The ultimate guide to cruising for solo travelers

Solo passenger enjoying the view

Cruising is a wonderful way to see the world in safety, comfort and style, and more and more solo travelers are taking advantage of this opportunity. However, unlike a land-based vacation where you simply book an airline ticket and a hotel room, cruising for solo travelers has its own realities and intricacies.  Here is a look at solo cruising onboard ocean and river ships, and tips on how to plan your solo cruise.

1. Cruising solo does not mean cruising alone

Cruise lines make sure that solo travelers are well looked after onboard. A solo traveler get-together is scheduled on the first evening of the cruise, hosted by the ship’s social staff. This is a must-attend event, as it is the first opportunity for you to make friends. Throughout the cruise, additional meet-ups will be scheduled to keep the camaraderie going. But generally, once you’ve met and clicked with your fellow travelers, you will naturally plan your own gatherings, whether it is lunch, dinner, attending shows, participating in activities, or going ashore together.

2. Single supplement

Solo cruise passenger having a relaxing day at sea

Source: Getty Images

Perhaps the biggest challenge solo cruisers face is the single supplement. As all cruise fares are based on two persons sharing a stateroom, when only one person occupies the room, the fare is doubled. This fare structure is designed for the cruise line to recoup the loss on the missing second traveler. The single supplement is slightly lower on luxury cruise lines, ranging from 10-25 percent on introductory suites to 75-100 percent on the top suites.

In recognizing that solo travelers make up an important part of the cruising demographic, some cruise lines are accommodating solo travelers by adding solo-friendly programs.

3. Solo staterooms

The perfect stateroom for solo traveleres

Source: Norwegian Cruise Line; Studio stateroom at Norwegian Getaway

Solo staterooms have the same amenities as a double stateroom, except it comes with a twin or full-size bed. These staterooms are priced for one and is less expensive than paying the single supplement on a double room.

Perhaps the most innovative solo staterooms are found onboard Norwegian Cruise Line’s Studio Complex. Compact staterooms of up to 100 square feet (with bed and private bath) are clustered around a Studio Lounge living room where guests can relax and mingle. It is the ideal setup for solo travelers to have an affordable vacation and a central location to meet other guests.

Other cruise lines with solo staterooms are:

4. Single share program

Three solo travelers having fun at Cruise line private island

Source: Getty Images

A few expedition cruise operators offer a single share program. The solo traveler is matched up with another traveler of the same sex to share the stateroom. This arrangement is more budget-friendly than paying for single occupancy, however, the cruise line only guarantees a match of the same sex, not age or personality. Whoever you get – and you usually don’t meet them until you are onboard – you’ll have to share facilities with that person for the entire cruise.

Among the popular cruise expeditions companies you will find Adventure Canada, G Adventures, Lindblad and Quark Expeditions.

5. Gentlemen hosts

Cruise Dining experience with a gentleman host

Source: Getty Images

On longer sailings such as transatlantic or transpacific crossings, repositioning or world cruises, you’ll find gentlemen hosts sailing onboard premium and luxury lines. Cruise lines hire these ambassador hosts to act as social and dance partners for solo female guests. They may also accompany guests to dinners, shows, and on shore excursions.

The gentlemen hosts are available at Crystal Cruises, Cunard Line, Holland America Line and Silversea Cruises

6. Singles cruises

Singles cruises are occasionally offered by cruise lines, or by a tour company that has chartered a ship and caters exclusively to single travelers. These cruises typically cater to an audience who is looking to meet other singles in a lively atmosphere. Before booking yourself on one, ensure the onboard programming and the age group is a match for your interest.

7. Solo cruising on the rivers

S.S. Maria Theresa sailing across the Danube River

Source: Uniworld River Cruises; S.S. Maria Theresa

River cruising is extremely conducive to solo travelers. Unlike large ocean ships that carry thousands, river ships carry an average of 150 guests and as few as 106. The chance of seeing new friends you met is 100 percent, every day.

The design of river ships also fosters a social environment. River ships have one main restaurant, offering communal dining at tables of various sizes. There is no assigned seating, therefore it is very easy to join different tables at each meal to get to know everyone.

Guests also gather at one lounge to attend lectures, watch performances, and enjoy before or after dinner drinks. Ashore, guided tours are organized into small groups, therefore seeing familiar faces are guaranteed.

To top it off, many river cruise lines waive single supplements for solo travelers on select sailings, thus making solo cruising affordable.

These are some of popular River cruise lines that offer solo traveler savings:

As you can see, with all of the accommodation options and onboard amenities in place, cruising solo can be stress-free, enjoyable and rewarding. We hope to see you onboard, charting a new course, making new friends and new memories. Bon voyage!

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