Perks like free cocktails, an exclusive hangout and a concierge who makes restaurant and spa reservations are not limited to small-ship, luxury cruises. Several big-ship cruise lines wanting to coddle frequent cruisers and passengers residing in high-rent suites are now offering members-only concierge lounges as an attractive perk.
These lounges serve as private hideaways for passengers in the most expensive accommodations. They're typically outfitted with couches and comfortable chairs, big-screen TVs and private bars, so elite passengers can relax or socialise as they see fit. The other major plus is the added service of the actual concierge, who can do niggling chores, such as booking shore excursions or dinners at specialty restaurants, arranging shore tours or resolving any issues that come up.
Are you itching to get your foot in the door of one of these shipboard hideaways? Here's a sneak peek inside eight big-ship concierge lounges -- as well as qualification requirements for acquiring the right key card so you can access all these perks on your next cruise.
1. Celebrity Cruises
Lounge Name: Michael's Club, available across Celebrity's fleet, except on the line's expedition ships.
How You Qualify: Passengers in Sky, Signature, Royal, Penthouse and Reflection suites and Captain's Club Zenith members all have access to Michael's Club. Concierge-level cabin occupants receive concierge services but may not use the club.
Amenities: Continental breakfast is served in Michael's every morning, while complimentary pre-dinner drinks and tapas are served from 5 to 8 p.m. The lounge also features a large-screen TV and reading chairs with a variety of magazines, newspapers and books on hand.
Concierge Services: The concierge helps to arrange specialty dining reservations and procure shore excursion tickets, and can even answer general questions about ports of call.
Open Hours: Michael's Club is open 24 hours a day, though the concierge desk hours vary by itinerary.
2. Disney Cruise Line
Lounge Name: Concierge Lounge, located on all Disney ships.
How You Qualify: Passengers must be booked in a suite or concierge-level cabin in order to utilise the space.
Amenities: The Concierge Lounge serves up complimentary snacks and nonalcoholic beverages (cocktails can be purchased), along with an included Wi-Fi package. There is also a private sun deck for Concierge Lounge-eligible guests on Deck 13 (one deck above the lounge) of Disney Fantasy and Disney Dream, as well as a small, covered outdoor deck space adjacent to the lounge on Deck 10 of Disney Magic and Disney Wonder. Both decks feature a dedicated host, lounge chairs and complimentary sunblock.
Concierge Services: Eligible passengers can attend a private welcome reception, with food and drinks, in the lounge. During the voyage, concierge services can be used to book excursions, make restaurant reservations or in-room dining arrangements, secure spa appointments (or arrange beach cabana spa treatments on Disney's private Bahamian island, Castaway Cay), organise child care services or help plan special occasions.
Open Hours: The Concierge Lounge is open 24 hours a day; the concierge is on duty from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
3. Holland America Line
Lounge Name: Neptune Lounge, available on all Holland America ships.
How You Qualify: Only passengers who book a Neptune or Pinnacle Suite are allowed access.
Amenities: This private relaxation area features a wide-screen TV; reading areas stocked with magazines, newspapers and books; and specialty coffees served throughout the day.
Continental breakfast with coffee and Harney & Sons tea is available from 7 on port days and 7:30 on sea days until 11 a.m., and snacks (including finger sandwiches, pastries and cookies) are served from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Complimentary full breakfast, pre-dinner hors d'oeuvres and high tea can be served in-suite, upon request.)
The lounge also serves complimentary sparkling wine upon embarkation.
Concierge Services: Concierge services include booking reservations at the Pinnacle Grill alternative restaurant, express booking for shore excursions (suite passengers get priority on tours), handling inquiries about car rentals or restaurants in ports of call, arranging spa appointments and settling billing questions.
Open Hours: The Neptune Lounge is open every day from 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
4. MSC Cruises
Lounge Name: Top Sail Lounge, found in the MSC Yacht Club on MSC Divina, MSC Fantasia, MSC Preziosa, MSC Splendida, MSC Meraviglia, MSC Seaside, MSC Seaview and soon-to-launch MSC Bellissima.
How You Qualify: Book a Yacht Club cabin, part of MSC Cruises' private-access suite enclave.
Amenities: The lounge is decked out with comfortable couches and TVs. Complimentary drinks, finger foods and desserts are available all day long -- even at midnight. (Note: Gourmet meals are available in a separate, no-fee, Yacht Club restaurant on each ship. Yacht Club occupants also are entitled to unlimited drinks in bars and restaurants outside the Yacht Club.)
Because the aptly named Top Sail Lounge is located on a top deck, passengers can enjoy beautiful views through floor-to-ceiling windows. Yacht Club passengers also have access to a private pool area and an alfresco bar serving food.
Concierge Services: The concierge staff will make reservations for alternative dining venues and spa services, arrange private shore excursions and facilitate onboard shopping. Plus, your cabin's personal butler, available 24 hours a day, will cater to your whims; he or she can help with unpacking, serve you afternoon tea and bring you your preferred newspaper daily.
Open Hours: The lounge is always open.
5. Norwegian Cruise Line
Lounge Name: Passengers staying in Norwegian's The Haven, the line's all-suite enclave, have access to a private concierge desk and adjacent cocktail lounge, as well as an exclusive restaurant and outdoor courtyard.
The Haven can be found on Norwegian Escape, Norwegian Bliss, Norwegian Joy, Norwegian Getaway, Norwegian Breakaway, Norwegian Gem, Norwegian Jade, Norwegian Jewel and Norwegian Pearl.
How You Qualify: Passengers booked in The Haven qualify for these privileges.
Amenities: The concierge desk is set just next to The Haven Lounge, which is equipped with a bar, light bites and several seating areas. Next door, a lavish breakfast and lunch from a special menu are served to eligible passengers in The Haven Restaurant. Haven passengers also have access to a gorgeous private courtyard with a pool, hot tubs, sauna and sun deck with lounge beds.
Concierge Services: Based in The Haven complex, a dedicated concierge is available to make dinner, entertainment and shore excursion reservations; book airport transfers and print boarding passes; answer questions and attend to special requests. The concierge will also facilitate priority disembarkation for suite passengers on port days and the last day of the cruise.
Open Hours: The concierge is always available by phone, but is available for in-person consultations every day until 4 p.m.
6. Princess Cruises
Lounge Name: Concierge Lounge, located on Royal Princess, Regal Princess and Majestic Princess.
How You Qualify: Princess' suite passengers are granted access to the lounge.
Amenities: The Concierge Lounge is outfitted with couches and chairs, a TV and a selection of books and magazines. It offers light snacks as well as coffee, water and juice throughout the day; there is no bar in the lounge. The lounge also is used as a private disembarkation lounge for suite passengers.
Concierge Services: Full front desk services are available to concierge-level passengers, plus the concierge can help with shore excursion, specialty dining and Lotus spa reservations.
Open Hours: The Concierge Lounge is open 24 hours, but a concierge is only on duty from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m., noon to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. most days. (Hours vary on turnaround days.)
7. Royal Caribbean
Lounge Name: Every Royal Caribbean ship is equipped with a Concierge or Diamond Club lounge.
How You Qualify: Passengers must be Diamond Plus or Pinnacle Club members of the Crown & Anchor Society, or be booked into select suites to access the Concierge Lounge and receive Royal Caribbean suite perks. On Freedom- and Oasis-class ships, as well as on Radiance of the Seas, Diamond members also have access to a similar lounge, called the Diamond Lounge.
Amenities: A continental breakfast is served in the Concierge Lounge every morning from 8 until 10 a.m., and hors d'oeuvres and petits fours are served before and after dinner. A self-service, no-fee bar is available during happy hour. DVDs and CDs are available to borrow during concierge hours. (There's no TV in the lounge.)
Concierge Services: The concierge will help VIP passengers make reservations for specialty restaurants, book shore excursions and spa appointments, assist with the arrangements for private parties, help with purchasing show tickets, offer personalised shopping advice and pre-order wine for dinner. The concierge can also assist passengers with business services, such as faxing or copying, for a fee.
Open Hours: The Concierge Lounge is open 24 hours a day; the concierge is on duty from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. and 5 to 8:30 p.m.
8. Cunard Line
Lounge Name: Grills Lounge, available on Cunard's three ships: Queen Victoria, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary 2. QM2 also features a separate Concierge Lounge and all three ships offer an alfresco lounge.
How You Qualify: Cunard's passengers in Princess Grill and Queens Grill suites automatically gain access to the Grills Lounge.
Amenities: There's a daily Grills Lounge Afternoon Tea, featuring handmade cakes, and pre-dinner cocktails and canapes. Grills Lounge passengers also get complimentary tea and coffee. There's a bar, but drinks outside of the tea, coffee and pre-dinner cocktails are charged to passengers' cabins.
Concierge Services: Grills passengers can take advantage of the line's Grills Concierge service that will make bookings both onboard and onshore on your behalf, including restaurant reservations and shore excursions.
Open Hours: The lounge is open all day, though passengers may find reduced waiter service at quieter times.