Big Cruise lines offer small spaces for privacy
By Lani Gerlak 

ConsumerSept13-3.jpgFORT LAUDERDALE, FL. - No two cruise experiences are identical, and passengers craving 'me' time can retreat to more cozy spaces aboard an ocean liner than ever before. While on a big ship, cruisers can easily find intimate nooks to steal away for private dining, reading, and seclusion during sea.Here are some of the unique features on top cruise lines for passengers seeking a tranquil break.

Balconies are among the most popular privacy features, and ships, from luxury to mega, are upping the percentage of cabins with balconies.
* Disney Cruise Line’s newest ships have private verandahs on 70 percent of staterooms and suites.
• Princess Cruises' new Royal Princess now will have balconies on all outside cabins.
• Royal Caribbean International’s refurbished Navigator of the Seas will emerge next year with “virtual” balconies – LED projection screens showing live images taken by exterior cameras--for interior cabins. 

ConsumerSept13-1.jpgClub sections take pampering to new levels. Similar to hotel concierge floors, ships have club or concierge level cabins with upgraded services and intimate lounges.
• Holland America Line’s Neptune Lounge is a private lounge with a wide screen TV, continental breakfast and coffee, tea and snacks throughout the day as well as concierge service.
• Oceania Cruises’ Executive Lounge features complimentary soft drinks, coffees and snacks throughout the day and a dedicated concierge.

Cabanas, rentable by the day or for the whole cruise,  indulges guests with special services.
• Celebrity Cruises’ “The Alcoves,” on Celebrity Silhouette and Celebrity Reflection come with fresh fruit, chilled towels, use of a pre-loaded iPad and more. An attendant is also on hand to arrange for spa treatments, food and other services.
• Holland America Line’s “Cabana Club” on the Nieuw Amsterdam offers airy, tented cabanas with plush upholstered seating where guests receive extras such as bathrobes, chocolate-covered strawberries, champagne and a pre-loaded iPod.

ConsumerSept13-2.jpgAdults-only areas are becoming increasingly popular, especially on kid-friendly sailings. While spas have long been serene retreats, other adults-only spaces are popping up on a wide array of ships.
• Disney Cruise Line’s Quiet Cove Pool and Cove Bar invites adults to sunbathe, swim, sip a cool drink or soak in a hot tub overlooking the ocean.
* Royal Caribbean International’s glass-canopied Solarium pool area and café, with cantilevered whirlpools that jut out over the sea, are popular adults-only spots.
* Carnival Cruises Lines’ Serenity adult-only area, offered on many of its ships, features plush lounge chairs, bar and food service, whirlpools and soothing music.

Hidden hot tubs, tree houses and more are also adding fun, new twists on serenity on many ships.
• Celebrity Cruises’ “The Hideaway,” available on Celebrity Silhouette and Celebrity Reflection, resembles an avant-garde tree house with cozy suspended “nests” and pods where guests can try out Apple products from the Celebrity iLounge or cuddle up with a good book.
• Seabourn’s new ships, Seabourn Odyssey, Seabourn Sojourn and Seabourn Quest, offer tucked away nooks such as the top deck Sun Terrace, with double sun-beds nestled behind a clear windscreen. And all Seabourn ships feature a secluded whirlpool spa on the open foredeck, ideal for a celebratory glass of champagne as the ship leaves port. 

The cocooning concept goes one step further with the creation of the new wave of elite sections on some ships. Here, guests find everything they need in their own private retreat.
* MSC Cruises’ MSC Yacht Club, called a “ship within a ship,” wraps guests in a private pool, solarium, restaurant and butler-serviced suites.
* Norwegian Cruise Line’s “The Haven” has butler-serviced cabins that surround a private two-story courtyard with pools, whirlpools, a massage room, private restaurant, cocktail bar and concierge lounge.

Libraries aren’t just about books any more, either. Large or small, ship libraries offer quiet yet sociable spots for reading, writing and board games.
* Azamara Club Cruises’ Drawing Room by Assouline is a quiet spot to relax with its collection of lifestyle and travel books by Assouline.
* Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2 has a large library which displays more than 9,500 books, audio books and publications in a relaxing setting for readers.
* Carnival Cruise Lines’ newest ships, Carnival Breeze and Carnival Sunshine, feature The Library Bar, where self-serve wine dispensers and bartenders set the mood for quiet conversation, board games, and yes, reading.

Exotic dining spaces set the scene for personal evenings. These very private areas can be ideal for special occasions.
•Paul Gauguin Cruises’ M/s Paul Gauguin offers private dining on the water sports marina for up to four guests to enjoy gourmet cuisine at a table set with white linen, fine china and crystal glasses along with live Polynesian entertainment.
• Oceania Cruises’ Riviera and Marina both offer Privée, a dining room that can be reserved for up to 10 guests, where the plush décor features a white Venini glass chandelier, white baby crocodile throne chairs and backlit onyx-clad walls. 

Cozy dining rooms with special wine and food pairings are another way ships are creating distinctive, intimate dining experiences.
• Crystal Cruises’ Vintage Room seats up to 14 for multi-course wine and food pairings at its private tasting table.
• Oceania Cruises’ Riviera and Marina offer seven-course wine and food pairings for up to 24 guests in its La Reserve by Wine Spectator room.

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Author Lani Gerlak represents the CLIA, Cruise Lines International Association.

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