Last updated: 09:00 PM ET, Sun December 20 2015

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  • Amber Nolan | December 20, 2015 9:00 PM ET

    10 Awe-Inspiring Cruise Ship Atriums

    10 Awe-Inspiring Cruise Ship Atriums

    PHOTO: The Carnival Dream's atrium. (photo courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line)

    Cruise ship atriums set the tone for the sailing, and usually make the first impression on passengers when they step onboard. Designer decor, unique artwork, live entertainment and inviting lounges are just a few features found in this central area. These 10 cruise ship atriums are sure to take your breath away.

    Celebrity Reflection

    Celebrity’s Solstice class ships feature an elevated tree floating in the air between eight glass elevators. Each tree is slightly different and designed by special, commissioned artists with the ship’s name in mind. On Celebrity Reflection, the steel version of the tree acts like a mirror, and can be seen “growing” out of the base, adding a stunning centerpiece to the nine-deck tall atrium.

    Costa Mediterranea

    One thing that can be said about Costa is that the entire fleet has unbelievable designs, so much that on a week-long cruise guests will still be exploring new areas, constantly in awe of what they find. The sprawling atriums are where they really shine, and on Costa Mediterranea, the artistic inspiration is 16th and 17th century Italian plazas. The 10-deck tall atrium showcases glass sculptures and Renaissance-era statues wearing handmade costumes. At the top is a glass stairwell leading to the specialty restaurant.

    Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas

    Although Brilliance is an older ship, its glamourous nine-story central atrium hums with energy, and in the evenings it transforms to become a vertical theater, with aerial acrobat shows set against colorful lighting and LED screens.

    Uniworld’s SS Maria Theresa

    Stepping onto the SS Maria Theresa feels like entering a floating, light-soaked palace. A painting of Maria Theresa, who ruled over the House of Habsburg, serves as the centerpiece of the European river ship, while marble floors, a lavish chandelier, and an iron and brass stairwell are sure to impress.

    MSC Divina

    MSC Divina’s atrium shows off a sparkling Swarovski crystal staircase that winds across three decks, as well as live music and two guest service desks. The gorgeous space is sleek and elegant, with a starlight ceiling, soothing palm trees and glass-enclosed elevators that overlook it all. Divina sails from Miami throughout the Caribbean.

    Europa 2

    While Hapag-Lloyd made its name as a German freight company, subsidiary Hapag-Lloyd Cruises has a fleet of luxurious vessels that can make heads turn. The Europa 2 features a stylish, modern entrance with a piano bar and a blend of black, silver, and white decor, inviting furniture and a shimmering iridescent curtain that leads guests to the service desk. The ship will be sailing the Indian Ocean in early 2016 before heading to the Middle East and the Mediterranean during the summer.

    Coral Princess

    The grand entrance of the Coral Princess is a four-level masterpiece with glistening tile floors contrasting the smooth wood columns and railings. Illuminated stairwells and special lighting give it a whimsical ambiance, and a piano sets the tone in the evenings. Coral Princess sails the Caribbean and Panama Canal in early 2016.

    Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth

    Cunard’s cruise ships all have a regal essence to them, and on the Queen Elizabeth the atrium feels like it has been transported from a bygone era of elegance. Swooping, curved handrails on the stairs lead to a centerpiece mural of the ocean liner, while classically-trained musicians often play string instruments.

    Carnival Dream

    Live entertainment and upper-level seating overlooking the action gives the atrium of the Carnival Dream a theater-like quality and encourages passengers to linger. The soaring 11-deck space is lined by glowing “windows,” making it a futuristic skyscraper at sea.

    Holland America’s MS Maasdam

    The atriums of Holland America’s ships all have a simple, yet aesthetically pleasing design with a signature artwork at the center. In the MS Maasdam’s three-story atrium, the art is especially beautiful in the evening. Inspired by the historical, Dutch West India company "Totem," is a towering sculpture featuring 2,000 glimmering pieces of glass that glow a beautiful shade of turquoise. 


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Amber Nolan Captain’s Blog: Cruise Tips and Advice

Amber Nolan Amber Nolan loves to be on the water, and although she enjoys the fun and excitement of larger cruise ships, she prefers setting sail on smaller vessels to unique destinations. Originally from western New York, this restless traveler has a knack for finding creative ways to travel and befriending interesting characters along the way. On her most recent adventure, she hitchhiked on private aircraft across the United States. She previously served as the cruise editor at Sherman’s Travel but her work can also be found on and USA Today Travel. She current resides in South Florida.
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