There’s nothing worse than being stuck on an airplane with a crying kid. Actually, scratch that – being stuck 300 miles out to sea with one is about as much fun as a barrel of monkeys too. Whereas cruises used to be the grown-up, sophisticated mode of travel, the kids have now taken over. Gone are the days you could soak up the rays on the top deck with nothing but the sea and the sun for company. Now, there’s likely to be more kids running around than at a daycare center. Unless, of course, you’ve done the wise thing and booked yourself on an adults-only vessel. These smart, sophisticated cruising experiences are a far cry from the Disney’s at sea that more and more cruises are turning into. There are no cartoon characters, no giant waterslides, no ‘fun zones,’ and absolutely no under-18s. If that sounds like your idea of heaven, here are the 10 best adults-only cruises you should try.
10. Carnival Cruises
As a disclaimer, Carnival Cruises isn’t an exclusively adults-only cruise line. It does, however, offer the kind of 21+ retreats that have proved a hit with travelers who’d rather stay as far away from the snotty-nosed brigade as possible. There might be kids on the same ship as you, but in the best Victorian tradition, they’ll be neither seen nor heard while you’re at Carnival’s Serenity Adult-Only Retreat. While the kids get on with whatever it is that kids do on the family side of the ship, you can relax on a sunbed, sit at the bar, or hit up the Cloud 9 Spa Thermal Suite for the ultimate in kid-free indulgence.
Tauck is best known for its adventure land tours, but it also does a very fine line in cruses. Families aren’t left out of the equation entirely, and those with kids are welcome to book a cruise on one of the firm’s dedicated family voyages. Those with a taste for more traditional, adult-only adventures should stick to the 130-passenger MS Savor, a very opulent, grown-up affair with dripping chandeliers, putting greens, and extremely cozy loft-style cabins. Guests are treated to onboard performances, themed excursions at the various stops (which include Bratislava, Slovakia; Vienna, Austria; Melk, Austria; Passau, Germany; and Prague, Czech Republic), interactive workshops, and a zero-tolerance policy on anyone under the age of 21.
8. Holland America
Holland America has a good-sized fleet with several vessels that carer to an older demographic. The musically themed cruise voyage offered by MS Koningsdam is a pleasure ground for music lovers, with an excellent variety of music venues, performances, and activities. It’s also pretty irresistible to food and drink fans, with hands-on cocktail classes and live cooking demonstrations in America’s Test Kitchen.
7. Azamara Club Cruises
Azamara Club Cruises offer exclusive cruises designed to appeal to adults who want to venture off the beaten path and experience a more immersive experience in the ports they visit. The focus is very firmly on the shore excursions; Azamara, unlike most cruise lines, stays in the port overnight, with evening exertions therefore included as standard in the price.
6. U River Cruises
Start-up river line U River Cruises caters to the millennial crowd. Its vessels are hip and stylish, with sleek exteriors, chic rooftop venues, deck-top yoga, a spa, international DJs, ice bars, and trendy dining options with communal tables and locally-inspired farm-to-table cuisine. Special guests depend on the particular theme of the cruise but range from famous tattoo artists to celebrity drag queens. The accommodations are ultra-fashionable, with adjustable mood lighting, built-in Bluetooth speakers, USB ports, and super-luxe bathrooms with heated mirrors and premium accessories. The firm used to ban anyone below 21 and over 45 – it’s relaxed the rules now, but you’ll still need to be over 18 to get on board.
If your definition of ‘kid’ stretches to anyone under the age of 50, Saga’s line of cruises for the 50+ crowd is an excellent option. The latest vessel to join its lineup is the 999-passenger Spirit of Discovery. Operating from Dover in the UK and calling at Gothenburg, Sweden; Stockholm, Sweden; Helsinki, Finland; St. Petersburg, Russia; Tallinn, Estonia; Kalundborg, Denmark; and Aalborg, Denmark, it represents the best of the line, with a two-story main dining room and four additional restaurants, theater performances, relaxation lounges, a full-service spa, and a golf simulator.
4. Virgin Voyages
Launched in 2020, Virgin Voyages might be one of the newest addition to the cruise lineup, but it’s already made a big impact. Every one of the three vessels in its line is adults only. Its maiden ship is the Scarlet Lady, a very hip, high-end vessel that can cater to up to 2,770 passengers. The amenities are cutting edge, with a full treatment spa complete with a mudroom, a hydrotherapy pool, quartz beds, and a salt room, an outdoor sundeck and yoga area, an indoor gym with a boxing ring and group classes, a test kitchen, a swanky nightclub, and the world’s largest daybed at sea.
As Trip Savvy says, cruisers looking to soak in some musical vibes at sea should consider a cruise with Sixthman. A leader in festivals and music cruises, the company commissions vessels like the Norwegian Pearl to serve as a music festival at sea. The Kiss Crise from Miami combines fun activities with two shows from Kiss, while other cruises feature country artists, blues bands, and more besides.
2. P&O Cruises
As thepointsguy.com points out, while P&O Cruises hasn’t given up on the family market, they’ve clearly recognized the demand for adults-only cruise ships and have introduced an adults-only policy to three of their vessels. The latest ship to join their ranks is the Aurora, which can comfortably accommodate 1,874 passengers. Ideal for customers looking for a mid-sized option, it features a good array of dining options together with a casino, a movie cinema, a full-service spa, and a theatre.
1. Viking Ocean Cruises
As cruisetraveloutlet.com notes, all Viking Ocean Cruises have been adult-only cruises since the very beginning. As one of the leading cruise lines for over 18s, they offer a sophisticated, grown-up cruising experience with itineraries that focus on destination immersion. Typical activities include guest lectures, curated wine tastings, and cooking classes. The cutting-edge onboard amenities extent to include a fitness center and spa with a sauna, pools, baths, and a very fabulous snow grotto.