10 Tips for Solo Cruisers: How Cruises are Priced and How We Can Help You
One of the most frequent questions we receive at Cruise Specialists is if we offer pricing for solo cruisers. The answer is – most certainly – YES, but there are some things to consider. And it may require flexibility on your part. In this post we’ll share more about how cruise lines set their pricing and how that impacts solo traveler policies at various cruise lines, and 10 tips for making your trip as a solo cruiser as cost-effective and enjoyable as possible.
How Cruise Pricing Works
The biggest obstacle to solo travelers in terms of pricing goes back to how cruise lines establish their fares. Cruise lines base their fares on the presumption that two people will be in a room, called double occupancy. With that fare, the passenger receives their accommodations, meals, entertainment, and so on. The cruise line sets up its expected revenue based on the idea that it will fill the ship to capacity based on double occupancy, and will set budgets for all of the things its guests will enjoy accordingly. If it sells those staterooms to only one person for only half the price it was expecting, the cruise line will lose money and more importantly, can’t provide the type of premium experience that cruisers expect.
As a cruise departure date approaches, it’s possible the cruise line may decide to cut its losses and provide some of its open cabins for a special price to solo travelers. This is where the single supplement enters the picture.
What is the Single Supplement?
Remember, if two people in the cabin each pay full fare, or 100% of their fare each, then the full cabin is going to take in 200%. (100 percent plus 100 percent.) If there is only one person in the cabin, the standard operating procedure would be for that person to still pay for two people, often referred to as the 200% single supplement. If a cruise line advertises a single supplement of 125% or 150%, the solo traveler is getting a better deal than they normally would, even though it’s a premium compared to two people in a cabin. Breaking it down by percentage, here is how we would rank the different single supplements:
- 200% = standard
- 175% = good
- 150% = better/very good
- 125% = excellent
- 100% = the best – this is also referred to as a waived single supplement
When Do Single Supplement Deals Occur?
As mentioned, cruise lines don’t always make single supplement deals available, although some do more than others – more on that later. Their goal is to have the ship sail at full capacity to maximize revenue. As the departure date approaches, they may decide it is better to offer a stateroom or staterooms with a lower single supplement so they can recoup some of their expenses. This leads us to:
Solo Cruising Tip #1
Be flexible with your sailing dates or ships, since single supplement offers can appear at any time, typically six months or less before sailing.
Single Supplement Policies by Cruise Lines:
Some cruise lines are known for more favorable pricing for solo travelers. While this can change at any time, here is a look at some of the more longstanding single supplement policies from some of our top cruise line partners.
Windstar Cruises – 120%
Windstar Cruises offers single supplements as low as 120% on select voyages across a variety of destinations.
Silversea – 125%
Silversea welcomes solo travelers with single supplements of 25% above their Silver Privilege Fares, on selected voyages, for select suite categories.
Very Good to Excellent
Azamara – 125% to 150%
Solo travelers with Azamara pay the double occupancy fare for one person, plus between 25% to 50% of the stateroom fare on select sailings.
Oceania Cruises – 150%
On select voyages, solo travelers may reserve staterooms at a reduced single supplement of 150% in select categories.
Seabourn – 150%
Seabourn offers a reduced single supplement starting at 50% above current fares on select voyages and in select suite categories.
AmaWaterways (river cruises) – 150% on select stateroom categories
AmaWaterways is an excellent river cruise line that offers a reduced single supplement at 50% of the twin price in select stateroom categories on all 2023 European and Mekong sailings (if you cruise yet in 2022 they offer it further reduced at only 25% in select categories). The offer is subject to change at any time.
Good to Excellent, based on sailing
Regent Seven Seas Cruises® – 110% to 175%
Regent Seven Seas Cruises® offers a reduced single supplement ranging from 10% to 75% above the per person fare in select suite categories, on select voyages, across every region.
This leads us to:
Solo Cruising Tip #2
Understand which cruise lines regularly offer single supplements. This will help narrow the choices of which cruise lines you should regularly monitor for single supplements.
This also leads us to:
Solo Cruising Tip #3
Luxury cruise lines are among the best at offering single supplement deals. Regent Seven Seas Cruises®, Silversea and Seabourn are luxury cruise lines that offer an all-inclusive experience. So, even though you may pay more upfront, you are receiving a relatively great bargain with a reduced single supplement. Plus, once you are on board, you have even more of a carefree experience, since alcoholic beverages, premium coffees and teas, specialty dining and much more is all rolled into your price. So, go ahead to the lounge and start mingling!
Interested in seeing solo cruise fares now?
We have a selection of Solo Traveler offers here, and there are others frequently crossing our desk, so don’t hesitate to contact us if there is something specific you are looking for.
Solo Staterooms Are Gaining Popularity
Norwegian Cruise Line started a trend in 2010 when it pioneered its solo cabins on Norwegian Epic. Now, many of the cruise lines offer them, and they are an attractive option. Drawbacks include the fact that they aren’t as roomy as a stateroom designed for two people, and there is a limited number of solo cabins, so they sell out quickly. Keep in mind that sometimes you may find a double occupancy room for a better rate, even with the single supplement. This leads us to:
Solo Cruising Tip #4
Ask your cruise consultant to do a price comparison for you when looking at a solo cabin versus a double occupancy stateroom. There may be other things to consider, such as if you need to pay taxes and fees for one person or for two. This is where our extensive experience in cruising as well as our commitment to service helps you save time and money.
Among the many cruise lines that now offer solo cabins on certain ships:
- Holland America Line
- Celebrity Cruises
- Virgin Voyages
- Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL)
- Royal Caribbean
- Atlas Ocean Voyages
- Oceania Cruises – its new Vista ship debuting in 2023 will feature Concierge Level Solo Veranda Staterooms
How You Can Enhance Your Solo Travel Experience
Now that we have covered pricing and solo staterooms, there are still many additional ways you as a solo traveler can maximize the value of your journey. This is regardless if you are hoping for a more social type of experience or are truly looking to get away on your own.
Solo Cruising Tip #5: Consider an Adults Only Cruise
Viking and Virgin Voyages are both adults only cruise lines, meaning you must be at least 18 years old to cruise. If you wish to reduce the number of children and families you’re cruising with, these are great options. Viking provides a serene and enriching atmosphere, while Virgin Voyages is more entertainment and activity focused; Virgin Voyages’ cuisine is also exceptional and wide-ranging.
Solo Cruising Tip #6: Consider a River or Expedition Voyage
River cruise lines such as Tauck, AmaWaterways and Avalon Waterways, plus Hurtigruten Expeditions are some of the companies that regularly waive single supplements or offer a reduced single supplement. With these being much smaller ships, it’s also easier to mingle and run into familiar faces more easily.
Solo Cruising Tip #7: Consider a Hosted Cruise
Cruise Specialists is a leader in hosted cruising—it has been part of our DNA for 35 years. On certain hand-picked voyages each year, including World Cruises, we offer an above-and-beyond experience to everyone who reserves their cruise with us. We provide a Voyage Host who accompanies our group throughout the voyage, offer special onboard events and much more. Additionally, as part of the Travel Leaders Network of agencies, we offer hosted cruises on hundreds of departures each year, on more than 10 cruise lines. Each of these hosted voyages includes a welcome reception plus a special amenity, such as a VIP Shore Event, where you can explore with a group of like-minded travelers.
Solo Cruising Tip #8: Watch for Special Onboard Events for Solo Travelers
Cruise lines are savvy to the fact that they have solo travelers on board and want to make you feel welcome! They may offer champagne welcome receptions, reserved dining tables for solo travelers and more.
Additionally, cruising is, by nature, a social mode of traveling. There are so many opportunities to connect with other travelers—from dance classes, to group fitness, trivia and more. Of course, if you crave quieter moments, there is an equal amount of activities to suit someone who wishes to simply have some alone time. There’s no better way to relax than to sit on a deck chair and watch the waves go by.
Solo Cruising Tip #9: Go On the Cruise Line’s Shore Excursions
Be sure to reserve some of the cruise line’s shore excursions to explore each destination in the safety and comfort of a group. Conversations easily occur as you participate in the activity, whether a cooking class, a nature walk or a tour of the region’s best highlights. Taking the shore excursions offered through the cruise line is also a good way to ensure that the company running that tour has been properly vetted, and they are held accountable for getting you back to the ship on time.
Solo Cruising Tip #10: Contact Cruise Specialists
The best advice we can give you when planning a solo cruise is that you don’t have to go it alone. At Cruise Specialists, we understand the pricing and policies, and we are committed to serving our clients to ensure you get exactly what you desire.
Ready to start planning your solo cruise?