One of the perks of being older and retired is having the time to travel. The hard part is narrowing down where you want to go.
A cruise is perfect since you can visit multiple destinations in one trip, the food is plentiful, the entertainment great and you can pick a cruise based on your budget.
Cruises come in all shapes and sizes – different destinations, durations, and activities aboard the ship as well as on land. You want to pick a cruise that best fits you, especially if you don’t want to spend a week at sea with the younger generation.
Things to consider
Ask yourself these questions before you start planning:
- How many days do you want to travel?
- Are you traveling solo, with a partner, family, friend or with a group?
- What do you want to achieve from this trip? Lots of destinations – just to relax – lots of food?
- Do you (or a travel companion) have any mobility issues? Any health conditions that need special assistance?
- What is your budget?
Different cruise lines and different ships offer different amenities, different services, and different facilities. Some cruise lines, although ADA compliant, aren’t really super convenient for passengers with limitations or disabilities.
Other cruise lines go above and beyond offering hydraulic pool chairs in their pools as well as providing wheelchair accessibility. Some ships cater to multi-generation or younger families while others are designed exclusively for adults.
The Best Cruises for the Over 55 Crowd (in no particular order)
Holland America’s smaller sized ships offer over 500 itineraries that visit over 100 countries. Its Grand World Voyages and 10-plus day cruises to Australia, the South Pacific, South America, Antarctica, Northern Europe and the Mediterranean, and the Alaska Land+Sea packages are all very popular with retirees. The average passenger age is 55, but the line does offer entertainment and activities geared to multigenerational travel.
Onboard activities focusing on culinary enrichment include the line’s partnership with America’s Test Kitchen. Passengers are able to brush up on cooking skills with a hands-on workshop or discover new techniques during a live cooking demonstration.
Available on two of their ships, BLEND by Chateau Ste. Michelle is the only purpose-built wine-blending venue at sea. During sessions passengers create an individual blend of wine to enjoy while onboard the ship.
In addition to the main dining room and two casual dining options included in the cruise fare, each ship offers up to five specialty venues.
As one of the most disability-friendly lines in the industry, accessible staterooms are available on all Holland America ships.
Oceania’s luxury ships range in size from 684 to 1,250 passengers with the average age of guests being 55 years old. Two-for-one cruise fares that include airfare and several other amenities, such as dining at specialty restaurants, transfers and free Wi-Fi make Oceania a great choice.
Most itineraries range between 10 and 14 days. Because Oceania’s smaller ships can stop in less-visited ports, such as the Seychelles islands in the Indian Ocean and Komodo Island in Indonesia, the line is able to work with tour operators and chefs to create programs highlighting the local culture and history.
Excursions accommodate all ability levels. The cruise line also offers numerous pre-, post- and mid-cruise land tours.
Onboard dining venues range from steakhouse specialties at the Polo Grill and contemporary Asian fare at Red Ginger to classic Parisian bistro food at Jacques.
A smaller line in comparison to others, Crystal’s two luxury ships, 848-passenger Symphony and 980-passenger Serenity, are considered the most spacious ships in the industry, boasting the highest personal space and crew-to-passenger ratios at sea.
Crystal offers an all-inclusive personalized luxury experience, with drinks, Wi-Fi and tips included in its fares. The Crystal Visions Enrichment Program features guest lecturers that include well-known authors and historians, foreign ambassadors and diplomats, guest chefs, wine connoisseurs and destination experts.
Fitness programs, such as yoga, Pilates and golf lessons given by PGA instructors, are also complimentary.
Culinary excellence is one of the many highlights of cruising with Crystal, and the ships now have eight globally inspired dining venues.
Of course, there are several other cruise lines that cater to the over 55 crowd but these three lines focus on memorable experiences that include immersive experiential travel, cultural enrichment, unique under-the-radar offerings, soft adventure and exceptional culinary options.