Going on a cruise vacation can be a refreshing recharge for those who enjoy the high seas. And while you may envision throngs of active young people on a cruise liner, many companies are catering to an older set.
A lot of retirees have the desire to travel, loads of free time and disposable income to take a cruise or two during the year. That’s why older travelers have some of the best cruise packages available to them.
Which cruise line is the best for seniors?
If you’re an older traveler or thinking of booking a cruise for your parents, grandparents or in-laws, here’s what you need to know about some of the most popular cruise lines for seniors.
Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian Cruise Line has partnered with the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) to offer cruise deals for its members. Seniors can get $100 off select cruises and a 5% discount off all cruises booked at least nine months out. Also, the AARP member cruise deals can be combined with the Free At Sea Promotion, which means you can also enjoy free specialty beverages, shore excursion credits, specialty dining, and more.
Norwegian Cruise Line’s best ships: The Sky, Gateway and Jade, according to Yelp reviews.
Azamara Club Cruises
Azamara Club Cruises, a subsidiary of Royal Caribbean, was voted best cruise for seniors, according to Guide For Seniors, which ranked the cruise liner’s singles rate, personal butler service and ability to accommodate a service animal as tops with them.
Azamara Club’s best cruise ships: The Journey, Quest and Pursuit, according to Cruise Critic.
Royal Caribbean, one of the industry’s top cruise line companies, offers senior pricing on select sailings for travelers who are 55 years of age and older. The prices vary and Royal Caribbean doesn’t advertise its senior savings as much, but if you call them (1-800-256-6649), they will tell you what’s available. Deals will generally be for trips in the near term rather than further out.
Royal Caribbean’s best cruise ships for seniors: Oasis and Serenade, according to TripAdvisor reviews.
If you want to enjoy the ocean on something a tad more intimate, Silversea’s small luxury ships are designed for those who delight in the thrill of discovery while indulging mind and body in the most lavish surroundings imaginable. All accommodations are spacious, ocean-view suites that include butler service, and most include private verandas. Silversea voyages and cruise expeditions sail to over 900 destinations on all seven continents, more than any other cruise line.
Silversea Cruise’s best cruise ships for seniors: The Spirit, Whisper and Wind, according to U.S. News & World Report.
Sometimes known as “party” boats, Carnival Cruises’ bountiful activities don’t just appeal to younger travelers. Carnival offers exclusive savings for seniors, age 55 and older — check the calendar to find Carnival’s best Senior fares, by date, for any stateroom type, departure port or destination. Then select the date for the day’s top sailings.
If you have special needs, don’t think for a second that you can’t still have a great time on the seas. Older travelers with mobility needs have plenty of options. Royal Caribbean has several ships that are wheel chair-friendly with accessible staterooms available to the disabled just by filling out this Guest Special Needs Form.
Carnival’s best cruise ships for seniors: The Spirit class, Vista and Horizon, according to Cruise Critic reader reviews.
Considered a luxury cruise liner, Holland America appeals to an older demographic with higher-end tastes. The big ships don’t have as many guests, giving it a more exclusive feel. The company offers a variety of activities that cater toward seniors, such as B.B. King’s Blues Club, gala night, bingo, trivia, theme nights and nighttime entertainment.
When it comes to a dress code, Holland America describes its preferred style for guests as “smart casual.” On gala nights, guests can choose to dress up — jacket and tie for the men and suit, cocktail dress or gown for the women — but they don’t have to.
The best resources for seniors looking to find the best cruises is the internet. Do some web-surfing and read the reviews on blogs and other sites that specialize in cruises. That way, you’ll get a feel for the latest activities and amenities offered by the cruise lines.
Holland’s best cruise ships: The MS Koningsdam and Eurodam, according to U.S. News & World Report.
How to save money on senior cruise deals
Money expert Clark Howard says one big way to save money on cruises is to book at the right time.
“There are certain cycles through the year when cruise lines have trouble filling all their cabins, and that’s when you steal the great deals,” he says.
“After Thanksgiving but before Christmas kicks off is a bargain time for any kind of travel —and cruises are right in the midst of that,” he says. “Europe? Early in the season and late in the season, you get cheaper rates. Alaska, early in the season and late in the season.”
Here are some other ways seniors can save on cruises
- AARP deals: In addition to the Norwegian deal mentioned above, if you’re a member of AARP, save with these exclusive cruise specials.
- Read the fine print: The best way to save money on a cruise is to read what’s included in your trip. You may be able to bring your own sodas, cutting down on beverage prices. Or you could book your own onshore excursions, saving considerable money on tours.
- Military discounts: Many older travelers are veterans and that entitles them to military discounts. MilitaryCruiseDeals.com is a great online resource to save money.
Here are some more travel articles you might enjoy from Clark.com:
- Single on the high seas? Here are the best cruises for solo travelers
- Celebrity Cruises: 6 things to know before you book
- Royal Caribbean: 7 things to know before you book
- Carnival Cruises: 6 things to know before your trip
- How to score a deal on a cruise