There’s nothing more fun than planning a surprise for that special someone in your life, especially if that surprise is a romantic holiday on the seas. Your loved one will be blown away by this massive gesture and you’ll have fun sorting out all the details beforehand, from the sailing itinerary to the onboard activities. Treat your partner, and yourself, to a cruising holiday and you’ll make some unforgetable memories, including seeing the look on their face when they find out the surprise.

If you’re eager to plan a secret cruise, there’s a few things you’ll need to decide on first. Have a look through our guide and make sure you’ve ticked all the boxes before your big surprise holiday reveal.

Choose a destination

Before you go wild planning all your cruising details, the first thing you’ll need to do is pinpoint a destination. There are some fantastic romantic cruise destinations available, it just depends what sort of holiday you’re looking to go on. Does your partner love the heat, do they fantasize about strolling along sandy coastlines and dining in seaside restaurants? If so, then The Caribbean Islands might be right up your ally, with an array of spectacular islands boasting diverse backdrops of rainforests, pristine beaches and historic cities. The Caribbean has over 7,000 islands, and cruises port at all the key stops including Belize, Grand Cayman, Bridgetown and St. John’s. There’s a lot of coastlines to choose from here, and some pretty big cruise lines offering sunny Caribbean itineraries including Celebrity Cruises®’ ship Celebrity Summit and Royal Caribbean International®’s Oasis of the Seas.

But maybe your loved one isn’t a beach babe. Not every cruise heads to a hot destination, in fact, many of the top cruises for romantics are actually to some of the Nordic countries. These cooler getaways can be just as relaxing and romantic, but with unique natural landscapes, stunning wildlife and of course the cherry on the top, the Northern Lights. These twisting colours of purple and green light up the sky in an magnificent array, making the jumper-wearing weather well worth it. Iceland, Norway and Denmark are popular couples cruise deals destinations and several liners will get you there including Cruise and Maritime VoyagesAstoria and Fred. Olsen Cruise Line’s Balmoral.

Decide on a cruise liner and ship

Once you’ve chosen your destination you can narrow it down to which cruise liner travels to that spot. Some of the larger cruise lines have itineraries all over the world, like P&O Cruises which has over 60 destinations including the Mediterranean, Europe, Hawaii and Mexico. While other smaller liners, like Avalon Waterways, specialise in weekend trips around Europe.

Your liner not only depends on your destination, but also what activities you’d like to participate in onboard. For a romantic cruise for two you may want to leave the kids behind, and when we say kids, we mean all the kids. There are several adults-only ships that will give you all the peace and quiet you’ve been searching for. P&O Cruises’ ship Arcadia and Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines’ Black Watch and Braemar are specifically for over 18’s. If you’re aged 50 and over, award winning Saga Cruises’ ships are specifically tailored for you in mind, with first-class service and delicious fine dining. They also travel all over the world, from the Canary islands to Egypt, Russia and the Polar regions.

Double check those dates

Booking a surprise holiday is all fun and games until you realise you didn’t clear the dates with your partner and they’re already booked that week. Double check, no triple check with your loved one which dates they are free. It’s not enough to look in their diary. You don’t need to tell them what you are planning, but you do need to make sure you both know that those dates are off limits for any other plans.

Plan port excursions

While you’re planning your ideal couples cruise you might as well go all the way and plan your shore excursions. There are lots of port activities that require pre-booking, so if you don’t want to leave anything up to chance, make sure you research what things you’d like to do beforehand. Some cruise lines have their own featured excursions that you can purchase ahead of time. Carnival has a whole host of shore adventures, from diving lessons to horseback riding, golfing, kayaking, live music and dance performances.

Cruise lines often offer organised shore excursions at an additional fee, so you can either plan your own activities or pay a little extra and skip the hassle of arranging your own. Some cruisers choose their liner specifically because of the excursions they offer, and with fantastic day trips like visiting penguin colonies in the Falkland Islands and wine-tasting in Provence, we don’t blame them.

What to do onboard

To really spoil the one you love, book a few romantic moments onboard the ship. Several of the larger cruise lines have their own luxury spas where you can pre-book couples massages and a whole day of pampering. Cunard Cruise Lines’ Queen Elizabeth has the Royal Spa where you can book a whole range of treatments including massages, manicures, pedicures, body scrubs and time in their therapy pool.

Apart from treatments at the spa, you can also plan fun filled days at sea with cooking classes, wine-tasting, swimming in the pool, improving your golf swing, dance classes and enjoying performances from small comedy acts to large feature productions. Most of these activities can be booked once you’re onboard but it doesn’t hurt to do your research and see what activities are available to you beforehand, so you can organise your days at sea and get excited about your voyage.

Once you’ve worked out these surprise details it’s all smooth sailing till your departure. Now your biggest challenge will be keeping this epic surprise a secret!

* Terms & Conditions apply

We are acting as an agent on behalf of travel suppliers and your booking will be subject to the supplier’s terms and conditions. Prices may be subject to very limited availability and are correct as at the date and time of writing. Prices may go up or down from time to time. Prices quoted are for the dates, accommodation, board basis, departure points and number of persons sharing specified only and cannot be combined with any other offer. We reserve the right to amend any quotes given if there is a genuine error as soon as we become aware of it. We reserve the right to withdraw any offers without notice.