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I’ve toured all of the world’s best cruise ship suites — here’s why these 5 blew me away

Oct. 04, 2022
13 min read
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As regular readers know, I’m as happy in a tiny “inside” cabin on a cruise ship as I am in a super-suite. I’m a minimalist at heart, and all I really require from a cruise ship cabin is a place to lay my head at night and enough storage for what I can fit in a 21-inch carry-on bag.

But even a minimalist can be wowed by the over-the-top maximalism that has taken hold in what I’ve been calling the Great Cruise Ship Suite Wars.

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One of the biggest stories in the cruise world over the past couple of decades has been the arrival of a new generation of super-large, super-swanky suites on ships that are chock-full of every sort of upscale feature and amenity you could imagine. They are sights to behold.

Some of the biggest of these suites measure 2,000 square feet or more — approaching the size of the typical American home. A handful go far beyond that.

The Royal Loft Suite on Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas is one of a growing number of two-deck-high suites on cruise ships. ROYAL CARIBBEAN

I haven’t stayed in all of these new suites. But over more than 25 years of writing about cruise ships, I’ve toured pretty much all of them. I can’t think of any major cruise ship suite that I’ve missed.

There are a few that have really stood out, which I'm profiling below.

In some cases, these are one-of-a-kind suites found on only a single vessel. In other cases, they are suites that have similar sisters on multiple ships.

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To be clear, this is by no means an exhaustive list. Disney fans will no doubt admonish me for not including the supersized suites on some Disney Cruise Line ships, such as the Art Deco-influenced Roy O. Disney Suite on Disney Fantasy. I’ve been in these suites, and they are certainly impressive. But I have to cut off my list somewhere.

Related: 8 cabin locations on cruise ships you definitely should avoid

Also missing from my list — and worth honorable mentions at the very least — are the Owner’s Suites on the ocean ships that Viking has been rolling out since 2015. These are true owner’s suites in the sense that they are used by Viking founder and owner Torstein Hagen when he sails on the ships (and even incorporate some of his personal items, such as family photos). They are the ultimate in Scandinavian cool.

Luxury lines Silversea Cruises and Seabourn also offer quite a few wonderful suites on their ships, and it’s worth noting that some of the biggest suites at sea are those found on Norwegian Cruise Line‘s Jewel-class vessels.

Below, you’ll find my picks for the five most spectacular suites at sea.

The Regent Suite

Ship: Seven Seas Splendor (Regent Seven Seas Cruises)

At 4,443 square feet, the Regent Suite on Seven Seas Splendor is bigger than the average home in the United States. REGENT SEVEN SEAS CRUISES

Every time I think of this suite, I think of that famous scene in “Dr. Zhivago” where Comrade Kapuchina dresses down the good doctor on the size of his mansion. “There was living space for 13 families in this one house!” she scolds.

You might not be able to jam 13 families into the Regent Suite, but in a pinch, you probably could come close. It sprawls over an astounding 4,443 square feet — nearly twice the size of the average American home. Its opulence is like nothing you’ll find anywhere else at sea (except on a similar suite found on Regent's Seven Seas Explorer).

Located at the very front of Seven Seas Splendor, the Regent Suite is so big it stretches all the way from one side of the ship to the other, offering views in three directions. It has two massive bedroom complexes — and they really are complexes, with seemingly endless space. It also has a living room, a separate dining area and what is perhaps the most spectacular balcony at sea.

Related: 7 reasons you should splurge on a suite for your next cruise

Among the insanely over-the-top things you’ll find in the Regent Suite is a bed with a handmade mattress that Regent executives claim cost more than $200,000. It was handcrafted by four artisans at the renowned Hästens workshop in Köping, Sweden, using horsetail hair along with flax, and cotton and wool batting.

The Regent Suite also has a ridiculously large master bathroom, complete with its own sauna and steam room. It’s big enough that it can double as a personal spa treatment room. To that end, the Regent Suite — get this — comes with its own spa therapist on call. Unlimited spa treatments are included in the cost of the suite.

The handmade mattress in the Regent Suite on Seven Seas Splendor cost more than $200,000. REGENT SEVEN SEAS
The master bathroom in the Regent Suite is bigger than many standard cruise ship cabins. REGENT SEVEN SEAS

Other perks of staying in the Regent Suite include first-class domestic flights to reach the ship; a personal car, driver and guide in every port; and a dedicated butler to help make arrangements on board.

The only downside to a stay? The cost. Regent charges $11,000 a day for the privilege.

Royal Loft Suite

Ship: Quantum of the Seas (Royal Caribbean)

A Royal Loft Suite aboard Quantum of the Seas. ROYAL CARIBBEAN

At 1,640 square feet, the Royal Loft Suite on Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas isn’t nearly as big as the Regent Suite on Seven Seas Splendor. But it offers something the latter doesn’t: views across the ship’s wake through a soaring, two-deck-high glass wall.

That’s right, the Royal Loft Suite on Quantum of the Seas sprawls over two decks and has a main room that is two stories high — a lavish use of space that is rare in the cruise world.

Royal Caribbean offers a Royal Loft Suite on each of its Oasis-class and Quantum-class ships, but there are some design differences between them.

My favorite of all the Royal Loft Suites is the one on Quantum of the Seas, the first vessel in Royal Caribbean’s Quantum-class series. Sleeping up to six, it offers a stylish, two-deck-high living and dining room space facing the complex’s giant window wall, complete with such modernist touches as an Eames Lounge Chair (which, being a minimalist, I adore). Among its highlights are a dry bar and sofa that converts into a double bed.

Related: 5 reasons to turn down a cruise ship cabin upgrade

The first floor of the Royal Loft Suite is also home to a media room with a sofa that converts into a queen bed. It’s a perfect hideaway for the kids, should you be traveling with a family

Upstairs, the main bedroom is open-walled so you can see across the living area to the sea. It is accessed via a bridge-like walkway, which I just love. It’s like crossing a drawbridge into your own private castle at sea.

The master bedroom of the Royal Loft Suite on Quantum of the Seas is reached via a bridge-like walkway. ROYAL CARIBBEAN

Rounding out the complex is a spacious, 415-square-foot private balcony that has its own private whirlpool — another great place from which to look out over the water.

The Balmoral Suite

Ship: Queen Mary 2 (Cunard Line)

Master bedroom of the Balmoral Suite on Queen Mary 2. CUNARD LINE

Royal Caribbean wasn’t the first cruise line to go the double-decker route when designing over-the-top suites. A decade before the debut of Quantum of the Seas, Cunard Line wowed cruise fans with the unveiling of this two-deck-high Grand Duplex suite and a sister suite, the Sandringham, on its iconic Queen Mary 2.

Named after a castle in Scotland owned by the British royal family, the Balmoral Suite is fit for a queen with a stunning 2,249 square feet of living space.

Like Royal Caribbean’s Royal Loft Suites, both the Balmoral Suite and the Sandringham Suite have a sprawling living room and dining area on their ground floors and a spacious master bedroom complex on their second levels

If that’s not enough room, you can go even bigger by joining together one of the suites with four adjacent suites to create a massive complex measuring more than 9,000 square feet.

One thing that I particularly love about the Grand Duplex Suites is that their master bedrooms are reached via dramatic, curving staircases.

Another allure of the Grand Duplex suites is that they come with access to Queen Mary 2’s exclusive Queens Grill restaurant for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Only open to passengers staying in the very top accommodations on the ship, this is a much more intimate, elegant and private eatery than the main Britannia restaurant where most passengers dine.

Movie buffs may recognize the restaurant, as it was heavily highlighted in the Meryl Streep movie “Let Them All Talk,” which was set on Queen Mary 2.

Reflection Suite

Ship: Celebrity Reflection (Celebrity Cruises)

The Reflection Suite is so big it has room for a dinner table that seats 10 people. CELEBRITY CRUISES

Many Celebrity Cruises ships have spacious and alluring suites. But the newest of the line’s five Solstice-class vessels, Celebrity Reflection, has my favorite of them all: the Reflection Suite.

Unveiled in 2012, the Reflection Suite was the brand’s first two-bedroom suite, and it measures a none-too-shabby 1,636 square feet, not including a 194-square-foot balcony.

Located in a panoramic corner spot on the ship, it features a glass-walled living and dining area with a dining table that can seat 10 people (just in case you want to hold a dinner party during your cruise).

Related: TPG's ultimate guide to picking a cruise line

But what will really knock your socks off when walking into the Reflection Suite is its stunning, glass-walled master bathroom. Dubbed a “sea-view bathroom,” it is just that — a bathroom with floor-to-ceiling windows that offers incredible sea views. The most-talked-about highlight of the space: a glass-enclosed rain shower that juts out over the edge of the ship.

A glass-walled bathroom with stunning views of the sea is one of the standout features of the Reflection Suite on Celebrity Reflection. CELEBRITY CRUISES
One of the two bedrooms in the Reflection Suite. CELEBRITY CRUISES

Just be careful if you use it as the ship pulls into port. You might end up putting on a show. (Though the walls are made of "smart glass," so you can change them from transparent to translucent.) That said, we can’t think of another bathroom on a cruise ship that is quite so cool.

Owner’s Suite

Ship: Riviera (Oceania Cruises)

An Owner’s Suite bedroom on Oceania Cruises’ Riviera. OCEANIA CRUISES

The Owner’s Suites on Riviera — there are three of them — rival anything you can find at a resort on land when it comes to elegance and style.

So do three more Owner’s Suites that you can find on Riviera’s slightly older sister ship, Marina.

All six of the suites were decorated using Ralph Lauren furnishings by designer Susan Bednar Long, and they have a wonderful flow and consistency in style.

The mahogany Bel Air beds that you’ll find in the master bedrooms are upholstered in steel-blue mohair — a striking touch — and are flanked by walls covered in Austyn cashmere. A few steps away, a marble-clad master bathroom offers more luxurious Ralph Lauren design touches.

Measuring around 2,000 square feet, the Owner’s Suites also have spacious living rooms and a dramatic entryway with a bar on one side and a grand piano on the other.

The living and dining area of an Owner’s Suite on Oceania Cruises’ Riviera. OCEANIA CRUISES
Owner’s Suite. OCEANIA CRUISES

There’s also lots of outdoor living space with wrap-around balconies that are home to hot tubs and flat-screen TVs. These balconies overlook the back of the ship, offering great views.

Among the extra touches, a stay in one of the suites comes with butler service, free laundry service of up to three bags per sailing, priority ship embarkation with priority luggage delivery and access to an exclusive executive lounge staffed by a dedicated concierge.

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Featured image by STEPHEN BEAUDET/REGENT SEVEN SEAS CRUISES
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

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  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023