Enough space to toss a football. On-call butlers to fulfill your every whim. Private whirlpool tubs and exercise rooms. Nothing spells luxury at sea like a sumptuous suite. To identify the most over-the-top, deluxe suites afloat, we turned to Gene Sloan, editor of USA TODAY’s Cruise Log and one of the nation’s top cruise journalists, who has sailed on more than 100 ships. With his vast knowledge and experience he's been able to identify which lines offer the highest quality amenities, comfort, and overall experience. Here are his top 10 suites.
Grand Duplexes on Cunard’s Queen Mary 2
You’ve come to the right place if only a grandiose two-level suite will do. At 2,249 square feet, these are among the largest suites afloat. And there are two of them on this deluxe ship: the Balmoral and the Sandringham. Each features a spacious sitting area, master bedroom (reached via a sweeping, glass-lined staircase), two marble baths with whirlpool tub and separate shower, private exercise equipment – and that ultimate shipboard luxury, a walk-in closet. A large private balcony overlooks the pool deck below. So strut your stuff, if you’re so inclined! An on-call butler, personalized stationery – a unique touch! -- and bon voyage champagne and strawberries enhance the elite experience.
Royal Loft Suites on Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas
You might be on one of the two largest ships afloat, but these double-decker suites provide your own special corner of pampered privacy. Stylish and modern, each 1,640-square-foot space includes a loft-level master bedroom, two bathrooms (one has a shower with an enormous porthole), a spacious living area with dry bar, a media room and a private 415-square-foot wraparound balcony with dual whirlpool tub and dining area. A two-story-high wall of windows boasts dramatic panoramic sea views. What a way to go!
Reflection Suite on Celebrity Reflection
Calling all exhibitionists! This suite’s spectacular sky-lit bathroom features a cantilevered, all-glass shower that protrudes from the edge of the ship on the 14th deck. You’ll feel like you’re bathing inside a transparent diamond. (A switch lets you tint the windows for more privacy.) The sumptuous 1,636-square-foot suite has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, an open-plan living/dining area, and a tub with rain shower on the 194-square-foot balcony. Have trouble sleeping? No problem with the customizable Reverie Dream Sleep mattress, which boasts massage and elevation settings. Ahh. And butler service is available for those who just can’t leave home without Jeeves.
Owner’s Suites on Oceania Cruises’ Marina and Riviera
Each ship has three of these lavish suites, which pack a host of unique features into their 2,000 square feet apiece. Music room with ebony grand piano? Check. Indoor and outdoor whirlpool spas, the latter with a flat-screen TV? Yes. His and hers walk-in closets? You bet. Oh, and there’s also a media room with professional entertainment system, elegant Ralph Lauren Home furnishings and an enviable location spanning the beam of the ship with endless views of its wake. You may never want to leave.
The Haven Garden Villas on Norwegian Cruise Line’s Jewel, Pearl, Gem and Jade
If you think size matters, then these suites are for you. At a whopping 5,750 square feet, these are the largest suites afloat. Each one boasts three bedrooms with fine linens, three and a half baths, two private steam rooms and a living room with a baby grand piano, all wrapped in walls of windows. But the undeniable wow factor
is the private garden with a six-person hot tub, outdoor dining area and terrace. Want to entertain 100 for cocktails? Not a problem.
Walt E. Disney and Roy O. Disney suites on the Disney Fantasy and Disney Dream
Families never had it this good. These signature royal suites harken back to the Art Deco glamour of the 1920s and ‘30s. But there’s nothing “old school” about the whirlpool hot tub on the private teakwood verandah; two opulent marble and granite bathrooms (one with whirlpool tub and rain shower); the high-tech media library; the dining area, pantry and wet bar; and the spacious living quarters with floor-to-ceiling windows. When all that extravagance is just too much, you can join the on board Disney characters for some down home fun.
Owner’s Suite on Viking Cruises’ Viking Star
Leave it to Viking’s CEO, Torstein Hagen, to personally design a true owner’s suite on his line’s brand new ship. His personal touches are evident throughout the 1,448 square feet of sleek Scandinavian design: framed family photos, personal books on the bookshelf and favorite paintings. But the pièce de résistance is the private sauna off the main bedroom, which boasts a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows facing the sea – a far cry from saunas in Hagen’s native Norway. There are other special features in this elegant stateroom: large touchpads that control the lighting, TV and music system and binoculars for endless sea gazing from the long private verandah.
Crystal Penthouse on Crystal Serenity
On a deluxe ship that’s all about high-end pampering, it takes a lot for a suite to stand out. But this one does. It packs a living room, dining room, den, master bedroom, two bathrooms, private workout area, large balcony and butler’s pantry into 1,345 sumptuous square feet. But it’s the bathroom that really makes a splash. This marble wonder has a flat-screen TV, heated floor, bidet, ocean-view Jacuzzi tub, and state-of-the-art customized shower with heated bench. If that isn’t enough to keep you in, there’s always 24-hour butler service.
Grand Suite on Silversea’s Silver Spirit
On an all-suite upscale ship where every unit already comes with a butler and junior attendant, the Grand Suite has to work to get noticed. It does that, in part, by expanding from a one-bedroom 1,091-square-foot unit to a two-bedroom 1,435-square-foot unit that feels like a stylish penthouse. Unlike the standard suites, it has a separate dining area and bar, two sitting areas and two-and-a-half marble baths (one with whirlpool tub). Two large teak verandahs with patio furniture beckon via floor-to-ceiling glass doors. The Rodeo Drive set will welcome such high-end amenities as the Bang & Olufsen audio system, Illy Espresso machine, Pratesi bed linens, and choice of premium European bath amenities. Just don’t forget to ring for afternoon canapés!
Owner’s Suite on Hapag-Lloyd’s Europa 2
Just one lucky couple gets to stay in this 1,227-square-foot one-bedroom unit all done in soothing light wood and soft cream tones. Yes, there’s butler service. Yes, there’s a lovely terrace and spacious living area. But the real pampering happens in the bathroom, which boasts a shower with – what else! – a steam sauna, and a separate spa area with an oversized whirlpool tub and a white daybed. After a good long soak, lounge away the rest of the day while gazing out to sea through a wall of windows.
Written by Veronica Stoddart
Read more posts by Veronica Stoddart