Did you catch last week’s Royal news? Apparently, Prince Phillip will no longer perform official functions. It begs the question, how will anyone tell the difference? But the Old Boy has probably earned his ‘retirement.’ After all, there aren’t many 95-year-olds still on active duty, even if they do have footmen to hold them up and squadrons of corgis to keep the paparazzi at bay.
However, the fact His Royal Greekness is sailing off into the sunset gave us pause for thought, which does sometimes happen here on the prom deck, given an ample supply of cocktails.
It is not every day a senior member of the royal family calls it quits (as much as Prince Charles probably wishes it was), and, with the retirement of Britannia back in the late 90s, it seems like many of the ‘old faithfuls’ of the Empire are bidding us adieu. And that’s never a good thing.
For one thing, some young whipper-snapper will probably pop up in HRH’s place, all eager to make an impression and getting his diplomatic knickers in a twist – much as Prince Phillip did in his early days, come to that.
There has been no replacement for the Britannia, of course, but, if the royal family needed an appropriate sea-going option, what would be the most fitting vessel from today’s cruise fleet? What ship would properly float the royal household?
That was roughly our thought pattern – in between gin gimlets – so we compiled a short-list of contenders that would pass muster if called upon for regal duty. Therefore, with literally no fanfare, we present our Cruise Ship Royalty Top 10.
OK, so we’re being uber-obvious, but the ship name alone gets it into the conversation. Plus, it’s relatively new (launched in 2011) and boasts just about every mod con but without the garishness of many of its contemporaries. The Penthouse Suites are not too shabby at 665sq ft, and all Princess suites come with proper VIP treatment, so Her Maj wouldn’t need to travel with too many footmen on Royal Princess.
After the 1953-built Britannia, the Queen should still recognise the 1965-vintage Marco Polo as a proper sea-going vessel. They are of similar proportions and, at 578ft, the Polo is only 166ft longer than the royal yacht. Now cruising for Cruise & Maritime Voyages, she still sails superbly, while the two Deluxe Suites feature suitably regal King-sized beds. The fact this ship originally sailed for the Russian Baltic Shipping Company may be off-putting, though.
- SS Legacy
For a genuine period-piece with distinct aristocratic roots, this boutique bateau – currently sailing in Alaska and the Pacific North-West for UnCruise Adventures – might fit the bill nicely. A replica 1880s coastal steamer, the Legacy carries just 88 passengers in period style, and all old-school royals should feel right at home on board – especially as all drinks in the Pesky Barnacle Saloon are free!
- Oasis of the Seas
Prince Charles should be able to identify with any of the three Oasis-class vessels of Royal Caribbean. Given the Prince’s green leanings, the fact these mega-ships have true greenery on board in their Central Park districts, featuring lush gardens with tropical foliage, is definitely a dainty dish to set before the (future, maybe) king. Mind you, he might just describe the whole ship as a massive carbuncle.
- Majesty of the Seas
It’s another obvious one, but this Royal Caribbean ship just needs the word ‘Her’ painted on the bow to get the proper message across. Never mind the fact she is now 25 years old, the MofS remains a classy cruiser, the third of the company’s ground-breaking (and highly appropriate) Sovereign-class vessels and the only one still sailing under the ‘Royal’ label. Get Prince Phillip and Co on board soon, before they are ALL pensioned off.
- Spirit of Chartwell
Who remembers the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant in 2012? Yes, we thought you would. This gorgeous piece of replica floating history served as the Royal Barge in that 1,000-vessel flotilla, a gilded reminder of 17th and 18th century regal transport. Since bought by Portuguese company Douro Azul (and sailing for Titan Travel on the Douro River), she retains that flamboyant, luxury look, including artefacts from old ocean liners.
How could The Queen resist a ship representing her own summer holiday home? It is the largest of the distinguished (and distinctly ship-like) Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines fleet, and the restaurants are named after Highlands areas, like Spey, Avon and Ballindalloch. Even better, Balmoral was originally built as the Crown Odyssey for Royal Cruise Line in 1988. What more fitting regal vehicle could you have?
- Royal Clipper
There was no way we weren’t getting a classic sailing ship into this list, and the Royal Clipper is an illustrious piece of maritime kit in every way. This is simply the most elegant way to travel by sea in the world today, with 56,000sq feet of sail to go with sumptuous onboard style. The fact the vessel is based on the legendary five-masted 1902 German windjammer Preussen should also make the royal family feel right at home.
- Hebridean Princess
This is a bit of a cheat as this fab little Scottish Isles specialist has already served as host to the Queen on two occasions since Britannia was given the royal elbow. A genuine Highlands traveller featuring the kind of country-house style that appeals to Her Maj, Hebridean Princess is nothing special to look at but a delight to sail in. She could even pop in to Balmoral in Royal Deeside and let the corgis have a good run round.
- RMS Queen Mary 2
Of course, it just has to be the most boldly regal vessel currently sailing the seven seas. Commissioned in 2004 by the Queen herself, there should be nothing to prevent all 1,376 members of the royal family from making a grand voyage at the same time (they could almost all have a cabin each). She is also the last ship to gain the true ‘Royal Mail Ship’ designation, hence Queen Mary 2 is the natural successor to the Royal Yacht. And the top restaurant is just perfect for the head of state. After all, it is the Queen’s Grill.
OK, so how many of our Top 10 did you get? And what other vessels do you think would be suitably regal ships for her Majesty or any other members of the Royal household? Add your thoughts to the Comments below…!