With the launch of Silversea’s newest ship, Silver Nova, and Explorer Jouneys Explorer I, research indicates smaller luxury ships are about to replace suite class on larger cruise lines. The luxury cruise industry is set to launch a total of 29 new luxury ships between 2023 and 2028.
The industry has shown further signs of rebounding in 2023, with half of 2023’s new ships being smaller, more opulent luxury cruise ships. But can you compare cruising on upscale luxury vessels as an alternative to a suite on premium lines?
More and more people are choosing to travel in style and opt for the suite class options such as Yacht Club on MSC and Royal Suite Class on Royal Caribbean.
However, this ship-within-a-ship experience comes with a hefty price tag, and with spaces limited, they often book up quickly with guests clambering to secure the top suites.
Luxury Cruising is the New Suite Class Trend
It’s a common misconception that smaller luxury cruise ships come at a more significant price point, and yes, some itineraries are more costly. But cruisers can often access similar, if not less expensive, cruise fares on smaller luxury vessels.
This explains why Oxford Economics cites luxury cruising as” The New Gold Rush,” showing three times more growth than the rest of the luxury travel industry.
And the figures tell us why: a 7-night Caribbean cruise-only fare in February 2025 in a Grand Suite on Royal Caribbeans Wonder of the Seas costs $10,400. In contrast, a suite on Silversea Silver Moon, of sister luxury cruise line Silversea, costs $9,125 for a ten-day cruise-only Caribbean cruise.
Grant Seuren, Director of Sail Croatia, commented, “We are seeing really strong sales in the small ship luxury cruising market. This sector of the industry continues to perform strongly, and that is particularly true in Croatia. On a cruise like ours, the itinerary is carefully curated to ensure guests see the best the destination offers.”
“For many of our guests, it is a very affordable way to travel in luxury and style, and we know from experience that once people visit, they inevitably return.”
Premium Suite Class vs. Luxury Ship
Choosing a suite on a premium cruise line offers extensive facilities on some of the largest ships in the world with the added luxury of top-class experiences; Wonder of the Seas offers all the fun attractions onboard and a dedicated suite district.
These mega ships with suite class often provide a more elevated suite experience with extras, such as a butler, priority dining, a suite lounge, and alcoholic drinks.
The drawback is that some ships restrict passengers to one lounge and restaurant, even when these mega-ships have many bars and venues to explore.
The Luxury Travel Market Report highlights that key factors driving the luxury travel market growth include “The increasing spending by elite travelers to visit unexplored destinations and gain new experiences”. Luxury cruise ships are known for offering the highest standards, opulent design, first-class service, and amenities without exclusions.
The small luxury cruise lines offer a more intimate experience, often carrying an average of 600 guests instead of the many thousands of passengers on large cruise lines.
More Included in a Luxury Cruise Fare
Do the extras included in a luxury cruise fare give small cruise ships an advantage? The 2023 Luxury Cruise Market Report states that the luxury cruise market is growing. It is projected to carry just over 1 million guests this year, up from over 600,000 in 2019 and projecting 1.5 million passengers by 2030.
Those opting for luxury cruises can expect more included in their cruise fare, such as all-suite ships, concierge service, gourmet dining, and beverages (which often include alcoholic drinks).
“Once I experienced a luxury small ship cruise, there was no going back to bigger cruise lines. The smaller ships can port away from the big tourist destinations, allowing for more excursions that focus on the local culture. And the exceptional service is second to none,” shares travel writer Casandra Karpiak.
What Gives a Premium Cruise Vessel the Edge?
Large sports areas and facilities such as surf simulators and skydiving are essential for some passengers. Giving an edge to premium cruise lines such as Celebrity, Royal Caribbean International, and Norwegian Cruise.
The ships are huge and bustling, many offering a suite area to retreat to with upscaled service, dedicated sun decks, and dining options.
“We have always loved cruising in suite class on some of the bigger cruise ships; it’s an exceptional experience, and the kids still get all the action. Says travel and cruise writer Donna Vallance.
She continues, “The large cruise ships have so much entertainment, but stepping into the suite lounge is a relaxing end to your day. However, now we are travelling on our own, luxury cruise lines are a great option for a more intimate cruise experience with all of the added extras.”
The Premium or Luxury Debate
Kieren Eccles Miller, a UK travel agent specializing in cruises, says, “The value of deciding between a large and small ship can be tough. Smaller ships are more intimate, offer better one-to-one service, and can get into ports and destinations that larger ships can’t get into.
However, booking onto a larger ship gives you more choice for added facilities, dining options, entertainment, and ship features.”
What’s clear is that there is a luxury cruise experience for everyone, and it’s here to stay.
Whether it’s a pumped-up mega-class ship traveling in a suite or a fully laid-on luxury suite cruise, travelers have more options than ever. This extensive choice will only grow with a full luxury cruise order book ready to tempt new passengers.
This article was produced by Cruising For All and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.