Cruise ships serve a lot of different passengers, from couples to families and groups of friends. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a romantic cruise experience on just about any ship. Here, six of our top “must-do” moments for two, and the ships with the best offerings:
1. Eat outside beneath a starry sky.
Watch the stars come out over dinner. - Photo by Azamara Club Cruises
You’ll find many gorgeous dining rooms on cruise ships, from main ones that serve complimentary meals to specialty and fine dining restaurants with more intimate spaces, attention to detail in the food itself, and vigilant service. But the eateries we think are the most romantic of all are those that let you dine outside. Our opinion: There’s just no substitute for the smell of sea air and the sound of crashing waves.
2. Commandeer a hot tub.
Celebrity Cruises' Solarium - Photo by Celebrity Cruises
After dinner, when everyone else is heading to stage shows, bars, and comedy clubs, head back to your cabin and change into your swimsuit. Then proceed up on deck and find a hot tub — chances are you’ll have it all to yourselves. As a result, the poolside bar will probably be closed, so if you want cocktails with your steamy soak, pick up a pair on your way.
One to Consider: Celebrity Cruises’ five Solstice-class ships have open-air hot tubs as well as those in the Solarium area, where the water features light up at night and the temperature is just right, even if it’s chilly outside.
3. Schedule a date night in port.
Azamara's White Night - Photo by Azamara Club Cruises
Sure, you can tell yourselves you already paid for dinner onboard. But what’s so indulgent about that? If your ship is overnighting in a port with a great restaurant scene — and many of the smaller lines are increasingly doing this — there may be no more romantic experience on your trip than the dinner you share together in, say, St. Barths, Hong Kong, Amsterdam, or Barcelona, Spain.
One to Consider: Crystal Cruises, Oceania Cruises, Seabourn Cruise Line, and Silversea Cruises all offer overnights in some ports, but Azamara Club Cruises gets credit for starting the trend. The line offers overnights in Venice, Italy, where you can find a seafood restaurant on a canal and even take a gondola ride.
4. Sleep under the stars.
SeaDream's Balinese daybeds - Photo SeaDream Yacht Club
Although it may sound lovely to keep your balcony door open at night, chances are when the ship picks up speed, the rattling would keep — or at least startle — awake all but the deepest sleepers.
One to Consider: The only line that offers the option of sleeping on deck is SeaDream Yacht Club — and the line does it well. It takes its Balinese daybeds, which are designed for two people to begin with, and dresses them in sheets, pillows, and blankets. When you reserve your daybed, ask for the one with the most privacy, as not all locations are created equal.
5. Reserve a cabana for two.
Private Cabana on Labadee, Royal Caribbean's private island - Photo by SIME / eStockPhoto
Cruise ship decks can be very loud. Amid movies showing on the big screen, a band playing, and kids running around or lining up for pizza and ice cream, many lido deck spaces are actually some of the least romantic onboard.
One to Consider: Princess Cruises’ new Regal Princess and Royal Princess feature cabanas around the smaller but much quieter adult-only pool that can be rented for full or half days. These quiet, curtained duos of lounge chairs feel like an oasis in the middle of the resort-style lido deck, but they fill up quickly on many sailings. Be sure to book early if you want a sea day.
6. Order a private meal on your balcony.
Invite a friend for a private meal for two with Crystal's veranda service. - Photo by Crystal Cruises
Just about every ship serves room service at breakfast, but what and how elegantly varies widely. You may not be thinking about plastic-wrapped plates, but that is often how the dishes come.
One to Consider: Crystal will let you order dinner, and your butler will serve it course by course, either in your cabin or on your veranda. Best of all, not only can you order from the main dining room menu, but you can also choose items from Prego (the Italian trattoria) and Silk Road (the Japanese restaurant). Don’t like to dress up, or don’t want to pack fancy clothes? Order room service on formal night.