Cruise lines can be grouped into three distinct categories: luxury, premium and contemporary. Like contemporary cruise lines, the premium lines – such as Celebrity Cruises, Holland America Line, Oceania Cruises and Princess Cruises – offer a wide range of activities on board, from shopping and friendly contests to pool parties and dancing. But, a premium cruise line typically provides more upscale accommodations, amenities and service.
Premium cruise line ships tend to be smaller than those of the contemporary lines, generally accommodating 500 to 1,500 guests, though some are larger. Staterooms, on the other hand, tend to be more spacious, with higher-quality furnishings. Many premium ships have a high percentage of staterooms with private balconies. Dining is a step closer to gourmet, and entertainment is more sophisticated. Children are welcome, although special programming and facilities for kids probably won’t be as extensive as on a contemporary ship, and may be absent altogether.
Celebrity Cruises lives up to its name by treating guests like celebrities, presenting them with a mimosa or a glass of sparkling wine when they step on board. Celebrity earned headlines in 2008 with the launch of the Celebrity Solstice: its well-designed staterooms received rave reviews, as did its innovative Lawn Club, a half-acre of real, growing grass for perfect for bocce ball or a lazy picnic. Since then, Celebrity has added more ships to the Solstice class and has "Solsticized” many of its other ships.
Holland America Line maintains some charming traditions on its ships, including afternoon tea; ballroom dancing (gentleman hosts are available on cruises 10 days or more to dance with ladies who are sailing solo); and an elegant ringing of chimes to announce dinner. You’ll also find onboard tennis courts, eclectic shipboard art collections, and – on warm-weather sailings – a frosty glass of lemonade presented to you just when you are most thirsty. Holland America Line ships are also known for their Culinary Arts Centers, where you can watch and learn from experienced chefs.
The ships of Oceania Cruises combine sophisticated surroundings with a warm, casual vibe: a "do what you want, when you want” feeling. One thing you’ll want to do is sample the restaurants on board, including Toscana, which features fresh Tuscan cuisine; steaks, chops and seafood at the Polo Grill; and Waves, an open-air bistro. There’s also the Grand Dining Room, where six courses are served at dinner. Note that Oceania is happy to have children on board, but does not offer children’s programming.
It’s difficult to generalize about Princess Cruises, which has a large fleet of beautiful ships in a variety of sizes and styles. One of this line’s recent innovations is Movies Under the Stars, featuring nightly movies on giant LED screens above the main pools. The Chef’s Table program gives passengers the opportunity to observe dinner preparations in the galley while munching on hors d’oeuvres, then sitting at the chef’s table for a multi-course tasting menu. Princess is also known for organizing memorable weddings for its guests.
In addition, Cunard Line offers a combination of premium and luxury cruise experiences. Standard staterooms are premium-level, with services and dining options to match. Guests who book Cunard’s suite accommodations, however, sleep and dine in luxurious elegance that recalls the Golden Age of cruising.
To explore your options for enjoying the comfort and fun of a premium-class cruise, talk with your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.
Learn more about the other cruise line categories and how to pack for a cruise.