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The 13 Best Retirement Cruises for Seniors

With onboard activities, nearly unlimited amounts of food, and gorgeous ports, cruising is a very popular and convenient choice for seniors. Whether it's checking an adventure off a bucket list or relaxing on a deck chair, below are some of the best choices for retirees.

Royal Caribbean InternationalCourtesy Royal Caribbean International

Big ship cruising: Royal Caribbean Symphony of the Seas Caribbean Cruise

While all of the Royal Caribbean ships, and especially the Oasis class ships, offer tons to do, the Symphony of the Seas is the biggest, boldest, and newest of the fleet and one of the best for retirement cruises for seniors. With room for almost 7,000 passengers, it’s also the biggest cruise ship at sea and with so much to do onboard, it almost doesn’t matter where you sail. The Symphony features Broadway-caliber shows, multiple pools, and high-end eats that run from hibachi to Italian to food and wine pairings. This cruise is perfect for the go-getter retirees, ready to dance the night away, indulge their sense of adventure, and enjoy some relaxing delicious meals. But there’s also a Central Park-inspired neighborhood for those looking to take a nice relaxing stroll in their downtime. Find out the 28 secrets cruise lines won’t tell you.

Princess Cruisevia

Alaskan adventure: Princess Cruises Alaska

A Princess Cruise to Alaska has something to satisfy every senior, from the adventure-seeker to the scenic lounger. With sailings through majestic Glacier Bay, you can view the scenery, including the glaciers and wildlife, right from the comfort of your stateroom. Wheelchair users will find access-friendly designs across most of the Princess fleet, making it easy to enjoy each vessel’s restaurants, theaters, spas, lounges, and open deck space. Plus, elevators have a generous 36- to 42-inch doorways, and wheelchair seating is available in show lounges and other public spaces.

Silversea Transoceanic CruiseCourtesy Silversea Cruises

All-inclusive cruising: Silversea Transoceanic Cruises

Long heralded as the most all-inclusive cruise line, Silversea is one of the ideal retirement cruises for seniors. It not only offers a range of onboard activities including cooking classes and dance lessons, but your fare also includes your shore excursions. Another perk of Silversea cruises is that they are more adult-focused and have fewer kids on board than other cruise lines of similar size. And while these ships are smaller and more intimate than Royal Caribbean or Princess, Silversea still offers tons of enrichment programs, dining options, and 24-hour medical facilities. Retirees who have the time can sign up for an 18-day once-in-a-lifetime sailing from Capetown to Ghana. Find out nine more of the best all-inclusive cruises.

Holland America Cuban Explorervia

Head to Havana: Holland America Cuban Explorer

If a trip to Cuba is on your bucket list, on the Holland America Cuban Explorer, cruisers can visit a previously forbidden world, including Havana and Cienfuegos. The recently redone Veendam merges classic old World glamour with new modern amenities, including massage shower heads and plush Euro-top mattresses. The Veendam is small enough for anyone to get around but large enough that it doesn’t feel cramped with lounges galore, tons of dining options, beautiful staterooms, and sublime service.

Viking River Cruises LongshipsCourtesy Viking River Cruises

Riverboat cruising: Viking River Cruises Longships

The hardest part about booking a Viking River cruise is narrowing down the itineraries: From Russia to France to Austria to Egypt, each ship is intimate without feeling cramped; each of the Scandinavian-designed longships feels like a floating hotel. You won’t even have to leave your stateroom to get a scenic view of world capitals and foreign lands. Plus, these ships boast the most al fresco dining at sea, getting you closer to the action along your chosen route. Each sailing offers behind-the-scenes insights, a specially curated library, guest lecturers, and cooking demonstrations. Here are more of the world’s most breathtaking river boat cruises to check out.

Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collectionvia

Luxury onboard: Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection

According to Travel & Leisure, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises topped the list of what cruise goers want, love, and need in river cruises. Leave your wallet at home with these all-inclusive cruises that boast the “most exceptional amenities, experiences, and service.” These smaller ships offer high-end culinary experiences, in-suite butler service, and live up to its tagline, “No request too large, no detail too small.” Uniworld also offers walking sticks and bicycles for use on shore, something seniors will appreciate. If you want to stick closer to home, here are the top American river cruises to book ASAP.

Cunard Queen Mary 2 Transatlanticvia

Solo travel: Cunard Queen Mary 2 Transatlantic

On many cruise lines, solo travelers may feel like the odd man or woman out, that’s not the case on Cunard. On the Queen Mary 2, its Brittania Single Room was designed with the solo traveler in mind, and they’re on prime floors, too, with balconies and views. Solo travelers will find many activities and dining options where they can meet and mingle with their fellow single travelers. Cunard is also known for hosting interesting and eclectic speakers, ranging from Alan Cumming, Tony and Emmy award-winning actor and performer to former model Pat Cleveland, and musician Midge Ure. Another bonus for those traveling alone is that Cunard ships also tend to be more adult-focused.

Norwegian Pride of America Hawaiivia

Hawaii solo: Norwegian Pride of America Hawaii

The Norwegian Epic was the first in the Norwegian Cruise Line fleet to offer studio cabins, and now most of its newer ships, including the Breakaway, Getaway, Escape, and Bliss all offer these cabins that are designed and priced for the solo traveler. Its Pride of America, which is the only ship that sails roundtrip from Honolulu year-round, caught our eye. Pride of America offers more than 15 restaurants and 12 bars and lounges, and also boasts studio cabins with mood lighting, a full-size bed (not a twin), and access to Norwegian’s exclusive Studio Lounge, where solo travelers can meet other like-minded individuals. Here are 11 things to know before you book a Hawaiian vacation.

Royal Caribbean Bahamas holiday cruisevia

Traveling with grandkids: Royal Caribbean Bahamas holiday cruise

According to Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the world’s largest cruise industry trade association, you can expect to see an increase in seniors choosing to travel with their grandchildren without their parents. If this describes you, then you’ll want to choose a ship like Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas. The Anthem sets sail out of Cape Liberty, New Jersey and offers a ton of things to do for seniors and grandkids alike. From bumper cars to trapeze school to adults-only areas, the Anthem has something for everyone. Another perk? For many on the east coast, its New Jersey port is a convenient car ride away. Find out 13 more of the best cruises to take with kids.

Disney Fantasy 7-Night Bahamian Cruisevia

Traveling with the family: Disney Fantasy 7-Night Bahamian Cruise

Imagine a gorgeous cruise ship with all the amenities and services you could ever desire, but that also caters to children, including a kids-only club. That’s the Disney Fantasy. Leaving out of New York City part of the year, many of the Fantasy sailings are themed—such as Halloween on the High Seas and the Very Merrytime Cruise—but the plain old Bahamian cruise hits the spot as well. The ship itself is meant for Disney fanatics with Mickey Mouse ears and Disney touches everywhere, but the adults-only Satellite Falls pool lounge and the adults-only beverage tastings, remind you that this is a luxury ship with first class service. A bonus with the New York sailings is the one-day stop at Orlando, where everyone can get free transportation and park hopper tickets to Disney World. If themed cruises sound appealing, here are some more you should check out now.

Celebrity Floravia

Galapagos up close: Celebrity Flora

Many seniors use their golden years to visit remote destinations they couldn’t swing when they had to worry about vacation days or young kids. According to the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association, 68 percent of cruisers identified the destination of their vacation as the most important factor influencing their vacation choice. For years, Celebrity has offered sailings to the Galapagos, a remote grouping of islands far off the coast of Ecuador, on their Xpedition, Xploration, and Xperience ships, but their newest ship, the Flora, launching in 2019, was designed as the largest and most luxurious to visit these islands. Each stateroom is a suite and offers a personal attendant to help you pack and unpack, and cruisers can enjoy menus curated by a Michelin starred chef. Check out these 12 other bucket list cruises to take in your lifetime.

Princess Cruises World Cruisevia

Time to spare: Princess Cruises World Cruise

According to Princess Cruises, its World Cruise is one of the most popular retirement cruises for seniors. “For travelers who can afford to spend more time at sea, nothing beats the experience of a World Cruise, with sailings lasting up to 111 days,” according to Princess. Along the way, you’ll bond with fellow passengers, enjoy many parties and celebrations, and visit the most far-flung corners of the globe. Princess also offers a book club, a lecture series, and a speaker series with celebrities and notable guests. Plus, there are always wheelchair and handicap accessible cabins on board.

Quark Expeditions Polar Adventures to the Arctic and Antarcticvia

Arctic exploration: Quark Expeditions Polar Adventures to the Arctic and Antarctic

Why stop at six continents when you can sail to the seventh? “With a diverse fleet of specially-equipped small expedition vessels, icebreakers, and unique land-based adventures, Quark offers travelers unparalleled access to the most remote places on earth,” shares a spokesperson. Led by passionate and seasoned expedition teams, including scientists, naturalists and researchers, the onboard program enriches your experience. Quark provides an unforgettable experience for more adventurous seniors, including shore landings, exotic wildlife sightings, and top-notch nature experts, all in the midst of gorgeous landscapes. Find out more of the most underrated travel destinations in the world.

Felissa Benjamin Allard
Felissa Allard has worked at The New York Daily News, Health, Life & Style, and more. As a freelancer, she has had pieces published on What To Expect, SELF, Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan, Modern Mom, Working Mother, and more. Her specialities are beauty, fashion, health, wellness, and parenting.

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