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Our 20 favorite cruise ship Libraries
A cruise ship library can be a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of shipboard life. Personally, I can't remember when I last read a book on a cruise, but then I'm always busy taking photos for ShipParade! That said, I do enjoy a good book so here is my take on twenty beautiful seagoing libraries.
Fred. Olsen ships boast large, comfortable libraries with sea views that are usually filled to the brim with passengers. However, when I took this photo on board Balmoral most passengers were ashore. Note the exquisite ship model and the large circular reading table.
As mentioned in another ShipParade feature article, the Seabourn triplets all feature the hugely popular Seabourn Square. Part reception, part coffee shop, part living room and part ... you guessed it ... library. Grab a coffee and a book and relax, inside or out on the beautiful aft terrace. The photo was taken on board Seabourn Quest.
This list would not be complete with the supreme seagoing library on board Queen Mary 2. Perched high on the ship with large windows overlooking the bow, this is heaven on earth (or better: sea) for book lovers. Thousands of books to read, comfortable seating and an adjacent book shop that will make any passenger ship fan take out the credit card immediately.
My personal favorites can be found on the ships of Holland America Line. This cruise line has successfully turned their library into revenue-earners by moving them close to the signature Explorers Cafe. Even better, on the line's Vista-class ships, the coffee shop, library and Internet Café were all incorporated in the Crow's Nest Observation Lounge. Pictured here is the Crow's Nest on Nieuw Amsterdam, showing the library section on the left.
Many Costa ships have small but very nice libraries. The one that stands out to me is the library on Costa neoRomantica with beautiful framed black and white photos of classic Costa ships.
Small cruise ships don't necessarily have small libraries. Shown here is SeaDream I's exquisite library. Fresh flowers, a huge magazine selection and comfortable seating. A beautiful space!
The ships of Silversea Cruises are not known for their huge libraries, but this one on Silver Spirit stands out as it is part of the Observation Lounge and there is a bar nearby!
Here's another beauty. Leave it to the Brits to design the most stunning floating libraries. This is the library and reading room on P&O's beautiful Aurora. It oozes classic style and is arguably a tribute to the P&O liners of yesteryear that plied between the UK and Australia.
Modern and functional; this is Europa 2's library. I took this photo on a pre-inaugural cruise and therefore the book cases were not completely filled. As you would expect on a German ship, the library is large and stocked with reference books. You can easily spend a couple of hours here in one of the large leather chairs browsing through all sorts of printed matter. Wonderful!
When Renaissance commissioned their eight identical "R" class ships, there was a lot of buzz about the opulent English country style interiors. Most photographed on all eight ships was (and still is) the gorgeous library with (make believe) fireplace. It's a tribute to the ship's designer that all eight ships still sail on with their original libraries more or less in tact. The photo was taken on board Oceania's Insignia.
We are on board Eurodam. On the left is the library and Internet Cafe. To the right is the Explorations Café, serving coffee and snacks all day. Add to that the prime location on the ship (top deck, top views) and you can understand why Holland America Line have a winning combination on their hands here.
Classic German style and a beautiful illuminated globe in the library on Hapag-Lloyd Cruises' Europa.
This is arguably one of the most stunning locations of any shipboard library. Perched on the towering atrium, overlooking a tree(!) and flooded in sunlight during the day, Celebrity Reflection's library is one of the few public rooms that does not generate money and the decision to place it on a prime location is a tribute to Celebrity Cruises. Although it can be noisy and only the bottom half of the immense book collection is real, this library must be among the most beautiful afloat.
As sails are hoisted, guests on Star Clipper's five masted Royal Clipper can retreat to the small library and read all about life at sea, sailing ships and all things nautical.
The former Vistafjord was renamed Oasia in 2014 for use as a floating hotel in Asia. She is a lovely ship and I vividly remember a short but sweet cruise from Hamburg to Southampton back in 1985. I was so impressed. Many years later I visited the ship again but by that time she was Saga Ruby. Although fully refurbished by Saga Cruises, she had not lost any of her beauty and character. I was especially taken by the library, with sea views through oversized windows.
Located very conveniently off the atrium, this is the compact but very inviting library on board Regent Seven Seas Cruises' Seven Seas Voyager.
Occupying a corner of the "chique" Observation Lounge is the books and artifacts corner on board Ponant's modern L'Austral. Given the fantastic worldwide expedition itineraries of this ship, you will find a more "serious" book selection on board on a lower deck. It lacks the windows (and the bar!) of the Observation Lounge though.
Hardly changed from her days as SuperStar Leo, the library on board Norwegian Spirit might be considered over-decorated. Still, for a mass market ship this is as good a library as I've seen.
When Oceania commissed their custom built Marina and Riviera, they made sure to make room for a large library. Located close to the coffee bar, Riviera's library is extensive, comfortable and quiet. As a library should be!
Wow. That is the word most uttered by guests entering the double deck library on board Cunard's Queen Victoria. Cunard went all out with this one. A beautiful wooden staircase connects the two levels and there are enough book nooks and crannies, stained glass ceilings and seating alcoves to make you feel like you Rule Britannia.
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