Photo: Courtesy of SeaDream Yacht Club
There's no better way to put your new marriage to the test than by hitting the high seas. And if you think a honeymoon cruise is only for the Hawaiian-shirt-and-crocs-clad crowd, you'd be surprised — there are a number of luxury lines with over-the-top staterooms, Michelin-star-worthy cuisine, world-class spas, and more. Not to mention a cruise itinerary can take you to the hottest cities in the Mediterranean, the sexiest deserted beaches in the Indian Ocean, or the farthest-reaching corners of Antarctica. Here, the top 10 Cruise Lines from our 2016 Honeymoon Awards.
1. SeaDream Yacht Club
Less amusement-park-at-sea, more celeb-worthy-charter, SeaDream Yacht Club's two twin mega-yachts — SeaDream I and SeaDream II — are each outfitted with 56 luxe staterooms, including 10 suites, meaning you and your new hubs basically have the ship to yourselves. (In fact, you can have it to yourself — the line also offers private charters, perfect if a wedding at sea is your idea of heaven on earth.) Itineraries are booked on an all-inclusive basis, meaning food, drinks (including alcoholic beverages), water sports, and gratuities are included (because who wants to have to sign a bill on their honeymoon?). Whether you're headed on a Caribbean, Mediterranean, or transatlantic voyage, days at sea can be spent relaxing in the saltwater pool, screening movies in reclining loungers at night, and sleeping on-deck under the stars as you glide through the sea.
If you want a unique itinerary that takes you to both bucket-list cities and hard-to-reach ports of call, it's essential to choose a small-ship cruise. Among the best-of-the-best are Seabourn's acclaimed Odyssey-class ships (Seabourn Odyssey, Seabourn Sojourn, and Seabourn Quest) — which, at just 458 passengers, call on destinations not serviced by larger ships. So whether you're looking to ply the exotic coasts of India, snap pics of gilded temples in Southeast Asia, or trek across miles of frozen tundra in Antarctica (with only penguins for company), Seabourn is the line for you. And if you're the type that likes to get there first, you'll be pleased to hear that Seabourn is launching a new vessel in December 2016. Designed by Adam D. Tihany, Seabourn Encore will tout modern furnishings and private verandas in every suite, plus open-bar service and a high guest-to-staff ratio (meaning you'll rarely have to ask for a refill).
3. Windstar Cruises
What sets Windstar's fleet apart? It has a mix of sailing yachts and power yachts — so not only can you choose which gorgeous waters you want to ply, but also how you want to ply them. The three recently renovated sailing yachts (Wind Surf, Wind Spirit, and Wind Star) carry either 148 or 310 passengers, and cruise to 50 nations, with 150 ports-of-call throughout Europe, the South Pacific, the Caribbean, and Central America. On the powered yacht front, Star Pride, Star Breeze, and Star Legend have a capacity of just 212 guests each, making Windstar an ideal line for honeymooners looking for a wide variety of small-ships. Foodie couples will also appreciate Windstar's partnership with the James Beard Foundation, offering guests an exclusive lineup of three themed cruises in 2016. Dubbed "The James Beard Foundation Collection," this bespoke portfolio of sailings (available on select dates in April, June, and August) highlights the local cuisine of each destination through on-board cooking demonstrations, tastings of regional wines, and visits to local markets at shore.
4. Regent Seven Seas Cruises
If you don't think cruising's right for you, we dare you to sail with Regent. The line's three all-suite vessels — Seven Seas Navigator, Seven Seas Mariner, and Seven Seas Voyager — are among the most spacious at sea and sail to nearly 350 destinations around the globe. Fares include food and beverage, round-trip airfare, sightseeing excursions in every port, WiFi in concierge-level rooms, and pre-cruise hotel packages in some cases. The crown jewel of the Regent fleet will undoubtedly be the forthcoming Seven Seas Explorer — the "world's most luxurious ship," which will make its maiden voyage from Monte Carlo in July 2016. From there, the 750-guest Seven Seas Explorer will sail 10 multi-city Mediterranean itineraries before making her way to Miami for an inaugural Caribbean season in December. What makes this ship so over-the-top? The all-suite, all-balcony luxury liner will have inlaid marble floors, glass staircases, cascading crystal chandeliers, and the largest suite at sea, complete with its own in-room spa•talk about honeymoon perks!
5. Silversea Cruises
Founded in the 1990s by Italian Antonio Lefebvre d'Ovidio, Silversea is a unique line in that its class of eight luxury cruise ships (soon to become nine) is still owned and operated out of Rome by the Lefebvre family. Each Silversea vessel has an elegant European vibe (think ocean-view suites, restaurant-quality Italian cuisine, and a crew to guest ratio of nearly one to one) — and together the ships sail to more than 800 destinations around the globe. Intrepid honeymooners will gravitate towards Silversea's 3 expedition vessels, which offer excursion-packed itineraries in some of the most remote regions of the planet, like the North and South Poles, Southeast Asia, the Russian Far East, Australia's Kimberley Coast, Central and South America (including the Galapagos Islands), and the exotic western coast of Africa.
6. Crystal Cruises
If you're looking for a small ship with over-the-top amenities and ultra-personalized service, you're looking for a Crystal cruise. This past November, the line launched the 62-passenger Crystal Esprit, the newest member of and first yacht in the Crystal family (joining fellow ocean vessels, Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity). Among the Esprit's amenities: a high-speed tender for water ski and jet ski activities; kayaks (to take out at your leisure); butler service (they'll even unpack your bags upon request); all-inclusive dining (with a grab-and-go bistro and wine bar); unlimited champagne; and a two-person submarine. (Yes, you read that right — the ship comes with a submarine.) You'll want to book that underwater excursion when you touch down in the Seychelles — one of the sexiest island hotspots that the Esprit plies (so luxurious that even the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge honeymooned there). But the itinerary may be tough to match when Crystal launches river cruising on the new Crystal Mozart, which makes its maiden voyage on the Danube River in July.
7. Azamara Club Cruises
For Azamara, it's all about accessing the heart of a destination — making this an ideal option for honeymooners who want to see many places in a short amount of time, but also fully immerse themselves in those places. Each of Azamara's two 690-guest ships — Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest — take you to ports where larger ships won't fit, like Marseille, the Amalfi Coast, Seville, Bordeaux, and Crete. And while other cruisers will be rushing to make it back to ship for a 4 p.m. departure, Azamara passengers can spend more time in ports (including late nights and overnight stays) with its Destination Immersion program, and they'll also get exclusive access the local culinary scene through curated restaurant recommendations as part of the Cruise Global, Eat Local experience.
8. Celebrity Cruises
Ever eat at a truly fabulous restaurant and wish you could take the chef with you, so he can whip up delicious meals wherever you go? Celebrity Cruises embraces the idea that food at-sea should be of the highest quality, no matter where in the world you sail (and they sail everywhere from Alaska to Australia). In this vein, the line has infused novel culinary programming into all voyages on its fleet of 10 high-end ships (divided into three different classes: Solstice, Millennium, and Xpedition). In the newest program, called "A Taste of Film," guests can sign up for a multi-course meal in which dishes are tailored to accompany a popular food-themed movie (think "The Hundred-Foot Journey" or " Julie and Julia"), screened on-deck under the stars. Health-conscious couples will likewise appreciate Celebrity's commitment to wellness with AquaClass, a new level of stateroom modeled on a ship-in-ship concept — passengers have access to spa and lounge areas around the clock and can dine at their own restaurant (serving lighter fare, like smoothies, omelets, poached salmon, and grilled chicken). So if you don't want all that pre-wedding diet and exercise to go to waste, Celebrity is the one for you.
9. Royal Caribbean International
If you're looking for an excuse to act like a total kid on your honeymoon, consider booking Royal Caribbean. The line has a fleet of 25 mega-ships, including the largest one at sea, Harmony of the Seas, which makes her maiden voyage on May 29 — carrying 6,780 guests and clocking in at 1,188 feet long (picture a ship longer than the Eiffel Tower is tall). You and your hubs will love racing down Ultimate Abyss, the tallest slide at sea with a 10-story plunge; grabbing cocktails from robot bartenders at the Bionic Bar; catching a Broadway-worthy performance of Grease; playing rounds of blackjack at the casino; and dining on trattoria-style cuisine at celebrity chef Jamie Oliver's Italian restaurant (one of 16 different onboard dining options).
10. Star Clippers
For those honeymooners looking to pick up a new skill on their post-wedding vacation, look no further than Star Clippers. The specialty cruise line, founded in 1991, offers an alternative to traditional cruises, operating three of the world's largest sailing vessels, the Royal Clipper, the Star Clipper, and the Star Flyer. These tall ships have a distinct "mega-yacht" feel (allowing passengers to visit ports often untouched by larger vessels), and a design that harkens back to the grand clipper ships that ruled the waters during the 19th century. On board, you'll learn how to raise the sails and tie nautical knots, and get to climb the mast to the Crow's Nest for a stunning panoramic view — perfect if your hubby is looking to live out Pirates of the Caribbean-style fantasies.