The best cruise for young adults

Old stereotypes die hard. And that is very true for the cruising industry. Once upon a time, a cruise vacation was only for the over 55s. Activities onboard were mediocre, and the best entertainment was a quiz night.

In recent years all that has changed. Drastically. And we’re here to tell you why you are never too young to cruise. And to give you tips about the best cruise for young adults.

What makes a great cruise experience for younger cruise guests?

Many cruise lines have invested an extraordinary amount in newer, bigger, and more exciting ships at sea. They have deliberately turned their marketing efforts into attracting younger adults, starting with the 20 and 30 somethings.

And that’s not all. We are so relieved that they have realized 55 is the new 40. 

Many 55+ travelers take an instant dislike to anything targeted to over 55s. And that’s because most cruise guests over 55 are no different from those in their 40s. And that is active, adventurous, and looking for a fun cruise experience.

Some are couples, others travel with families on multi-generation cruise trips, and many others choose to cruise solo.

Most families choosing a cruise line expect a great all-around experience for every family member. Think adrenaline-pumping activities, fantastic bars and nightlife, an excellent kids club, and fabulous destinations. You are looking for luxury, relaxation, and great food and drink. And you’re looking to make new friends.

A perfect cruise vacation for young couples, families, and solo travelers

So let’s look at how a cruise vacation is now for everyone. And that includes young adults, the older guests, and everyone else in between. It’s about finding the right cruise for you and your family or just for you as a solo traveler.

Cruising is an ideal holiday for 20 to 30-year-olds. So let’s dispel the myth that it’s for “oldies only.” A luxury cruise ship with fun and active entertainment, activities, and shore excursions, is available at a more reasonable price than you may first imagine.

Outstanding activities and one-of-a-kind experiences

Royal Caribbean is one of the best cruise lines leading the way for daring and exciting activities onboard. They offer outstanding kids’ clubs so Moms and Dads can relax. Their latest cruise ship, Wonder of the Seas, offers surf simulators, dry slides, ice skating, zip lining, and much more. This Oasis-class ship also has fantastic entertainment, ensuring the best cruise for young adults that you could want.

Shows onboard are bigger and better than ever before. Some are Broadway quality. Expect great entertainment every evening in the theater. From stand-up comedians to illusionists, singing stars, and entire broadway productions, you turn up and enjoy a night out. All a short walk away from your cabin.

Water parks, fountains, and giant slides will guarantee to bring out the kid in you, whatever age you are.

Bars of all kinds can be found onboard. The latest technology and brilliant barristers (sometimes robotic) ensure a fantastic atmosphere with musical entertainment to suit all tastes.

It’s time to think beyond the traditional ballroom-style dancing of many earlier cruise ships. While that still exists on certain cruise lines such as Cunard, you will find everything from clubs to karaoke with stunning light shows and laser effects. They rival the most modern dance clubs around.

So how does your cruise line retain loyal (older) cruise guests while attracting the younger generation?

The answer is variety. Most cruise lines offer hundreds of cruise routes and destinations to choose from. Ships of all sizes incorporating different facilities onboard mean that there is most certainly a cruise to suit you. 

The best cruise lines offer a great choice of larger cruise ships. And this means that the design can incorporate many different areas or neighborhoods onboard. This spreads out the guests. If one in 5000 onboard, you can still move about freely without being overcrowded. 

Brilliantly conceived and executed activities, events, dining, and entertainment all fall under the watchful eye of a cruise director. There is, quite simply, so much to choose from you will find that guests do not know all flock to the same thing at the same time. Apart from the dining, perhaps.

The style, variety, and sheer volume of dining possibilities make it impossible not to find the perfect meal that suits you. Cruise lines must and do cater to all tastes. You can inform them of your specific dietary requirements before your cruise, and choices on board should be plenty. And if it’s not, a quiet word to your Maître d’ will soon sort that out.

Kids clubs for young families – from tots to teens

Kid’s clubs and teen clubs are better than ever. They are so good that perhaps your little one will prefer to spend time with new little friends rather than with you while onboard. It has been known. 

Outside of club opening times, there is also the option of babysitting. Gone are the days when you may have once contemplated a cruise but felt you couldn’t enjoy the facilities because you’d been running around after your toddler all day. Help is most certainly at hand in the form of professional care and endless kiddie activities.

Family prices for an all-inclusive vacation and cabins to suit all budgets

A cruise vacation does not have to break the bank. Far from it. More and more young adults are discovering just what value for money a cruise can be. From the beginning, you can choose what you want to include over and above your cabin and dining. And pay upfront. It’s an excellent way to avoid hidden costs along the way.

Take, for example, a family of four, two adults and two children, who book a 4-berth inside cabin. All your meals are included. And if you do not want a drinks package, water, juice, tea, and coffee is available in the buffet restaurant at no extra charge. 

An inside cabin is the lowest price point, meaning cash over can be spent on pre-booked excursions. And now compare this with a 5-star hotel resort where you pay extra for all your meals, drinks, and activities. Then think how much more you get for your hard earned money on board a cruise ship. Remember, kid’s clubs, most entertainment, and many activities are included in the basic cost of your cruise. And there are always deals to be had.

So for the budget-conscious family, and let’s face it, all of us want value for our money, cruise holidays are certainly worth your consideration. Cruise fares vary between cruise lines, but all want to be competitive and win your business. And even once you are booked, you should monitor the price of your cruise. Any price drop and you can ask for the difference to be refunded.

Remember to check the price of your cruise – even after you have booked

If the cost of the exact cruise and cabin category you have chosen is reduced between the time you pay your deposit and the time your final payment is due, ask the cruise line to refund you the difference.

This is not done automatically. You must contact the cruise line yourself and request this. Alternatively, if you have booked through a travel agent, ask them for help. You could save hundreds if not thousands making the best cruises even better.

You unpack your suitcase only once—more time for fun.

If you are looking for a multi-experience vacation but prefer not to island hop, dislike train travel, or do not want the expense of car rental or flights between different locations, then a cruise is for you. Packing is made easy, and you only unpack your cruise essentials once. Your cabin becomes your second home.

The journey from port to port is seamless, and between all the activities and entertainment onboard, you will be at a new destination before you know it. Seriously. What is not to love?

Nightlife and fun, new friends, and extraordinary cultural experiences

A cruise also fits the bill for the young crowd looking for a bachelor or bachelorette party venue or best friends looking for luxury and fun in the same place. Most cruise lines offer short cruises of 2 or 3 nights which makes the perfect weekend getaway and an affordable price. 

A family get-together where there is something for everyone

Love to spend time with your folks but need space to do your own thing too? Or looking for a way for grandparents to spend quality time with the grandkids while you relax? Multi-generation cruises are more popular than ever.

Cruise lines offer large family suites, adjoining cabins, and venues where you can sit together for dinner each evening. It makes for a seriously memorable family holiday. And possibly one of the most relaxing you will ever have.

Which cruise lines are best for the younger crowd or young families?

Most young cruise guests want fun, entertainment with a lively atmosphere, the chance to meet others, and endless activities on board while we are all still active enough to join in.

Choose a newer cruise ship belonging to the Oasis class ships of Royal Caribbean or the new Breakaway Plus class from Norwegian Cruise Line, for example. Bigger ships mean more of everything. These are our firm favorites if you are part of the younger crowd:

Royal Caribbean International

Royal Caribbean (voted time and again as the best cruise line) and their unique Oasis-class ships are the biggest ships at sea. Packed full of activities, you will never be bored. When docked in port, these ships will outsize the neighboring ship, and you will understand that you genuinely are holidaying on a floating resort.

  • Oasis of the Seas
  • Allure of the Seas
  • Harmony of the Seas
  • Symphony of the Seas
  • Wonder of the Seas
  • Icon of the Seas (scheduled for its debut sailing in 2023)
  • Utopia of the Seas (scheduled for its debut sailing in 2024)

Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Cruise Line has an excellent reputation for solo travelers and has solo cabins, so you can avoid paying full fare for a regular-size cabin with single occupancy. They are also popular with young families and travelers for fun activities and their many restaurant choices onboard. Some ships have around 28 different venues where you can choose to eat. They offer a “free at sea” concept where you can choose what you want to include in your cruise at one fixed price. Look at the newer ships in Norwegian’s Breakaway Plus class:

  • Norwegian Encore
  • Norwegian Bliss
  • Norwegian Escape
  • Norwegian Joy

Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival Cruise Line has long been associated with being the party cruise line. It includes themed cruises, famous DJs, and fabulous deck parties that suit young adults looking for fun. You need not look much further if you’re looking for festivities from the moment you board your cruise ship. Our favorite Carnival Cruise Line ship is the newest Carnival Mardi Gras.

And it makes sense that this cruise ship, with the only roller coaster at sea, has its home port in the fun capital of Port Canaveral, Orlando. Young adults and the young at heart will enjoy the party, and Carnival is a less expensive option compared to the Disney cruise line.

Which cruise lines are best for the older crowd who are young at heart?

By this, we mean the older guests still looking for an active adventure.

Many of the cruise lines mentioned above will suit you too. If you still want a good level of activities but without all the bells and whistles, look at Celebrity Cruise Line as a good alternative. Celebrity Cruises has a reputation for attracting a slightly older crowd, with an excellent dining experience onboard while still having great entertainment on board.

Find your inner adventurer with an expedition cruise

But if you are a true adventure seeker looking for something out of the ordinary, expedition cruises may be for you. If you have a more expendable income and a bigger budget, expedition ships can take you on unique adventures to further points on the globe.

While these expedition cruises come at a premium price, they are often unforgettable. You will try new activities you have never thought you would do. You must be fit and active to join in most excursions and make the most of these cruises’ unique opportunities. An ideal choice if you are always looking for action and adventure, no matter your age.

Remember that you choose expedition cruises for the destinations and experiences you will have in these places, not for the activities onboard. Life onboard has a fun but more subdued tone focusing on guest speakers and environmental experts giving lectures. Hence, you fully immerse yourself in the off-the-beaten-track destination experience. Expedition cruises are aimed at adults, with few young families on board.

Top 8 essential search criteria when looking for the best cruise for young adults

  1. Consider shorter cruise trips of between 3 to 5 nights if you have limited travel time or have a lower budget. A short cruise could be the best for young adults looking to celebrate a wedding, bachelor or bachelorette party, or just a few days away with good friends.
  2. Research your itinerary and see how long your ship stays in port daily. If you are lucky to have an overnight stay, you can enjoy the local nightlife the destination offers. Do your own shore excursions to save money, as cruise shore excursions tend to be pricier.
  3. Look for a departure port that is driveable or easy to reach. Cutting down on transportation expenses means more money for the onboard experience.
  4. If you have a young family, look at the kid’s clubs offered by each cruise line. There are often babysitting options too. And by kids clubs, we also mean clubs for teens. So if you are doing a generation trip traveling with a large family, everyone will get the chance to meet other youngsters of a similar age.
  5. If you are younger travelers cruising together, share a cabin to keep down costs. Alternatively, get adjoining cabins to share the fun! Open the connecting door, and you will feel like you and your friends will have more space. Modern cruise ships have many connecting cabins onboard.
  6. Once you have booked, make sure you monitor the price of your cruise. If the price goes down, you can ask the cruise line to refund the difference! So be vigilant and check often. After all, the best cruise for young adults is also one that can save you money along the way.
  7. When you have chosen the cruise line that suits you, sign up for their newsletter. You will get special offers and campaign information in your mailbox.
  8. If your best cruise for young adults is one where you are traveling solo, join the roll call for your chosen cruise on Cruise Critic. In addition, find the Facebook group for your particular cruise and get to know folk before you leave home!

Need more tips on cruising? We’re here to help!

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The 8 best cruise ships for families and kid-friendly cruises

Meet the author: Sarah has created and booked hundreds of travel itineraries for thousands of customers during a career in the travel industry that spans 20 years. Having worked hand in hand with cruise lines, hotels, airlines and tour operators worldwide, she offers inspiring & detailed insights in the world of travel and tourism.

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