12 Best Adult-Only Cruises for a Kid-Free Vacation
These adult-only cruises are the perfect marriage of grown-up luxury and child-free fun
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…Whether you need a vacation from your own kids, don’t have any and prefer singles cruises or are searching the best cruise lines or the best cruises for couples, sometimes it’s nice to enjoy a sophisticated atmosphere at sea without kids—your own or anyone else’s! Thankfully, there are a great mix of options, from elegant all-inclusive cruises in the Caribbean, on the rivers of Europe and beyond, where you won’t find children roaming the decks, to adult-only cruises offering late nights, bustling bars and first-class entertainment just for grown-ups.
How we selected the best adult-only cruises
Using a mix of personal experience, expert recommendations and travel award winners, in addition to scouring the web to find the best-themed cruises and America’s best river cruises, while steering clear of the best cruises for kids, we have found the 12 best adult-only cruises you can book right now for that much-needed escape.
Best for millennials
Richard Branson’s bold and brash new cruise line now has two ships at sea, yet it’s still aiming to further disrupt the ocean liner cruise industry by changing the demographic of cruising and altering the way cruises work—namely, without a buffet or a child in sight. Virgin Voyages does this by offering an 18-and-older experience complete with risqué theater shows, elevated and wildly adventurous cuisine (including an all-vegan restaurant), hammock swing chairs on stateroom balconies and sexy, private beach club parties that sizzle until midnight in the Bahamas and overnight parties in Ibiza in the Mediterranean. In addition to being an adult-only cruise, what guests love most about Virgin’s Scarlet Lady and Valiant Lady is that nearly everything is included in the price: tips, Wi-Fi, all restaurants, group workout classes, yoga sessions and non-alcoholic beverages. Prefer a grown-up getaway on land? Check out these adult-only all-inclusive resorts.
Best ship within a ship
Norwegian’s new cruise ship is brimming with games and rides perfectly suited for adults who love to play every bit as much as kids. While sailings on this brand-new NCL ship, either in Europe or the Caribbean, are not adult-only cruises per se, The Haven, Prima’s ship-within-a-ship concept, is exclusively for passengers 18 and older. Inside you’ll find elegant staterooms, a private sun deck with a bar and two hot tubs, and a private restaurant, all serving as an exclusive getaway for adults who want an affordable, elevated vacation at sea without children. The ship is chock-full of other adult-friendly experiences, including The Stadium, Speedway, Bull’s Eye and the most exciting and innovative mini-golf course at sea. Inside The Stadium, an outdoor playspace on Deck 18, is Subsoccer, a riotous one-on-one soccer game played while seated at a glass-top table, beer pong tables, a pickleball court, three bar-style shuffleboard courts, two foosball tables, table tennis and more. On the other side of Deck 18 is Bull’s Eye, a darts play area set up in a series of retro, outdoor spaces that mimic the aesthetic of a 1970s wood-paneled basement. The showstopper on Prima for adults is the Speedway, a go-kart track spanning three decks at the very top of the ship!
Best for wine lovers
Scenic River Cruises
Not that alcohol needs to be the focus of your adult-only cruise, but a Scenic River Cruise through Germany on the Rhine and Moselle Rivers will put you, your partner and/or your adult friends smack dab in the best Riesling wine region on earth. As if that wasn’t enough, this resplendent part of Europe is also dotted with stunning castles. You’ll enjoy a truly all-inclusive, five-star experience and see beautiful scenery every single day, but you won’t see a single child, as kids under 12 are not allowed on board. You won’t have to worry about tipping, a bar tab, airport transfers or even paying for excursions, because Scenic River Cruises include everything, making these adult-only cruises absolutely stress-free. You’ll only need a good cruise packing list before you’re ready to sail!
Best for photographers
If you love nature and photography, an adult-only cruise to Antarctica with Aurora Expeditions is the perfect once-in-a-lifetime, child-free vacation at sea. This Australian-owned expedition company is designed for adventure seekers who want to have life-changing experiences on the White Continent, see icebergs, experience being up close with penguin colonies, blue-eyed cormorants, albatrosses, leopard seals and orcas, and learn how to photograph and/or take a world-class video of it all. Aurora Expeditions allow photographers and videographers of any skill level to learn through lectures and presentations, expert tips and tricks, and hands-on guidance on board the ships. If you can’t get away for a long trip to remote parts of the world, consider one of these mini-vacations instead.
Best for luxury on a budget
Simply put, this is the classiest ocean liner cruise ship currently on the water for adult-only cruises surrounded by fine art, sculpture, a wonderful crew and other discerning passengers who also know that the Celebrity Beyond is the best ship for luxury on a budget. While kids are welcome, the Celebrity Beyond experience is best suited for adults, in an AquaClass Sky Suite complete with a two-person bathtub and an oversized balcony, access to a pair of private restaurants, the spa’s thermal suites and the exclusive adult-only Retreat Lounge at the top of the ship. Between the art on board, the brilliant design of the vessel, four gorgeous complimentary main dining rooms that serve food as good as any other ship’s specialty dining destinations, wine-glass-shaped hot tubs beneath the warm sun, elegant jazz performed nightly and the green expansive of Eden, Celebrity’s innovative restaurant, bar, coffee shop and performing art space outfitted with 5,000 live plants, Beyond is an adult paradise. Thinking about a Disney cruise, with or without the kids? Here are essential Disney Cruise tips to know before you go.
Best for themed adult-only cruises
There are several options for themed cruises from other cruise lines, from music festivals to ships full of Broadway stars performing nightly in the theaters on board, but nothing can top the elegant adult-only cruises from Windstar. These luxurious ships are capable of putting adults at the roaring heart of the Monaco Grand Prix during a Barcelona-to-Rome Mediterranean cruise itinerary, or on a James Beard culinary track cruising from Montreal to Boston. On board, you’ll be able to soak together in a whirlpool hot tub, order cheese platters to munch on during the day and have a wealth of active watersports available too, from swimming and kayaking to sailboarding and water-skiing—and it’s all included. Just like some of these hidden cruise ship features, a Windstar themed adult-only cruise is one of the best-kept secrets at sea.
Best for remote yacht-like expeditions
A Lindblad Expedition cruise is an incredible example of how tourism can be a catalyst for environmental conservation as well as local urban and civic development. On a Lindblad adult-only cruise, passengers will love knowing that the ship is buying supplies from the local communities they’re visiting, employing local people to foster a more meaningful connection to the local culture and introducing guests to amazing food along the way. On the brand-new, 48-guest National Geographic Islander ll, which feels more like a private yacht than a cruise ship, adults will enjoy an Ecuadorian culinary program with locally sourced ingredients and elegantly appointed suites, a spa and a one-to-one guest-to-crew ratio. Because it’s also a world-class expedition vessel, lots of active pursuits are available, including kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, a glass-bottom Zodiac and snorkel gear for all guests to use as they wish. In addition to children, here’s what else you won’t see on cruise ships offering adult-only cruises.
Best for first-class ocean cruising
Viking Ocean Cruises
Not only will you experience a luxurious, Scandinavian-style vacation at sea on Viking’s ocean ships, you’ll interact with no one under 18 on board. Whether you crave nothing more than peace and quiet during your adult-only cruise to Iceland, England or the Mediterranean, or desire highly curated guided tours to dive deeper into your appreciation of history, art, culture, science and food, Viking Ocean Cruises deliver five-star, adult-only cruises on ships that provide an elegant, comfortable veranda suite with a king bed, large private bathroom with spacious glass-enclosed shower and heated floor, a stocked minibar and shore excursions, for all guests.
Best for immersive travel
Azamara’s boutique ships take adult travelers on immersive journeys to some of the most exciting ports on earth, including those in Greece, Turkey, Iceland, Ireland and the Baltic. While the cruise line admits that they “accept guests of any age,” at the same time they discourage families from sailing with children under 18 years old. This is because the ambiance on board the small ships and the privately arranged experiences on land, such as a night with the St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra or watching acrobats perform in Monaco, are designed especially to cater to the needs, wants and desires of adults. There are no activities for children or babysitting services available, and the result is refined, thoroughly grown-up ships offering luxurious adult-only cruises around the world.
Best for couples
Emerald Waterways Cruises
Imagine spending two weeks with your partner on the Mekong River, on a posh yet understated Emerald river cruise ship that can put you two at the doorstep of many wondrous cities, towns and villages of Cambodia and Vietnam. Now imagine this experience with nary a child to be found. Kids aren’t welcome on Emerald, and this makes sense, because there’s likely nothing about this luxurious cruise that they’d enjoy. There are no water slides, no kids club and no video game consoles, just rich history, fascinating local culture and fine food and wine on board and to explore on land through curated—and complimentary—shore excursions led by passionate locals.
Best for 50-plus
Saga Ocean Cruises
Based in the United Kingdom and dedicated to providing discerning over-50 travelers with refined, all-inclusive, adult-only cruises to the Norwegian fjords, Ireland, the Mediterranean, the Arctic and beyond, Saga Ocean Cruises stand out as one of the best choices for a vacation far, far away from kids and grandkids alike. Both of the Saga ocean ships are considered boutique because they have a maximum passenger capacity of 999, which is far smaller than most ocean liners. The cabins are spacious, each with balconies and butlers. On board are fine-dining destinations, spa services and sundecks perfect for lounging with a book. While there are single cabins on Saga ships, there is no one under 50 years of age (it’s a requirement that all guests be 50 or older to cruise).
Best for travelers on a budget
Holland isn’t technically an adult-only cruise line, but anyone who has cruised on their stately ocean ships will tell you that kids are few and far between, and they aren’t the target demographic for this cruise line that happily skews older. This means you and your partner can book an affordable journey to Alaska on ships from the line that is often voted the best in Alaska by those in the know. Holland America has been sailing to the Land of the Midnight Sun for nearly 75 years, and it shows, particularly when it comes to its truly authentic shore excursions. Additionally, Holland cruises into Glacier Bay National Park more than any other line, and its premium, midsize ships have wide-open decks for wildlife, glacier and nature viewing. Lastly, being on a cruise ship post COVID-19 can feel overwhelming but if you’re well prepared, you’re just one step away from an amazing cruise experience.