Indulge yourself: 6 of the top high-end luxury cruises in the world

By David Snelling

Despite the fact that large ships have been carrying substantial numbers of people around the world for hundreds of years, it was only in the early part of the 20th century that the idea pleasure cruises began.

Before that they fulfilled a more utilitarian role, transporting armies around the world, or immigrants across oceans, such as the “poor huddled masses” seeking a new life in the United States.

As soon as the idea of a circular journey, rather than one-way took hold, cruise ships dominated overseas travel until the 1950s, when long-distance air travel became more convenient and viable.

Cruises have enjoyed a resurgence recently, however. Partly as a result of increased environmental awareness prompting people to reduce their carbon footprint, but also as a popular holiday alternative.

The idea of a leisurely lifestyle, with the scenery around you changing by the day and having your living-quarters a short walk away appeals to many.

There has also been a big uptick in the number of expensive cruises involving extraordinarily luxurious ships in breathtaking locations.

Think a personalised 24/7 service combined with a range of amazing shore experiences in parts of the world often only easily accessible by sea.

So, whether you’re a regular on cruises already, or the idea of a luxury holiday at sea is on your bucket list, read about six of the most expensive and luxurious voyages in the world.

1.  Enjoy a Regent Seven Seas Explorer Mediterranean cruise

The Mediterranean has always been a popular and accessible choice for British cruise holidaymakers.

It offers a variety of stop-off points, year-round warm weather, and is easily accessible from the UK.

There’s no better way of experiencing such a trip than a fortnight on Regent’s Seven Seas cruise ship, providing you with an all-inclusive, in-suite luxury experience like no other at sea.

As a measure of the extraordinary luxury onboard, it carries a multi-million, 2,500-piece art collection, including original Picassos and a ÂŁ500,000 Tibetan prayer wheel.

It’s a relatively small cruise ship, but the limited number of passengers – just 750 – all enjoy the luxury of suite accommodation rather than simple cabins.

All the suites embrace luxury, with a minimum of two bedrooms and a private spacious balcony.

2. Travel through the Northwest Passage on an Abercrombie & Kent cruise ship

If you’re looking for a far more adventurous cruise experience than simply traveling around the Med, how about an exhilarating 24 days visiting some of the most remote parts of the world?

After flying from New York to Greenland, you head north to the Arctic, through Baffin Bay and the legendary Northwest Passage to your ultimate destination of Nome in Alaska.

The structure of the cruise means you wake up nearly every morning to some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world outside your window, including glaciers, icebergs, and mountains.

You’ll see rare sights, and a range of wildlife in natural habitats that are only reachable by sea.

The onboard experience matches the grandeur of the scenery. All the suites are luxuriously fitted out, and each enjoys the services of a dedicated support staff including butler and personal chef.

3. Let Norwegian take you island-hopping in the southern Caribbean

You can enjoy another change of mood and experience with our third choice of luxury cruise.

It’s likely that the expression “island-hopping” conjures up images of backpacking students taking ferries from one Greek island to another in the Aegean Sea.

However, in this case, the travelling is done around sensational destinations such as St. Kitts, Aruba, and Barbados. And rather than a ferry, you’ll be travelling on a high-end luxury cruise liner.

It’s a bigger ship than the first two you read about. This one is specifically designed to feel like a resort rather than a cruise ship at sea. So, it’s teeming with nonstop activities and entertainment and a range of quality restaurants.

Between spells of luxury at sea, you can expect to enjoy snorkelling off amazing beaches, hiking through rainforests, and cocktails on velvety-soft white sand.

4. A Viking longitudinal world cruise

If you’re in the fortunate position of being able to take the time to enjoy an extensive period at sea, you’ll find that you can really cover thousands of nautical miles, even at the relatively sedate pace of the cruise liner.

Over two months, for example, you can go round the world, with time for a series of stop-offs on the way.

Rather than the traditional “east to west” circumnavigation, this cruise takes you from north to south.

The design of the Viking cruise liner creates an inviting atmosphere for such an extended adventure.

It takes you from the Great Lakes, and down the east coast of North America, through the Panama Canal, and then the west coast of South America and on to the Antarctic.

As you’d expect, each of the suites are luxuriously appointed with individual touches. Together with the attentive service and fine dining, this really is the cruise of a lifetime.

5. An evocative Cunard world tour on the Queen Mary

The one name that, above all others, immediately conjures up a 100-year history of luxury worldwide cruises, is Cunard.

While other companies do offer round-the-world tours, none beats the luxury offered by Cunard’s flagship, and this 100-day cruise.

Even if three months at sea isn’t feasible for you, you have the option to tailor your own tour by joining and leaving the Queen Mary when and where you desire.

It allows you to soak up luxury and unwind in the most relaxing way possible.

As you’d expect, the onboard services and facilities are second to none, and include Michelin star quality dining and split-level private suites designed for you to host your own events and dinner parties.

Each suite also provides a spacious veranda and a personal butler.

6. A luxury Seabourn trip around northern Europe and Iceland

Of all the parts of the world really only accessible only by water, a cruise around the stunning Norwegian Fjords is probably on more bucket lists that most other places.

This month-long luxury cruise takes you there, but also all around northern Europe, and across to Iceland.

To complement the amazing scenery outside, the ship is filled with high specification, attractive furnishing.

As with all the other cruises you’ve read about, the onboard services are recognised for their excellence, and the suites are individually fitted out to make your trip a memorable and luxurious experience.

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