11 best cruise lines for adults
Cruising expert Rebecca Barnes reveals the absolute best cruise lines for adults and explains why they're perfect for child free adventures...
Rebecca Barnes is no stranger to a child-free cruise and here she picks the best cruise lines for adults, featuring grown up ships and itineraries, based on her years of experience aboard some of the world's best ships.
From budget-friendly cruises to ultra-luxury bucket list sailings, if you’re looking to leave the brood behind the next time you travel then there are plenty of adults-only cruise lines with first-class facilities for a sophisticated sailing.
Choosing the best cruises out of all the adults-only trips on offer can feel daunting, so in this guide to the best cruise lines for adults we give you the lowdown of what you can expect on board each ship, including food and drink, accommodation, wellness and most importantly, the cost based on two people sharing.
Then all you need to do is weigh up between river cruises vs ocean cruises and decide on your destination - will you head to the Med, soak up the sun in the Caribbean or splash out on a far-flung expedition cruise…
The best cruise lines for adults
This adult-by-design cruise line is just the ticket for the young at heart. Step onboard new ship Valiant Lady, which has itineraries featuring longer port stays and overnighters in idyllic destinations and European islands including Ibiza, Santorini and Croatia.
There are 20+ eateries onboard to explore, with everything from Michelin-starred menus to a Korean BBQ at sea. And don’t worry if you get waylaid at the bar – you can enjoy food at any time and even order a late night delivery to your cabin.
Health, fitness and wellness facilities include inside and outside training spaces, plus the gorgeous Redemption Spa. All classes are included, including the fun 80’s VHS workout with neon headbands!
Valiant Lady has 1,330 cabins and 78 RockStar Quarters including two iconic Massive Suites with their own RockStar Agent (butler), turntables, electric guitars and a private hot tub.
Top tip: Up until September 2022, book and sail with Virgin Voyages’ Lock It In cabin rates and get 40 per cent off and $400 in onboard credit to spend on spa treatments in the afternoon and Champagne at night — or sail anytime in the future and get 20 per cent off your sailing.
Prices start from $1098/ £897.58 per sailor per cabin for the Irresistible Med sailing on Valiant Lady, departing Barcelona on 18 September 2022.
To find out more and to book, visit Virgin Voyages
Looking for a contemporary onboard experience while sailing to new destinations in modern luxury and style? Celebrity Cruises might just be for you.
The fleets’ unique outward facing design provides expansive outdoor spaces created by leading interior designers including Kelly Hoppen.
We love the Edge Series which includes the latest ship Celebrity Beyond (plus sisters Edge and Apex). This sanctuary at sea offers a programme of wellness never before seen on a cruise ship, including over 120 treatments, as well as partnerships with F45 and Peloton.
There’s also 15 restaurants, five cafés and 12 bars and lounges, including world-acclaimed chef Daniel Boulud’s first restaurant at sea, Le Voyage. Personal retreat hosts (butlers) are just one of the perks of booking suite accommodation so you won't need to lift a finger.
Top tip: Booking a Suite Class stateroom gives you access to The Retreat - an exclusive restaurant, lounge and sundeck with pool, hot tub and bar to rival any high-end resort.
A 5-night Western Caribbean Cruise on Celebrity Beyond, departing Fort Lauderdale on 8 November 2022 costs from $1,467/ £909 based on two people sharing an Oceanview Stateroom and includes drinks, WiFi and gratuities.
To find out more and to book, visit Celebrity Cruises.
You’ll never cross paths with the younger generation on a Saga cruise, as they are exclusively for travellers aged 50 and over, meaning this brand is often listed as one of the best vacations for 60 year olds looking for an adults-only escape.
There are some truly boutique style spaces on board Spirit of Discovery and Spirit of Adventure – both are small by today’s standards, but clever design and just under 1000 guests give a feeling of space, plus all cabins have balconies.
There are five restaurants, bars and a living room, an observation deck, promenade and terrace, retro-inspired pool, sports court and deck games, and a spa with hydrotherapy pool, sauna and steam rooms.
Cruises are all-inclusive and all guests are offered a complimentary door-to-door chauffeur service, free WiFi, gratuities, room service, sightseeing tours in selected ports, shuttle buses, and up to £5m coronavirus cover. There's also a great selection of itineraries to choose from, including mini cruises and some of the best river cruises in Europe.
Top tip: Saga encourages early booking and offers up to 35 per cent off ocean cruises when they first go on sale. As cabins are sold, the discount reduces so the earlier guests book, the better their chance of securing a greater discount.
Saga ocean cruises start from around $1,500pp/ £1,199 based on two sharing for a five-night cruise.
To find out more and to book visit Saga or call 0808 258 0459.
Looking for a carefree cruising experience that's oozing grown up style? Emerald Cruises sailings include daily excursions and experiences, diverse dining with complimentary drinks, return flights and transfers.
Meanwhile, the luxury onboard offerings are akin to world-class hotels – luxurious toiletries, flat screen TVs and infotainment systems, a transformational pool and cinema area, state-of-the-art coffee machines, regionally inspired meals and panoramic sun decks.
The sleek and stylish Emerald Azzurra, above, the line’s first ocean-going vessel which launched in March 2022, is a head-turning 100-guest luxury yacht that sails in the Mediterranean, Adriatic and Red Seas.
Top tip: It pays to book early to snap up EarlyBird and Super EarlyBird savings which offer up to 35 per cent off.
A nine-day Gems of the Arabian Peninsula itinerary departing December 2022 and January 2023 from Doha or Dubai, costs from $3,836/ £3,827 and includes five excursions, transfers, gratuities and a free premium drinks package.
To find out more and to book visit Emerald Cruises.
ATLAS OCEAN VOYAGES
This new, all inclusive line is all about luxe-adventure voyages, and the first ship, World Navigator, cruises around the world including no-fly departures from the UK.
The ambience is casually elegant with craft cocktails, personalised complimentary minibars, the holistic-inspired SeaSpa, heated seats in the Water’s Edge bow observation area, and dining including homestyle Portuguese dishes and fresh seafood.
All 98 suites and staterooms have an ocean view and most have a private veranda as well as L’Occitane bath amenities, slippers, robes, and binoculars. Solo suites are also available.
The Atlas and Dome Lounges feature entertainment led by accomplished performers – guests can also enjoy movies, port presentations and lectures.
Top Tip: Book early if you want to secure a Solo suite. World Navigator has the first ever L’Occitane Spa at sea so make sure to book any treatments as soon as you board.
Prices for a 10 night journey to Spitzbergen start from $3,507/ £2,899pp based on two sharing a veranda stateroom.
To find out more and to book visit Atlas Ocean Voyages.
Feel the breeze in your hair on a traditional masted sailing ship or all-suite motor ship while discovering some of the most sought-after destinations on the planet, including Costa Rica and Alaska, as well as hidden gems in Europe and the Caribbean.
Windstar Cruises caters to between 148 and 342 guests and is popular with couples and group tours for solo travellers. The ships slip into ports that are inaccessible to larger cruise liners, meaning they tend to visit more off-the-beaten-path ports.
There’s also a unique Open Bridge Policy, so you can wander in when the ship is at sea, chat with the crew (the captain is there quite often), and enjoy a cup of Windstar's Bridge Blend coffee.
All staterooms feature ocean views and there are two primary dining venues; you can also dine under the stars in Candles restaurant.
Along with 24-hour room service, there are bars, a screening room, water-sports platform, fitness studio, infinity pool, two whirlpools and a spa.
Top tip: Book an itinerary that features a complimentary ‘Destination Discovery Event’ for an in-depth, authentic local experience.
A seven-night all-inclusive Caribbean cruise from St Maarten to Bridgetown onboard Wind Surf departing 28 January 2023 costs from $3,164pp/ £2,530pp.
To find out more and to book visit Windstar Cruises or call 0808 178 2233.
Viking welcomes guests over the age of 18 on its all-inclusive ocean, river and expedition ships. Onboard there’s lectures on a range of subjects, cooking demonstrations, and menus inspired by local cuisine; ashore you might get the chance to accompany the ship’s chef to a local market, tour a glassblower’s workshop, or visit a world-class museum.
Fancy a river cruise? Viking’s Longships dock in the heart of most towns and villages. The ships feature al fresco dining and there is a sun deck, walking deck and herb garden harvested daily by the culinary staff.
The all-veranda ocean ships accommodate 930 guests so they can slip into ports where bigger liners cannot. If you like the idea of spending more time in a destination, overnight stays mean less time at sea.
Casinos and children’s pools trade places with light-filled spaces: take a dip in the infinity pool at the stern or the main pool with its retractable roof. The Scandinavian spa features a sauna and steam room, thermal pool and Snow Grotto.
Top tip: Select itineraries can be booked years in advance; many are already open for bookings for 2024. Booking ahead means you will get the best accommodation and preferred dates, and leaves time for destination planning – there is also content on most itineraries on the Viking.TV digital platform.
An 8-day Danube Waltz itinerary includes return flights to select UK airports, a Standard stateroom, on board meals including wine, beer and soft drinks with lunch and dinner, WiFi and gratuities. Prices start from $3,685pp/ £2,995pp based on a July 2023 departure.
To find out more and to book visit Viking Cruises or call 0800 319 66 60.
Oceania Cruises caters almost exclusively to adult travellers: onboard there's a wide array of adult-focused facilities and services, from a running track and artist loft to a culinary centre, library and lecture rooms.
The boutique line is said to have the finest cuisine at sea, and you may get the opportunity to forage for ingredients in local markets before cooking them back on board.
Destination-rich itineraries span the globe from the best places to visit in Europe to Mexico – smaller ships can access lesser-known destinations so travellers can experience the culture and ambience of the surroundings.
Itineraries often include roundtrip airfare, in-port shuttle service, complimentary specialty restaurants, fitness classes, internet service, soft drinks, and specialty coffees and teas.
Top tip: If you’re planning to travel alone, make sure you check out the new single occupancy oceanview staterooms aboard Regatta, Insignia, Nautica and Sirena.
A seven-day Iberian Impressions voyage on Nautica departing Barcelona on 27 July 2022 costs from $2,714pp/ £2,249pp.
To find out more and to book visit Oceania Cruises or call 0345 505 1920.
If you’re looking for all-inclusive luxury and a boutique ambience, Seabourn offers all-suite accommodation with oceanfront views, award-winning dining, complimentary premium spirits and fine wines to indulge in at all times.
Onboard, the atmosphere is relaxed and sociable so you’ll feel right at home, while the ships sail to every continent on the globe, visiting more than 400 destinations including lesser-known ports and hideaways.
For the ultimate indulgence, why not book a spa suite which come with direct access to the spa and feature large verandas.
New ship Seabourn Venture is designed and built for diverse environments to PC6 Polar Class standards and features an all-new innovative design, created specifically for the ultra-luxury expedition traveller.
The ship comes with Zodiacs, kayaks and two six-person submarines for once-in-a-lifetime undersea exploration.
Top tip: The best time to book for the best holiday deals is during the sales; the Suite Savings offers and Black Friday sales are worth checking out for additional savings.
A 10-day The Heart of the Amazon itinerary on Seabourn Venture departing from Quitos, Peru on 8 April 2023, costs from $12,849pp/ £10,599pp in a Veranda Suite.
To find out more and to book, visit Seabourn.com.
Explorer 2 joined the Marella Cruises fleet to offer an adults-only cruise experience so guests can sail child-free. Travellers can also enjoy an adults-only sailing onboard the other ships in the fleet where there’s a transatlantic sailing, as these are also reserved for those 17 or over.
Explorer 2’s venues include the push-for-bubbles bar Flutes; The 19th Hole golf-themed bar, and Beach Cove, which offers outdoor dining with swing seats.
Purveyors of some of the best spa breaks in the UK, Champneys have a Spa onboard with an infinity pool and wall-to-wall sea views – book a wellness day to make the sailing extra special. Then, as night falls, dance the night away at a silent disco or try your luck in the casino.
Dining ranges from buffets to waiter service restaurants; the All Inclusive package covers drinks between 10am and 2am daily – guests can enjoy selected soft drinks, a range of cocktails, selected draught beer and ciders, certain spirits and aperitifs, plus Prosecco and house wine.
Marella Cruises offers All Inclusive as standard – everything from meals and drinks to flights, luggage, transfers and tips is taken care of.
Top tip: Something to celebrate? The team can help with anything from bouquets to champagne and strawberries, a ‘Celebrate in Style’ package, and even a Celebration of Vows service.
A seven-night Adriatic Affair cruise on Marella Explorer 2 departing Dubrovnik on 22 September 2022 costs from $1,242pp/ £1,027pp based on two adults sharing.
To find out more and to book visit TUI or call 0871 230 2800.
If you have the cash to splash on a bucket list sailing with a butler on hand to attend to your every whim, Silversea can make your cruise dreams come true.
This ultra-luxury cruise line’s all-suite ships sail to more than 900 destinations worldwide, as well as bespoke land programmes.
The Silversea experience is all about small-ship intimacy, lavish surroundings, five star food and spa experiences, attentive service and spacious accommodation including mini bars stocked with your drink preferences. Dining includes fine French cuisine and traditional Italian dishes served family style,
On board Silver Spirit, guests can venture to both tiny ports and big-hitting destinations, ideal for those looking to experience an authentic flavour of the regions. Shore excursion highlights typically include yacht cruising, wine tours and tastings and private concerts inside historical buildings.
Top tip: Silversea now includes door-to-door private executive transfers to and from your home, so you can enjoy being pampered even before you set foot on the ship.
A 12-day Athens to Athens itinerary departing on 2 September 2022 costs from $9,500pp/ £6,400pp including private transfers, return flights, all food and drink, butler service and shore excursions.
To find out more and to book visit Silversea.com
Award-winning journalist and editor Rebecca Barnes has written travel-related content for countless consumer titles and websites including The Telegraph, Daily Mail, Wanderlust, Tatler and Cruise Critic.
A former editor of World of Cruising magazine, Rebecca is also co-founder of the premium blogazine, Cruise Blondes – as a cruise specialist, Rebecca spends much of her time sailing the world's oceans and waterways and checking out the latest ships - all in the name of research, of course.
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