Here’s where you can hide away when you need a vacation from your vacation.
While it sounds like the trip of a lifetime, things can get a bit loud and rowdy at times on board the world’s largest cruise ships. These family-friendly floating megaresorts are packed with people (and small children), especially when they’re at full capacity. And the nonstop fun, noise, and entertainment can grate on even the calmest of nerves after a few days. So, where can you go to escape the DJs and dancing at the pool decks, kids running around at the aquaparks, and the long lines at the buffet while traveling with thousands of other passengers?
We’re here to help put the peace and quiet back into your long-awaited vacation. While the spa is always a good option to relax, take a deep breath, and shut out the world for at least an hour, we have other options. These quiet spots include intimate bars, upscale restaurants, lesser-known areas of the ship, ship-within-a-ship concepts, and even a secret space deep within one of the vessels.
Icon of the Seas
Weight: 250,800 gross tons
Length: 1,198 feet
Passengers: 5,610 (double occupancy)
Set to debut in January 2024, Icon of the Seas will break Royal Caribbean’s previous record of having the largest cruise ship afloat. The new vessel, and the first in the line’s LNG-powered Icon Class, is 6 % larger and 10 feet longer than Wonder of the Seas and can accommodate up to 7,600 passengers at capacity across its eight distinct neighborhoods and 18 guest decks. If there ever was a time to find an intimate space aboard a ship, it might be now.
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The new dining venue, Empire Supper Club, is the perfect spot to celebrate a special occasion in an intimate setting. Located near the ship’s Central Park neighborhood, the upscale restaurant features a swanky evening out old New York style complete with a three-piece band. Dinner guests of the supper club will enjoy an extravagant eight-course menu that includes caviar, Wagyu beef, and cocktail pairings with each course.
For a laid-back afternoon at sea, head to the new adults-only (ages 16 and older) outdoor retreat, Cloud 17. Hidden away on the top deck toward the bow of the ship, guests will have private access to a secluded pool, whirlpool, The Lime and Coconut Bar–with unobstructed views of the ocean.
One more spot to check out early in the day is the stunning glass-enclosed AquaDome at the top of the ship. The transformational space features comfortable seating, a waterfall, light bites, drinks, and wraparound ocean views. As nighttime approaches, it becomes a lively venue with restaurants, bars, and cutting-edge performances at the AquaTheater.
Wonder of the Seas
Weight: 235,600 gross tons
Length: 1,188 feet
Passengers: 5,734 (double occupancy)
Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas is the largest cruise ship currently sailing on the high seas. It’s the line’s fifth Oasis Class vessel and can accommodate up to 7,084 guests at full capacity. So, where can you go on this ship when you’re ready to ditch the crowds and focus on quiet time?
The Central Park neighborhood offers a lush green open-air oasis with more than 20,000 plants, shady benches, and pathways where you can read a book or even play a game of chess. If you want to grab a bite, 150 Central Park offers elevated seasonally focused fare with craft cocktails, perfect for a quiet dinner for two. If you prefer Italian cuisine, head to Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen for classic Italian dishes, hand-tossed pizzas, and fine wines selected by the sommelier to pair with your meal. You can also relax over a glass of wine before dinner at Giovanni’s Wine Bar.
The new Suite Neighborhood (the first one on an Oasis Class vessel) offers a reprieve from the crowds. The luxury suites-only enclave features a private Suite Sun Deck with a plunge pool, in-water loungers, and a bar. There’s also a Suite Lounge with a full bar and daily hors d’oeuvres exclusively for guests of the neighborhood, and other VIP experiences. Coastal Kitchen, open only to suite guests and Pinnacle Club Members, highlights fresh flavors from the Pacific Coast of California and Mediterranean dishes along with vintage wine selections from Tuscany and Napa Valley.
The Solarium (ages 16 and older) is one of the coziest spots to chill out on the ship with plush sofas, whirlpools, and in-water loungers. And you can grab breakfast, lunch, or dinner while you’re there at the Mediterranean-inspired Solarium Bistro.
MSC World Europa
Weight: 215,863 gross tons
Length: 1,093 feet
Passengers: 5,252 (double occupancy)
MSC’s futuristic LNG-powered World Europa can accommodate 6,762 guests at full capacity and it’s the sixth-largest cruise ship currently at sea.
MSC’s Yacht Club is the line’s luxury ship-within-a-ship concept. The all-inclusive exclusive private retreat spans two decks at the front of the ship and features beautifully appointed suite accommodations with 24-hour dedicated butler service, a private restaurant and lounge, and a two-story sundeck with an outdoor grill. Other amenities and perks as a guest of the Yacht Club, include concierge service, small bites served throughout the day in the lounge, and VIP seating for entertainment.
If you’re staying in other accommodations on board the ship, the Zen Pool is an adults-only quiet area that offers incredible sea views from Deck 18. The chic space also has a shaded lounge area, a solarium, and two pools.
The Chef’s Garden Kitchen boasts the first at-sea hydroponic garden and an immersive open kitchen dining experience. With panoramic sea views and fresh, inventive cuisine created by Stockholm’s celebrity chef Niklaus Ekstedt and owner of the Michelin-starred restaurant, Ekstedt, a quiet dinner at this venue will be a memorable one.
Gin aficionados will appreciate a pre-dinner drink at The Gin Project. This unique venue boasts more than 70 craft gins and expertly crafted cocktails prepared by “gin-tenders” in vintage Crawley’s shakers. The quietest booths are behind the bar. If you’re a teetotaler, there’s also a beautiful respite at the Indian- and British-inspired Raj Polo Tea House.
And you’re one of the privileged few to receive an invitation to spend an evening at the ship’s secret Speakeasy, you can sip prohibition-era style cocktails and dance the night away to live music in an intimate setting hidden deep within the ship.
Weight: 185,000 gross tons
Length: 1,106 feet
Passengers: 5,326 (double occupancy)
Costa Toscana is Italian-based Costa Cruises’ newest LNG-powered flagship and the sister ship to Costa Smeralda accommodates 6,554 passengers at full capacity. The ship offers two outdoor adults-only venues where guests can relax in the sun or the shade. Versilla Beach is an exclusive pool area for adults that has a private lounge, cabanas, and a bar. The Infinity Terrace & Bar is also for adult cruisers and features a cozy lounge area and bar that is especially popular during the golden hour and sunset.
Deck 19 Lounge is a quiet outdoor space hidden above the Piazza del Campo at the bow of the ship. The venue offers amazing sea views from shaded swinging chairs or cushioned loungers. While not reserved just for adults, it’s still an excellent option to enjoy time away from the crowds.
Indoors, the Ferrari Spazio Bollicine is an intimate Ferrari-themed wine bar. The partnership with Costa Cruises brings an impressive wine collection to the bar and across the fleet. Stop by the Ferrari Wine Bar for an aperitif, tapas, or to enjoy an after-dinner cocktail.
Weight: 184,700 gross tons
Length: 1,132 feet
Passengers: 5,200 (normal operating occupancy)
Ariva is British-based P&O Cruises’ second Excel class ship and the largest ship in its fleet. The LNG-powered vessel launched in December 2022 and can carry up to a maximum of 6,264 guests.
The family-friendly ship offers several adults-only spaces where parents (and guests without kids) can have quiet (or not so quiet) time away. The ship’s 710 Club features live music by a resident band, up-and-coming performers, and craft cocktails in a lowly lit vintage setting. Meanwhile, The Limelight Club offers a full evening of entertainment beginning with a three-course dinner. Special guest entertainers range from Britain’s Got Talent vocal semifinalists and Broadway and West End theater performers to a drag queen show.
Green & Co. Feat. Mizuhana is an exclusive venue to Ariva. The new restaurant is open to plant-based dining enthusiasts of all ages and features beautifully presented creative healthy cuisine. There’s also a sushi bar for pescatarians.
Weight: 183,521 gross tons
Length: 1,130 feet
Passengers: 5,374 (double occupancy)
Scheduled to sail on her inaugural voyage from Galveston, Texas on December 23, 2023, LNG-powered Carnival Jubilee will be the line’s newest ship with a maximum capacity of 6,631 passengers.
The Serenity Adult-Only Retreat on board the ship is reserved for guests 21 years and older. With plush chaise lounges and hammocks, it’s the perfect tranquil oasis to catch a quick nap, read a good book, or do nothing at all. You’ll also find a full bar when you’re ready for a cool beverage. Loft 19 is an outdoor retreat that’s complimentary for guests staying in the Carnival Excel-level suites but is open to other passengers at an additional cost. The space features an infinity whirlpool and private cabanas that are available for rent. The cabanas also have extra perks like chilled towels, fresh fruit, lunch delivery, and a concierge.
For an intimate dinner, make reservations at Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse for classic cocktails and chophouse favorites, including traditional cuts of beef, lobster, and lamb. You’ll also find a wine list that has received the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence.