You and your spouse have decided to take a romantic cruise for your next vacation. The thought alone is exciting but that s as far as the excitement goes… for now. How do you know which cruise line to choose? Even after settling on a cruise line, which one of the ships on their fleet is best suited for you?
It can be difficult to make a decision. You don’t want to spend a fortune on what you hope will be the experience of a lifetime, only to find yourselves in a crowded ship with cabins so tiny you are literally tripping over each other. Worse still, the last thing you need is to have your romantic, alfresco dinners overlooking a breathtaking sunset infused with the all too familiar sound track of whinny kids and a crying baby.
Here is a list of our favorite cruise lines and ships for couples looking for a perfectly private, intimate getaway at sea.
This line’s sophisticated ships are designed for couples’ getaways and not families looking for an all-inclusive holiday. Most on-board spaces such as wine bars, dining areas, pool loungers and top deck lawns are designed for two. If you and your significant other are not in the mood for any of these, there are top-deck lawns for picnics and a rooftop garden where you can snuggle up as you savor the sounds of a live band.
Celebrity suites range in size with the smallest being about 300 square feet and the largest giving you 1,892 square feet of room. Some of these include larger-than average balconies, whirlpool tubs and separate dining areas. 85% of all cabins have private balconies and Iconic suites have a private hot tub on each balcony.
AquaClass cabins also have massaging showerheads and spa-oriented bath and body products. If you don’t mind leaving your suite, make your way to the Aqua Spa Relaxation Room for the ultimate spa experience.
You will be spoilt for choice when it comes to restaurants. These ships have several top-notch specialty restaurants though we must say our favorite is Murano. It’s a classy continental restaurant where you can find luxe dishes like sweetbreads, escargots and caviar. If these are not quite your style, try Tuscan Grille, an Italian steakhouse for a country on-board experience.
The downside to this line is that all this pampering doesn’t come cheap…at all. This is not the line for budget travelers.
Some of this line’s favorite ships are Silhouette, Eclipse, Equinox, Celebrity Solstice and Reflection.
The MS Paul Gaugin is this line’s most popular ship. This 332 passenger vessel starts its journeys from Papeete, on Tahiti, the capital of French Polynesia. The 7-night cruise sees passengers travel through Taha’a, Bora Bora, Huahine and Moorea.
With a crew to passenger ratio of 1 to 1.5, you are assured of undivided attention from crew members serving you. Superior suites and staterooms feature individual butler services.
Most cabins come with a queen-size bed and only a few can be split into twins. If you had any doubt that this ship is built for couples, this alone should clear them all. 70% of the staterooms have private balconies. Also on-board is a full- service spa and a water marina which is used when the ship docks at private beaches. With this, guests can paddleboard and kayak from the ship.
Considering the small size of this ship, the choice of restaurants is quite impressive. L’Etoile, is the main dining venue. Here you can enjoy French cuisine with a Polynesian touch. Two other dining venues give you the option to dine indoors or under the stars. There is always the option to have room service for your meals if you prefer to enjoy them in bed or relaxed on the balcony.
The one downside to this cruise is that French Polynesia is a long way off, no matter where you are approaching it from. You will have to sit or sleep through long flights to get to the glorious ship.
Crystal is a cruise line with numerous ships on its fleet. Some designed for ocean sailing, river experiences and polar expeditions. However, there is only one yacht and she goes by the name Crystal Espirit.
With a passenger capacity of 62, there is little chance of your relaxation getting disrupted by loud crowds. It is ideal for couples who want to disconnect from the rest of the world but reconnect with it as and when they like. The fairly high-tech vessel has an outdoor flat screen TV which you can use to watch movies under an open sky, 24-hour Wi-Fi connection and even jet skis. A three person submersible is available as well.
Despite the fact that it is a small vessel, Crystal Spirit’s cabins provide a generous 280 square feet so you never feel cramped. All rooms have iPads used to access ship services, a sound bar speaker system and a flat screen TV fully loaded with movies.
For an even more luxurious experience, you may be lucky to get the only Owner’s Suite which has a living area separate from the sleeping area and a bathroom fitted with an egg-shaped soaking tub.
Enjoy romantic dinners at the Yacht Club restaurant which offers a regular menu as well as a special four course menu. If total privacy is your preference, order room service from the restaurant and eat in the comfort of your cabin.
The one thing some guests don’t like about this yacht is that most activities are at ports. There isn’t much activity while at sea. It is a small ship so it may be a less-than-enjoyable cruise for people prone to sea sickness.
Seven Seas Explorer is our favorite ship in this line. This is perhaps the most-inclusive when it comes to fares because prepaid fares include shore excursions, drinks, meals… just about anything you can think of is included.
All suites have a balcony, though some are larger than others. The smallest cabin is a 219 square foot suite with an 88 square foot balcony and an exquisite marble bathroom. The largest cabin is an almost unbelievable 2,917 square foot suite whose unique features are a $90,000 horse-hair mattress and $60,000 bed linen. This suite also has a 958 square foot balcony, an in-cabin spa, private sauna and all the spa treatments you can take. That’s not all, once you are in this suite, you also have access to a private hot tub, dining area and assorted loungers which wrap around the front of the ship.
Even if you can’t afford to part with the fortune required for this top suite, the Penthouse Suites and higher categories include butler services, superior toiletries and free use of onboard iPads and iPods.
For romantic evening meals together, you can opt for the Compass Rose, the main dining room. Alternatively, try the Pacific Rim, a pan-Asian spot or the modern French Chartreuse. For unbeatable, good old steak, try the Prime 7 steakhouse. Some of these spots are quite popular so you may need to make reservations though there is no extra charge.
The perfection promised by Regent Seven Seas cruises does not come cheap. Cruise prices include just about everything and that explains why these cruises are among the most expensive in the industry.
Holland America is a mid-sized British/American cruise line with its headquarters in Seattle, Washington. It is a subsidiary of Carnival Corporation & PLC.
This line pays special attention to an older demographic, which is retirees looking for a quiet holiday devoid of noise and bustle from families and children. Our favorite ship in this line is Nieuw Amsterdam which sets sail from Ft. Lauderdale through Grand Turk, San Juan, St. Thomas and Half Moon Cay. The 7 day cruise allows guests to focus on education and the arts with a $3 million art collection and an assortment of enrichment lectures. You can also enjoy hands-on culinary classes and lots of live music.
For the ultimate relaxation, take the spa verandah suite which comes with spa treatments, provides access to the Greenhouse Spa and Salon and an in-suite bathtub with a massage shower head.
End your days with your kind of entertainment such as instrumental concerts at the BB King Blues Club, Lincoln Center Stage or Billboard Onboard which is popular for rock music.
This cruise line is owned by Carnival Corporation & PLC and has its headquarters in Santa Clarita, California. It has 17 ships, though the 3 newest entrants attract most attention. Crown Princess, Ruby Princess and Emerald Princess blend spacious big ship and cozy small-ship options.
They sail from Rome and over a 7-night cruise, make stops at Montenegro, Kotor, Greece, Corfu, Valletta, Malta, Italy, Sicily and Naples.
Each ship maintains the line’s characteristic high percentage of suites and mini-suites. All of these have large balconies, separate sitting areas and walk-in closets. Complimentary mini-bar set-ups are included along with evening canapes, laundry services and use of the thermal suite.
On embarkation night, all guests get complimentary dinner at a specialty restaurant. In the day, while away the hours at The Sanctuary, a shaded retreat spot where you and your loved one can get professional massages, pick your meal from a spa menu, all with individualized waiter service. At night, enjoy a tete-a-tete with your sweetheart at Adagio, a private top-deck lounge. After that cuddle up at ‘Movies under the Stars’ on reclining, padded loungers under a warm wool blanket.
You can sample different kinds of food every day at the specialty restaurants. For steak and seafood, visit the Crown Grill. For a multicourse meal try the Italian Sabatini’s. If sharing a meal adds to the spice of the experience, visit Share by Curtis Stone. Wine lovers, you were not forgotten, there is Vines, a wine tapas bar.
What improvements can the line make to make this great experience even better? The all-open air balconies could be more private.
This line has 3 ships that is Azamara Quest, Azamara Journey and Azamaa Pursuit. Their cruises have been praised for up-scale, sophisticated cabins and far-flung destinations which include 260 ports in 80 countries. The most popular ports are in the US, South America, Caribbean, Australia, Europe and Asia.
This line’s ships have an average capacity of 700 guests but are large enough to ensue you never feel crowded. Guest comfort is assured by a crew to guest ratio of about one crew member for every two guests. Options for short three—night cruises, long 26-night voyages and everything in between are available.
When ships dock at various ports, the line offers shore excursions such as walking tours and museum visits. It also provides restaurant recommendations for guests who love to sample local cuisine. Guests who prefer to remain on board while others explore, can continue to enjoy the ship’s fitness center, onboard casino or dance the night away during evening musical and dance performances.
For meals, you can eat at the main restaurant or opt for a more romantic choice like the Italian Aqualina or the Prime C steakhouse. If you and your better half like to sleep in, the jazz brunch will be ideal for you. Cruise fares cover most alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and gratuities.
One element guests love about these cruises is that all guests get one complimentary excursion at one of the destinations. The downsides to Azamara cruises are high fares all year round and limited onboard activities, unlike larger cruise ships.
Viking Ocean cruises are known for destination-heavy itineraries designed for active adults and retirees. They are great for guests who have the time and energy to explore multiple ports of call. It is ideal for couples because itineraries lack activities for kids therefore making it an unattractive option for children and families.
Viking’s five identical ships, that is Viking Orion, Viking Sea, Viking Sun, Viking Star and Viking Sky cabins have verandahs with Scandinavian-inspired designs which give it a unique blend of comfort and sophistication. Viking cruise fares cater for one complimentary excursion at each port of call for each guest. Activities include architecture, art and history tours, culinary tours and exploration of bustling streets by pedal cab. Guests can purchase additional excursions at each port.
Guests can choose to have their meals at one of seven dining venues. The main restaurant serves American favorites. Manfredi’s Italian Restaurant offers the best of Italian cuisine and Mamsen’s offers Norwegian specialties. World Café is the spot for international buffet while burgers and salads can be found at Pool Grill. Guests can also visit The Kitchen Table for culinary lessons from the chefs using handpicked local ingredients from markets at the various ports.
The best cruises designed for couples are those offered by luxury lines. These are usually smaller ships which promise a more intimate experience. They also have a low crew member to passenger ratio which assures you of top-notch service.
However, if you cannot afford luxury lines, it doesn’t mean you cannot take a cruise. There are lots of other renowned cruise lines which can give you an experience almost as good as the luxury lines. If you book your cruise well in advance and time it during off-peak seasons, you can enjoy a cruise almost as good as what luxury lines offer for much less.