What Are The Best Cruises For Solo Travelers
The best cruises for solo travelers depend on the experiences you most want out of a vacation.
Are you a thrill-seeker looking to cross items off your bucket list? Want to see the capital cities of Europe without hotel-hopping and planning all your own accommodations and train travel? Are you more interested in hiking or history?
Weve crafted different itineraries for travelers of all kinds, from introverts who prefer fewer social activities to extroverts who thrive on meeting new people.
Craving time in the sun against the backdrop of white sand beaches and crystalline waters? Consider a 7- or 10-night Caribbean cruise, where snorkeling and diving shore excursions are bound to introduce you to people with similar interests and a sense of adventure.
Some of the best cruise destinations for history buffs are located in the Mediterranean, where you can tour thousand-year-old churches in Italy or see the ancient ruins of Greece up close.
There is no shortage of options for cruisers who are traveling solo.
When Do I Need To Worry About The Single Supplement
In the old days of cruising, every line charged extra if you wanted to sail in a cabin by yourself. Thats because cruise fares are priced for double occupancy. If a cabin only had one person in it, the line charged double. Of course independent sailors balked at this and so some lines began instituting reduced single supplements or waiving them completely on certain sailings .
Luxury cruise lines like Crystal, Silversea and Seabourn all offer reducedand sometimes waivedsingle supplements as do a variety of river cruise companies, like Avalon Waterways and Riviera River Cruises.
However, as cruise lines really started listening to passengers, they understood that something had to change. Today, many cruise linesboth ocean and river-goingwaive single supplements on more sailings. Others have designed ships not just with cabins built for one person but also amenities like a lounge dedicated to all solo travelers on board, special group dining tables for people that want company at a meal and even singles meetups throughout the voyage.
Today, you dont have to worry as much about the single supplement as you did in the past. But as you research cruise options, be aware that some lines still charge up to double to book a cabin on your own.
Rolling On A River Cruise
If cruising the blue Danube, pausing in Prague on the Elbe or capturing images of castles on the Rhine are more your calling than ocean voyages, consider a solo journey that takes you to the heart of the cities on Europe’s glorious rivers. Single supplements are waived on a good number of departures, with socializing facilitated by leading cruise operators such as Grand Circle Cruise Line, Uniworld, Tauck, AmaWaterways and Avalon Waterways. Whether you’re looking for a foursome for an after-dinner bridge game or a partner for exploring Venice’s Rialto Bridge, camaraderie on river cruises is sharply in focus these days. After all, as Tauck points out, your trip director is not only in the know about the itinerary’s destinations, but is a professional solo traveler, too. Check carefully on whether the offer is for a single supplement waiver, a cabin purpose-built for one or a roommate matching service.
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Get Out And Mingle The First Night
You might be tempted to unwind in your stateroom the first night, especially if you had to travel a long way to get to your solo cruise and are still feeling tired from the journey. However, spending time in public spaces on the ship is a great way to meet new people and one of the best things to do on a cruise.
Strike up a conversation and make some new friends on the very first night of the cruise. Nothing is better than a familiar face when youre traveling solo.
Check the program in your stateroom before you head out to the next activity. You may find events that are solo cruiser friendly.
Exchanging stateroom numbers is helpful, too, so you can call new friends later on in the cruise to arrange times to meet up for dinner, a drink, or games.
Singles Often Pay More But Not Always
Single supplements are not the only important thing to factor in to your cruise when traveling by yourself. They are also important when looking at traveling in groups. Some groups choose to bunk together, however if you want your own room while traveling with a group of friends, you should look to the reduced or waived single supplement programs that some cruise lines offer.
First, we will talk about Riviera since we mentioned them at the beginning. As stated, Riviera offers a select number of waived single supplements on every sailing. On each departure, Riviera offers between four and six cabins with no single supplement. Let me reiterate that that is on every departure that Riviera offers.
That is not the only solution that Riviera provides for solo travelers, though. The line also offers solo traveler cruises. On each of these sailings, all single supplements are waived. Not only are these sailings nice because of the ability to get many different solo travelers together, but they are also great for groups of travelers. If you are planning on taking a river cruise with a group of friends, everyone could book a cabin to themselves without having to pay anything extra.
Tauck is another cruise line that offers waived single supplements on every departure. When booking the lowest category stateroom, the single supplement is waived. Just keep in mind that there are a limited number of these category one cabins, so it is important to check availability.
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Cruising Solo In A Double Occupancy World
There is no denying that cruise ships are traditionally configured for guests who are sailing with at least two people in each stateroom.
The cruise model is based on double occupancy, which means the profitability of a ship assumes two people per room.
When cruising solo, you will likely become quickly familiar with the term, “single supplement fee”, which means you are charged extra for cruising with just one person in a stateroom. The single supplement fee makes up for the lost revenue by not having a second person booked in the same room.
While single supplement fees are common, there are a few ways around this fee.
First and foremost, Royal Caribbean offers solo rooms on select cruise ships. Ten Royal Caribbean ships offer a limited amount of studio staterooms that are designed for solo cruisers. These rooms do not come with a single supplement fee associated with the booking.
Another way around the fee is if you have at least 340 or more points in the Crown and Anchor Society . If you are that high up in the system, the single supplement cruise fare is reduced to 150% from 200%.
One other way to get around the single supplement fee is on some rare sailings, the fee may be waived in order to encourage bookings. This is typically offered on last minute cruises, where the cruise line wants to quickly increase bookings.
How Big Are Studio Cabins On Cruise Ships
Much like regular staterooms, the size of studio cabins varies widely. With that said, the studios on most lines can make a New York City micro apartment look spacious. Sizes can be as small as 100 square feet for comparison, oceanview and balcony cabins on mainstream cruise lines are typically at least 150 to 200 square feet.
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Best Cruise Ships For Solo Travelers
While there are ten Royal Caribbean ships that offer solo rooms of one kind or another, I think a few stand out for offering the best options for a solo traveler.
The Quantum Class of ships, which include Quantum of the Seas, Ovation of the Seas, and Anthem of the Seas, offer not only standard studio staterooms, but also studio balcony rooms.
These Super Studio Ocean View balcony rooms offer a private balcony that measures 55 square feet, and is a rare commodity for any solo room.
If you want to try one of Royal Caribbean’s biggest ships, check out Harmony of the Seas for their Studio Interior and Studio Ocean View rooms. Harmony is the only Oasis Class ship to offer studio rooms, so if you want to cruise on the largest ships in the world, this is the one for you.
What The Cruise Lines Dont Want You To Know About Cruising Solo
Experienced solo cruisers never hesitate to set out on their next cruise. We love to cruise solo on a whim, take over an entire stateroom, do what we want when we want to do it. All looks really rosy. And it usually is.
What cruise lines and experienced solo cruisers dont tell you about cruising solo probably isnt what youd would expect.
No, its not about being alone on your balcony under a beautiful moonlit sky. Or having no one to schmear suntan lotion on your back. The occasional awkwardness of dining alone in a crowded main dining room. Or even having an end-of-the-cruise glass of champagne by yourself. None of these situations are unexpected or surprising.
Theres a challenging side to a solo cruise that we, as solo cruisers, have simply had to adapt to and accept in order to survive.
Lets Talk Solo Cabins: Which Lines Have Them
Generally speaking, for ocean cruises, the newer the cruise ship, the more likely youre to find dedicated single cabins. These cabins are usually interior, which means you have no porthole, window or balcony. Though, some ships do offer virtual balconies that consist of an LED screen with a live camera feed from another part of the ship that approximates what you would see if you did, in fact, have a balcony from which to watch the world go by. Other ships also offer upgraded solo cabins with a window or a balcony.
Here are some of your options for ocean cruise cabins dedicated to one person that dont charge a single supplement:
Costa Cruises: Certain ships have a limited number of solo-designated cabins.
Cunard: All three Cunard shipsQueen Elizabeth, Queen Victoria and Queen Mary 2all offer single cabins. Queen Mary 2s recent renovation saw the addition of 15 Britannia Single Staterooms that are more spacious than a typical solo cabin and offer ocean views through picture windows. Between Cunards three ships, you can sail just about anywhere in the world. If you want to try a quintessential transatlantic voyage though, between New York and London, book aboard Queen Mary 2.
Celebrity Cruises: Celebrity Edge, the lines newest ship, has two types of cabins for one: Single Staterooms and Edge Single Staterooms with Infinite Veranda. The latter has a drop-down glass panel that creates an open-air balcony without eating up precious space inside the cabin.
How To Navigate In Port When Cruising Solo
Im firmly convinced that four eyes are better than two when exploring a new city. If mazeophobia, my made-up name for the fear of getting lost in unknown surroundings, is something of concern, youll need to be prepared.
What a solo cruiser should always do when going ashore in an unfamiliar port
- Make sure to write down the name of your ship, pier, port agent and departure time on a piece of paper. Sometimes the cruise line daily planner includes it in a corner of the paper. Tear it out and put in your pocket. Or simply take a screenshot.
- Once again, take a photo of the All Aboard time sign as you leave the ship. Guessing the departure time does not help. This will also help you remember where your hundreds of photos were taken on that day.
- If youre on a motor coach tour or public transportation, when you step off the bus take a photo of the bus with its surroundings. Make sure to include a notable or colorful building or some kind of identifier. Ive used this ploy a dozen times.
Of course, youre going to have to turn on your inner radar for anything or anyone that gets too close to you. With only one set of eyes, youre on your own.
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How Many Studio Cabins Are On An Average Cruise Ship
While they are gaining popularity, studio cabins are still very limited. Norwegian Epic and Escape stand out from the crowd with 128 and 82 studios, but most ships will only have between 10 and 30 , with select river vessels only offering one or two per ship. With this in mind, its best for solo travelers to book extremely early.
Best Cruise Lines For Solo Cruisers
Traveling alone on cruise ships just got a whole lot better. In the last several years, a variety of cruise lines have introduced single-occupancy cabins on their ships, as well as events and activities just for those interested in solo cruises. Here are top five of cruise lines to consider when planning your next cruise adventure:
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Using Travel Agents Or A Tour Operator To Book Your Singles Cruise
As a solo traveler you have two options if you want to go on a cruise and mingle with other single travelers and that is to either book directly with a ship that caters specifically for solo travelers or you can book through a company that will organize singles cruises.
The benefit of booking with a travel agency is that they will be able to offer you a vacation with specific events that will be organized with singles in mind. This will allow you a space to be able to enjoy yourself knowing that you are going to be in the company of fellow single travelers.
With these types of tours and cruises though you will often have double occupancy with two single beds instead of a double bed. This might suit the more adventurous travelers but for a lot of people theyd prefer to just be in a room on their own.
While some ships will be able to offer some events with singles in mind, these companies will be all about the single trip and therefore will have a lot more available to you. You will have to pay an extra charge for these services with your upfront costs but a lot of people will see it as value for money, especially if you are looking to find a partner and new friends.
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Why Are Saga Good For Solo Cruisers
Sagas Spirit of Discovery has over 100 solo cabins. This is amazing! The solo cabins range in size and price but I was lucky enough to stay in a deluxe solo balcony cabin. It was far bigger than any cabin that Ive ever had before and the fact that it is for a solo cruiser makes it even more amazing.
All solo cabins on Spirit of Discovery have balconies.
Solo cabins are usually small and tucked away in rubbish locations, this isnt the case on Spirit of Discovery! The cabin shown in the video below is balcony cabin S507.
There are so many little touches that I really love:
- UK plug sockets
Saga do also have a number of events designed to bring solo cruisers together.
- Variety in Ship Design
I loved Spirit of Discovery but a lot of Sagas ships are much smaller and older.
- British Experience
I personally dont think that this is a con. I love the endless cups of tea and little British touches. Having UK plug sockets in the cabins is so helpful. If you would prefer a more multicultural cruise experience Saga may not be for you.
- 50+ Cruise Line
I really do think that this one is negative. I loved my time on Spirit of Discovery but I am 25 years too young to book a cruise on her!
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Mscs Solo Inside Rooms For One
MSC Cruises has undertaken a shipbuilding boom, rapidly increasing the size of its fleet in a bid to make itself the largest cruise line by 2030. As the lines ships grow in size and amenities, they have begun to add cabins for solos. Currently, MSC Meraviglia, MSC Virtuosa, MSC Grandiosa and MSC Bellissima are outfitted with rooms for one.
However, they are all insides with a single bed and roughly 129 square feet of space.
Say Yes To Dining With New People
Joining people for dinner is a great way to make friends and have a fun meal at the Main Restaurant or in a specialty restaurant.
People will likely be intrigued by you traveling on your own, want to get to know you better, and enhance their own dining experience. Even couples like to socialize and meet new people on vacation. Since youre all travelers who enjoy seeing the world, its easy to swap travel stories.
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Why Are Msc Cruise Line Good For Solo Cruisers
MSC have solo cabins on MSC Meraviglia, Bellissima, Seaside, Seaview and Grandiosa.
MSC dont, as far as I am aware, hold solo meetups or events but I put MSC on this list because of how fun and friendly the atmosphere is onboard. I believe that MSC cruises are some of the best ones for making friends. Im not sure if this is to do with the fact that multiple languages are spoken on board but just speaking the same language as your fellow guests feels as though it automatically makes you friends.
Is Taking A Solo Cruise Affordable
You dont have to be stuck on a budget cruise line or spend a fortune to enjoy a solo cruise vacation. This is good news if youve heard of the single supplement, which happens when cruise lines add on an additional fee when a traveler books a double occupancy stateroom for just one person.
Booking a single stateroom can be just as affordable, if not more so, than any other type of vacation experience.
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