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Cruise Ship Suites and Executive Decks

Photo: © Solnechnaja | Dreamstime.com

- May 6, 2014

A two-story penthouse pad, whirlpool baths, an extra-large veranda with stunning views, a 24-hour on-duty concierge to book reservations and a butler at your beck and call. If this sounds like the description of a dream apartment in the big city, think again. These are all perks available on various cruise ships for those who book the most luxurious accommodations afloat. As more and more cruise ships become destinations in themselves, cruise lines are not only stepping up offerings like zip lines, ice-skating rinks and celebrity chef-designed menus, they are also making their suites bigger and better. Whether you desire more space, more privacy or more one-of-a-kind experiences, there’s a ship — and a suite — waiting for you.

OF COURSE, SIZE MATTERS. Consider that on some cruise ships an inside cabin might cover less than 150 square feet. Then consider some luxury suites are 30 times — or more — larger than that. It’s like comparing a studio in New York City to a Hollywood actor’s Beverly Hills mansion. Here’s a look by the numbers at some of the biggest suites.

Norwegian Cruise Line’s Pearl Garden Villa © Norwegian Cruise Lines

Norwegian Cruise Line’s Pearl Garden Villa © Norwegian Cruise Lines

If bigger means better in your book, then set your sights on the Garden Villa suite in The Haven on Norwegian Cruise Line’s Pearl, where a palatial three-bedroom, 4,500-square-foot suite awaits. Norwegian calls The Haven a “ship within a ship” because this area is reserved just for those in the same class. Perks include access to a private courtyard with a pool, a hot tub, a fitness center and dining areas.

The two-story Grand Duplex Suite on Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2 comes in at 2,249 square feet, complete with an oversized deck and a large master bedroom accessed via a curved staircase. Still not impressed? Book the adjacent suites and bump your footprint up to 9,000 square feet.

Coming in at a pretty comfortable 2,000 square feet, the owner’s suites on Oceania CruisesMarina and Riviera ships are large enough to house a baby grand piano, a private workout room, his and hers walk-in closets, indoor and outdoor lounging and dining areas and a whirlpool on a private wrap-around deck.

Oceania Cruises’ owner’s suites offer plenty of indoor and outdoor space. © Oceania Cruises

Oceania Cruises’ owner’s suites offer plenty of indoor and outdoor space. © Oceania Cruises

ANYONE WHO WANTS A LITTLE air or sun without having to leave the cabin books a stateroom with a balcony, but maybe two deck chairs and a table just aren’t enough. Many suites offer more space to roam around outside, not to mention privacy to sunbathe and room to entertain.

The two-deck Royal Loft on Royal Caribbean International’s Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas offers a wrap-around balcony with an open-air whirlpool, while the Presidential Family Suite (which requires a minimum of eight people to book) has a balcony that’s almost 500 square feet with whirlpool, dining area and bar.

The Grand Suite on the Regent Seven SeasVoyager features a solarium with a hot tub, plus binoculars to check out the view. On the Seabourn Odyssey, Sojourn and Quest, passengers in the Wintergarden Suite also have their own glass-enclosed solarium with a Jacuzzi and daybed. Guests get their own private garden with a hot tub when they book the Garden Villa suite on Norwegian Cruise Line’s Pearl.

IT PROBABLY GOES WITHOUT SAYING that most passengers booking suites get priority boarding, a bottle of Champagne and fresh flowers waiting in their staterooms. They can also expect complimentary items like tote bags with the ship’s logo and top-of-the-line amenities, but some cruise lines take it to another level entirely.

The Queen Grill Suite on Queen Mary 2 © Cunard Line

The Queens Grill Suite on Queen Mary 2 © Cunard Line

Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 Queens Grill Suites, which come in a variety of sizes and configurations, all have one thing in common: unparalleled service and amenities. It’s a long list, but some of the highlights include 24-hour butler and concierge service, personalized stationery, a selection of pillows and duvets to suit your preference, exclusive access to the Queens Grill Lounge and fresh flowers and fresh fruit delivered daily.

Regent Seven Seas’ all-suite, all-balcony Voyager and Mariner ships offer a slew of amenities, including in-suite complimentary personalized full liquor bar setup and minibar; a welcome bottle of Champagne; and 24-hour room service, with dinner served course by course. Book a penthouse suite and you get free round-trip business-class airline tickets on select European voyages, butler service and an iPad to use while on board.

Passengers in suites on Oceania Cruises’ Marina and Riviera who find the room service menu lacking can book an in-suite dinner from any of the gourmet restaurants, served course by course by their personal butler (who is on call 24 hours).

GUESTS NEED NOT WORRY whether their mobile devices will be compatible with whatever the ship happens to offer or if they feel like providing their own live music rather than listening to someone else’s. Top-of-the-line sound systems, pianos (yes, pianos) and more are available in some suites.

An en-suite Bose entertainment center with a CD/DVD library is standard for guests on Norwegian Pearl’s The Haven Garden Villa, while a Bang & Olufsen audio system (plus free Internet and phone service) are nice perks for passengers staying in the upper-tier suites on the Silversea line of ships.

A large entertainment room with a 3D movie system plus an ebony baby grand piano come with the owner’s suites on Oceania Cruises’ Marina and Riviera. A WiFi-enabled iPad is yours to use as well. There’s also a baby grand piano and panoramic views through a two-deck wall of glass in the Royal Loft on Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas.

IF YOU’RE STAYING in a suite that’s bigger than some people’s homes, there’s certainly room for the whole family. Games, toys, movies and other appealing perks for the young (or young at heart) are becoming more standard.

On Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy, passengers in the Royal Concierge Suites can enjoy their own media library with Blu-Ray/DVD players and an extensive collection of music and CD and DVD titles (yes, Disney movies galore). There’s also a selection of board games, and parents will appreciate that the private veranda (with its own Jacuzzi) comes with childproof locks.

On Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas, passengers staying in the Royal Loft suite can still enjoy family game night by having Mattel board games delivered upon request. Kids in the Queens Grill suites on Queen Mary 2 play on the suite’s Xbox games console to their hearts’ content or enjoy board games.

BATHROOMS CAN BE BORING, but not all are created equal. Whirlpools, stunning views, televisions and other amenities may make you want to linger.

The Reflection Suite on Celebrity CruisesReflection has a pentagonal glass shower that actually juts off the side of the ship, offering views far below. On Hapag-Lloyd CruisesEuropa 2, the Spa Suite has an ocean-view whirlpool tub, a rain shower with steam sauna and a television in the mirror. The Crystal Penthouse on Crystal Serenity has an ocean-view Jacuzzi in the master bath, plus a television. There’s also a private fitness space.

LUXURIOUS SUITES ARE NOT LIMITED to giant cruise ships plying the seven seas. Many river cruise companies are upping their game with innovative balconies, butler service and other deluxe touches. In years past, a balcony on a river cruise ship probably meant you had what’s called a “French” balcony, or floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors that you could open but had no deck to walk out upon. But newer ships are accommodating cruisers’ wishes for more room.

Scenic Cruises calls its fleet “Space-Ships” because of its innovative balconies that transform into solariums. Like shutting a window in a car, you can press a button to convert your private, full-size balcony into a weatherproof sanctuary. This indoor lounge allows you to always enjoy the view regardless of the weather. Passengers staying in a Royal Suite get extras like a $300 onboard credit, a complimentary bottle of Veuve Clicquot Champagne, top-shelf beverages and unlimited laundry services.

Viking River Cruises’ Explorer Suite © Viking River Cruises

Viking River Cruises’ Explorer Suite © Viking River Cruises

Several of Viking River Cruises’ Longships have Explorer Suites, which come in at 445 square feet and boast 270-degree views with private wraparound verandas. The bedroom has a French balcony, and roomy bathrooms boast double sinks and premium bath products.

The Panorama and Royal suites on the Avalon Waterways ships don’t have balconies in a traditional sense, and the company boasts about it. It designed rooms that stretch to the edge of the ship and made the wall an 11-foot-wide window, which can open up seven feet, converting your room into the balcony. There’s enough space to sit at a table and eat dinner or enjoy a drink and take in the views.

Considering how luxurious and comfortable these suites are, cruisers might have to remind themselves to explore the ship and ports of call every once in a while.