Cruise lines have always tried to top themselves, whether it’s with towering ships, luxurious spas, or decadent cuisine. And these companies show no sign of resting on their laurels.
Their latest vessels up the ante in terms of luxury and forward-thinking design. With interiors by some of the world’s top hospitality designers, including Lauren Rottet and Richmond International, cuisine by Michelin-starred chefs, and boutiques that would be right at home on Madison Avenue, these ships offer five-star amenities as they sail to their ports of call.
Whether you’re planning a transatlantic voyage or a quick river cruise, these stylish ships offer trips of a lifetime.
1. Viking Ocean Cruises’ Viking Star
The first seagoing vessel in the new ocean line from Viking (previously only a river-cruising outfit), the 930-passenger Viking Star—with a balcony for every stateroom—launched this spring. Lauren Rottet, whose eponymous studio has recently reimagined New York’s Loews Regency and Miami’s Royal Palm South Beach hotels to great acclaim, helped conceive the modern Scandinavian scheme.
2. Ponant’s Le Lyrial
For the design of the 122-cabin Le Lyrial, the fifth ship in its fleet of small, yachtlike cruisers, the Marseille-based company Ponant turned to Jean-Philippe Nuel. He has created some of France’s most notable new boutique hotels (not least of all the Molitor, which centers on an Art Deco former public pool). He took inspiration for Le Lyrial, which debuted in May, from the ship’s ports of call, incorporating the turquoise of the Mediterranean and the icy blue of the Arctic.
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3. Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas
One of the most high-tech and amenity-rich large ships out there—think robotic bartenders, a skydive simulator, and boutiques from Tom Ford and Bulgari—the months-old 4,000-plus-passenger Anthem of the Seas is the second of three planned massive ships in Royal Caribbean’s new Quantum class.
4. Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Escape
Launching this month, the 4,200-passenger Norwegian Escape is another epically sized ship, the first in Norwegian Cruise Line’s top-tier Breakaway Plus class. Of note here is the all-suite Haven section. It's a sort of ship within a ship (entry to which requires special key-card access), featuring its own restaurant and special amenities, such as 24-hour butler and concierge services.