Best cruise lines for young adults

Ultimate Guide to Best Cruises for Young Adults

If you’re a young adult planning your first cruise or a parent looking for the perfect family cruise with young adults, you’re in the right place!

Cruising offers a fantastic blend of adventure, relaxation, and fun, and there are several cruise lines that cater to the preferences of young adults. Having young adults myself, I have seen what appeals to them and what they look for in a cruise vacation.

Here, we’ll take a look at the top 7 cruise lines that are great for young adults, and we’ll reveal our top 3 recommendations for an unforgettable experience.

Keep in mind that cruise ships vary within each cruise line. The bigger and newer ships will have the more innovative activities and greater selection of restaurants and dining.

Not all ships have all the activities listed below. Be sure to research your ship carefully before booking.

Best cruise lines for young adults

Below are 7 great cruises for young adults depending on what you are looking for. Some have a lively atmosphere while others are more sophisticated. Some have innovative amenities that will keep you busy, while other are more relaxing.

Keep reading, at the bottom I will list what I think are the 3 best cruises for young adults. The ones I first look at when planning our own vacation with our young adult children.

Best cruises for young adults

1. Carnival Cruise Line

If you’re a young adult looking for a cruise that’s all about fun, Carnival Cruise Line might be your top pick! Known for its vibrant atmosphere and diverse entertainment options, Carnival offers a fantastic experience for young adults.

From themed parties and exciting nightlife to thrilling water slides and onboard casinos, there’s never a dull moment on a Carnival cruise. Carnival is known as the Fun Ships for a reason.


The atmosphere on Carnival cruises is lively and energetic. It’s perfect for young adults who love to socialize and make new friends while enjoying a vibrant onboard experience.



Carnival offers diverse dining options, from casual buffets to specialty restaurants. In my opinion Carnival has some of the best casual eating food options included in your cruise fare.

Don’t miss out on the delicious Guy’s Burger Joint for mouthwatering burgers and the BlueIguana Cantina for fresh Mexican cuisine. The BlueIguana breakfast burritos are a must try.

2. Royal Caribbean International

Royal Caribbean is perfect for young adults seeking adventure and variety. With activities and amenities that are guaranteed to keep you as busy as you want to be. Plus, their fleet features some of the most innovative and massive ships on the seas, providing endless entertainment options.


Royal Caribbean cruises offer a mix of excitement and relaxation, making them perfect for young adults looking for a bit of everything. The atmosphere is dynamic, with plenty of opportunities to unwind or stay active.


Royal Caribbean is a playground for adventure seekers. In my opinion, Royal Caribbean has some of the best ways to stay active onboard. You can go ice skating, rock climbing, surf on the FlowRider, try an escape room, or zip-line across the ship. Most of Royal Caribbean’s activities are included in your cruise fare.

They also have Broadway-style shows and a variety of pools and hot tubs. Some of their newer ships even have a sky diving simulator (iFly – extra cost). Activities vary ship to ship and these won’t be on all Royal Caribbean ships.

Royal Caribbean has a really great private island called Perfect Day at Coco Cay. Beautiful beaches, thrilling water slides, and a large pool where there is a really good chance a pool party will break out.

3. Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL)

Norwegian Cruise Line is all about freedom and flexibility. As a young adult, you’ll appreciate their “Freestyle Cruising” concept, allowing you to dine when and where you want. They also offer a wide range of bars, lounges, and entertainment options, making it easy to socialize and meet fellow travelers.

NCL is a great option for solo travelers as they have studio rooms, making them a cost effective option for singles.


NCL provides a relaxed and flexible atmosphere for young adults. You can choose your dining times and dress code, making it easy to enjoy a laid-back or dressed-up evening.


NCL is known for its “Freestyle Cruising,” which means you have the freedom to do what you want, when you want. Enjoy thrilling activities like go-kart racing, laser tag, and waterslides.

The nightlife is buzzing with bars, clubs, live music, and some great production shows.


NCL offers a variety of dining venues, including complimentary and specialty restaurants. Taste delicious seafood at Ocean Blue or savor a steak at Cagney’s Steakhouse. Both these are specialty restaurants that have an additional charge.

Best cruises for young adults

4. MSC Cruises

MSC’s modern ships and diverse itineraries provide a unique blend of relaxation and adventure. You can unwind in style, savor delicious cuisine, and discover new cultures.


The atmosphere on MSC Cruises is elegant and international, making it perfect for young adults who appreciate a touch of luxury while exploring exotic destinations.


MSC Cruises offer a wide range of activities, including water parks, bowling alleys, and F1 simulators on some ships. Enjoy theater shows, dance classes, and themed parties throughout your cruise.


MSC Cruises provide a mix of international cuisine with a focus on Mediterranean flavors. Specialty restaurants on select ships include the Eataly for authentic Italian dishes and the Butcher’s Cut for mouthwatering steaks.

5. Celebrity Cruises

If you’re a young adult looking for a more refined cruise experience, Celebrity Cruises might be the choice for you. Their ships focus on gourmet dining and cultural enrichment programs. It’s perfect for those who want a balance of relaxation and intellectual stimulation.


Celebrity Cruises provide a more elegant and sophisticated atmosphere, appealing to young adults who seek cultural enrichment and relaxation. Celebrity Cruises is considered by most to be a step up from the 4 cruise lines mentioned above.

Celebrity Cruises often has a an older clientele, but for the younger crowd that ranks quality food over innovative activities, this will appeal to you.


Celebrity Cruises offer activities like cooking classes, wine tastings, and art auctions. You can also relax in the adults-only (16+) Solarium or attend theater performances and live music events.


Celebrity Cruises are known for their exquisite cuisine. Indulge in gourmet dining experiences at restaurants like Murano (French cuisine) or enjoy fresh seafood at the Raw on 5.

6. Princess Cruises

Princess Cruises are an excellent choice for young adults who appreciate a mix of relaxation and exploration. Their ships offer plenty of onboard entertainment and nightlife options, however have less wow factor amenities.


The atmosphere on Princess Cruises is relaxed and refined, making it suitable for young adults who appreciate a balance of relaxation and exploration. Princess is another cruise line that has high quality dining options but lacks the innovative activities.


Princess Cruises offer activities like Movies Under the Stars, wine tasting events, and dance classes. You can also enjoy the Lotus Spa and various sports activities.


Princess Cruises provide a mix of traditional and specialty dining options. Savor the flavors of Italy at Sabatini’s or try Crown Grill for premium steaks and seafood. Be sure to try the pizzeria, it is delicious.

7. Virgin Voyages

For a truly unique experience, consider Virgin Voyages. Richard Branson’s cruise line caters to young adults with a fresh and modern approach. Enjoy trendy restaurants, stylish bars, and a party atmosphere that sets Virgin Voyages apart from traditional cruise lines.


Virgin Voyages offers a modern and vibrant atmosphere, making it perfect for young adults seeking a unique and stylish cruise experience. They are an adult only cruise line where passengers must be at least 18 to cruise with them. You won’t find little kids running around or splashing in the pool.


Virgin Voyages offers trendy activities like tattoo parlors, a boxing ring, and outdoor yoga. The nightlife is a highlight, with parties, DJs, and glamorous events.


Virgin Voyages focuses on trendy dining experiences. Try Razzle Dazzle which has a large selection of vegan and vegetarian dishes or Gunbae for Korean BBQ.

Most cruise ships regardless the cruise line will have standard amenities like pools, hot tubs, a fitness center, basketball courts, and a spa. As you can see, there are plenty of cruise options for young adults, catering to different interests and preferences. Whether you seek adventure, relaxation, luxury, or a bit of everything, these cruise lines have you covered.

Age Restrictions and Drinking Age

Most cruise lines require passengers to be at least 21 years old to book a cabin and travel alone from North America. The drinking age on most cruise lines is 21. Gambling on most ships is 18. Be sure to check with your cruise line before booking as cruise lines may vary and restrictions may change.

Best cruise lines for young adults

My top 3 cruise lines for young adults

For a memorable cruise experience, our top 3 recommendations the best cruises for young adults are:

  • Carnival Cruise Line
  • Royal Caribbean Cruise Line
  • Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL)

These are the three cruise lines that I first look at when planning our own family vacation with our own young adults.

These best cruise lines offer a wide range of activities, dining options, and lively atmospheres that are sure to make your cruise unforgettable. These three all some of the best ways to be active as well as some great quiet and relaxing areas. They have great included food options as well as some fine dining options.

Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and NCL generally cater to a younger crowd than Princess, Celebrity and MSC does, making them a great choice for those looking to socialize and meet new people.

Remember to look at the ship carefully to be sure if has the activities you are hoping for. If you are looking for some cruise ship recommendations for what I think are the best cruises for young adults here you go.

Best cruise ships for young adults

Of course there are many others that are great choices, but if you are looking for a starting point to plan your cruise vacation take a look at these.

Best Carnival cruise ships for young adults

  • Carnival Celebration – I recently cruised on this ship and have booked it again to bring my 19 and 21 year old with me because I know they will love this ship. This is a newer ship and one of Carnival’s largest. This is one that has the Bolt Ultimate Sea Coaster. Mardi Gras and Carnival Jubilee are sister ships. Check out these Carnival Celebration tips.
  • Carnival Vista – This is another ship I have done a family cruise on. Carnival Vista tips has some information about the ship you will find helpful. Carnival Horizon is a sister ship, therefore another great choice.

Best Royal Caribbean ships for young adults

While I’d love to say the Icon of the Seas as I think it looks just incredible, it is just so darn expensive. If this is in your price range then definitely go for it! Otherwise take a look at some of these other ships.

  • Wonder of the Seas this is also a newer ship and massive ship. There is no way you can be bored on this ship. This will also be on the higher end price wise.
  • Symphony of the Seas is an action packed ship with the Ultimate Abyss slide and glow in the dark laser tag.
  • Mariner of the Seas while older and smaller than the above two options, it is still a great ship. You can read more about our experience on the Mariner of the Seas here.

Best NCL ships for young adults

  • Norwegian Viva this is one of NCL’s newest and largest ships. This ship has some pretty incredible looking water slides. This is a great option for young adults who want a mix of sophistication and excitement.
  • Norwegian Encore: Encore boasts a racetrack at sea, the Galaxy Pavilion virtual reality complex, and stunning observation lounges. It’s a ship designed for fun and adventure.

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