Senior couple on a cruise (Photo: The Art of Pics/Shutterstock.com)
Senior couple on a cruise (Photo: The Art of Pics/Shutterstock.com)
Cruises for seniors aren’t that different from cruises for younger generations. Senior cruisers want a memorable experience with cultural enrichment, sophisticated dining, a bit of low-impact adventure and bucket list destinations. Oh, and like everyone else, seniors want cruise deals. That may mean deals on cruises for single seniors or all-inclusive cruises that make planning easier for seniors.
When looking for the best cruise lines for senior travelers, Cruise Critic sought out lines that cater more to adults than children, though several of our choices feature activities for seniors as well as families. Many can also accommodate limited mobility issues with advanced notice.
Read on for our list of the best cruises for seniors and find the line that checks all of your boxes before booking your next cruise.
Viking Cruises offers river, ocean and expedition sailings. The line targets well-traveled adults 50 years of age and older who are interested in history, art, science, local culture and cuisine. All Viking ships are adults-only, making them ideal senior cruises for those looking to escape the more child-friendly vibe of other lines.
Viking cruises offer inclusive pricing, covering all meals, beer and wine during lunch and dinner, port charges, internet access, lectures, activities and at least one shore excursion in every port.
Why Viking Is Great for Senior Cruisers: Viking goes deep on education, both with its shore excursions and onboard programming . Viking River cruises include bucket-list experiences. For example, you can book a Viking Rhine River cruise that starts in Paris, sails both the Moselle and the Rhine, then ends in the Swiss Alps. Accommodations and transfers are included in the package.
Viking Ocean cruises also offer educational extras, including cooking classes at The Kitchen Table . You'll also find resident historians that give lectures that relate to Viking's ocean itineraries. Viking does not have casinos, and much of the onboard entertainment focuses on cultural enrichment (not to mention one of the best spa thermal suites at sea). Destinations are both popular and exotic, ranging from Alaska to the Mediterranean and Iceland.
Viking’s new expedition ships have a protected slip that allows passengers to board small Zodiac vessels inside, as opposed to doing so while exposed to outdoor elements. Cabins with sunrooms and windows that lower for fresh air, as opposed to balconies, mean that senior cruisers can stay cozy, even in chilly conditions.
Related: What It's Like Sailing the Great Lakes With Viking
Holland America cruise line (HAL) has long been popular with seniors, both for the destinations where they travel and entertainment options onboard. The ships are easy to get around, and typically do not have many young children (although Holland America Alaska cruises attract multi-generational families cruising together). The line also has a fair number of bucket-list trips through the Panama Canal, South Pacific, Australia and Africa, as well as a World Cruise that is more affordable than most.
Why HAL Is Great for Seniors: THolland America’s shore excursion program, EXC In-Depth Voyages, appeals to well-traveled individuals looking for more comprehensive information about a destination, the local culture and customs. Trivia takes place at all hours, and HAL has onboard partnerships with BBC Earth, Lincoln Center, B.B. King's , Rolling Stone and Oprah's Book Club. Culinary experiences include a partnership with America's Test Kitchen, up to five specialty dining venues, and on three ships you'll find innovative BLEND by Chateau Ste. Michelle.
As one of the most disability-friendly lines in the industry, accessible staterooms are available on all Holland America cruise ships. Passengers can make arrangements ahead of time with the Access & Compliance Department to secure wheelchairs, scooters and other amenities to support any disability issues. This department will provide several outside companies the line works with and help coordinate the process before departure. Alternatively, cruisers can bring their own wheelchairs or scooters onboard.
Related: What to Know About HAL's Private Island, Half Moon Cay
Silversea cruises are all-inclusive senior-friendly cruises at their best. The line offers all-suite, ultra-luxury ships in both ocean and expedition categories. They appeal to the mature, discerning traveler in search of an upscale experience with highly personalized service. Its ships sail to more than 900 destinations on all seven continents and provide many once-in-a-lifetime experiences. The all-inclusive pricing covers all-suite accommodations, gourmet dining, alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages and wines, onboard lectures, gratuities and -- on expedition cruises only -- excursions.
Why Silversea Is Great for Seniors: Silversea's suites come with a dedicated butler that handles everything from unpacking luggage to making dinner reservations and keeping your preferred beverage well-stocked during the cruise. The Silver Shore Concierge can make arrangements for individually curated tours as well as Mid-Cruise Land Adventures tours that are arranged between ports of call so cruisers can meet the ship at the next destination.
Silversea was known for its expedition-style cruises before it even had a true purpose-built expedition ship ( Silver Explorer ). Silversea Alaska cruises allow active seniors to enjoy hiking, kayaking, and Zodiac tours with the onboard expedition team included in the fare. The same applies to destinations like Greenland and Iceland, South America, and the South Pacific.
The main dining room and themed dining options are impressive. Depending on the ship, specialty restaurants include the French fare at Le Dame by Relais & Chateaux; Indochine and Seishin, serving Asian-inspired cuisine; or La Terrazza, honoring the Italian heritage of the family-owned cruise line. New ships boast S.A.L.T., a culinary adventure program that delves into local cuisines.
All of Silversea's ships (except expedition vessels) accommodate wheelchairs and scooters. The line's low single supplement is an attractive incentive for widows and widowers, and anyone else traveling solo. Men of a certain age are onboard many cruises to serve as gentlemen hosts, socializing, dining and dancing with the single ladies onboard.
Related: What Is Silversea's S.A.L.T. Program?
The Cunard cruise fleet appeals to traditionalists, but that doesn't mean the experience isn't modern and fun. While the Queen Mary 2 specializes in crossings between New York and Southampton, the other two ships in the fleet bring the line's British flavor to other regions of the world.
Why Cunard Is Great for Seniors: Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 is built for leisurely sea days, with a full array of lectures , films and onboard activities, as well as one of the largest libraries at sea. There's a planetarium onboard, with star shows three times a day. And no one wants to miss the traditional tea in the Queens Room, or the fish and chips in the Golden Lion Pub.
One feature of all Cunard cruise ships is the more formal vibe . Seniors who want to get their dressy duds out of the closet will be in heaven; the most casual nights onboard still require a cocktail dress.
For seniors cruising solo, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria each have nine midship single-occupancy cabins; eight are ocean-view cabins, while the ninth is a standard inside cabin. Queen Mary 2, meanwhile, has 15 ocean-view single-occupancy cabins. The line also has gentlemen hosts to act as dancing and dining companions for single ladies.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises' five all-suite ships travel to more than 450 destinations around the globe and boast the world's most inclusive cruise experience. Airfare, accommodations, all meals, alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages, gratuities and most shore excursions are included in fares. Most passengers are upward of 55 years, although you will see an occasional family traveling with younger children, making it one of the best cruise lines for seniors who want to take along the grandkids.
Why Regent Seven Seas Is Great for Seniors: Regent offers a true luxury experience, with personalized service, the convenience of all-inclusive pricing and a high ratio of staff members to passengers to increase the pampering factor. The ships themselves are gorgeous, with high-end artwork and sumptuous furnishings. Regent’s newest ships, Seven Seas Splendor and Seven Seas Grandeur are well known for their extravagant and massive Regent Suites.
Regent Seven Seas dining options are top notch and plentiful, with all dining options included in the fare. Extravagant Sunday brunches include Champagne and caviar. During dinner hours, you can order meals from the dining room directly to your suite through room service. The atmosphere is more country club casual than formal.
For passengers with disabilities, accessible suites are available on all ships and can accommodate a wheelchair or motorized scooter. All public spaces, dining venues, bars and casinos are also easy to navigate and accessible.
Related: Regent Seven Seas' Loyalty Program Explained
Tauck river cruises are just one part of a travel company that made its name in land tours. Tauck also offers chartered expedition sailings to bucket-list destinations like the Arctic and Antarctica. The river cruise ships in particular lean toward the luxury end of the spectrum, with drinks, Wi-Fi, transfers, excursions and gratuities included in the fare.
Why Tauck River Cruises Are Great for Seniors: Tauck prides itself on doing everything for its guests , from the time you touch down to the time you leave. On the rivers, Tauck guides will even give passengers euros for lunch. These Tauck guides also perform multiple duties onboard, giving daily briefings, attending shore excursions and handling the lagniappe extras.
Shore excursions on Tauck river cruises are thoughtful and interesting, and often go a step beyond what you might find on other lines. At an American cemetery in Luxembourg, for example, passengers may be given a rose to place at the gravesite of a veteran. Dinner off the ship might be held at a Michelin-starred restaurant in a vineyard. Tauck also often includes pre- and post-cruise trips within its fare with logistics covered.
On its small ship cruises, the Tauck guides help passengers figure out their expedition gear, for example, or coordinate logistics on a charter flight. They also make sure that the mostly American passengers are comfortable; on a Ponant-chartered ship, this means having menus that appeal more to U.S. tastes than French, for example. A partnership with BBC Earth on some voyages brings extra enrichment on board.
Related: Tauck vs. Viking River Cruises
American Queen Voyages , formerly American Queen Steamboat Company, now includes coastal ships formerly sailing under the brand of Victory Cruise Lines.
The line's four original paddlewheel ships ooze charm, with Victorian touches and history-heavy itineraries. Cruise fares include a pre-cruise night at a hotel, transfer to the ship, dining (including alternative venues and 24-hour room service), soft drinks, coffees and bottled water and complimentary wines and beers at dinner, as well as use of the line's hop-on, hop-off bus in ports and unlimited Wi-Fi onboard the ship.
The expanding coastal fleet takes cruisers on Alaska small-ship cruises, as well as cruises in the Great Lakes, the Coastal waters of the U.S. and Canada, and even the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico.
Why American Queen Voyages Is Great for Seniors: While some cruises can be hectic, river cruises in the U.S. are generally more leisurely affairs, with a focus on relaxing and soft sightseeing. The hop-on, hop-off buses used by American Queen Voyages continue the leisurely paced experience, allowing passengers to go at their own pace (a near-perfect option on Mississippi River cruises for seniors). Shore excursions focus on historical sites, battlefields and museums, as well as natural wonders.
Onboard, the ships have a so-called riverlorian who gives lectures about historical topics, such as the Mississippi River or Lewis and Clark. Meals are multi-coursed, with menus that reflect the destinations. Nightly entertainment is lively, and often embraces American classics.
Related: What It's Like to Sail American Queen's First Expedition Ship
American Cruise Lines sails two types of riverboats -- traditional and modern -- as well as coastal cruise ships. Fares for the riverboats include a one-night pre-cruise hotel stay, with luggage concierge and transfers, while all sailings offer at least one shore excursions in every port; complimentary evening cocktails and wine and beer at lunch and dinner; soft drinks, juice, water and snacks.
Why American Cruise Lines Is Great for Seniors: All of the ships in the American Cruise Lines fleet have been built at the company's own American shipyard and the crew are also American. All ships hold under 200 passengers and most have cabins and suites that are among the largest among river ships. The line is also great for solo travelers, with a nice variety of single cabins without a single supplement. You'll find both wheelchair-accessible cabins and elevators to all passenger decks.
Enrichment is a standout on American Cruise Lines, with a lecturer on every cruise. Onboard entertainment is often geared to the ship's itinerary. There may be local culinary experiences like a lobster bake while on American Cruise Line’s coastal New England cruise, or a Cajun cooking demonstration on Mississippi River cruises. Shore excursions to historical sites and museums are common. Wi-Fi is complimentary, and each ship has several libraries and chart rooms for browsing. Passengers can tour the pilot house with the captain while onboard.
AmaWaterways has a fleet of 26 river ships, focusing primarily on the Danube and the Rhine rivers in Europe, but also offering sailings in France and Portugal. AmaWaterways African safari cruise tours have also been added to its European river cruise roster, as have cruise tours on the Nile and in Asia.
AmaWaterways pioneered river ships with double balcony staterooms, with one traditional step-out balcony side-by-side with a French balcony door, allowing indoor seating that's ideal for inclement weather or for passengers with mobility issues. AmaWaterways' ships are elegantly appointed with expansive public areas for enjoying views of the rivers and shorelines. As with most European river cruises, beer and wine are included with dinner, as are bottled water and specialty coffees onboard. Excursions are included in each port, with a focus on food and beverage tours and educational explorations of each destination.
Food and entertainment onboard the ship reflect the areas where the ship is sailing, with guest entertainers and lecturers coming on board at various times during the cruise.
Why AmaWaterways Is Great for Seniors: Senior cruisers on AmaWaterways will appreciate the extra attention taken to offer tours for every ability. Guests choose between regular-paced walking tours, gentle-paced walking tours, and tours with full transportation provided. Tour guides will even arrange car or van service if a passenger is too tired at the end of a tour for the return walk back. More active senior cruisers can enjoy complimentary bicycles and themed golf cruises.
AmaWaterways does allow children over age 8, allowing for multi-generational river cruises with the grandkids as well.
Related: On AmaWaterways, the Transformative Impact of Wellness