Why Luxury Cruises Are Having a Come Back in 2023
Uncharted territories, exclusive luxury and service par excellence: ultra-luxury cruises are rightly one of the biggest travel trends in 2023.
January 18, 2023
Sardine decks, unpleasant giant buffets and mass handling: It's probably no secret that cruises don't enjoy a good image. Yet the sector, especially in the luxury segment, has been undergoing change for some time. Whether Silversea, Oceania Cruises, Four Seasons (from 2025), Ritz-Carlton or Seabourn: cruise lines with class prove that sea travel today is more luxurious, exclusive, sustainable and full of experiences than ever. For 2023, ultra-luxury cruising is therefore rightly considered one of the top travel trends.
More inspiration: Welcome to 2023! These Are the Year’s Trendiest Destinations
Quality instead of quantity
The Seabourn Venture scores with more open space for guests in the Wintergarden Suite Living Room. © Seabourn
Giant cruisers loaded with retirees that flood tourist destinations? A horror scenario for travelers with a sense of style. And old news. Those who opt for high-end travel can look forward to more space than ever: lines such as Silversea, Windstar, and Seabourn have drastically reduced the number of passengers on their luxury ships in recent years. The result is larger suites per person, a particularly high ratio between guests and service staff, and more privacy than ever.
The Four Seasons hotel chain's first luxury yacht is set to set sail in 2025. © Four Season Hotels & Resorts
Also well-known hotel chains such as Aman, Ritz-Carlton and Four Seasons are leaving the safe haven of mainland accommodations and venturing out onto the high seas: In 2025, Four Seasons plans to launch the brand's first luxury yacht, with 95 villa-like residences that will have private plunge pools and their own spa areas. On the 14 decks of the Four Seasons Yacht, guests will have nearly 50 percent more space than has been common in the cruise industry to date. The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection also focuses on exclusivity: with the most passenger ship to date, the Evrima, they set sail for the first time in 2022.
Luxury on the high seas
Spaces like the Explorer Lounge on Silversea's Silver Endeavour show just how luxurious cruising can be. © Silversea Cruises
Whether it's smaller, more exclusive cruisers and yachts or high-end expedition ships, luxury cruises are becoming increasingly popular among younger generations. The reasons for this are many and varied. Above all, however, it is the sector itself that is adapting to the needs of younger travelers and current requirements. Cruise line facilities and services are now more extravagant and attentive than ever. Just take a look at ultra-luxury cruise lines like Silversea, which is conquering the world's oceans with its all-suite fleet including butler service.
A must for any ultra-luxury cruise: butler service. © Silversea Cruises
Many ships are now scoring points with wellness offeringsthat can easily compete with five-star hotels. Silversea, for example, created the OTIVM wellness concept for the launch of the Silver Dawn 2022, which offers elegant relaxation the Roman way. Seabourn invites guests to yoga, meditation classes, sound switching therapies, and personal counseling sessions from a wellness coach as part of its Mindful Living program. That's how quickly you can find inner balance on the high seas.
The range of excellent Michelin and gourmet restaurants on board of the luxury liners is also impressive. Silversea's ultra-luxury liners focus on immersive dining experiences: The S.A.L.T. (Sea and Land Taste) program is dedicated to the culinary characteristics of the destinations ahead.
Luxury on the high seas: OTIVM pampers travelers with Roman wellness. © Silversea Cruises
On an expedition course
Of course, the luxury cruises will continue to offer classic destinations such as Venice and Tokyo in the future. But what is attracting frequent travelers and adventure seekers on board more than ever is the variety of new, remote destinations. Many ships are setting off for almost untouched waters that would probably not be reached otherwise.
Ship travelers can experience the European Arctic or the Canadian-Arctic Archipelago in Nunavut - via Seabourn, for example. Silversea also ventures into the icy, harsh realms of the polar seas in the South Atlantic, sailing around Cape Horn and the remote Falklands.
Silversea's Zodiacs take you through the icy waters near Albert I Land, Svalbard. © Silversea Cruises
What makes these adventurous trips possible? In recent years, many cruise lines have made their ships ice-capable. Many older models have also been converted and expanded for this purpose. Silversea has successively expanded its fleet of expedition ships since 2017: The Silver Cloud, for example, became the Silver Cloud Expedition and now plows the polar seas unerringly.
Zodiac cruise in the Amazon jungle on the Seabourn Venture. © Seabourn
To make the expedition voyages even more attractive, there are Zodiacs, submarines and kayaks on board to put travelers right in the middle of the action. A team of experts - from botanists and historians to polar explorers and biologists - give lectures and accompany the ship's guests through their adventure.
More experiences on board and ashore
Experts accompany guests on their expedition cruises. Here at the Observation Lounge of the Silver Cloud. © Silversea Cruises
Kitschy magic shows and Elvis impersonators are in the past: ultra-luxury liners know how to entertain guests with aspirations. In addition to luxury boutiques on board or interesting seminars and lectures on the destinations of the chosen route, there are special events on almost all ships. Star DJs and celebrated bands, mixologists and star chefs are invited on board for exclusive theme nights. On land, you are taken to extravagant gala dinners in the most renowned restaurants or attend country-specific performances in small groups.
Off to new shores?
The expedition ship Seabourn Venture carries travelers luxuriously into the heart of adventure. © Seabourn
More adventurous, more luxurious, more exclusive: it's no wonder that an increasingly younger clientele is attracted to the once-in-a-lifetime experiences of ultra-luxury cruises. When exactly the new cruise boom will peak remains to be seen: The lines still know how to outdo each other with their offers every year.