Cruising and solo travellers are a match made in heaven. All the details are handled by experts. From the moment you board, you’re looked after by friendly staff. You can make friends almost anywhere on and off the ship. And there’s always the option to simply retreat to your cabin for some dedicated "me time".
However, independent travellers are often put off by the cost of solo cruise holidays. Because cruise lines have traditionally calculated spend based on two passengers per cabin, solo cruisers can sometimes be charged the dreaded "single supplement" of anywhere up to 100 per cent.
The good news is, today’s cruise lines want to attract solo travellers. So they are adding exciting new features, activities, accommodation and even special fares to make their ships more solo friendly.
Here, our experts have put together seven tips for your next solo cruise holiday:
Choose single cabins
With a growing number of solo travellers lining up for cruise adventures, lines are adding dedicated single cabins to their ships. It started in 2010 when Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Epic launched with 128 inside studio cabins for solo cruisers. Since then, many more ships have jumped onto the single bandwagon. The standouts are on P&O Cruises’ Britannia and Norwegian Cruise Line’s Epic, which offers 128 single cabins within an exclusive enclave called The Studios. Remember, the more single cabins on the ship, the more solo travellers you can meet.
Watch out for lower single-occupancy fares
Some cruise lines now offer fares with no or low single supplements on selected cruises. You need to move fast and book early to secure your departure. Better yet, be flexible and willing to change your travel dates to get the best price.
Book shore excursions
There are so many shore excursions available these days that you’ll have no problems finding an activity you love. And the best part is, you’ll be with other people who enjoy the same activity. Strike up conversations on the bus ride and arrange to meet again back on the ship.
Get stuck in
If you want to meet like-minded travellers, cruising is made for you. There are almost no limits to the ways you can meet new friends, from cooking masterclasses and hosted dinners for the gourmands, to sporting tournaments, bootcamps and dance classes for the active. Themed cruises, like P&O Cruises’ SeaBreaks, are also a great way to meet people with the same interests, whether food and wine, comedy or music.
Opt for open dining
Most cruise ships now offer a flexible dining option, where you can choose where and when you dine. Befriend the maitre d’ early on, and ask him to seat you with fellow solo travellers and interesting people. You’ll never have a boring conversation again!
Network before you sail
With online forums and Facebook, it’s never been easier to meet fellow solo cruisers before you board. Holland America Line even has a Roll Call and Meet Fellow Cruisers! tab on its Facebook page to help you meet-up with new friends.
There will be days where you feel like staying in your cabin and dining alone. Solo cruise holidays are made for these moments. Order lavishly from the room service menu (it’s usually free), enjoy a bottle of champers on your balcony, and snuggle up in your slippers and robe for a late-night movie. This is your holiday – indulge.
On a cruise ship, there is no sailing alone. And a cruise can be as sociable or independent as you like. Find the balance that works for you, and you’ll have a solo cruise holiday to remember.