To some, it seems like discrimination. And every time we write about it, our post bag – or the digital equivalent – fills with bitter recriminations.
While we get the business case for charging up to double the single fare for a solo passenger, we also know that many are single women – often widows – looking for some companionship as well as a holiday.
To price them out of the market on some river and ocean cruises seems cruel.
But times are changing. While most lines still charge solo travellers a premium to travel by themselves to cover the missed revenue of twin-share, more and more are cherishing single sailors as a growing new client base. They are offering special services, cocktail party meet-and-mingle sessions and waiving solo supplements.
They are also beginning to design single cabins that are specially created to make a single sailor feel at home.
Here are some of Cruise Passenger’s solo picks.
Norwegian Cruise Line
The Norwegian Epic (which sails in the Mediterranean and the Caribbean) boasts 128 studio cabins just for solo cruisers. It was the first ship in the Norwegian Cruise Line’s fleet to be fitted out with these cabins. The cruise line then followed with the Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway which each have 59 cabins. On the Norwegian Escape, there are 82 studio units. But the line also offers events just for solo travellers like evening meet-ups at one of the ship’s bars like the Sailing Social Club. These events are held on all ships. The solo cabins are fitted out with a full-sized bed, flat-screen TV and a private bathroom. Mind you, all cabins are inside cabins but have a window which looks out into the corridor. Norwegian also offers its solos a private area called the Studio Lounge which has large-screen TVs, coffee making facilities as well as a bartender at certain times of the day like pre-dinner drinks.
Holland America Line
The line’s newest ship, the Koningsdam has 12 solo cabins while the Prinsendam has three. All of the Koningsdam solo cabins are oceanview and vary in size. HAL is known for its outstanding solo traveller program which includes meet and greets, hands on workshops as well as wine tastings. The line also offers Single Partners Program on most of its voyages where single passengers can attend cocktail mixers and games. There is also a room matching service which pairs passengers up with another of the same sex.
The Queen Elizabeth is heading to Australia, so more cruisers will get the opportunity to try the iconic brand. Cunard’s relaxed atmosphere means that passengers onboard are friendly and very welcoming for solo cruisers. On the Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria, there are nine solo cabins, while on the Queen Mary 2, a recent refit included the addition of more solo cabins. Cunard will usually accommodate for solo travellers who wish to dine alone (depending on how full the ship is and has activities available like theatre workshops and more. The line occasionally offers discounts for solo travellers but generally, there is a supplement of 200 per cent for passengers in the Queens’ and Princess’ Grills.
One of the world’s biggest lines has some great programs for solo cruisers. These activities include group fitness activities, cooking classes as well as scuba training in the pool. Royal Caribbean’s ships Quantum of the Seas, Ovation of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas feature 28 studios for solo travellers on each ship. The cabins are a mix between the virtual reality balcony cabins as well as some smaller balcony cabins. Aboard Harmony of the Seas there are two categories of studios but there are only 15 cabins.
This is one of the most popular lines for luxury solo cruisers so Crystal has organised a large number of activities – like singles’ parties with gentlemen hosts. Supplements for the cabins can be as low as 10 per cent for certain categories. Crystal also has allocated dining available so solos don’t have to dine alone. On the odd occasion, Crystal will offer limited-time sales for solo cruisers on selected voyages.
Azamara Club Cruises
The Azamara Quest and Azamara Journey only has 690 passengers so it’s extremely intimate. Solos are always made to feel welcome onboard and fares tend to be 125 per cent of the twin share fare. The line sometimes waives single supplement fees.
Sadly, this beautiful luxury line does not have solo cabins. But Seabourn gives special treatment to its solo travellers when it comes to invitations like dinner, so guest don’t have to dine alone. The standard single supplement is usually around 175 per cent for ocean view and veranda suites and 100 per cent more for premium suites.