Are you over 55 and looking to go on a cruise?


Great news – getting older doesn’t mean you have to slow down or miss out on travelling to exciting new destinations. A study by the International Journal of Tourism even identified how going on a cruise holiday can have a positive impact on wellbeing. What’s not to love about that?

Sure, your tastes and holiday preferences might change as you get older – perhaps you’re a seasoned cruiser who’s now looking for a more compact, friendlier ship experience. Or maybe you’ve been saving up your hard-earned cash to pay for your first-ever adventure on the high seas! Whatever your situation, there are plenty of different options for you to choose from.

There are lots of things to think about before going on a cruise. One of the most important details you’ll need to arrange is travel insurance. Explorers of any age should arrange insurance cover before setting sail as, like every form of travel, cruising comes with its own unique risks.

Insurance Choice offers tailored over 50’s travel insurance, even if you have a pre-existing medical condition. We’ll make it easy to find the right cover, so you can spend more time planning the cruise of your dreams.

Ready to start planning your next trip? Read on to find out more about cruise ship trips for the over 50’s.

Traditional or contemporary?                           

The cruise scene has seen many changes over the past few decades. Traditional cruise ship holidays were very structured (and sometimes even a little bit on the ‘stuffy’ side).

If that’s your bag, you can still find a well-ordered ship to book your cruise on. Traditional cruise lines take great pride in the history and heritage of their ships. They tend to maintain cruise ship traditions, such as set dining times and strict dress codes.

For example, at dinner time, guests will generally sit at the same table for the entire holiday. This means they will get to know their dining companions, and maybe even make new friends for life. Equally, the on-board staff will be able to get to know guests better, meaning they can consider allergies or preferences.

Traditional ships also tend to be more compact, so they can often access ports that the bigger ships can’t. This means you’ll probably get to visit a few small and interesting places that you might otherwise have missed if you were cruising on a mega-ship.

Old-fashioned cruising not really your thing? If you prefer a holiday that’s a little more contemporary, then there are a multitude of cruise options available to you, too. Larger ships offer a host of on-board activities, which can include anything from ice-skating and tennis to cinemas and yoga.

And most modern ships offer world-class spa and wellness facilities, top-notch entertainment, cookery classes, casinos and a high-quality lecture programme. Many offer flexible dining options and casual dress codes, too. So if you’re not so keen on talking to strangers, they might be a better option for you.

With so many different cruise holidays available, you’ll need to do your research before making a booking. Historically, cruise ship packages were considered to be the holiday of choice for the over 60s. Nowadays, they offer great value for money – and that makes them very appealing to younger generations as well as the older crowd.

If you don’t want to be surrounded by hundreds of school-age children, you should probably opt for an adult-only cruise. And if you’d prefer not to be disturbed by loud nightclub music or raucous pool activities, you might be best off booking something like this classical-music themed cruise.

A model cruise ship on a map
Should I book a river cruise?

Imagine a cruise holiday and you’ll probably visualise a giant ocean liner, sailing across the sparkling seas. But did you know that the popularity of river cruising has risen in recent years?

According to Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) UK, over 230,000 river cruises were enjoyed by British and Irish holidaymakers in 2018.  Research by specialist holiday firm Titan Travel has revealed Europe as a ‘river cruise hotspot’, with ‘the Danube, Rhine and Douro’ rivers being the favourite three to cruise.

And while a river cruise can’t take you to quite so many different places, it might be a more appealing choice for the older generation. Firstly, the ships are much smaller. They can usually accommodate up to about 200 passengers – far fewer than the 5000 passengers you’ll find on-board some ocean liners.

This makes going on a river cruise a more sociable experience. With fewer passengers on-board, you’ll soon get to know your fellow travellers. Plus, staff are more likely to learn your name and find out your preferences, meaning they can provide a better level of service to you. Practially, it should be easier to get around too, and not so far to walk to restaurants, activities and so on.

On a river cruise, you’ll spend far more time in port and on land. Ships can dock easily at small ports, giving you much more time to explore nearby towns and villages. The views are different, too – on an ocean cruise, you’ll spend several days ‘at sea’, surrounded only by ocean vistas. On a river cruise, the landscape will change much more frequently, allowing you to admire anything from mountain ranges and forests to tiny villages and castles.

Which cruise line is best for seniors?

A cruise sailing at sunset
According to Cruise Critic, these are the top 5 cruise liners for seniors:

1. Fred Olsen

While some Fred Olsen summer cruises do carry children travelling with their grandparents, many of their cruises are adult-only. Ships are classic and compact, allowing them to reach ports the giant ships can’t. Dining and entertainment options are geared towards older guests.

Travelling solo? Single cabins are available – and there are gentleman dance hosts available as dance partners for single female guests. You can choose anything from a short mini-break to a world-wide expedition. On-board entertainment includes craft activities, Pilates and dancing. A great selling point for booking a Fred Olsen cruise is their association with Ramblers Holidays. This means they can offer walk-and-cruise voyages for more active travellers.

2. Saga Holidays

If you want a cruise that’s been designed for the older generation, Saga should be your first port of call. You can’t actually book a cruise with Saga unless you’re over the age of 50. And if you’re travelling with a companion, they must be at least 40 years of age. In reality, the majority of Saga cruise passengers tend to be over the age of 60. On-board activities include ballroom dancing, afternoon tea and cabaret performances. When it comes to excursions, a mix of traditional coach tours and active experiences are on offer.

Another great option for single travellers is the brand-new for 2019 Saga Spirit of Discovery, which has 109 single cabins. And every cabin on board has its own balcony, ensuring private space, inside and out, for everyone. Saga’s rigorous recruitment process means staff have been chosen for their ability to provide a high-quality service to older passengers. They’re well known in the industry for being caring, friendly and kind. If you have mobility problems or a disability, Saga should probably be at the top of your shortlist.

3. Cunard

If you’re a long-time cruiser who wants to experience traditional cruising, this is the cruise line for you. Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 is the largest ocean liner in the world – it can carry 2,691 passengers. Queen Mary 2 and her counterparts, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth have been refurbished to include a few modern accents.

But don’t worry, they still maintain their old-time grandeur to give passengers an authentic cruise experience. Cunard cruise clients enjoy following the ship’s dress code and each itinerary includes several formal evenings. Elegance is key – you’ll find a string quartet playing in the ballroom while a delicious afternoon tea is served in the Queens Room, by waiters wearing white gloves.

Cunard’s lecture programme is considered one of the best at sea, and you’ll find other on-board attractions including a planetarium (Queen Mary 2 only), wonderful spas and a fantastic gin bar on Queen Victoria. Cunard cruises are multigenerational, so you’ll find children’s clubs on board every ship.

4. Cruise & Maritime Voyages

CMV’s client base tends to be older Brits, so the on-board food and entertainment are catered towards this demographic – although they do run a handful of multigenerational cruises, too. Cruises are competitively priced, so they’re a popular choice for first-time cruisers. CMV has six ships, but not all of them serve the UK.

British passengers will probably set sail on Marco Polo, Astoria or flagship Columbus. With CMV, you can experience a traditional cruise without any gimmicks. They’re not the most luxurious option, but they offer good value. Excursions are designed for the older generation, so they offer a leisurely and comfortable sightseeing experience.

5. Hebridean Island Cruises

This option really is fit for a queen – Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her 80th birthday on Hebridean Princess. So if you’re searching for a little bit of luxury and you’re willing to pay a bit more, this independent British cruise company is a perfect choice. And while the prices are higher, they’re all-inclusive, so you don’t have to worry about spending money for the little extras like drinks, tips or excursions.

As there are only 50 passengers on board at a time, there’s just one dinner sitting, ensuring an intimate dining experience every day. Time spent on the ship can be whiled away with an interesting lecture programme. And in the evening, passengers can enjoy poetry readings, whisky tasting and piano music.

Are there cruises for seniors?

An old couple waving to a cruise ship they have just departed from

Absolutely. The cruise lines listed above offer a range of great cruise options for seniors. As mentioned, Saga only accepts bookings from customers aged 50 and over (although companions added to the same booking can be as young as 40). So they’re definitely a good choice if you want to travel with a slightly more ‘mature’ crowd!

Unfortunately, getting older can mean the onset of health and mobility issues. But don’t worry – in most cases, you will still be able to enjoy all the benefits of a cruise ship holiday.

If you have a medical condition that prevents you from flying (or you just don’t like aeroplanes) you can set sail from Southampton on a flight-free cruise. Itineraries include Canaries & Azores, Northern Europe or even Japan, Asia & Africa. Other UK ports offering no-fly cruises include Bristol, Dover, Hull and Liverpool.

And if you suffer from mobility problems, there are still plenty of choices available. One good option is Royal Caribbean’s Radiance Class which includes Brilliance, Jewel, Radiance and Serenade. These ships have plenty of accessibility adaptations to accommodate wheelchair users but they’re not too large. Many cruise lines can even accommodate guests who use dialysis and oxygen machines. You’ll just need to let them know at the booking stage, so they can make the necessary arrangements in advance.

If you have a guide dog, there are several cruise lines willing to accommodate your canine companion. Just be aware that this only applies to service animals, so you can’t bring your pet pooch on board the ship – sorry.

Do seniors get discounts on cruises?


Royal Caribbean offers a discount on selected cruises for guests aged 55 and older. Other operators including Celebrity Cruises have been known to offer similar discounts for older guests. It’s always worth having a chat with your travel agent to find out whether there are any special offers available to you.
For general discounts available to all age groups you could try searching an ABTA & ATOL protected website such as cruise1st.

A cabin in a cruise ship

Have you found your ideal cruise ship holiday?

Whether you’re planning to book an ocean cruise, river adventure or a once-in-a-lifetime, round-the-world expedition, don’t forget to arrange that all-important travel insurance.

Insurance Choice specialises in over 50’s travel insurance, and we cater specifically for customers with pre-existing medical issues. We offer a range of cover and additional extras with our specific over 50’s travel insurance that can be tailored to meet your individual requirements.

Let us take the hassle out of finding the right over 50’s travel insurance cover. That way, you can concentrate on looking forward to your next trip. Contact us today to get a quote.