With so much to plan for your wedding, the last thing you want to do is stress out about your honeymoon. Cruises make excellent honeymoons because they combine pampering with travel -- the vacation is in the destinations and onboard the ship. After all, cruise ships have spas, celebrity-chef restaurants, culinary classes, butlers and swanky bars, plus the sea as your backdrop.
Cruise Critic breaks down cruise honeymoon destinations, perks and packages, so you can get from the aisle to the gangway as breezily as possible. The following 10 best cruise lines for honeymoons offer the right mix of relaxation and romance.
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1. Azamara Club Cruises
Why? Azamara appeals to honeymooners seeking extra personal attention and a more intimate onboard atmosphere. Plus, the line's port-intensive itineraries offer occasional overnights in port, permitting you to immerse yourself more in the local culture or have romantic dinners onshore. And, with service gratuities (as well as many beverages and shuttle buses into town) included in the cost of the cruise, you can focus more on enjoying the trip than crunching numbers.
Romantic Extras: Azamara does not offer specially designated honeymoon packages, but you can take advantage of the complimentary services of a concierge to plan your own surprises, or create a customized experience in advance with spa appointments, specialty dining reservations with private tables for two or breakfast in bed. In addition, wine is included with meals, all cabins are adorned with fresh flowers and suite passengers benefit from the service of English-trained butlers.
Caveat: Azamara has just three ships, Azamara Journey, Azamara Quest and Azamara Pursuit, which could limit your selection. Standard cabins, while cozy, tend to be smaller than typical luxury staterooms.
Best Itineraries: Voyages in Asia and along the French and Italian rivieras are excellent choices, not only because of the destinations they visit but also because of the unique array of shore excursions and overnight trips.
Among the most distinctive are Azamara's "AzAmazing Evenings," which are exclusive, complimentary nighttime events curated by the line once per sailing. Examples could be a choir performance at St. John's Co-Cathedral in Malta, a symphony orchestra performance in St. Petersburg or a special event in Ho Chi Minh City.
2. Celebrity Cruises
Why? Celebrity Cruises offers a sophisticated onboard atmosphere and personal service at lower rates than the luxury lines. For top amenities and service, book a Suite Class cabin, which comes with a private butler and access to an exclusive lounge and suite restaurant.
If you're avid spa-goers, spring for an AquaClass cabin, with in-room wellness amenities and exclusive access to the chic specialty restaurant Blu as well as the spa's relaxation room and Persian garden thermal suite. Concierge Class provides access to nightly canapes, priority boarding, pillow menus and more, without the full cost of booking a suite.
Romantic Extras: Celebrity offers three celebration packages that can be ordered to commemorate your honeymoon. The Classic package includes a bottle of wine, flowers and chocolate-covered strawberries, while Deluxe includes Champagne, in-cabin breakfast, fresh flowers, a dozen chocolate-covered strawberries and your choice of a personalized cake.
The Premium package includes everything from in the Deluxe package, except the flowers are red roses, the Champagne is Dom Perignon, and you also get reservations for two at one of the specialty restaurants onboard.
Caveat: Celebrity's ships offer an enticing selection of specialty restaurants, but most come with surcharges that could creep into the three-digit range. Like wine? Pairings will cause the cost to jump significantly.
Best Itineraries: Worldly honeymooners can find romance in both Europe's big cities and hidden gem destinations. Celebrity offers cruises to the Mediterranean, Baltic, Western Europe and even the Galapagos. Its ships also explore places like the Caribbean, Alaska, the Mexican Riviera, Canada/New England, the Pacific Coast, Australia/New Zealand, the Panama Canal and South America.
3. Disney Cruise Line
Why? Despite what you might think, Disney Cruise Line caters to adults as much as to kids, offering special adults-only pools, restaurants and nightclubs. Still, you probably should be a serious Disney fan to consider this cruise for your honeymoon. If you are, keep in mind Disney's Dream Class, which offers a second adults-only restaurant designed by a Michelin-starred chef as well as a trendy nightlife area.
Romantic Extras: Disney cruises offer dozens of gift and package deals. You don't need to be a honeymooner to book them, but it's certainly appropriate. Four romance packages at different price points include all the cliched but cute extras: chocolates, roses, sparkling wine and robes. If you abstain from the hard stuff, Disney offers two nonalcoholic romance packages with sparkling cider instead.
You can also stop by the guest services desk to ask for a pair of "honeymoon" buttons; wearing them during the trip might get you some special attention.
Caveat: Your summer honeymoon cruise could be overrun with children on school holidays, so consider a spring or fall trip if that works well with your wedding plans. Know, too, that Disney offers a structured, set-seating dining system, where you switch dining rooms each night but keep your waiters and tablemates. Not only do you not choose which restaurant you visit each night, but if you don't get a coveted two-top, you might be spending time with a table of rambunctious kids.
Best Itineraries: Seven-night Caribbean cruises offer a mix of relaxing sea days, visits to beautiful islands and time spent on Disney's fan-favorite private island, Castaway Cay. For honeymooners with limited time off, aim for the three- to five-night Bahamas cruises. Disney also cruises to Alaska, Europe and Mexico.
4. Norwegian Cruise Line
Why? If you don't want to stick to a schedule on your romantic getaway, Norwegian's "freestyle" concept lets you eat when and where you want, with a choice of various restaurants and cuisines onboard. Plus, multiple bars, lounges and discos ensure happening nightlife if you and your new spouse like to stay out late.
Romantic Extras: Norwegian hosts too many honeymooners to give away costly freebies, but you can book one of five packages. With the Ultimate Romance package, you'll get sparkling wine and chocolate-covered strawberries, a dozen red roses, a couple's massage, breakfast in bed (twice), in-cabin tea service, nightly canapes, two formal portraits and dinner for two with wine in the French restaurant Le Bistro as well as Cagney's Steakhouse. Norwegian also offers a partnership with Honeymoon Wishes, allowing couples to set up an onboard registry.
Caveat: Freedom Dining offers flexibility, but it can also lead to long queues at popular venues during peak dining hours. To avoid headaches and lovers' spats over dinner options, make reservations in advance, dine at off-peak hours or use Norwegian's electronic dining information boards to ascertain which eateries have the shortest waits. If you're staying in a suite, ask your concierge to make a main dining room reservation for you.
Best Itineraries: Norwegian is the only line to offer seven-night Hawaii cruises, round trip out of Honolulu. You can spend your honeymoon cruising past volcanoes and scenic coastlines, visiting myriad waterfalls and watching surfers while you lounge on the islands' many beaches. Ships also cruise in Europe, the Caribbean, Bahamas, Bermuda and Canada/New England.
5. Oceania Cruises
Why? Oceania Cruises is an excellent choice for low-key honeymooners who want interesting itineraries, sophisticated onboard ambiance, and fantastic dining and service.
Romantic Extras: While Oceania does not make a big effort to attract honeymooners, its mature (50 and older) passengers flock to the line for the aforementioned understated trips and affordable luxury. And, even if there are no rose-petals-on-the-bed packages, you'll find plenty of romantic spots onboard these cozy and intimate ships. The ship's Champagne breakfast -- available only to passengers in Concierge-class rooms -- is sweet; a full hot and cold menu, including the bubbly, is served on your private balcony. If you and your new spouse bond over food, Oceania pairs its onboard Culinary Center and kitchen with Culinary Discovery Tours -- exclusive culinary enrichment and dining experiences in port.
Caveat: If you're looking to meet other honeymooners or want to dance until dawn in the nightclub, this is not the line for you.
Best Itineraries: Oceania sails everywhere, but particularly romantic itineraries focus on the Greek Isles or Mediterranean ports of call in Italy and Greece. For a more exotic choice, try its South America itineraries.
6. Paul Gauguin Cruises
Why? This small-ship cruise line spends the year sailing in the far-flung South Pacific and has repeatedly been voted a top cruise line for romance by Cruise Critic.
Romantic Extras: The honeymoon package includes a pillow gift, a photo, a Polynesian blessing ceremony with other honeymooning couples and a bottle of Champagne. The best part? The package is included if you indicate at the time of booking that you will be on your honeymoon.
For a fee, you can upgrade to a more lavish honeymoon package that also includes a letter from the captain, an invitation to dine with the captain or hotel director, canapes every afternoon, a miniature wedding cake, a box of chocolates, a special flower arrangement, and Champagne and caviar. The cruise line also offers a gift registry option.
Caveat: No matter where you live, Tahiti is probably a long plane ride away. Be prepared to endure many hours on a plane before you can fully enjoy your honeymoon.
Best Itineraries: You can't go wrong with any of these South Pacific itineraries. The seven-nighters call in beautiful Bora Bora and Moorea, while longer sailings visit more out-of-the-way destinations such as the Marquesas, Tuamotus, Cook Islands and even New Zealand.
7. Princess Cruises
Why? "The Love Boat" line offers all the amenities necessary for onboard romance: fabulous dining options, including a VIP dining experience in the galley and catered dinner on your private balcony; indoor and outdoor pampering with alfresco massages in The Sanctuary and couples' treatments in the Lotus Spa; and, for onboard date night, a variety of entertainment options ranging from outdoor movies to Broadway-style production shows scored by multi-award-winning composer Stephen Schwartz.
Romantic Extras: Princess Cruises offers two honeymoon packages. The first includes a bottle of Dom Perignon Champagne, two engraved glasses, chocolate-dipped strawberries delivered to your cabin the first evening onboard, a couple's pass to the onboard thermal suite and a deluxe balcony breakfast for two. For a bit more, you can upgrade your honeymoon package to include a couple's massage in the Lotus Spa.
Caveat: Many of Princess' most romantic onboard offerings -- including specialty restaurants, the Sanctuary and balcony dining -- come with fees.
Best Itineraries: Princess cruises the world, but its Caribbean itineraries are best for enjoying Ultimate Balcony Dining on your private balcony; a lazy day on the adults-only, spa-like Sanctuary sun deck; and Movies Under the Stars at night. (We recommend you snuggle under a blanket with your sweetie, even during the warmest evenings.)
8. Royal Caribbean International
Why? Some active cruisers think surfing, rock climbing and working out together is romantic -- especially when you can unwind in the spa, relax in a hot tub or indulge in some Ben & Jerry's ice cream after you've worked up a sweat.
Romantic Extras: You can choose from a selection of Royal Caribbean romance packages at various price points. With the Decadent Romance package, you get a bottle of Moet & Chandon Champagne, chocolate-covered strawberries, a collection of Le Belge truffles and a dozen long-stemmed roses upon arrival. Or, opt for Champagne, rose petals and chocolate-covered strawberries. The cruise line offers a gift registry that applies to these packages, as well as to shore excursions.
Caveat: Romance packages are not available on all ships in the fleet (check before you book). Also, Royal Caribbean's emphasis on active pursuits also makes it a fabulous line for families. Choose your sail date wisely (i.e., avoid school breaks) if you don't want to contend with hordes of children.
Best Itineraries: This is a popular cruise line to see the Caribbean, Alaska, the Mediterranean and Canada/New England.
9. Silversea Cruises
Why? Silversea is a great option for serious pampering and service.
Romantic Extras: This is the jackpot of honeymoon cruises. First of all, since Champagne is included in the cost of the cruise, you'll not only have a chilled bottle waiting in your cabin on the first night, but you can ask to have one iced every night (and sent with your breakfast every morning). You'll also get a box of chocolates on arrival, and you'll find fresh orchids in your room. (Don't feel too special -- they're in every room.)
Even though you know you'll get these perks when you book your cruise, they do manage to surprise you. You may request to have canapes delivered to your suite each night before dinner, but if the Special Services department is notified at least four weeks in advance, you'll also get a cake that says "Happy Honeymoon."
Caveat: If you get tired of staring into your lover's eyes all day long, Silversea does not offer many onboard activities; the line caters to affluent retirees and baby boomers, so younger honeymooners should not expect to find many peers. While some additional activities beyond trivia and lectures have been added -- including basic language and exercise classes, and Ping-Pong competitions -- offerings are still not as vast as on other cruise lines.
Best Itineraries: Since you're going all-out for your honeymoon, choose a trip-of-a-lifetime destination such as Africa, the Far East, the Arctic or the Galapagos.
10. Windstar Cruises
Why? The laidback vibe onboard Windstar is perfect for honeymooners who want a lot of romance without a lot of fuss. The ships are also ideal for active honeymooners interested in water sports, including snorkeling, windsailing, paddleboarding and water skiing. Those water activities come complimentary aboard the yachts. (Scuba diving is also available for an additional fee, depending on the destination.)
Romantic Extras: In Bora Bora, couples have the option to book an over-water bungalow for a fee. Accommodations feature large glass floors, views of Mount Otemanu and direct and private access to the water. Plus, the overnight stay comes with three meals. Onboard your ship, Candles is a fine dining restaurant with romantic tables for two and features open-air tableside preparations on deck.
Caveat: Standard cabins, though cozy and nicely appointed, are small and without balconies. If you plan on spending lots of time in your cabin, it might be worth booking early and paying extra for a suite. (Windstar's power yachts have multiple suite categories with balconies.)
Best Itineraries: Couples on their honeymoons tend to favor Windstar's Tahiti, Greek Isles, Italy and Caribbean voyages, where ports of call include a range of marquee ports and a few others off the beaten path. Additional trips are available in Costa Rica, Panama and elsewhere in Europe.