Pure Luxury: Superlative Cruises

This generation's luxury cruise ships are the giants of the seas.

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This generation's luxury cruise ships are the giants of the seas.

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It is one of man's oldest longings: to discover the world from the water. Travelling for the sake of travelling. It's not about the kilometres covered at top speed, but about the slow change of perspective. Looking at the endless sea that merges with the sky on the horizon, before the next port comes into view and shore excursions promise new experiences and impressions. With their sedate pace, rhythm and variety, cruises meet a basic human need: they give us time and leisure for ourselves and our needs. And thanks to the ever-expanding range of ships and services, there is now hardly a customer wish that remains unfulfilled.

Airy elegance dominates the ambience and the plate on board the MS Europa.

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Simply gigantic
Bigger, better, more luxurious and more varied is the credo and it does not stop at cruise ships. In terms of capacity, very large cruise ships now resemble medium-sized cities. More than 6,500 passengers and 2,500 crew members are spread out over a length of about 350 metres. In order to be able to pass under bridges at a height of 70 metres, the funnels of these giants are usually retractable. The fuel consumption also sometimes corresponds to the energy consumption of a small town.

Of course, journeys with ocean liners are mostly chosen according to the route and the cities visited, but strictly speaking there is no reason to leave the ship any more, because there are no limits to the entertainment possibilities at sea. Whether it's an artificial surf wave, a climbing wall, a ten-storey slide for sporting activities or a travelling orchestra and in-house theatre: it's simply all there. In the gastronomic area, the motto "for all tastes" also applies. So, like a district, the sushi restaurant shares the floor with the Italian restaurant and burger bars, none of them are to be missed. If you want to be a bit more dignified, you can book one of the elite suites and perhaps even find a grand piano in your second-floor apartment of 100 square metres or more, so that you don't completely forget your piano skills even on a holiday lasting several weeks. A practical tip: if you stay in one of these suites, a table in one of the – otherwise chargeable – fine dining restaurants on board is also included.

While the Royal Caribbean colossuses stand out with action around the clock and very eye-catching interior design, the fractionally smaller representatives from Europe take a more reduced, Nordic approach in terms of design. Clear lines and a discreet design language in the luxury cabins and the dining areas, despite impressive dimensions. Slow living in locomotion.

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Travelling royalty
The appearance? Majestic, of course. The hull is classic in design and royal blue. The silhouettes are clearly recognisable from afar, slender lines with the striking red and black funnels, this is the appearance of the queen of cruise ships, the flagship, Queen Mary 2. Like her somewhat smaller sister ships, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria, she is designed in the style of the legendary Queen Mary of the 1930s. As the last ship to be designed primarily for Atlantic crossings, the 345-metre-long QM2 simply scores with style.

Almost 1,300 crew members, including butlers and concierges, take care of up to 2,700 passengers. From the booking of a Queens Suite or more exclusive offers, the staff are at the guests' disposal during the entire voyage. Those who have already had their fill of the selected paintings on board and have also studied the historical portraits of the royal family, devote themselves to exploring the largest wine cellar at sea which has over 17,000 bottles. The dining experience leaves nothing to be desired, with the speciality restaurant The Verandah being a highlight. In the course of the latest modernisation, it was equipped with original design elements such as the Verandah Grill inspired by the original Queen Mary. Daily afternoon tea is served with white gloves and framed by traditional British sandwiches, scones and cakes, truely unique. 

Needless to say, Queen Mary 2 regularly leads worldwide rankings of the best cruise ships. Although the fleet's itineraries take in the whole world, the original purpose, i.e. crossing the Atlantic, is still a fixed part of her programme. 

The Royal Carribean fleet focuses on fancy design and a limitless and lavish range of culinary and entertainment options.

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Small, refined and under sail
The sailing yachts of Sea Cloud Cruises are the Gallic village of the cruise industry. On these comparatively small ships, up to 4,000 square metres of sail are set by hand. The deceleration is brought even more into focus by the propulsion by means of wind power. Similar to Queens of the Seas, this small specialised shipping company renovated a ship from the 1930s. It was not until 2020 that the See Cloud Spirit, the youngest windjammer, entered service. Sea Cloud, built in 1931 and renovated in 2011, also continues to cruise the world's oceans.

A special feature are the historic suites, which are still true to the original and were furnished by Lady Marjorie Post, the first owner. In keeping with the ambience and the manageable number of passengers, these boutique yachts score with high-quality service and personality. 

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Fresh rather than salty
It is not only the seven seas that promise a variety of floating adventures. Cruise ships are also found on the rivers of this world. They range from the Nile on a Dahabeya – a sailing ship with only a handful of cabins and the promise of a travel experience more like that of the pharaohs – to gourmet cruises along the Rhône, the Danube or the Douro.

The attraction here comes from the intensive engagement with the landscape and inland excursions from the river banks. As a riverboat traveller, you are in constant dialogue with your surroundings, exchanging the immense infinity of the world's oceans for the intensity and closeness of land from an unfamiliar perspective. 

With most providers, booking a luxury suite usually opens the doorway to the fine dining offers on board.

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Arctic Ocean or submarine?
If, as a seafarer, you are still looking for further adventure or a very special travel experience then a trip to Antarctica or Greenland is recommended. In contrast to the everyday ocean-liner entertainment, there are often small research laboratories on board where guests can experience science up close. These latest expedition cruise ships are also pioneers for environmentally friendly propulsion systems – hybrid is the buzzword here. While the Hurtigruten fleet is specially designed for use in the polar region, Scenic Eclipse rounds off their offer with a submarine for seven people and two of the ship's own helicopters. The impressions on board go hand in hand with the appearance of the exterior and the furnishings. Guests have the pleasure of living on a luxury yacht, without having to own, insure or even find the necessary small change to fund its purchase!

Ship ahoy!
Travel on the world's greatest cruise ships:

Royal Caribbean
Whether onboard Harmony, Symphony or the Anthem of the Seas – no shipping company operates larger ships for more passengers.

Queen Mary 2, the Queen of the Seas is a must for a once-in-a-lifetime trip across the Atlantic. She's owned by the traditional British-American shipping company.

MS Europa is operated by Germany's top shipping company and is one of the most luxurious cruise ship in the world. 

Sea cloud
Three sailing ships, two of them based on historic windjammer ships from the 1930s, sail for the exclusive boutique shipping company.

Scenic Group
Scenic Eclipse is the first ship for this Australian shipping company; a 6-star ultra-luxury yacht in cruise ship format with a strengthened hull for polar cruises.