Picking the perfect honeymoon is no easy feat—countless romantic destinations, endless hotel options, limited vacation time, and the struggle-is-real challenge of finding the perfect place to please both you and your new spouse. Where to begin? Well, right here. Brides teamed up with the A-list agents at Virtuoso—global network of more than 15,000 luxury-travel specialists—to find the most romantic, luxe, hot spots in the world. Whether you're looking for bucket-list hotels and resorts, far-flung beaches, the top cruise lines for couples, inexpensive travel ideas, or unexpected honeymoon-worthy locales, you’ve come to the right spot. Presenting our 2017 Honeymoon Awards—dive in to see the best cruise lines for honeymooners!
1. Paul Gauguin Cruises
If picture-perfect blue water, garden-green private islands, and hours upon hours of lounging in the sun are what you're after on your honeymoon, you're looking for a French Polynesian getaway. And there’s no better way to explore this South Pacific paradise than aboard a luxe cruise ship like the Gauguin, the flagship of Paul Gauguin Cruises. With just 332 passengers, private balconies in more than 70 percent of the suites and staterooms, and a crew-to-guest ratio of 1:1.5 (one of the highest in the cruise industry), the Gauguin is a small-ship dream. And that's not to mention the ship's onboard water sports marina, three dining venues, an extensive spa, and friendly staff of local Tahitians.
2. Crystal Cruises
Crystal is so much more than just an ocean-going cruise line these days—the Chinese-backed company now offers river cruises, yachts, around-the-world AirCruises (by retrofitted Boeing 777 airliner), private jet charters, and even private residences at sea on the forthcoming Crystal Executive Class ships.
But it was the ocean vessels Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity that launched the brand to such great heights. This will only continue, as both ships will see a multimillion-dollar refresh at the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018. If your honeymoon falls during that time, no worries—just book a voyage on the 62-passenger Crystal Esprit, the first yacht in the Crystal family with amenities that include 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). Or, try the Crystal Mozart, which made its maiden voyage on the Danube River last July.
This ultraluxe, all-inclusive line has been at the top of the small-ship game for years, thanks to its unique itineraries, less-crowded ports of call, expert tour guides, and OTT ships (with top-notch service and a high staff-to-guest ratio). This past December, Seabourn launched its newest vessel, Seabourn Encore, the first in a new class of ships that are slightly larger than the three existing Odyssey-class vessels (Seabourn Odyssey, Seabourn Sojourn, and Seabourn Quest, with just 458 passengers). The hallmark feature of Encore, designed by Adam D. Tihany, isn't the private veranda in every suite or the open-bar service; it's "the Retreat," a new secluded sanctuary on Deck 12 with a whirlpool, sun loungers, and 15 private cabanas, each with a flat-screen TV and refrigerator stocked with a personalized selection of beverages (from $350 per couple per day). So, if you're looking to unwind away from the other passengers, all you have to do is make a reservation—though we recommend opting for the one Spa Treatment Cabana, because, well, duh.
4. Silversea Cruises
One of the most unique aspects of Silversea is that it's still privately owned and operated by its Italian founder, Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio. Each of the five main vessels (Silver Wind, Silver Shadow, Silver Whisper, Silver Spirit, and Silver Muse) are outfitted with water-view suites, restaurant-quality cuisine, and a crew-to-guest ratio of nearly 1:1, sailing to some 800 total destinations around the globe. Silver Muse only joined the fleet in April; the ship hosts just 596 guests in all-suite butler-serviced accommodations, perfect for couples who seek a luxe, intimate, small-ship experience.
However, those who want excursion-packed itineraries in remote regions—like the North and South Poles, Southeast Asia, Australia’s Kimberley Coast, and the Galápagos Islands—need only look to one of Silversea's Expedition-class vessels, Silver Explorer, Silver Galapagos, Silver Discoverer, or Silver Cloud (sailing this summer as a regular vessel, after which time it'll be converted into an Expedition-class ship, in operation by late 2017).
5. SeaDream Yacht Club
Whether you’re looking for a Caribbean, Mediterranean, or transatlantic voyage, SeaDream Yacht Club’s two twin mega-yachts—SeaDream I and SeaDream II—are the ideal celeb-worthy vessels. Days at sea can be spent relaxing in the saltwater pool, while nights include movies, screened on the top deck, and a sleep-under-the-stars experience (the crew will create a special bed for you on the deck so you can fall asleep to the sounds of the sea).
Each ship is outfitted with 56 luxe staterooms, including 10 suites, meaning you and your new partner basically have the ship to yourselves (in fact, you can have it to yourself—the line also offers private charters, perfect for a wedding at sea—just saying). Itineraries are also all-inclusive, so food, drinks (including alcoholic beverages), water sports, and even gratuities are baked into the cost of the cruise.
6. Windstar Cruises
Windstar is one of the latest cruise lines to operate traditional sailing yachts, the ultimate throwback cruising experience. 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. Windstar also has powered yachts—Star Pride, Star Breeze, and Star Legend—each with just 212 guests. Foodie couples will also appreciate Windstar's partnership with the James Beard Foundation, offering guests an exclusive lineup of culinary-focused sailings that highlight the local cuisine of the destinations you visit, plus onboard cooking demonstrations, tastings of regional wines, and visits to local markets ashore.
7. Regent Seven Seas Cruises
The crown jewel of the Regent fleet, the 750-passenger Seven Seas Explorer has been dubbed the “world’s most luxurious ship.” What makes her so over-the-top? The fact that each stateroom is a suite with its own private balcony, while common spaces feature inlaid marble floors, glass staircases, crystal chandeliers, and, oh—the ship hosts the largest suite at sea, complete with its own in-room spa.
Seven Seas Explorer joined the line’s three other all-suite vessels—Seven Seas Navigator, Seven Seas Mariner, and Seven Seas Voyager—which collectively sail to nearly 350 destinations around the globe on all-inclusive voyages (including round-trip airfare, excursions in every port, WiFi in concierge-level rooms, and pre-cruise hotel packages in some cases).
8. Celebrity Cruises
If you're not honeymooning until 2019, you're in luck. That's when Celebrity Cruises is set to launch the Celebrity Edge, the wholly unique, totally insane first ship of the all-new Edge class. Celebrity tapped internationally acclaimed architect Tom Wright to design a wide variety of spaces on the Resort Deck, which includes the main pool area, a rooftop garden, a jogging track, and solarium. He also tricked-out the insane duplex Edge Villas with floor-to-ceiling windows and indoor-outdoor areas.
The Edge Class will be the first new class of ships since the Solstice class debuted in 2008, joining Millennium and Xpedition for a fleet of 10-plus high-end vessels. Also of note: the line focuses on novel culinary programming on all voyages, offering experiences like “A Taste of Film," for which guests can sign up for a multicourse meal paired with a popular food-themed movie (think The Hundred-Foot Journey or Julie and Julia), screened on-deck under the stars. The line also has an exclusive level of wellness-centric staterooms called the AquaClass, in which passengers have access to spa and lounge areas around the clock and can dine at their own restaurant.
If the idea of being on the high seas makes you seasick, good news—AmaWaterways' award-winning river cruises ply the waters of Europe, Southeast Asia, and Africa. So whether you're looking to soar over Myanmar's temples of Bagan by hot air-ballon (try the AmaPura), see the architecture of Budapest by night (AmaVista), sip vintages in Portugal's Douro Valley (AmaLotus), sample Asian delicacies on the floating markets of Cambodia and Vietnam's Mekong River (AmaDara), or go on traditional game drives in Botswana (Zambezi Queen), AmaWaterways has something for every kind of honeymooner.
10. Oceania Cruises
Oceania Cruises has an exclusive partnership with culinary legend, Jacques Pépin. What does that mean for passengers? It means they have the chance to sail with the internationally-recognized French chef, television personality, and author on a signature voyage. If your honeymoon doesn't overlap with Pépin's schedule, fear not, Oceania Cruises’ expertly-crafted voyages call on more than 370 ports across Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, the South Pacific, and the Americas aboard the 684-guest Regatta, Insignia, Nautica, and Sirena, as well as the 1,250-guest Marina and Riviera.
The line focuses on experiencing the local culture, so passengers on the new voyages to Cuba, for example, can experience Old Havana's cobblestone alleys, the pastoral landscapes of Cienfuegos, and Santiago de Cuba's lively music scene.