For travelers who want a hassle-free vacation, an adults-only all-inclusive cruise is the holy grail. No kids taking over the hot tub or whining at dinner, no nickel and diming to take away from the joys of onboard life. If you're this kind of traveler, you might be disappointed to know that options are limited for kid-free, no-extra-fees cruise lines (although as we'll point out, this describes most river cruises and small ship cruises).
Here are the best all-inclusive cruises for adults -- plus some additional options for lines and itineraries to consider.
Best Adults-Only All-Inclusive Cruises
Two cruise lines stand out as having company policies that exclude children and very inclusive pricing policies.
British line Saga Cruises offers small-ship sailings exclusively to passengers over 50 years of age. Fares include all meals (no surcharges for any restaurant), onboard gratuities, Wi-Fi, wine with lunch and dinner, transfers to/from the ship and shuttles into town from port. The line has two ships, the 449-passenger Saga Pearl II and the 720-passenger Saga Sapphire.
Viking Ocean Cruises:
The minimum age to sail on Viking Ocean Cruises' worldwide sailings is 18. Fares include a shore excursion in every port; Wi-Fi; meals in its multiple onboard restaurant (except The Kitchen Table, which is part shore excursion); self-service laundry; and wine, beer and soda with lunch and dinner. (It's true that gratuities and drinks outside of meals cost extra.) Viking's fleet currently consists of three ships, with another two launching in fall 2017 and spring 2018. The identical ships carry 930 passengers, and all of its cabins offer private balconies.
Other Cruise Options
Other cruise lines are adults-only but have more a la carte charges, or are very inclusive but don't ban kids (even if you don't often find them). Some of these lines might still be right for you, so don't rule out the following options.
Most All-Inclusive Cruise Line:
Regent Seven Seas Cruises offers the most inclusions in its base fares: all tips, all drinks (including mini-bar setups), several shore excursions in every port and shuttles into town, all main and specialty dining, one account of unlimited Wi-Fi per suite, airfare and airport transfers. Its four ships range in size from 490 to 750 passengers. Summer Alaska and Europe cruises do have a reasonable number of children, so opt for longer and more exotic cruises if you want to minimize kids onboard. For more options, check out our story on the top 5 luxury all-inclusive cruises.
True Adults-Only Ships:
While not all-inclusive, P&O Cruises offers three adults-only (18+) cruise ships: the 710-passenger Adonia, 2,094-passenger Arcadia and 1,800-passenger Oriana. The British line is a good option if you want a kid-free experience on a larger ship. Grand Circle Cruise Line also offers small-ship cruise options to a variety of destinations to a 50-plus crowd.
The minimum age to sail on several river cruise lines is 12 to 13 (Emerald Waterways, Grand Circle, Scenic and Viking), but most lines discourage kids younger than 8 and the majority of all river cruise sailings have no children at all onboard. River cruises tend to have more inclusive fares, with beer, wine and soda at dinner; shore excursions; Wi-Fi; and bicycle use generally included. River cruise lines with all-inclusive fares are Tauck, Scenic and Crystal River Cruises, which additionally offer complimentary airport transfers, all alcoholic drinks (not just at dinner), gratuities, special events (think dinner in a castle) and in-room mini-bars.
Adult-Focused, Small-Ship Cruises:
Ultra-premium lines Oceania and Azamara Club Cruises might have fewer fare inclusions than their luxury counterparts, but their small ships are generally less kid-friendly than lines like Regent, Crystal and Seabourn, with no programming at all for junior cruisers. Azamara, with its twin 690-passenger vessels, is the more inclusive of the two, covering tips, all nonalcoholic drinks, a limited menu of alcoholic beverages (select standard liquors and beers plus house wines), laundry and a special shoreside event, called an AzAmazing Evening, on every cruise. Six-ship cruise line Oceania includes only nonalcoholic drinks and meals in main and specialty restaurants; however, it often runs a booking promotion that gives cruisers complimentary Wi-Fi and a choice of free shore excursions, beverage package or onboard credit.