On a cruise honeymoon, you get exotic destinations, lodging, meals, entertainment and transportation — all in one no-brainer package that delivers more escape for the money. But of the hundreds of ships that ply the sea, which is best for you and yours? That depends on your travel style. Easy-breezy or culturally curious? Indolent or adventurous? Gregarious or private? Here, we’ve compiled a dozen ships with high romance IQ’s sailing to climes from tundra to tropical. Read on to find your perfect launch.
Best Caribbean Cruises: Big Ship
The 3,690-passenger Carnival Breeze from Carnival
What you’ll love Newfangled extras here include a water park, a comedy club, a tequila bar and — no kidding — 5-D movies. For some respite: an adults-only deck.
Where to take it Six-day trips to the eastern Caribbean call at Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos, where you can snorkel above a 7,000-foot drop-off. In Jamaica, climb the terraced Dunn’s River Falls and ride a (snow-free) Jamaican bobsled. At Nassau, in the Bahamas, spend the day at Atlantis resort’s water park or sample conch salad at downtown seafood shacks.
Best Caribbean Cruises: Little Ship
The 312-passenger Wind Surf from Windstar Cruises
What you’ll love The five-masted ship anchors in deserted bays where you can go swimming, kayaking or water skiing off the stern’s water-sports platform.
Where to take it The seven-day Yachtsman’s Caribbean itinerary, round-trip from St. Maarten, island-hops in the BVI. Go snorkeling on Tortola, swim around the Baths rock formations on Virgin Gorda and have signature Painkiller cocktails on laid-back Jost Van Dyke, where an overnight call allows you to party late. Then slip on your best sundress for a day amid the swanky set on St. Barth.
Best Mediterranean Cruises: Big Ship
The 2,886-passenger Celebrity Silhouette from Celebrity Cruises
What you’ll love Walk barefoot on the real grass lawn on the top deck. Sample some of the 32 vintages at the wine bar. And take advantage of the DIY scrubs in the water-centric spa.
Where to take it The 13-day Adriatic cruise starts out in Venice and makes its way around the Italian boot to Rome. En route, walk the walls belting the city of Dubrovnik, cycle the villages surrounding the fjord-like Bay of Kotor and swim with dolphins in the island country of Malta. In Italy, taste olive oil, cruise the Amalfi Coast and visit the ruins of Pompeii.
Best Mediterranean Cruises: Little Ship
The 49-passenger S/C Panorama from Variety Cruises
What you’ll love The triple-masted yacht switches to sail power in the right conditions. When it stops in remote coves, you can swim right off the boat.
Where to take it The eight-day Aegean Odyssey in and out of Athens visits freewheeling Greek islands including Mykonos, where the ship overnights, allowing you to sample the area’s ouzo, mezethes (appetizers) and legendary nightlife, and Santorini. (Tip: Rent a moped and hit the black-sand beaches.) Wander around tiny Delos, mythical home of the sun god Apollo, and Ephesus, which has the most magnificent ruins in the region.
Best Pacific Cruises: Big Ship
The 2,138-passenger Pride of America from Norwegian Cruise Line
What you’ll love Shipboard diversions range from lei-making lessons with a Hawaiian expert to whale watching from your balcony.
Where to take it Based in Hawaii, the Pride visits four major islands round-trip from Honolulu in weeklong tours. An overnight call in Maui allows you to catch the sunrise at Haleakala Crater, drive the remote road to tranquil Hana or snorkel offshore at Molokini. Watch the lava flow on the Big Island, and cruise Kauai’s rugged Na Pali Coast.
Best Pacific Cruises: Little Ship
The 332-passenger m/s Paul Gauguin from Paul Gauguin Cruises
What you’ll love Get your scuba training on board, and find Nemo off the stern’s water-sports deck. Wind down afterward with a traditional Polynesian massage.
Where to take it Tour Tahiti and the Society Islands on a seven-night cruise from Papeete to neighboring Raiatea and Tahaa, where you can visit a black-pearl farm, drift-snorkel or kayak a river canyon. Next it’s on to legendary Bora Bora to snorkel or sail its blue lagoon.
Best Bucket-list Cruises: Big Ship
The 922-passenger Crystal Symphony from Crystal Cruises
What you’ll love The ship’s worldly dining options include a sushi bar by chef Nobu Matsuhisa, plus Italian and French restaurants. Sign up for a couples massage in the feng-shui-designed spa.
Where to take it The 12-day Southern Australia Sojourn gets you to five of the most dynamic cities down under, with overnight stays in each. Explore the dramatic 12 Apostles rock stacks outside Melbourne, sample wines of the Barossa Valley near Adelaide, spot the Tasmanian devil in Tasmania, climb the bay bridge in Sydney and drive a bush track in the kangaroo country near Brisbane.
Best Bucket-list Cruises: Little Ship
The 96-passenger National Geographic Endeavour with Lindblad Expeditions
What you’ll love Passage comes with yours-for-the-duration snorkeling gear; kayaks are stowed on board for trips to deserted coves. After frolicking, don’t miss a treatment on the floating massage platform.
Where to take it Lindblad pioneered Galapagos Islands cruises, and a staff of five onboard naturalists and National Geographic photo instructors accompany its 10-day trips. Get as active or lazy as you like; options range from scuba diving to lounging poolside, with plenty of alone time rather than group herding. Catch the early morning light from the summit of Bartolome Island, swim with a sea lion and toast the sunset from the top deck.
Best Cruises for Ship Geeks: Big Ship
The 5,400-passenger Allure of the Seas from Royal Caribbean International
What you’ll love This is the floating home of nonstop wows: boardwalk games, a climbing wall, a surf pool, a 12,000-tree park, water shows with aerial acrobats and a three-level bar.
Where to take it Eight-day trips to the Caribbean stop in Haiti, where you can gaze up at the ship from sea level aboard a WaveRunner; Falmouth, Jamaica, where you can poke around the gingerbread-trimmed buildings in the historic port; and Cozumel, Mexico, for snorkel stops and tangy margaritas. Best of all, you’ll have three full days at sea.
Best Cruises for Ship Geeks: Little Ship
The 86-passenger yacht Safari Endeavor from American Safari Cruises
What you’ll love This small ship offers a wine bar, hot tubs, a sauna, yoga classes, stand-up paddle-boarding and our favorite — hydrophones for listening to whales.
Where to take it The Baja’s Bounty itinerary in Mexico’s Sea of Cortez explores the aquarium-like waters east of Baja, home to more than 800 species of fish and 20 kinds of whales, dolphins and porpoises. Though there are occasional shore calls for hiking, it’s largely about life on and in the water.
Best Alaska Cruises: Big Ship
The 2,670-passenger Sapphire Princess from Princess Cruises
What you’ll love Fresh from a dry-dock overhaul, the ship has three new restaurants, an outdoor movie screen and an adults-only sunning area. Don’t miss whale watching between shots on the nine-hole putting course.
Where to take it The 16-day Inside Passage cruise tour in Alaska combines a week afloat and a week in Denali National Park and on the Kenai Peninsula for a thorough exploration of the 49th state. Roam the tundra before sailing to the calving Hubbard Glacier. En route to Vancouver, Canada, canoe on a glacier lake in Juneau and hike a gold-rush trail in Skagway.
Best Alaska Cruises: Little Ship
The 76-passenger Wilderness Explorer from InnerSea Discoveries
What you’ll love The new ship launches this summer with commodious cabins and extra elbowroom in public spaces. You can stargaze from the hot tub and even watch wildlife on the underwater TV channel.
Where to take it The new Northern Passages & Glacier Bay tour from Juneau to Sitka spends three full days inside Glacier Bay National Park, where rangers and guides lead hiking treks and kayaking excursions. The Explorer pokes into passages bigger ships can’t, including Peril Strait, popular with otters, whales and bears, and Chichagof Island, where the coast is lined with waterfalls.