Best cruises for every type of traveler

Cruising alone. Photo: Shutterstock
Solo cruise traveler. Photo: Shutterstock

These days, pretty much every kind of traveler, of pretty much any age, can enjoy an unforgettable cruise experience. That said, with so many companies, ships and routes to choose from, navigating your way to your ideal cruise can be less than plain sailing. With that in mind, read on for an overview of the best cruises for every type of traveler.

This information comes courtesy of the new edition of the Insight Guide to Cruising and Cruise Ships — the world's longest-running guide to cruising, written by Douglas Ward, the world's foremost authority on the subject.


Enjoying a family cruise. Photo: Shutterstock

Choose the perfect trip, ship, and package, and embarking on a cruise becomes an ideal option for families with children.

And the reasons? First up, ships can provide a safe, contained environment. Secondly, many cruise lines offer lots of opportunities for children of all ages to enjoy a whole lot of fun.

For example, the newest and largest resort ships have outstanding family-oriented facilities. These include extensive water parks, adrenaline-pumping dry slides, rope-climbing courses, mini-golf, and more. 

But before you book, it’s vital to check the minimum age requirements. 

With that in mind, here’s a rundown of a few cruise lines that are excellent at catering to families. You’ll find more details and suggestions in the Insight Guide to Cruising and Cruise Ships.

  • Carnival Cruise Line — minimum sailing age: 6 months (12 months on transatlantic, Hawaii, and South America cruises).
  • Disney Cruise Line — minimum sailing age: 3 months.
  • Norwegian Cruise Line — minimum sailing age: 6 months.
  • P&O Cruises — minimum sailing age: 6 months (12 months for transatlantic cruises) aboard the family-friendly ships Azura, Britannia, Oceania, and Ventura.
  • Royal Caribbean International — minimum sailing age: 6 months for many itineraries; 12 months for any cruises with three or more sea days, and for all transatlantic, transpacific, Hawaii, and South Pacific cruises.

Solo travelers

Solo cruise traveler. Photo: Shutterstock

First, the frustrating news. Cruising, in general, is designed for couples, with many solo passengers left feeling penalized as a result of most lines charging a solo-occupancy supplement.

The reason for this is that space is the most precious commodity aboard any ship. Since a solo-occupancy cabin is often as large as a double — and just as expensive to build — cruise lines feel the premium price is justified. 

And now for some good news for solo cruise travelers. Some cruise lines charge low solo supplements on selected voyages. For example. Saga Cruises has no additional supplements for solo travelers on any cruise. 

Meanwhile, Saga Adventure and Saga Discovery have 81 designated solo-occupancy cabins — the highest percentage of any company’s ships.


Getting hitched on the high seas. Photo: Shutterstock

Thanks to the popularity of two classic TV shows — The Love Boat (US) and Traumschiff (Germany) — cruising has been seen as a romantic holiday option for some decades. 

Of course, the natural culmination of this is getting married at sea, and several cruise lines offer special wedding packages. 

For example, Asuka Cruise, Celebrity Cruises, Cunard, Dream Cruises, P&O Cruises, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, and Sea Cloud Cruises – among others – offer weddings aboard their ships. 

Packages often include the services of a minister, wedding cake, champagne, a bridal bouquet, a band or musician to perform at the ceremony, and an album of photos. Oh, and you can literally sail into the sunset after the reception.

Already married? You could opt to enjoy your honeymoon or special anniversary aboard your very own love boat!

Sailing into the sunset aside, there are many advantages to honeymooning at sea. Firstly, your cruise ship will be a safe, hassle-free environment that offers stacks of dining options and entertainment.

It's also easy to budget in advance, with one price often including airfare, cruise, food, entertainment, several destinations, shore excursions, and pre- and post-cruise hotel stays. 

In addition, some cruise lines offer discounts if you book a future cruise to celebrate an anniversary.


Cruises can be great for people of all ages. Photo: Shutterstock

Although cruise lines have been striving to embrace all age groups, the over-60s remain an important segment of the market.

One trend for seniors is toward longer cruises, including round-the-world cruises. Some opt for an adults-only ship such as Arcadia, (P&O Cruises), or Spirit of Adventure and Spirit of Discovery (Saga Cruises).

There are bargains to be had, too. Organisations for seniors such as AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) in the US and Saga in the UK often offer special discounts or upgrades.

If you’ve had major surgery, or have mobility problems and can’t (or don’t want to) fly, consider the benefits of a ‘no-fly’ cruise, with embarkation and disembarkation in your home country.

If you have mobility difficulties (more on that below) choose one of the newer ships that have public rooms with an ‘open-flow’ style of interior design. 

In general, the cruise lines that provide the facilities and onboard environment that seniors tend to enjoy most are: 

  • American Cruise Lines
  • Azamara, Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines
  • Hebridean Island Cruises
  • Holland America Line
  • Noble Caledonia
  • Oceania Cruises
  • P&O Cruises
  • Pearl Seas Cruises
  • Regent Seven Seas Cruises
  • Saga Cruises
  • Sea Cloud Cruises
  • Seabourn
  • Silversea Cruises

Cruising with special needs and mobility issues

Cruises are a great option for those with mobility issues. Photo: Shutterstock

For anyone with physical limitations, cruising offers one of the most hassle-free vacations possible. As always, though, it’s important to choose the right ship.

If you have a mobility issue, or any other kind of physical disability (including visual or hearing impairments), a large resort ship really is a destination in itself. What’s more, it will provide a very comfortable way to travel in style.

On-site medical facilities also add to the comfort factor, though be aware that they’re mostly run by contracted staff who charge extra for their services. 

Ships built in the past five to ten years have the most up-to-date suites, cabins, and accessible shipboard facilities for those with special needs.

Many new ships also have text telephones and listening device kits for the hearing-impaired. 

Special dietary needs can often be met, and many cabins have refrigerators — useful for those with diabetes who need to keep insulin supplies cool.

If you use a wheelchair, take it with you, because ships carry a limited number for emergency hospital use only. An alternative is to rent an electric wheelchair, which can be delivered to the ship on your sailing date.

Arguably the weakest point of cruising for people with limited mobility is any ship-to-shore tender operation. Ships’ tenders simply aren’t designed for wheelchair users, and neither are landing platforms. Exceptions include Celebrity Apex, Celebrity Beyond, Celebrity Eclipse, Celebrity Edge, and Celebrity Silhouette.

Questions to ask before booking:

  • Are any public rooms or public decks inaccessible to wheelchairs?
  • Will special transportation be provided for the transfer from the airport to the ship?
  • Will you need to sign a medical release?
  • If you need a collapsible wheelchair, can this be provided by the cruise line?
  • Can the ship supply a raised toilet seat?
  • Will crew members be on hand to help?
  • Will you be guaranteed a good viewing place in the show lounge if seated in a wheelchair?
  • If the elevators are out of action, how will you get from your cabin to lifeboats in an emergency?
  • Does the cruise line’s travel insurance (with a cancellation or trip interruption) cover you for any injuries while you are aboard?
  • Finally, most disabled cabins have twin beds or one queen-size bed. So, anyone with a child with disabilities should ask whether a suitable portable bed can be installed.

For more invaluable information that'll ensure you enjoy the voyage of a lifetime, get the Insight Guide to Cruising and Cruise Ships.

New to cruising? Read our top cruise tips for first-timers