By June Naylor
Perhaps the best part of tying the knot is that restful reflection following the celebration. Your honeymoon should be as joyful as the wedding festivities, as you and your beloved soak in the wonders of a blissful trip. Choosing to do that aboard a ship is, for many, the perfect way to experience a lot or do very little for days on end. Cruises take you to exotic places; deciding which to book may be the only challenge you’ll face. Here is a quartet of cruise lines to consider, each with love boats to spare.
Disney Cruise Line
Anyone visiting Walt Disney World sees a fair share of just-married couples honeymooning in the parks. Love birds also frequently book a honeymoon cruise on one of Disney’s elegant ships, which are by no means just for families; Disney Cruise Line even offers weddings. Cruising options include a three-night weekend itinerary to the Bahamas from Port Canaveral, Florida, with a daylong idyll on the private Castaway Cay; a four-night Western Caribbean cruise from Galveston, visiting the Mexican island of Cozumel; and a seven-night Southern Caribbean cruise from San Juan, calling on ports in Martinique, Barbados, Curaçao, St. Maarten, Aruba, Antigua, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, the British Virgin Islands and Bonaire. (If you’re looking for something different, check out Disney sailings to destinations in Europe, the United Kingdom and more.) Each ship offers a significant number of adults-only options, as families have their own on-board diversions. Lunch and dinner restaurants meant only for grown-ups provide quiet settings and sophisticated menus, and there are kid-free swimming pool areas. Likewise, the ships offer spa and fitness facilities, movie theaters and bars and lounges, with special entertainment offerings including wine tastings, cabaret shows, sports broadcasts and live music. That’s not to say you won’t get to see Mickey; he’s available to everyone, of course. Visit disneycruise.disney.go.com.
East and West
These Old World clipper ships are distinctive in this day and age because they actually sail under wind power, making the experience both romantic and thrilling. Passengers can climb the crow’s nest for phenomenal 360-degree views and even help hoist sails. Each day as the ship leaves port, guests gather on the top deck to feel the drama of the wind catching the sails of these magnificent tall ships. In most ports, the ship sets anchor in a small harbor and you take a tender to shore. On beach stops, there’s kayaking, snorkeling or waterskiing; if cruising Thailand, you can scuba dive with a licensed instructor. Most charming of all, the ship provides all kinds of cozy spots, such as the bowsprit netting spanning the front of the ship, where you can climb up for snuggles and enjoy views while suspended over the water. Star Clippers’ itineraries include destinations that exude romance, with the Greek Isles, Rome, Portugal and Croatia among the Mediterranean stops and Bali and Thailand in the Asian region. Trips are typically seven to 14 nights. If you opt for an Indonesian sailing, you’ll visit Lovina Beach in Bali, with its dramatic black sand shores, and Pink Beach on Komodo Island, one of the few pink sand beaches on Earth. Modern and comfortable inside, these ships carry only 170 to 227 guests each. Visit starclippers.com.
Norwegian Cruise Lines
NCL’s Pride of America distinguishes itself by sailing a seven-day round trip from Honolulu through the Hawaiian Islands all year long. The itinerary provides for the equivalent of four days in ports and includes an overnight on Maui in the town of Kahului and another overnight on Kauai in the area known as Nãwiliwili. On the Big Island of Hawaii, time is spent in the towns of Hilo and Kona, complete with a coffee plantation tour. One afternoon cruise supplies a spectacular look at Kauai’s Napali Coast, renowned for its valleys and magnificent waterfalls. Lounging by the swimming pool or on a beach can be tempting, but the activities on land can be irresistible. On Maui, there’s bicycling at sunrise as part of a daylong adventure in Haleakalā National Park, and there’s also a waterfall hike with the chance to rappel. No visit to Hawaii is complete, of course, without a luau, plus hula classes and lei-making instruction. Aboard the ship, which has recently been thoroughly refurbished, you have about 20 dining options (and no assigned dining times), several bars and lounges, dancing and live music, as well as magic and comedy shows. When you just want to be pampered, the spa staff will oblige. Visit ncl.com.
Known for luxury, Oceania Cruises takes you to almost every corner of the world, including Africa and Asia, Australia and New Zealand, South America and the South Pacific, as well as the Caribbean, Canada and New England. Honeymooners interested in the Mediterranean have lots of choices, starting with a 10-day trip called Mediterranean Marvels. Departing Rome, you visit Positano on the Amalfi Coast, Palermo and Malta before stops in Ibiza, Castellón, Barcelona, Provence, Saint-Tropez and Monte Carlo. On the 10-day trip called Grecian Glory, you sail from Venice to Dubrovnik, Montenegro and six Greek destinations as well as Ephesus in Turkey. Oceania ships are noted for pure elegance, from teak decks with stone and tile work to posh appointments in lounges and staterooms. Even the smaller staterooms are spacious, and all have specialty bedding, refrigerated minibar, complimentary 24-hour room service and flat-screen TV with huge media library. When you’re not in port exploring, you can find diversions in the spa and fitness center, boutiques, pool deck, cocktail lounges and restaurants, live music venues and an upscale casino. Some ships offer a culinary center, where onboard cooking classes are part of the program. Visit oceaniacruises.com.