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5 Best Regal Princess Cruise Tips
5 Best Regal Princess Cruise Tips
8 Best Cruise Lines for Couples
Couple on a Bahamas cruise with Norwegian Cruise Line (Photo: Norwegian Cruise Line)

8 Best Cruise Lines for Couples

8 Best Cruise Lines for Couples
Couple on a Bahamas cruise with Norwegian Cruise Line (Photo: Norwegian Cruise Line)
Colleen McDaniel
Erica Silverstein
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Romance and cruising would seem to go hand in hand, particularly if you've spotted any of the cruise lines' advertisements showing photos of couples snuggling at the bow at sunset, or sipping Champagne on their private veranda in bathrobes or even spending time alone on a deserted beach with their ship bobbing away serenely in the background.

Cruising really can be one of the most romantic vacation options, but choosing the right cruise line for you and your partner can be a challenge. You don't want that sunset marred by crowds on deck, the romance of a dinner for two killed by the whiny kids at the next table or a cozy evening ruined by cramped cabins with minimal amenities.

For our top picks for romantic cruises, we thought about various criteria that might spell romance in a world where tradition simply isn't necessary anymore. We looked for features like staterooms with private balconies, great bathrooms and extra-special amenities; options for dining a deux; cozy nooks and date-night venues; almost-private open-deck spaces for relaxing by day and stargazing by night; and even adventure options for two. (If you're considering a luxury cruise, check out our Best Luxury Cruise Lines for Couples.)

1. Best Cruise Line for Traditional Romance: Princess Cruises

The Sanctuary on Regal Princess

What could be more romantic than a night at Movies Under the Stars, reclining on padded loungers while snuggled under wool tartan blankets on the pool deck? Or for a quiet conversation with your sweetie, try Adagio, a lovely and private lounge found on several of the cruise line's older ships including Crown PrincessEmerald Princess and Ruby Princess. During the day, we love The Sanctuary, a retreat, complete with waiter service and massage offerings (a couples' massage is available). If you're feeling especially indulgent, book a cabana.

Princess offers plenty of dining options for two, but the most romantic option is the Ultimate Balcony Dining experience. For an extra fee, cruisers are treated to a lobster dinner with Champagne and course-by-course service. (Or have a romantic breakfast in your cabin with the line's Balcony Breakfast option.) The only caveat: Your cabin must have a balcony.

If you really want to go all in, book a Sky Suite, available on Sky Princess, Enchanted Princess and Discovery Princess. These cabins include enormous, panoramic-view balconies, a personal concierge and complimentary wine tasting, among other exceptional amenities.

We also love the cruise line's specialty restaurants. Visit Crown Grill, a steak and seafood restaurant with an open grill; indulge in a multicourse meal at the Italian Sabatini's; or split dishes with your darling at Share by Curtis Stone or The Salty Dog Gastropub.

2. Best Cruise Line for Couples on a Budget: Carnival Cruise Line

Serenity on Carnival SunshineSerenity retreat, which includes plenty of sunbeds and clamshells, hammocks and a nearby bar -- and you don't have to pay extra to visit this adults-only oasis.

Couples who are looking for a gastronomic journey have plenty to choose from, with options like American steakhouse Fahrenheit 555, Bonsai Teppanyaki, and, for those who really want to go all out, the Chef's Table, a multi-course dinner hosted by a master chef. The experience comes with a private champagne reception and a tour of the galley. For a more casual but still completely fun experience, visit Guy's Pig & Anchor Smokehouse | Brewhouse. Available on Carnival Horizon, Carnival Panorama, Carnival Mardi Gras and Carnival Celebration, the BBQ joint offers a great variety of smokehouse favorites from Chef Guy Fieri. Plus, it has an onboard brewery and live music, perfect for couples who love to dance.

Carnival also offers several anniversary or newlywed experiences, that up the sweetheart ante with perks like a romantically decorated stateroom, cookie plate, heart-shaped cake, bottle of Champagne and Carnival-etched Champagne flutes. Prices run from $44.95 to $69.95.

3. Best Cruise Line for Intrepid Couples: UnCruise Adventures

Kayakers on UnCruise Adventures (Photo: Colleen McDaniel)UnCruise Adventures fits the bill perfectly. A small company with small ships, the destination -- and what you do there -- is the highlight.

Its fleet of nine ships visit some of the most pristine places in the world, including Belize, Alaska, Hawaii and the Sea of Cortez. And not one of them holds more than 86 passengers. UnCruise isn’t for the couple looking to relax and unwind; it’s for those who want to play together, sometimes intensely, from sun-up to sun-down.

Every UnCruise sailing comes with guides who will take you exploring, expertly answering your questions and leading you on adventures big and small. You might go birdwatching, kayak among sea turtles, swim with gentle manta rays and jump off the back of the ship hand-in-hand with your love, all on the same trip. You’ll learn about culture of the people indigenous to the areas your visiting, join in some time-honored tradition and fall asleep exhausted but satisfied each night.

Food across the fleet is excellent, with a focus on local and locally sourced ingredients. You might indulge in some new flavors while sipping on local spirits, wines and beers. Accommodations are comfortable but not excessive. Still, you might find yourself borrowing a DVD from the ship’s library to snuggle with your special someone for a post-dinner movie.

4. Best Cruise Line for Young Couples: Virgin Voyages

Sponsored  Offer  Valiant  LadyVirgin Voyages is the perfect fit for young couples who want to cruise on a ship that's completely kid-free. The cruise line, which falls under Richard Branson's Virgin brand, is a designed for night owls who like a good party as much as a spa break.

Virgin's ships each offer more than 20 dining spaces, with bars adjoining most, so you can grab a romantic cocktail together before sharing bites in restaurants like veggie-forward Razzle Dazzle or charming Korean BBQ Gunbae. Or, if your idea of romance is grabbing a quick meal to enjoy on your balcony, the Galley offers a fresh market with 10 different international eateries.

The party vibe onboard is high, and you can dance your face off at venues like The Manor or the poolside Aquatic Club. And if you're taking one of Virgin Voyages' Caribbean sailings, your itinerary will include a stop at the Beach Club at Bimini, an exclusive for Virgin guests. The ship will stay well into the night as name DJs like Mark Ronson and Diplo spin the decks, or passengers can enjoy quiet time by renting a private cabana. Expect beachside bonfires and snuggling under starry skies.

5. Best Cruise Line for Foodie Couples: Holland American Line

Tamarind on EurodamRudi Sodamin. For couples who love think diving into an exquisite meal is the most -- er, second-most? -- romantic thing to do together, Holland America offers some terrific options. Sure, the main dining room is nice, but Asian restaurant Tamarind is pure joy. The Asian restaurant is elegantly decorated, with understated touches from the Far East. But there's nothing understated about the menu, which offers full-on fusion immersion. Dishes include Asian sea bass, wok-seared lobster and sushi that rivals the best restaurants on land. Match it with a custom cocktail or hot or cold sake.

Another don't-miss: Rudi's Sel De Mer. Available on HAL's newer ships (though you can order from the menu at Pinnacle Grill on select evenings on others), Sel De Mer is an experience, from appetizer (oysters on the half shell, perhaps), to entree (think steak frites and coq au vin) and dessert -- plus fine cheeses. If you fancy French fare, it's tough to top Rudi's. Reservations for this chic venue tend to fill fast, so book early.

If you're sailing on Koningsdam or Nieuw Statendam, make sure to book some time at Blend, a venue where up to 10 guests can enjoy a wine tasting and blending experience. Holland America's partnership with Chateau Ste. Michelle gives guests a chance to create their own blends from a selection of five barrels of single-vineyard red wine. Whip up a favorite at Blend, then take it with you to your romantic dinner.  Tre cool!

6. Best Cruise Line for Hip-Yet-Casual Couples: Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Cruises  Celebrity Edge  Onboard 3    Ben  PiperCelebrity's ships are sophisticated and hip, and cater to couples on adult getaways, rather than families on holiday. Plus, there are plenty of onboard spaces tailor-made for parties of two -- from wine bars to multiple specialty dining venues, double pool loungers, and, on the Solstice Class ships, top-deck lawns perfect for picnicking. On Celebrity Edge and Apex, couples can snuggle up to the acoustic tunes of a live band in the Rooftop Garden.

It's easy to rekindle the romance with a picnic for two in the Lawn Club, a real grass lawn on the Solstice Class ships' top decks. Or hide away in a corner of the Deck 4 wine bar or martini bar on Solstice Class ships or the atmospheric Eden lounge-cum-performance space on Edge-class ships, and get a little tipsy with your loved one. The pool deck and adults-only Solarium also have cozy double sunbeds for snuggling in the sun.

With so many top-notch specialty restaurants onboard, any table for two will do for a romantic night out. On Solstice Class ships, our favorite for couples is Murano, the upscale Continental restaurant offering both tasting and a la carte menus with luxe dishes like caviar, escargots, sweetbreads and foie gras. Or, for dinner with a view, dine early at the back-of-the-ship Tuscan Grille, an Italian steakhouse with a wine country feel.

On the Edge Class ships, Fine Cut Steakhouse is the spot to celebrate an anniversary or just enjoy a fancy night out together. We love the views overlooking the massive atrium and its occasional light show.

7. Best Cruise Line for Thrill-Seeking Couples: Royal Caribbean International

iFly Valentine's DayFlowRider surf simulators, rock-climbing walls, skydiving simulators, bumper cars, roller skating, escape rooms, bungee trampolines and even trapeze schools. Couples can race to the top of the rock-climbing wall, see who can stay up longer on the FlowRider, then head to the spa for some relaxation. (All of Royal Caribbean's ships have fully decked-out spas offering a variety of treatments, including couples massages.)

The thrill-seeking doesn't stop onboard, though: Royal Caribbean sailings to the Caribbean often come with a visit to the cruise line's private island retreat, Perfect Day at CocoCay. The island offers pristine beaches, beautiful pools with plenty of chairs for lounging, and one of the best waterparks you'll find anywhere. You and your sweetie could spend a full day climbing steps and zooming down slides at breakneck speeds. Don't miss the 135-foot-tall Daredevil's Peak -- the tallest waterslide in North America. The island also offers a wave pool, ziplining and a helium-filled balloon that puts passengers 450 feet above the island -- the views are unbeatable. After a day of adventure, head to the adults only beach, or, better yet, book a private floating cabana.

8. Best Cruise Line for Go-With-The-Flow Couples: Norwegian Cruise Line

Go-Kart Racetrack on Norwegian BlissNorwegian's "Freestyle Dining" philosophy (passengers can dine without the hassle of assigned times and tablemates at a variety of restaurants) is perfectly suited to table-for-two travelers. We love the line's newest -- but not biggest ships -- which are full of Las Vegas flash and nonstop entertainment action for active couples, while also offering quiet spaces for couples seeking to reconnect.

Active couples can race each other in go-karts and compete to see who can shoot the most zombies (Joy and Encore only). Those looking to relax together can snag side-by-side loungers in the spa's relaxation room, take a dip in the thalassotherapy pool, or lay about in plush chaise lounges with stunning views in the glass-enclosed Observation Lounge.

At night, snuggle up to your honey, cocktail in hand as you take in a Broadway show, or rock out together to a Beatles-cover band in The Cavern Club. Those looking to perfect their salsa together can stop by Sugarcane Mojito Bar for some hot Latin tunes, while those looking to toast a special event can try out a slew of vintages at the Cellars Wine Bar.

Try dinner at Cagney's, the dedicated steakhouse, and Le Bistro, a French eatery. Or share small plates of street food at Food Republic. Afterwards, get two spoons and dig into a massive sundae at Coco's.

Updated August 11, 2021

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