11 Ways to Avoid the Crowds to Have a More Intimate Cruise

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Big cruise ships have big crowds, and even if you’re an outgoing person who like to make new friends when you cruise, you also might enjoy an occasional trip with that special someone during which you just want to focus on each other.

You might not think a cruise ship would be the ideal place to enjoy a romantic getaway, but these big vessels can offer a surprisingly wide array of opportunities to have an intimate time during your trip.

This doesn’t mean you can’t be social and have plenty of fun with new friends when you choose. Instead, you can use these tips and tricks to enjoy as much private time as you want on your cruise.

The Sanctuary on Crown Princess
Princess Cruises offers The Sanctuary, an adults-only serene relaxation space, on many of its ships — including this one on Crown Princess.

Stay Onboard

Cruise CompeteChoose to stay on the ship when it reaches port, and you will find yourselves among few souls enjoying the activities and amenities. If you are seeking a romantic getaway with the aim of spending a lot of quality time together, pick an itinerary with destinations that you have already visited. That way, you can just stay on the ship when the masses leave for their excursions, and you can enjoy the gym, spa, swimming pools and almost everything else in relative peace and quiet.

Seek Secret Lounger Spaces

Large ships have a few decks with sun loungers that get lightly used. These are usually located on the one or two decks above the pool deck or on the promenade decks (probably a Deck 4, 5 or 6 near where the lifeboats are located). These spots offer nice views of the horizon as you sail and can be in sun or shade depending or your preference. You might even find a shuffleboard game or Ping-Pong table set up nearby.

Try Specialty Dining

Book spots in the for-fee restaurants for a romantic steak, sushi or Italian dinner for two. These venues offer better food, service and quieter atmospheres, too.

Book a Special Spa Day

The Sanctuary on Princess Cruises' Crown Princess
The Sanctuary on Princess Cruises’ Crown Princess offers the chance to get away from the crowds and enjoy a blissfully relaxing day onboard.

Many cruise ships offer couples massages and spa experiences that give you a relaxing and rejuvenating experience together. Day passes are available for cruise ship thermal suites. These give you access to thalassotherapy pools, hot tubs, saunas, steam rooms and ceramic loungers. Also, look for ships that offer special spa packages that could include a couples massage and half or full days in special suites (just for two) with hot tubs, saunas and waterbeds within the spa area.

Cruise Within a Cruise

Choose to cruise in a stateroom in the exclusive areas available on some large ships. MSC Cruises offer its MSC Yacht Club on MSC Divina, MSC Seaview and MSC Seaside, for examples. Carnival Horizon and Carnival Vista have the Havana Cabanas, and Norwegian Cruise Line features the Haven. These spots may include specialty dining, access to private pool areas and other amenities such as private lounges, butler and concierge service and no room-service fees.

Retreat to Your Cabin

Whether you stay in an exclusive “cruise within a cruise” cabin or a standard stateroom, you can decide to spend more time in your room to avoid the crowds. This can be a wonderfully intimate experience if you splurge a little and get a nice suite with a large balcony and a room with amenities like a Jacuzzi tub or hot tub. You can enjoy your meals en-suite or on your balcony and blissfully watch the world go by as you cruise.

Use the Library

Ship libraries are serene places perfect for spending a few hours reading a book, playing cards or other games. Cruise ship libraries often have a decent selection of games and reading materials like a daily newspaper, magazines, novels and books on the history or geography of the regions you are visiting.

Hit Venues at Off-Peak Time

The disco and other bars and lounges are packed at night time and during scheduled events. But look at your cruise’s daily program to see when they are not scheduled to be in use and head there to enjoy some of the nicest spaces onboard. The bars often have wonderfully comfy couches and chairs, as well as some of the best views from at the top of the ship through floor-to-ceiling panoramic windows.

Table for Two, Please

Even if you don’t want to dine in the for-fee specialty eateries, you can choose your cruise ship’s flexible or “my time” dining option and ask for a table for two when you go to the main dining room. You can even enjoy dinners in the cruise ship buffet area. These spaces tend to much less crowded at dinner time when most cruisers are at the main dining rooms.

Arrive Early for the Shows

Royal Caribbean
You can enjoy shows, music and dancing aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise.

The featured shows each night in the main theaters will draw big crowds. But if you get into the theater early enough, you might be able to find a seating setup for just the two of you. This is completely dependent on the design of your cruise ship’s theater. We have found some ships offer small love seats for two among the seating options. On the second level of many theaters, the side balcony areas also can be good spots to look for more private options.

Arrange Private Tours

When heading ashore, book your excursions independently and ask for a private tour option to avoid the crowds. Many cruise ship excursions can be annoyingly overcrowded, meaning you are moving slowly having trouble hearing the guide and traveling on a big bus. Some luxury cruise ships offer more bespoke excursion services that couple feature private tours, too. Granted, a private tour may be a more expensive option, but it might be worth it if you are seeking to enjoy a special experience together.


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