Romantic Cruise Vacations

Erin De Santiago
Couple dancing on cruise ship deck

Romantic cruise vacations can be the perfect way to start a relationship, cement your commitment, or rekindle that initial spark. For many people, the simple elegance of sailing the high seas on a luxury vessel is far more romantic than a land-based vacation. There are many romantic ideas to consider for your cruise vacation that can add even more magic to the salty air and create a truly passionate experience.

Romantic Cruise Lines

Some cruise lines are just designed with romance in mind. Many of these are higher-end luxury cruises, including all-inclusive options.

Paul Gauguin Cruises

Choose a traditional South Pacific cruise on the 332-passenger Paul Gauguin, where all cabins offer stunning views. Dining is all restaurant-style and your fare includes tips and alcohol. The small passenger-to-crew ratio is more intimate and the staff knows everyone by the second day onboard. Be sure to book a dinner one night in L'Etoile, French cuisine with a touch of French Polynesia.

  • Sample Itinerary: Enjoy a 7-night Tahiti and Society Islands cruise from $6,145 US per person for a balcony stateroom. The ship stops in Huahine, Taha'a (Motu Mahana), Bora Bora, Moorea, and Papeete. This includes an overnight in Bora Bora, which allows you the option to book an over-the-water bungalow for an extra fee if you choose.

Princess Cruises

Although Princess has much bigger ships, there is a reason they are called the "Love Boat." Unique touches are available, such as Ultimate Balcony Dining, which would make this a top pick for romance. For an additional fee, you can have lobster dinner and champagne, served course by course on your balcony. Specialty restaurants give you a more intimate dining experience as well. Other onboard amenities include "Movie Under the Stars" or special spa treatment rooms designed for couples.

  • Sample Itinerary: 30-night Cape Town to London from over $6,000 per person for balcony. Stops include Namibia, Angola, Sao Tome and Principe, Cape Verde, Canary Islands, Portugal, Morocco, Spain, France, and England.

Viking River Cruises

It's hard to argue that cruising along the rivers of Europe, past historic city centers and along Old World wine regions, is anything but romantic. Viking River Cruises offers some incredible cruises through Bordeaux, along the Rhine, or on the Danube to name a few.

  • Sample Itinerary: Romantic Danube from $1,856 US per person for 8 days. Visits Budapest, Vienna, Passau, Regensburg, and Nuremburg.

Silversea Cruises

Recognized as one of the best in luxury cruises, Silversea takes the top spot for romantic cruise lines in 2015 according to US News. It offers gourmet Relais & Châteaux cuisine at Le Champagne and a very intimate feel with nearly one crew member for each passenger and butler service in every suite. Silversea cruises can last anywhere from five to 115 days with some exotic destinations like South Africa, Asia, and the Galapagos.

  • Sample Itinerary: Bali to Hong Kong 11 days from $5,950 US per person. Stops in Brunei; Kota Kinabalu; Haikou, China; Hong Kong; and Hue, Vietnam.

How to Make any Port of Call Romantic

Couple on shore excursion

Even while moored in ports of call, there are several ways to create romance on a cruise ship no matter where you are. Choosing a romantic shore excursion can be done with a bit of creativity: sunset cruises and beach getaways are frequent options that can provide an extra bit of romance. It may be easier to arrange a romantic day on shore by researching the port of call before sailing. Consider these romantic ideas to make it a memorable destination:

  • Visit a luxury restaurant to sample local cuisine
  • Spend a few hours at a nearby resort for spa treatments, intimate meals, or private beaches
  • Arrange a private shore excursion such as snorkeling, horseback riding, or sightseeing
  • Find a secluded beach for intimate relaxation without large crowds

Many couples also choose to use port-of-call days to enjoy shipboard romance: indulging in hot tubs, port-day spa discounts, and lighter crowds in restaurants while the majority of the passengers are on shore.

Cabin Selection

The first step to creating romantic cruise vacations is to set the appropriate mood when booking the cruise. Choosing your cruise cabin is a critical decision: many cruise cabins are identical and do not lend themselves to an idealistic fantasy. For a more romantic atmosphere, choose a higher class of cabin such as a verandah or suite. If that is not possible, consider the cabin location and opt for a more private, out of the way stateroom in the extreme aft or bow of the ship, or on a deck with very few cabins.

Itinerary Considerations

couple planning itinerary

Itinerary also contributes to cruise romance. While any destination can be romantic, a key is to ensure that there will be ample time to enjoy one another without bustling from port to port. Days at sea, though they are often filled with organized events, provide opportunities for togetherness and privacy without missing a port of call or shore excursion. Choosing an itinerary with more than a single day at sea guarantees more potentially romantic moments than a cruise filled with new sights and sounds.

Romance at Embarkation

For a truly romantic voyage, the fantasy should start as soon as you board the ship. Purchasing a higher class cabin can help with that - they often have priority boarding privileges, allowing passengers to bypass lengthy check-in lines. The mood can also be established with in-cabin departure decorations such as fresh flowers, wine or champagne for two, intimate treats such as petit fours or chocolate-covered strawberries, or other bon voyage gifts.

These amenities are available on most ships for an additional fee and can be arranged when you book the cruise or after your reservation has been made. Passengers interested in such indulgences should note, however, that extended notice is required, usually several weeks before sailing, to arrange these packages.

Romantic Options Onboard

couple having massage

Nearly every cruise line offers romance packages that combine many different romantic ideas for a cruise vacation into one convenient bundle. Wedding packages are the most popular, but anniversary, honeymoon, vow renewal, and simple 'romance' packages are also offered. There are usually several levels of service from which to choose. Naturally, these packages are in addition to the standard cruise fare and must be arranged when the reservations are made, though a travel agent may be able to make adjustments after booking to preserve the secret.

While different ships and cruise lines have different amenities and options to choose from, standard romantic indulgences include:

  • Flowers or gourmet chocolates from the formalities boutique
  • Couple's spa treatments including massages or steam room visits
  • Intimate meals in a specialty restaurant
  • Personalized cakes or other indulgent treats arranged through the dining room or restaurants
  • Professional couple's portrait session

Of course, each of these options involves sometimes hefty fees, but there are many other choices that do not cost extra, such as:

  • Formal nights for elegant dancing
  • Room service breakfast on your balcony
  • Star gazing from upper decks of the ship and spotting other brilliantly-lit cruise ships
  • Enjoying the sunset from your stateroom balcony or on deck

Whether you want to spend extra money to create a romantic atmosphere or you'd rather enjoy the quiet romance inherent in a cruise vacation, there are plenty of ways to bring out the best of the passionate ambience.

Enjoy a Romantic Cruise Escape

From simple ocean sunsets to elaborate romance packages, there are many romantic ideas for a cruise vacation. Whether it is a honeymoon voyage, a first cruise, special occasion, or simply a long-overdue break, a cruise provides a multitude of romantic opportunities, making the vacation one of the most idyllic getaways of a couple's life.

Romantic Cruise Vacations