One of the finest classic venues on a cruise ship is an observation lounge, and while many new ships simply do away with them, I’m pleased to see some excellent examples still remaining and yet to come.
Crow’s Nest ~ Holland America Line
Across its fleet, the Crow’s Nest observation lounge is a timeless feature that on a number of ships is set to soon be enhanced as Explorations Central for even more of a destination focus. Not only will it be a great place to take in the passing scenery, but it will also be a perfect spot to research activities ashore.
Explorers’ Lounge ~ Viking Ocean Cruises
Probably the single greatest observation venue afloat today is the Explorers’ Lounge on the Viking Star, Viking Sea and at least four more sister-ships to follow. What makes it so special is its two decks’ worth of seating looking out over floor-to-ceiling windows while being delightfully serviced by an attached bar and delicious Norwegian deli.
The Living Room ~ Azamara Club Cruises
The Azamara Quest and Azamara Journey are two former Renaissance Cruises ships that have always featured lovely forward-facing observation lounges. In fact, The Living Room even beats the previous R-ship variants on Oceania Cruises thanks to views not interrupted by a central bandstand.
The Haven Observation Lounge ~ Norwegian Cruise Line
It hasn’t even launched yet, but already the Norwegian Bliss and its two observation lounges, one exclusively for The Haven and another for everyone onboard, is making waves. With itineraries in Alaska, The Haven variant alone will be a double-decker space, and the public one also appears in renderings to open up to a deck above, making for at least three impressive decks of observation venues.
Palm Court ~ Crystal Cruises
The Palm Court on the Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity are two more examples of classic single-decker observation lounges that are comfortable retreats to watch the scenery pass by. As its name suggests, palms also delightfully punctuate the space while skylights let additional light in from overhead.
Silk Den and Tamarind Bar ~ Holland America Line
Secondary to the Crow’s Nest lounges across the Holland America Line fleet are the Tamarind Bar and Silk Den respectively aboard the Eurodam and Nieuw Amsterdam. Positioned midship, these venues serve as quiet bonus observation lounges that overlook the pool deck and forward section of the ship stretching ahead.
Sky Observation Lounge ~ Celebrity Cruises
Once the Fun Factory kids facility and staterooms displaced the entire left side of the observation lounges on the Millennium-class ships and Celebrity Reflection respectively, the Sky Observation Lounge on the remaining Solstice-class vessels is all that remains in the Celebrity fleet for excellent observation lounges that are both expansive and tall.
Spinnaker Lounge ~ Norwegian Cruise Line
The Spinnaker Lounge on the Jewel-class may unfortunately have a view-blocking center bandstand and stage, but its unique side extensions out over the bridge wings well than make up for it with views that look forwards and backwards from the great secluded seating areas therein.
Two70 ~ Royal Caribbean International
The Quantum-class doesn’t have the line’s signature Viking Crown Lounge, but Two70 above the stern makes for a breathtaking multipurpose alternative with dramatically expansive windows overlooking the wake that can be covered for evening cabaret shows nearly in the round. The overall effect is a stunner.
Viking Crown Lounge ~ Royal Caribbean International
Of course, the traditional Viking Crown Lounge does still exist on most Royal Caribbean ships, and its 360-degree views on some vessels are unparalleled. Think of it as a spaceship-like saucer section perched high above for fantastic vistas in all directions.
Jason Leppert is the Editor-in-Chief of Popular Cruising, the leader in video cruise reviews.