The Best Cruise Lines For Adults & Couples

Are you a couple looking for the best cruise line for your vacation? There’s a big difference in cruising when its just adults versus setting sail with an entire family… and it’s more than just wondering if the ship has waterslides for the kiddos.

In fact, most adults and couples looking for a cruise want something completely different than those family cruisers.

Of course, that means adult couples looking for the perfect cruise need to take a hard look at a number of things to determine which line is best for them. From the ship’s atmosphere to your other passengers, there are a number of things that can have an impact on your enjoyment.

For most people, we suggest thinking about all of the following when picking the right cruise line for their trip…

Things to Consider for Adult & Couple Cruises

There are a number of factors you’ll want to consider when looking for a cruise line catering to adults. This includes the ship’s atmosphere and who your other passengers will be.

Having Adults-Only Space: Yes, there are adult-focused cruise lines. But before you simply book one of those, know that they tend to be more expensive than mass market lines. As well, they don’t have near the number of ships or departure ports as larger lines that also welcome families.

In other words, unless you have no problem flying to a port and have a flexible schedule, adult-focused lines might be out of the question.

That’s why it’s smart to instead focus on ships that have appealing adults-only areas. These days most ships have them, but they can vary widely. For instance, on many Royal Caribbean ships there is a Solarium area that is a covered pool designed only for adults. That’s appealing to some, but if you want something that’s more open air, then you might like Carnival’s Serenity Adult-Only Retreat. This is open-air (allowing you to get some sun) with hot tubs and private seating. However, there is often no pool.

In other words, before you book your trip, you’ll want to weigh the pros and cons of any adults-only area the ship may have.

Ship Atmosphere: Just like any hotel, every cruise line has a different atmosphere. Some are fun and outgoing while others are more reserved and stately. It goes without saying that matching up the atmosphere of the cruise line with what you’re looking for in a vacation can make a major impact on your enjoyment.

So how are you supposed to know what a cruise line’s atmosphere is like? Well, you can certainly get some insight from reviews of cruises, but we suggest something even simpler.

Take a look at any cruise line’s website to get a good idea of the image and atmosphere it tries to project. Are the images of families enjoying themselves? Or maybe it’s of a couple enjoying a glass of wine and a sunset? You can get a good hint of the sort of atmosphere on a ship through these marketing materials.

Things for Adults to Do: Part of the fun of a cruise is that there is typically lots to do on the ship. And each new cruise ship brings along new features on board, whether it be rock climbing walls, or go-kart tracks, or even roller coasters. But for many adults and couples, it can seem like many of these things are solely for families or younger kids. Sure, there can appeal to some adults, but not everyone is interested in the biggest and newest waterslide or similar attraction.

That’s why the best cruise lines and ships for adults come with plenty for grown-ups to do as well, outside of those headline-grabbing new features. Whether it be entertainment and shows on board, or more options for social gatherings on the ship — or the aforementioned adults-only areas, you want to find a cruise line that offers plenty for grown-ups to do… and not just families.

Your Other Passengers: It’s only logical that sailing with other people like you is more fun. It wouldn’t make sense for a young couple looking for a romantic vacation to set sail on a Disney cruise loaded with families that have young kids.

Of course, you can’t control who else is on the ship. And no cruise ship is full of passengers that are all the same. That said, the type of trip you take, the time of year, and the cruise line you sail can have a big influence on who you cruise with.

Trips that are longer in length (one week or more) tend to have an older crowd with fewer families and younger passengers than shorter cruises. Trips that sail when school is in session will have fewer kids than trips during the summer or Spring Break. And luxury cruise lines (Celebrity, Princess, etc.) tend to cater to an older crowd.

All of this said, no couple is the same. That means no one cruise line is perfect for every adult. So instead of suggesting one cruise line for everyone, we’ve offered up our top suggestion based on several different groups of people. Keep in mind that it’s hard to go wrong with any cruise, but these lines represent our top picks for each situation.

Best Cruise Line for a Young and Active Couples

Without a doubt, Royal Caribbean is focused on families. But if you are a younger/active adults that likes a lot to do on the ship, it’s among your best options.

Headed out on a honeymoon? Or maybe you are just a younger couple that wants to have a tropical vacation? If so, then your wants in a cruise line are likely very different than some other couples.

If you fall into the young and active group, then we would suggest a trip aboard Royal Caribbean — preferably a larger and newer ship that’s been built in the past ten years.

Why Royal Caribbean? After all, isn’t this considered a family cruise line?

There’s no doubt that the line caters to everyone — families included. But they also offer a lot for younger adults and couples to love. First, there are always a number of active things to do on the ship, from rock climbing to the Flow-Rider standing wave to waterslides and more. If you dread the idea of just having to sit by the pool while at sea, then this is the line for you (although you can certainly do that too).

Furthermore, the adults-only Solarium is a great place to hang out and avoid any kids or families on board. It’s usually covered, so the pool and surrounding area is warm and you don’t have to worry about the outside weather.

Meanwhile, the atmosphere of Royal Caribbean ships is always fun and classy without being too wild nor too stuffy. Your other passengers range everything from families (fewer if you sail during the school year) all the way to older couples. There are also tons of places to eat and drink on the ship — including lots of different types of food for any appetite.

Best Cruise Line For Adults Wanting a Real “Adult” Experience

Virgin Voyages is open only to adults, which allows it to provide an experience you just can’t get elsewhere.

Virgin Voyages burst on the scene a couple of years ago in a big way… and for good reason. First and foremost, Virgin is an adults-only cruise line. So if you’re wanting a cruise that is focused solely on adults, then this is your best bet. 

Being adults-only, the cruise line can do things that just aren’t possible on a traditional cruise line. That includes everything from shows with cabaret-styled performances to areas where you can actually sunbathe topless. There are yoga classes, hammocks on the balcony, and some killer parties that you just won’t find a match for on mainstream lines. 

But it’s also different in other ways. For one, things like gratuities and all food are included in the fare — no buffet is on the ship. Wi-fi is also included. Those headaches that can cause a typical cruise to feel like you have to pay up to get the full experience just aren’t there.

Maybe you’re the sort of person that has been turned off by stereotypical cruise. If so, Virgin Voyages might be just the thing… and not a kid in sight.

Best Cruise Line For Romance

Princess was the cruise line featured on “The Love Boat” TV show… and even today it’s known for romance.

Adults looking for a romantic getaway can do worse than setting sail with Princess Cruises. In fact, the line has an entire section of its website dedicated to travelers looking for romance.

So what makes Princess a winner for couples looking to enjoy each other? First, there is more of a focus on romance than with other cruise lines. For example, if you’re looking for fun and romantic, there’s the Love Boat Disco Deck Party. For others, there are cooking demonstrations and wine-tastings. Food is also a big emphasis, with a number of romantic venues to where you feel like you are dining alone… despite being on a ship with plenty of other passengers.

And while there are places to get married on pretty much any cruise ship, Princess also has anniversary, engagement and honeymoon packages (complete with couples spa services and champagne) available.

Furthermore, the more sophisticated atmosphere of Princess ships mean that fewer families set sail on the line.

Best Cruise Line for Older Couples

Adults wanting a high-end experience could do worse than a cruise on Celebrity. That especially goes for their newest class of ships.

The sort of vacation you want as a couple at 60 years old is likely a little different than what you wanted at 30 years old. In fact, you likely want something a little quieter and more luxurious.

For those more mature couples, we’d suggest looking at a cruise with Celebrity — especially aboard their newest Edge-class ships.

Celebrity is a luxury-level cruise line. The emphasis is on stately design, high-end service, and delicious food. Entertainment is geared toward adults, including shows focused on Motown, cabaret shows, and even croquet and bocce ball on the ship’s Lawn Club. Looking to do shopping? The newest ships features Bulgari and Cartier stores, in addition to others.

If you want even higher-end, then look to The Retreat. This is a “resort within a resort” that is its own private spot with upgraded rooms, private restaurant, it’s own lounge and sun deck. These rooms even come with drink package, wi-fi, and tips included. Along with a team there to make sure you cruise is absolutely perfect.

Put simply, Celebrity isn’t for everyone. If you are traveling with kids, it’s likely you’ll want a different line. But if you are a distinguished couple wanting to enjoy the finer things in life, Celebrity should be exactly what you’re looking for.

Honorable Mention for Adult Cruising

Norwegian Cruise Line — especially its newest ships like Norwegian Prima — make a great choice for adults to cruise.

One major cruise line deserves a mention for being ideal for adults. It just so happens that in our categories, they were slightly topped by another line each time. Norwegian Cruise Line, however, offers an amazing amount for adults to love — especially when sailing on their newest Prima-class cruise ships.

For one, NCL offers a lot to do on its ships that will keep active couples engaged. You can drive go-karts, take a plunge on some extreme slides, and more. The programming is adult focused, with a number of Broadway shows brought to life on the cruise ship. High-end dining? Of course.

What might appeal heavily to adults is that the cruise line — especially with its newest ships — is focused heavily on style and design. Instead of a cruise ship, new ships look more like a high-end contemporary hotel.

While other lines might take the lead in specific categories, Norwegian is a fantastic all-around option for adults. 

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