May 15, 2024

10 Best Cruise Lines for Every Type of Traveler, from Adventurers to Families

The best vacations for solo travelers to social butterflies

It's time to cast off your worries and set sail toward unforgettable experiences, charting a course for your dream vacation. But not everyone craves the same itinerary or type of cruise — some souls yearn for heart-pounding adventure, while others seek relaxation on idyllic beaches.

The good news? There's a perfect cruise vacation waiting for every type of traveler. From luxurious foodie adventures to social escapades and wellness wonders, we'll help you find the best cruises to indulge your desires. So, grab your swimsuit (or maybe your hiking boots), pack your sense of adventure, and get ready to plan your next cruise vacation.

Best cruise for the adventurer: Adventure Canada

If adrenaline-fueled is how you like to cruise, then Adventure Canada is the perfect conduit. It's been a USA TODAY 10Best Readers' Choice favorite for Best Adventure Cruise Line for many years, and most recently it landed on the list for Best Cruise Lines for Families.

Offering small-ship expedition cruises to remote areas like Greenland, Antarctica, the Canadian Arctic, and Iceland, Adventure Canada prioritizes exploration and education over typical cruise activities. Their itineraries get you off the ship and into the heart of the action, with zodiac landings, hikes, and wildlife viewing opportunities.

Itineraries that travel to Greenland and Nunavut, Canada, literally take you off the map, visiting uninhabited archipelagos like Devon Island or towns like Ilulissat, Greenland, where you could potentially spot polar bears, narwhals, and beluga whales.

Watch out for calving icebergs, though — the possibility of a tidal wave capsizing your zodiac after ice plummets into the ocean is enough to get your blood pumping.

Best cruise for the wine enthusiast: AmaWaterways

Board a dedicated "Celebration of Wine" on Best River Cruise Line winner AmaWaterways and savor itineraries that sail through famous European wine regions like France's Bourdeaux, Germany's Rhine Valley, or Portugal's Douro Valley.

The cruise becomes part of the wine experience and often features partnerships with North American wineries that bring knowledgeable wine hosts on board to lead informative tastings and discussions.

The Rhine River cruise explores towns like Rüdesheim, a German winemaking town lined with tasting rooms and vineyards. In France, Riquewihr is one of the highlights of the Alsace Wine Route. You'll then venture on to charming Strasbourg, which claims to be home to the oldest wine on Earth. Stroll through historic vineyards and choose from a carefully selected wine list that showcases local wines from the regions you explore.

Best cruise for the hopeless romantic: Windstar Cruises

Imagine sailing around the rivieras of the Mediterranean, the crystal blue water sparkling under golden rays. The gentle sway of the vessel and the vastness of the ocean set a naturally romantic tone, especially when the sails rise over the setting sun. Unlike mega-ships with thousands of passengers, Windstar keeps things intimate.

Windstar Cruises travels to dreamy destinations like Tahiti and the French Riviera with three classic sailing yachts and three all-suite motor yachts. (Its Wind Spirit vessel took the top spot for Best Adults Only Cruise this year.) The cruise line also partnered with the James Beard Foundation to offer tantalizing meals on board. Windstar caters to romance with packages and add-on options, inviting you to enjoy dreamy spots like Bora Bora with an intimate dinner under the stars or a champagne breakfast in bed.

Best cruise for the wellness warrior: Oceania Cruises

Embrace the zen: Oceania Cruises offers a comprehensive wellness experience that caters to your physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. The state-of-the-art Aquamar Spa + Vitality Center offers a wide range of treatments designed to promote relaxation and rejuvenation.

Ranking for Best Boutique Cruise Line, Oceania is also known for its "finest cuisine at sea" philosophy, which translates to delicious and healthy cuisine (including extensive plant-based menus) alongside its more indulgent offerings.

Aquamar's Wellness Discovery Tours are shore excursions designed to complement your onboard wellness journey. For example, you can meditate with a monk in Thailand or learn to harness the power of spiritual drumming in Australia. Oceania travels across the globe on small, luxurious ships — from Africa to the Amazon, the Baltic to the South Pacific.

Best cruise for the culture vulture: Viking

Designed for experienced travelers ages 55 and older who are interested in topics like science, history, and gastronomy, Viking has carved a niche for itself as a leader in cultural enrichment cruises. It steers away from the typical focus on onboard activities and entertainment. Instead, meticulously crafted itineraries immerse you in the history and culture of the places you visit.

Expect longer stays in ports, allowing you to explore destinations in greater depth. A Viking Resident Historian accompanies each ocean voyage, leading roundtable discussions and lectures about a specific topic. Along with classical musicians on board, Viking invites local musicians and ensembles for special performances. With an array of itineraries on their river, ocean, and expedition cruises, Viking travels to Europe, Africa and the Middle East, Asia, and North America.

It's no wonder Viking's extensive fleet of vessels has consistently ranked as reader-voted favorites for Best Boutique Cruise Line, Best Cruise Line for Solo Travelers, and Best Ocean Cruise Line.

Best cruise for the social butterfly: Carnival Cruise Line

Party lovers, unite! Carnival Cruise Line has you covered if you're constantly seeking social stimulation. The cruise line thrives on creating a fun and lively atmosphere on all of its ships. Carnival Vista, Carnival Breeze, and Carnival Celebration took the top three spots for Best Cruise Ship for Entertainment, making them great picks for social butterflies. Known for its energetic onboard entertainment that ranges from stage shows and dance productions to poolside games and deck parties, Carnival Cruise Line offers many opportunities to mingle with other passengers.

Download Carnival's HUB app to reserve select shows, specialty dining, and spa services. With an average of about 3,000 guests on board each ship, you're sure to find other like-minded individuals who want to check out the casino or comedy club, play an intense bingo game, or dance the night away at the nightclub. Destinations include the Caribbean, Europe, Canada, and Hawaii.

Best cruise for the solo traveler: Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Cruise Line goes above and beyond to cater to solo cruisers, from dedicated living quarters and social spaces to organized activities. The studio staterooms are designed specifically for solo travelers; solo-occupancy options for balcony and ocean view staterooms provide more personal space and a touch of luxury.

Whether you choose to visit destinations like Hawaii, South America, or the Greek Isles, you'll do so in style on this USA TODAY Readers' Choice Award winner for Best Cruise Line for Solo Travelers.

You'll also have exclusive access to the Studio Lounge, a social hub where you can relax, meet other solo cruisers, and enjoy complimentary drinks and snacks throughout the day. Norwegian Cruise Line organizes social events specifically for solo travelers, ranging from casual meet-and-greets to group shore excursions, providing opportunities to connect with others and avoid feeling isolated. And if you crave solitude, you can find that too.

Best cruise for the LGBTQ jet-setter: Celebrity Cruises

"Love is love" perfectly describes the mantra of Celebrity Cruises, which goes beyond mere tolerance by actively celebrating diversity and creating an environment for LGBTQ travelers to relax and have fun. The cruise line fosters a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere for all passengers, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Board one of the 16 ships that travel to hundreds of ports worldwide and embark on group excursions or private journeys.

Celebrity pulls out all the stops in June with Pride Month celebrations, including theme parties and dazzling entertainment. (Celebrity Cruises' Celebrity Beyond is a repeat winner for Best Cruise Ship for Entertainment.)

Many Celebrity cruises host LGBTQ welcome parties on the first night, allowing you to meet fellow travelers, mingle with crew members, and set the tone for your voyage. They also have become a champion for marriage equality at sea, offering legal same-sex wedding ceremonies on board their ships.

Best cruise for the foodie: Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Regent Seven Seas Cruises isn't just a cruise line; it's a culinary odyssey for discerning palates. The brand boasts an impressive array of specialty restaurants onboard, from French bistros to sizzling steakhouses and Asian fusion experiences, all with impeccable service and world-class cuisine. USA TODAY 10Best readers voted Seven Sea Explorer among the top 10 for Best Cruise Ship for Dining (twice!).

The Compass Rose, Regent's main dining room on all ships, transforms into an extension of the specialty restaurants, ideal for those who crave variety and exquisite flavors.

Regent also offers curated shore excursions designed for food enthusiasts, such as truffle hunting in Italy or cheesemaking tours in France, elevating your gastronomic exploration like never before. Gastronomes also can delve deeper with hands-on cooking classes led by culinary experts. Learn the secrets of French pastry or master the art of sushi making. These interactive sessions elevate your appreciation for food and empower you to recreate these dishes at home.

Best cruise for the family-friendly traveler: Royal Caribbean International

Have family, will travel! Royal Caribbean International offers something for everyone, from toddlers to teens (and parents or grandparents!). Voted among the Best Cruise Lines for Families, the award-winning Adventure Ocean youth program separates themed activities by age group, whether scavenger hunts or arts and crafts. You might have trouble luring them away.

What's a family vacation without some splashy fun? Royal Caribbean takes cruise decks to a new level with waterslides, kid-friendly splash zones, rock climbing walls, arcades, and laser tag arenas. Understanding that family vacations are about creating lasting memories, you'll also find family-friendly shore excursions like zip-lining through rainforests or exploring ancient ruins.

Copyright 2024 All rights reserved. From
By Danielle Bauter.

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