Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information and offers.
Anyone who has priced out a suite on a cruise ship knows they can be expensive.
As The Points Guy showed in a family cruise lines pricing comparison, you’ll often pay at least 50% more for a suite on a cruise vessel than for a standard cabin. Sometimes the premium can be much higher.
At $11,000 a night, the top suite on luxury line Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ two-year-old Seven Seas Splendor is more than five times the cost of a standard cabin on the vessel.
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Still, it’s not just high pricing that sets suites on cruise ships apart. Cruise ship suites also are typically a lot bigger than standard cabins on cruise vessels, have better locations and come with a long list of extra perks that you won’t get with a regular cabin.
The perks often include lots of complimentary things for which you’d normally pay extra on a ship, such as Wi-Fi access and dinners in top shipboard restaurants.
Related: 8 cabin locations you definitely should avoid
Add it all up, and — for some cruisers, at least — a pricier suite on a cruise ship can turn out to be the best value of any cabin on board.
Here are seven things that you’ll typically get with a cruise ship suite that might make you want to book one instead of a standard cabin.
The perks of staying in a suite start from the moment you arrive at your ship. Usually, you’ll find a special check-in area for suite guests at the arrival terminal — one without the long lines that you’ll sometimes find to check in for a regular cabin. Sometimes there’s even a private lounge area for suite guests with drinks and snacks. But don’t expect to wait there long. As a suite guest, you’ll be among the first passengers to board your ship. That means you’ll be able to start your vacation earlier than almost anybody else on your cruise.
A bigger room
This one is a bit obvious, but just to be thorough, we’ll say it again anyway: Suites on cruise ships are bigger than regular cabins — sometimes far bigger. Regular cruise ship cabins are notoriously small — at least compared to hotel rooms on land. But some cruise ship suites can be downright massive, with multiple rooms including living rooms, dining rooms and extra bedrooms.
In other words, while you pay more for a suite, you get a lot more space for the money.
At the higher end, there are cruise ship suites bigger than the average home in the United States, such as the eye-catching Regent Suite pictured above. It measures more than 4,000 square feet and has its own sprawling living room and dining room area as well as two massive bedroom complexes.
Related: 6 reasons why a balcony cabin could be your best choice
Better room location
Cruise ship suites aren’t just bigger than regular cabins. They’re better-located, too. On many ships, you’ll find some of the biggest suites at the very front or the very back of the vessel — the two places that offer the most stunning views. You’ll also often find suites along the sides of ships at the equilibrium point — the spot near the middle of a ship that is the most stable in rough seas. If you’re prone to seasickness, this is where you want to be.
Related: The 5 best cabin locations on any cruise ship
Better room perks
Expect all sorts of upgrades to your room experience when staying in a cruise ship suite, from higher-thread-count sheets to upgraded toiletries. On Royal Caribbean ships, for instance, Royal Suite Class guests get upgraded bottles of L’Occitane shampoo, conditioner and lotions in bathrooms, Mr. Coffee/Tea service and Royal Caribbean bathrobes for use during the voyage. Top suites on Viking ships have minibars stocked with complimentary drinks including hard liquors. Celebrity Cruises suites come with a stocked minibar, too, plus two bottles of liquor of the passengers’ choice.
More pampered service
Often your suite will come with a private butler who is on call day and night. Some suites also come with access to a private concierge. These are people whose whole job is to take away all the little stressors that you might experience on vacation and pamper you at the highest level.
Related: 5 reasons you might want to turn down a cabin upgrade
Your butler, should your suite come with one, can do everything from unpacking your suitcase to serving you private meals on your balcony. This same butler (or your concierge, if you have one) also can book you into the ship’s top restaurants, where you’ll likely have priority access, another common suite perk. She or he also can escort you to a private seating area for suite guests in the ship’s theater, which is another perk of being in a suite at many lines.
Butlers and concierges also can get you tickets to onboard activities (again, with priority access) and will assist you in getting off the ship quickly when it arrives in a port — letting you make the most of your time during port calls.
Access to exclusive shipboard areas
On a growing number of megaships, suite guests have access to sprawling, private “ship-within-a-ship” luxury areas that offer a level of pampering not found across the rest of the vessels.
On more than half of Norwegian Cruise Line‘s ships, for instance, many of the top suites are part of an exclusive, keycard-accessed area called The Haven. Aimed at luxury travelers, The Haven complexes are located at the very top of the vessels and often come with private lounges, pools, sunning areas and even restaurants.
A number of MSC Cruises vessels offer a similar “ship-within-in-a-ship” area for suite guests called the MSC Yacht Club, and the newest Celebrity ships, such as Celebrity Apex, have an exclusive and swanky indoor and outdoor lounge area for suite passengers called The Retreat.
Some ships also have private concierge lounges that are open only to suite guests (some are open to passengers with top elite status, too).
Related: What it takes to get concierge lounge access on a cruise ship
Staying in a suite can bring you all sorts of “value-added” perks on ships that normally would come with an extra charge, from complimentary Wi-Fi access to meals in extra-charge restaurants.
The suite experience at Princess Cruises, for instance, includes a free dinner on embarkation day at one of the ship’s extra-charge restaurants. Passengers staying in Royal Caribbean’s top Star Class suites get complimentary dining in extra-charge eateries through the cruise as well as included gratuities and a complimentary Deluxe Beverage Package.
On Regent’s Seven Seas Splendor, the top Regent Suite comes with a private masseuse on call for unlimited treatments during your voyage as well as a long list of other perks.
Other “freebies” that often come with suites include complimentary laundry service, complimentary access to the spa thermal suite (normally an extra charge), a bottle of Champagne at embarkation and canapes delivered every afternoon. If you’re staying in a big enough suite, you might even get a dinner with the ship’s captain.
In addition, many promotions that lines run will throw in complimentary gratuities, drinks packages, shore excursions and even onboard credits as an incentive to book a suite.
A suite on a cruise ship can cost a lot more than a regular cabin. But the pricing differential isn’t as high as it looks once you factor in all the free perks you get with a suite and other added value.
Planning a cruise? Start with these stories:
- The 5 most desirable cabin locations on any cruise ship
- The 8 worst cabin locations on any cruise ship
- A quick guide to the most popular cruise lines
- 21 tips and tricks that will make your cruise go smoothly
- 15 ways cruisers waste money
- 12 best cruises for people who never want to grow up
- What to pack for your first cruise