The best cruises for couples are the ones with the fewest families. While kids are wonderful, and there are few things, if any, that are as rewarding as watching happy children learn and grow to maturity, they do put a damper on things like romantic evenings. Dinners stop being romantic the moment the kid at the next table starts screaming. So, if you’re looking to head to sea with a special someone, then we recommend booking a cruise in the shoulder season. The magical months of the year where the kids are in school, families stay home, and cruise lines have staterooms they need to fill. It’s not only a great time for romance, it’s a great time to save some money.
This rules out the period between June and August, the last week of November (Thanksgiving), the last two weeks of December (Christmas), and the first week in January (New Year’s). Generally, any time schools are out for a long break is not going to be the best time to take a couples cruise. Add to that the end of February and the beginning of March. This is spring break. A popular time for US college students to avail themselves of 24 hour bar service in international waters. There is, nor will there ever be, anything romantic about frat boys chugging beers and doing shots.
If you steer clear of those times of the year then you’ve taken a solid step to securing a romantic trip for you and that special someone. Now, the only question that remains is which cruise line is right for you?
Best Cruise Lines for Couples
Overall, the best cruises for couples are going to be on the luxury lines. The ones with the smaller ships, and therefore the least crowds, with the most crew available to serve guests. Most of us don’t have that sort of money, and those on a budget likely need a romantic getaway more than those who have unlimited funds. Fortunately, for the rest of us there are options on the big lines that if you plan ahead and play your cards right will ensure that your couple’s cruise feels like a luxury cruise without the massive price tag.
Of the lines sailing out of Port Canaveral, Norwegian Cruise Lines is easily our top pick for taking a couples cruise. Norwegian’s pioneered “freestyle cruising” where dining, entertainment, and accommodations are offered on an on demand basis. The are no fixed dining times, or pre-assigned seating so if there is a table free in a restaurants and you’re hungry then you can go ahead and have a seat. This gives couples the chance to be spontaneous, and to have a late dinner if the mood is right. There isn’t much romance in being seated with strangers, nor is there much love to be had in being herded from place to place to make a set time.
The ability to choose your own activities, or just stay in your stateroom all day if that’s what you feel like is what makes Norwegian a favorite for couples cruising together. When you add in that Norwegian is striving to have newest fleet afloat, and that these news ships are being built from the keel up with that sort of freedom of choice in mind then it’s easy to see why Norwegian cruises for couples are popular, and set to remain so for quite some time.
Norwegian also offers some additional romance packages which arranges for chocolate covered strawberries, wine, and roses to be waiting in your stateroom when you arrive. Upgrades include couples massages, breakfast in bed one day of the cruise, and a tea service. The prices to add one of these packages range from $150 to $400.
Royal Caribbean is another one of the best cruises for couples. The crown and anchor has been testing out a version of Norwegian’s freestyle dining on its Quantum and Oasis class ships. The flexible dining times have proven popular so far, and may be extended to the rest of Royal’s fleet. The ships testing out this new dining plan are respectively the most technologically sophisticated, and the largest cruise ships afloat. That makes for a lot of options for couples who embark on one of these ships.
The fleet is also much larger than Norwegian’s. Norwegian’s ships also tend to be on longer cruise routes, meaning their schedule may be more difficult to line up with yours. For each home port Royal generally has one of its smaller ships making short round trip cruises. In Port Canaveral for instance the Enchantment of the Seas is making routine 3 and 4 night cruises to the Bahamas and back. This means that if you’ve suddenly decided to take a long weekend with your sweetheart on short notice then Royal Caribbean is probably the cruise line that can best match your schedule.
Royal Caribbean also has a selection of romance packages that can upgrade your cruise. Long stem roses, chocolates, and champagne are all on offer. The price on the upgrades are also better than Norwegian’s. A tag of $300 for the “ultimate luxury romance package” compared to $400 for Norwegian’s, and Royal lets you keep the robe and slippers. All in all though, we do prefer Norwegian’s tea service to terry-cloth robes and slippers.
Carnival is the largest cruise line in the world, and arguably the company that brought cruising to the masses. Its ships are called the fun ships, and by reputation they are party barges. To be fair to the company its cruises are the most reasonably priced cruises available and that tends to appeal to those on a budget, like college spring breakers. The line is upgrading it ships and broadening its appeal with the Fun Ship 2.0 initiative which adds features, and has improved service and amenities. Some of the lines newer and upgraded ships boast a more restrained style than what the line is usually known for.
As far as what that means for couples: well, Carnival is a good choice for a good time together when you don’t have that much to spare in time or money. Like Royal, Carnival has a large fleet and can keep its smaller ships on a semi-permanent rotation. That makes it a little easier to coordinate a couple’s cruise without planning everything out in advance. The prices for passage are the best available for what is on offer.
Like other cruise lines, Carnival offers romance packages, and here is where things get a little too budget to seem magical. The basic romance package is only $43, but it only offers four chocolate covered strawberries. A dozen roses will cost an extra $65. If you leave out the romance part while doing a gift search on Carnival’s website you can actually find a champagne and strawberries gift that offers more strawberries for only $32, albeit without the flowers. There are no spa packages for couples as far as we can determine.
While it isn’t a bad choice for a cruise, especially if you’re on a budget and looking for something special to do with your special someone this blatantly mercurial nickeling and diming seems like something that takes some of the magic out of cruising together. It seems like it would be better to plan a little farther in advance, and get a package that might cost more, but also includes more without you having to ask for it.
On the other hand, love can be magical all on its own, and sometimes it shines brighter in the Spartan light of an interior stateroom than it does on a suite’s balcony. Really what makes the best cruises for couples is the pair in question. A single rose sincerely offered may do more than a whole bouquet.
Editor’s note: This article first appeared on Go Port Canaveral Official Travel Provider and has been republished here with permission by the Go Port Canaveral.