During each of the next five years, experts predict that 30-40 million people will take cruises!
Are you hoping to be among them? Can you just see yourself sipping a cocktail on the deck while your luxury ship pulls into another exciting port of call?
Before you can turn this vision into reality, you have some homework to do first. Over 430 cruise ships operate worldwide, catering to adults, singles, families with kids, budget travellers, luxury travellers, and everyone in between.
How can you narrow down your search and find the best cruise for adults to enjoy?
Keep reading below for an in-depth guide to the best cruises on the seven seas.
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The Best Cruise Lines for Adults
Before we dive in, it’s important to note that some ships offer true adults-only cruises (meaning there will be no passengers under the age of 18 or 21).
Other cruise lines cater primarily to adults — meaning most of the amenities and activities are designed for adults — but children and/or teenagers are also welcome on board.
Consider what you want out of your cruise experience as you read through this list of the best cruise lines for adults. (I’ve included both adult-only cruises and cruise lines geared more towards adult travellers than families with children.)
Here are some popular options that cater specifically to adults and provide a sophisticated, relaxed atmosphere onboard.
Viking Ocean Cruises
Viking offers adults-only (age 18+) cruises with a focus on cultural enrichment and exploration. Their ships have a serene atmosphere and elegant ambience, offering a wide range of activities such as lectures, music performances, and cooking classes.
Their ships feature spacious accommodations and adults-only areas (on ships that allow minors). Viking is renowned for its destination-focused itineraries and immersive cultural experiences.
Azamara Club Cruises
Azamara specializes in small-ship cruising (600-700 passengers), providing an intimate experience for guests. They also offer longer stays in ports, allowing for more in-depth exploration.
Their itineraries include less-travelled destinations such as the Middle East, northern Europe, or the South Pacific. Azamara offers enriching experiences and cultural activities with a relaxed, elegant ambience for adults.
Celebrity Cruises (Celebrity Solstice Class)
Celebrity Cruises aren’t true “adults-only” ships, but their Solstice Class ships feature many adults-only areas (such as solariums and indoor pools) for passengers to enjoy. Bonus: Most rooms include private verandas!
These ships offer a stylish, contemporary design and a relaxed, sophisticated atmosphere for adults. Some ships even offer one-of-a-kind experiences like a real grass lawn or glass-blowing classes.
Oceania combines luxury, culinary excellence, and immersive itineraries to create a sophisticated experience for adults. Their ships are exceedingly elegant and offer a “country club” ambience for passengers to enjoy.
Oceania offers destination-focused itineraries to exotic ports of call. Onboard, you’ll find gourmet dining options and a range of enrichment activities such as specialized cooking classes and art workshops.
Cunard Line (Queen Mary 2)
Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 offers an elevated cruise experience for adult passengers. The luxury liner features elegant surroundings and requires formal dress codes for certain evenings.
The ship provides a range of high-class activities including ballroom dancing, scientific lectures, and theatre performances. Itineraries include North America, Europe, Southeast Asia, and the South Pacific, as well as round-the-world voyages.
Seabourn is synonymous with luxury cruising. Their all-suite ships provide spacious accommodations, personalized service, and an intimate atmosphere.
Seabourn cruises often visit exotic destinations and offer upscale amenities like gourmet dining, luxury spa facilities, and enriching onboard activities. Although minors are welcome, there are no children’s activities onboard and it’s very unusual to see families with small children travelling on a Seabourn cruise.
Silversea specializes in ultra-luxury cruises, offering small ships with spacious suites and personalised service. Their cruises provide gourmet dining, premium beverages, and unique itineraries.
Silversea focuses on creating intimate and immersive experiences for adult passengers. Don’t be scared off by the higher price tag, as this is one of few cruise lines that offers a truly all-inclusive experience.
Crystal offers a luxury cruise experience with a focus on elegance and impeccable first-class service.
Their ships provide a range of dining venues, including speciality restaurants, and feature world-class entertainment and enrichment programs. Crystal Cruises is well-known for its attentive staff and attention to detail.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Regent offers all-inclusive luxury cruises, providing a premium experience for adults. Their ships feature spacious suites, gourmet dining, and a variety of onboard activities and entertainment.
Bonus: Regent includes amenities such as shore excursions, beverages, gratuities, and Wi-Fi in their fares, making it easier to budget for your trip.
Again, it’s important to note that while these cruises primarily cater to adults, they may not be entirely adult-only. Always check with the cruise line to ensure their policies and onboard experience meet your expectations.
That said, the cruise lines listed above consistently receive positive reviews for providing exceptional experiences for adult passengers.
It’s worth researching their specific itineraries and onboard amenities to find the one that aligns best with your preferences.
The Best Adults-Only All-Inclusive Cruises
Most cruise lines are “a la carte,” meaning you’ll pay extra for shore excursions, premium beverage packages, or dining in certain restaurants.
If you want to book a cruise that includes virtually everything in the ticket price, consider one of these adults-only all-inclusive cruises.
With a marketing slogan like “Adult-by-Design,” you can expect a unique cruise experience from Virgin Voyages. You won’t find anyone under 18 onboard and all passengers are referred to as “sailors.”
Not only does Virgin Voyages provide all-inclusive fares, but you’ll also find some boundary-pushing offerings geared towards the adventurous. Their ships offer risque shows, wild nightlife, and even onboard sex therapists.
Virgin Voyages ships carry 2,500 passengers to exciting ports of call in the Caribbean and Mediterranean. If you’re looking to party ‘til the sun comes up with like-minded people, this could be the best cruise for adults for you.
If you’re more interested in high tea than tequila shots, the British boutique line Saga Cruises might be more your speed. Saga offers small-ship sailings (999 passengers) exclusively for people 50 years of age and older.
Saga’s all-inclusive fares include all meals, most drinks, gratuities, WiFi, classes, and transfers. Enjoy the views from your balcony stateroom as you cruise through the Baltic Sea, the Canary Islands, or the Caribbean.
Good to know: You can enjoy the same Saga experience on their 50-and-up boutique river cruises through Europe.
U by Uniworld
U by Uniworld offers another unique cruise experience that isn’t quite “party all night” but also not “50-and-up.” Catering primarily to millennials and young adults, U by Uniworld focuses more heavily on cultural experiences than lavish onboard elegance.
Their river cruise itineraries focus on Central and Eastern Europe and offer activities like walking tours, kayaking, and bike rides through the countryside. Onboard, you’ll find some unusual offerings like wine-and-painting classes or camping on the rooftop of the ship.
How to Choose the Best Cruise for Adults
When searching for the best cruise for adults only, there are a seemingly overwhelming number of details to consider.
As you research the different cruise lines mentioned above, here are some important factors to look out for.
Check whether the cruise line has a minimum age requirement to ensure that the atmosphere is geared towards adults. Some cruise lines (or specific ships) may have a minimum age of 18 or 21.
Consider the destinations and ports of call offered by the cruise, as well as the best time of year to travel. Look for itineraries that align with your interests, whether it’s exploring cultural landmarks, relaxing on pristine beaches, or immersing yourself in local cuisine.
Ship Size and Ambiance
Determine if you prefer a smaller, more intimate ship or a larger vessel with more onboard facilities. Smaller ships often provide a more relaxed and sophisticated atmosphere, while larger ships may offer a wider range of entertainment and dining options.
Evaluate the variety of activities available on the cruise. Look for enrichment programs like lectures, workshops, wine tastings, or cooking classes that cater to adult interests. Consider if the ship has amenities like spa facilities, fitness centres, or adult-only pool areas.
Check the cruise line’s dining offerings. Look for multiple dining venues, including speciality restaurants with diverse cuisines, as well as the flexibility to dine at your preferred time and with whomever you choose.
Entertainment & Nightlife
Assess the onboard entertainment options, such as live music, theatre shows, comedy clubs, or casinos. Some cruises may offer adult-oriented entertainment and themed parties.
If minors are allowed onboard, find out if the cruise ship has designated adult-only areas, such as pools, lounges, or sundecks. These areas can provide a serene and tranquil environment away from families with children.
All-Inclusive or Premium Amenities
Consider whether you prefer an all-inclusive cruise with meals, beverages, and gratuities included in the fare. Alternatively, some cruises may offer premium amenities, such as luxury suites, butler service, or exclusive access to certain areas.
Reviews and Recommendations
Read reviews and seek recommendations from experienced cruisers who have taken adult-oriented cruises. Their insights can provide valuable information about the overall experience and atmosphere.
The Best Cruises for Adults in 2024
Now that you know what to look for, here are some specific recommendations for ships that offer awesome adult-only cruises.
Carnival’s Serenity Adult-Only Retreat
Carnival may be best known for being a fun, family-friendly cruise line, but their 21+ “retreats” have become wildly popular for grown-up passengers.
While the kids are happily entertained in their own areas, adults can relax in one of many adult-only areas onboard. Think sunbeds, hammocks, and private decks to take a nap or finally finish that book.
When you’re ready to kick it up a notch, enjoy bottomless drinks at piano bars, tequila bars, nightclubs, and other exciting adults-only facilities.
Virgin Voyages’ Scarlet Lady
Not interested in sharing space with kids? That’s okay too — you can still have a wild time (sans screaming children) aboard Virgin Voyages’ Scarlet Lady.
As mentioned earlier, Virgin Voyages is like a playground for adventurous grown-ups. Onboard you’ll find a karaoke lounge, a tattoo parlour, dance parties, and even a sex-themed cabaret show.
Still not enough excitement for you? Check out the interactive dance parties or attend the drag queen brunch for an experience you won’t soon forget.
P&O Cruises (Arcadia & Aurora)
For a more refined cruising experience, consider one of P&O’s quintessentially British luxury liners. The Arcadia and the Aurora are both adults-only ships (18+) that regularly sail out of Southampton.
Enjoy a game of quoits on the upper deck, then sit back and unwind during an elaborate afternoon tea. The dining options are top-notch as well, usually featuring menus designed by chefs who are popular in the UK.
If your budget allows, treat yourself to a once-in-a-lifetime experience aboard the Scenic Eclipse. Known as “The World’s First Discovery Yacht,” this ultra-luxurious ship carries a mere 228 passengers to faraway destinations like Antarctica.
In fact, it’s the only cruise line in the world to tout “6-star luxury.”
Every suite includes butler service, a private terrace, and a minibar stocked with personally selected premium beverages.
When you’re ready to venture out, book an intimate ride in a private helicopter or dive underwater aboard the submarine Neptune.
Set Sail on the Best Cruise for Adults
If you’re dreaming of adult-only cruises, the tips presented above should help you find the perfect ship for you.
Get familiar with the best cruise lines for adults and their ports of call. Weigh the pros and cons of adult cruises with add-ons vs adults-only all-inclusive cruises. Finally, pick a ship with the amenities you want and the destinations you can’t wait to explore.
If you do all these things, you’ll find the best cruise for adults and you’ll be sipping that glass of champagne on the upper deck in no time!
An exotic cruise isn’t the only item that belongs on your to-do list. Click here for 200 awesome ideas to add to your summertime bucket list.