If the idea of pool decks crowded with families and dining areas overrun with kids makes you cringe, we feel you.
These cruise lines offer grown-up experiences like lectures, educational excursions and sophisticated entertainment in an atmosphere that’s designed to help you recharge from the hustle of daily life. But don’t worry, there’s still plenty of whimsical fun to be had. After all, adults need playtime, too.
Best cruise lines for adults
Viking Ocean Cruises
Designed for the intellectually curious, it only allows passengers over the age of 18 on board.
With a fleet of two ships geared toward adult cruising, you'll be hard-pressed to find a single child onboard when you sail with Azamara. Although it's not an adults-only liner, it doesn't offer dedicated services or activities for children.
Offering modern, luxurious sails, Celebrity Cruises isn't frequented by families on budget holidays.
Adult activities: Destination speakers, ballet, live music, theater, themed parties, lawn games
Gourmet dining, master sommeliers and evening dancing at the Palm Court provide a luxury experience geared towards adults. Its ocean cruise ships even feature netted golf driving ranges and tennis courts.
Elegant and sophisticated, Holland America Line provides classy live entertainment and adult-oriented activities.
Adult activities: Spa, salon, fitness center, casino, movies onboard, theater and culinary arts center.
Holland America Line tends to draw a slightly older and inquisitive crowd with its casino and BBC Earth Natural History programming. Its spacious cruise rooms allow for upscale comfort, even in the most inexpensive cabins.
Cunard has a modest fleet of only three ships, each infused with charm that draws an older crowd.
Adult activities: Games deck, spa, royal-themed evening balls, planetarium, martini mixology classes and cooking demonstrations
The well-seasoned Cunard brand has been helping holiday-makers travel by sea for 175 years. With culture and art event-themed sailings, plush onboard libraries and ballroom dinners, you're unlikely to find kids causing chaos on deck.
Small-to-midsize ships offer stylish rides to off-the-beaten-path destinations.
Adult activities: Wine and martini tastings, educational presentations, cooking demonstrations, art classes, casino, spa, afternoon tea
Gourmet food and interesting itineraries are prioritized on Oceania cruise ships — not youth programming or babysitting services. Oceania offers a luxury experience without the premium price tag, as alcoholic drinks and off-shore excursions are à la carte.
When you need an escape, the place to be is the adults-only pool at The Sanctuary — cocktail in hand, naturally.
Adult activities: Culinary demonstrations, wine tastings, art galleries and auctions, Broadway productions, disco deck parties, casino, spa, fitness center, Zumba and yoga classes
Princess Cruises is an excellent choice for adult couples, as it's got anniversary packages and chaplains on board to facilitate weddings and vow renewals. It offers enticing shore excursions designed for adults in search of escape — whether or not you've got a partner.
How we chose these cruises
When choosing cruise lines for this list, we looked at age restrictions and the target market of each cruise line. We also considered the range and quality of onboard activities and shore excursions, prioritizing companies that designed experiences with adults specifically in mind. We also considered onboard dining and weighed cabin amenities against each price point, looking for cruise lines that are known to deliver the highest value.
Additionally, we sought out customer reviews on travel websites and personal travel blogs, considering first-person experiences and each company’s overall reputation.
From cruise lines that exclude the kiddos altogether to companies that prioritize adult activities and entertainment, you’ve got a solid selection of cruises designed especially for adults. Before booking your cruise, check to see if you can take advantage of a discount.
Frequently asked questions
The following cruise lines have a minimum age of 18:
U River Cruises
P&O Cruises (aboard its Arcadia, Oriana and Aurora ships)
For Virgin Voyages, passengers must be 21 — except if they’re legally married or are active military, in which case they’re allowed onboard as long as they’re at least 18.
No — kids are allowed aboard all of Disney Cruise Line’s ships. But Disney Cruise Line does have an adults-only entertainment district on its ships for when you need a grown-up escape.
Viking Cruises is one of the best all-inclusive cruise lines for adults. Beer, wine and soft drinks are complimentary with lunch and diner, and you’ll get one free cruise excursion at each port. Plus, wine is free. And kids aren’t allowed.
If you’re okay with a few youths on deck, Crystal Cruises is also an excellent option. It includes alcohol, Wi-Fi and gratuities up front with your fare.
Top cruise deals
Royal Caribbean sale: buy 1 get 1 60% off cruise fares, up to $150 free onboard credit and kids sail free
Stephanie Yip is the travel editor at Finder and has been writing about travel and lifestyle for over a decade. She has written for a range of travel publications including Thomas Cook Magazine and Showpo. Stephanie has a Bachelor of Communications from the University of Technology Sydney, Australia, and has visited over 50 countries (and counting). She has a passion for sharing her experiences and knowledge of travel and helping consumers stretch their travel cash while on holiday.
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