The days of cramped lodgings and magic shows are long gone thanks to a new generation of luxury liners catering to everyone from the jet-set to intrepid adventurers. These magical journeys are the cream of the crop when it comes to boating in style.
Silversea Silver Explorer, Antarctica
Silversea’s Silver Explorer takes you to the most remote continent on earth without sacrificing comfort or style. It’s all-inclusive dining, service and shore excursions aboard this 144-person ship that’s been purpose-built to navigate waters larger boats can’t reach.
After departing from Ushuaia in Argentina, you’ll spend 18 days getting acquainted with seals, humpback whales, emperor penguins and more as you journey to the Antarctic Peninsula, experiencing once-in-a-lifetime scenery at every turn.
More than just an incredible photo-op (though it’s that too), the trip allows guests to learn about the region’s ecosystem and charismatic residents with guest lectures from naturalists. Every suite and stateroom comes with butler service and, remarkably, wi-fi coverage.
Sanctuary Zein Nile Chateau, The Nile
With only four cabins and two suites, this traditional dahabiya sailboat is by charter only, offering an “a la carte” itinerary that lets you pick and choose your own luxury Nile tour. The elegantly appointed rooms and Arabian-themed sundeck with plunge pool would impress Cleopatra herself.
Highlights include the myriad 4000-year-old temples, chapels and pylons at spectacular Karnak Temple, the sacred Valley of the Kings and Luxor, the arresting city that served as the capital of the Ancient Egyptian empire at the height of its power.
Everything – the food, the music and when to disembark – is up to you. Enjoyed too many cocktails on your private floating villa the night before? No problem: eat breakfast on board at noon and spend the afternoon exploring the spice market instead. You can always catch the sights tomorrow.
Regent Seven Seas Explorer, Miami
When an ocean liner bills itself as “the most luxurious ship ever built” you know you’re in for something special. The Regent Seven Seas Explorer sails a number of routes throughout the Mediterranean and US but opt for a Miami return voyage that takes in Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, Belize and Cayman Islands over 10 idyllic days.
You’ll sail through pristine turquoise waters and be greeted by white-sand beaches when you go ashore but, really, who could pull themselves away from the boat? Everything – the flowing wine, caviar, lobster and room service – is included.
A spa by Canyon Ranch (the wellness retreat favoured by Hollywood elite such as January Jones and Jane Seymour), original art by Picasso and more crystal chandeliers than the Palace of Versailles all conspire to evoke opulence from the moment you step foot on board.
Scenic Scenic Spirit, The Mekong
With only 68 passengers, this ship’s cabins are all one-bedroom balcony suites. That means every guest gets to enjoy unobstructed views of the picturesque Mekong. Take a dip in the sleek pool by day and enjoy the boat’s open-air cinema by night.
On the 11-day Temple Discovery voyage, travellers get acquainted with traditional Vietnamese and Cambodian life through visits to local farms and authentic cooking classes. The magical Angkor Thom, Bayon Temple and Ta Prohm Temple are guaranteed to leave a lasting impression, as will an exclusive candlelit gala at Angkor Wat on the final evening.
Crystal Cruises Crystal Serenity, Africa
Crystal Serenity offers private verandahs for most rooms and a 360-degree promenade deck for everyone aboard its Perth to Cape Town voyage. The first stop is Mauritius, where guests enjoy fishing, swimming and snorkelling in the tropical waters of the island Mark Twain called “heaven”.
Spy lemurs, chameleons and crocodiles in Madagascar before arriving in South Africa, where travellers choose from a range of activities including a safari at Richards Bay Game Reserve. This lush park is home to hippos, crocodiles and more than 300 bird species.
Continue on to Durban for rickshaw rides, shopping expeditions in the local bazaars and food from around the world before moving onto the final stop of your three-week adventure: Cape Town.
Aqua Expeditions Aria Amazon, The Peruvian Amazon
When you think of luxury cruises, Peru probably isn’t the first place that springs to mind. Aqua Expeditions is changing that with its recently redesigned Aria Amazon, which offers the look and service of a high-end art hotel in the heart of the jungle.
Floor-to-ceiling windows face the Amazon River in the ship’s 16 Design Suites, conceived by Peruvian architect Jordi Puig. There’s even a river-facing jacuzzi on deck that allows guests to get in the water while keeping a safe distance from piranhas.
Daytrips led by local guides bring guests face-to-face with titi monkeys, turtles, kingfishers and the many captivating animals that call the Amazon home but you can also borrow one of the boat’s all-terrain bikes to explore traditional Peruvian towns along the way.
Seabourn Seabourn Quest, The Riviera
The Seabourn Quest is one of three yachts from Seabourn, which was voted Conde Nast’s No.1 small cruise line. Of the three, Quest has won the most accolades but it’s really the size that makes it the ultimate luxury vessel. Capped at 458 passengers, the ship is small enough to dock at more out-of-the way stops to explore the enchanting Riviera.
When you set sail from Monte Carlo in the Quest’s penthouse spa suite, you’ll be greeted with a glass of Champagne and canapés by your personal steward, who is on call at all times to run you a bath (with your choice of designer soaps and amenities) or replenish your bar’s ice supply.
Stopping in at St Tropez, Corsica, Nice and Portofino on the way to Barcelona, the 14-day luxury voyage hits all the high-roller hotspots. It also comes with its own private marina so you can kayak, sail and go banana-boating right off the ship.