Looking for a cruise line that provides a relaxed and calm atmosphere rather than a scene straight out of a theme park?
We’ve got you covered with this list of the 6 most relaxing cruise lines for vacationers who want a break from noise and chaos while they explore the world on a cruise getaway.
Despite what you might have seen during a cruise commercial on TV, not every cruise ship is full of water slides, zip lines, and amenities built for thrill-seekers. Some cruise lines specialize in catering to guests who want a break from the hustle and bustle back home. And not everyone wants a party cruise.
This is for cruisers who don’t need the go-kart tracks of Norwegian Cruise Line, the sky-diving simulators of Royal Caribbean, or the roller coasters on the Excel-class ships of Carnival.
Besides the cruise line, certain ships within a fleet will help you have a more relaxed vacation as well. Whether you want a covered pool area, a cozy library with a view, or a lounge that overlooks the ocean, each of these cruise lines below have ships that cater to the serenity-seeking traveler.
6 best cruise lines for a relaxing cruise
Holland America Line
All of my cruises with Holland America have been perfectly peaceful and offered relaxing spaces in all kinds of areas on the ship. Both the smaller R-class ships and the sleek Vista-class ships have a unique charm and at 61,000 and 82,000 gross tons respectively, they are a great size for most cruisers.
The newer Pinnacle-class ships are still under 100,000 in gross tonnage and have some great thermal suites for those who love the spa. You will also find some of the best libraries at see on Holland America ships, as many loyal cruisers to the line are avid readers and love a quiet place to read a book.
The retractable roofs over the pool, wide promenade decks, and comfortable chairs for reading or enjoying a nice conversation provide the perfect atmosphere of peace and quiet. You won’t find loud music blaring on the lido deck here, and there are great lounges like the Explorer’s lounge that are quiet during the day and have classic music in the evenings.
Of the three first cruise lines listed here, this one will have the least amount of kids running around. If you want a totally kid-free cruise you can read about Viking below or look into Virgin Voyages as well.
If muted background music and quiet aft pools surrounded by several tiers of loungers with an ocean view sound relaxing to you, Princess Cruises would be a great pick as well. Personally, I really like the Grand-class ships, with the likes of Grand Princess and Caribbean Princess offering some of the most unique aft pools and designs. But there’s something timeless and serene about Royal-class ships within the fleet, with some of the most beautiful atrium’s you will find at sea and a luxurious thermal suite known as The Enclave.
Princess Cruises offers various quiet and secluded areas onboard, providing passengers with opportunities to escape. The Sanctuary is an adults-only pool and sun deck, a tranquil oasis removed from the bustling main pool deck, and it also happens to have the most plush loungers on the ship. The Conservatory is perfect for relaxation and reading. This enclosed top-deck area features two hot tubs, a freshwater pool, a poolside shower and plenty of comfy loungers.
And we’re all excited about Sun Princess, the latest ship being built by Princess, debuting soon.
Celebrity really stepped up their game with the innovative Edge-class ships, but I still love Solstice-class ships for a relaxing vacation and plenty of places to enjoy peace and quiet. And after sailing on some of the older ships like Constellation and Infinity I can see how these classic Millenium-class ships are favorites with loyal Celebrity cruisers.
Rooftop Garden or Lawn Club offer great top deck ocean views in a quiet, organic setting. And luxurious spas with scented saunas can be found on a variety of Celebrity cruise ships.
There are now three Edge-class ships within the fleet, with the fourth, Celebrity Ascent, debuting at the end of the year. The relaxing spas on these ships are incredibly well designed and offer a true respite. I also love the winding walking track on Edge-class ships, along with elegantly designed pools and hot tubs.
The three cruise lines above are considered premium mainstream cruise lines and offer ships not quite as small and quiet as the next three on our list. While the above cruise lines are more budget-friendly, the three below offer an almost all-inclusive cruise on small ships.
Besides claiming to have the finest cuisine at sea, Oceania Cruises provides a cruise experience that is a level above a premium cruise line. And yes, it’s a true culinary experience just being on an Oceania ship. You can even take first-class cooking lessons on board.
There are several exquisite restaurants with open seating and no surcharge that include an Italian restaurant, steakhouse, and a popular Asian restaurant at Red Ginger.
There are four 30,000 gross ton ships in Regatta-class, two 66,000 gross ton ships in Oceania-class, and one Allura-class ship (Vista) with another coming in 2025.
For many cruisers the best place to find relaxation is in their own stateroom. O-class ships with Oceania have 271 sq feet of space in their Veranda staterooms, and the new Oceania Vista has the most spacious cabins at sea.
The design, décor, and elegance of an Oceania ship is immediately felt on board. Whether you visit the Aquamar Spa or a spacious library on the ship, you will find plenty of opportunities to unwind.
Not only does Azamara sail to some of the most exotic destinations in the world like Croatia, Venice, and Bali, it also provides a relaxing cruise experience on one of its four intimate 30,000 gross ton ships.
Most cruise lines only give you 6 – 7 hours to enjoy a port of call before the ship sets sail again. Azamara focuses more on the actual destination and will often stay in ports overnight or until late at night. This extra time at a port of call makes for a less stressful and more enjoyable experience, as you don’t have to rush to see all the sights. And the smaller ships allow them to sail to some locations that are inaccessible to larger vessels.
Things like gratuities, many beverages, room service, and self-service laundry are included in the fare price, but excursions and Wi-Fi will cost extra.
All four of the R-class ships in the fleet are practically identical and carry about 700 passengers. Whether it’s White Night on the ship or the “Azamazing” Evening in a port of call, Azamara offers a great blend of relaxation and cultural immersion.
Read more: 7 reasons to take a cruise with Azamara
While Viking offers river cruises and expedition cruises as well, I will refer to their ocean ships here. The simple elegance and decidedly Norwegian design of a Viking ocean ship is calming and relaxing in itself. From the heated and covered pools to the amazing thermal suites (which are free to all guests) to the quiet but refreshing Wintergarden at teatime, Viking ships have so many quiet and comfy places to enjoy the views I cannot list them all here.
With at least one shore excursion included in your cruise fare, you can enjoy a day exploring a port, but sea days on a Viking ship are my favorite. The Explorer’s Lounge at the front of the ship offers a couple decks to relax, read a book, or listen to some live classical music played by an onboard pianist, and you will get some of the best views while staying warm in this part of the vessel. All of Viking’s ocean ships are practically identical as well, so once you’re back on board you feel like you’re right at home.
Some of the most relaxing cruises I’ve ever taken were on a Viking ship, and just writing this makes me want to sail with the cruise line again very soon.
This is an adult-only cruise line, so if your version of peace and quiet involves a kid-free environment, this is the cruise for you.
Read more: A better crew make for a better cruise
All-inclusive cruise lines for a relaxing cruise
For the ultimate cruise getaway you can opt for a luxury cruise line. These cruise lines are all-inclusive and cost a lot more, but the peace of mind of knowing that everything is paid for and you don’t keep getting nickle-and-dimed for every amenity is worth it to some. Just remember, if you are paying for an all-inclusive experience but will not be using all of those inclusions you might be better off paying a la cart with another line.
Some of the most relaxing experiences you can find with an all-inclusive cruise line include Regent Seven Seas, Seabourn, Silversea, and Crystal Cruises, which is now back up and running. One of Crystal Cruises’ ships is even called “Crystal Serenity” and it’s that serene ambiance the company strives to provide on every sailing.
People cruise for different reasons. And there’s a cruise line and ship for just about every type of traveler. But if you want your cruise experience to be a relaxing one — that is stress-free and quiet — you can’t go wrong with one of the selections mentioned above.
Also, the cruise itinerary itself will make a big impact on how relaxing a cruise is. Sometimes a port intensive cruise can be exhausting, even though you can create some great memories and see amazing sites. That’s one thing about river cruises. They are an absolute blast, but with two excursions a day, and a port to visit every day, it can wear you out quickly.
If you’re retired and on a budget there are some great Holland America itineraries on some of their older ships that are very affordable. And if you can afford to check out a Viking or Oceania cruise, I think you will find it one of the most relaxing and yet inspiring trips you will ever take.
What about you? What has been the most relaxing cruise you’ve ever taken? Let us know in the comments below.
Read more: Best cruise lines for a short cruise