The 8 Best Adults-Only Cruises for a Stress-Free Vacation
These luxurious lines promise a tantrum-free experience at sea.
Real talk: Nothing ruins the vibe on your long-awaited vacation quite like a screaming child—whether they're throwing a fit in the restaurant or causing chaos by the pool. That's why travel experts highly advise adults-only cruises: They promise some good old-fashioned R&R in a more serene environment. Plus, since these cruises don't have to cater to the little ones, they can offer lots more exciting activities like wine tastings, cooking classes, and dancing lessons.
Whether you're single and seeking to mingle or taking a romantic getaway with your SO, you'll no doubt appreciate the peace and quiet on a kid-free cruise—not to mention the sophisticated amenities and entertainment. With that in mind, here are some of the best adults-only options for tantrum-free travels.
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The Best Adults-Only Cruises to Take in 2023
1. Viking River Cruises
As the world's largest river cruise line, Viking River Cruises offers itineraries in Europe, Egypt, Cambodia, China, Russia, and Vietnam. All fares include a shore excursion in every port, Wi-Fi, meals in multiple onboard restaurants—and wine and beer with lunch and dinner. Best of all, though, the minimum age on all Viking ships worldwide is 18.
Jen Ruiz, founder of the travel blog Jen on a Jet Plane recently returned from one of these cruises—which entailed eight days and seven nights on the Rhine River to scope out Christmas markets in Germany, France, and Switzerland.
"The benefits included a quiet atmosphere, with minimal noise during sleeping hours—and an itinerary filled with enrichment activities like lectures, demonstrations, and string quartet concerts," she says. Ruiz notes that the well-coordinated itinerary and the gourmet meals highlighting regional cuisine are just a couple of the highlights.
Viking River Cruises are known for their spacious staterooms with sweeping river views—but another perk, according to Ruiz, is that these cruises tend to be more intimate, and less likely to cause seasickness.
"There's a myriad of cruises to choose from, but the ocean and river voyages offer a truly unique experience where you can visit historic ports and learn a little bit more about the culture," adds Brittany Mendez, travel expert and CMO of FloridaPanhandle.com.
2. P&O Cruises
This British cruise line offers not one but two adults-only ships: Aurora and Arcadia, both of which provide ample entertainment offerings, upscale specialty dining, and an elegant environment. Both ships sail to Spain, Portugal, the U.S., and Canada. However, Aurora cruises to the Mediterranean and Baltic regions whereas Arcadia cruises to the Canary Islands, British Isles, Norway, and Iceland.
As the smaller of the two, Aurora is well suited to couples looking for a more intimate experience. But don't let its size fool you: This ship still features 11 bars and cafes and seven dining venues. After dinner, scope out a show at the lounge, Carmen's, or catch a performance at the impressive on-board Curzon Theater.
Arcadia, meanwhile, is the newer and larger of the two ships. The five different restaurants feature a wide range of cuisine, from seafood and steaks to Indian fare with a British twist. After spending the afternoon exploring the local ports, enjoy a soothing therapy treatment at the Oasis spa, a bottle of champagne at the posh Intermezzo bar, a live show at the on-board three-tiered theater, and more cocktails and dancing at The Globe.
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3. Celebrity Summit
Calling all lovebirds: This adults-only lifestyle cruise is geared specifically toward couples 21 and over. It's environmentally friendly, too: Celebrity Summit happens to be one of the first cruise ships to be powered by gas turbines.
From the state-of-the-art fitness center and spa to the high-end retail boutiques and fare crafted by a Michelin-starred chef, Celebrity Summit is sure to provide a memorable experience. While you won't find any playgrounds or water slides here, you will find plenty of fun things to do—like cornhole, archery, and casino games.
According to Matt James, the travel blogger behind Visitingly, the elegant atmosphere and diverse activities are just a couple more of the highlights. From educational wine workshops to awe-inspiring live music shows, there's never a dull moment on a Celebrity Summit cruise.
"The ship also offers a range of destinations, from the Caribbean to Canada and Europe, allowing travelers to explore a variety of locations," he says.
4. Emerald Cruises
This posh cruise line can transport you to numerous spectacular destinations—including Vietnam and Cambodia. With no kids club or splash zones in sight, Emerald Cruises put an emphasis on immersing you in the fascinating local culture and history with complimentary curated shore excursions led by passionate and knowledgeable locals. And the food and wine on board certainly don't hurt, either.
"Emerald Cruises offers a Danube River cruise between Nuremberg and Budapest, where they offer a hike in Passau, Germany to an incredible vantage point above the rivers," says Mikkel Woodruff, co-owner of the cruise-centric travel blog Sometimes Sailing. "When you get back from an excursion and have some free time, you can enjoy a complimentary coffee in the lounge, or a swim in the small yet lovely onboard indoor pool."
Beer and wine are always included with dinner—as is the sensational onboard entertainment—for instance, a lively Hungarian dance troupe in Budapest.
"Some activities are an additional charge," adds Woodruff. "For example, there's a special classical concert in Vienna that blew us away. Another reason we love Emerald Cruises is that they often offer free airfare and transportation to and from the airport to the cruise's point of embarkation and debarkation. This makes it super simple to book your trip without worrying about the logistics of air travel coordination."
5. Azamara Cruises
While this upscale cruise line technically allows guests under the age of 18, they discourage families from bringing along little ones. And given that there are no childcare services available and the amenities, ambiance, and activities are specifically designed to appeal to adults, it's highly unlikely you'll find kids on board.
Azamara Cruises prides itself on "destination immersion," meaning they're dedicated to giving you an authentic experience via on-land insider experiences—like walking tours, museum visits, and musical performances. And since Azamara stays at ports overnight, you'll get even more opportunities to gain insight into the culture. The cruise line even offers restaurant recommendations for foodies hoping to explore the local dining scene.
With stops in more than 300 ports, from South America and the Caribbean to Asia and Australia, you're bound to find a route that caters to your travel interests. No matter which cruise you take, Azamara's ships feature an impressive onboard fitness center, multiple restaurants, and a bevy of activities—like dance classes, wine tastings, lectures, and more.
6. Virgin Voyages
This 18-and-older cruise line is known for its edgy theatrical performances, elevated cuisine, and private beach club that keeps the party going into the wee hours. According to Mona Molayem, a luxury travel blogger at Mona Corona, Virgin Voyages almost feels like a stylish Las Vegas resort—thanks to the vibrant nightlife.
"The cabins are designed with the young adult traveler in mind, and like the rest of the ship are fashionable and tech-forward," explains Molayem. "All rooms come with a convenient iPad where you can adjust to different mood lighting, order food, or watch movies. The staff can also convert your bed into a couch during the day to give more space to hang out."
There are no buffets or assigned dining times here—instead, you'll find a slew of chef-forward restaurants, ranging from Korean BBQ and a high-end test kitchen to a casual food hall featuring ramen, tacos, and even boozy popsicles.
You certainly won't find yourself bored on a Virgin Voyages cruise, either. Daily activities include stargazing nights at sea, pajama parties, tipsy paint nights, pub crawls, and spin classes. There's even a tattoo parlor on board, in case you get the itch for some new ink.
"Pamper yourself at the spa with hydrotherapy pools, quartz beds, mudrooms, and salt rooms—or, if you want to sweat, there's an outdoor yoga area, running tracks at the sundeck, and even a boxing ring and basketball court," adds Fiona Perisone, a veteran travel consultant with Planet Rider. "What I love is that almost everything is included in the price, including workout classes, Wi-Fi, and nonalcoholic beverages."
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7. U by Uniworld Cruises
This newer cruise line is geared toward the young-at-heart crowd—as is evident by the digital-only menus and schedules, plentiful USB outlets, trendy decor, and communal dining tables. Other nontraditional features include a late-morning brunch instead of breakfast or lunch, a WhatsApp group for socializing, deck-top yoga, and onboard DJs and mixologists.
And did we mention that U by Uniworld cruises are only open to travelers age 18 and up?
One of the first things you'll notice aboard a U River Cruise is that the vibe is incredibly laidback—even the staff wear black jeans and Converse sneakers. The on-land local guides, called "U Hosts," can often be seen dining and drinking with passengers at various hotspots.
What really sets U River Cruises apart, though, is the longer stays at port destinations. That means you can enjoy the local nightlife to its fullest.
Friendly and attentive service, as well as nonstop programming, are a couple more of the standout features. In the span of just a single week, you can participate in camping under the stars, wine and paint nights, karaoke, top-deck yoga, and so much more.
8. Saga Cruises
Unlike many of the adults-only cruises that are geared toward a younger crowd, Saga Cruises only allows passengers age 50 and up.
The cruise line has only two ships, Spirit of Adventure and Spirit of Discovery. Both only carry about 1,000 passengers each—ensuring a calmer and more intimate experience. Best of all, Saga Cruises is super inclusive, catering to singles and couples alike, as well as those with disabilities.
Both ships also boast spas, numerous fine dining options, and super spacious cabins–each featuring its own balcony, and some even including butler service.
From ballroom dancing to afternoon tea, there are endless activities to keep you busy and encourage socialization. Those who appreciate the arts will love the onboard gallery, playhouse theater, and exquisite glasswork found throughout the ship.