September 4, 2019

When you think about travel, the means to reach a destination is hardly the most thrilling part of the journey. Planes are basically torture chambers in which you are forced to sit still for hours on end, while enduring anxiety-inducing turbulence. Trains are loud, clackety vehicles prone to overcrowding, with not much to do inside. And automobiles? Those might be the dullest of them all. Yet, on these luxury cruise ships, the mode of transportation is the highlight, a destination in itself. Here are five of the best, if you’re ever in need of a change of pace.

U by Uniworld

Launched by river cruise organisation Uniworld, U by Uniworld offers a fresh take on river cruising for the younger demographic. It takes you through Europe—France, Germany, Austria, Slovakia, the Netherlands, Hungary—with complimentary transfers into town to relish in off-board excursions such as a hike through a vineyard or a cocktail making workshop. There’s also plenty to do onboard this sleek, all-black vessel, which lights up in an array of technicolour neon hues at night like a party bus. Besides the full-service restaurant with a farm-to-table menu and the rooftop bar, passengers are treated to complimentary yoga sessions in the morning, camping experiences on the top deck, painting and mixology classes, even a silent disco, where the music is synced up and played through headphones, and you won’t have to yell to talk to a friend.

It’s The Ship

Organised by creative events company The Livescape Group, It’s The Ship is a cruising festival packed with round-the-clock activities and performances. Christened Genting Dream, the mammoth, 18-deck, billion-dollar vessel is one of the largest in the world equipped with more than 35 fine dining restaurants and bars, a diversity of luxury retail boutiques, salons and a spa. It departs from Singapore’s Marina Bay Cruise Centre and returns after three days. In between, seafarers partake in a full-on, large-scale music festival with international DJs and musicians. Even its fringe activities are over-the-top, with swimming pools, a waterslide park, a zip line, a bowling alley, a 3D cinema, and a mini golf course, promising you an epic experience.

MS Midnatsol

Venture to the edge of the planet, an icy, mysterious, almost daunting destination that occupies the top spot on everyone’s travel bucket list—Antarctica. There are a handful of luxury ships that you can choose from to get to the coldest continent on Earth, but we recommend travelling by MS Midnatsol. It sails for Hurtigruten, a cruise line founded in 1893 whose ties to the Norwegian nautical heritage go back to the era of Vikings. Like any other vessel, it will take you close to the whales, penguins, colossal ice shelves and grandiose glaciers. What sets this voyage apart from the others is that the MS Midnatsol experience includes enlightening scientific lectures and presentations with the in-house expedition team, children’s programmes, and outdoor excursions such as an overnight camping trip out in the snow.

Queen Mary 2

Queen Mary 2, a transatlantic ocean liner from Cunard, is not just the only one of its kind that takes passengers, but also stands as the largest of its kind in the world. Travelling between New York and Southampton, this historic 149,215 tonne ship has always been at the forefront of the marine industry. For instance, it was the first to include a women-only lounge, and the first to provide hot and cold water in each cabin. The timeless Queen Mary 2 is also the first to build a planetarium onboard, and features the largest ballroom and library (with about 10,000 books) at sea. Having had a US$130 million facelift a few years ago, the refurbished craft now boasts classic contemporary interiors with touches of Art Deco and retro influences. It will be like experiencing the modern version of the Titanic.

Disney Fantasy

Here’s a little something for the family. Treat your children (and perhaps your inner child) to a Disney cruise this year on the Disney Fantasy vessel. The art nouveau-style ship comes with a salon that offers princess, pirate and knight makeovers (known as the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique), an elevated water coaster, and of course, plenty of photo ops with everyone’s favourite characters. Lunch and dinner will no longer be dull affairs either at the Animator’s Palate dining room, a whimsical venue where diners can interact with projected cartoon characters and even design their own. The adults will also be well taken care of in no-children zones such as the Satellite Sun Deck, the Senses Spa (equipped with Turkish baths), and various restaurants, bars and lounges for a bit of R & R.