Who says you need a main squeeze or a large family to enjoy a fabulous vacation at sea? Instead of splash parks, laser tag and waterslides, solo travelers in their 50s and up may want a more luxurious ship, exotic destinations and lots of opportunities to engage with their fellow passengers.
If you're not interested in signing up for an organized singles cruise, you can have a memorable adventure by booking a solo-friendly cruise line that offers discounts for single travelers, chic studio staterooms or roommate-matching services. Here are our picks for the best over-50 singles cruises.
Richard Branson tossed cruise convention overboard when Virgin Voyages launched its first adults-only ship, Scarlet Lady, in 2020. Designed for "young at heart people that want a good time," as Branson proclaimed, Virgin Voyages is ideal for active over-50 singles looking for a different cruising experience.
Not only will you not find any buffets, casinos or kids onboard, but single sailors can enjoy drag show brunches, a blow-dry bar, barber shop and DJ-hosted spa parties. You can meet other music fans while browsing Voyage Vinyl, the ship's onboard record shop and even get some permanent nautical-inspired souvenirs at Squid Ink, the first tattoo parlor at sea.
At the Test Kitchen -- which is part cooking school and part eatery -- singles can pick up mixology, foodie or coffee-making skills and even raid the chef's pantry for midnight feasts at organized late-night events. Singles who really want to splurge can spring for a suite and gain access to Richard's Rooftop, a sleek outdoor private lounge and private club designed by Tom Dixon's Design Research Studio.
From private butler service, exquisite cuisine and lively White Night parties on deck, Azamara caters to discriminating travelers who enjoy luxury at sea. The line features upscale cabins, intensive in-country itineraries and a full-service spa.
With a capacity of about 700 passengers each, the line's upmarket vessels offer a more intimate cruising experience for 50-plus singles who don't feel like mingling among a throng of inebriated partiers. Azamara has discounted rates for solo cruisers, along with programming conducive to meeting international like-minded travelers, such as wine tastings, culinary demonstrations and AzAmazing Evenings in port where passengers can experience local culture and entertainment.
With its ultra-refined yet relaxed vibe, Celebrity is known for its contemporary design, world-class service and culinary offerings crafted by Michelin-starred chefs. Singles can socialize in many lounges onboard Celebrity ships -- its martini bars are famous -- and the line regularly organizes meet-and-greet parties and other activities designed to connect solo passengers, such as food and wine programs like mixology classes and whisky tasting.
Celebrity's Edge and Apex ships offer gorgeously designed single staterooms with private indoor/outdoor Infinite Verandas. Signature events sailings offering exciting shore excursions during the French Open, the Pingxi Lantern Festival or Mardi Gras, are great choices for singles looking to cross off some bucket-list items while on vacation.
For mature single travelers who enjoy more sophisticated cruise options, Cunard delivers. Solo passengers who like to dance will love the Queens Room ballroom -- the largest at sea -- accompanied by gentleman dance hosts (who have been fully screened by the cruise line). Attend the opening night singles' cocktail party and mingle with other guests at afternoon tea.
You can learn a new skill by signing up for a painting or fencing class; don't miss the ship's enrichment lectures hosted by a best-selling author or visiting professor. The line's well-appointed Britannia single staterooms are as luxurious as its larger cabins. Cunard also has around-the-world itineraries, which attract many cruisers over 50.
Appealing to the 50-plus crowd, Holland America is known for its high-end ships and wide range of onboard activities ideal for single passengers -- from solo mixers, gala evenings, and sports and trivia competitions to hands-on culinary workshops and ballroom dancing classes. Even Holland American's largest ships feel more intimate than most crowded mega-ships that cater to young families.
Hosts are available on some sailings for single women who want to be accompanied to dinner and dancing. The cruise line's Single Partners Program pairs solo travelers with same-sex roommates who want to share a stateroom, and encourages singles to sit together for meals. Two of its ships, Koningsdam and Nieuw Statendam, feature single staterooms.
Pioneers in the solo cruising space, Norwegian Cruise Line first launched single-occupancy studio staterooms on Norwegian Epic in 2010 and has offered them on all subsequent ships. There's also a dedicated Studio Lounge where singles can meet up, relax and enjoy light snacks and a full bar while watching TV with fellow passengers. On select sailings, Norwegian also reduces the single supplement on standard staterooms.
There are several adults-only spots onboard, such as the Spice H20 sun deck and hot tub area, where single adults can escape from the families Norwegian attracts. Some of the smaller music venues, such as The Cavern Club, offer a more intimate and casual space to enjoy evening entertainment; don't miss the Beatles cover band.
The romantic South Pacific does not have to be reserved for honeymooners. Single cruisers over 50 who don't need a partner to enjoy exotic destinations should check out Paul Gauguin Cruises. The luxury small-ship line heads to Tahiti, French Polynesia, the Cook Islands, Bora Bora and Hawaii, and often features a stop in Motu Mahana, Paul Gauguin's private island in French Polynesia.
Beer and wine are included in the cruise fare, making ship life more social, but 24-hour room service is always complimentary when you don't feel like sitting at dinner alone. Solo travelers can enjoy introductory scuba diving classes and onboard lectures about everything from coral reefs to astrology. Entertainment such as traditional Polynesian music and hands-on craft workshops add a local spin.
For an intimate, classy experience on a small ship, Silversea Cruises is an ideal over-50 singles cruise choice. Although there are no solo staterooms, this all-inclusive line sometimes has special promotions for singles, such as a 10 percent supplement, although if you're on a budget, these might not be the ships for you.
Fine dining, butler service, 1:1 staff-to-passenger ratios and ocean-view staterooms make these cruises special, and Silversea travels to more than 900 destinations on all seven continents. A welcome Champagne reception for solo travelers and included small group expedition adventures like hiking and snorkeling are conducive to making new friends. Gentleman hosts are available for women traveling alone who want a partner on the dance floor.
Some of the best cruises for singles over 50 aren't marketed as singles cruises at all. Whether your passion involves music, fitness or food and wine, there's a chartered group theme cruise devoted to it. These sailings tend to attract fun-loving groups of singles and solo travelers looking to enjoy a week devoted to yoga, quilting or science and nature.
Singles who crave live concert experiences and the chance to hang out all week with their musical idols will enjoy the variety of music cruise offerings, including Sixthman's Broadway Cruise, the Outlaw Country Cruise, the '80s Cruise and the Soul Train Cruise.
And, yes, single cruisers who want to combine vacation and dating can look at group travel targeted to solo travelers in their age range. These singles theme cruises offer group dining, cocktail parties and other events, so single travelers can meet and mingle onboard and onshore.
Updated January 30, 2020