What it takes to get concierge lounge access on a cruise ship

Jan 16, 2021

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You know how much we love our exclusive lounges here at TPG: We love them when we’re at the airport before (or after) a flight, while staying in hotels and, for those of us who are fans of cruising, we love them on our ships, too.

At some cruise lines, access to a private “concierge lounge” is one of the premier perks of elite status. At other lines, it’s something that only comes with the booking of a top suite.

Either way, it just may be the ultimate shipboard status symbol.

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The size and amenity offerings of concierge lounges on ships varies widely. On some, they’re little more than quiet, keycard-accessed hideaways. They’ll offer comfortable seating, an array of magazines and newspapers, and maybe an espresso machine and some self-serve snacks.

On other ships, concierge lounges are much more elaborate affairs. They’ll have complimentary food available around the clock, complimentary alcoholic drinks (at some hours, at least), access to private pool and sundeck areas, and sometimes even full-blown private restaurants and bars.

As you might expect, concierge lounges on ships typically have a concierge on hand to help arrange dining reservations, show seating, spa appointments and more.

Guide to concierge lounges on ships

Unlike airport lounges, you can’t get into a private lounge on a cruise ship using a top travel rewards credit card such as The Platinum Card® from American Express or The Business Platinum Card® from American Express. Flashing a Priority Pass Select membership card isn’t going to help you either. Enrollment required for select benefits.

The most surefire way to get access to a concierge lounge on a ship is to book one of the top suites on a vessel. Holland America and Princess Cruises, for instance, are two lines where concierge lounge access is only available to passengers in top suites.

Some lines, such as Disney Cruise Line, have an array of special concierge-level cabins that come with lounge access as well as other perks. You’ll typically pay a premium to get into one of these rooms as compared to a similarly sized cabin that does not come with the concierge designation.

A couple lines, most notably Royal Caribbean, offer private lounge access to top-tier members of their loyalty programs. At Royal Caribbean, the most elite Diamond Plus- and Pinnacle Club-level members of the line’s Crown & Anchor Society can enter the dedicated Concierge Club lounges found on some ships.

Some Royal Caribbean vessels also have dedicated Diamond Club lounges for Crown & Anchor Society members at the Diamond, Diamond Plus and Pinnacle Club levels.

A concierge lounge on a Royal Caribbean ship. (Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean)
A concierge lounge on a Royal Caribbean ship. (Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean)

Not all cruise ships have concierge lounges. Luxury lines such as Seabourn and Silversea, for instance, rarely build exclusive lounges on their vessels. The thinking at these lines is that there’s no need for such lounges, as every passenger on the vessel already is entitled to concierge-level perks. On luxury ships such as these, drinks typically are complimentary everywhere on board, at any time, and other typical perks of a concierge lounge such as concierge services are available to all passengers, too.

Related: A line-by-line guide to cruise line drinks packages 

On each of the ocean ships operated by upscale line Viking, for instance, there’s a concierge desk available to all passengers in the main interior public area, the Living Room. Filled with comfortable seating, a bar and space for live entertainment, the Living Room is essentially a (very high-end) concierge lounge. But it’s open to everyone on board.

Is it worth paying up for a room with lounge access?

As noted, a few lines such as Royal Caribbean welcome top-tier members of their loyalty programs into private lounges at no charge. But, in many cases, you’ll only get access to a shipboard lounge if you’ve paid a premium to stay in a top suite or special “concierge-level” cabin.

Is it worth paying up for such a room? That depends on how much you value the perks that come with lounge access. You’ll also want to factor in other amenities that often come with upgraded rooms, such as butler service, early boarding privileges and reserved seats at shows.

The quality of the specific room should be a factor, too, of course — probably the most important factor. If you’re booking a suite on a ship that comes with lounge access, the lounge access itself is probably not the biggest draw for you. You’re probably more interested in the comfort and pampering that comes with that bigger suite.

Related: The best credit cards for booking cruises

As TPG’s director of travel content, Summer Hull, recently noted after testing a concierge-level cabin on a Disney ship, the perks of a concierge-level cabin often go way beyond access to a private lounge. On Disney ships, the perks include early access to the ship on boarding days, and early access to the best reservation times for spa treatments, onboard tastings, premium restaurant tables and excursions. Concierge-level passengers on Disney ships also get priority access to ship-to-shore tender boats.

As Hull noted, concierge-level cabins on a Disney ship can cost hundreds of dollars more per day than a standard room. A concierge-level balcony cabin on a three-night Disney sailing might cost around $5,000 for a family of four — about $2,000 more than a similar cabin that is not at the concierge level.

For some people, that extra charge will be worth it for the perks; for others, it won’t.

The ultimate in concierge-class cruising

There are some ships that offer an exclusive lounge experience that goes way beyond what’s typical in the industry. Specifically, many of the vessels operated by Norwegian Cruise Line and MSC Cruises have private “ship within a ship” suite complexes that not only have exclusive lounges but also private pool areas, sundecks, restaurants and bars.

On Norwegian ships, these complexes are called The Haven. On MSC Cruises ships, they’re called the MSC Yacht Club. As with Disney’s concierge-level cabins, the cabins in these areas come at a premium. But they also come with a huge array of perks.

The lounge in The Haven on Norwegian Cruise Line's 4,004-passenger Norwegian Bliss has the most spectacular view on the ship. (Photo courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line)
The lounge in The Haven on Norwegian Cruise Line’s 4,004-passenger Norwegian Bliss offers stunning views over the bow of the ship. (Photo courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line)

Cruisers staying in The Haven, for instance, have access to a pre-cruise concierge who can handle all sorts of requests such as the delivery of special pillows to your room or the stocking of a particular type of chamomile tea. A pre-cruise concierge also will book your spa treatments, dining reservations and shore excursions long before you ever get on board.

The Haven passengers also get access to a private check-in lounge upon arrival. They’re quickly whisked on board, where they enjoy additional perks including butler service, special seating in theaters, priority disembarkation on port days and more.

Below is a line-by-line look at concierge lounges on ships (when available) and how to get access.

Related: How to plan a cruise with points and miles

Concierge lounges by cruise line

Celebrity Cruises

Name of lounge: The Retreat Lounge (on some vessels, the space is called Michael’s Club, but that name is being phased out fleetwide as the lounges undergo extensive makeovers).

Available on: All ships except those in the Galapagos.

Open: 24 hours a day.

How to get in: Top-tier members of Celebrity’s Captain’s Club frequent cruiser program (those at the Zenith level) get complimentary access. So do passengers staying in any category of suite as well as the Edge Villas on Celebrity Edge and Celebrity Apex.

Amenities: Continental breakfast every morning; complimentary drinks; gourmet bites throughout the day including tea sandwiches, charcuterie and fine cheeses; large-screen televisions; reading areas stocked with magazines, newspapers and books; and streaming Wi-Fi. Passengers with access to concierge lounges also have access to a private restaurant open for breakfast, lunch and dinner with exclusive menu options and signature dishes created by globally renowned chef Daniel Boulud, and a private sundeck, pool and hot tub (on all Edge Series ships and some other vessels).

Concierge services: A concierge is on hand during the day to help make onboard dining and spa reservations, book shore excursions and answer questions about ports. A concierge also is available pre-boarding to help with booking, planning and arranging any advance request.

Cunard Line

Name of lounge: Concierge Lounge.

Available on: All ships.

Open: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

How to get in: Passengers staying in Princess Grill and Queens Grill suites get complimentary access.

Amenities: Complimentary snacks throughout the day including sandwiches and pastries, coffees and teas, and newspapers.

Concierge services: A concierge is on hand during the day to help make dining reservations, book shore excursions and spa appointments, arrange private parties and gift deliveries, and answer questions.

Disney Cruise Line

Name of lounge: Concierge Lounge.

Available on: All ships.

Open: 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

How to get in: Passengers staying in suites and concierge-level cabins get complimentary access.

Amenities: Complimentary food and nonalcoholic beverages throughout the day; complimentary beer, wine and spirits in the evening (served by a bartender); access to a sun deck with lounge chairs via a private entrance; and a private Disney character meet-and-greet.

Disney Wonder concierge lounge lunch (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)
Lunch in the Disney Wonder concierge lounge. (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

Concierge services: A concierge is on hand during the day to help make onboard dining reservations, book shore excursions and spa appointments, organize childcare services and arrange special occasions on board.

Related: Is Disney Cruise Line’s concierge level worth it?

Holland America

Name of lounge: Neptune Lounge.

Available on: All ships.

Open: 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. on port days; 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. on sea days.

How to get in: Passengers staying in a Neptune or Pinnacle suite get complimentary access.

Amenities: Complimentary continental breakfast daily; complimentary cookies, sandwiches and pastries during the day; complimentary specialty coffees; complimentary sparkling wine upon embarkation; widescreen television; and reading areas with magazines, newspapers and books.

Concierge services: A concierge is on hand during the day to help make onboard dining reservations, book shore excursions (suite passengers get priority on tours) and spa appointments, and answer questions about ports.

MSC Cruises

Lounge name: Top Sail Lounge.

Available on: MSC Bellissima, MSC Divina, MSC Fantasia, MSC Grandiosa, MSC Meraviglia, MSC Preziosa, MSC Seashore (debuting in July), MSC Seaside, MSC Seaview, MSC Splendida and MSC Virtuosa (debuting in April).

Open: 24 hours a day.

How to get in: Passengers staying in the exclusive, all-suite Yacht Clubs on MSC Cruises ships get complimentary access; Top Sail Lounges are located within the Yacht Clubs.

Amenities: Seating with spectacular, front-of-ship views; complimentary food and drinks throughout the day (hours vary by ship); full meals in a nearby Yacht Club restaurant; live music nightly; and access to a private pool area with pool, whirlpool, solarium and bar.

Concierge services: A concierge is on hand during the day to help make onboard dining reservations, book shore excursions and spa appointments, and answer questions about ports. Yacht Club suites also come with a personal butler available 24 hours a day.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Name of lounge: The Haven Lounge.

Available on: Norwegian Bliss, Norwegian Breakaway, Norwegian Encore, Norwegian Escape, Norwegian Gem, Norwegian Getaway, Norwegian Jade, Norwegian Jewel, Norwegian Joy and Norwegian Pearl.

Open: 24 hours a day.

How to get in: Passengers staying in the exclusive, all-suite Haven complexes on Norwegian ships get complimentary access; The Haven Lounges are located within these complexes.

Amenities: Complimentary light food and refreshments throughout the day, full meals in a nearby Haven restaurant, access to a private courtyard area with a pool, and access to a private sun deck.

The exclusive The Haven suite complex on Norwegian Bliss includes a private pool area. (Photo courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line)
The exclusive The Haven suite complex on Norwegian Bliss includes a private courtyard with a pool. (Photo courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line)

Concierge services: A concierge is on hand during the day to help make onboard dining and entertainment reservations, book shore excursions and airport transfers, expedite the disembarkation process and answer general questions.

Oceania Cruises

Name of lounge: Concierge Lounge.

Available on: Marina and Riviera.

Open: 24 hours a day.

How to get in: Passengers staying in Concierge Veranda-category cabins get complimentary access. Marina and Riviera also have separate and similar Executive Lounges for passengers staying in top suites (Penthouse, Oceania, Vista and Owner’s Suite).

Oceania Cruises ships Marina and Riviera both have a dedicated Concierge Lounge for passengers staying in Concierge class cabins. (Photo courtesy Oceania Cruises)
Oceania Cruises ships Marina and Riviera both have a dedicated Concierge Lounge for passengers staying in Concierge-class cabins. (Photo courtesy Oceania Cruises)

Amenities: Snacks including fresh-baked cookies and pastries throughout the day; nonalcoholic drinks including gourmet coffee, espresso and cappuccinos throughout the day; a desktop computer and a printer; and magazines and newspapers.

Concierge services: A concierge is on hand during the day to help make onboard dining reservations, book shore excursions and spa appointments, and answer questions about ports.

Princess Cruises

Name of lounge: Concierge Lounge.

Available on: Majestic Princess, Regal Princess, Royal Princess, Sky Princess and Enchanted Princess.

Open: 24 hours a day.

How to get in: Passengers staying in suites get complimentary access.

Amenities: Complimentary snacks and nonalcoholic drinks during the day, seating area with magazines and books, and television.

Concierge services: A concierge is on hand during select hours to help make onboard dining reservations and book shore excursions and spa appointments. The lounge also serves as a private disembarkation lounge for passengers staying in suites.

Royal Caribbean

Name of lounge: Concierge Club.

Available on: Select Royal Caribbean ships.

Open: 24 hours a day.

How to get in: Top-tier members of Royal Caribbean’s Crown & Anchor Society frequent cruiser program (those at the Diamond Plus and Pinnacle Club level) get complimentary access. So do passengers staying in suites (excluding Junior Suites). On most ships including every Oasis-class, Freedom-class, Voyager-class, Radiance-class and Vision-class vessel, top-tier members of the Crown & Anchor Society (Diamond and above) get access to a similar lounge called the Diamond Club.

The Concierge Lounge on Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas. (Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean)
The Concierge Lounge on Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas. (Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean)

Amenities: Complimentary continental breakfast, complimentary snacks before and after dinner, complimentary alcoholic drinks during happy hour (available from a self-serve bar) and a selection of DVDs and CDs available for borrowing.

Concierge services: A concierge is on hand during select hours to help make onboard dining reservations and book shore excursions and spa appointments. The concierge also can help with such tasks as arranging private parties and arranging show tickets.

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Featured  photo courtesy of Oceania Cruises.

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