Style and Substance: New Ships, Fresh Adventures and Top Suites

Luxury Cruise Guide


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22 September, 2021

As luxury travelers head back to sea, enticing new ships, new itineraries and new experiences coupled with pampering “Top Suites” await across the globe.

For example, travelers sailing on Oceania Cruises’ new Vista in 2023 will savor an amazing array of 12 onboard dining venues — everything from a new wellness eatery to a new fresh bakery — and then, they can relax and rejuvenate in their sumptuous Owner’s Suite or Vista Suite. 

Alternatively, Seabourn’s guests on the new 264-passenger Seabourn Venture can play “explorer” by heading underwater in a submarine and marveling at the eco-views, before surfacing just in time for canapes and cocktails within their butler-serviced Grand Wintergarden Suite, a stylish two-level, apartment-style suite. So, as 2021 ticks down and 2022 and 2023 are on the horizon, here’s what’s ahead for new experiences coupled with top suites. 

Expedition Central

Setting sail in July, Crystal Expedition Cruises’ new 200-passenger Crystal Endeavor is well-outfitted for exploration with two helicopters, 18 Zodiacs, sea kayaks, a seven-passenger, electric-powered submarine, plus a nifty Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV) that can view the underwater world at a depth of nearly 1,000 feet. While this expedition ship has a Polar Class 6 (PC6) classification for cruising the Arctic and Antarctic regions, eco-adventure in more tropical locales is also on tap.

For example, on October 25, 2021, the ship will operate a new, nine-night “Expedition Yachting: Caribbean Mystique” itinerary from Miami to San Juan, Puerto Rico. Travelers will participate in shore activities or water fun at Great Exuma and Man of War Bay, Inagua Island, Bahamas; White Bay and Great Harbor (overnight) on Jost Van Dyke and Norman Island, British Virgin Islands; Gustavia, St. Barts; and Saba, the Netherlands.

A nifty feature of this ship? Mounted on the mast, a Gimble long-range camera can zoom in to view wildlife and scenery more than a mile away. It shoots 4K video that streams directly on the HDTVs throughout the ship, including public areas and guest suites. It’s an interactive experience within the ship’s Palm Court and Expedition Lounge, so guests can advise the ship’s camera operator what wildlife or scenic views they’d like to see up close.

Expedition Lounge

Seabourn Venture’s two-story Wintergarden Suite can be connected to an adjoining Veranda Suite to form a Grand Wintergarden Suite. 

With a one-to-one staff-to-guest ratio, Crystal Endeavor offers 100 all-verandah, all-butler serviced suites. We’d recommend the Owner’s Suite, spanning 1,130 square feet of interior space with a separate 737-square-foot balcony; this suite includes a luxurious living area, dining area and two separate bedroom areas. 

King-sized beds (convertible to two twins) have upholstered headboards with nicely integrated reading lights. Guests can relax in Etro bathrobes, kimonos and slippers, plus the bed has king-sized pillows and fine Egyptian cotton linens. Guests can also “plug in” with nightstands that offer USB and 220V power outlets.

The master bathroom is outfitted with a double vanity with back-lit mirrors, a full whirlpool tub, and a glass-enclosed rainforest shower with both overhead and hand-held shower heads. There’s also a separate half-bath. In addition, this suite has a desk/bar area with a refrigerator as well as custom shelving, bar amenities, a Nespresso coffee machine, a 65-inch Ultra-thin OLED TV, a walk-in closet and more. Expedition gear can be stored in a storage closet in the corridor adjacent to the suite. 

Another good top suite option? Crystal Endeavor’s Expedition Suite (an EP category accommodation combined with an S5, a Deluxe Suite) offers 1,290 square feet of living space, plus 735 square feet of balcony space. Guests will discover a relaxing enclave with a living area, dining area, two separate bedroom areas and the same features mentioned for the Owner’s Suite. Both suites have Caudalie in-suite amenities. 

Throughout the new expedition ship, guests will find classic Crystal elements such as a wrap-around Promenade Deck; the specialty Japanese restaurant, Umi Uma; fine Italian cuisine at Prego; plus 24-hour room service and an optional Vintage Room experience. High rollers will appreciate the only casino on an expedition yacht. And after a day of “exploring,” guests can pamper themselves at the Crystal Life Salon & Spa or work off their energy at the state-of-the-art fitness center. 

In August, Seabourn’s new, ultra-luxury expedition ship, Seabourn Venture, was launched from a shipyard in Genoa, Italy and is now undergoing final outfitting. A second yet-to-be-named sister expedition ship is also under construction. Both are PC6 Polar Class. Each will carry two custom-built submarines, 24 Zodiacs, many kayaks and a 26-person expedition team. 

Offering a maiden voyage to parts of the United Kingdom, Seabourn Venture will begin its inaugural season on April 10, 2022, with two new cruise itineraries — a 12-day “Wild & Ancient British Isles” cruise from Greenwich (London), England, to Leith (Edinburgh), Scotland, and a 12-day “Scottish and Norse Legends Expedition” voyage between Leith and Tromso, Norway. They’re combinable, if desired, for a 24-day “British Isles & Norse Legend Expedition” voyage.

After that, the expedition ship will embark on its previously announced deployment for its first summer Arctic season, starting on May 4, 2022. Travelers will explore Svalbard, the North Cape and other Norwegian destinations, along with Iceland, Greenland and the Canadian Arctic region.

In addition to normal expedition shore trips, Seabourn Venture will offer UNESCO Partner Tours that visit World Heritage Sites. One is at Am Bile, St. Kilda, Scotland, part of a volcanic archipelago with some of Europe’s highest cliffs with large seabird colonies, while others are in Bergen, Norway with its Hanseatic League-era wharf in Bryggen, home to old wooden buildings and narrow alleys, and Leith (Edinburgh), Scotland, with an old town and medieval fortress. 

On a Seabournexpedition cruise, guests can also head out hiking, snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking or Zodiac cruising. In addition, travelers can venture beneath the waves via two custom-built submarines; the latter is offered at select destinations, among them Alesund and the Isle of Runde, both in Norway. 

Thanks to hospitality design icon Adam D. Tihany, the ship’s 132 guest suites — all with private, furnished balconies — will replicate the look and feel of a five-star, floating luxury resort. Suite guests will sleep on custom-built mattresses with fine cotton linens, an all-season duvet and choices of pillows. The upscale suites’ spa-like baths will offer a full tub, shower and Moulton Brown bath products — including an exclusive signature scent curated for Seabourn.

A personal suite stewardess will ensure that everything in the suite is as the guest wishes. Walk-in closets will provide plenty of storage space as well as plush terry robes, slippers and a safe. An in-suite, complimentary bar will include selections of the guest’s requested wines and spirits. Among many other perks for passengers are use of custom Swarovski Optik binoculars for guest use onboard and a personal heated wardrobe for hanging wet outdoor gear.  

We’d check out Seabourn Venture’s premium suites including the Owner’s Suites, Signature Suites (a big plus is a private, canopied whirlpool spa on a curved, 596-square-foot veranda) or Wintergarden Suites. If traveling with another couple or family members, a top suite option is the two-story Wintergarden Suite, which can be connected to an adjoining Veranda Suite to form a mid-ship Grand Wintergarden Suite. 

The Grand Wintergarden Suite’s lower living area is certainly large enough to entertain new friends met aboard. It also has a dining table for four, separate guest bath, pantry with a wet bar stocked with the guest’s customized selection of spirits, and a lower-level bedroom and bath. This suite exudes a sense of drama as a sculptured staircase leads to the upper level, home to the master bedroom and master bath. 

The master bedroom offers a queen-sized Duxiana Axion adjustable high performance sleep system and expansive views through two-level windows. Upstairs, guests will also find a wall of closets, such advanced techno-perks as a roll-up, LG OLED TV, a separate walk-in closet, plus a five-piece master bath with whirlpool spa tub and separate shower, and more.

In all premium level suites, Seabourn Venture’s guests will enjoy all the perks of Veranda Suite amenities plus such added inclusions as complimentary Internet service, an enhanced in-suite bar set-up, Nespresso machine and coffees, and complimentary private car transfer of up to 50 miles (not applicable to upgraded occupancy). 

Separately, this past summer Ponant took delivery of Le Commandant Charcot, the first hybrid electric polar exploration vessel powered by liquified natural gas (LNG). Carrying 245 guests (200 in polar regions), this PC-2 class expedition ship offers a panoramic restaurant, Blue Lagoon outdoor restaurant, Main Lounge, Observation Lounge, indoor swimming pool, conservatory and spa.

One appealing feature is a shipboard laboratory that is providing the scientific community with a platform for observation, research and analysis of extreme polar regions. This also allows guests to participate in “citizen science,” when not doing other expedition activities such as kayaking, hovercraft rides, ice fishing, hiking and listening to eco-enrichment lectures.

Le Commandant Charcot also delivers an experience akin to what guests could find on a luxurious private yacht. The ship has 135 staterooms, all with balconies including 68 suites with their own private terraces. 

Aft on Decks 6 and 7 are four stunning 860-square-foot, split-level suites equipped with private terraces and whirlpools. But Luxury Travel Advisor would opt for a luxuriating stay in the 1,345-square-foot “Suite de l’Armateur” or Shipowner’s Suite on Deck 8, which offers wide sliding glass doors that open to a 1,300-square-foot private terrace. 

In addition, Viking has “floated out” its second expedition ship—the 378-guest Viking Polaris. Scheduled to debut in summer 2022, the new vessel will operate inaugural season voyages to the Arctic and Antarctica. A sister ship, Viking Octantis, floated out last December and will debut in early 2022 for Antarctica and North America’s Great Lakes voyages.

The “wow” public space for Viking’s expedition goers is likely to be the Hangar, an enclosed, in-ship marina designed to bring more comfort to expedition cruising. It permits the launch of small excursion craft through the ship’s multiple shell doors. The Hangar’s most innovative feature is an 85-foot slipway allowing guests to embark on RIBs (rigid inflatable boats) from a flat, stable surface inside the ship, so they’re shielded from wind and waves. 

In a first for polar expedition cruise vessels, all staterooms on both Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris will have Nordic Balconies, sunrooms that convert into an al fresco viewing platform. So, guests can sit inside but if they wish to feel closer to nature, the top of the panoramic glass lowers to transform the stateroom into a sheltered lookout; an observation shelf at elbow level will stabilize binoculars or a camera. Every stateroom also has a floor-to-ceiling drying closet that circulates warm air so guests can dry out and store their clothing and expedition gear.

We’d go for a stay in the 580-square-foot Explorer Suite, rivaling what the line offers on its larger ocean ships. Look for amenities that include additional storage and seating, an expanded bathroom with extended shower and double sinks, welcome champagne, a minibar replenished daily, complimentary laundry and shoeshine services and priority restaurant reservations. Explorer Suites will have two separate rooms, plus a Nordic Balcony and full outdoor veranda. 

For even more space, check out the ship’s one 1,223-square-foot Owner’s Suite, about twice the size of the Explorer Suites. It offers two separate rooms — a living room with six-seat dining table and a bedroom — as well as a 792-square-foot private garden with a traditional Norwegian badestamp (wood-sided hot tub) and outdoor dining table.

cruise ship

The Seven Seas Navigator's 1,067-square-foot Master Suite can accommodate up to five guests. (Regent Seven Seas Cruises)

Global Exploring

Appealing to global adventurers, ultra-luxury Regent Seven Seas Cruises has unveiled a robust 2023-2024 Voyage Collection. Fifteen maiden ports of call will include Vanuatu’s Mystery Island, the Greek island of Syros, the Lofoten Islands in Norway and Puerto Banus in Spain. The new line-up will give travelers plenty of time to explore ashore with 129 overnight calls. 

Travelers with plenty of time should definitely check out these four new Grand Voyages: a 78-night “Grand Arctic Adventure,” from New York to Barcelona; 62-night “Grand European Sojourn,” from Stockholm, Sweden to Athens, Greece; 67-night “Circle South America,” roundtrip from Miami, Florida; and a 59-night “Grand Asia-Pacific Journey” from Sydney, Australia to Tokyo, Japan. 

Seven Seas Navigator will sail the “Grand Arctic Adventure,” departing on June 22, 2023. Accommodating up to five guests, the sumptuous, 1,067-square-foot Master Suite offers a spacious living room, bedroom with European king-sized Elite Slumber bed, one-and-one-half marble bathrooms, walk-in closet with safe, private, wraparound balcony and more. 

Guests are pampered by a personal butler, plus they receive these complimentary features: One-night, pre-cruise hotel package, including ground transfers, breakfast and porterage of bags; unlimited Wi-Fi for up to four logins (four devices per suite); up to 15 minutes of ship-to-shore telephone time; valet laundry service and much more.  

Other Grand Suite pluses include priority check-in on embarkation day with noon suite access, dinner with a senior officer, a complimentary cocktail party for eight people, one in-suite caviar service, a guaranteed reservation each night in the specialty restaurant of the guest’s choice, plus a complimentary 25-minute personal fitness session at the Serene Spa & Wellness’ fitness center, and the list goes on. 

The 2023 “Circle South America” itinerary will be operated by the line’s Seven Seas Splendor, departing on December 4, 2023. This ship’s top suite is the magnificent Regent Suite, which not surprisingly, given its popularity from the start, is wait-listed. Another great alternative, though, is one of this ship’s Master Suites on Decks 8 or 9. 

These Master Suites offer a spacious living room with sitting area, two spacious bedrooms with Elite Slumber beds, two marble- and stone-detailed bathrooms, a walk-in closet with safe and private balcony space that’s among the largest at sea (at least 831 square feet). Interior suite space ranges from 1,114 square feet to 1,064 square feet.

Guests also receive a host of amenities, including those mentioned above for the same suite level on Seven Seas Navigator, plus such added perks as priority online shore excursions, dining reservations and five percent savings on Regent Choice Shore Excursions.  

Foodie Favorites

On Silversea Cruises’ new 596-passenger Silver Moon, the long-awaited S.A.L.T (Sea and Land Taste) culinary program debuted with new options foodies should love. Luxury Travel Advisor sailed on the ship’s post-christening cruise roundtrip from Athens and has a first-hand look at the new culinary options and top suites. See our separate story on page 18. 

Small ship Windstar Cruiseshas renewed its relationship as the official cruise line of the James Beard Foundation until 2025. The new partnership includes three themed cruises per year hosted by a James Beard Foundation-affiliated chef, starting in 2022. Guests can expect chef demonstrations, a hosted four-course dinner, recipes and onboard dishes by James Beard-affiliated chefs. 

Fleet-wise, the new 312-passenger Star Breeze was revitalized and “stretched” in late 2020 as part of the line’s $250 million Star Plus Initiative. It now offers 50 more suites, a new infinity pool and two new specialty dining venues, Quadro 44 by Anthony Sasso and Star Grill by Stephen Raichlen, plus an updated Veranda restaurant with a new layout and more seating. In addition, all accommodations now have new suite décor, new mattresses, linens and pillows, and new flat-screen, wall-mounted TVs and entertainment system. 

We’d recommend either of the two new 1,374-square-foot Grand Owner’s Suites, No. 640 or No. 641 with a roomy living area, separate dining area, separate bedroom and bathroom with both a tub and a shower, plus a private balcony. If travelers need additional flexibility and space for family travel, these Grand Owner’s Suites have adjoining individual suites that together can create a three-bedroom, 3.5-bath suite, accommodating up to seven guests. 

Several new restaurants will debut on Oceania Cruises’ new 1,200-passenger Vista, set to debut in early 2023. Vista’s inaugural season itineraries will open for sale on September 15, 2021. 

In a savory development, the line recently announced that the new ship will have 12 culinary venues. Among them, a new signature restaurant, Ember, will offer American creations and time-honored classics while the new Aquamar Kitchen will focus on wellness. A new bakery will offer freshly baked French and Italian pastries, plus the Grand Dining Room will have a new Executive Chef’s Tasting Menu.

At press time, Oceania hadn’t yet revealed details about the ship’s new Owner’s Suite, but we also can’t wait to see the eight new lofty Vista Suites, ranging from 1,450 square feet to 1,850 square feet on Decks 8, 9 and 10. With a color palette of subtle tones reflecting sea and sky, suite interiors also have marble, granite and weathered-oak accents. 

Vista Suites offer a living room, dining room and bar area, expansive teak veranda, an extravagant master suite with a wardrobe room and dressing area, as well as an oversized master bathroom with a porcelain soaking tub. Vista Suite guests are pampered with 24-hour butler service and have access to the ship’s suites-only Executive Lounge, staffed by a dedicated concierge. 

In addition to normal stateroom amenities, Vista Suite guests also receive complimentary laundry service (up to three bags per stateroom with 20 garments per bag); priority embarkation with priority luggage delivery; and a complimentary in-suite bar setup with six, full-sized bottles of premium spirits and wines from the suite beverage menu. 

More Vista Suite perks? Guests will receive a welcome bottle of champagne, fresh fruit replenished daily, priority online specialty restaurant reservations, unlimited access to the Aquamar Spa Terrace, use of an iPad upon request onboard, and more. 

ember restaurant

Ember is the new signature restaurant on Oceania’s Vista, which will offer American creations and time-honored classics. (Oceania Cruises)

Also appealing to culinary enthusiasts, Azamara will offer an interactive cooking experience this coming winter season at Playa Mia Grand Beach Parkin Cozumel, Mexico; a prestigious local chef will lead a workshop on how to prepare a three-course Mexican meal. That’s an option on some new winter 2021-2022 itineraries of Azamara Quest, which will operate six Caribbean voyages of seven to 16 nights.

In addition, Azamara Journey will sail six back-to-back Canary Islands sailings including four “Country Intensive” voyages and two holiday voyages. Top suites for both Azamara vessels are the luxurious Club World Owner’s Suites, which include a large living room, separate bedroom with queen-sized bed and a marble master bath. Floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors open to a private veranda. Suite amenities include a minibar plus two flat-screen TVs.

Azamara will operate 2023 European voyages with all four of its ships, including Azamara Onward, its 2020 acquisition from Carnival Corporation; that ship is the former Pacific Princess. Of note for “destination collectors” who like to dive deeply into a destination, the 2023 line-up will include more than 35 “Country Intensive” voyages to Spain, Croatia, Italy, Norway and elsewhere. We’d check out Azamara’s “Black Sea Intensive” itinerary that covers destinations in Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania and the Ukraine. 

Another culinary-focused offering is Azamara’s newly announced “Wine & Culture Voyage” on Azamara Quest, which will sail from Southampton, U.K. on August 30, 2022, to Lisbon, Portugal. Guests will have two days of wine production education in Bordeaux, France, for example. 

A new “Patron of the Arts Program” has been announced by The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection. Artists, speakers and cultural contributors across all disciplines including visual arts, performing arts, science, literature and gastronomy are invited to apply to participate. It’s just one of the new initiatives planned for the new superyacht, the 298-passenger Evrima, designed for those seeking an ultra-luxury yachting lifestyle. 

cruise ship

The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection’s 298-passenger Evrima is designed for those seeking an ultra-luxury yachting lifestyle. (The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection)

Ritz-Carlton has announced its 2023 Mediterranean region itineraries that will operate between April and November. The line will have five maiden calls at Melilla, Spain; La Gomera, Canary Islands, Spain; Praia and Mindelo, Cape Verde; and Catania, Sicily, Italy. Offering luxurious accommodations, Evrima will overnight in such ports as Casablanca, Morocco; Saint-Tropez, France and Dubrovnik, Croatia.

Onboard the yacht, guests will enjoy a range of programming, including ESPA spa treatments, watersports from the yacht’s marina and Evrima’s signature restaurant, S.E.A., designed by Chef Sven Elverfeld of Aqua, the three Michelin-starred restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton, Wolfsburg. In each destination, guests can choose from a selection of Shore Collection experiences or use the services of the Concierge Ashore to customize their own private tours.

Other luxury experiences and top suites await onHapag-Lloyd Cruises, SeaDream Yacht Club and Scenic’s oceangoing Scenic Eclipse, among other upscale options. The good news is that luxury cruising is “back,” and pampering suites await cruisers who can’t wait to head out on their next global adventure.

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