Lately, more vacationers have been boarding cruise ships on their own, without a travel companion. We’re not just talking about people who are single and, therefore, may not have a “built-in” travel companion.
All kinds of people – people who are single, people who are in relationships, people who have been married for 40 years, and people who have never, ever traveled on their own before – are choosing to cruise solo.
Let’s look at some of the reasons why, and how the cruise lines have prepared to welcome this type of independent traveler.
Why Cruise Solo?
All the things that make a cruise a wonderful vacation choice apply to solo travelers. It’s an incredibly easy and relaxing way to explore the world. The ship takes you from one port to another; no need for you to arrange a series of planes, trains and automobiles.
It’s easy on your budget; cruises are like all-inclusive resorts in that they provide lodging, dining and entertainment for one up-front price. And, it’s easy to budget for; you know in advance what you’ll need to spend on your fare, transportation between home and the ship, onshore excursions, and any special amenities that you want.
Plus, some aspects of a cruise vacation are especially well-suited to solo travelers. There’s the security of traveling on a ship equipped with an attentive crew and plenty of fellow passengers. Group excursions extend that feeling of security to your onshore activities. On the ships, there are lots of opportunities to join in activities and meet new people, or to spend time relaxing in solitude; you’ve got the flexibility to be social or enjoy time alone.
Solo vs. Single
Some of the people you meet on a cruise may assume that you’re looking for companionship, or even a romantic encounter, while on board. (There are cruises specifically for vacationers who are “single and ready to mingle,” which feature lots of fun parties and group activities.) If you need to, you can easily let people know that you’re solo, but not single. A simple, “I’m taking some vacation time, but my partner couldn’t get away from work,” “I’ve just always wanted to travel on my own,” or “Thank you, but I’m not looking for a date,” is usually all that’s needed.
Of course, if you are interested in meeting another solo/single you’ve seen onboard, you can strike up a conversation or ask the cruise director to make an introduction.
Do as You Please
One of the best things about solo cruising is that you can do whatever you please without needing to take anyone else’s preferences into account. Such a luxury! Visit the onboard spa, try the specialty restaurants, attend a lecture, read and doze by the pool or sing and dance the night away in the piano bar!
The Single Supplement
Does solo cruising sound good? Unfortunately, something that can make you think twice about cruising on your own is the “single supplement.” It’s a fee paid by solo travelers who don’t want to share a cabin that’s intended for two fare-paying passengers. Single supplements can be as high as 200%, which means the solo traveler is essentially paying two fares for the privilege of having a private stateroom.
The good news is that single supplements vary widely, even from ship to ship and cruise to cruise within the same line. You can find single supplements as low as 125% to 150%. Sometimes, cruise lines reduce or even eliminate the single supplement if there are still staterooms available as the embarkation date approaches.
Some ships are being built or refurbished with smaller staterooms specifically designed for solo travelers (with no single supplement). Norwegian Cruise Lines’ Epic is a terrific example: its “studio staterooms” are made just for one, and they open to a common lounge area where you can enjoy drinks and conversation with other solos. You’ll also find some single staterooms on Cunard Line’s three ships, and some river cruise ships, too.
So, if you want to take a cruise but your spouse can’t get away, your friends don’t have the money, your relationship just broke up or you simply want to do some world exploration on your own, talk with your cruise travel expert about all of the joys of solo cruising.