10 Best Cruises for Seniors to Take As Soon As You Retire

From relaxing in the Caribbean to exploring the rivers of Europe, these are the best cruises for travelers over 60.

Cruises offer advantages for travelers of all ages, but for seniors, conveniences like being able to visit many destinations without packing and unpacking, arranging flights, transfers, checking in and out of hotels, finding restaurants, and booking excursions are especially important. And, for seniors with limited mobility, those cruise features just might mean the difference between taking a wonderful trip or staying home.

Generalizing about individuals of any age, especially seniors, just doesn't work. Physically, many are as active and capable as 25 year-olds, while others may have limitations that prevent long walks or managing heavy luggage. Some are curious and want to see every detail on an itinerary; others are content to relax and watch the scenery go by. Many are entertained by learning new things or hearing from expert lecturers, while others enjoy nightlife and live shows. Limited budgets are not unusual among seniors with fixed incomes, while others can afford to choose more luxurious options.

There are cruises that meet every need. In fact, most large ships have so much to offer that couples or groups of friends cruising together can choose the activities they enjoy most and then join for dinner or cocktails at the end of the day. Solo travelers have opportunities to meet others during meals, excursions, or onboard activities. Many cruise companies and ships pay particular attention to amenities that make travel easier and more appealing for seniors, especially those with special needs. Travelers as young as 50 may be eligible for special discounts on cruises, so it's never too early to start planning a cruise for the next phase of your life.

That said, here are the 10 best cruises for seniors, from the rivers to the seas.

River Cruises for Seniors

View from the deck of the Viking Aquavit river cruise ship
Courtesy of Viking Cruises

Increasing in popularity with new ships added each year, river cruising is ideal for seniors.

Ports are usually close to cities, sailing is smooth, ships are small (with usually no more than 200 passengers), and most shore excursions offer several levels of walking intensity. For those who prefer to stay onboard, comfortable lounges, outdoor seating, and stateroom balconies provide the perfect views.

European rivers are among the most traveled, especially the Rhine and Danube, with lovely towns to see and visit. Others are the Douro, Seine, and Rhone as well as the Mekong in Vietnam, the Nile in Egypt, and the Volga in Russia. Cruises range from a week to as long as three weeks when several rivers are combined. Specialty river cruises might focus on food, wine, or Christmas markets. These are the top river cruise lines for seniors.

Seniors on a river cruise on the Danube
Dagmar Schwelle

River Cruise Lines

Viking River Cruises are adults-only and on several rivers. Hit the Danube to get from Vienna to Bucharest, sail the Nile with Egyptologists, or pass through Holland during tulip season. Catering to retirees, with most passengers over the age of 60, Viking is for the well-traveled cruiser looking for their next adventure. It considers itself “the thinking person’s cruise,” with excursions and onboard programming designed with educational and cultural impact in mind. Their "Longships" offer larger suites and outdoor dining. Musical performances, lectures, cooking demonstrations, and destination insights provide plenty to do onboard.  

AmaWaterways focuses on European cruises, but offers a few sailings through Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, as well. Their ship, AmaMagna, sails the Danube and offers twice the width of traditional river cruise ships, allowing for more lounge space on the Sun Deck as you glide to gorgeous locales, more intimate activities and excursions, and additional dining options. A range of shore excursions ensures there's something for everyone's interests and abilities at each port, from guided hikes and bike rides to cooking demonstrations. Everything is as convenient as possible with ports steps from points of interest, and concierge services that help travelers reserve their flights, airport transfers, and hotel reservations for before or after the cruise.  

Avalon Waterways offers river cruises as short as four or five days for those who want to "test the waters" before a longer commitment. They sail across Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America, with special interest journeys like the Storyteller Series, which hosts authors like Candace Bushnell and Gillian Flynn onboard. With larger suites and fewer passengers, these cruises are perfect for passengers who want to stretch out and enjoy a quiet respite. Travelers can choose which off-boat activities they want to participate in (like picnics, kayaking, or painting) based on their abilities and what kind of trip they want. The plushly-appointed Panorama Suites with floor to ceiling windows and open-air balconies make your cabin one of the most comfortable places to watch the world pass by.

Crystal Mozart sailing on the river
Courtesy of Crystal Cruises

Crystal Cruises sails the rivers of Europe in style with nearly one staff member per guest, 24-hour butler service, and all-day in-room dining. These all-suite, river yachts are perfect for senior travelers looking for all the amenities of a luxury resort, from fine dining to spa pampering to a putting green with a PGA golf pro and designer golf clubs. In the evenings, take a seat in the various lounges and screening rooms for nightly entertainment like live shows and new releases. All-inclusive pricing means no worries about gratuities onboard or ashore, and airport transfers, wine, and spirits are included.

American Cruise Lines sails the rivers of the United States — including the Mississippi, the Ohio, the Hudson, and the Columbia and Snake Rivers — so you can go on an adventure without having to board a flight. Accommodations like large staterooms with interior entrances, elevators to all decks, and spacious public spaces will be appreciated by older passengers. Dine whenever you like on local fare (like gumbo on the Mississippi or a boiled seafood dinner in the Northeast) and enjoy the daily cocktail hour. Local experts join your trip and share knowledge and history about the area you're traveling through making your trip as educational as it is relaxing. 

Ocean Cruises for Seniors

Dining room on board Holland America Koenigsdam ship
Courtesy of Holland America Line

For ocean cruises, ships are usually larger and trips are longer, although it depends on the destination. Megaships have capacities of around 2,000 to 6,000 passengers; mid-size ships carry about 1,000-2,500; small ships can hold around 1,200 or less. Naturally, more dining options, entertainment, pools, and public areas are available on larger vessels. For seniors who are more comfortable remaining on the ship, there are many opportunities to keep busy, and the ship is a destination in itself. Travelers with limited mobility may choose shore visits carefully or decide to enjoy the view from afar as they take advantage of the ship's amenities and social scene.

Many oceangoing ships have accessible cabins and elevators, wheelchair-width doorways, and even special equipment to aid in boarding a smaller boat for shore excursions. Several have medical care and physicians aboard — a benefit for all passengers, not just seniors — for emergencies or illness. Most cruise companies request that they be advised of their passengers' special needs at least 45 days before departure to ensure that proper accommodations are arranged.

Oceangoing Cruise Lines

Holland America Line travels to South America, Antarctica, Alaska, Canada, New England, the Caribbean, Northern Europe, the Mediterranean, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. A line preferred by many seniors, it offers staterooms with mobility assistive features such as space for wheelchairs and scooters, roll-in showers, grab bars, and lift systems to make tenders (smaller ships that go ashore in some ports) wheelchair accessible. Provisions are made on most ships for deaf or hearing-impaired passengers, as well.

Seabourn Odyssey cruise ship on the Adriatic Sea
Courtesy of Seabourn Cruise Line

Seabourn Cruise Line cruises the world from Australia and New Zealand, Asia, India, Africa, Antarctica, Alaska, and the Caribbean, to the Arctic, Northern Europe, and more. Staterooms specially designed for guests who require mobility assistance are available. Service animals are permitted (but not pets or therapy companions) as long as proper paperwork and vaccinations are current. Provisions are available for passengers who have limited eyesight or hearing, including large print or Braille menus and visual emergency alarms.

Azamara's mid-sized ships sail to the Americas, the Caribbean, Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific. Their “Destination Immersion” experiences mean longer trips with more time in port and overnights onshore, as well as onboard programming designed around your specific destination. Azamara takes an extra step even before the cruise begins by offering assistance getting on and off the ship for boarding and shore excursions. With advance notice, Azamara will even make arrangements for transportation from the airport to the pier.

Silversea's small luxury ships range in size from 50 to 304 suites for travelers who prefer more intimate surroundings and atmosphere. Also, smaller ships can generally anchor closer to port cities, so disembarking is more convenient, and views are more interesting for those who stay on the ship. Your dedicated butler will help you with minutiae like unpacking and reservations, so you can just focus on relaxing. There's a low single supplement and "gentleman hosts" so you're never without a dance partner even if you're traveling solo. With gourmet meals, beverages (including premium spirits), gratuities, and activities all covered in the price, Silversea's cruises are not likely to attract children, which may be a plus for some seniors (as much as they might love their grandkids!).

Princess Cruises, considered by many to be one of the best cruise lines for seniors, offers many options: Various departure cities (including Florida for any local retirees), one-way or round-trip cruises, and Cruisetours that include extended land excursions. Rest assured that ships, destinations, and excursions are designed with accessibility in mind. Princess' crown jewel is their Alaskan cruises, during which passengers can meet sled dog puppies and handlers, hear from mountain climbers, fishermen, and loggers, and learn from experts about Alaskan wildlife without even leaving the ship. Most importantly, passengers can enjoy spectacular views from the comfort of the ship and marvel at sights unique to the 49th State.

Whether you pick an ocean sojourn or a river ride, cruises are some of the best ways to see the world. From the rivers of Europe to the blue-green waters of the Caribbean to U.S. trips you can board without ever getting on a plane, cruises take the convenience of a resort on the road. And as many cruise lines pay special mind to accessibility and inclusivity, they make traveling at any age (or solo) all the easier. 

If you’re a senior looking for some post-retirement fun or are a well-seasoned traveler in need of your next adventure, book a cruise today. 

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