Solo Cruises: Ultimate Guide to Sailing Alone

The appeal of solo cruises lies in two camps: cruise heaven or downright terrifying. 

I assume you want to know everything about solo cruises and cruising single? Well, you’ve come to the right place.

solo cruises travel

Statistics released over the past few years by the Cruise Lines International Association show that people traveling alone are an ever-increasing demographic.

Over the past decade, cruise lines have recognized the solo traveler market and now feature a variety of staterooms designed for single travelers without the need for a travel companion.

Cruise ships now offer more solo cabins than ever, with NCL retrofitting its vessels to make all classes of solo cabins available, including veranda staterooms.

Why Take a Solo Cruise?

Choosing a solo cruise offers unmatched opportunities for those seeking freedom and adventure without compromise. It caters to the desires of solo travelers to explore at their own pace and meet like-minded individuals along the way.

Freedom and Flexibility

Freedom is the cornerstone of a solo cruise experience. The solo traveler enjoys complete autonomy in planning his or her day without synchronizing with others’ schedules. From choosing excursions to deciding on meal times, the flexibility available to solo cruisers means that one can follow their whims as they arise.

Meeting New People

Embarking on a solo cruise can be an ideal way to socialize and connect with fellow travelers. Solo cruisers are often able to meet new people, and many cruise lines offer activities and events specifically designed for singles. This creates a friendly environment where new friendships can be formed.

Personal Growth and Independence

Cruising solo fosters personal growth and independence. It encourages solo travelers to leave their comfort zones and engage in new experiences, increasing self-reliance. The voyage becomes not just a journey across the sea, but also an exploration of one’s capabilities and strengths.

Planning a Solo Cruise

When planning a solo cruise, one must consider the variety of cruise lines available, choose the most suitable stateroom, and understand the financial aspects, such as the single supplement fee. Selecting the perfect cruise can be straightforward with the proper research and knowledge.

Length of the Cruise Matters

Retirees with passive income have the resources and time to indulge in extended sailings of 10 days or longer to exotic locales on high-end cruise ships. Do you know who (usually) does not? Single people in their 20s-50s.  

Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, but it’s a numbers game out here.  If you want to ensure that your sailing will be loaded with lovely lurkers, select a trip of 8 days or less on a non-pretentious cruise line that can be booked for a reasonable price. 

READ MORE: 9 Best Cruise Lines For Singles

If you want to avoid being overrun with families as kids take over the lido deck, choose a cruise that sails while kids are still in school. You won’t completely avoid married couples and pint-sized pirates altogether, but the numbers will be way more in your favor.  

Another pro tip is to remember that two to four-day sailings will likely be your weekend warriors, often comprised of a heavier drinking and party crowd. Grab a cocktail and claim your place on the dance floor if that’s your thing.

On five to eight-day sailings, your fellow sailors are likely to be of a (slightly) more mature and reserved variety. 

Researching Cruise Lines

Research is the first step in planning a solo cruise. Cruise lines such as Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, and Holland America offer different experiences, amenities, and solo traveler programs. You are not limited to just mass-market sailings, even luxury cruise lines offer solo rates (which typically offer fewer people onboard).

Norwegian Cruise Line is renowned for their studio staterooms catering to solo cruisers, which removes the single supplement fee. Royal Caribbean also provides studio staterooms designed for solo travelers, ensuring value and comfort without the additional cost of single supplements.

Selecting the Right Stateroom

Choosing the right stateroom is crucial for a solo cruiser’s comfort and enjoyment. The options vary from interior rooms to balconies and suites.

Solo travelers might consider the following factors:

  • Location: Proximity to the ship’s amenities.
  • View: Whether one prefers an ocean view or not.
  • Size: Space and layout that meets personal comfort levels.

Some cruise lines, including Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line, offer staterooms specifically designed for solo passengers, providing an appropriately sized living space but also helping solo cruisers avoid the single supplement.

Understanding the Single Supplement

First, you should know that cruise line rates are based on double occupancy and cruise ship staterooms are designed for two people. The single supplement is a fee that cruise lines charge when a solo traveler occupies that cabin. 

For instance, if you book a balcony stateroom for one person as a solo cruiser, you will be charged the rate for two people (while only paying the port taxes for one person).

Solo cruisers should look for promotions or specific sailings where the single supplement is reduced or waived.

A website that has been around for years, helping the solo cruiser, is CruisePlum.com

Holland America occasionally offers a reduced single supplement, making it advantageous for solo cruisers to monitor such deals. Always review the pricing structure of your chosen cruise line to ensure you receive the most cost-effective option for your solo adventure.

Onboard Experience for Solo Travelers

For individuals traveling alone, cruising provides a unique chance to indulge without judgment, connect with like-minded people, and participate in activities not limited by others.

Dining Options and Social Meals

Solo travelers have various dining options, from high-end specialty restaurants to casual buffets. 

Many cruise lines cater to singles by offering social dining tables where guests can meet and enjoy meals, facilitating connections and shared experiences. For instance, Silversea Cruises provides an elegant dining experience where solo guests can mingle and partake in gourmet meals in a group setting.

Solo Cabins and Lounges

Solo staterooms, explicitly designed for single travelers, are becoming a staple on many ships. These cabins are often smaller, more affordable, and purposefully located to grant easy access to the ship’s amenities. 

For example, the studio lounges are exclusive social spaces where solo cruisers can relax, enjoy a drink, and meet other guests without a single supplement fee. Norwegian Bliss has a great solo studio lounge. 

Onboard Activities and Entertainment

The variety of onboard activities ensures that there’s something for every solo traveler. They can indulge in spa treatments, attend fitness classes, or partake in enrichment lectures. In the evening, the ship comes alive with many entertainment options, including Broadway-style shows, live music, and themed parties, which are excellent for solo travelers to enjoy and socialize.

Cruises for Solo Travelers

Several cruise lines offer solo cruise rates if you plan to go on a cruise alone. These lines include Virgin Voyages (Scarlet Lady) and Celebrity Cruises (Edge class ships like Celebrity Beyond). 

Additionally, some river cruises in the US and Europe offer reduced cruise fares for solo travelers.

(Note: Check each cabin category with the cruise ship you want to sail or turn the hard work over to a travel agent.) 

Norwegian Cruise Line’s Studios

Norwegian Cruise Line pioneered in accommodating solo travelers with their innovative Studios. Specifically designed for those cruising alone, Studios eliminates the need for a single supplement and offers a private space for guests to chill and meet other solo travelers. 

Royal Caribbean’s Single Staterooms

Royal Caribbean caters to individuals exploring the seas independently with a range of single staterooms onboard select ships. These accommodations include interior and balcony options, providing a comfortable retreat without worrying about additional fees for traveling alone. 

Ships like Harmony of the Seas offer cozy hideaways starting at about 96 square feet, while options like studio balcony rooms treat guests to private outdoor spaces.

Cunard and Holland America

The tradition-rich Cunard offers solo travelers an elegant experience with several single cabins on its famed ocean liners. Holland America Line similarly accommodates solo guests with a mix of stateroom options, providing a peaceful stay amidst a wealth of onboard activities. 

Both cruise lines have developed a reputation for a refined cruise experience and feature programs and amenities that make solo travel inviting and enjoyable.

Making the Most of Shore Excursions

Solo travelers can enhance their cruise experience by strategically selecting shore excursions and networking with other solo cruisers. This way, they discover new destinations and connect with like-minded individuals.

Choosing Excursions for Solo Travelers

Solo cruisers should select shore excursions that cater to their interests and allow flexibility. They can benefit from joining small group tours, which typically provide a more personalized experience, making interacting with fellow participants and guides easier. 

For instance, a guided historical tour can offer a deep dive into the destination’s culture and history. Solo travelers might also consider activity-based excursions – like snorkeling or a cooking class – as they often encourage camaraderie among participants.

Networking with Fellow Solo Cruisers

Shore excursions are an excellent opportunity for solo cruisers to meet and engage with others. Onboard mixers and group activities are designed to help solo travelers connect before disembarking. Solo cruisers can take advantage of these pre-shore excursion gatherings to find other solo travelers with similar interests. 

Engaging with fellow solo cruisers in this way can form groups for shared shore excursions, which enhances the personal experience and offers savings compared to going alone.

Overcoming the Solo Travel Challenges

Embarking on a solo cruise adventure can be as exhilarating as it is daunting, with single supplement fees and the quest for camaraderie being among the primary concerns. This section offers concrete strategies for solo cruisers to tackle these challenges.

Dealing with Single Supplement Fees

Solo travelers often face the challenge of the single supplement fee, an additional charge levied on individuals occupying a cabin designed for two. To mitigate this cost, travelers can:

  • Seek Out Special Offers: Some cruise lines provide promotions that reduce or waive the single supplement fee, making cruising more affordable for solo passengers.
  • Choose Cruise Lines That Cater to Solos: Opt for cruise lines offering solo cabins specifically designed for one person and priced accordingly, such as those available on Royal Caribbean ships.

Finding Your Community Onboard

Building a community onboard is crucial for solo cruisers and can greatly enhance the cruise experience. 

Here are ways to connect with other solo passengers:

  • Join Organized Activities: Participate in activities designed to bring passengers together. Meet-and-greets, group excursions, and themed events are ideal for connecting with fellow cruisers.
  • Utilize Social Dining Options: Request to be seated at communal tables in the main dining room, which is an effective way to meet other single cruisers.

Special Programs for Singles

Cruise lines increasingly cater to single travelers through special programs focusing on social interaction and enjoyment. These offerings provide a welcoming environment for those cruising solo to meet like-minded passengers and participate in curated activities.

Hosted Social Events

Many cruise lines organize hosted social events specifically for single travelers. For example, some cruises feature cocktail receptions that allow singles to mingle in a relaxed setting. 

They can attend singles mixers or theme nights to break the ice and foster community. Royal Caribbean offers events where solo cruisers can meet with the cruise director and crew members, enhancing their onboard experience.

Singles Cruises and Theme Cruises

Singles cruises are specially tailored voyages that cater to individuals traveling alone. These cruises often have dedicated social spaces where singles can come together and socialize. Theme cruises take this concept further by revolving around a specific interest or activity, making it easier for solo travelers to find others with similar interests. 

For instance, a cruise line might offer a dance-themed cruise where singles can learn new skills while connecting with fellow dance enthusiasts.

Themed Sailings or Full Ship Charters

Theme cruises are another great option for single cruisers.  I admit that I was already a well-seasoned cruiser before I found out how many theme cruise options were available.  

Unlike a partial charter or the “cruise within a cruise” format, a theme cruise is typically a third-party organization chartering the entire ship for a set amount of days and destinations. 

The host organization charters the ship, books the entertainment, schedules the activities, and markets the sailing to the appropriate demographic.  

Could you imagine being a superfan of country music, classical rock, or electronic dance music and boarding a ship of 3,000 like-minded enthusiasts for a dream vacation? 

There are wall-to-wall performances by some of your favorite acts, with the price of each show already built into your cruise fare.  

Combine that with some of the most exotic destinations on the planet, and you have a single cruiser’s paradise.   Themes for these getaways can range from music and comedy to cryptocurrency and comic books.  

There are countless organizers of these vacations, but check out sixthman.net for a one-stop shop on more than a dozen “festivals at sea.”

Tips for Solo Cruising

Cruising solo offers an enriching experience for those who seek an independent adventure. Here are some tips to ensure they enjoy their vacation to the fullest:

  • Choosing the Right Cruise Line: Some cruise lines cater specifically to solo travelers, offering single cabins and reduced single supplements. Ensure they pick a cruise that aligns with their preferences.
  • Connecting with Others: Solo cruisers should take advantage of the activities and social events designed for single passengers. This can be a fantastic opportunity to meet like-minded travelers.
  • Planning the Budget: Solo cruisers should check if their cruise package includes solo-friendly amenities and services to avoid unexpected expenses. Understanding all costs involved is critical to planning a stress-free trip.
  • Safety First: They should familiarize themselves with the ship’s layout and safety protocols. It’s also advisable to keep a copy of their passport and important documents separate from the originals.
  • Packing Smart: A solo traveler must pack items that cater to their comfort and entertainment. This may include books, a journal, or any tech gadgets that they prefer.
  • Staying Connected: While some prefer to unplug, others may purchase WiFi to keep in touch with loved ones or manage work commitments during their sea days.
  • Be a heavy presence in social media groups: Nowadays, almost every sailing has a dedicated roll call on the Cruise Critic message boards and Shipmate cruise app, or a Facebook group. These are invaluable ways to connect with fellow cruise guests before you sail.
  • Step out of your comfort zone on day one: Singles and solo cruisers will typically look to make connections on the first day to set the tone for the rest of the journey. Grab a drink and jump right into the mix so you aren’t trying to wiggle your way into already-established social circles later in the cruise.
  • A little liquid courage is okay, but don’t overdo it or other single cruisers will be bonding over the kick they are all getting out of the overtly inebriated sailor.  

By preparing in advance and embracing the freedom of solo travel, cruisers will surely have an unforgettable vacation while cruising single.

As you can see, there is no shortage of options for you as a single or solo cruiser. Young, old, recently divorced, or never married – there are many pathways for you to have an absolute blast on your next cruise.

Sitting around and waiting for the perfect opportunity is rarely productive, and cruising is no different. 

They say the best things are on the other side of fear, so step out of your comfort zone, find your way onto one of these magnificent cruise ships, and make some lifelong memories.

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