A cruise may not seem the obvious choice for a solo holiday. Yet single cruises are growing steadily in popularity, with more and more cruise operators catering for solo travellers.
A solo cruising holiday lets you discover and explore exciting new places easily and safely. Along with great accommodation and facilities, solo cruises offer the opportunity to meet other travellers who share your interests, with lots of planned activities and social events to keep busy night and day. Or if you prefer your own company, there’s plenty of time and space on a solo cruise to simply relax and unwind.
Read our top tips for getting a cheap cruise deal.
Getting the best solo cruise deals
Research the cruise ship
Choose your cruise line, ship and sailing itinerary carefully – so you get what you want from your solo cruise holiday and don’t end up paying for extras you’re not interested in. Find the balance between sea days and excursions that best suits you. If you’re interested in meeting lots of new people, a larger ship and plenty of organised group activities might appeal. Alternatively, a smaller ship can deliver a quieter, more inclusive atmosphere where you see fellow travellers more frequently which can help build friendships.
Avoid the single supplement
As with many hotels, cruise lines typically charge solo cruise travellers a fee for staying in a double cabin. This supplement can range from 30 per cent of the cruise fare up to 100 per cent – effectively the same price as two people sharing a cabin. Most cruise lines charge around 50 per cent extra.
For the best solo cruise deal, look for a ship with plenty of one-person cabins. Typically these will be smaller rooms but you’ll avoid a supplement. P&O, Cunard, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise all offer dedicated single cabins for those travelling alone. Saga Cruises target specifically those over 50; on Spirit of Discovery, 100 of the ship’s 540 cabins are solo cabins.
Alternatively, look to share a cabin with someone of the same gender. This may not be for everyone but it’s a great way to save money and meet someone else travelling on their own.
Many cruise operators offer great discounts when faced with a high percentage of empty cabins on a ship prior to sailing. If you’re booking a last-minute solo cruise, ask for the single supplement to be waived.
Be flexible with when you can cruise
As a solo cruise traveller, you’re not tied down by other peoples’ needs – you’re free to travel where and when you want. Being as flexible as possible with your travel dates may help you get a great cruise deal. The best time for the cheapest solo travel is the off-peak seasons, outside of school holidays. In addition, cruise lines will often waive fees or offer last-minute solo cruise deals to fill empty cabins before they set sail.
Consider river cruises to get cheap cruises for singles
River cruises are great for solo travellers. Smaller ships, fewer passengers and a more intimate, the inclusive atmosphere makes river cruises the perfect choice for travellers on their own.
Compared to mega-ship oceanic cruises, river cruise ships typically carry less 200 people which means it’s easier to meet people. Whether your river cruise is activity-based or simply exploring a beautiful part of the world, you can meet like-minded people who share your passion for fun and adventure.
Fewer passengers also mean the crew gets to know everyone quickly. They will quickly identify solo travellers, making sure they are well looked after including checking that they’re happy with seating arrangements when dining.
Most river cruises feature double cabins so you’re likely to end up paying an eye-watering single supplement when travelling alone. That said, an increasing number of river cruise operators now offer dedicated single cabins on their ships, including Riviera Travel and Tauck.
As with ocean cruises, meals are included in the cost of the river cruise. Most river cruises include shore excursions too, making it easier to predict costs, but if you’re on a budget, avoid cruise-lines that include all drinks, tours and other gratuities in the fare.
Read our guide to river cruises Europe to discover luxury and cheap river cruises in Europe with itineraries to help you choose the best river cruise for you.
Getting the most out of your solo cruise
Take advantage of solo perks on single cruises
Cruise operators are beginning to embrace solo travellers with perks and activities designed specifically for those travelling alone.
Cruise lines often hold meet-and-greets for singles at the beginning of the cruise. Several of the ships owned by Norwegian Cruise Lines offer an exclusive Studio Lounge, specifically for those travelling solo, with two large TVs, daily gatherings and a concierge for dinner reservations and excursions. Saga Cruises offer singles’ gatherings and a chance to buddy up with other solo travellers on excursions. Cunard provides gentleman hosts to dance with single women. Royal Caribbean often holds solo cruise mixers which is a great way to meet new people.
Ask at the front desk and what perks they have to offer for solo.
Participate in activities on single cruises
You may want to use your time on the cruise to relax, read a good book and take time to yourself, which is a great way to unplug and unwind. However, if you’re interested in meeting new people or worried about feeling lonely, attend the cruise’s activities.
Cruises offer activities that anyone can participate in, from bingo and trivia quizzes to cooking and dancing classes. Have fun and try new things, it pays to put yourself out there and can be a great talking point when meeting new people. Participating in activities is a great way to meet like-minded people and bonding over shared interests.
Many cruise lines offer activities specifically for solo travellers so be sure to check the daily planner to find out what is happening throughout the ships.
Attend excursions on single cruises
Excursions are a great way to meet your fellow shipmates and explore a new destination at the same time! Look for tours you’re interested in such as like archaeological ruins or historical sites, and you’ll find other people on single cruises with shared interests. Some single cruises have specific excursions for those travelling solo.
Chose a set dining time on a solo cruise
The thought of dining alone each mealtime is often the biggest obstacle to booking a solo cruise. Few of us enjoy eating by ourselves especially when surrounded by couples and groups. Choosing set dining is the best option to avoid this. Request to be seated with other travellers, solo or not, and most dining staff will happily accommodate this. Most cruise lines will do their utmost to ensure you are happy with your dining arrangements. If you’re not happy with your table, simply ask the dining staff to be moved to another table.
Be safe on single cruises
Solo cruises are a very safe way to travel and explore new destinations, but it pays to use your common sense in unfamiliar situations. Avoid giving away too much personal information to fellow travellers straightaway and let a member of the crew know if you feel unsafe. With onshore excursion look to pair up with fellow single travellers. Make sure you know how to get back to ship, have the port address and ship name for taxis and avoid drinking too much if you’re alone.
Solo cruising means time to yourself
Cruise ships often have thousands of passengers but they are still a wonderful opportunity to focus on yourself. Make good use of the ship’s facilities: visit the spa, have a drink in a bar or hit the dance floor. If you don’t feel like socialising, then seek out quieter areas of the ship. Bring a book, write in a journal or browse the web – take advantage of the time you have to yourself and enjoy it!