Cruises may have become more affordable over the past few decades with the arrival of low-end offers, known for their kitschy shows and all-you-can-eat buffets.
But on the opposite end of the spectrum, certain cruise lines focus on ever more exceptional and extravagant ships for the most demanding vacationers. Below is our selection of luxurious cruise ships offering a level of comfort and service worthy of a five-star hotel.
Crystal Serenity – Crystal Cruises
Repeatedly recognized by the "Condé Nast Traveler Reader's Choice Awards," a reference in the luxury tourism sector, the Crystal Serenity is manned by 655 staff members serving up to 1,070 passengers.
A suite on the Crystal Serenity
The ship's accommodations include 35 spacious and luxurious suites. Guests can even shop while on board the ship, which includes a Dior boutique.
Seabourn Quest - Seabourn
This luxurious cruise welcomes no more than 450 guests at a time, and its staff is comprised of nearly as many individuals (330).
The Seabourn Quest's suites, including the 125.5 square meter "Signature" suite, are particularly palatial. A private marina allows guests to enjoy water-skiing, kayaking and other water sports, while a spa ensures that guests can relax in the most luxurious way possible.
The Road to Mandalay – Orient Express
Sailing on the Ayeyarwady, Myanmar's main waterway, the Road to Mandalay is an exclusive and rather intimate cruise ship, with room for just 100 guests.
On the observation deck, tourists can admire the lush landscapes, swim in the pool or sip drinks at the bar.
Seven Seas Mariner - Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Each of the 700 guests aboard the Seven Seas Mariner has a customized experience, as each member of the staff is responsible for the well-being of just two guests.
The ship's accommodations — all suites — range in size from 24 to 110 square meters and are often equipped with marble bathrooms and private balconies.
Silver Spirit - Silversea Cruises
The 540 guests aboard the Silver Spirit will enjoy its numerous pools and restaurants and its ultra-luxurious suites.
The "Owner's Suite" includes two bedrooms — one with a surface area of 120 square meters and the other at 150 square meters — each with its own 18 sq m balcony.
The most demanding guests can opt for the even larger Grande Suite, which one 142 sq m bedroom and a second measuring 175 square meters, in addition to a 65 sq m veranda.
Sea Cloud – Sea Cloud
The most intimate and exclusive ship in our selection, this sailing ship can accommodate just 64 passengers in its 32 cabins.
The suites, all impeccably decorated, range from around 10 to 30 square meters. Guests dine in the ship's fine restaurant and lounges.