World’s Best Cruise Cabins 2015
Itineraries and onboard activities may be the first things you consider when you're booking a cruise, but don't underestimate the value of a stylish stateroom. It's tough for even the most seductive port of call or thrilling day zip-lining across the Lido Deck to maek up for sleepingin a drab, windowless box.
The World's Best cruise lines—chosen each year by our readers—know that in compact cabins, every detail counts. Especially for cruisers on extended itineraries (sometimes as much as a month in length), cruise quarters are more than a place to store luggage: they are, temporarily, home. Comfortable rooms can even turn skeptics into devotees of ocean and river travel.
Related: T+L’s Best Cruises Guide
"Seabourn really changed my mind about cruising," said one voter in our 2015 World's Best Awards survey. "[It's the] next best thing to a private yacht. I upgraded to a spa suite at the last minute and it was so worth it!" Little wonder: the top-rated small ocean cruise line offers penthouse spa suites with dining room tables, separate bedrooms, and spacious verandas. There's also the complimentary in-suite bar (stocked with the liquor of your choice) and a writing desk with personalized stationery. Believe us, you'll want to send a note home about your trip.
That's not to say the only way to enjoy your cruise is to splurge for big-ticket accommodations. The world's best cruise lines, whether they're mega ocean liners or luxury longships, have thoughtful design features and amenities, such as marble baths and tufted leather headboards—even in the most basic cabins.
Like the best hotel rooms, they evoke a sense of place—nautical stripes and gleaming teak, or Venetian glass on European river liners—and offer indulgences that straddle the line between the comforts of home and an indulgent retreat. Cross the Atlantic or meander along the Nile: if you're tucking in on one of these cruise lines, your days spent inside will be just as magical as those spent exploring your ports.
No. 20. River Cruise Line: Grand Circle Cruise Line
Unlike many large ocean cruise ships, all of the cabins on Grand Circle liners are along the outside of the hull, giving every guest a view. T+L voters gave Grand Circle high scores for its cabins amenities, including flat-screen TVs, desks with vanity mirrors, and for some, balconies. Moveable twin beds allow you to either create a spacious, extra-wide bed, or convert them into sofas for extra seating during the day. Return at night, and you’ll find that your room has transformed once again into a bedroom with a stunning view.
No. 19 River Cruise Line: AmaWaterways
For the most modern cabins, book a trip on the AmaCerto, the AmaVerde, or the AmaBella—many of the cabins on these ships offer both a French balcony—a railing with an al fresco view of the river below—behind floor-to-ceiling glass doors, as well as a true balcony. Designs differ significantly between ships in AmaWaterways’ fleet, which is just shy of 20 ships. But no matter which vessel you choose to sail with, you can count on white-on-white, ultra-plush bedding to dive into after a full day of exploration.
No. 18 Large-Ship Ocean Cruise Line: Holland America Line
Well-furnished cabins are one of Holland America’s strengths, though voters were especially fond of the Prinsendam (T+L reader Geraldine Sanzone swore, “when the Prinsendam is gone, I’ll probably give up on cruising”) and the Eurodam ships. The Neptune Suites on the Nieuw Amsterdam are especially upmarket, with dual sink vanities, whirlpool baths, and private verandahs. New family ocean-view staterooms on the ms Koningsdam offer all the conveniences you’d expect from your favorite hotel room—think bedside USB ports and separate, frameless showers.
No. 17 Large-Ship Ocean Cruise Line: Azamara Club Cruises
Children are allowed, but Azamara Club Cruises are proudly adult-oriented: perfect for a romantic getaway. All staterooms come stocked with terry bathrobes and slippers, French toiletries and soaps, a welcome fruit basket, and fresh-cut flowers. Many rooms on the Azamara Journey and Quest will have been completely refurbished by 2016. For the ultimate over-water oasis, opt for the new Club Spa Suites, which come with Frette robes, soaking tubs, and separate rain showers. Splurge on this serene space, and you’ll receive a spa treatment and a special evening experience for two—plus healthy snacks delivered to the cabin each day.
No. 16: Mega-Ship Ocean Cruise Line: Princess Cruises
The Royal Princess’ bathroom showers and modern cabins stood out to WBA voters, who recommend upgrading to the mini-suite. With nearly 300 square feet of space, the mini-suite includes a seating area with a sofa bed, and a spacious tub-and-shower combo. The Balcony Suites on the Regal Princess—the newest ship in the fleet—demonstrate the brand’s ability to treat guests like seafaring royalty. High-rolling guests get walk-in closets, pillow-top mattresses made up with Egyptian cotton linens, and a complimentary mini-bar. Ask ahead for one of the handful of suites with a hot tub.
No. 15: Mega-Ship Ocean Cruise Line: Cunard
Old World elegance (crystal chandeliers, Penhaligon’s toiletries, inlaid-wood ballroom floors) is the signature of this U.K.-based cruise line. Cunard’s largest ship, the Queen Mary 2, can accommodate more than 2,600 passengers and is decidedly British in atmosphere, thanks in part to certified English nannies, butlers on hand for bowtie assistance during formal night, and afternoon tea in the Garden Lounge. In 2016, the QM2 will undergo a major refit, with new designs for some of the most expensive suites, but some things won’t change, such as the complimentary 24-hour room service. Breakfast in bed, anyone?
No. 14 Mega-Ship Ocean Cruise Line: Celebrity Cruises
Voters in this year’s WBA survey were especially fond of the Celebrity Equinox and the Celebrity Reflection, both of which boast veranda rooms featuring sleek, modern furniture and dividers that can be shifted to connect two rooms’ balconies. Even the most basic accommodations—interior staterooms—come with a sitting area, custom bath products, and a complimentary tote bag. If you’re looking for the best rooms on the ship, consider the Concierge Class veranda staterooms. Evening hors’doeuvres, a pillow menu, and sparkling wine upon arrival help transform an upscale space into an exceptional experience.
No. 13 Large-Ship Ocean Cruise Line: Crystal Cruises
“I could live on this boat!” raved one voter of the Crystal Serenity. Accommodations on the ship have a modern feel (Blu-ray players, flat-panel TVs, and electronic “do not disturb” signs and doorbells) though the décor is reminiscent of Hollywood’s golden era, with drapes, tufted headboards, and luxe textiles such as leather, silk, and velvet. Penthouse Suites are more European in aesthetic, with marble mosaics in the master bath and teak verandahs furnished with chaise lounges. PURE Staterooms are allergen-free, and are available to those seeking relief from scented cleaning products and other respiratory irritants.
No. 12 Small-Ship Ocean Cruise Line: Windstar Cruises
One T+L reader described the Windstar’s fleet as “perfect, small sailing ships, elegant without being ostentatious.” Cabins aboard the all-suite yachts Star Breeze and Star Legend, which debuted in 2015, range from 277 square foot Ocean View suites to the oversized, 575 square foot Owner’s Suite. Guests bed down in queen-size beds, wash up in bathrooms with granite countertops and full tubs and showers, and enjoy fresh fruit and flowers.
No. 11 Large-Ship Ocean Cruise Line: Cunard
Though smaller than the Queen Mary 2, Cunard’s large ocean vessels—the Queen Victoria and the Queen Elizabeth—are outfitted with the same regal amenities and design details. Splurge on the highest class of accommodation, the Queens Grills, for marble bathrooms, balconies that give you uninterrupted ocean views, and a dedicated butler to attend to all of your needs (consider your port excursions planned). The pampering starts the second you board, with a bottle of bon voyage champagne and a set of personalized accessories: stationery, board games, and an atlas you’ll want to save suitcase space for.
No. 10 Large-Ship Ocean Cruise Line: Oceania Cruises
One T+L reader gave us the surprising scoop on Oceania’s outrageously large (more than 2,000 square-feet) Owner’s Suites: “It was an excellent value.” Comforts include Ralph Lauren furnishings, goose-down pillows, double walk-in closets, indoor and outdoor whirlpools, and a music room complete with a lacquered baby grand. Not everything is over-the-top; some of the best amenities are thoughtful details such as cashmere lap blankets for breezy evenings on the veranda and an in-suite bar stocked with six full-size spirits or wines.
No. 9: River Cruise Line: Tauck
Tauck’s newest ships, the ms Grace and the ms Joy, start plying the Rhine and the Danube, respectively, in 2016. Even their coziest staterooms (150-square-foot cabins) will feature complimentary mini bars and marble baths stocked with Molton Brown toiletries. Only one step up and you’re staying in a cabin with a French balcony, or an innovative loft-style space boasting a rainfall shower and a window that opens at the top to let in a refreshing sea breeze. While these ships are decorated in soothing neutral hues, Jewel-class ships come in regal gold and ruby finishes.
No. 8: Small-Ship Ocean Cruise Line, Silversea
Many T+L readers who traveled on Silversea ships found the Silver Whisper to be beyond compare. Base-levels suites take up a comfortable 287 square feet, and have picture windows, a sitting area, and beds dressed in Pratesi linens and duvets, and are stocked with useful items such as binoculars, personalized stationery, and umbrellas. Grand Suites (just one step below the Owner’s Suite) have whirlpool tubs, large verandas with floor-to-ceiling glass doors, Bang & Olufsen sound systems and Illy espresso machines. Guests are treated to complimentary laundry, dry cleaning, pressing, and afternoon canapés.
No. 7: Small-Ship Ocean Cruise Line: Regent Seven Seas
“Cabins were superb even in the C-level range,” said one reader of the Seven Seas Navigator. Regent’s all-inclusive packages include round-trip airfare, ground transfers between airport and ship, and complimentary, personalized, en-suite liquor bars. C-level suites are penthouses with balconies, personal butlers, walk-in closets, and marble-accented bathrooms stocked with L’Occitane products. If a mid-level room isn’t resplendent enough, try the Master Suite, which includes an additional half-bath and a living room.
No. 6: River Cruise Line: Viking Cruises
“It is all in the detail, and Viking pays close attention to detail,” one pleased voter noted. Another agreed, describing the interior décor as “magnificent.” A third praised Viking’s excellent cabin layouts and beautiful Scandinavian design. Upgrade to a veranda stateroom on a longship for hotel-style beds, floor-to-ceiling glass doors, and light, neutral décor.
No. 5: Mega-Ship Ocean Cruise Line: Disney Cruise Line
Art Deco décor is a signature of every Disney stateroom, be it a petite interior space or a lavish Concierge Class suite. Inside rooms have a playful mix of nautical stripes and warm wood finishes, as well as a “Magical Porthole” for real-time sea views and regular appearances by Disney characters. Concierge suites, perched on the highest passenger deck, have sitting areas, Disney murals behind pull-down child’s beds, and those coveted balconies with tall glass doors.
No. 4 River Cruise Line: Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection
Boarding a Uniworld ship is akin to entering a boutique hotel. Staterooms on the SS Antoinete, for example, have handcrafted Savoir beds, marble bathrooms with towel warmers, and colorful textiles (pinstripes walls, toile-covered reading chairs). Sailing China’s rivers on the Century Legend means Asian-inspired décor, with dark lacquered furniture and classic floral accents.
No. 3 Large-Ship Ocean Cruise Line: Regent Seven Seas
Board the Seven Seas Mariner or the Voyager, and you can’t get a bad view—every room has a balcony furnished with reclining wicker chairs: the perfect place to take your ice bucket and complimentary bottle of welcome champagne. Summer of 2016 will see the launch of the Seven Seas Explorer, which includes the gilded Regent Suite with its wraparound balcony, two and a half marble and stone bathrooms, and private garden. Guests in this room can also enjoy unlimited in-cabin spa treatments by Canyon Ranch, or make their own spa experience with the Hermès amenities in the bathroom.
No. 1 Small-Ship Ocean Cruise Line: Seabourn
Seabourn’s impressive score in the World’s Best Awards survey may be best embodied by the new Seabourn Encore, designed with the help of Adam Tihany, who is known for crafting elegant hotels and restaurants. The Encore will set sail in 2016; its spacious cabins will have modern stone and marble baths, queen beds, verandas, and sitting areas. Until then, book a trip on the Spanish-born Seabourn Quest, with rooms decorated in warm brown, ivory, and gold hues. For the most lavish experience on the ocean, opt for the Wintergarden Suite, which has everything from a dining table that seats six to its own glass-enclosed solarium.