A cruise should be a hassle-free experience, and for the most part it is — but we all know about those troublesome bits: queuing in long lines, wrangling specialty restaurant reservations, searching for solitude on a packed ship. Imagine having someone available to smooth away the rough edges of travel. Spring for a cabin that comes with concierge service, and your wish can be granted.
Besides priority boarding and embarkation privileges, you can expect staff to lend a hand with your onboard reservations. Several lines offer restricted-access concierge lounges, where you’ll find continental breakfast and nibbles throughout the day, as well as staples like newspapers, board games, and computers — even cocktails. Others provide exclusive outdoor spaces and stateroom perks. Here are some highlights from our favorites:
Available On: Norwegian Breakaway, Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Gem, Norwegian Getaway, Norwegian Jade, Norwegian Jewel, Norwegian Pearl
The Haven Courtyard - Photo by Norwegian Cruise Line
What You Get: Passengers sailing in The Haven and full suites have a 24-hour butler at sea, but the VIP treatment begins before priority embarkation: The shoreside concierge desk ensures your dining and entertainment, shore excursions, and spa and salon appointments are arranged in advance. Onboard, you can count on the concierge and butler to tend to travel needs ranging from pillow requests to arrangements for a wedding proposal. Priority boarding of tenders and priority disembarkation are icing on the cake.
Best Perk: You’ll be in a world of your own in the exclusive The Haven Courtyard, with its luxe private pool, hot tub, sun deck, and private fitness room.
Available On: All ships (Concierge Suites and higher)
Use your concierge on Regent to book shore excursions. - Photo by Regent Seven Seas Cruises
What You Get: Concierge-level goodies aboard Regent include little touches — like a cashmere blanket, an Illy espresso maker, and in-suite binoculars — and big ones like free Wi-Fi all through the ship. You also get priority online shore excursion and dining reservations. Top that with a host of on-the-house perks, like a precruise, one-night luxury hotel package and (on some voyages) a pre- or post-cruise land program. All guests can use the concierge for shore excursion bookings and dinner reservations.
Best Perk: Check in on home or work with 15 minutes of complimentary ship-to-shore phone time.
Available On: All ships; Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy also offer a concierge lounge and private sun deck (concierge staterooms only)
Private concierge sun deck on Disney Dream - Photo by DisneyCruiseLineBlog
What You Get: The prince and princess treatment starts 120 days before sailing, with phone and email access to concierge services specialists. Sail through boarding with a dedicated check-in window. You’ll get a personalized itinerary every day, as well as help arranging port adventures, specialty dining reservations, spa appointments, and nursery care. Forget the throngs tendering to shore — you get priority there, too.
Best Perk: Hit the lounge for pre-dinner cocktails and a loaner iPad device with 100 free minutes of Wi-Fi.
4. MSC Cruises
Available On: MSC Divina, MSC Fantasia, MSC Preziosa, and MSC Splendida
The Yacht Club on MSC has a private deck and pool. - Photo by MSC Cruises
What You Get: It’s like you’re on a different voyage than everyone else onboard when you sail in the MSC Yacht Club. Let your round-the-clock butler tend to your every whim, and kick back in the private club lounge, pool and bar area, private restaurant, or spa. And did we mention the gratis minibar in your luscious suite? This line had us at on-the-house wines and spirits, beers, and soft drinks in MSC Yacht Club venues.
Best Perk: Leaving the crowded lido deck and buffet behind is a real treat on this line.
Available On: All ships (Oceania Marina and Oceania Riviera offer a Concierge Lounge)
Canyon Ranch SpaClub. - Photo by Oceania Cruises
What You Get: After priority embarkation, concierge-level guests can toast with a complimentary bottle of welcome Champagne before heading to the Canyon Ranch SpaClub private terrace (you’ll have unlimited access!). Back in your stateroom, you’ll find a laptop and wireless Internet (with a 10-percent discount), and if you want to roam the decks, you can borrow an iPad. All guests can use the concierge for shore excursion bookings and dinner reservations.
Best Perk: Give it up for Bvlgari toiletries in your stateroom.
Available On: All ships (Concierge-class staterooms only)
Book the best excursions with the help of a destination concierge on celebrity. - Photo by Celebrity Cruises
What You Get: Guests will find a welcome bottle of sparkling wine, a pillow menu, evening hors d’oeuvres, expanded room service menu, and priority seating in the dining room and restaurants. Bonus for all passengers, Celebrity also offers a destination concierge to help customize excursion experiences.
Best Perk: You’ll get express luggage delivery on embarkation day so you won’t have to wait around for your stuff.
7. Cunard Line
Available On: All ships
A private cocktail party on Cunard. - Photo by Cunard Line
What You Get: For Princess Grill and Queens Grill guests, Cunard’s concierge is there for the details large and small. Fancy hosting a cocktail party? This line’s got you covered. Naturally, the concierge will handle your spa and dining reservations, but he or she will also print your boarding pass. You’ll enjoy dedicated, more intimate, single-seating restaurants — and if you want a more private experience than high tea with the rest of the ship, take your cuppa in the lounge.
Best Perk: For transatlantic correspondence that’s so much cooler than email, write home on your own, personalized stationery.
Available On: Regal Princess and Royal Princess
Chef's Table Lumiere - Photo by Princess Cruises
What You Get: Now suite passengers have access to a dedicated concierge lounge. Skip the lines at the front desk and head straight to this one-stop shop for assistance with anything you need, including shore excursions, spa reservations, and priority reservations for sought-after experiences like the Chef’s Table. Hold onto your vacation buzz all the way through disembarkation, when you await departure in the quiet lounge.
Best Perk: Suite passengers score a free, stocked minibar.
Available On: Enchantment of the Seas and all Radiance-class, Voyager-class, Oasis-class and Quantum-class ships
The Concierge lounge on Quantum of the Seas. - Photo by Royal Caribbean
What You Get: Suite passengers and Diamond Plus and Pinnacle Club members of the Crown & Anchor Society enjoy access to the concierge lounge. Besides finding help with all of your ship bookings (dining, excursions, spa, and the like), you can also check out the day’s menus and preorder dinner wine, snack on hors d’oeuvres and petit fours, and borrow movies and CDs.
Best Perk: After dinner, head directly to the (complimentary!) honor bar in the lounge.
Available On: All ships
Neptune Lounge - Photo by Holland America Line
What You Get: Beyond the usual front desk services and reservations, the Neptune Lounge offers suite passengers a library, Wi-Fi, and all-day espresso service.
Best Perk: The concierge can make reservations for port-of-call car rentals and restaurants.
11. Crystal Cruises
Available On: All ships
Concierge on Crystal - Photo by Crystal Cruises
What You Get: Unlike all of the other lines, which treat their concierge program as a “ship within a ship” upgrade, Crystal offers its concierge service to all passengers. Think all-out pampering: Crystal promises that its concierges can “accommodate virtually any request.” From handling flight changes to arranging for private chauffeured transportation — not to mention any onboard needs you can imagine — you needn’t lift a finger.
Best Perk: Lost luggage? They’ll track it down with the airline.