Cruising is perennially popular among boomers because it is such a pleasurable and hassle-free way to travel the world.

Once a cruise is booked, you don’t have to worry about arranging lodging and transportation between ports; after settling into your comfortable stateroom, you only need to pack and unpack once. Service onboard is as good as it gets too, akin to that at a 5-star hotel. And many of the best luxury cruises for boomers are “mostly-inclusive” so you don’t have to keep a mental tally of every cocktail or soft drink you order.

The downside? Once you move up to a luxury line – where ships are typically much smaller than mass-market ones (with fewer passengers, no queues and the ability to visit smaller ports) – you’ll have a hard time going back!

We asked some of our GOT contributors to identify the best luxury cruises for boomers. Their choices made us yearn to set sail on these fabulous ships with fascinating itineraries. We’re sure these luxury cruises will whet your appetite too!

1) Seven Seas Voyager (Regent Seven Seas Cruises) – Mumbai, India to Cape Town, South Africa

By John & Sandra Nowlan at Nowtravel.ca

What’s wow!

We stayed at the Four Seasons Hotel in Mumbai, a luxurious preview of this India-to-Africa cruise to come. Seven Seas Voyager, with 700 passengers, was the world’s second all-suite, all-balcony cruise ship (its sister ship, Seven Seas Mariner, was the first). And what a ship!

Staterooms are large and well equipped, and the public areas are stunning in design and function.  The ship has four comfortable, open-seating dining areas including a steak house and a French restaurant featuring Le Cordon Bleu cuisine. Seven Seas Voyager pampers its guests with an outstanding guest to crew ratio, fine complimentary wine at lunch and dinner and a no-tipping policy.

Service throughout is set at a very high standard. When we told our butler how much we enjoyed the chocolate truffles we had at dinner, he was at our door the next day, and every day thereafter, with a fresh box of truffles. 

Favorite port excursion?

The excursions were amazing, so it’s hard to pick a favorite. We stopped in Mombasa, Kenya, for a visit to the Tsavo Game Reserve. From our open-top van, we saw elephants, giraffes, zebras, baboons, hyenas, warthogs and a variety of birds including a giant ostrich. On the island of Zanzibar, we visited a spice ranch and saw how clove, nutmeg, mace, vanilla beans, cinnamon bark, lemongrass and green, red and black pepper are grown and harvested. 

Appeal for the over-50 traveler:

  • Regent Seven Seas caters to older adults and the guest lecturers reflect the broad interest of guests. On our cruise, one of the speakers was famed oceanographer Jean Michel Cousteau who gave illustrated talks about the Indian Ocean and its influence on the planet. 

Take note: 

  • On this itinerary, guests needed an open mind (there’s grinding poverty in Mumbai and some African ports are very dirty and congested) and a sense of adventure.
  • Because clothes can get quite dusty on safari, it’s better to avoid too many white outfits.

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2) S. S. Catherine (Uniworld) – Avignon to Lyon, France

By Susan Manlin Katzman at SweetLeisure

What’s wow!

Art-rich decor and artistically prepared French cuisine were the double-dip delights of this luxurious river cruise! The S.S. Catherine sparkles and shimmers with Murano glass, enough to stretch 6.21 miles if placed end to end. In addition, two walls of dramatic commissioned porcelain sculpture and halls lined with framed original art add color, interest and whimsy to public spaces.

Artistry also extends to the ship’s food – skillfully prepared and beautifully presented at breakfast, lunch buffets and fine-dining dinners. Pastry masterpieces include cakes sculpted with chocolate and spun sugar, tartlets painted with a palette of jewel-colored fruits and the pièces de résistance, a croquembouche built to towering heights and embedded with sugar panels and fresh strawberries.

Favorite port excursion?

Traveling along the Rhone and Saone Rivers, excursions are varied, unique and all interesting. If forced to choose one, it would have to be the group walking tour through Arles that brought Vincent van Gogh’s biography, environment and paintings to life.

Appeal for the over-50 traveler:

  • Attractive staterooms include marble bathrooms, Savior of London beds and enough space to unpack and store a couple’s-worth of belongings with room to spare.
  • Excursions are divided into groups that accommodate different physical abilities and levels.

Take note:

  • Any drawbacks? Not a one!
  • There’s no need to take formal dress (although the vessel is super stylish, passengers do not need to be). Pack comfortable clothing that you enjoy wearing and good walking shoes for exploring ashore.

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 3) Star Pride (Windstar Cruises) – Athens to Athens, Greece

 By Debbra Dunning Brouillette at TropicalTravelGirl

Domed Churches of Mykonos (Credit: Debbra Dunning Brouillette)

What’s wow!

While our 2016 “Treasures of the Greek Isles” cruise was aboard the Star Pride, a 212-passenger power yacht, the same itinerary is available in 2017 and 2018 on the Wind Star, one of Windstar Cruises’ three 4-masted sailing yachts with a maximum of 148 passengers.

A passenger-to-staff ratio of 1.5 to 1 ensures personalized service. Luxury touches include L’Occitane® bath products, robes and slippers plus and 24-hour room service for those late-night urges for ice cream and cookies.

Favorite port excursion?

Our favorite port excursion was an “Evening in Ephesus,” where passengers are treated to an exclusive evening event while in port at Kusadasi, Turkey. The site of the ancient Greek city of Ephesus and the Celsus Library, third largest in the ancient world, is nearby. We walked along the Marble Road leading to the remaining façade of the Library that once housed more than 12,000 scrolls. A trio from the Aegean Chamber Orchestra serenaded us as we savored a five-course dinner in its courtyard. After sunset, details of its façade, including the statues in their niches, were illuminated, providing a dramatic backdrop to our evening under the stars.

Appeal for the over-50 traveler:

  • The majority of passengers are well-traveled baby boomers, some traveling with their college-age children. There are no kids’ programs.
  • Cozy piano bar entertainment after dinner ends early so you can rise and shine the following morning, ready to explore the next port of call.

Take note

  • Windstar’s ships aren’t wheelchair accessible and are not recommended for passengers with mobility issues.
  • Pack comfortable shoes for walking on uneven surfaces while touring ancient ruins and historic sites.


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4) Buri (Viking River Cruises) – Avignon to Lyon, France 

By Penny Sadler at AdventuresOfACarryon

best luxury cruises for boomers - lyon

What’s wow!

On our Rhone River cruise, there was live entertainment and dancing every night for those who wanted to dance; sometimes the resident pianist played, but often there were guest artists as well. Most people dressed up (though it wasn’t required) – it added a nice touch of elegance that we don’t often enjoy in our everyday lives.

I also loved the spaciousness of my room and the daily attention to details. I requested two bottles of water per day instead of one, and of course they were always there. (It seems a small thing but when traveling it’s easy to become dehydrated. Plus, it was just so nice to not have to ask more than once.) My favorite bath products and amenities were also restocked daily so I never ran out of anything I used regularly. And each day when we returned from a tour, a refreshment of some sort always awaited us as we reboarded the riverboat. Really, you only had to ask for anything you wanted – the customer service was first-class!

Favorite port excursion?

It’s hard to choose my favorite port excursion: They’re all fantastic, but I’d say the tour to the Pont du Gard – a 2,000-year-old Roman bridge and aqueduct that’s still intact. It’s one of several UNESCO World Heritage Sites that we visited on the cruise (although this was an optional tour).

Appeal for the over 50 traveler:

  • This cruise would appeal to the over-50 traveler who, perhaps, has already done a lot of traveling and would like to see and soak up things at a much slower pace. Though you don’t linger at any one port for long, the pace doesn’t feel hurried. Plus, having your hotel move with you is an incredible luxury and makes the entire trip much easier physically.

Take note:

  • The only drawback for me was that there were so many good optional tours scheduled at the same time that it made it hard to chose!
  • One packing tip: I’d recommend a hat for this trip. Not a fluffy, frilly hat but a good hold-your-hair-in-place kind of hat. The wind in Provence, known locally as the Mistral, is brutal. I ended up buying a hat at the souvenir shop at the Pont Du Gard.

Avignon, France


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5) Crystal Symphony (Crystal Cruises) – Hong Kong to Beijing

By Irene S. Levine at MoreTimeToTravel

Reclining Buddha at Jade Buddha temple in Shanghai

What’s wow!

Visiting the Far East is a bucket list trip for many boomers but our 10-day Crystal Symphony cruise (followed by 3-day land extension in Beijing) was even more spectacular than we had anticipated! It enabled us to get a taste of China (literally and figuratively) without the hassles typically entailed in visiting a destination where little English is spoken and road traffic is formidable (even compared to New York City!).

Our stateroom on Crystal Symphony couldn’t have been more comfortable. Our cabin was spacious with a walk-in closet and bathroom with double sinks. We were uniformly impressed with the food, service and upkeep of the ship but were stunned when Igor, the same cabin steward assigned to us on a prior voyage to the Baltic on Crystal, remembered us!

Favorite port excursion?

We visited three major cities and learned about their rich history and culture: Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing. We also spent time in Xiamen, where we visited the world-famous Terracotta Warriors and climbed one of the sections of the Great Wall, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. All were fascinating in their own way. Crystal arranged comfortable bus and air transportation as well as priority access to attractions/historical sites so we were able to avoid long queues.

Appeal for the over-50 traveler:

  • Guests on Crystal Cruises are educated, upscale and intellectually curious. It’s easy to make fast friends.
  • This mid-size ship is right-sized. With about 900+ passengers, Symphony never feels crowded and crew can offer individualized service. It’s large enough to offer a range of dining, wellness and entertainment amenities. Among Crystal’s specialty restaurants, Nobu Matsuhisa’s Silk Road is one that is not-to-be missed.
  • All hotel, meal arrangements and excursions the cruise line planned for us on land were also first-class! (We loved watching hand-pulled noodles being made and tasting them afterwards.)

Take note:

  • Our cruise was named “China in Depth.” Although you can’t possibly immerse yourself in China in “any depth” within such a short-time frame, the cruise certainly enabled us to get a wonderful feel for the country and discover places to which we yearn to return (Shanghai).
  • Even though you’ll be in an air-conditioned coach, be prepared for heavy traffic and spending lots of time on buses. Making air connections between cities also eats up time.
  • Our specific cruise no longer appears on the website but there are numerous other Crystal Cruises itineraries that explore the Far East and China.


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6) River Baroness (Uniworld) – Paris to Normandy, France

By Lori Tripoli at BashfulAdventurer

What’s wow!

This cruise created so many good memories!

We probably most loved lounging on decktop chaises and having cocktails while watching France go by us. The service was so accommodating it impressed the three generations of family that were on our trip. I also adored the intimacy of the ship (fewer than 120 passengers) and having a stateroom with a French balcony. The decent water pressure and good-sized bathrooms added a bit more bliss to a fantastic experience.

Favorite port excursion?

Every excursion delighted – but, after all, we were in France! We saw that the light in Monet’s gardens in Giverny really dances. The biggest surprise was how much we liked the Bayeux Tapestry, a depiction of events leading up to the Battle of Hastings in 1066 (replete with a bit of a sex scandal) and William the Conqueror’s defeat of England.

Appeal for the over-50 traveler:

  • The all-inclusive approach makes cruising easy. You won’t feel like you are being nickel-and-dimed every time you want to disembark the riverboat or have another glass of wine.
  • Dining room service is attentive but not overbearing, and foodies will delight in the on-board dining experience (thoughtful presentations, fresh ingredients and a hard-to-resist selection of cheese).
  • This is an operation that runs smoothly and professionally. Uniworld knows its business and services its clients well. I’ve been on cruises where travelers waited in the ship’s lobby for 20 minutes for buses to arrive. That doesn’t happen here. This operation is well-timed.

Take note:

  • A minor drawback – depending on one’s world view – was that our cruise definitely catered to the 50-plus crowd, which was great for most of us, but my teenage son was along on this journey and got a bit bored just hanging out with his mother and grandmother. Uniworld recently announced a revamping of the Paris to Normandy River Baroness cruise, beginning in April 2018, to appeal more to the 21- to 45-year old set – a good development for that age group, as well as for multi-generational families that may want to sail together. More active options, including kayaking the Seine and a bar crawl, are to be offered on the cruise, which will be sold under its U by Uniworld brand. You can also consider the Paris-Normandy journey on Uniworld’s S.S. Joie de Vivre.
  • Remember to pack a sweater even though you may be sailing in the summertime. You’ll want to spend as much time as possible on that sundeck, but the temperature outside can be a bit chilly sometimes.


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7) Adrienne (French Country Waterways) – Southern Burgundy Barge Cruise

By Sue Reddel & Diana Laskaris at FoodTravelist

best luxury cruises for boomers

What’s wow!

Our favorite amenity on this French barge cruise was at lunch and dinner, when three unique local cheeses were presented. We were told the story of the local dairy and history of these delicious cheeses and began to look forward to them every day. Many of the cheeses were produced by micro-dairies and only available in the Burgundy region. Two local wines, a white and a red, were also presented the same way and served at lunch and dinner. Each wine was delicious; even wines we hadn’t cared for in the past, like Chardonnay, tasted completely different in the Burgundy region.

French Country Waterways takes care of everything from the moment you step on the luxury coach until you are headed back to the airport. They confirm any food allergies or dietary concerns before your cruise and everything is handled discreetly. All favorite liquors or wines that you request will be stocked in the bar that is open 24 hours a day.

Also, you can do as much or little exploring as you like, making this cruise perfect for those who are adventurous as well as for those who want to relax and enjoy the beautiful surroundings.

Favorite port excursion?

Our favorite port excursion was visiting the working Chateau de Longecourt. We met Count Longecourt and toured the property that now operates as a stunning bed and breakfast. Fun fact: The Count himself makes the jams served at breakfast.

Appeal for the over-50 traveler:

  • Adrienne holds twelve guests and is an intimate cruise. If you’re a couple, you’ll get to know the other travelers – very well. We loved meeting new friends and having adventures together, and we’ve stayed in touch since.

Take note:

  • If you want to keep to yourself, it won’t be easy. You can book the whole barge just for you and your family and/or friends if you prefer.
  • Pack simply. One dressy outfit is enough most of the time. The dress code is comfortable and casual.


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8) Viking Star (Viking Ocean Cruises) – Stockholm to Bergen, Norway

By Janice Mucalov at SandInMySuitcase

best luxury cruises for boomers

I couldn’t help but pick Viking Ocean Cruises – and our Baltic cruise aboard the Viking Star – as my choice for “best luxury cruises for boomers.” The ship snagged the cruise industry’s highest awards when she debuted in 2015; CNN praised her as the “world’s best new cruise ship.” (Now two newer sister ships, Viking Sea and Viking Sky, have joined Viking Star, making up the current Viking Ocean Cruises fleet). The Viking Star is refined, elegant and geared to adults (no kids under 16). And our “Viking Homelands” itinerary took us to culturally-rich cities like Berlin, St. Petersburg and Copenhagen, jam-packed with enough world-class museums and palaces to tickle the fancy of all boomers interested in learning more about the world.

Viking’s all-inclusive concept is impressive. Virtually everything is complimentary and included: a shore excursion in each port, WiFi, specialty restaurants, wine and beer at lunch and dinner, self-service laundry – even the splendid Nordic spa with a snow grotto and hot and cold pools (massages are extra, of course).

The ship is a beauty too, serene in décor, with lots of blonde wood flooring and sunlight streaming through big windows. My husband loved browsing the light-filled, two-storey library at the bow, and I liked snuggling up with a throw blanket on a cozy couch to read by the pool (under a retractable glass roof that can be closed in cool weather). Our stateroom was also a delight; all staterooms have glass balconies, real king-size beds and – get this – heated bathroom floors.

Favorite port excursion:

Viking’s cruises are port-intensive; we were in port every day except one on our whole 14-day cruise. Still, squeezing through 20 tunnels as we climbed up steep mountains on the Flam Railway, with breathtaking views of Norway’s fjords, was a train trip to remember. But visiting the Catherine Palace in St. Petersburg was perhaps the highlight. I don’t think I’ve seen so much gilding and gold! The palace’s Amber Room – and the mystery of the treasure looted by the Nazis – really piqued my interest.

Appeal for the over-50 traveler:

  • After you’ve cruised the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Bahamas and Alaska, you’ll want to cruise northern Europe (for most people, this happens to be after they reach 50). And this particular cruise gives you two-in-one desired cruises; you get to visit St. Petersburg and northern European capitals in the Baltic and you get to see the fjords of Norway.
  • Guides on the tours were excellent, and back on onboard, law professors and other enrichment lecturers enlightened us on the geo-political challenges faced today by Baltic nations like Estonia.
  • The included wines from Italy, France, Spain and Germany are really good!

Take note:

  • Touring all day, day after day, can get tiring. Because most excursions are free, there’s the temptation to do them all. But you might want to take a day off just to enjoy the ship or the spa or to wander ashore quietly on your own, so you don’t burn out on sightseeing.


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*Photo credits: Debbra Dunning Brouillette – 6 | Penny Sadler – 9 |  Jerome Levine – 10 | FoodTravelist – 15 | Janice Mucalov – 17 

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best luxury cruises for boomers