Cruising is a great vacation option for young adults in their 20s and 30s. Modern cruise ships are active and fun, where nightlife and adventure readily converge -- and at palatable pricing, to boot. Younger travelers just need to know which cruise lines and itineraries will draw like-minded (and -aged) passengers
There are a few key search parameters young adults should consider. Shorter cruises of seven nights or less typically attract young couples and singles short on vacation time and budget. Look, too, for itineraries that are heavy on lively ports of call or incorporate overnight stays so that you can hit up the local nightlife. New kid on the block, Virgin Voayges, even have their own private beach club -- complete with DJs, pool parties and dancing all night.
Expedition cruises, though pricy, can also be appealing for travelers looking for nonstop action -- hiking, snorkeling, kayaking and more -- in off-the-beaten-path wilderness regions like the Amazon, the Arctic or Antarctica and the Galapagos Islands.
Look, too, for theme sailings, where a one-off niche itinerary might considerably skew the onboard demographic toward a younger cruiser. River cruise line AmaWaterways' wine-themed itineraries draw a good number of under-40s. Concert cruises and dance festivals like Sixth Man feature dozens of musicians on multiple stages and beach and pool parties to ensure young adult cruisers a pumping dance party all-sailing long.
Here are our top six picks for the all-around best cruises for 20- and 30-something young adults, listed by special interest:
If you're under 40 then a cruise might not be on your holiday radar, as cruising still suffers from a less than cool reputation as being for people "of a certain age", helped along by the idea of formal dances, captain's dinners and shuffleboard on the top deck. But while there are many cruise lines that undeniably target the grey pound, there are also many eager to appeal to a younger, livelier crowd.
To stand the best chance of surrounding yourself with a like-minded age group, keep in mind that shorter cruises typically attract younger holidaymakers who have limited time off work. Very active adventure cruises also naturally appeal to a younger, fitter crowd, as do concert cruises like Norwegian Cruise Line's Sixthman music themed cruises.
Carnival Live cruises host popular (although typically U.S.) musicians and comedians for intimate gigs at sea. Other themed cruises also have bright young things eager to step aboard -- the Walker Stalker zombie themed cruise from Miami to the Bahamas on Norwegian Pearl, is one particularly scary niche sailing, while other less gruesome offerings such as a beer-themed cruise to Prague could also appeal to a younger crowd.
Your choice of ship, and choice of itinerary, both play equal parts in the age range you find yourself sailing alongside. Many of the colourful mega-ships are like fun-filled floating holiday resorts with itineraries packed with lively port cities such as Barcelona, Miami, New York and Cancun, or calypso party-loving Caribbean islands.
Choose well and a cruise can offer adventure and activity, nightlife and impressive dining options, plus plenty of opportunities for relaxation, all rolled into one holiday. Whether you're looking for fun for a young family (without any disapproving looks when ice-cream-fuelled kids are splashing in the pool), a luxurious romantic honeymoon, an epic adventure or a party break, there's definitely a cruise for you -- it's just a case of finding it.
Here are our top six picks for the best cruise lines for 20- or 30-somethings, listed by special interest.
Best for Active Types
Royal Caribbean International
When it comes to keeping busy onboard, it's hard to beat Royal Caribbean, which boasts an amazing array of industry-leading activities and facilities to ensure there's never a dull moment at sea. Royal Caribbean is the only cruise line to have FlowRider surf and iFLY sky diving simulators. You can also ice skate, scale a rock climbing wall, whizz across the ship on a zip line. After dark you can catch a West End show or comedy club, head to the casino or hit one of the many bars. The robotic Bionic Bars on Anthem of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas, Symphony of the Seas, Quantum of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas are gimmicky but fun, as is the innovative Two70 entertainment space on the Quantum Class ships.
Royal Caribbean bases Anthem of the Seas in Southampton seasonally offering cruises to the Baltic, Norway, France, Spain and the Mediterranean.
Further afield, the line is present almost everywhere in the world, with a strong emphasis on the area which bears its name, operating Caribbean cruises on its popular megaships: Allure of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas and newest and biggest ship, Symphony of the Seas, out of Florida ports.
In terms of shore excursions, examples include Hovercraft Safaris in the Caribbean and Volcano Bike Adventures in Hawaii, plus horse riding, hiking, biking, parasailing, off-roading and loads more.
Best for Adventurers
If you're up for a real off the beaten track adventure, but are happy to leave your backpacking days behind you, expedition cruise lines like Hurtigruten will take you up and down the Norwegian coastline all year long, or on the Expedition ships to the heart of the snow-covered action in the Arctic and Antarctic. The larger ships in the 14 ship fleet will appeal to those who like a sociable vibe, and you'll get to know your fellow adventurers quickly as you share the excitement of searching for polar bears, watching the Northern Lights, hiking Icelandic volcanoes, skiing a huge glacier, snorkelling in Antarctica or watching glaciers calve in Greenland.
Classic Hurtigruten itineraries follow the stunning Norwegian Fjords, from Bergen just across the North Sea from Scotland, through Trosmsø, known as the gateway to the Arctic, and up to Kirkenes at the extreme northeast of Norway, 400km north of the Arctic Circle, which is touching distance from the Russian border. You could also choose to sail on even higher to Arctic Island Spitsbergen in the Svalbard archipelago or Greenland, across to Iceland, or choose a South Pole expedition to Antarctica via the Chilean Fjords in South America.
Best for Party Animals
MSC Cruises is a Mediterranean-based cruise line with global ambitions. Its Miami-based ship, Divina, is a byword for partying with passengers up till all hours enjoring the numerous nightclubs and bars onboard in the warm Caribbean nights. MSC Meraviglia and sister ship MSC Bellissima both feature an 80m-long, double-height promenade packed with bars and clubs, as well as a promenade party at midnight to which everyone -- including kids -- are invited. Meraviglia and Bellissima also have the world's first Cirque du Soleil at Sea. Every cruise also features a White Hot Party, which takes place round the pool deck until the early hours. Daytime fun on all the ships is a mixture of fun-packed pool games, group fitness classes and hairy chest contests.
MSC Cruises offer multiple Western Mediterranean itineraries calling in at Barcelona, Marseille, Genoa, Rome, Sicily and Malta. Divina offers Caribbean cruises, departing Miami. Divina was joined by a new class of ship -- MSC Seaside -- the design of which is meant to evoke downtown Miami and features a lot of outdoor space for bars and restaurants.
Best for Young Families
Many young families will have holidayed previously with Marella (formerly Thomson Cruises), and the cruising arm of this popular British holiday company shares the same family friendly values. The free Kids Clubs are tailored to small age groups (3 to 5, 6 to 8, and 9 to 11), there are plenty of kids' favourites on the menu in the relaxed buffet restaurants and Marella also organise shore excursions that all ages can enjoy together, from waterpark trips to once in a lifetime swimming with dolphins experiences. Marella is also a brilliant choice if you need to stretch the family budget, as children get discounted prices on the cruise itself and on the excursions too. And flexible Family Suites that sleep up to seven are a lifesaver for larger families.
On the newest ships, Discovery, Discovery 2 and Explorer, there's a huge amount to keep younger cruisers occupied while mum and dad relax, including the Splash Live interactive show, a packed programme of Kids Club activities as part of M Club, the Gamerzone and The Hide Out hangout space that's just for teens. Or maybe the kids will challenge you to a go on the rock climbing wall!
Even the tiniest tots aren't forgotten on Marella Cruises, with a dedicated baby centre onboard.
Discovery 2 sails the Med on the Mediterranean Secrets, Highlights of the Mediterranean, and Magic of Spain roundtrips from family favourite Majorca, while Marella Dream explores another holiday hotspot, the Canary Islands.
Best for Honeymooners
There are endless opportunities for romance on a Celebrity Cruise, and its medium-sized ships with a modern luxury vibe may be more suited to younger honeymooners than the high-end small ship lines that have limited space for fun-filled facilities. The cabins have the feel of a boutique hotel, with contemporary decor and dedicated 24-hour stateroom attendants. There are plenty of dining options for romantic meals for two, including a posh picnic on the grass at the Lawn Club Grill on Solstice-class ships. The Canyon Ranch spas are perfect for post-big day relaxation, while classy nightspots, and the World Class cocktail bar on Celebrity Eclipse will ramp the energy levels up a notch come nightfall. The line's game-changing Celebrity Edge, and sister Apex, add a further level of sophistication and style, with the all-suite The Retreat complex, featuring two-storey Garden Villas and exclusive access to a suites-only lounge, restaurant and sundeck.
Celebrity's destination expert, English adventurer Ben Fogle, adds extra credibility to the cruises to all four corners of the globe, from the Canary Islands to the Panama Canal, and Croatia to Canada. Transatlantic and transpacific cruises offer adventure on an epic scale. Celebrity Silhouette is typically based in Southampton in summer, and Celebrity Reflection in the Mediterranean.
Best for Going Solo
Norwegian Cruise Line
If you're single and looking to mingle on your holidays, Norwegian Cruise Line is one of the best lines for cruising solo. The solo studio accommodation on Norwegian Encore Norwegian Breakaway, Getaway, Epic, Escape and Pride of America is well designed with a full-size double bed and a funky purple and white colour scheme, plus there's a private lounge and bar. Best of all, there's no single supplement. NCL ships have a young, fun vibe, with high energy facilities like the action packed three-storey-high Sports Complex on Breakaway. The Vibe Beach Club is an exclusive spot for ages 18 and over, and the SVEDKA Ice Bar is a very cool concept. You've also got dining options to suit all tastes and exciting onboard entertainment like the Cirque Dreams and Dinner Jungle Fantasy shows, and Tony Award-nominated Rock of Ages.
Many of the itineraries on ships with solo studios focus on the Caribbean, with Getaway and Escape cruising the Caribbean from hip, happening Miami. Breakaway cruises to Bermuda, the Bahamas and Florida, and the Southern Caribbean.
Best for Adults Only
The Ships: Virgin has just one ship, Scarlet Lady, with two more on the way, including Valiant Lady, which launches this year (2021). One of the line's main selling points is that it is adults only, with a minimum sail age of 18 -- so don't expect splash pools or character parades onboard --instead, you'll find a tattoo parlour, an atrium/club in the heart of the ship with live DJs, a Mexican-themed cocktail bar dispensing mezcal and tequila and accommodation which includes Rock Star Suites complete with a guitar room.
The Itineraries: Scarlet Lady will sail four- and five-night Caribbean itineraries out of Miami. Options will include four- and five-night Mayan Sol cruises to Costa Maya, Mexico, and five-night Dominican Daze voyages to Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. All voyages will feature either an overnight stay or a late-night sailaway. All sailings will visit Virgin's private port in Bimini. The port will feature a DJ, fire pits and a pool.
- Find more amazing adults-only cruises.