This is a fantastic holiday choice for discerning couples, and, unlike a boutique hotel, you will wake up somewhere different every day, while only having to unpack once. Whether you're looking for extravagant romance, a relaxed yachting escape or intrepid adventures, there is sure to be a cruise for you. Here is our pick of the best small ship cruise lines for couples:
SeaDream's twin yachts cater to just 56 couples, offering the ultimate in laid-back luxury. These tiny vessels boast some of the best food at sea and a wonderful al fresco style in which to enjoy it. The open bar makes for a welcoming adult retreat, where you can explore smaller ports during the day and relax and unwind in the evening. A perfect combination.
Silversea describe their aesthetic as 'whispered luxury', which perfectly encapsulates the atmosphere on board and the refined yet indulgent style of their fleet. Offering an unparalleled range of worldwide itineraries, Silversea appeals to those who enjoy a little more formality in the evening, making it the natural preserve of couples and friends rather than families with younger children. They also have a fleet of expedition ships which take adventurous travellers to destinations including Antarctica, the Galapagos and the Arctic.
Creating memorable and romantic experiences is baked into Seabourn's DNA. Fancy caviar in the surf? Done. Want a candlelit scented bath? No problem. Seabourn's modern ships offer plenty of deck space, so it's easy to find your own private corner, or you can reserve one of the exclusive cabanas on their newer ships Encore and Ovation. There are 15 of these private retreats, each with flat screen TV and a refrigerator stocked with a personalised selection of beverages, set around a central whirlpool.
Scenic's 'discovery yacht', Scenic Eclipse, boasts ten dining experiences across seven venues, and you won't see a child's menu in any of them! This sleek vessel operates expedition itineraries to far-flung corners of the globe, as well as carefully curated journeys to more traditional cruising destinations. Despite the ship's small size, at just 228 guests, there is a large spa and a superb array of toys including two helicopters and a submarine, ideal for the more adventurous couple.
Ponant's chic yacht-style ships embody the style and panache that you would expect from a French flagged cruise line, crisscrossing the world exploring wild coastlines, off-the-beaten-track ports and vibrant cities. Their bilingual cruises appeal to a truly international clientele, attracted by the line's gastronomic excellence, sophisticated ambience and unusual itineraries.
With Windstar you can choose between the romance of their three sail assisted ships, or the three recently modernised Star Class power yachts. Whichever you choose, you'll find a wonderfully relaxed vibe on board that we refer to as 'the big chill'. Good food, friendly service and beautiful ships make Windstar the perfect choice for a relaxing couple's break.
7. Saga Cruises
Catering exclusively to the over-50s, Saga have been adults only since their inception, and their two new build ships are ideal if you prefer to cruise from a UK port. Totally focused on the needs of their predominantly British clients, Saga include a host of extras such as a chauffeur service to the port and even travel insurance at no extra cost. Saga naturally appeal to couples, and it's worth mentioning that Saga also offer a particularly warm welcome to solo travellers, with a friendly and thoughtful attitude and lots of single cabins to choose from.
With a reputation as the foodie's cruise line, Oceania are a top choice for gastronomes. Dine in a range of superb venues offering everything from pan-Asian to authentic Italian to classic steakhouse fare, along with an extensive vegan menu. Oceania's revitalised fleet has a fresh and updated look, and the larger suites provide a spacious couple's at surprisingly good value.
Focusing exclusively on the paradise islands of the South Pacific, the 332-guest MS Paul Gauguin is the perfect way to experience one of the world's most romantic destinations. It's a popular choice for honeymooners, along with couples celebrating a special anniversary or simply treating themselves to one of those once-in-a-lifetime bucket list experiences. The style on board the ship is relaxed, intimate and carefree, in keeping with the islands which she explores.