Epic's Studios Lounge for single travelers // (c) 2010 Norwegian Cruise Line
The Royal Loft Suite //
(c) 2010 Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas
Guests of the Samsara Spa cabins can
enjoy the huge Thalassotherapy
pools // (c) 2010 Costa Cruises
Cove Balcony Rooms //
(c) 2010 Carnival Cruise Lines
In recent years, the cruise industry has come up with some truly wonderful and outstanding accommodations. Narrowing my list of favorites to just five was difficult but, among my personal favorites, the following staterooms really made an impression on me for their attention to detail and wide range of available amenities.
Studios, Norwegian Epic
The 128 colorful Studio staterooms onboard the Norwegian Epic are designed for solo cruisers, each one measuring 100 square feet with a full-size bed, a flat-screen television, a desk, storage space and a bathroom with a sink and shower. These inside staterooms have oval windows that also open onto a corridor, with narrow Venetian blinds giving your clients much-needed privacy. The rooms come with exclusive access to an attractive Studios Lounge for single travelers. The lounge features plasma televisions, comfortable seats and tables, as well as coffee and tea and bar service. These Studio rooms are also reasonably priced: the tab for such a room is approximately $700-900 less than an inside stateroom occupied by a single passenger.
Loft Suites, Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas
The 28 two-level Loft Suites on Royal Caribbean International’s Oasis of the Seas come in three categories, all with floor-to-ceiling window walls that open onto panoramic views. The 25 Crown Loft Suites, measuring 545 square feet, each have a master bedroom and bath on the second level; a bath with shower on the main level; a 114-square-foot private balcony; a living room sofa that converts into a double bed; a dry bar; a table; and a desk. The two Sky Loft Suites are larger, with 720 square feet of space each, and separate dining areas. The Royal Loft Suite, measuring 1,524 square feet, accommodates up to six people and has inside and outside dining areas for eight; a wet bar; a library; a separate television on the balcony; and a Jacuzzi.
Samsara Spa Cabins and Suites, Costa Cruises
One of the best-kept secrets in cruising are Costa Cruises’ Samsara Spa Cabins and Suites. Costa originated the concept and still has a substantial edge when it comes to its gourmet spa restaurants, which are free for all meals to spa stateroom guests. Spa stateroom and suite guests also get complimentary treatments and classes in the spa, special stateroom amenities and a location that is within steps of the private elevator that takes them to the two-story Samsara Spa, with its huge Thalassotherapy pools. The staterooms are offered onboard Costa Concordia, Costa Deliziosa, Costa Luminosa, Costa Pacifica and Costa Serena, and have been retrofitted onboard the Costa Mediterranea and the Costa Atlantica. On average, the cost of a spa stateroom costs about 20 percent more than the same cabin, without the amenities and privileges — a steal of a deal.
Double Suites, Seabourn Legend, Pride and Spirit
The Yachts of Seabourn’s Seabourn Legend, Seabourn Pride and Seabourn Spirit offer Double Suite accommodations, which join two standard suites to create a stateroom that measures a total of 544 square feet. That space includes two full baths; two stocked bars; two televisions and Bose Wave stereos; and two walk-in closets. One of the suites also features a queen-size Murphy bed, so the space can become a living/dining room if the guests so wish. Another option is to use a rollaway or youth bed in that room for a child.
Onboard the Spirit, there are 10 possible Double Suites in categories A1 and A3 (picture window suites) and B2 and B3 (balcony suites). The fare is calculated at 180 percent of the applicable fare for the suite category, sold per person.
Cove Balcony Rooms, Carnival Dream
For those who complain that today’s large cruise ships keep them at too far a distance from the water, Carnival Cruises Lines’ new Cove Balconies on the Carnival Dream are a solution. They really allow passengers to enjoy wonderful ocean views. The Cove Balcony rooms are on the third deck above the waterline, above the crew deck and the first deck of passenger staterooms, but they feel very close to the water at about 20-25 feet above sea level. The balconies feature two chairs and a small table for clients who wish to watch the waves go by, and there is a watertight door, if needed.