Category: Travellers

Cruising for Solo Travellers: Tips and Advice

Jane Archer offers some useful advice for those travelling alone on cruise ships. There has never been a better time for people who like to cruise alone. A bold statement maybe, and one with which those who hanker for the tiny single cabins on the old QE2 will doubtless disagree – but it’s true.

Two years ago if you wanted a single cabin you had a choice between Saga Cruises and Fred Olsen, the one for the over-50s, the other loved by the over-60s, and a handful of other cruise lines that attracted those of a similar age.

Today, those in their 20s can travel alone – and have a ball – on Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Epic, a lively family-friendly cruise ship. and the first new vessel for years with a substantial number of single cabins.

And, as noted by Which? Travel in a report this week, more cruise lines are offering either low single supplements or none at all, in recognition of the fact that more people are choosing to live and take their holidays alone.

These can hurt – up to 100% more than the twin share per person price so you are paying for yourself and another non-existent, person. But keep an eye out for several cruise lines that have no single supplement offers now and then. Saga, Hurtigruten, Voyages to Antiquity and MSC Cruises are ones to watch.


Single cabins vary from being pokey inside rooms to reasonably spacious balcony staterooms. It pays to shop around. Fred Olsen has everything from inside to balcony cabins, Swan Hellenic has just nine inside single cabins, Norwegian Cruise Line’s 128 studio cabins are all inside and just 100 square feet – but you do get the singles lounge for socializing.

Holland America Line, Fred Olsen and Avalon Waterways have single share schemes, where they pair solo passengers with another same sex lone traveler. If they can’t find anyone, you get a double cabin to yourself without paying a supplement.

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Dining and socializing

Some cruise lines have fixed dining, where you eat at the same time on a pre-allocated table each night. Others have open dining, allowing you to eat when and with whom you want. Single-friendly lines – Fred Olsen, Swan Hellenic, P&O; Cruises – have cocktail parties and coffee mornings so solo travelers can meet others.

Tips for solo cruisers

  • A ship with lots of single cabins means there’ll be plenty of other solo travelers.
  • Fixed dining is very formal; open dining is an easier way to meet people as you sit at different tables each evening.
  • Use cruise blogs for research. If you like formal cruising, Norwegian Epic would be a nightmare; likewise Fred
  • Olsen would be a disaster for young, free and single thirty-somethings.
  • Book early. Single cabins on all ships sell like hot cakes.
  • Reviews and advice on 100 cruise ships and 35 cruise lines

Top five cruise lines and ships for solo travelers

  • NCL’s Norwegian Epic has 128 inside studio cabins for lone travelers, no single supplement and the studio ‘hang-out’ where people cruising alone can meet. Norwegian Breakaway and Getaway, launching in 2013 and 2014 respectively, will have 59 Studio cabins each.
  • Fred Olsen Cruise Lines has 188 single cabins across its four ships, which carry a small premium on the per person price for the equivalent twin-share. Singles parties and gentlemen hosts make this a favorite with older single travelers.
  • P&O; Cruises’ Azura has 18 single cabins – six inside and 12 with an ocean view – at a small premium on the per person twin-share price. Coffee mornings help single travelers meet others. However, P&O; is putting a miserly two single cabins on Oriana in a refit this autumn.
  • Voyages to Antiquity has 16 single cabins on Aegean Odyssey, charged at a 15 per cent supplement, but this is waived on selected cruises. Singles parties are organized if there are enough people traveling alone.
  • Saga Cruises has 206 single cabins across three ships and an average 40 per cent supplement that’s waived on many cruises. Taster cruises have lunches and excursions for solo travelers. Saga Sapphire, entering service in March 2012, will have 58 cabins for solo travelers.

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