Best Cruise Lines for Romance
What is it about sailing the high seas that inspires romance? That serene setting, for sure, but also those intimate dinners, those relaxing spa treatments and those spectacular sunsets. Whatever the draw may be for you, these cruise lines ranked by U.S. News' Best Cruises team know how to set the mood for an amorous escape. Based on a methodology that factors in health ratings, reputation among experts and approval among couples, here are the most romantic cruise lines.
With its limited passenger capacity, all-suite accommodations and attentive butler service, Silversea knows how to create an intimate, romantic atmosphere. When you're not getting pampered at the spa, impress your other half with all of the skills you picked up at the onboard wine tastings and culinary demonstrations. Or, plan your very own date night with dinner at Le Champagne — the only Relais & Châteaux restaurant at sea.
From its luxurious accommodations (every room touts an ocean view) to its sophisticated amenities, Crystal offers plenty of opportunities to impress your significant other. After getting a couples massage in the Feng Shui-designed Crystal Spa, admire the sunset from the 360-degree Promenade Deck. When an intimate dinner for two is in order, pay a little extra to dine at one of the ship's specialty restaurants, Prego or Silk Road & The Sushi Bar. After dinner, retreat to one of the lounges; shows are performed by artists from Broadway and the West End.
Azamara's ships are limited to 686 guests, meaning it won't be difficult to find secluded nooks for admiring the views with your special someone. For an intimate dinner, make reservations at Prime C, the onboard steakhouse. After gazing at one another from across the dinner table, steal away to the cabaret lounge. Then, explore lesser-known ports of call together through the cruise line's cultural immersion AzAmazing Evenings program.
With gourmet dining menus, an "elegant casual" dress code and a Canyon Ranch SpaClub on every ship, Regent knows how to up the romance. Though Regent offers a supervised youth program, you won't find too many families on your ship: the line doesn't tout kid-friendly amenities like water parks or arcades. And thanks to the cruise line's suite-only accommodations, you and your sweetheart have plenty of room to spread out. Step outside your digs to enjoy an intimate dinner for two at one of the cruise line's specialty restaurants, such as Compass Rose or Signatures.
Whether you're getting pampered with a couples massage at the AquaSpa or sipping a few glasses of wine, Celebrity offers plenty of opportunities for romance. Retreat to the Rendezvous Lounge for post-dinner cocktails and dancing, or sip cool drinks at the ice-topped Martini Bar & Crush. If you're celebrating an anniversary, splurge at one of the cruise line's specialty restaurants, such as the Tuscan Grille or Murano. And for some evening entertainment, try your hand at blackjack at the onboard casino. If you want to hold your partner close, sign up for a dance tutorials and waltz the night away.
Given its prominent placement on our Best Cruise Lines for Families ranking, it may come as a surprise that Disney makes an appearance on this list. But couples eager to relive some childhood nostalgia will find more than Disney kitsch. The ships feature plenty of child-free areas for spending quality time with your amour, like the spa, Quiet Cove Pool and several nightclubs and lounges. At night, sit down for a dinner for two at an exclusive adults-only specialty restaurant or test your pub knowledge with Beer Tasting Trivia (only available on certain ships and itineraries).
Holland America caters to affluent retirees looking for a refined atmosphere not overly dominated by families. Impress your better half with the culinary skills you'll pick up in the hands-on cooking classes, or enjoy spa treatments together at the Greenhouse Spa & Salon. At night, venture to the Pinnacle Grill to surprise your sweetie with "An Evening at Le Cirque," which mirrors the culinary experience and ambiance of the celebrated New York restaurant.
With its enrichment programs, afternoon teas and themed galas, Cunard appeals to couples ages 50 and older who appreciate the line's upscale, Old World atmosphere. If you're sailing to celebrate an anniversary or other special occasion, consider springing for one of the Princess Grill or Queens Grill suites for more space and personalized concierge service. Or, if you and your sweetheart fancy yourselves wine connoisseurs, take advantage of the cruise line's wine program and sip vino with your sweetheart. Plus, ballroom dancing on formal nights allows you some one-on-one time with your better half.
Oceania offers two things most vacationing couples consider paramount: upscale amenities and a nearly kid-free atmosphere (the cruise line doesn't offer programming for children). Touting more of a casual country club atmosphere than a boisterous pool party scene, Oceania caters to older couples who enjoy enrichment programs like art and cooking classes. Get pampered together at the Canyon Ranch SpaClub, then sit down for dinner a deux thanks to the cruise line's open seat dining, which allows passengers to eat when and where they want.
Thanks to its Romance Packages, Royal Caribbean is an ideal choice for twosomes on a budget. Packages promise extra perks, including a welcome bottle of sparkling wine, rose petals and pre-dinner canapés. Plan a date night around one of the cruise's formal nights in the dining room, or for more secluded noshing, enjoy complimentary room service in your stateroom. If you and your better half crave more activity, get your hearts pumping with adventurous pursuits like rock climbing or ice skating, available on board.
While at sea, you can steal away from the crowds at The Sanctuary, a spa-inspired retreat with healthy drinks and snacks, and massages. When night falls, arrange an intimate dinner on your stateroom balcony with the line's Ultimate Balcony Dining experience, which includes a four-course feast, along with fresh flowers and Champagne. After you've savored a memorable meal, cozy up on comfy chaise lounges and stay warm under a blanket for two at the Movie Under the Stars poolside film screenings.
Carnival's "Fun Ships" and budget-friendly itineraries are best suited for younger duos looking for plenty of onboard attractions (waterslides and deck parties abound). While it will be a little more difficult to find some adults-only seclusion on one of these family-oriented ships, it's not impossible. The cruise line offers a spa on every ship, complete with hot stone massages and other soothing treatments. Carnival also features Serenity Adult-Only Retreats on select ships, inviting guests 21 and older to unwind in a hammock and savor a cocktail.
If you and your significant other enjoy relaxing at the spa, consider booking one of Norwegian's Spa Suites (available on select Norwegian ships). These cabins — specifically designed for two guests — reward passengers with complimentary access to the spa's steam rooms or saunas. During days at sea, you and your companion can enjoy dining a deux thanks to Norwegian's "Freestyle Dining" option, which gives you the choice to dine whenever and with whomever you want. Make it a date night with an après-dinner show; the cruise line hosts intimate jazz concerts and Broadway performances.
MSC is an ideal choice for budget-conscious couples. The cruise line offers various deals for cruising pairs — the Lovebirds Package comes with in-suite perks like fresh fruit, canapé trays and Champagne, and the wellness package at the Aurea Spa was no doubt designed with couples in mind. Treat your special someone to some fine dining at one of the cruise line's specialty restaurants before sipping cocktails at one of the numerous onboard bars or lounges. Then, tempt Lady Luck at the casino.
Costa isn't overly romantic, but it still provides plenty of amenities for cruising duos. The cruise line offers candlelit dinners for two, Broadway-style performances and couples massages at the Samsara Spa. Off the ship, you'll have your pick of more than 2,000 shore excursions, including horseback riding on the beach in Grand Turk or a Uruguayan winery tour. Once you return to the ship, test your luck at the casino or sample refreshing cocktails at one of the ship's bars.
Disclaimers about ship ratings: A ship's Health Rating is based on vessel inspection scores published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If a ship did not receive a CDC score within 22 months prior to the calculation of its Overall Rating, its Health Rating appears as N/A; in such a case, the ship's Overall Rating is calculated using the average Health Rating of all CDC-rated ships within the cruise line. All ship Traveler Ratings are based on ratings provided under license by Cruiseline.com.