August 27, 2010 / 10:10 AM / 7 years ago

Travel Picks: 10 top cruise ships

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Whether it’s stairs made of Swarovski crystals, a Cirque Du Soleil-like performance, water park, or planetarium, modern cruise ships are offering everything travelers would want to have a holiday in one place.

Cruise booking specialists Cruise1st (www.cruise1st.com.au) has navigated the high seas to find its top 10 unique offers. This list is not endorsed by Reuters:

1. Celebrity Century - Celebrity Cruises

This ship, refurbished in 2006, boasts rooms with private verandas and suites with personal butlers. The Martini Bar is also home to the first “ice bar” concept at sea.

2. Pacific Jewel -- P&O Cruises Australia

Launched December 2009, Pacific Jewel offers a high-wire circus and trapeze arena on the top deck and P&O’s first ever celebrity chef restaurant -- Salt Grill by Luke Mangan. The spa and fitness center is as big as an Olympic sized swimming pool and the ship has four kids’ clubs and a shopping precinct.

3. MS Panorama -- Avalon Waterways

The MS Panorama, due to be launched in May 2011, will be the first to feature two full decks of suites with wall-to-wall panoramic windows and balconies to enjoy the view cruising along some of Europe’s major rivers such as the Rhine and Danube.

4. Queen Mary 2 -- Cunard

Arguably the most magnificent ocean liner ever built, the ship features the only planetarium at sea and 15 restaurants and numerous bars and lounges, including the Veuve Clicquot Champagne Bar. With book clubs and regular presentations on contemporary and historical issues, the Queen Mary 2 travels almost everywhere and is well known for a 108 day World Voyage.

5. MSC Fantasia -- MSC Cruises

Known for opulence, the MSC Fantasia boasts the exclusive MSC yacht club featuring a staircase of Swarovski crystals as well as a private lounge with transparent ceilings. The aqua park has 150 illuminated musical fountains and the swimming area a waterslide.

6. Oasis of the Seas -- Royal Caribbean Line

The world’s largest cruise ship ever, costing over $1 billion, is divided into seven different neighborhoods. Onboard activities include a zip-line, carousel, rock-climbing walls, a 750-seat AquaTheatre amphitheatre hosting water ballet and dinner shows with the option of 25 different restaurants.

7. Celebrity Solstice -- Celebrity Cruises

On board Celebrity Solstice, real grass is used in the half-acre Lawn Club where passengers can enjoy a picnic or join a game of bocce or croquet. Watch glass blowers in action.

8. Ruby Princess -- Princess Cruises

The newest member of the Princess Cruises fleet, the Ruby Princess features poolside theatres and the cruise line’s signature outdoor cinema. The adults-only The Sanctuary features a spa-inspired setting while the kids can enjoy five swimming pools, including a swim-against-the-current lap pool. For those looking to renew their vows or lucky enough to meet their soul mate on board, the ship has the Hearts and Minds wedding chapel.

9. MV Orion -- Orion Expedition Cruises

Designed for expedition cruising but exuding luxury, guests explore various destinations, and are transported ashore in one of the fleet of 10 Zodiacs or inflatable rubber boats. On board, enjoy a meal from award-winning Sydney chef Serge Dansereau of The Bathers’ Pavilion fame.

10. MV True North -- True North

Cruise through Australia’s Top End on board one of the most luxurious Australian cruise ships, True North. Six expedition vessels carry passengers up close to waterfalls and the onboard helicopter can take passengers to remote billabongs to fish or snorkel.

Editing by Paul Casciato

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