If you are a regular reader here, you know that I am a big fan of cruising – both on family cruises and adult-only cruises. Cruises can be a great way to explore the world in an easy manner – without having to worry about traveling between destinations and finding places to stay.
Beyond that, cruises offer a number of activities on board that can be very fun for people of all ages. So, are cruises good for young adults? With lots of amenities and activities that appeal to older teens and young adults, we think they are a great vacation option. Read more about the best cruises for young adults, including what to look for when you book your cruise.
Disclosure: We have been on some of these cruise lines at no cost for purposes of review, and have paid my way on many others. This post contains affiliate links and a purchase/click through one of these links may result in a commission paid to us at no cost to you. All opinions are my own.
Looking for a cruise? You can check the prices of a variety of cruise lines at this link.
The Best Cruises For Young Adults (6 Cruise Lines)
Why Cruise as a Young Adult
If you haven’t been on a cruise before, you may think of cruises as something for either children or for older people. But, young people can have a great time on a cruise. Here are some benefits:
- Onboard activities that are both fun and a great way to meet other young adults
- Easy way to explore the world without having to travel to multiple destinations
- Great for a group because there is something for everyone
- Delicious food with lots of different options
- Easy vacation with minimal planning
- Close to all-inclusive experience makes budgeting for vacation easier
- Amenities that appeal to young adults, like live music, water parks, pool parties, zip lines, comedy shows, basketball courts, and more
Whether you are a young adult traveling on your own, with your parents, or with a group, a cruise is such a fun option.
What to Look for in a Cruise/Cruise Line
Once you’ve decided to take a cruise vacation, you’ll need to choose a cruise line, ship, and itinerary. I’d recommend starting with a cruise line and then choosing the ship and itinerary after that.
When choosing a cruise line, look for activities that you want to participate in. Do you want to see Broadway-caliber shows? Do you want to eat gourmet food? Do you want to do adventure activities on the ship, like rock climbing and zip lining?
After choosing a cruise line, you’ll probably want to look at the itinerary. You can find cruises traveling the world.
For a beginner cruise, you may consider taking a Caribbean cruise. There are lots of fantastic destinations, and you’ll also likely have some great weather so you can enjoy the sun decks, pools, and beaches at the ports.
What Are The Best Cruise Lines for Young Adults?
Offering 25 ships with a variety of different itineraries, Carnival Cruise Line is known for its festive, party atmosphere on board the ships. Sailings on Carnival are relatively affordable, and there are so many different itineraries and port options.
Over 10 years ago, Carnival rolled out its Fun Ship 2.0 concept. This initiative includes a variety of entertainment and culinary options, including partnerships with celebrities such as Guy Fieri on these fun ships. As Carnival cruises have been renovated and introduced, they have included these features.
The newest Carnival ships, including the Mardi Gras, Celebration, and upcoming Jubilee, include the Bolt Sea Coaster, the first roller coaster at sea. Adventure lovers will definitely want to try this out.
Norwegian Cruise Line
Like some of the other cruise lines on this list, Norwegian has recently introduced some new ships with all of the popular features that young adults will love. There are currently 19 Norwegian cruise ships with 4 Prima class ships on order.
Activities and amenities do vary by ship, so be sure to research the specific ship before booking. Some fun activities include the Plank and Ropes Course (Norwegian Breakaway and Breakaway Plus Class ships), a mini-golf course on the Norwegian Bliss, go-kart tracks, and a waterpark (on the Norwegian Breakaway Class ships).
Norwegian Sailings also offers themed parties, many of which can be fun for young adults on board the ship. They offer 42 different departure ports, so there are plenty of options to choose from. They also offer solo cabins, if you’d like to travel alone.
Virgin Voyages, a new-ish cruise line offering three (soon to be four) ships, is very popular among young adult guests. This cruise line has made a lot of changes to the cruise paradigm and is exclusively available to adults (18+). I’ve been on Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady three times now, and absolutely love both the ship and the cruise line.
While Virgin ships don’t have the coasters, mini golf, and water slides of some of these cruise lines, they do have a wide range of activities that young adult cruisers will love. All of the ships offer fun activities, including “shot for shot” (a mixology seminar that also teaches you how to take great social media images), board games, Scarlet Night (a huge deck party at night ending with a pool party), dance parties, and a big float party at the Bimini Beach Club.
Focused on fitness? While Virgin Voyages does offer parties and events each night, they also have a robust fitness program. There’s a huge fitness center, as well as an offering of dance and workout classes. There are also plenty of healthy food options, including a juice bar where you can get fresh pressed juices.
Virgin Voyages also offers a spa, beauty salon, nail salon, barber, and even a tattoo parlor. There’s so much to do on the ships, but they also offer some great ports of call, including spots in England, Greece, and the Caribbean. They also have great dining options – all of which are included in your cruise fare.
Virgin Voyages is an excellent choice for solo cruisers. While most cruises do charge a single supplement, Virgin has dedicated some specific smaller cabins for solo travelers.
Disney Cruise Line
You may be wondering if the Disney Cruise Line, which is known as an extremely family-friendly cruise line, is good for young adults. In my opinion, people of all ages have plenty to enjoy on a Disney cruise ship and it’s a popular choice, even beyond young families.
Disney Cruise Line currently has five cruise ships, with two additional ships on the way. While these ships do offer some of the Disney touches they are known for, they aren’t just for kids. Activities on these Disney cruises include music trivia, movies, beverage seminars (for those 21+), silent disco parties, and more.
Disney Cruise Line also has a fantastic spa, with a Rainforest Room offering therapeutic showers, saunas, hot tubs, and more. There are also some great adult-only areas, where you can get away from the kids on board.
While the Broadway-style shows are Disney-themed, they are still fun for anyone to watch. The ships also offer movie theaters where you can see first-run movies.
For many young adults, the Disney Cruise Line is the nostalgic choice for a cruise. You’ll see many young adults sailing with their parents on family vacations.
Celebrity Cruise Line
Celebrity Cruise Line currently has 15 ships, with an additional ship expected in November 2023. While these ships are definitely not adult-only, there are some great activities that young adults will enjoy. It’s definitely not a party atmosphere, but if you are looking for a relaxed vibe with some fantastic amenities, this is a great option.
Celebrity was merged with Royal Caribbean in 1997, but the cruise lines are pretty different. On Celebrity cruises, expect to find some beautiful common areas, along with adult-friendly activities such as glass-blowing, a Turkish spa, delicious restaurants, and much more.
Royal Caribbean Cruise Line
Royal Caribbean ships are known as some of the most fun, with loads of activities on board. These vary by ship but include things like rock climbing walls, iFly skydiving, FlowRider surfing simulators, escape rooms, bumper cars, and water slides. You will never be bored on one of these ships.
Royal Caribbean also offers some world-class entertainment options on board. While the shows are all fantastic, they also have some fun game shows, trivia, and other on-board activities.
Because the activities on Royal Caribbean cruises vary, I’d really recommend looking at the specific ship that you are considering to see what is offered. In addition, we’d recommend booking an itinerary that stops at Royal Caribbean’s private island in the Bahamas – Perfect Day at CocoCay. As the name suggests, this island offers something for everyone, including Daredevil’s Peak, the tallest water slide in North America.
What to Do When Onboard
Regardless of which of these cruise lines and cruise ships you choose, you’ll want to do some things while on board. It’s best to try to book these activities in advance wherever possible. Sometimes availability is limited if you wait, especially for the most popular activities.
Booking windows do vary by cruise line. For instance, Disney’s Castaway Club members are able to book activities first (in order of their level) once their cruise is paid off. However, with Virgin Voyages, many of the onboard activities can’t be booked until you are on the ship’s WiFi. Do some research in advance to know what you want to book and when you can book it.
What to Look at With Port Activities
Looking forward to getting off the ship? You’ll have various options at the different ports of call – from booking excursions on the ship to booking your own. There is definitely a risk with booking your own, so make sure you weigh your options carefully.
When booking, think about the type of experience you want to have. Do you want a city tour? Would you prefer to taste some of the local cuisine? Are you looking for some adventure? Or maybe you’d prefer relaxing on a beach.
The quality of excursions can vary, so look at reviews before booking. In most cases, port excursions can be booked in advance.
Are you a young adult who has been on a cruise? What is your favorite cruise for young adults?