jet charter. The company also offers some extremely exclusive, high-end shore excursions, as well as volunteer excursions – so passengers will feel more involved in the ports of call. The company has an impressive 2,000 excursions to choose from in ports all over the world. Onboard Crystal Cruises there’s trivia, magic and comedy shows, movies, live music, theater performances, and the fabulous Crystal spa. The two ocean-going ships, Serenity and Symphony, carry around 900 guests, and offer butler service in suites and all-inclusive pricing.
Best Small Ships: Silversea
If you’re ready to be completely pampered, Silversea’s five-star service, smaller ships, and all-inclusive pricing is difficult to beat. Onboard, passengers enjoy free-flowing wines, in-suite dining, gourmet cuisine, enrichment lectures, 24-hour butler service, and included gratuities. Since most Silversea ships carry less than 300 guests, the company is a hybrid between yachting and cruising. Silversea’s entertainment is very relaxed, so expect to unwind in luxurious lounges or in the onboard spa. There is no shortage of dining choices on Silversea vessels, ranging from intimate venues serving Asian fusion to open-air patios highlighting regional specialties.
Best Yacht Cruise: SeaDream Yacht Club
For a yachting experience, SeaDream Yacht Club operates two ships carrying from 94 to 112 guests to the Mediterranean, Caribbean, and Transatlantic crossings — plus dedicated wine-themed voyages. In addition, a third yacht, the Seadream Innovation, is planned to complete in 2021 with three marinas and wave runners, sailboats, and kayaks. Suites feature gorgeous wood furnishings, soaking tubs, living and dining areas, flat screen televisions, and 24-hour room service. For active adults, there’s a golf simulator, mountain bikes (for shore excursions), water skiing, and snorkel gear. Enjoy a movie under the stars or relax in the Balinese spa. All meals, beverages, and gratuities are also included in the fare.
Best Tall Sailing Ships: Windstar Cruises
For a combination of traditional sailing and five-star service, consider Windstar Cruises, a luxury tall-sailing ship cruise line (which also operates three yacht-like vessels). Its two smaller sailing vessels carry around 150 guests, while the Wind Surf carries 300, and the vessels can navigate narrow canals and channels large ships can't. Staterooms have leather headboards, Egyptian linens, marble bathrooms, and plush bathrobes. As a partner with the James Beard Foundation, Windstar offers exceptional cuisine onboard from award-winning chefs, plus themed voyages include live cooking demos, market tours, and beverage pairings. Windstar also has an open-bridge policy, a watersports platform, and several elegant viewing lounges.
Best for First-Time Cruisers: Oceania Cruises
For guests who enjoy deluxe cruise lines like Celebrity or Holland America, Oceania is a perfect stepping stone into luxury cruising with vessels that average around 850 guests. Although not as all-inclusive as the other luxury cruise lines (alcoholic beverages and gratuities are not included in the fare), guests will find high attention to detail (guest to staff ratio is around 1.6), exquisite dining, and upscale accommodations. Spacious staterooms average 249 square feet and have memory foam beds with down comforters and hand-quilted throws. Even more, there’s the lavish Canyon Ranch Spa, a culinary center, and live musical entertainment. Pricing with Oceania tends to be lower than some of the other luxury ships.
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