The Evolution of Luxury Cruising

For those who enjoy travelling in style and comfort, whilst discovering exceptional destinations, embarking on a luxury cruise getaway could be the holiday you’ve been looking for.

The days of luxury cruising being synonymous with formal nights, stuffy atmospheres and regimented itineraries are long gone. Instead, you can look forward to meeting like-minded individuals, spending days ashore immersing yourself in astounding destinations, enjoying the opulence of your suite and taking advantage of all the onboard amenities that come included, as standard, with a luxury cruise experience.

The 21st century has brought with it an evolution in the luxury cruise industry; the cruise lines you travel with are highly-enhanced and always searching for those extra-special touches to improve your cruise experience.

Cruising for leisure, as opposed to cruising for a means of transport, began with the Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company in 1822, and it wasn’t until 78 years later in 1900, that the first vessel built exclusively for luxury cruising was introduced.

The Prinzessin Victoria Luise was designed to look like a private yacht and featured 120 first-class, luxuriously-appointed staterooms as well as a library, gymnasium and a darkroom for the development of film by amateur photographers. It was a revolutionary ship for her time but her illustrious career was to be short-lived. After five years providing luxury cruises to the wealthy, the Captain misjudged the positioning of a lighthouse and subsequently hit and climbed onto the rocks bow first.

Prinzessin Victoria Luise


Following the Prinzessin Victoria Luise, other cruise lines, including those already operating transatlantic voyages realised that they could offer their customers a more palatial cruise experience. These luxury enhancements included fine dining, luxury services and staterooms with finer appointments and in 1906, the number of luxury liners had increased to seven – but their success wasn’t to last for long.

The boom of large passenger jet aircraft in the 1960s meant that intercontinental travellers switched from ships to planes, sending the cruise industry into a rapid decline. Luxury cruising for pleasure was, seemingly, only upheld by the popularity of Cunard Line who pioneered a number of luxury transatlantic crossings by adding cabaret entertainment to their existing voyages. Not only this but highlighting the cruise ship as a vacation and luxury destination in itself, something that is still upheld these days, helped to boost the popularity of this kind of holiday experience.

With the advent of contemporary cruise ships in the 1980s, luxury cruising was once again a desirable holiday for many wealthy travellers. Sovereign-class (Royal Caribbean’s third generation of cruise ship), built the first ‘megaships’ for the mass cruising market and introduced multi-storey atriums and glass lifts to their vessels.

In addition to this, they also pioneered a single deck which was devoted entirely to accommodation with private balconies – an inclusion that was to prove lucrative to the cruise industry.

From the 1980s until the present day, cruise ship amenities and design have improved in innovation, attitude and opulence. These days, the ability to travel the world in sumptuous surroundings, combined with the best service possible, is well within the reach of most of us and cruise lines have truly finessed the art of luxury travel.

Luxury cruising of yesteryear heralded fine dining, well-appointed accommodation and exceptional service as the prerequisites of travelling in style, however modern-day luxury cruising features all of this and more to ensure that their guests are cruising in the lap of luxury.

Among some of the most popular luxury cruise lines in the 21st century are Regent Seven Seas Cruises® and Oceania Cruises®. Regent proudly claim to offer ‘The Most Inclusive Luxury Experience’ and take care of every detail – from exquisitely prepared cuisine and unlimited shore excursions, to return flights and unlimited beverages.

Regent – Seven Seas Voyager


Oceania Cruises® has not been affected by their shorter presence in the cruise industry. In fact, home to ‘The Finest Cuisine at SeaTM’ including authentic Italian dishes, Polo Grill’s steakhouse fare, Red Ginger’s bold Asian flavours and French country cuisine, the on board dining opportunities have sent Oceania Cruises® into the cruising stratosphere.

Offering experiences far-flung from the days when the Prinzessin Victoria Luise was at sea, sailing with Regent or Oceania introduces perfectly adorned accommodations, the impeccable services of a personal butler and one-of-a-kind touches including personalisation of bath amenities and pillow style. As is the case with Regent and Oceania, more traditional forms of luxury cruising can be found with 6★ Seabourn and ultra-luxury Silversea.

Of course, we are now in an age where uniqueness and cutting-edge technology are coveted. In order to entice guests, luxury cruise lines need to remain one step ahead and find new ways to innovate their cruise experiences.

One such cruise line that does this impeccably is modern luxury line Celebrity Cruises®. Beginning this year, Celebrity is rolling out a ‘Celebrity Revolution’ across its entire fleet to bring its world-class accommodations to a whole new level. This includes contemporary design by Kelly Hoppen, a new sanctuary called The Retreat, transformed dining venues including the introduction of the virtual Le Petit Chef™ and reinvented spaces across the fleet. This $500-million revolution is bold, innovative and absolutely takes modern luxury cruising to the next level.

Celebrity – The Retreat Sundeck


Realising that a cruise ship can too be a destination is something that Celebrity is encouraging with its revolution.

Scenic is another luxury line which invites guests to treat its ships as a destination. With the number of cutting-edge advancements on board, it’s no surprise that the Scenic Eclipse fleet, the World’s First Discovery Yachts, are introducing the next level of luxury expedition cruising to the industry.

A far cry from Prinzessin Victoria Luise’s simple amenities, the Scenic Eclipse fleet offers guests the chance to travel in lavish proportions on board the most spacious of any ocean liner. Whilst the suites are indeed stunning, the real highlight of Scenic’s Eclipse ships are the on board amenities.

Designed to take guests further into the destinations visited, on board helicopters, submarines, kayaks, Zodiacs and e-bikes can take you on the ultimate adventure of a lifetime.

Predominately a luxury river cruise line, Scenic dips its toes into ocean-cruising with the Eclipse fleet, but its river cruises are also exceptional. Truly all-inclusive, Scenic’s luxury river cruises enable you to travel the waterways of the world whilst experiencing resplendent suites, unforgettable excursions, fine dining and complimentary beverages as standard.

In fact, luxury river cruising is an experience entirely different to that of a luxury ocean cruise. Often on board smaller ships with fewer guests, the service and attention given to those on board is unparalleled and, with the time available ashore, included excursions are often exclusive to Scenic guests.

Scenic isn’t the only luxury river cruise line in the cruise industry; APT offer luxury cruises, as well as premium holidays, and boutique river cruise line Uniworld is unsurpassed in the art of luxury river cruising.

From its beginnings nearly 200 years ago, the luxury cruise industry has grown hugely in popularity, driving cruise lines to seek new and exciting ways to set the bar for future cruise ship designs and experiences.

What does the future hold for luxury cruising? Why not step aboard and find out…

Scenic Eclipse Helicopter in Antarctica


Visit the ROL Cruise website to find out more about luxury cruising, or speak to a member of the team on 0800 251 1005.

Top Ten Luxury Cruise Lines to Consider:

  1. Regent Seven Seas
  2. Oceania Cruises
  3. Cunard
  4. Seabourn
  5. Silversea
  6. Celebrity Cruises
  7. Crystal Cruises
  8. Scenic
  9. APT
  10. Uniworld

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