8 Reasons to Book a Premium Cruise Class

Want coveted perks and exclusive experiences on the high seas? Reserve a cabin in a VIP section.

By Erica Lamberg, ContributorOct. 12, 2017
By Erica Lamberg, ContributorOct. 12, 2017, at 9:48 a.m.
U.S. News & World Report

8 Reasons to Book a Premium Cruise Class

Smiling young woman enjoying her day on a ship and looking away.

For high-end amenities and services, from specialty restaurants to private pools to well-appointed suites with private butlers, reserve a cabin in an exclusive ship-within-a-ship enclave.(Getty Images)

Today's large cruise ships boast enticing amenities, from water parks to spacious common areas to specialty dining options to shopping promenades. But these grandiose extras don't appeal to everyone in the cruise segment. For travelers who yearn for luxury on the high seas without compromising the nightlife and entertainment offerings of larger ships, booking a cruise cabin category with its own exclusive ship-within-a-ship experiences and amenities may be the best of both worlds. Read on for eight selling points for booking an a premium ship cabin on your next cruise.

Consider the Perks of The Haven on Norwegian Cruise Line

The Haven by Norwegian is an exclusive enclave that offers luxurious perks. Guests staying in The Haven will be pampered with privacy, personalized service and complimentary amenities. Among other privileges, guests staying in The Haven will enjoy 24-hour butler and concierge service, priority embarkation and disembarkation and priority boarding when tendering to shore. Guests who opt for accommodations in The Haven also benefit from in-suite espresso and cappuccino machines, gourmet treats delivered each evening, a Bliss Collection mattress, a pillow menu and plush bathrobes and slippers. In addition, guests have access to a dedicated concierge to make all arrangements and reservations upon climbing aboard.

The Haven experience is available on a variety of ships, including Norwegian Escape, Norwegian Joy, Norwegian Getaway, Norwegian Breakaway, Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Jewel, Norwegian Gem, Norwegian Pearl and Norwegian Jade.

"The Haven by Norwegian brings together the best of the exclusive service and amenities available on smaller cruise lines, with the award-winning entertainment, exciting activities and wide variety of gourmet dining found on larger ships," says Vanessa Picariello, senior director of public relations at Norwegian Cruise Line.

You Can Enjoy Access to a Yacht Club

The MSC Seaside will debut in Miami in December and promises to be one of the most elegant ships launching this year. Among the amenities of its Yacht Club, MSC Cruises' ship-within-a-ship concept, are 24-hour butler service and concierge services, complimentary wines and spirits, beers and soft drinks and open-seating dining in private MSC Yacht Club restaurants. What's more, those who book accommodations in the Yacht Club can take advantage of a private entrance to MSC Aurea Spa (with treatment rooms dedicated to MSC Yacht Club guests), private shore excursions and priority check-in and disembarkation.

"Designed as an entirely self-contained private club area on the foredecks of the ship and offering the highest level of customized service, guests staying in the MSC Yacht Club are able to enjoy a vacation of privacy and exclusivity with discrete features, while still having access to the variety of choices and amenities only available on a larger ship," says Roberto Fusaro, president of MSC Cruises USA. "In addition to enjoying their own private lounge, pool and specialty restaurant, added perks such as round-the-clock butler and concierge services, superior suites and priority check-in, make the MSC Yacht Club worth the splurge."

You Can Leverage Value

The ship-within-a-ship experience gives the guest the best of both worlds, says Uf Tukel, co-president of WMPH Vacations, a travel agency in Florida. "Affluent guests can have the luxury accommodations, inclusiveness and personal service that they are looking for in a small-ship luxury vacation, but also a variety of activities, dining options and entertainment to suit an active lifestyle," Tukel says. "Shoppers understand that there is a difference between value and price. Price is what you pay for something. Value is what you get for the price. And this ship-within-a-ship experience provides a tremendous amount of value for what you pay."

You Can Escape the Crowds

Tukel says among the biggest objections to taking a cruise vacation by noncruisers and resort vacationers is that cruise ships feel over crowded. However, exclusive sections such as The Haven and Yacht Club provide guests with an escape from thousands of other passengers and provide amenities that are conveniently located within steps of the front door of their suites. "Amenities like mattress-covered deck chairs and beach beds with sunbrellas are included, as is lunch service by the pool and private restaurants for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Lounges for cocktails and even spa services are all benefits that mean less time waiting and more time enjoying," he says.

You Can Enjoy VIP Access

In premium cabins, you can take advantage of exclusive areas and concierge service that helps save time. Tukel highlights "priority access to get on and off the ship, reservations in the alternative restaurants, assistance with shore excursions and tours, and reservations and great seats for entertainment," as added perks that translate to added time spent relaxing and in seclusion.

Perks Abound

Cabins in premium room categories are often bundled with additional amenities that may not always be included with other staterooms on the ship. For example, certain blackout times or exclusions apply, but there are often added benefits for guests staying in the Haven through Norwegian's Free at Sea and other promotions.

Foodies Can Savor Elevated At-Sea Cuisine

According to travel journalist David Yeskel, aside from offering a great value for a luxury experience (think: a dedicated butler and concierge and a private pool area and sundeck), MSC's differentiator is its cuisine. "The food is very good in all restaurants aboard, but the cuisine in the Yacht Club's dedicated restaurant is notched up even further with a quality array of homemade pastas, seafood and meat dishes that transcends those on competing lines," he says. "And after enjoying all of the other activities and entertainment available on MSC's 4,000-passenger ships, it's a special pleasure to slip back into your private Yacht Club enclave for a luxe escape," he adds.

Families Can Take Advantage of Extra Space

Cruisers traveling with kids in tow will appreciate premium cruise cabins that offer more breathing room and can comfortably accommodate five or more guests, with separate bedrooms. "Every mom and dad wants to make sure their kids are having fun. The small ship, luxury cruise lines simply do not cater to families with small children and teenagers," Tukel says. "But with the larger ships, families can enjoy the exclusivity and privacy of Haven and know their kids are having a ball in the kids' program, on the water slides, playing basketball and meeting other kids," he adds.

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Erica Lamberg, Contributor

Erica Lamberg has contributed to U.S. News & World Report since 2015. In addition, she has ...  Read more

About En Route

Practical advice on the art of traveling smarter with tips, tricks and intel from En Route's panel of experts.

Contributors have experience in areas ranging from family travel, adventure travel, experiential travel and budget travel to hotels, cruises and travel rewards and include Amy Whitley, Claire Volkman, Holly Johnson, Marsha Dubrow, Lyn Mettler, Sery Kim, Kyle McCarthy, Erica Lamberg, Jess Moss, Sheryl Nance-Nash, Sherry Laskin, Katie Jackson, Erin Gifford, Roger Sands, Steve Larese, Gwen Pratesi, Erin Block, Dave Parfitt, Kacey Mya, Kimberly Wilson, Susan Portnoy, Donna Tabbert Long and Kitty Bean Yancey.

Edited by Liz Weiss.


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