A couples cruise can be one of the most romantic vacation options, but choosing the best cruise line for couples can be a challenge. You don't want that sunset marred by crowds on deck, the romance of a dinner for two killed by whiny kids at the next table, or a cozy evening ruined by cramped cabins with minimal amenities.
To pick the most romantic cruises for couples, we looked for crucial couples cruise features like private balcony rooms; great bathrooms and extra-special amenities; options for couples dining; cozy nooks and date-night venues; almost-private open-deck spaces for relaxing by day and stargazing by night; the best cruises for couples on a budget; and even adventure options for two.
Romance has always been the Love Boat line's focus, and even as ships have gotten larger, Princess has continued to seamlessly find a way to blend big-ship options with a cozy small-ship feel.
Princess Cruises offers some of the most romantic couples cruises overall, and it also has a well-deserved reputation for being one of the best cruise lines for older couples.
What could be more romantic than a night at Movies Under the Stars, reclining on padded loungers while snuggled under wool tartan blankets on the pool deck? Or for a quiet conversation with your sweetie, try Adagio, a private lounge found on several of the cruise line's older ships, including Crown Princess, Emerald Princess and Ruby Princess. During the day, we love The Sanctuary, a retreat complete with waiter service and massage offerings -- try a couples cabana massage (Princess Cruises’ specialty). If you're feeling especially indulgent, book a cabana.
If you really want to go all in, book a Sky Suite, available on Sky Princess, Enchanted Princess and Discovery Princess. These cabins include enormous, panoramic-view balconies, a personal concierge and complimentary wine tasting, among other exceptional amenities.
Princess Cruises offers plenty of dining options for two. However, the most romantic option is the Ultimate Balcony Dining experience. For an extra fee, cruisers are treated to a lobster dinner with Champagne and course-by-course service. (Or have a romantic breakfast in your cabin with the line's Balcony Breakfast option.) The only caveat: Your cabin must have a balcony.
We also love the cruise line's specialty restaurants, including the additions on Majestic Princess, one of the most popular ships in the fleet. Visit Crown Grill, a steak and seafood restaurant with an open grill; indulge in a multicourse meal at the Italian Sabatini's; or split dishes with your darling at Share by Curtis Stone or The Salty Dog Gastropub.
Carnival Cruise Line has a reputation for fun, but that doesn't mean it's not romantic. What's more? The best couples cruise doesn't have to break the bank. A romantic Carnival Cruise takes our spot for being among the best cheap cruises for couples, especially those that enjoy a livelier vacation.
Couples who are looking for a gastronomic journey have plenty to choose from, with options like American steakhouse Fahrenheit 555, Bonsai Teppanyaki, and, for those who really want to go all out, the Chef's Table, a multi-course dinner hosted by a master chef. The experience comes with a private Champagne reception and a tour of the galley. For a more casual but still completely fun experience, visit Guy's Pig & Anchor Smokehouse and Brewhouse. Available on Carnival Horizon, Carnival Panorama, Carnival Mardi Gras and Carnival Celebration, the BBQ joint offers a great variety of smokehouse favorites from Chef Guy Fieri. Plus, it has an onboard brewery and live music, perfect for couples who love to dance.
The cruise line has plenty of spots for couples to enjoy a little alone time on its ships, including Serenity retreat. This adults-only area includes plenty of sunbeds and clamshells, hammocks and a nearby bar. It's also free to access.
A Carnival cruise also offers several anniversary or newlywed experiences and is one of the best cruise lines for honeymoon couples. Up the sweetheart ante with perks like a romantically decorated stateroom, cookie plate, heart-shaped cake, bottle of Champagne and Carnival-etched Champagne flutes.
If you're looking for a couples cruise that offers a side of adventure, UnCruise Adventures fits the bill perfectly. A small company with small ships, the destination -- and what you do there -- is the highlight.
Its fleet of nine ships visit some of the most pristine places in the world, including Belize, Alaska, Hawaii and the Sea of Cortez. And not one of them holds more than 86 passengers. UnCruise Adventures isn’t for the couple looking to relax and unwind; it’s for those who want to play together, sometimes intensely, from sun-up to sun-down.
Every UnCruise sailing comes with guides who will take you exploring, expertly answering your questions and leading you on adventures big and small. You might go birdwatching, kayak among sea turtles, swim with gentle manta rays and jump off the back of the ship hand-in-hand with your love, all on the same trip. You’ll learn about the culture of the people indigenous to the areas you're visiting, join in some time-honored tradition and fall asleep exhausted but satisfied each night.
Food across the fleet is excellent, with a focus on local and locally sourced ingredients. You might indulge in some new flavors while sipping on local spirits, wines and beers. Accommodations are comfortable but not excessive. Still, you might find yourself borrowing a DVD from the ship’s library to snuggle with your special someone for a post-dinner movie.
Virgin cruises are the perfect fit for young couples who want to cruise on a ship that's completely kid-free. The cruise line, which falls under Richard Branson's Virgin brand, is designed for night owls who like a good party as much as a spa break.
Virgin Voyages' ships each offer more than 20 dining spaces, with bars adjoining most, so you can grab a romantic cocktail together before sharing bites in restaurants like veggie-forward Razzle Dazzle or charming Korean BBQ Gunbae. Or, if your idea of romance is grabbing a quick meal to enjoy on your balcony, the Galley offers a fresh market with 10 different international eateries.
The party vibe onboard is high, and you can dance your face off at venues like The Manor or the poolside Aquatic Club. And if you're taking one of Virgin Voyages' Caribbean sailings, your itinerary will include a stop at the Beach Club at Bimini, an exclusive for Virgin guests. The ship will stay well into the night as big-name DJs like Mark Ronson and Diplo spin the decks, or passengers can enjoy quiet time by renting a private cabana. Expect beachside bonfires and snuggling under starry skies.
Celebrity Cruise Line was one of the first cruise lines to fully cater to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender couples when it announced that it would perform legal same-sex marriages on board in 2018. And its reputation as an excellent, inclusive option for LGBTQ+ travelers has only become better with time.
This allyship is made all the better by Celebrity's reputation as an excellent upscale cruise line, especially aboard its newest Edge Class of ships. That means Celebrity Edge, Celebrity Apex, and Celebrity Beyond are all readymade for a spoil-yourself cruise vacation surrounded by some of the most contemporary digs you'll find at sea.
Itineraries on Celebrity Edge Class ships include destinations in the Caribbean and Mediterranean, putting romantic beaches, charming towns, and plenty of sun all within reach for LGBTQ+ couples seeking time to unwind together. There are also 29 different spaces on board Celebrity's Edge Class ships dedicated to dining and drinking, ranging from the lively to the serene, if you're looking for that quiet, romantic night out.
And if you're looking to unwind in the lap of luxury for that special couple's occasion, check out The Retreat aboard Celebrity's Edge Class ships. This suite-only complex has its own restaurant, lounge, and some of the best rooms on the cruise ships, like the stunning (and huge) Iconic Suite, with its massive terrace and private hot tub.
You can see more about Celebrity Cruises below and LGBTQ+ travelers should also read up on our picks for the best cruises for gay travelers.
Holland America cruise itineraries offer some of the best cruise itineraries for older couples and one of the best Alaskan cruises for couples. It's also an excellent couples cruise option for travelers who put an exquisite meal at the top of their romance list. Sure, the main dining room is nice, but Holland America cruises' specialty dining is legendary.
Asian restaurant Tamarind is pure joy, with its elegant decor and understated touches. But there's nothing understated about the menu, which offers full-on fusion cuisine. Dishes include Asian sea bass, wok-seared lobster and sushi that rivals the best restaurants on land. Match it with a custom cocktail or hot or cold sake.
Another don't-miss on HAL: Sel De Mer. If you fancy French fare, it's tough to top. Available on HAL's newer ships (though you can order from the menu at Pinnacle Grill on select evenings on others), Sel De Mer is an experience, from appetizer to entree to dessert. Yes, we mean oysters on the half shell, steak frites, coq au vin and fine cheeses. Reservations for this chic venue tend to fill fast, so book early.
If you're sailing on Rotterdam, Koningsdam or Nieuw Statendam, make sure to book some time at Blend, a venue where up to 10 guests can enjoy a wine tasting and blending experience. Holland America's partnership with Chateau Ste. Michelle gives guests a chance to create their own blends from a selection of five barrels of single-vineyard red wine. Whip up a favorite at Blend, then take it with you to your romantic dinner.
Celebrity's ships are sophisticated and hip, and cater to couples on adult getaways, rather than families on holiday. Plus, there are plenty of onboard spaces tailor-made for parties of two -- from wine bars to multiple specialty dining venues, double pool loungers, and, on the Solstice Class ships, top-deck lawns perfect for picnicking. On Celebrity Edge and Apex, couples can snuggle up to the acoustic tunes of a live band in the Rooftop Garden.
It's easy to rekindle the romance with a picnic for two in Celebrity Reflection's Lawn Club, a real grass lawn on the Solstice Class ships' top decks. Or hide away in a corner of the Deck 4 wine bar or martini bar on Solstice Class ships or the atmospheric Eden lounge-cum-performance space on Edge-class ships, and get a little tipsy with your loved one. The pool deck and adults-only Solarium also have cozy double sunbeds for snuggling in the sun.
With so many top-notch specialty restaurants onboard, any table for two will do for a romantic night out. On Solstice Class ships, our favorite for couples is Murano, the upscale Continental restaurant offering both tasting and a la carte menus with luxe dishes like caviar, escargots, sweetbreads and foie gras. Or, for dinner with a view, dine early at the back-of-the-ship Tuscan Grille, an Italian steakhouse with a wine country feel.
On the Edge Class ships, Fine Cut Steakhouse is the spot to celebrate an anniversary or just enjoy a fancy night out together. We love the views overlooking the massive atrium and its occasional light show.
FlowRider surf simulators, rock-climbing walls, skydiving simulators, bumper cars, roller skating, escape rooms, bungee trampolines and even trapeze schools. Royal Caribbean is a great option for couples who like a little adrenaline rush before they head to the spa for some relaxation. (All of Royal Caribbean's ships have fully decked-out spas offering a variety of treatments, including couples massages.)
But the thrill-seeking doesn't stop onboard. Royal Caribbean's Caribbean sailings often come with a visit to the cruise line's private island retreat, Perfect Day at CocoCay. The island offers pristine beaches, beautiful pools with plenty of chairs for lounging, and one of the best waterparks you'll find anywhere. You and your sweetie could spend a full day climbing steps and zooming down slides at breakneck speeds, the 135-foot-tall Daredevil's Peak (the tallest waterslide in North America). The island also offers ziplining, pools and pretty beaches (and your drinks package carries over on land). After a day of adventure, head to the adults-only Coco Beach Club, an exclusive area with private cabanas, including ones that are right over the blue Caribbean Sea.
Norwegian Cruise Line's Freestyle Dining philosophy (passengers can dine without the hassle of assigned times and tablemates at a variety of restaurants) is perfectly suited to table-for-two travelers. We love the line's newest -- but not biggest ships -- which are full of Las Vegas flash and nonstop entertainment action for active couples, while also offering quiet spaces for couples seeking to reconnect.
Active couples can race each other in go-karts and compete to see who can shoot the most zombies (Joy and Encore only). Those looking to relax together can snag side-by-side loungers in the spa's relaxation room, take a dip in the thalassotherapy pool, or lay about in plush chaise lounges with stunning views in the glass-enclosed Observation Lounge.
At night, snuggle up to your honey, cocktail in hand as you take in a Broadway show, or rock out together to a Beatles-cover band in The Cavern Club. Those looking to perfect their salsa together can stop by Sugarcane Mojito Bar for some hot Latin tunes, while those looking to toast a special event can try out a slew of vintages at the Cellars Wine Bar.
Try dinner at Cagney's, the dedicated steakhouse, and Le Bistro, a French eatery. Or share small plates of street food at Food Republic. Afterwards, get two spoons and dig into a massive sundae at Coco's.