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The Sanctuary aboard Discovery Princess, facing port. (Photo: Aaron Saunders)
The Sanctuary aboard Discovery Princess, facing port. (Photo: Aaron Saunders)

9 Best Adults-Only Cruise Ship Sun Decks

The Sanctuary aboard Discovery Princess, facing port. (Photo: Aaron Saunders)
The Sanctuary aboard Discovery Princess, facing port. (Photo: Aaron Saunders)
Erica Silverstein
Cynthia Drake

Last updated
Dec 7, 2022

Ah, to be on a cruise and enjoying a bit of peace and quiet for a change. Tranquility might seem hard to come by on a modern mega cruise ship packed with people, but luckily, many cruise ship spaces were designed with relaxation in mind.

Adults-only sun decks are great places to escape the throngs of partiers, loud music, belly flop contests and young children associated with the main pool areas and other parts of the ship, particularly in the Caribbean, where the tunes are cranked up and the deck parties packed.

Adults-only sun decks come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Many have amenities not available in the main deck areas and nicer loungers or sun beds; some also require an entry fee. If you’re looking for the perfect spot to get away from it all, consider the following six sun adults-only cruise ship decks that maintain a strict adults-only ambience.

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Princess Cruises' The Sanctuary

The Sanctuary on Royal Princess
The Sanctuary on Royal Princess

Where to Find The Sanctuary: Fleetwide.

Pampering Elements: Princess has the concept of an exclusive adults-only sun deck, dedicated to quiet relaxation and attentive service, down pat. At The Sanctuary, the loungers are shaded, upscale and plush, and "Serenity Stewards" provide cooling Evian misters, chilled face towels and healthy and refreshing drinks and snacks like fruit skewers, spring rolls and smoothies.

The ships' Lotus Spas also have outposts in The Sanctuary in select private cabanas where massages are offered. (But, on warm breeze-free days, the enclosed cabanas can get rather sticky.) You can even take part in a sunset yoga session right on the deck.

Cabanas can be rented within The Sanctuary separately for an additional fee. Sanctuary cabanas include a fully stocked minibar, a television with noise-reducing wireless headphones, plush sofas, robes and slippers, a welcome cocktail, and healthy snacks. You can also order a special cabana picnic packed with an afternoon feast and premium wine.

Newer ships in the fleet, like Sky Princess, Enchanted Princess, and Discovery Princess offer eight private cabanas in The Sanctuary -- twice as many as on other ships.

Don’t overlook The Sanctuary for cruises to cooler climates, too. These are fantastic spaces for watching the scenery in serenity, and cozy blankets and other comforts are provided.

Sanctuary Secret: Book an outdoor massage, and you'll be able to enjoy The Sanctuary free of charge for an hour after the treatment. (Outdoor massages are only available on select ships.)

Reality Intrudes: Use of The Sanctuary costs $20 for a half-day or $40 for a full day. Passengers can choose between an 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. pass, or a 1 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. (or later) pass. Scenic sailing packages are offered at a per-day rate.

Personal Evian misters bear a nominal fee, though you can enjoy a free spritz from the Sanctuary stewards periodically throughout the day. Drinks from The Sanctuary menu also cost extra, though you can expect to pay less than you would at other bars around the ship. Snacks themselves are free, but a small food delivery surcharge applies to all orders.

Carnival Cruise Line's Serenity

Serenity Pool on Carnival Sunshine
Serenity Pool on Carnival Sunshine

Where to Find Serenity: Fleetwide

Pampering Elements: Unlike most of Carnival's outdoor public spaces, Serenity deck areas are entirely kid-free; passengers must be 21 or older to use the area. Location and amenities vary by ship, but Serenity features plush loungers, oversized shade umbrellas and pools and/or whirlpools. (only Carnival Splendor has a Serenity deck without a pool or hot tub.) Carnival Sunshine's Serenity space spans three decks and features a waterfall and is still considered by many Carnival fans to be the best adults-only space.

Waiters provide bar service for sunbathers looking to cool off with an icy drink or frozen cocktail, and a variety of music is played throughout the day. The Serenity deck on Carnival Vista, Carnival Horizon and Carnival Panorama also has a chopped salad station that serves up basic and specialty salads on sea days, free of charge.

On the newest Carnival ships, Mardi Gras, Carnival Celebration, and Carnival Jubilee, the Serenity Deck has been revamped to have a more exclusive, upgraded feel, with round lounge beds, ample shade, and a private pool.

Serenity Secret: It's free to use.

Reality Intrudes: Because the area does not charge a usage fee, loungers are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Depending on the time of day and popularity of the area, the Serenity deck may feel more or less serene. Although the area is accessible 24/7, whirlpools and bars are closed after hours. Be sure to check once you're onboard, as opening hours can vary.

MSC Cruises' Top Deck Solarium

Top 19 Exclusive Solarium on MSC Seaview
Top 19 Exclusive Solarium on MSC Seaview

Where to Find The Top Deck Solarium: Deck 18 on MSC Fantasia, MSC Divina, MSC Preziosa and MSC Splendida, known as the Top 18 Solarium; Deck 19 on MSC Virtuosa, MSC Seaside, MSC Seaview, MSC Seashore and MSC Meraviglia, known as the Top 19 Solarium.

MSC World Europa was the first ship in the MSC Cruises' fleet to create an adults-only "district" which includes the Zen Pool on Deck 18.

On MSC Seascape, one of the ship’s most impressive features is a waterfront promenade that leads to an adults-only space on the aft of the ship on Deck 8 featuring an infinity pool with submerged loungers.

Pampering Elements: While officially "adults preferred" (since kids are technically allowed to be there, except for MSC World Europa and MSC Seascape), MSC Cruises' Top 18 and 19 Solariums do skew toward an adult clientele, with dedicated spa services, bar menus and complimentary fruit skewers.

Enjoy express 20-minute reflexology and facial treatments or massages, available from the Solarium's private massage chairs. Then, head to the Tiki Bar for a smoothie or a frozen cocktail. A private entrance and chilled towels upon arrival set the mood for sunning and seclusion. Watch the sunset from one of two private hot tubs in the area.

On MSC Divina, there's also the free-to-use, adults-only, lounge chair-fringed infinity pool on Deck 15 aft, where passengers can order signature cocktails from the Disaronno Bar or have a dip in the whirlpool.

Meanwhile, MSC Seaside touts a glamorous, 16-and-older South Beach pool and sun deck (dubbed Sunset Beach pool and sun deck on Seaview), tucked away at the back of the ship on Deck 7. Although there are no hot tubs on the South Beach sun deck, loungers do have access to a bar as well as a gelateria and creperie for ice cream, waffles and crepes.

On MSC World Europa, enjoy access to a solarium with comfortable shaded sun beds and private pool at the aft of the ship on Deck 18, in addition to a Top 20 Exclusive Solarium.

Top Deck Secret: At Top 18 and 19, wide-brimmed relaxation pods can be made available if you prefer to take in your ocean views from the shade.

Reality Intrudes: Entry fees for these sun decks vary based on which piece of furniture is being used and how long it's needed. Depending on ship and itinerary, this European line may charge by the Euro; check your onboard currency before sailing (Caribbean voyages from U.S. homeports are typically priced in U.S. Dollars). The adults-only pools on MSC Divina, MSC Seaside and MSC Meraviglia are free to use; drinks and food from the gelateria and creperie cost extra.

Disney Cruise Line's Satellite Sun Deck

Satelitte Falls Disney Dream Photo Disney Cruise Line
Satellite Sun Deck on Disney Dream (Photo: Disney Cruise Line)

Where to Find The Outdoor Oasis: On Disney Wish, Deck 13 aft; Deck 13 forward on Disney Fantasy and Disney Dream.

Pampering Elements: In addition to the Quiet Cove Pool and much-needed adults-only area found on all Disney ships, Disney Fantasy and Disney Dream feature another dazzling adults-exclusive space called the Satellite Sun Deck. It's centered on the Satellite Falls water feature, a circular splash pool with benches and a "cascading rain curtain" nestled in the shadow of the ship's forward radar mast that sets apart this area from the rest of a kiddo-ridden cruise ship.

Anyone 18 years or older can take advantage of this relaxation area with loungers on the top deck. Disney Wish has a spacious rainforest-inspired outdoor portion of its Senses Spa on Deck 5 outfitted with two exclusive hot tubs and swing-style sun beds inset into the very bow of the ship, with some pretty spectacular views of the ship's forward superstructure.

Outdoor Oasis Secret: The Satellite Sun Deck area might be the exclusive spot to go on Disney Fantasy and Disney Dream but if you crave variety, the upper deck of the Quiet Cove Pool and Cove Bar has poolside loungers, protective canopies and a small wading pool. Happily, all of these adults-exclusive areas are free to use. To access the outdoor rainforest area at Senses Spa on Disney Wish, you’ll need to purchase a pass, which is available for single days or for the length of your sailing based on availability.

Reality Intrudes: Disney passengers cruising on the smaller Disney Magic and Disney Wonder will only have the Quiet Cove area to seek out as a refuge for some adults-only sun time, missing out entirely on the ample deck space of the Satellite Sun Deck.

The Solarium on Royal Caribbean

The relaxing Solarium aboard Wonder of the Seas (Photo: Aaron Saunders)
The relaxing Solarium aboard Wonder of the Seas (Photo: Aaron Saunders)

Where to Find The Solarium: Fleetwide.

Pampering Elements: The exact location and size of The Solarium varies by ship, but you will typically find complimentary use of padded loungers, hot tubs and wading pools in a calm setting restricted to those age 16 and up. A bar and eatery is located here so you can spend the day among this peaceful oasis without leaving for a meal. The Solarium Bistro serves breakfast, lunch and dinner with a Mediterranean flair -- all free of charge.

Solarium Secret: While this is one of only two non-open-air sun decks on the list, the glass-enclosed Solarium lets tons of light in and is usually one of the warmest places on the ship (plus no wind chill). The Solarium on Vision-class ships like Enchantment of the Seas is located mid-deck, but it's all the way forward on every other ship, providing better views (on Alaska sailings, it’s a treat to watch for whales while staying cozy here).

Reality Intrudes: On Quantum of the Seas and Spectrum of the Seas, Solarium access is limited to suite guests in a Grand Suite or above, and Crown & Anchor Society loyalty club Diamond members and above, and there are also no age restrictions on these sailings. On Harmony of the Seas, there is no dedicated Solarium pool.

Norwegian Cruise Line's Posh, Vibe and Spice H2O

The Vibe Beach Club on Norwegian Escape
The Vibe Beach Club on Norwegian Escape

Where to Find It: Posh Beach Club on Norwegian Epic; Vibe on Norwegian Prima, Norwegian Breakaway, Norwegian Getaway, Norwegian Escape, Norwegian Bliss, Norwegian Joy and Norwegian Encore. Spice H2O is a kids-free lounge area, located on Decks 15 and 16 aboard Norwegian Epic, Deck 16 on Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway, and Deck 17 aboard Norwegian Escape, Norwegian Joy and Norwegian Bliss. (There's no Spice H2O on Norwegian Encore or Norwegian Prima.)

Pampering Elements: During the day, the area serves as a quiet escape, complete with hot tubs, loungers and a serene waterfall. Just don't expect serenity at night, when the space is converted into an open-air dance club.

Passengers reach Norwegian Epic's exclusive Posh Beach Club by private glass elevator. The area has a Mediterranean flair with cushioned daybeds, a full bar, water spritzers, cold towels and fruit skewers. It's complimentary to passengers staying in Villas.

Aboard Norwegian Prima, Norwegian Breakaway, Norwegian Getaway, Norwegian Escape, Norwegian Bliss and Norwegian Encore, the Vibe Beach Club -- which features ocean views, an oversized hot tub and chaise-style loungers -- functions similarly to Posh and offers the same amenities. A full-service bar, water spritzers and chilled towels are available.

Posh and Vibe Secret: Only a limited number of passes for Vibe and Posh are available, so you'll want to purchase them as early as possible.

Reality Intrudes: There's no fee for Spice H2O, but Posh and Vibe will cost you. Passengers can purchase one-day, one-week or 10-day passes to Posh, with access for weekly and longer passes beginning the second day of the cruise. For Vibe, daily passes are available; passengers also can rent a cabana for two.

While Posh is free for Villa suite passengers, Haven suite cruisers on Norwegian's newest ships will have to pay the standard rates to gain access to Vibe.

Virgin Voyages’ The Perch and Richard’s Rooftop

Richard's Rooftop on Valiant Lady (Photo: Katherine Alex Beaven)
Richard's Rooftop on Valiant Lady (Photo: Katherine Alex Beaven)

Where to Find The Perch and Richard's Rooftop: Even though Virgin offers adults-only cruises exclusively, serenity may be slightly hard to come by on these hard-partying voyages.

For VIPs, Richard’s Rooftop can be a quiet place to curl up on the cushy loungers and in private cabanas. Others should head to the top deck of Scarlet Lady, Valiant Lady, Resilient Lady, and Brilliant Lady (usually Deck 17), and find your way to the secret space known as “The Perch,” where yoga classes are offered for a slice of peace and quiet.

Pampering Elements: At Richard’s Rooftop, you’ll find private cabanas with generously sized loungers, as well as hot tubs and complimentary cocktails served at specified times. Though Virgin ships are known for adult fun throughout their sundeck spaces, including elements like the largest daybed at sea and a spacious catamaran-style over-the-waves net for swaying, the real premium perk is finding some tranquility -- and you’ll find that if you head to the Perch.

The Perch Secret: Though it’s not widely advertised, on sea days, "Sailors" who prefer to ditch the tan lines may go topless at the Perch.

Reality Intrudes: Access to Richard’s Rooftop is limited to people who reserve RockStar or MegaRock Star level cabins. Private cabanas can be reserved for a fee once onboard (currently $350 for a small cabana and $500 for a large), and are first-come, first-served.

Holland America Line’s The Retreat and Sea View Pool

The Retreat on Eurodam
The Retreat on Eurodam

Where to Find The Retreat: Holland America provides a tranquil, relaxing space in its premium cabana enclave known as The Retreat onboard Eurodam, Koningsdam, Nieuw Amsterdam, Noordam, Oosterdam, Nieuw Statendam, Westerdam, Zuiderdam, and Rotterdam. Holland America’s oldest ships, Volendam and Zaandam, do not have The Retreat. On those ships (and for a free option on the others), head to the adults-only Sea View Pool.

Pampering Elements: Cabana rentals within The Retreat include slippers and a robe, loungers for relaxing, hot and cool towels, fresh fruit, Evian facial misters, sparkling wine, and chilled mineral water. Chocolate-covered strawberries and frozen grapes are served in the late afternoon. Attendants will take food orders for a special cabana menu.

The Retreat Secret: Booking a cabana at The Retreat comes with a 20 percent discount on spa services during port days. Though cabanas are also available for rent near the main pool areas, The Retreat cabanas are your best bet for the ultimate in relaxation. In addition to the special cabana menu, attendants will also deliver food from other restaurants around the ship, such as Dive In.

Reality Intrudes: Pricing for The Retreat cabanas varies based on itinerary, but prices currently range between $55 for port days and $85 for sea days, and you can also reserve them for your entire cruise for a lower per-day price. The Sea View Pool, located on the upper deck at the aft of the ship, is a solid free option that is generally quieter than the main pool sun deck. Signage says that children under 14 aren’t permitted. However, this is also a smoking zone and may aggravate people with smoke sensitivities.

Celebrity Cruises’ Solarium

Solarium on Celebrity Edge
Solarium on Celebrity Edge

Where to Find The Solarium: As with Royal Caribbean, upscale sister-brand Celebrity has opted to move its adults-only space indoors to its Solariums, found on all ships in the fleet, including the line's oldest vessel, Celebrity Millennium. Comfortable loungers with pillows allow for cruisers to relax and enjoy a warm, quiet space in this mid-ship space lined with glass and tranquil artwork.

Pampering Elements: Access to the Solarium is free for passengers 16 and up and includes Aqua Spa Cafe and Juice Bar, including a menu filled with health-minded foods, many of which are complimentary. You’ll pay a charge for the fresh-pressed juices and smoothies.

Solarium Secret: Chairs do fill up occasionally depending on the time of day and the weather. If you want a more private experience, head to the Solarium during "non-peak" times, such as during dinner or show times.

Reality Intrudes: On inclement weather days or on voyages to colder climates, this space may be offered for children to use.

Publish date December 07, 2022
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