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The Best Cruise Ships Bring High-Tech Amenities to the High Seas

best cruise ships

In a world where self-driving cars are reality and drone deliveries aren’t too far away, it’s not surprising that cruise lines are boasting technologies that take cruising to a new level.

Further, cruise lines recognize customers’ demand for the most personalized experience and a whole new slew of amenities, dining options and activities will ensure that your cruise vacation is exactly what you want it to be.

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On the best cruise ships, luxury is for all

No longer are luxe amenities limited to penthouse suites. On board the world’s best cruises, special touches like 1000-count sheets, high-end bath products and smart TVs are now the norm rather than the exception. And you can enjoy being pampered whether you’re staying in a veranda suite or an inside cabin.

For example, all of Oceania Cruises’ suites and staterooms feature Prestige Tranquility Beds, which boasts a two-inch-thick, gel-filled “pillow top” cushion wrapped in chamomile-infused fiber. Likewise, Holland America has added not only USB outlets to all headboards, but also LED lights and a new interactive, on-demand TV system to all rooms, all at no additional cost. Bath amenities range from Elemis to L’Occitane, H20 and Bottega Veneta. Celebrity even has its own custom-blended bath products.

best cruise ships
O.C.E.A.N. Medallion bracelet on guest. (Photo: Carnival Corporation)

Key cards begone!

What if you could walk about the ship without worrying about losing your key? Or losing your friends and family? On Ocean Medallion class cruises by Princess, which include Royal, Regal and Caribbean ships, worry no more! A wearable Ocean Medallion holds your identity and communicates with readers throughout each ship and in select ports. It acts as your key and credit card, and can also locate friends and family around the ship with its Ocean Navigate feature. It also holds your dining and activity preferences, and the Ocean Compass’ Here & Now and There & Then features allows the crew anticipate your needs and serve you when, where and what at precisely the right time.

Rooms with a view

Previously, cruisers with inside staterooms had to head to the deck to see the passing views. Now ships offer a window to the world from the comfort of your room. On Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas, virtual balconies bring an exterior view to interior staterooms through extra-large digital displays. Royal Caribbean’s newest ship, Symphony of the Seas, also offers floor-to-ceiling real-time displays in every room. Likewise, aboard the Disney Dream and Fantasy ships, a magical porthole provides cruisers with a real-time view of the ship’s exterior taking into account the stateroom’s actual location. The Disney magic continues in its lounge, Skyline, where you can enjoy your cocktail gazing at panoramic views of the world’s skylines, from London to Barcelona and Hong Kong to New York.

Zip, slide and climb your way to fun and fitness.

The best cruise ships now have some of the best activities for fun. Cruisers are no longer confined to staying inside on machines to stay fit, but can take advantage of fun and high-tech ways to get their sweat on. Learn to surf on Royal Caribbean’s FlowRider surf simulator or climb your way to the best view atop two rock walls. Fly around deck on Norwegian Escape’s Sky Rail zip track or get your heart pumping on its ropes course. Or slip and slide down Disney’s Aqua Duck water coaster, which includes a four-deck drop. Pack your swimsuits and pack your nerves because this is a whole new type of cruise vacation.

Cruise ship features to “aww” and “ahhh”

There is no lack of attention to detail on the best cruise ships, and ingenuity and innovation can be seen at every turn. From the enchanted art on the walls of Disney’s Fantasy that can react to a passing guest, to underwater acrobatics and water ballet performances at Royal Caribbean’s AquaTheatre projected onto large LED screens, technological advancements have enhanced the guest experience. True art aficionados can take advantage of Holland America’s extensive art collection through self-guided tours that anyone can download on their iPods.

Remember that you’re on vacation, after all, so take advantage of your sea days to spend the day at the spa, but make sure you book your appointments early to ensure you get your preferred times. The Persian Garden’s aquatherapy experience aboard Celebrity Millennium will take your breath and stress away through moving water and temperature variations, and Norwegian’s Snow Room will get your blood circulating in a truly unique environment.

If you’re rather unwind with a cocktail in hand, soar above deck on Celebrity Edge’s Magic Carpet, a floating platform that reaches heights of 13 stories above sea level giving you the best bird’s eye view as you relax, drink and dine the night away. For a truly futuristic experience, get served by the robot-powered Bionic Bar aboard Royal Caribbean, where robotic arms mix up custom cocktails, and enjoy North Star, a viewing pod that provides panoramic views from 300 feet above the sea.

Eat well, eat often

Cruise ships are well-known for the sheer amount of food available. But on many ships, quality is paramount, with restaurants and activities tailored to the culinary-minded guest. More and more, cruisers are seeing celebrity chefs lending their hands to help shape and influence cruise menus and specialty restaurants. From Curtis Stone on Princess, Arnaud Lallement on Disney and Jaime Oliver on Royal Caribbean, cruise cuisine has been kicked up a notch to ensure that those who want to eat well, can.

On Oceania’s Riviera, La Reserve by Wine Spectator offers seminars, tasting and gourmet food pairings, or you can sign up for cooking school on the ship’s Culinary Center. If you would rather indulge your inner sweet tooth, Princess’ Chocolate Journeys will allow you to do just that.

Stay connected

With slow internet and no cellphone service, cruise vacations used to leave you stranded and disconnected from everyday life. But now, with new satellite and other technologies on board, there’s no reason to be completely cut off while on a cruise. While each company has its own system and prices in place, you can find a way to surf and stream to your heart’s content should you so desire.

What high-tech features are you most excited for on your next cruise? What technology do you expect on the best cruise ships? Tell us in the comments.

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