The 7 Best Cruise Ship Observation Lounges
Photo by Jason Leppert
As cruise ships get bigger and become destinations unto themselves, the surrounding scenery often takes a back seat these days to other elaborate shipboard attractions. Thankfully, several ships still feature wonderful observation lounges that draw the attention back to the actual destinations with traditional relaxing retreats and expansive windows to gaze out from. Here are our top seven picks (in alphabetical order) and a few honorable mentions as well.
Explorers’ Lounge – Viking Ocean Cruises
Viking Ocean Cruises already puts the destination first with its extensive itineraries, and its new Viking Star, Viking Sea and four more ships to follow each feature a spectacular observation lounge in the form of the Explorers’ Lounge (pictured above). The forward-facing venue takes the traditional concept literally to new heights with a double-decker variation and plenty of comfortable seating. Add in Mamsen’s integrated Norwegian deli and a convenient drink bar, and guests are set to kick their feet up and stay for quite awhile.
The Living Room – Azamara Club Cruises
Carried over from Renaissance Cruises, the Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest both retain the vessels’ original observation lounges, now called The Living Room and recently remodeled. Unlike Oceania Cruises' former R-ships, Azamara’s space is not interrupted by a view-blocking center stage, and glass windows surround 270-degrees worth of handsome seating area, perfect for Azamara’s signature extended and overnight stays in port.
READ MORE: 9 Best Cruise Line Observation Areas
Palm Court – Crystal Cruises
As Crystal Cruises prepares for its unprecedented fleet expansion, its classic Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity continue to enchant with their Palm Court lounges situated high above the ships’ bows. As the latter vessel name accurately implies, the observation lounges are indeed serene as palm fronds dot the light and airy space and wraparound windows look upon the scenic horizon.
Sky Observation Lounge – Celebrity Cruises
Observation lounges have always graced the ships of Celebrity Cruises, and each of its Millennium-class and Solstice-class ships still feature them to this day. Unfortunately, those on the former class and the line’s newest Celebrity Reflection are truncated with a left side displaced by either the Fun Factory kids facility or staterooms respectively. Nonetheless, the areas on the other Solstice-class ships remain a fine example of uninterrupted panoramas.
Spinnaker Lounge – Norwegian Cruise Line
So far I’ve only had a chance to tour the Norwegian Pearl from the Jewel-class, but it left a lasting impression as a fun example of an observation lounge. Even though its center view is blocked by a backstage area, the venue creatively extends out above and over the bridge wings for unique side views of the ship and scenery beyond. Also an honorable mention should go out to the Norwegian Epic for featuring distinct forward views from its Garden Cafe buffet and La Cucina Italian restaurant, located where an observation lounge would be traditionally.
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Crow’s Nest, Silk Den and Tamarind Bar – Holland America Line
Holland America Line ships already feature the great full-wraparound Crow’s Nest at their forward tops, but the Eurodam and Nieuw Amsterdam take it further with the midship Tamarind Bar and Silk Den respectively. As an extension of the Tamarind Asian restaurant, the pre- and post-dinner cocktail venue also serves as a secondary observation lounge overlooking the pool deck and forward section of the ship. It’s an underutilized space during the day that is often quiet for perfect rest and relaxation.
Viking Crown Lounge and Two70 – Royal Caribbean International
Last but not least, most Royal Caribbean International ships have always sported a signature Viking Crown Lounge, the spaceship-like saucer perched high amidship for 360-degree views on certain vessels. It’s architecturally iconic and great for taking in the passing vistas. And even though the Quantum-class of ships has abandoned the feature, they have the fantastic Two70 entertainment venue instead at the back of the ship with unique observation views over the wake alternatively during the day.
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