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The best cruise ship suites — picked by someone who has seen them all

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One of the biggest stories in the cruise world over the past couple of decades has been the arrival of a new generation of superlarge, superswanky cruise ship suites that are chock-full of every sort of upscale feature and amenity you could imagine. They are sights to behold.

Some of the biggest of these cruise ship suites measure 2,000 square feet or more — approaching the size of the typical American home. A handful go far beyond that.

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I haven’t stayed in all of these new cruise ship suites. But over more than 25 years of writing about cruise ships, I’ve toured pretty much all of them. I can’t think of any major cruise ship suite that I’ve missed other than Disney Cruise Line’s new Tower Suite on Disney Wish, which I hope to get to soon.

A few of these swanky digs really stood out, and I’ll profile them below in my personal list of best cruise suites.

In some cases, these are one-of-a-kind suites found on only a single vessel. In other cases, they are suites with similar sisters on multiple ships.

The Royal Loft Suite on Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas. ROYAL CARIBBEAN

To be clear, this is by no means an exhaustive list. Disney fans will no doubt admonish me for not including the supersized suites on some Disney Cruise Line ships, such as the art deco-influenced Roy O. Disney Suite on Disney Fantasy. I’ve been in these suites, and they are certainly impressive. But I wasn’t as wowed by them as I was by the suites below. And I have to cut off my list somewhere.

Related: 8 cabin locations on cruise ships you definitely should avoid

Luxury lines Silversea Cruises and Seabourn also offer quite a few wonderful suites on their ships, and it’s worth noting that some of the biggest suites at sea are those found on Norwegian Cruise Line‘s Jewel-class vessels.

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Below, you’ll find my picks for the seven best suites at sea.

Regent Suite

Ship: Seven Seas Splendor (Regent Seven Seas Cruises)

At 4,443 square feet, the Regent Suite on Seven Seas Splendor is bigger than the average home in the United States. STEPHEN BEAUDET/REGENT SEVEN SEAS CRUISES

Every time I think of this suite, I think of that famous scene in “Dr. Zhivago” where Comrade Kaprugina dresses down the good doctor on the size of his mansion. “There was living space for 13 families in this one house!” she scolds.

You might not be able to jam 13 families into Regent Seven Seas Cruises‘ Regent Suite, but in a pinch, you probably could come close. It sprawls over an astounding 4,443 square feet — nearly twice the size of the average American home. Its opulence is like nothing you’ll find anywhere else at sea (except in similar suites found on Regent’s Seven Seas Explorer and the just-unveiled Seven Seas Grandeur).

Located at the front of Seven Seas Splendor, the Regent Suite is so big it stretches all the way from one side of the ship to the other, offering views in three directions. It has two massive bedroom complexes — and they really are complexes, with seemingly endless space. It also has a living room, a separate dining area and perhaps the most spectacular balcony at sea.

Related: 7 reasons you should splurge on a suite for your next cruise

Among the over-the-top things you’ll find in the Regent Suite is a bed with a handmade mattress that Regent executives claim cost more than $200,000. It was handcrafted by four artisans at the renowned Hastens workshop in Koping, Sweden, using horsetail hair and flax, along with cotton and wool batting.

The Regent Suite also has a ridiculously large master bathroom, complete with its own sauna and steam room. It’s big enough that it can double as a personal spa treatment room. To that end, the Regent Suite — get this — comes with its own spa therapist on call. Unlimited spa treatments are included in the cost of the suite.

The master bathroom in the Regent Suite on Seven Seas Splendor. REGENT SEVEN SEAS CRUISES

Other perks of staying in the Regent Suite include first-class domestic flights to reach the ship; a personal car, driver and guide in every port; and a dedicated butler to help make arrangements on board.

The only downside to a stay? The cost. Regent charges $11,000 a day for the privilege.

Related: The 2 types of Regent ships, explained

Royal Loft Suite

Ship: Quantum of the Seas (Royal Caribbean)

A Royal Loft Suite on Quantum of the Seas. ROYAL CARIBBEAN

At 1,640 square feet, the Royal Loft Suite on Royal Caribbean‘s Quantum of the Seas isn’t nearly as big as the Regent Suite on Seven Seas Splendor. But it makes my list of the best cruise ship suites because it offers something the latter doesn’t: views across the ship’s wake through a soaring, two-deck-high glass wall.

That’s right, the Royal Loft Suite on Quantum of the Seas sprawls over two decks and has a main room that is two stories high — a lavish use of space that is rare in the cruise world.

Royal Caribbean offers a Royal Loft Suite on each of its Oasis Class and Quantum Class ships, but there are some design differences among them.

My favorite of all the Royal Loft Suites is the one on Quantum of the Seas, the first vessel in Royal Caribbean’s Quantum Class series. Sleeping up to six, it offers a stylish, two-deck-high living and dining space facing the complex’s giant window wall, complete with such modernist touches as an Eames chair (which, being a minimalist, I adore). Among its highlights are a dry bar and a sofa that converts into a double bed.

Related: 5 reasons to turn down a cruise ship cabin upgrade

The first floor of the Royal Loft Suite is also home to a media room with a sofa that converts into a queen bed. It’s a perfect hideaway for the kids, should you be traveling with a family.

Upstairs, the main bedroom is open-walled, so you can see across the living area to the sea. It is accessed via a bridge-like walkway, which I love. It’s like crossing a drawbridge into your own private castle at sea.

RThe master bedroom of the Royal Loft Suite on Quantum of the Seas. ROYAL CARIBBEAN

Rounding out the complex is a spacious, 415-square-foot private balcony that has its own private whirlpool — another great place from which to look out over the water.

Balmoral Suite

Ship: Queen Mary 2 (Cunard Line)

The master bedroom of the Balmoral Suite on Queen Mary 2.. CUNARD

Royal Caribbean wasn’t the first cruise line to go the double-decker route when designing over-the-top cruise ship suites. A decade before the debut of Quantum of the Seas, Cunard Line wowed cruise fans with the unveiling of this two-deck-high Grand Duplex suite and a sister suite, the Sandringham, on its iconic Queen Mary 2.

Named after a castle in Scotland owned by the British royal family, the Balmoral Suite is fit for a queen with a stunning 2,249 square feet of living space.

Like Royal Caribbean’s Royal Loft suites, both the Balmoral Suite and the Sandringham Suite have a sprawling living room and dining area on their ground floors and a spacious master bedroom complex on their second levels.

One thing I particularly love about the Grand Duplex suites is that their master bedrooms are reached via dramatic, curving staircases.

Another allure of the Grand Duplex suites is that they come with access to Queen Mary 2’s exclusive Queens Grill restaurant for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Only open to passengers staying in the very top accommodations on the ship, this is a much more intimate, elegant and private eatery than the main Britannia restaurant where most passengers dine.

Movie buffs may recognize the restaurant, as it was heavily highlighted in the Meryl Streep movie “Let Them All Talk,” which was set on Queen Mary 2.

Owner’s suite

Ship: Viking Star (Viking)

The living room in the owner’s suite on a Viking ship. VIKING

Many cruise ships have giant suites that are given the name “owner’s suite.” But few live up to the phrase like this one.

The owner’s suite on Viking Star — Viking‘s first oceangoing ship — was specifically designed to be used by Viking founder and owner Torstein Hagen when he travels on the ship, and it’s full of little quirks that reflect his personal tastes.

Among them: Hagen’s personal mementos, including pictures of his family, are sprinkled throughout the suite. A selection of books from Hagen’s personal collection fills a bookshelf.

The Norwegian-born Hagen also had the suite built with its own private sauna with a glass wall facing the sea, something he wanted for personal use.

In all, the suite — and similar suites that were built onto more recently unveiled Viking ocean ships — sprawls over an impressive 1,448 square feet.

The dining area of an owner’s suite on a Viking ocean ship. VIKING

Located at the top of the vessel, it has a bedroom with a large bathroom complex (including that sauna), a separate living room and a dining area that seats six people.

In addition, in another twist that speaks to its real use as an owner’s suite, it has its own boardroom with a long table that seats 12 people that Hagen uses for meetings and catered dinner parties. There’s an adjacent pantry that can be used by staff serving room service or catering hosted events.

Among other personal touches related to Hagen are wine and music collections that he curated for the rooms.

Similar Owner’s Suites can be found on other Viking ocean ships, too, all used from time to time by Hagen and his family.

Reflection Suite

Ship: Celebrity Reflection (Celebrity Cruises)

Reflection Suite on Celebrity Reflection. CELEBRITY CRUISES

Many Celebrity Cruises ships have spacious and alluring suites. But the newest of the line’s five Solstice Class vessels, Celebrity Reflection, has my favorite of them all: the Reflection Suite.

Unveiled in 2012, the Reflection Suite was the brand’s first two-bedroom suite, and it measures a none-too-shabby 1,636 square feet, not including a 194-square-foot balcony.

Located in a panoramic corner spot on the ship, it features a glass-walled living and dining area with a dining table that can seat 10 people (just in case you want to hold a dinner party during your cruise).

Related: TPG’s ultimate guide to picking a cruise line

But what really earns it a place on our list of the best cruise ship suites is the Reflection Suite’s stunning, glass-walled master bathroom. Dubbed a “sea-view bathroom,” it is just that — a bathroom with floor-to-ceiling windows that offer incredible sea views. The most-talked-about highlight of the space: a glass-enclosed rain shower that juts out over the edge of the ship.

eflection Suite bathroom on Celebrity Reflection. CELEBRITY CRUISES
One of the two bedrooms in the Reflection Suite. CELEBRITY CRUISES

Just be careful if you use the shower as the ship pulls into port: You might end up putting on a show. (The walls are made of “smart glass,” so you can change them from transparent to translucent.) That said, we can’t think of another bathroom on a cruise ship with such amazing views.

Owner’s suite

Ship: Riviera (Oceania Cruises)

An owner’s suite bedroom on Oceania Cruises’ Riviera. OCEANIA CRUISES

The owner’s suites on Oceania Cruises‘ Riviera — there are three of them — rival anything you can find at a resort on land when it comes to elegance and style.

So do three more owner’s suites that you can find on Riviera’s slightly older sister ship, Marina.

All six of the suites were decorated using Ralph Lauren furnishings by designer Susan Bednar Long, and they have a wonderful flow and consistency in style.

The mahogany beds that you’ll find in the master bedrooms are upholstered in steel-blue mohair — a striking touch — and are flanked by walls covered in cashmere. A few steps away, a marble-clad master bathroom offers more luxurious Ralph Lauren design touches.

Measuring around 2,000 square feet, the owner’s suites also have spacious living rooms and a dramatic entryway with a bar on one side and a grand piano on the other.

The living and dining area of an owner’s suite on Oceania Cruises’ Riviera. OCEANIA CRUISES
n Oceania owner’s suite. OCEANIA CRUISES

The suites offer lots of outdoor living space with wrap-around balconies that are home to hot tubs and flat-screen TVs. These balconies overlook the back of the ship, offering great views.

Among the extra touches, a stay in one of the suites comes with butler service, free laundry service of up to three bags per sailing, priority ship embarkation with priority luggage delivery and access to an exclusive executive lounge staffed by a dedicated concierge.

Ultimate Family Suite

Ship: Symphony of the Seas (Royal Caribbean)

Ultimate Family Suite (Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean)

Yes, I’m putting a second Royal Caribbean suite on my short list of the seven best cruise suites. The line is that amazing when it comes to suites. Indeed, if I had to pick just one cruise line for best suites, it’d be Royal Caribbean.

The Ultimate Family Suite on Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas, which debuted in 2018, really is the ultimate family suite. I can’t think of a better suite anywhere in the world, at sea or on land, for families with kids, particularly small kids.

Like two other Ultimate Family suites that have debuted more recently on Spectrum of the Seas (a ship devoted to the Asia cruise market) and Wonder of the Seas, Symphony’s is like a kiddie fun zone that happens to have beds where you can spend the night.

Related: 12 tips for surviving a luxury cruise with kids

Measuring a palatial 1,346 square feet, the Ultimate Family Suite on Symphony of the Seas spans two decks that are loaded with such kid-friendly attractions as an air hockey table, a building block wall, table tennis on the balcony and a vertical climbing maze.

There’s also a crawl-through nook connecting the main bedroom for adults and a second kiddie bedroom, plus — surely the coolest feature of all — a slide that descends from the second floor of the complex to the first floor. (Don’t worry, there are stairs, too, for those who want to move between floors the traditional way.)

The kids bedroom in the Ultimate Family Suite. ROYAL CARIBBEAN

In addition, the complex has its very own private cinema room with an 85-inch 4K TV that streams movies, a popcorn machine and the latest gaming consoles.

Designed with even the largest families in mind — it can hold up to eight people! — the suite also features one of the most jaw-dropping balcony views on the entire ship. And, like all high-end suites on Royal Caribbean ships, it comes with a Royal Genie — a personal butler assigned to cater to your every need.

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