Cruise ship love stories are more common than you think. Credit: Shutterstock

Love boats: Why cruising is the most romantic type of holiday

Author: Nicole Carmichael

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What could be more romantic than a cruise? From ocean to river ships, you’ll find romance on these special voyages.

Even if Cupid’s arrows have been a bit off target lately, you only need to stand on deck as the sun melts into the horizon and the ocean soothingly laps the ship to know that the romance of the moment is irresistible.

So it’s no wonder that cruising is a top choice for honeymooners.

After months of frantic wedding planning, the bride and groom can enjoy a stress-free escape, taking in the sea breeze and the calm of dappled light on the ocean while being whisked from one stunning location to the next.

The only decisions to make are when to have a couples massage and which cocktail to try next.

Even if your own honeymoon is a distant memory, cruising is the perfect way to rekindle a romance - or even spark a new one.

For starters, the stresses that come with other types of holiday are simply taken out of the equation.

On a cruise there’s no quibbling over who’s the designated driver, who’s paying for the coffee this time, whether a restaurant is too expensive or whose job it is to organise a sightseeing trip.

All these things are taken care of, leaving you free to enjoy each other’s company.

If you prefer, you can even go your separate ways during the day, then share your stories over dinner.

And if there just happens to be soft lighting and romantic music playing in the background, well - the years will just melt away.

Solo cruises are a brilliant way to see the world and travel independently. Credit: Shutterstock

Cruises are also an inspired choice for singles who’d prefer not to be. Yes, you’ll probably be sharing the ship with loved-up couples and happy families.

But what about single parents on holiday with their kids? Groups of pals who might also be single and looking to mingle? Or other solo travellers looking for someone special?

A recent survey by Ambassador Cruise Line revealed that two-thirds of solo travellers are looking for love – and they’re clearly looking in the right place.

US relationship therapist Christene Lozano says: ‘Cruises bring people together in various ways, from the buffet line to events on board, increasing the chance of running into the same person multiple times.

This allows them to really build a connection because they’re seeing a lot of each other in a much shorter period of time than if they were back home.’

Saga's popular over 50s cruise line runs exclusive solo voyages. Credit: Shutterstock

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On a practical level, cruises are a reassuringly safe environment for singles, and while other forms of solo travel can get lonely, there’s always someone to chat to on a cruise, on board and on organised excursions ashore.

In fact, it’s almost ridiculously easy to make new friendships – and maybe more.

So whether you’re honeymooning, re-kindling or looking to start a whole new chapter, a cruise ticks all the boxes for romance.

But with so much choice out there, who should you book with?

Seven Seas Navigator is the ideal base for a romantic getaway. Credit: Regent Seven Seas.

The best cruise lines for romantic couples

Regent Seven Seas
Everything about Regent Seven Seas spells luxury, from the elegant interiors to the award-winning cuisine and the quality and choice of unforgettable excursions. What’s more, the price of all excursions is included, so there’s no need for tricky conversations about ‘Can we afford it?’

Get onboard
A 10-night ‘Sunset in Bora Bora’ cruise aboard Seven Seas Navigator, including up to 33 shore excursions in French Polynesia and the South Pacific. Departs January 28, 2024, from £7,219 per person.

Luxury line Oceania offers a more intimate experience on its smaller ships, and there are plenty of romantic excursions to choose from, many with overnight stays and once-in-a-lifetime wellness experiences.

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An 11-night ‘Land of the Rising Sun’ cruise aboard Riviera, round trip from Tokyo, taking in the cherry blossom season with a comprehensive tour of Japan including the chance to bathe in the rejuvenating hot springs of Beppu. Departs April 1, 2024, from £5,579 per person.

A traditional luxury line geared to adults travelling without children, Azamara is noted for its AzAmazing Evenings – private bespoke events and one-of-a-kind experiences that you won’t get any other way.

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A 15-night ‘Voyage to the Ends of the Earth’ aboard Azamara Quest, taking in the snow-capped volcanoes, glacial lakes and fjords of Chile, plus a chance to learn the romantic tango in Argentina. Departs January 7, 2024, from £2,532 per person.

Make the most of a tall ship voyage. Credit: Star Clippers

Each Uniworld ship is a floating boutique hotel, with unique interiors inspired by the destinations it cruises to.

From the sumptuous cabins equipped with the same beds as the Savoy Hotel to fabulous restaurants and some of the most amazing bars we have ever seen on a ship, a Uniworld cruise offers everything you need for the perfect romantic getaway.

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A seven-night ‘Venice & the Jewels of Veneto’ cruise, round trip from Venice, taking in quiet romantic lagoons and a private tour of Saint Mark’s Basilica. Departs April 7, 2024, from £3,059 per person.

"It’s yachting, not cruising," says Seadream, which is rightly proud of its two stunning superyachts. Offering a taste of the billionaire lifestyle for just 56 couples each time, these voyages and are very much geared to special-occasion travel, with award-winning dining and an exclusive sunrise or sunset Romance Ceremony.

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A six-night ‘Best of the British Virgin Islands & St Barts’ cruise aboard SeaDream II, round trip from Saint Maarten, visiting some of the world’s most romantic beaches and most awe-inspiring coral reefs. Departs 16 December 2023, from £3,332 per person.

Star Clippers
What could be more romantic than life under sail in a traditional tall ship? For an extra-special cruising experience, Star Clippers is hard to beat, offering the luxuries and atmosphere of a private yacht.

And if you’re thinking of popping the question, imagine doing it out on deck, champagne on ice, as the sunset turns the sea to liquid gold…

Get onboard
A seven
-night ‘Yachtsman’s Paradise’ cruise aboard Star Clipper, from Istanbul to Athens, taking in some of the dreamiest Greek islands. Departing 1 June 2024, from £1,665 per person.

Did you know that you can get married onboard with Princess Cruises? Credit: Princess Cruises

Tie the knot onboard

Cruise ships are essentially floating hotels, with everything a nuptial venue needs – plus the bonus of a built-in honeymoon – so many cruise lines offer special wedding packages.

Guests can join you on your cruise, or you can choose to say ‘I do’ on embarkation day – in which case your nearest and dearest can visit for the ceremony but you can enjoy a private honeymoon (and no danger of bumping into auntie Joan in the Jacuzzi).

The likes of Celebrity, Princess, Cunard, Royal Caribbean, NCL and P&O all provide designated wedding planners who will arrange everything for your big day, so your choice comes down to style and budget.

And it needn’t cost a fortune – P&O has a ‘Wedding at Sea’ deal for up to 10 guests at just £2,210, including cake, champagne toast, bridal hair and make-up and breakfast in bed for the newlyweds.

Alternatively, Cunard’s Ceremonies at Sea package starts at £2,680, with optional extras including live music, floral decorations and gifts.

Royal Caribbean offers a highly flexible plan with three different wedding photography packages and several bar service options, priced per person, per hour.

Lots of options are available but, as always with wedding planning, you’ll need a calculator to hand.

The ceremony takes place in either the onboard wedding chapel or the library. Credit: Princess Cruises

As for style, whether you want formal or fun, intimate or extravagant, there’s a cruise line that will provide it. For a fairytale wedding at sea, you can’t beat Disney Cruise Line. Or perhaps you’d like your wedding photos snapped on MSC’s Swarovski crystal-encrusted staircases?

You can also ask the ship’s captain if he will officiate – which is a perk on certain cruise lines – though this will be purely ceremonial, so you’ll need to tie the knot officially elsewhere. It’s possible to do this in port, but rules differ from country to country and there may be a lot of paperwork (your cruise line’s wedding planner will be able to assist with this).

Whichever cruise line you choose for your wedding, there’s one thing you can be sure of – you’ll be well looked after, and even upgraded as a VIP. So whether it’s your first time at the altar or you simply want to renew your vows, there’s no more romantic way to say: "I love you."

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