Looking for an unforgettable gift for Valentine’s Day or another very special occasion? A romantic cruise makes the perfect gift that you’ll both enjoy. A short cruise is a wonderful alternative to a traditional Valentine’s day present!
Learn how you can plan an escape from the February chill for balmy beaches, gorgeous sunsets, and fine dining. A romantic cruise gives you the chance to reconnect with your special someone away from the stresses of everyday life.
How can you plan a romantic Valentine’s Day cruise without taking lots of time off work?
Taking a cruise for Valentine’s Day doesn’t mean that you need to take an entire week off from work. Many cruise lines offer three- and four-day itineraries, perfect for a quick getaway with your valentine.
Make it a long weekend
If you’re thinking about booking a short Valentine’s Day cruise, you’re in luck! February 14th falls on a Tuesday in 2023, perfect for an extended-weekend sailing.
You can take a long weekend getaway with a short Caribbean cruise departing from southeastern US ports, or to Baja Mexico departing from the West Coast.
You may also like: Pros and Cons of Taking a Short Cruise (2-5 Days)
Is this an extra-special Valentine’s Day cruise? Let your travel agent or the cruise line know
If you’re planning an extra-special Valentine’s Day cruise for your anniversary or honeymoon (or you’re proposing!), let the cruise line or your travel agent know. They’ll often give you special treatment, and sometimes even some free perks if you’re cruising to celebrate a special occasion.
If you’re planning on proposing during the cruise, also talk to the cruise director shortly after you get on board. They’ll usually be able to help you with any logistics you might be worried about, and can suggest the most romantic locations on the ship.
Popping the question during a special dinner? Talk to the maître d’ in advance to make sure the staff is aware (and won’t interrupt your proposal to refill your water!)
They can also help with any special requests to make your special dinner just perfect.
Romantic cruise ideas to make this Valentine’s Day special
Once you’ve decided to book your romantic Valentine’s Day cruise, you’ll want to make the most of your getaway.
Even on the largest cruise ship, there are plenty of ways to relax and unwind with your special someone!
Have romantic treats waiting in your stateroom
Cruise lines are used to people booking cruises for all types of special occasions, so they offer plenty of extras that you can have delivered to your room.
A bouquet of flowers is a classic Valentine’s Day gesture, and most cruise lines will be able to deliver an arrangement in a vase.
Champagne or wine is another popular option to order for delivery to your stateroom. If the cruise line doesn’t carry the bottle you’re looking for, many will allow you to carry on a bottle or two. Read my article What Beverages Can I Bring On My Cruise? to learn more.
You could also have canapés, chocolates, fruit, (or even chocolate-dipped strawberries!) waiting for you and your valentine when you arrive in your stateroom. Just contact your cruise line before you sail, or you can pre-order them on your online cruise planner.
Enjoy a romantic cruise dinner
Cruise ships have long been famous for their buffets, but fine dining is also available on cruises. Your ship will have a variety of options for your romantic cruise dinners.
Many cruise ship specialty restaurants offer a more intimate dining experience than the main dining rooms, especially their steakhouses and Italian or French eateries.
A luxurious balcony dining experience with a dedicated service staff is offered on Princess Cruises, and I highly recommend it. Their four-course Ultimate Balcony Dining package is priced just a bit more than a specialty restaurant dinner, and is the ultimate in candlelit romance.
On other cruise lines, you can order room service and dine on your balcony as well, just without the elevated service. Check with your cruise line’s website to see if your balcony will have a meal-size table (some smaller balconies only have a small, low table).
Set the mood by bringing along some battery-operated flameless candles.
Extra romantic tip: Valentine’s Day evening will likely be extra-busy in the specialty restaurants. This could be a great night for a romantic balcony dinner or dining in your stateroom. Book your specialty dining reservations for a different night, and later in the evening when the restaurants aren’t as crowded.
Choose a stateroom with a balcony
Inside and oceanview staterooms are a nice way to take a cruise on a budget, but let’s be honest—they’re pretty small. On a romantic cruise, you may spend more time in your room than you would on a family vacation, so that tiny cabin might leave you feeling cramped.
Balcony staterooms usually have more square footage, plus you’ll enjoy that extra space outside where you can relax away from the crowds.
Relax together at the spa
There’s nothing more luxurious than relaxing at the spa, so why not make a spa appointment for two? You can enjoy being pampered together with a couples’ massage.
Or, spend some time in the spa’s thermal suite. Many ships now have one, featuring saunas, hydrotherapy, thalassotherapy, and even salt baths.
Some cruise lines offer day passes to their thermal suites, or you can book access for your entire cruise. These passes are very popular and tend to sell out, so make sure you book them early.
Check out the short video below from Norwegian Cruise Line to get an idea of how the thermal suite can enhance your romantic cruise.
Book a private cabana
Many cruise lines have an adults-only or private pool deck where you can book a private cabana for the day (or half-day), or even for your entire cruise. These luxury cabanas let you lounge with a bit more privacy, and their exclusive location means fewer crowds and zero screaming kids!
You can usually order food and drinks to be delivered to your cabana, or even have a massage in your own private sanctuary.
Plan romantic shore excursions
When you’re planning a romantic cruise, you can definitely keep the feeling going with your activities in port. And no, a 40-person bus tour (or battling crowds at the tourist market) isn’t exactly a romantic shore excursion.
Why not escape to a secluded beach on a snorkeling excursion, or rent bikes and explore the area. Go horseback riding or take a horse-drawn carriage tour for two. Cuddle up and enjoy the view on a helicopter or sailboat tour. Savor a wine (or rum!) tasting. Take a cooking class or a local food tour.
If your itinerary includes a stop at your cruise line’s private island, bungalows or cabanas are usually available to rent for the day, and they offer many of the same perks as the on-ship cabanas.
Thinking about getting a day pass at an all-inclusive resort? Consider renting a private cabana there. Some resorts like Mr. Sancho’s in Cozumel even offer complimentary massage with a cabana rental!
Watch the sunset together
What’s more romantic than a gorgeous sunset? Even if you don’t have a balcony stateroom, you’ll be able to find a spot away from the crowds to watch the sun setting over the ocean.
I like to go up to the top deck and all the way aft (or forward) to escape everyone and enjoy a great view.
There’s always lots of opportunity for dancing on a cruise. Even if you or your partner have two left feet, cruise lines offer dance classes in many different styles from ballroom to salsa. Just check your daily planner for times and locations.
The ship’s nightclub will play music to appeal to all ages, so even if you left your clubbing days behind years (or decades!) ago, you can still take a spin on the dance floor.
Generally, the DJs will play older music earlier in the evening, and progress to current club hits as the night wears on. The daily planner will list if there’s a theme for a particular night, or if they’ll be playing music from a specific era or style at different times in the evening.
Cozy up in the hot tub
Relaxing in a toasty hot tub with just your partner is definitely romantic. But the hot tubs on the Lido deck can be very crowded. Teenagers camp out in them for hours! If you didn’t book the thermal suite, check your map for alternate hot tub locations, or ask a crew member.
Some ships have a hot tub or two in less-busy areas, like the adults-only pool deck or near a secondary pool. Or, wait until it’s less busy after dinner (but not too late—the crew will sometimes shut the hot tubs down).
Want to always have access to your own private hot tub? If you’re looking to really splash out on this romantic getaway, some ships feature suites with a private hot tub on the balcony!
Order breakfast in bed from room service
When you’re trying to relax and unwind with your partner, odds are you’ll be sleeping in (at least on your sea days). Don’t bother getting up to make it to the dining room for breakfast when you can just order room service!
Even on cruise lines that are now charging for room service, continental breakfast is still free. Just be sure to place your order the night before.
Try a couples’ game show
Have you ever dreamed about being a contestant on a TV game show? Most cruises will have their own versions of game shows, and there’s usually one that’s just for couples.
Royal Caribbean’s Love and Marriage and Carnival’s Newlywed and Not-So-Newlywed Game are always popular. If you’re chosen to be contestants, you’ll compete with other couples to see how well you know your partner.
Watch a movie under the stars
If you’ve ever been to a drive-in movie, you’ll agree that it’s a much more romantic experience than packing into cramped seats in a crowded theater.
Many newer cruise ships feature a huge screen on the Lido deck, and will show movies at night. Some lines will even deliver blankets, popcorn, or even milk and cookies to you and your sweetheart as you lounge under the night sky.
Have you been on a Valentine’s Day cruise? What do you think is the most romantic thing about cruising? Let me know in the comments below!
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