As a cruiser over age 50 you may not yet think of yourself as a "senior" (those are your parents!). But, your vision for your next vacation may not involve gaggles of families with screaming kids, rowdy teens or younger adults in a party hearty state of mind.
If so, the best cruises for you (and other adults over 50) provide not only plenty of opportunities for good times but also a mature atmosphere for socializing with couples, singles and perhaps a few families. These ships can offer you a comfortable bed, delicious food, well-prepared adult beverages and opportunities to stay active both onboard and on shore (even if you are a DIY type).
If you're over 50, cruises on the following lines will offer memorable experiences that are neither staid nor old. In our book, here are the best over-50 cruises.
Celebrity ships are hip, architecturally gorgeous and attract a diverse crowd -- with fewer young families than other big ship lines (despite an excellent kids' program). The design encompasses such attractions as high-tech dance clubs and resort-style pool areas, with plenty of opportunities to socialize.
Wonderful quiet spaces await, the kind where you can cozy up with the one you love outdoors under the sun or stars, or indoors sipping martinis on a plush couch for two. You rarely get that crowded, mega-ship feel. Instead you are in a contemporary place with excellent service and top-notch cuisine (including food as art at some specialty restaurants). The martinis are very tasty, too.
The appealing sophistication on Oceania ships touches everything from the design and jaw-dropping collection of original Latin-focused artwork (Picasso in the house!) to appealing enrichment experiences that include a hands-on cooking school. You don't need to dress up beyond country club casual to visit specialty dining venues (for no extra fee) that include an impressive steakhouse and pan-Asian restaurant and, on the 1,250-passenger Marina and Riviera, celebrity chef Jacques Pepin's eponymous French bistro.
On shore, organized culinary tours and wellness-focused experiences are among excursion options easily accessible and of interest to adults over 50. Or, you can just walk off the ship to explore the ports of call on itineraries that often include overnights stays, giving you time to get to know a place.
SeaDream Yacht Club
For a fun, social environment, you can't beat SeaDream's two intimate, 112-passenger ships. Itineraries to dreamy small ports in the Caribbean and Mediterranean are all about getting a relaxing vacation experience, whether your version involves borrowing a kayak or sailboat to go exploring, sitting in a plush Balinese daybed for two by the pool, getting a great Thai massage or dancing around the pool under the stars.
The crew is focused on you and you know it; you don't need to leave the hot tub to get a drink or a shrimp cocktail. Meals are extraordinary (with plenty of plant-based options for health-conscious cruisers) and often served outdoors, and you can sleep outdoors, too. Those daybeds do double duty as romantic glamping venues.
Viking Ocean Cruises
Viking's 930-passenger ships are designed for adults age 18 and up, with roomy places where you'll feel right at home when not exploring a wide breadth of destinations. The streamlined Scandinavian design is big on hangout spaces -- even the three-deck atrium has socializing nooks where you might meet pals for a bourbon or tea. The spa is among the best at sea, with complimentary Nordic-style hot and cold experiences.
Streamed TED Talks are part of the intellectual stimulation, and ABBA hits part of the entertainment program. Expansive outdoor spaces include an infinity pool. Wine and beer, specialty dining, Wi-Fi and shore excursions are included in the cruise fare, so no nickel-and-diming with this line.
For active adults over 50, UnCruise is like summer camp. When not hiking or exploring in inflatable skiffs, you might find yourself bushwhacking across rainforest and tundra, snorkeling next to an octopus, kayaking near a glacier or trying to conquer standing up on a paddle-board, followed by a sit in a hot tub.
Accommodations aren't fancy, though you can pay extra for a king-size bed as opposed to fixed twins. The home cooking shines and somehow every ship has a bartender able to make great craft cocktail creations and pouring local beer and wine -- included in the cruise fare. Entertainment in the evening is lectures by the expedition team and sometimes someone picking up a guitar.
The thing that's so appealing about ultra-luxury line Seabourn is that it manages to stay so relevant. Whether embracing the retro cuisine trend with the 1960s-style The Grill by Thomas Keller (showcasing such dishes as lobster thermidor by one of America's greatest chefs) or delivering craft cocktails by celebrity mixologist Brian Van Flandern from the open bar, Seabourn does it with aplomb.
You stay in gorgeous suites with marble bathrooms and may order Champagne and caviar (free of charge) whenever you like. Explore healthy living in programs developed by wellness guru Dr. Andrew Weil. Learn the backstories of Broadway shows such as "The Lion King" from legendary lyricist Tim Rice (or at least his hologram appearing onstage). It's all so luxuriously cool.
With its small sailing ships (powered by wind and engines) and motorized yachts, Windstar delivers languid times in the sun and easy exploration of small ports of call. The low-key, convivial atmosphere lets you create your own agenda, whether lounging with a good book or joining a nighttime conga line out on deck.
It's all about yacht-like ambience -- the crew unobtrusively catering to your needs and no need to ever dress up even at dinner, where options include dining outdoors by candlelight. The spa creates ahh moments, while the retractable water sports platform has kayaks and other equipment you can borrow to explore on your own, when you're not busy socializing with the other adults onboard.