Unique Luxury Cruises to Book This Summer

Whether you want to stay in the U.S. or venture to a faraway location, there’s a cruise for everyone.

Cruise ship in the water near an island.
Aqua Blu. Aqua Blu.

Selecting a single destination for your summer vacation can feel limiting, which is one of the reasons cruise experiences are so popular. But if you’re put off by crowds, loud children and massive, mall-like ships, never fear: There are several world cruise lines that evoke the best aspects of a luxury hotel while traveling to places both near and far. Whether you want to stay in the U.S. or venture to a faraway location like the south pacific, there’s a luxury cruise line for everyone this summer. Here are seven unique luxury cruises to consider when planning your next getaway.

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The Best Luxury Cruises

Viking Ocean Ship Living Room
Viking Ocean Ship. Anthony Weller

Great Lakes Collection – Viking Cruises

During the summer months, Viking’s impressive expedition luxury cruise ships, the Viking Octantis and the Viking Polaris, head north to explore the Great Lakes. The 15-day journey, which visits all five lakes, kicks off in Toronto, hitting destinations like Mackinac Island, Thunder Bay and Georgian Bay. Although the expedition ships were designed for polar regions, like Antarctica, the onboard science program is just as compelling in North America. Guests can sight-see via the special operations boats or zodiac rafts, go kayaking and hiking, or attend onboard lectures highlighting the local wildlife. This cruise won’t see you roughing it, though: The culinary offerings are top-notch, with lobster and steak available for almost any meal, and there’s an expansive spa to relax at the end of the day. 

If Europe is more your style, Viking’s award winning ocean cruise ships are just as luxurious and enjoyable. The 15-day Into the Midnight Sun visits Northern Europe, the best of Norway and Scotland, while the 10-day Empires of the Mediterranean highlights Greece, Montenegro and Croatia. 

Cruise ship in icy waters
Ponat. Daniel Ernst / PONANT

The Geographic North Pole – Compagnie du Ponant

Ponant’s Le Commandant Charcot is the only luxury vessel that can reach the true Geographic North Pole, which makes this arctic cruise an optimal pick for those who have a desire for adventure this summer. The itinerary begins and ends in Longyearbyen, Norway, part of the Svalbard archipelago, and spends multiple days navigating through frozen seas to reach its destination. Guests can disembark for kayaking, snowshoeing, ice fishing and even a polar plunge, although there’s plenty to do onboard as well, including a spa and two high-end restaurants. The state rooms are notably luxurious and discerning travelers can book one of the split-level suites, which are equipped with perks like a private terrace and a jacuzzi. 

Large suite on a cruise ship with ocean view.
Seabourn Venture. Seabourn

Vikings, Volcanoes & Greenland Wild Shores – Seabourn Cruises 

During the Antarctic off-season, the Seabourn Venture travels to the northern hemisphere, mainly exploring the U.K., Iceland and Greenland. The expedition ship, known for its luxury offerings, will embark on multiple cruises this summer, but one of the most exciting brings guests to remote areas of Greenland. The journey begins and ends in Reykjavik, but the majority of the 28-day voyage explores places you probably never thought you’d visit. Onboard, there are several restaurants, a lecture and performance hall, and a spa. Because the Venture is an expedition ship, guests can experience its high-tech amenities, like the submarine, and the suites are equal parts comfortable and elegant. 

Other upcoming cruises on the Seabourn Venture include the 23-day Journey Across The Northwest Passage and the 12-day Bering Sea & Inside Passage, which depart later in the summer. 

Cabin with chairs and bed.
Aqua Blu. KEN KOCHEY / Aqua Blu

Bali and the Komodo Islands – Aqua Expeditions

Explore Bali with style in the Aqua Blu, an expedition yacht that features 15 well-appointed suites that feel like a fancy hotel room at sea. Elsewhere on the ship you’ll find a jacuzzi, spa treatments and several opulent dining areas, including on the terrace. Guests can go diving, snorkeling, kayaking and more, and the Aqua Blu has its own speedboat to tender people to shore. This particular cruise focuses on Komodo National Park, home to some extremely scenic beaches and islands. 

For those looking to travel in the fall, in October Aqua will launch its Ambon & Spice Islands Cruise, an expedition across the Banda Sea that lasts seven or 12 nights. 

Setouchi Roaming – Guntû

Part floating ryokan and part cruise ship, guntû is the pinnacle of luxury travel. The small ship features only 19 cabins, all with water views, and the dining options are impressive, showcasing dishes from the Setouchi region. The ship sails short itineraries around the Seto Inland Sea, departing from and returning to Onomichi. A four-day Setouchi Roaming cruise is the perfect add-on to a Japan trip, particularly for those who prefer to experience less touristy destinations. Extend your journey with a visit to Naoshima, Setouchi’s famous art island. 

Seven Seas Explorer's Regent Suite Living Room
Seven Seas Explorer. Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Vancouver to Seward – Regent Seven Seas Cruises

If an Alaskan cruise is on your bucket list, hop aboard the Seven Seas Explorer for an intimate, luxury version of the popular journey. The seven-day cruises sail between Seward and Vancouver (guests can embark in either direction) and include spots like Juneau, Sitka and the Hubbard Glacier. The guest suites and service are top-notch, with amenities like a spa, evening entertainment and butlers in the higher room categories. The dining options are expansive, with something for every foodie, and the shore excursions vary from nature hikes to sea kayaking to local culinary experiences. 

Observation Lounge, Silver Origin
The Silver Origin. Silversea

San Cristóbal, Galapagos to San Cristóbal, Galapagos – Silversea Cruises

Many smaller ships sail to the Galapagos, but the Silver Origin, which holds only 100 guests, is one of the most lavish. Silversea offers seven-day cruises of the islands throughout the summer, with everything included in the cruise fare. The ship features zodiac rafts, which take guests to and from the shores, and there are opportunities for hiking, snorkeling and kayaking. Each room onboard is a suite, with dedicated butler service, and despite its small stature the Origin has a gym, spa and beauty salon at the ready. Its two restaurants serve Ecuadorian-inspired cuisine (although you can find basically anything you want). Those hoping to see more of South America can add a pre or post trip excursion, which include the five-day Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley. 

Living room with bar in boat.
Belmond Coquelicot. Belmond

Coquelicot – Belmond

Prefer not to travel with many other travelers? Belmond has recently launched Coquelicot, a newly-renovated barge that explores the Champagne region of France with only six passengers. Experience fine dining al fresco on the top deck while you taste the local bubbles, or sit back and enjoy the views. Thanks to Belmond’s exclusive partnership with Maison Ruinart, guests will get an insider tour of the champagne house and vineyards—one of many you can visit during the cruise. The barge is part of the Les Bateaux Belmond fleet, many of which are private charter only. Another popular river cruise is the Tain L’Hermitage to Avignon itinerary via the Napoléon, which features only six cabins. 

  Unique Luxury Cruises to Book This Summer