For travellers who want a hassle-free holiday, an adults-only cruise can be the holy grail -- particularly since many on our list, below, also happen to offer a more all-inclusive fare. No kids taking over the hot tub or whining at dinner, no penny pinching to take away from the joys of onboard life. If you're this kind of traveller, you might be disappointed to know that options are limited for kid-free, no-extra-fees cruise lines (although as we'll point out, this describes most river cruises and small ship cruises).
Here are the best all-inclusive cruises for adults -- plus some additional options for lines and itineraries to consider.
Best Adults-Only Cruises
Four cruise lines stand out as having company policies that exclude children and very inclusive pricing policies.
The popular British line launched its first adults-only ship, Marella Explorer 2, in April 2019. When Marella took over of the ship, they stripped out all trace of kids and family spaces, allowing the line to add more adult-friendly venues -- including the most drinking and dining venues of any ship in the line's fleet. Passengers, all of whom must be aged 18 plus to sail, can take advantage of the luxury Champneys Spa with its gorgeous infinity pool, 11 excellent productions -- two of which are exclusive to the ship -- and a gorgeous 'press-for-Champagne' bar called Flutes.
Bonus: Marella is all inclusive, with the1,814-passenger ship including both tips and a selection of drinks (alcoholic and nonalcoholic) in its fares.
Our Favorite Things Aboard Viking Venus
Regent Seven Seas Splendor Returns to the Seas
Love Luxury Resorts? Here's Why You Should Cruise Seabourn
Most Exciting Luxury Cruise Ships For 2021
Ritz Carlton Yacht Collection To Debut In 2020
The Blue Eye Lounge On Ponant's Explorer-class Cruise Ship
5 Ways A Seabourn Cruise Will Make You Feel Special
The Most Luxurious Cruise Ship Suites at Sea - Video Guide
Highlights From Regent Seven Seas Explorer
Crystal Cruises' Submarine -- Cruise Critic Tries It Out On Esprit
Saga Cruises offers small-ship sailings exclusively to passengers over 50 years of age. The line has two ships, the 999-passenger Spirit of Discovery and the 720-passenger Saga Sapphire (to be replaced in 2020 with the 999-passenger Spirit of Adventure). As the line's first new-build, Spirit of Discovery sets a new standard for Saga, elevating it to a more ultra-premium brand in the market. The ship boasts a partnership with Jools Holland, which will see the bandleader perform on several sailings over the next five years.
Fares include all meals (no surcharges for any restaurant), gratuities, Wi-Fi, most drinks (wine with lunch and dinner, soda, house spirits, draft beer and mocktails), fitness classes, transfers to/from the ship and shuttles into town from port.
Viking Ocean Cruises
The minimum age to sail on Viking Ocean Cruises' worldwide sailings is 18. Fares include a shore excursion in every port, Wi-Fi, meals in its multiple onboard restaurant (except The Kitchen Table, which is part shore excursion), self-service laundry and wine, beer and soda with lunch and dinner. (Gratuities and drinks outside of meals cost extra.)
Viking's identical ships carry 930 passengers, and all of its cabins offer private balconies and, arguably, among the most luxurious spas at sea.
When Virgin Voyages launches its first ship in 2020, set to be based out of Miami, Florida, it will offer an adults-only and more (but not all) inclusive big-ship experience. Its 2,750-passenger Scarlet Lady and subsequent vessels will be 18 plus and include basic nonalcoholic drinks, Wi-Fi, gratuities, fitness classes and meals in its fares.
Other Cruise Options
Most All-Inclusive Cruise Line
Regent Seven Seas Cruises offers the most inclusions in its base fares: all tips, all drinks (including mini-bar setups), several shore excursions in every port and shuttles into town, all main and specialty dining, one account of unlimited Wi-Fi per suite, airfare and airport transfers. Its four ships range in size from 490 to 750 passengers.
Summer Alaska and Europe cruises do have a reasonable number of children, so opt for longer and more exotic cruises if you want to minimize kids onboard. For more options, check out our story on the top five luxury all-inclusive cruises.
While not all-inclusive, P&O Cruises offers two adults-only (18+) cruise ships: the 1,874-passenger Aurora and 2,094-passenger Arcadia. The British line is a good option if you want a kid-free experience on a larger ship. Similarly, Marella also offers adults-only sailings on other ships, such as Marella Discovery and Marella Celebration, at certain times of the year, such as term time.
The minimum age to sail on several river cruise lines is 12 to 13 (Emerald Waterways, Grand Circle Cruise Line and Scenic), and 18 on Viking, but most lines discourage kids younger than 8 and the majority of all river cruise sailings have no children at all onboard. River cruises tend to have more inclusive fares, with beer, wine and soda at dinner, plus shore excursions, Wi-Fi and bicycle use generally included.
River cruise lines with all-inclusive fares are Tauck, Scenic, Uniworld and Crystal River Cruises, which additionally offer complimentary airport transfers, all alcoholic drinks (not just at dinner), gratuities, special events (think dinner in a castle) and in-room mini-bars.
Adult-Focused, Small-Ship Cruises
Ultrapremium lines Oceania and Azamara might have fewer fare inclusions than their luxury counterparts, but their small ships are generally less kid-friendly than lines like Regent, Crystal and Seabourn, with no programming at all for junior cruisers.
Azamara, with its three nearly identical vessels carrying roughly 700 passengers, is the more inclusive of the two, covering tips, nonalcoholic drinks, a limited menu of alcoholic beverages (select standard liquors and beers, plus house wines), self-service laundry and a special shoreside event, called an AzAmazing Evening, on every cruise.
Six-ship cruise line Oceania includes only Wi-Fi, nonalcoholic drinks and meals in main and specialty restaurants. However, it often runs a booking promotion that gives cruisers complimentary airfare and a choice of free shore excursions, beverage package or onboard credit.