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Best Premium Lines

P

remium lines usually offer a more subdued atmosphere and refined style, and these ships tend to be midsize to large vessels that carry fewer passengers in slightly more comfort.

Activities tend to be more lifestyle-oriented; computer classes, foreign-language lessons, and enrichment programs are more prevalent. Dress codes range from country-club casual at all times to more traditional, often with two formal nights on a one-week cruise. The overall mix of passengers may be a bit older, but many families sail during summer and peak school vacation periods, so most of the ship have facilities for children, and some premium ships are among the most family-friendly afloat.

The social and entertainment staffs on premium vessels are no less busy keeping passengers happy. Even though some activities sound similar to those on mainstream ships, including pool games and bingo, everything is a bit more sedate. Afternoon music at the pool might be a jazz quarter instead of a reggae band. Shows and activities may be more sophisticated than those on mainstream lines.

Spas and salons are elaborate, and fitness buffs won’t be disappointed by the gym facilities. The itineraries, ports of call, and excursions aren’t very different than those on mainstream cruises, but premium cruise lines frequently schedule lengthier cruises to more–far-flung destinations.

High marks are afforded the quality cuisine and presentation, and specialty restaurants with extra charges are common. While inside staterooms are offered, outside cabins with or without balconies and suites with luxurious amenities are much more common. While the amenities aboard these ships are often as extensive and varied as mainstream ships, there is often more space devoted to adult-only retreats. Here are our favorite premium cruise lines.

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