Photo: Courtesy of Scenic Cruises
You’ve said your “I dos,” you have your first mate, so now it’s time to sail off into newlywed bliss aboard a luxury honeymoon cruise. But cruising is for cheesy Hawaiian-shirt-clad retirees, right? Think again. Each of these stunning ships is packed with once-in-a-lifetime amenities, like ultra-romantic rooms (many with private balconies), Instagram-worthy cuisine, full-service spas, and to-die-for destinations.
We hand-picked these bespoke cruises for their unrivaled access to undiscovered cities, and deserted beaches, a diverse range of romance-packed excursions, and opulent onboard set-ups that will make you feel like a bonafide celebrity. Best of all, with minimal planning necessary — the logistics of destinations, activities, and excursions are already mapped out for you!) — cruising is the ultimate stress-free honeymoon. (And seriously, after all those guest list battles with your in-laws, who needs more stress?)
If you’ve never set sail before, here’s what you need to know: Cruise experiences can differ greatly on a small ship (fewer than 500 passengers), a midsize one (500 to 2,000), and a large one (more than 2,000). If you and your hubby crave energy, people, and nightlife, choose a large vessel, which will have multiple bars and restaurants, plus often a casino and theater for movies and live shows. If you prefer a sense of community and intimacy, stick to smaller boats, where you get to know your fellow cruisers (but also have less privacy, so plan alone time when you’re in port).
Also, watch out for add-ons. Food and drinks (even alcohol) are often included on luxury ships, making a cruise a superb choice if you’re looking for some all-inclusive honeymoon ideas. Shore excursions, gratuities, WiFi, ground transfers, precruise hotels, and airfare may also be built in. As you move down the price scale, however, you’ll find these tacked on as extras — and they add up quickly. And be sure to come prepared! Map out which sites you plan to visit before you leave the U.S. because WiFi can be slow and expensive on board, and book specialty restaurants, shore excursions, and spa treatments as soon as reservations become available so you get first pick. And use your days at sea to sleep in and relax because once you arrive at each port, you’ll be busy seeing the sights.
So what are you waiting for? Whether you dream of island-hopping, taking in major cultural sites, or chilling on a stunning swath of sand, we’ve found the perfect honeymoon cruise for you. Time to set sail!
Photo: Courtesy of Ian Svhemper / Crystal Cruises
For the couple who wants exotic sites…
Ship: Scenic Cruises’ Scenic Aura
Capacity: 44 Passengers
If you’re looking to go where no one you know has ever been, consider this Asian nation that only started allowing foreign travelers in 2012 and remains blissfully free of crowds and tourist traps. As you head north from Yangon on the 1,300-mile Irrawaddy River, you’ll pass centuries-old golden Buddhist temples, bustling markets, and monks draped in long red robes. While most ships plying the river have an antique feel, this one, which launched in September, is clean and modern, with private balconies and floor-to-ceiling windows that bring the lush green landscapes inside. Don’t miss a sunrise hot-air-balloon ride over nearly 2,000 gilded pagodas in the ancient city of Bagan. It’s not included, but it’s worth arranging — and waking up for at 5 a.m. Ten nights from $5,740 per person, all-inclusive.
For the couple who wants to island-hop…
Ship: Crystal Cruises’ Crystal Serenity
To hit a handful of beaches on your bucket list (and find your favorite one for the anniversary trip), book an itinerary with stops on St. Kitts, St. Thomas, Grand Cayman, Martinique, and St. Barth, where the ship stays in port until 10 p.m. (instead of the usual 6) so you can celeb-watch at Le Ti. (Kate Moss and Jessica Alba have been.) Back on board, cocktails and wine are included, so make sundowners a nightly ritual; ask your butler to bring hors d’oeuvres to your cabin and sip bubbly and munch on fruit and cheese while you shower off the sand. Then slip into a sundress for dinner and a mind-blowing magic show from the folks behind L.A.’s Magic Castle (a fave of funnyman Jason Segel). Don’t miss local-catch-of-the-day sashimi at the ship’s Nobu-helmed sushi bar. If you’re staying in a top-tier suite, you get the best seat in the house: your own private terrace. Fourteen nights from $6,810 per person, all-inclusive.
For the couple who wants serious culture…
Ship: Regent’s Seven Seas Explorer
This newly christened, over-the-top ship is the ideal base camp for a Euro trip filled with edifying must-dos — Rome‘s Colosseum, Florence’s Uffizi Gallery, Athens’s Parthenon — and sexy islands like Capri and Mykonos. Every cabin is a suite (with its own balcony) that’s so spacious, you may never want to leave. In fact, so many passengers do hide away that the crew hosts an upscale “block party” in the halls so you can meet other couples over a glass of Chianti. The best upgrade? The Regent Suite — the world’s largest floating penthouse, at 4,500 square feet — which comes with the most insane perk ever: unlimited treatments in the in-room Canyon Ranch spa, equipped with a sauna and heated marble lounge chairs. Eight nights from $6,799 per couple, all-inclusive, including round-trip airfare for two.
For the couple who wants a mobile safari…
Ship: ZQ Collection’s Zambezi Queen
With floor-to-ceiling windows, fluffy white duvets, and stunning wildlife photography on the walls, the Zambezi Queen is more floating luxury B&B than cruise ship. And it’ll feel just as intimate when you glide along the remote waters of the Chobe River between Namibia and Botswana. It’s the perfect way to extend a classic safari; whether you’re riding in a small boat (called a tender) or perched on your private balcony, being on the water lets the elephants, hippos, antelope, and water buffalo come to you. The best activity aboard? Take a tender out and cast a line for bream; the chef will cook up your catch for dinner. Three nights from $1,485 per person, all-inclusive.
For the couple who wants deserted beaches…
Destination: The Seychelles
Ship: Crystal Cruises’ Crystal Esprit
This new ship from Crystal Cruises feels like a megayacht that Jay Z and Beyoncé might charter, with luxe furniture, metallic accents, and herringbone wood floors. While cruising the clear blue Indian Ocean, you’ll raft to uninhabited islands, hike to remote waterfalls, and play volleyball on the beach. On board, expect top-notch service — the ship has a staff of 91 for 31 couples — so don’t be surprised if, after you mention at dinner that you love the peanut-butter-parfait dessert, warm peanut-butter cookies arrive in your cabin the next day. A 30-minute tour in the two-passenger submarine ($599) is definitely worth the splurge. You’ll spot turtles, schools of silvery jack fish, and maybe even a reef shark on your journey to the sea floor. Five nights from $3,240 per person, all-inclusive.
For the couple who wants ancient history…
Ship: Nour El Nil’s Meroe
Shallow-bottomed sailboats, like this traditional Egyptian dahabiya, can ply parts of the Nile River larger ships can’t, so you’ll rarely see other tourists on your trip from Luxor to the ancient port city of Aswan. The onboard local guide will help you remember everything you ever learned (and promptly forgot) about pyramids and hieroglyphs as you take in 5,000 year-old temples and tombs carved into mountains. And after a few days in your airy room, with its chandeliers and colorful Egyptian cottons, you’ll feel like a pharaoh yourself. Be sure to take a walk on a riverbank and swim in the clear Nile waters — because who can say they did that on their honeymoon? Five nights from $1,909 per person, all-inclusive.
For the couple who wants to be one with nature…
Destination: Galapagos Islands
Ship: Ecoventura’s MV Origin
Few landscapes are as untouched as this highly protected Eden 620 miles off the coast of Ecuador. Only 10 couples get to sail on the region’s new luxury vessel, though it has all the comforts of a big ship (gym, library, dining room, bar). Expect an active itinerary: Starting at 7 a.m., you’ll board a Zodiac and be whisked to uninhabited islands with naturalist guides who spot animals like the famous blue-footed booby. After lunch, you can sea kayak or snorkel along the shore with turtles and penguins. Cap the day on a top-deck hammock with millions of stars overhead. remember to pack A durable waterproof camera (we like GoPro HERO4, $400), so you can film sea lions twirling underwater and snap selfies with giant tortoises on Santa Cruz Island. Seven nights from $6,500 per person, all-inclusive.
For the couple who wants insane cities and scenery…
Destination: South America
Ship: Silversea’s Silver Spirit
For an epic Southern Hemisphere journey, book a voyage on this all-suite ship with a Relais & Chateaux-designated restaurant and full-service spa (with everything from massages to teeth whitening). Embark from Buenos Aires for an authentic Argentine steak dinner followed by (what else?) a tango performance. A few days later, you’ll overnight in Rio de Janeiro, giving you time to snap a photo in front of Christ the Redeemer and people-watch on Ipanema Beach. Or pick a more remote itinerary that starts in Valparíso, Chile, rounds Cape Horn, passes the fjords of Chilean Patagonia, and stops in jet-set beach towns like Punta del Este. Our favorite perk? Unlimited bubbly. Like your champs in a mimosa? Your butler will place a pitcher of orange juice in your fridge each morning so you can mix one up whenever the mood strikes. Seventeen nights from $7,065 per person, all-inclusive.
Sherri Eisenberg is the Editor-in-Chief of ShermansCruise.com, a new deals, reviews, and advice site just for cruisers.