Everything You Need to Know About Booking a Honeymoon Cruise
Here's what to consider when honeymooning on the water, according to travel experts.
By the time you’ve finalized your wedding’s guest list, figured out your menu, and fronted all your deposits, you may not really have the energy or brain power to plan all the details of a honeymoon vacation. Some couples may find it most relaxing to choose something uncomplicated, where the itinerary is already booked for you—like a romantic cruise. “The last thing most couples want to do is coordinate a complicated honeymoon after planning a wedding,” shares Karen Thomas, senior director of brand marketing and external communications at Seabourn, a luxury cruise line. “A cruise makes things easy as your accommodations, meals, activities, and entertainment are all taken care of with a few clicks of a keyboard or a phone call to a travel agent who can help plan your trip.”
In addition to that, couples can look forward to getting a significant amount of sightseeing in while maintaining one home base (no hotel hopping, no packing up your bags every few days). “There’s something to be said about never having to worry about travel hassles like getting from Point A to Point B, or how to decipher train schedules in another language—an excellent first married fight said no one ever!” says Dianna Rom, Vice President of Sales for Windstar Cruises. “Plus, you won’t have to waste any time checking in and out of hotels and you don’t need to unpack and pack a suitcase multiple times.”
Not only will the consistent home base provide that sense of home-away-from-home, but couples will truly have their pick of romantic destinations when choosing the best cruise line for their ideal vacation. Some dreamy examples: A Uniworld French river cruise begins in Paris, then takes guests through the French countryside to explore chateaus, the gardens of Monet, and D-Day’s Normandy beaches. Windstar sails to some of the world’s most romantic places, including Tahiti and the Tuamotu/Marquesas Islands in the South Pacific, while Virgin Voyages offers honeymooners amorous journeys from Tuscany to Ibiza. And there are a lot more.
Sounds downright dreamy, right? Ahead, find advice from travel experts about how to navigate booking the honeymoon cruise of a lifetime, from choosing a destination and cruise line to considering things like budget, adults-only experiences, and more.
Karen Thomas is the senior director of brand marketing and external communications at Seabourn, a luxury cruise line.
Brad Ball is a media spokesperson for Silversea cruises.
Dianna Rom is the vice president of sales for Windstar Cruises.
Kara Bebell is a honeymoon and destination wedding expert at Travel Siblings, a Virtuoso Agency in New York, New York.
Farah Barhorst is the senior manager of guest experience and product development for Holland America.
Related:Best Honeymoon Cruise Lines of 2023
Evaluate Your Budget and Look for Honeymoon Package Options
If you spent an arm and a leg on a once-in-a-lifetime dress or a 10-piece band for your wedding, it’s understandable why spending a lot of money for a honeymoon could have you feeling uneasy. Yet, except for miscellaneous on-board charges or items you may purchase in port areas, there typically aren't many unexpected costs or add-ons to worry about when taking a cruise (translation: no surprise credit card charges once you return from your honeymoon). “That’s the beauty of door-to-door fares that include everything from flights, transfers, food and beverage, tipping, WiFi, on-board entertainment, and shore excursions,” says Brad Ball, a Silversea cruise spokesperson.
Many cruise lines also promote specific honeymoon-inclusive romance packages: On Norwegian Cruise Line, newlyweds can celebrate their nuptials with in-room treats such as breakfast in bed, couples' massages, and chocolate-covered strawberries. Holland America Line offers extras like a dozen red roses and complimentary robes, and on Aqua Expeditions, honeymooners are presented with a heart-shaped chocolate cake and a bottle of champagne along with a bed sprinkled with flower petals. Silversea’s butlers can create any romantic experience a couple may desire, including an in-room private dinner and aromatherapy bath.
Consider Booking an Adults-Only Cruise
If kids running around a pool for hours isn’t your idea of a romantic or relaxing honeymoon, consider an adults-only cruise line, like Viking or Virgin Voyages, where guests need to be at least 18 years of age to sail. Or, one that provides an adult-only private area on the ship, like Celebrity Retreat and Norwegian’s The Haven, where guests have exclusive access to concierges, sundecks, restaurants, and lounges (Royal Caribbean, Princess Cruises, and Holland America Line also promote cruise-within-a-cruise offerings). Azamara and Oceania Cruises accept guests of any age, but they discourage families from sailing with children under 18 years old as they don’t offer children’s or babysitting services. If you do honeymoon on a ship that allows kids: “Try to avoid holiday sailings,” advises Kara Bebell, a honeymoon and destination wedding expert at Travel Siblings, a Virtuoso Agency in New York, New York.
Related:The Best Adults-Only Honeymoon Resorts
Look at the Cuisine Offerings and Chef-Owned Restaurants
One of the best parts of honeymooning is getting the chance to indulge in delicious and elevated meals with your new spouse—and if you're a foodie couple, some cruises are really tailored toward specialty dining experiences, so consider that element when choosing a cruise line and itinerary. Many of the cruise menus found on ships have been designed by the world’s leading chefs: On Celebrity Beyond, guests can enjoy meals at Le Voyage, Daniel Boulud’s 45-seat restaurant at sea. On Aqua Expedition’s Aqua Mekong, an immersive cultural journey is inspired by Michelin-starred chef David Thompson. Oceania has meals curated by celebrity chef Jacques Pepin and Ponant and Holland America Line’s menus have been designed by James Beard Award winners, Alain Ducasse and David Burke, respectively. The Chef’s Table on Viking (where sommeliers and culinary masters create the perfect pairing of food and wine during a multi-course tasting) and S.A.L.T. (an immersive culinary concept that brings authenticity to Silversea’s cuisine through locally sourced products, market trips, and visiting chef demonstrations) are just two examples of unique oceanic-based food programs. Looking to eat healthy? Lines such as Windstar are debuting gluten-free, vegan menus with no added salt or oil in addition to their existing omnivore and vegetarian options.
Think About How Adventurous You Want to Be
“Couples can choose what type of lifestyle they’d like to adapt once on board—starting their day with breakfast in bed as they watch the coastline pass or on an adventurous excursion. Or both!” says Farah Barhorst, the senior manager of guest experience and product development for Holland America. For couples who equate fun with adventure, expedition ships in far-flung places like the Antarctic or those closer to home in the Great Lakes and Canada bring excitement to the seas. On Viking, you can cruise to all three of these regions with opportunities to hike the land and learn about wildlife or dive beneath the ocean’s surface in one of their expedition ship’s submarines. On Seabourn Venture, couples can celebrate in Antarctica and the Arctic alongside a 26-person onboard expedition team made up of naturalists, historians, and scientists.
But expedition ships aren’t the only place you’ll find fun. From helicoptering over glaciers in Alaska, zip-lining through Costa Rican jungles, hiking a volcano in Iceland, or navigating a quad bike in Australia, Holland America Line offers a bounty of options for honeymooners looking for unique adventures. And on Norwegian Cruise Line’s sailing to Hawaii, honeymooners will find an array of romantic excursions from snorkeling with turtles in Molokini Crater to watching a sunset from above the clouds on the top of Summit Haleakala.
However, if you’re simply exhausted after all the wedding madness or don’t have the energy for sightseeing and would rather stay on the ship and luxuriate, you can absolutely do that too. Today’s cruise lines provide plenty of on-site offerings from cooking and photography classes to wine tasting to talks with famous guest lecturers to keep you busy.
Related:20 Adventure Honeymoon Destinations for Thrill-Seeking Couples
Research Romantic Activities Offered Aboard the Ship
There’s nothing more romantic than looking up at the stars, your new spouse’s arms wrapped around your waist. Many cruise lines have tapped into that moment by offering nighttime programs such as Celebrity’s Glamping and Stargazing in the Galapagos, which starts with a dinner featuring campfire-themed treats and cocktails, followed by a naturalist-guided stargazing session under the stars and an overnight in a cabana. On SeaDream’s fleet of yachts, you can camp out overnight on a Balinese bed, while honeymooners on two of Lindblad Expeditions' National Geographic ships gather around a deckside fire pit and sleep overnight in igloos that come with a mattress and a duvet warmed by hot water bottles.
If you prefer to stay in your room, a butler will arrange a dinner on your veranda that includes cozy blankets, candles, and a heater as you look out at the glacial landscape on Silversea in the Antarctic, while Virgin Voyages has placed custom-designed hammocks, handwoven by artisans from Yellow Leaf (a social enterprise that fosters women's empowerment in rural Thailand) on all their terraces (their rooms also feature mood lighting that reflects the blue seas and gold to purple sunsets outside).
Unwind Post-Wedding by Booking Wellness Experiences
For honeymooners looking to recharge after months of stressful wedding planning, a relaxing spa-at-sea experience is just another reason to book a cruise—and you may want to consider booking these experiences within the first days of cruising so that you can unwind right away.
From seaweed wraps to acupuncture to meditation and yoga classes, treatments on cruise ships rival any you’d find on land. On Norwegian, guests can soak in a flotation salt pool and experience the industry’s only charcoal sauna to help remove toxins from the body and on Seabourn, integrative medicine expert Dr. Andrew Weil has created a program that integrates physical, environmental, and spiritual well-being.
More good news: Access to these services is free of charge on many cruise lines, like the Scandinavian-style facilities on Viking (think: A snow grotto and heated loungers) or a 60-minute couples massage on two of Aqua Expeditions ships. And if you’re looking to relax in your suite, honeymooners can almost always request complimentary in-room offerings like yoga mats and meditation pillows on ships like Celebrity.