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Caviar, petal-strewn baths & luxury suites: The world’s most romantic cruises

Whether you embark on a river rendezvous or sail the seas, cruises are a perfect way to spark romance and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Words by Momtaz Begum-Hossain

Travelling as a couple is always magical; whether it’s your first vacation or you’re marking a special anniversary, nothing is more memorable than booking a romantic cruise.

You’ll spend quality time away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and swap it for beautiful surroundings and a touch of luxury, where the only thing that matters is the two of you.

A romantic cruise is the perfect tonic to breathe energy and excitement into a relationship, travelling the world in the most enchanting way imaginable.

But while all cruising has its charm, not all cruises are created equal. Some can transport you to an unadulterated world of pleasure, glamour and extravagance and it’s these that tick the box for ‘the world’s most romantic cruises.’

If a romantic cruise with the love of your life is on your travel bucket list, look no further. We’ve compiled the ultimate list of the most romantic cruises in the world and to help you find the right one we asked cruise-loving couples to share what makes the idyllic romantic cruise – champagne room service and dreamy sunsets are just the beginning.

Cruise enthusiasts Mark and Nathan Kollaszar explain: “The wonderful thing about cruising is that you can have a wild and crazy adventure with the person you love onshore and then return to your cruise ship and have a quiet romantic dinner. You’re getting the best of both worlds. It’s a total win-win.”

Best romantic cruise... for destination: South Pacific and Tahiti

Oceania Cruises

Sail across the South Pacific on a dreamy voyage through French Polynesia. The Papeete to Papeete, Tahitian Legends itinerary with Oceania Cruises is a 10-day intimate adventure on a small ship that ventures through a tropical paradise.

You’ll soak up stunning vistas arm-in-arm as you sail through the Tahitian sea, spend your days on relaxing beach excursions surrounded by warm crystal clear waters perfect for snorkelling or embark on an exhilarating jeep safari.

For the ultimate romantic cruise experience, book to stay in Oceania’s Owner’s Suite. It’s the most luxurious accommodation on the ship and comes with 24-hour butler service. Expect an A-list welcome – you’ll be treated to exquisite gifts on arrival including champagne and a Bulgari gift set.

Of course, it wouldn’t be one of the world’s most romantic cruises without a visit to ultimate lovers’ destination Bora Bora – and you’ll have plenty of time to explore this bejewelled lagoon that’s home to exotic islands as part of your Tahitian travels together.

Best romantic cruise... for accommodation: Icon of The Seas

Royal Caribbean

The romantic cruise of a lifetime starts aboard Icon of The Seas, setting sail on its first voyage in 2024; bookings are now open for this luxurious new ship which has some of the best cruise accommodations we’ve ever seen.

If you’re planning a proposal, honeymoon or have a special occasion on the horizon such as a birthday or anniversary, this is where to spend it.

Rooms aboard the cruise include Sunset Suites, in which beds faces the sea and cabins come with a wrap-around balcony giving guests uninterrupted private views of the glowing Caribbean skies.

We also recommend you check out the Royal Loft Suites (above) where you’ll have no problem making a home from home. These suites come with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living area, dining area and expansive ocean views. There are also Icon Lofts that have floor-to-ceiling windows so if you want to get fully immersed in ocean life you can enjoy sea views all day and all night.

And when you’re not enjoying the comfort of your suite there’s much to explore. Mark and Nathan Kollaszar (above) fell in love with cruising so much that they launched their own cruise travel agency.

The pair are big fans of the activities onboard Royal Caribbean cruises: “The bigger cruise ships have their advantages. You and your partner can try things you’ve never done like rock climbing, surfing and even ice skating. These are all activities you can find on many of the Royal Caribbean ships and they’re a great way to spend quality couple time.”

Best romantic cruise... for dining: SeaDream Yacht Club

West Indies

Feast on the most succulent seafood you’ve ever sampled at an island BBQ and spend cosy time sipping on champagne and snacking on caviar. Foodies – this one’s for you!

SeaDream’s yacht adventures are intimate voyages taking you to dream destinations such as Saint Lucia, Barbados and the British Virgin Islands.

All meals are gourmet five-star dining experiences cooked with fresh local produce and any dietary requirements can be catered for.

With just over 100 guests on board, they’re a great way to connect with other sailors if you’re feeling sociable, or if you fancy some alone time you can arrange for private dining without any disturbances.

For content creators and travel lovers Eulanda and Omo who blog at Hey! Dip Your Toes In, this level of flexibility is what sets cruising apart from other types of vacation: “Some of the more commercial cruise liners have a variety of dining experiences so you’ll be spoilt for choice,” they detailed.

“You don’t always want to dine with others when you’re on vacation and some of our favourite memories are enjoying room service when we’ve sipped champagne and enjoyed pastries while watching the sunrise.

“We also love smaller yachts; you get real attention from the chefs who go out of their way to ensure your dining experience is exceptional whatever your dietary requirements.”

SeaDream offers an impressive tea menu while the onboard bars are stocked with premium drinks that connoisseurs will appreciate. The desserts are to die for but it’s the Signature Champagne & Caviar Splash (above) that makes these cruises so special.

The champagne starts to flow at the sound of the ship’s horn and caviar is served to celebrate the yachting life. The event continues with a gourmet beach barbecue served on bone china to preserve the perfect flavour. Alfresco dining will never feel the same again.

Best romantic cruise... for activities: Paris & The Heart of Normandy

Viking River Cruises

A voyage that celebrates history, art, food and culture, venturing through the most romantic city in the world, this romantic French cruise with Viking (above) ensures lovebirds will find their own private paradise.

Mark and Nathan are big fans of river cruising: “River cruises are an excellent option if you want that quiet one-on-one time in a small intimate setting. In terms of romance, river cruises definitely win over classic big ships.”

You’ll begin and end your voyage on this Paris-to-Paris trip in the city of romance where you can stroll in front of the Eiffel Tower, go shopping and share sweet treats in the colourful patisseries before departure.

Once you’ve savoured the Parisian delights your river voyage will transport you to the beaches of Normandy, the cobbled streets of Vernon, the Gothic architectural wonders of Rouen and the artistic heritage of Giverny.

Here, you’ll discover the charming house and gardens where artist Claude Monet lived and worked. It was the setting that inspired many of his masterpieces and it makes for the ideal backdrop to take perfect couple photos.

It can be a real highlight when you look back at the memories as Eulanda and Omo explain: “The secret to getting great couple shots is to think about the time of day and to find the right location. Scout out the vessel first and find places that have less foot traffic so you won’t get disturbed.

“The golden hour just before sunset can give great lighting. A good way to get couple shots is to find another couple on board and take photos of each other. You could arrange to meet 45 minutes before dinner, get dressed up and then conduct an impromptu shoot, it’s so much fun!”

If you’ve already visited Paris and are keen to return, this cruise gives you a whole new way to experience the city and if you’re heading to it for the first time, this is the most glamorous way to discover Parisian life.

Best romantic cruise... for pampering: Serene Spa & Wellness

Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Get us aboard now! You can’t get more indulgent than whiling away a few hours cruising while being attended to by some of the best therapists in the world. Switch off, loosen up and let the aromas of your treatment room help you drift off into a cocoon of bliss.

Rejuvenate your mind and body with luxurious treatments at the Serene Spa & Wellness facilities (above, right) you’ll find on Regent Seven Seas Cruises. The treatments here are inspired by the destinations you’re visiting.

A spa pampering session is a guaranteed way to dial up the romance on a cruise, according to Eulanda and Omo (above, left). They explain: “We’ve sampled some incredible cruise ship spas over the years. And they aren’t just treatment rooms but beautifully designed suites with so much attention to detail.

“We recommend having treatments together and also using wellness facilities like hydrotherapy pools or saunas, they’ll bring you closer together.”

For the ultimate in quality time, book the ‘Serenity for Two’ experience. You’ll lay side-by-side and receive pampering massages at the same time.

You can also lie back in petal-strewn baths and there are endless therapies to try like warming body wraps and beauty rituals. There’s no shame in booking a daily treatment to take advantage of the incredible service, we won’t tell anyone!

Best romantic cruise... for privacy: Zambezi Queen

Aardvark Safaris

If you’re seeking an experience that has a more intimate setting over the vastness of a classic cruise then a river adventure on a smaller vessel is ideal. Spend three nights aboard the Zambezi Queen on the Chobe River cruise, arriving in Zambia and exploring the waterways of Namibia; one of the most remote, beautiful destinations in the world.

There are just 14 suites aboard this five-star 42-metre long luxury houseboat. Each suite has a private balcony in which you can cuddle up and take in unobstructed views of the lush Chobe River and the breathtaking African landscape beyond.

Awake to the poetic sight of an elephant drinking from the river or watch an osprey take flight and tuck into a freshly cooked feast made with local ingredients all from the comfort of your bed.

A precious and priceless experience that feels like a million miles away from home, it gives you secrecy and seclusion to simply be, do nothing and make time for each other.

This type of cruise is a dream experience, as Eulanda and Omo explain: “Last year we did a yacht trip with just 14 people and it immediately felt more romantic. But it’s not just being with fewer people, due to the nature of a smaller vessel you don’t stop at the huge ports. Instead, you disembark at incredible places, that you otherwise would never see and these heighten the magic of your trip.”

No partner? No problem!

Love is in the waves…

If you’re a solo traveller don’t fret. Everybody can enjoy the romance of a cruise. And you never know, you may find love when you least expect it as Mark and Nathan enthuse: “A cruise is an excellent way to not only meet other people but possibly your significant other.

“During our travels, we have talked with dozens and dozens of people who met their spouses on a cruise ship. Many of the crew have met their spouses as well during their contracts working on cruise ships. Cruises and love just go together.

“And if you’re feeling extra naughty and sassy, a Virgin Voyage cruise (above) is a great option. This no-kids cruise line is the perfect mix of naughty and nice where adults can have fun and not have to worry about the kids walking in!”

Published 11.02.23