These penthouse apartments at sea will make anyone with enough money feel like they own the cruise line, or are descended from royalty, they’re the biggest suites available on any cruise ship.
All the major cruise lines now features owner’s suites or royal suites on-board, even the Big Three mass market cruise lines (Carnival, Royal Caribbean and NCL) offer this top-notch level of accommodation, often with additional perks like exclusive access to certain lounges, dining rooms and pool areas, creating a ship-within-a-ship luxury experience.
For the purposes of this feature, we’re looking only at the suite itself, to see which are the best available at sea. Like cruise lines, owner’s suites differ from one another, some are better than others, and those aboard the luxury cruise lines are most certainly better than the mass market ones.
For these palatial suites of rooms no expense is spared, Viking Cruises for example have owner’s suites with private saunas, rare wines and works by Picasso on the walls.
The concept of the owner’s suites goes back to the 19th century, during the heyday of ocean liner travel across the Atlantic. The aristocracy and especially royalty travelling between Europe and America needed to be able to do so in total comfort and privacy.
The modern owner’s suite is a descendent of the suite of first class rooms with bedroom, study, drawing room and reception area that would have been available to first class passengers back in the day. The RMS Queen Mary, for example, had a Royal Suite that was intended for possible use by the British Royal Family (if the Royal Yacht wasn’t available).
Here are our picks for the Top 10 cruise ship owner’s suites (ordered by size):
Cruise line: Norwegian Cruise Line
Cruise ship: Norwegian Jewel
The two biggest Garden Villa suites are aboard Norwegian Jewel, at 4,891 square feet, they are the largest to be found at sea on any cruise line. Each of the three bedrooms has its own ensuite and because of drop down Pullman berths the suite can sleep up to eight. There’s a separate dining room and complimentary room service is provided daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The living room has its own white baby grand piano, as well as a bar, espresso machine, and unlike most suites that look out over the bow or stern wake, these suites have impressive views of the main pool deck and waterslide.
Part of the Haven collection of suites, the Garden Villas have their own private pool and sundeck, while the three-bedroom Garden Suite has its own private garden, hot tub, and steam room, and sundeck.
Size: 4,891 sqft (with three bedrooms and private garden, hot tub, and steam room, and sundeck)
Cruise line: Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Cruise ship: Regent Seven Seas Explorer
When Regent Seven Seas Cruises launched Seven Seas Explorer in July, 2016 and claimed she was the most luxurious cruise ship ever built, they took quite a risk, but it’s paid off handsomely. Explorer is not only one of the most luxurious cruise ships in the world (determining the most luxurious is a matter of personal opinion), she is also one of the most expensive ever built on a per gross ton basis. For reference, Explorer is 54,000 gross tons and cost US $480-million, while the new Carnival Vista is 133,000 gross tons, almost three times the size in terms of volume, but cost US $780-million.
So aboard this ship, the owner’s suite (or Master Suite, as Regent calls it), has to be impressive. And it truly is. The Master Suite aboard Regent Seven Seas Explorer occupies the full beam of the vessel, and comes with a private spa (including whirlpool bath and sauna), huge terrace overlooking the bow, a telescope for taking in the views, a Steinway grand piano, a £112,000 king-size bed, an oversized 4k UHD flat-screen TV and dedicated limo chauffer services in every port of call. Guests in the Master Suite aboard Seven Seas Explorer also get additional privileges such as a luxury one-night pre- cruise hotel package.
Size: 4,443 sq ft (two bedrooms, three bathrooms and a 1,417sq ft balcony with heated mini-pool).
Cruise line: Dream Cruises
Cruise ship: Genting Dream
The duplex Garden Penthouse aboard Genting Dream sleeps up to six people in its 2,400 square feet of luxury, but it can be made even bigger by booking interconnecting suites.
The Penthouse includes three bedrooms, a living room with dining area and its own baby grand piano. The huge balcony has a whirlpool and sundeck and butler service is included. Suite guests get complimentary set menu meals in all the ship’s outlets as well as meal credits in five specialty restaurants.
Size: 2,400 sqft (with three bedrooms and balcony with hot tub)
Cruise line: Oceania Cruises
Cruise ship: Oceania Riviera
Oceania Riviera’s 2,000 square foot Owner’s Suite is furnished by Ralph Lauren and includes a living room, dining room and master bedroom while there’s even a self-playing piano for romantic candle lit dinners on the terrace.
The ensuite has its own ocean-view hot tub and flatscreen TV and if you fancy, guests in the Owner’s Suite can dine in the ship’s super-exclusive Executive Lounge. Cabin parties are also a possibility because the in-suite bar is set-up with six complimentary premium spirits and wines, while bathroom amenities are by Bulgari and you get personalized stationery to send off humbledrag letters to friends and family.
Size: 2,000 sqft (with living room, dining room and master bedroom furnished by Ralph Lauren)
Cruise line: Celebrity Cruises
Cruise ship: Celebrity Reflection
Celebrity Reflection, the fifth and final addition to Celebrity Cruises’ Solstice-class, features a futuristic shower that extends over the side of the ship within her Reflection Suite. This all-glass standout feature of the suite would put it in this list on its own, but there’s more to this suite than just a supercool shower. The suite’s sea-view bathroom (complete with Bulgari amenities) also incorporates a balcony tub and separate rain shower, and all that glass is one-way – no one can see in, even at night.
The two-bedroom suite has a separate bedroom, as well as a huge ‘common area’ with lounge, dining room table and a bar for entertaining. It’s also located within its own members-only area and comes with access to the Luminae-private restaurant, Michael’s Club-exclusive lounge and a personal butler. Aboard Celebrity Cruises, suite guests also get priority check-in & debarkation, priority tender service, a complimentary in-suite breakfast, lunch and dinner and reserved theatre seating on Celebrity’s ‘Evening Chic’ nights.
Size: 1,636sq ft with two bedrooms and a 194sq ft balcony.
Cruise line: Seabourn
Cruise ship: Seabourn Encore
Seabourn’s newest cruise ship and frequent Dubai cruise visitor Seabourn Encore features a Wintergarden Suite of 1,550 square feet of indoor and outdoor space including two bedrooms, two private verandas, a dining room seating six and two and a half bathrooms.
The Encore’s interiors were the work of renowned hotel and restaurant designer Adam D. Tihany, fusing contemporary elements and technology with understated elegance. That’s especially evident in the glass-enclosed solarium with soaking tub and daybed, from where sunset views don’t come much better.
Added amenities include private car transfers and daily tropical fruit and fresh flowers.
Cuisine is a special draw on the Encore thanks to restaurants including The Grill from legendary Michelin-starred chef Thomas Keller. They promise a “timeless menu” in the steakhouse-style spot, with old-school favourites like Lobster Thermidor.
Size: 1,550 sqft (with two bedrooms, two private verandas, dining room and two and a half bathrooms)
Cruise line: Cunard Line
Cruise ship: Queen Mary 2
When Queen Mary 2 was fully refurbished and underwent an extensive technical refit (a project that Cunard grandly refers to as her ‘remastering’), she was for the first time in Cunard history, given a set of two-deck suites called the Queen’s Grill Duplex. As a point of interest, the ‘Grill’ reference comes from the previous century history of the Cunard Line, when passengers were distinguished by the class of dining room they ate in (The Grill being the highest class for the first class passengers).
Aboard the modern Cunard ships, the Grill remains first class, while Princess and Britannia class are essentially second and third (although don’t think 3rd class aboard Cunard is anything but luxurious!).
The Queens Grill Duplex suites are called the Sandringham and Windsor Suites, named after the two most-used England royal residences of Queen Elizabeth II (apart from Buckingham Palace of course).
The deluxe suites are 1,200 to 1,500 sqft in size with a luxurious master bedroom upstairs (with dressing room and walk-in closet space), two marble en-suites with separate whirlpool tub and shower, a guest bathroom with shower downstairs and a large living room with separate dining area, double sofa bed, dual height coffee table and bar area.
Added benefits include priority embarkation, a bottle of champagne and strawberries at embarkation, daily fruit basket, complementary bottled water, daily flower arrangements, personalised stationary, an Xbox and DVD player, 24 hour room service, butler service, daily newspaper, shoe shine service, evening canapes, pillow menu, and priority disembarkation.
Guests in the Queens Grill accommodations also dine in the renowned Queens Grill. There is an exclusive Queens Grill Lounge for pre-dinner cocktails or, perhaps, an after dinner aperitif, and afternoon tea is also served in this beautiful room. There is a private sun terrace reserved exclusively for Queens Grill use.
Size: 1,500 sqft with a 180 sqft balcony
Cruise line: Viking Ocean Cruises
Cruise ship: Viking Sky
The special treatment starts before you even board Viking Sky. Owner’s suite guests are personally greeted at the quayside and checked in by the guest services manager. A cortege of hospitality managers and housekeeping staff then accompany the guests to the suite, where a personal butler or stewardess then walks you through the various rooms, from the bedroom with its walk-in wardrobe to the sauna to the three bathrooms and boardroom.
The owner’s suite aboard Viking Ocean Cruises is intended to feel like an actual owner’s suite, there is a letter from Tor Hagen, the owner of Viking, and a library filled with his own books. There are also family photographs and a CD collection of his. The private wine cellar is even stocked with Hagen’s favourite wines.
Then there is the private sauna, with floor-to-ceiling windows with mirrored glass, providing a one-way view of the ocean or whatever port the ship happens to be in. It is indulgence, luxury and royal treatment at its best.
Size: 1,448sq ft with one bedroom and three bathrooms.
Cruise line: Silversea
Cruise ship: Silver Muse
Silversea went all out for the owner’s suite aboard their newest cruise ship, Silver Muse, a ship that is overall a true reflection of understated luxury and elegance. The suite itself is called the Balsorano Suite, named after the ancestral castle home of the owner and chairman of the cruise line – Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio di Balsorano di Clunieres.
According to Lefebvre d’Ovidio, the Balsorano Suite aboard Silver Muse “superbly encapsulates my family’s Italian heritage and taste.” He added, when the ship was initially launched, that he hoped “that guests will, like me, find the Balsorano Suite a spectacular home away from home aboard Silver Muse.”
The suite is decorated with artefacts and family photographs from Lefebvre d’Ovidio’s own personal collection, and the furniture comes not from a furniture workshop at the shipyard, but from his former family home in Rome. The drinks cabinet is even stocked with his favourite indulgence, vintage port.
Size: 1,389sq ft (with two bedrooms and two bathrooms, one of which is an en-suite)
Cruise line: Hapag-Lloyd
Cruise ship: Europa 2
Luxury is all about choice, as premium and high-end cruise line execs so often like to say, and aboard Hapag-Lloyd’s super-luxurious Europa 2 flagship the cruise line has taken this to the extreme, giving passengers the choice of a nap in the en-suite bathroom.
Yes, there’s a daybed in here, directly adjacent the private sauna and in front of the whirlpool bath with expansive views of the ocean.
There’s also a genuine Damien Hirst butterfly painting worth £34,000, but the décor in general is a little too ‘European chic’, and makes one think of IKEA.
Size: 1,227sq ft including a 161sq ft balcony (with sunbed and sitting area)
While these suites are not as large as the over 1000-footers in our main list, they’re no less impressive because of it!
Cruise line: Royal Caribbean
Cruise ship: Harmony of the Seas
The Presidential Family Suite aboard Harmony of the Seas is the largest stateroom category available in the Royal Caribbean International fleet. At 1,142 sq ft, it is truly huge for a cruise ship cabin, with four bedrooms (two masters, two twin-bed), a living room, dining room and two en-suite bathrooms. It sleeps up to 14 people if necessary as the two twin-bed bedrooms have Pullman bunks that can be deployed. One of these bedrooms also has its own en-suite, giving the suite a total of three bathrooms.
Out on the 476 sqft balcony, there is a whirlpool hot-tub, a set of sun loungers and a long outdoor dining table with space for 14 people. Next to that is a small wet bar.
Editor’s Note: Okay – this isn’t an owner’s suite, the owner’s suite aboard Harmony of the Seas is much smaller at 550sqft, but this is the biggest and coolest stateroom in the RCI fleet.
Size: 1,142 sq ft (with four bedrooms and a 476 sqft balcony with hot tub, loungers and dining table)
Cruise line: MSC Cruises
Cruise ship: MSC Seaside
MSC Cruises are expanding faster than any other independent cruise line in the world right now, and they’re significantly upping their product offering with the new cruise ships being delivered.
MSC Seaside, their innovative, truly unique new cruise liner is no different, and her Royal Suite (the closest you’ll find to an Owner’s Suite in the mass market segment) is in a class of its own compared to the other ‘Big 3’ cruise lines.
The Royal Suite is the topmost stateroom category in the gated enclave of butler-attended suites called the MSC Yacht Club (a ship within a ship concept that entitles Yacht Club guests to an extraordinary array of added privileges).
The Royal Suites aboard MSC Seaside and MSC Seaview sport huge balconies, marble bathrooms with whirlpool baths and expansive views – they’re also located on the corners of the ship, so those views are 270-degrees! In addition, Yacht Club guests get preferential access to the spa, have dedicated priority elevators throughout the ship, and get to dine and relax in their own members-only restaurant and lounge.
Size: 699 sqft, with a balcony of 430 sqft (with dining table and private whirlpool bath)
Cruise line: Princess Cruises
Cruise ship: Royal Princess
Aboard Princess Cruises’ newest ship, Royal Princess, there are 14 Owner’s Suites available with large living rooms, separate bedrooms and spacious walk-around balconies. At 587 to 680 square feet (depending on exact deck), the suites are located at the stern of the ship with sweeping views over the vessel’s wake.
There are two on each of the seven accommodation decks and if you book in to any of them, you’ll also get access to a private Concierge Lounge (Princess Cruises’ first), as well as an exclusive breakfast in the ship’s Sabatini’s restaurant.
If you’d rather eat in the privacy of your suite, you can also order from an extended, complimentary room service menu that’s available 24 hours a day. Other Owner’s Suite perks include priority embarkation; priority confirmation of dining times at ship restaurants; complimentary laundry, dry cleaning and shoe polishing service; and use of the ship’s Lotus Spa Thermal Suite.
Size: 680 sq ft with 181 sq ft balcony
Cruise line: Crystal Cruises
Cruise ship: Crystal Esprit
While Crystal Cruises goes out of its way to treat all passengers aboard its luxury explorer yacht Esprit as though they were the owner, the benefit of booking the owner’s suite is not so much in the special treatment, but the size. The stateroom is twice the size of any other cabin on-board and has separate sleeping, living and dining areas. In the en-suite bathroom with stone floors, there is a Toto washlet toilet (look it up, it’s quite something!).
Then there is the Crystal service and experience itself, with butler service, the finest food imaginable and the chance to play with water toys including two jet skis and a mini-submarine. The butler assigned to the owner’s suite aboard Espirit can also arrange such adventures for you, acting as a concierge as well as a butler.
Size: 515 sq ft with full bar and dining table for four, a king-sized bed and optional pull-out sofa bed.