The Best Cruise Lines For Young Adults, According To Travel Reviews

Cruising has been a popular form of travel since the 1980s, offering travelers the chance to explore multiple destinations while enjoying luxurious amenities and entertainment on board. While cruises have generally been associated with an older demographic, many cruise lines today are actively working to attract younger adults looking for a lively and vibrant experience at sea.

According to Fortune, Gen Z and Millenials are prioritizing trips and experiences over purchasing luxury items. These groups primarily choose to visit off-the-beaten-path locations and partake in diverse culinary experiences while taking care of their mental and physical health via self-care.

With more affordable prices, stops in exotic locations, buzzing entertainment, and spa services on board, more and more younger travelers are opting for cruises as a way to meet their travel needs. Thanks to the wide range of cruise offerings from dozens of companies around the world, young adults can find a cruise that best fits their travel goals, budget, and personality. By sourcing cruise reviews and noting unique highlights, we've compiled a list of the best cruise lines for young adults.

Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival Cruise Line is popular with younger crowds, namely for its over-the-top and extensive range of on-board entertainment. Calling its fleet "fun ships" and having Shaquille O'Neal as its "Chief Fun Officer," Carnival specializes in all things entertainment. With live performances by renowned musicians and comedians, high-energy dance parties at nightclubs and bars, Broadway-style performances, interactive game shows, karaoke nights, and even late-night outdoor movies under the stars, there is always something exciting to do on board. Carnival also offers the first-ever breweries at sea on the Vista and Horizon ships, allowing guests to sip world-class beer directly from the source.

For those who love a thrill, try the Twister Waterslide or the SkyRide — a suspended cycling experience — that offers breathtaking views from above deck. Or, race against friends on the Speedway Splash water coaster, or challenge yourself on the ropes course suspended high above the ship's deck. Among one of the most affordable cruise lines on the market, Carnival is making it even easier for young adults to find a sailing that works within their budget.

Virgin Voyages

As the only cruise line that doesn't allow children, Virgin Voyages appeals to young adults wishing to escape from day-to-day life. The child-free cruises also allow young travelers to meet more like-minded people in an adult-only environment. Because Virgin doesn't cater to families or young children, there are many more opportunities for nightlife, dining, and on-board events than other cruise lines.

While many cruise lines across the industry have created elevated dining experiences, Virgin has replaced buffets and set dining times. With more than 20 restaurants and dining options, Virgin ships offer a wide range of culinary choices and diverse experiences, such as the soju drinking game that starts the meal at the Korean BBQ restaurant, Gunbae.

Virgin also offers large fitness centers with free group classes, outdoor yoga, and a functional training center by the pool. There are also countless entertainment offerings, from DJs to Broadway-style shows to nightclubs, that are perfect for young adults to let loose in a kid-free environment.

Norwegian Cruise Line

With the introduction of Studio cabins for single travelers, Norwegian has been appealing to younger generations of travelers who want to cruise alone, as the cabins are a more cost-effective way for solo travelers. On standard cruises, rooms are priced at double occupancy, so when traveling solo, the cost would be roughly doubled. With Norwegian Studio Cabins, prices start at the standard occupancy rate with no single supplement fee, which will add up to significant savings that can be used for shore excursions or additional onboard amenities. 

Norwegian also offers Studio Lounges, a solos-only area on its ships that allows solo travelers to meet people and mingle with other like-minded cruisers. This can help create camaraderie among those traveling alone. The lounge offers complimentary beer and wine, and Norwegian hosts a range of solos-only events, including on-board pub crawls, tasting classes, and happy hours to cater to young, solo travelers. 

Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Cruises boasts a fleet of sleek and contemporary ships that cater to the preferences of young adults. From stylish bars and lounges to trendy restaurants and cutting-edge technology, these ships offer an exciting atmosphere where young travelers can relax, party, and mingle with like-minded individuals while traveling the world.

Celebrity also offers a wide range of culinary programs that appeal to foodies and mixologists. From a World Wine Tour and a Food and Wine Pairing Workshop to Mixology 101 and a Jack Daniels tasting flight, there's something for everyone on board. Celebrity sails to a variety of locations, from exotic Caribbean islands to ancient European cities, appealing to any travel style and goal. Active young adults can embark on a range of thrilling shore excursions, such as snorkeling in crystal-clear waters or exploring vibrant local markets, to create memories that last a lifetime.

For thrill-seekers seeking at-sea adventure, Celebrity Cruises also offers exciting onboard activities such as rock climbing walls, basketball courts, pickleball, and jogging tracks overlooking the sea. Plus, there's no shortage of entertainment options on board. From jazz venues and rock shows to Latin-inspired dance parties, there's no shortage of options on a Celebrity Cruise.

Princess Cruise Line

Princess Cruises offers many exciting adventures and amenities designed for young adults. Since Princess is one of the more affordable cruise lines, young adults can make the most out of their travel budget. Princess offers Getaway Cruises that include shorter itineraries in the Caribbean and off the West Coast. The cruises are ideal for young adults who may appreciate a quick vacation without taking too much time off work or school.

Princess Cruises also offers an array of captivating itineraries that cater to the adventurous spirit of young adults. From cruising through the vibrant Caribbean islands or exploring the majestic Alaskan wilderness to embarking on an exotic Mediterranean voyage, there is truly something for everyone. The cruises also offer an extensive range of onboard activities tailored to suit young adults' tastes. With rock climbing walls, water slides, and competitive sports tournaments like basketball and volleyball matches, young adults can find something exciting on each ship.

Royal Caribbean

In recent years, Royal Caribbean has made an effort to appeal to younger travelers, specifically millennial and Gen Z generations with new activities onboard like glow-in-the-dark laser tag, escape room challenges, and surf simulators. They've also begun offering shorter weekend cruises that fit around work schedules and are more budget-friendly. In addition, Royal Caribbean's adult-only beach in the Bahamas is a major draw of the cruise line. 

In 2023, Royal Caribbean also launched its Hyperlink program aimed at young adults 18 to 25 who are often caught in the middle of kid and adult activities. The Hyperlink program is similar to events hosted in the teen club but is aimed at a slightly older clientele. Programs include meetups for socializing, exclusive nightclub parties, and organized sports solely for those ages 18 to 25. Hyperlink activities can currently be found on Symphony of the Seas, with plans to expand to other ships in the future, including Odyssey of the Seas and the Wonder of the Seas.

Disney Cruise Line

For many, a Disney cruise is just for kids or young families that want a family-friendly vacation. For others, it's a way to escape day-to-day life to feel the nostalgia of childhood and Disney magic without the stress of a theme park vacation. Especially now that Disney has acquired Star Wars and Marvel, more and more young adults are flocking to Disney for their themed ships and special sailing itineraries. These are a little more grown-up compared to the princesses and cartoons typically associated with Disney. 

With events like Marvel Day at Sea and Star Wars Day at Sea, young adults can feel like a kid again by dressing up, interacting with characters from their favorite movies, as well as experiencing themed shows and dining aboard a world-class ship. While these themed cruise itineraries still cater to younger passengers, as it's not a "comic-con" type of experience, the cruises can still appeal to fans of all ages. 

For a little bit of kid-free time, the adults-only areas like the Satellite Falls pools on Dream and Fantasy are perfect for relaxing outdoors with friends or on your own. And just because it's Disney doesn't mean there isn't adult fun to be had. With countless bars and lounges across their fleet of ships, you can sample craft cocktails and high-end dining surrounded by the whimsey of Disney magic, making the higher price of a Disney cruise worth it for fans. 

MSC Cruises

MSC Cruises has a vibrant and energetic atmosphere onboard their ships that perfectly suits the preferences of young adults. Live music performances, themed parties under the stars, exciting events, and plenty of bars and lounges are available throughout their fleet of ships. But one particular ship, the MSC Seascape, is inspired by New York City and pays tribute to the bustling metropolitan city, which will delight any young adult who wants a hip and sophisticated cruise experience. 

The ship's design features public areas and venues named after some of New York's most well-known sights, such as the Times Square-inspired shopping mall and a Broadway-style theater, as well as a mini replica of the Statue of Liberty. The dining options on all MSC cruise ships are a mix of high-end international cuisine and casual dining options. When it comes to entertainment options onboard MSC Cruises' ships, guests can enjoy theater shows featuring world-class performers or catch a movie at the onboard cinema.

MSC also has thrilling activities that cater specifically to adventurous young adults seeking excitement during their voyage. Try out their zip-lining experience high above deck, or challenge your friends at the sports court in basketball or soccer matches. You can also mingle with other passengers on the MSC's Fantasia-class ships, which feature adult-only decks. 

P&O Cruises

P&O Cruises has long been working to break the stereotype that cruises are only for an older crowd by offering an incredible experience tailored explicitly for young adults. One way they're catering to younger crowds is by offering a wide range of shore excursions at varying price points to allow all travelers to experience the destinations they visit.

P&O also offers two new ships, Arcadia and Aurora, that are available exclusively for adults. The all-adult atmosphere, combined with even more dining and entertainment options, make these cruises great for young adults to enjoy a relaxed vacation while having plenty of exciting shore excursion options, high-end dining, and world-class shows to maintain the adventure.

P&O Cruises offers a fleet of modern ships equipped with state-of-the-art amenities geared specifically to the needs of younger travelers. From spacious cabins designed with contemporary aesthetics to interactive technology ensuring seamless connectivity throughout the ship, these vessels provide the perfect home at sea for younger cruisers.

Viking Cruises

Unlike most other cruise lines, Viking specializes in both ocean cruises and river cruises. River cruises offer travelers a slightly different cruise experience with vastly different ports and shore excursions compared to ocean trips. Young travelers can opt for a river cruise to visit popular European cities like Vienna, Budapest, and Amsterdam, Southeast Asian destinations in Vietnam and Cambodia, or experience Egypt along the Nile, which would not be possible on an ocean cruise ship.

For young adults with an adventurous side, Viking's Expedition cruises may be the ideal choice. Expedition cruises head out to locations like Patagonia, the Antarctic, and the Arctic for once-in-a-lifetime experiences that few other cruise lines offer. While these cruises come at a premium price, you can check off those bucket list items like seeing penguins in Patagonia or visiting the seventh continent while enjoying the comfort and convenience of a luxury cruise ship.