Great news for solo cruisers – cruise lines this year are offering bigger and better deals, including an increase in single cabins with ocean views.
The demand to cater for passengers who want to go-it-alone has been on the rise consistently for years. Cruise lines haven’t always been enthusiastic about embracing this trend, since the dollar spend per passenger on board is obviously better with duos.
So, what’s changed? It seems the solo cruiser is winning the battle, with cruise lines this year offering record numbers of solo cabins, including ocean views and balconies, as well as a bunch of attractive discounts and deals. Cruise lines can no longer ignore the rise in demand.
And how quickly is solo travel growing? It’s not just with cruising – more than half of all travellers with Intrepid Travel, about 75,000 people per year, now go solo. Overseas Adventure Travel, with a demographic of people aged over 50 added an additional 2,000 solo spots for 2019. Now, more than 50 per cent of all their travellers are solo.
Barry Downs, from Australia’s Bicton Travel Group told Cruise Passenger he can see a definite rise in solo travellers searching for the best deals.
“Once solo travel was a necessity for some, when partners or friends etc didn’t want to – or couldn’t travel. But now we are seeing it as more of a lifestyle choice. It’s less intimidating to travel solo.
“The solo traveller isn’t as concerned with destinations as such, but we are seeing more trends in the demand for options for solo cruisers on board ships. So, more and more options are becoming available as more cruise ships offer solo cabins or departures with no, or very low supplements.”
What’s new in solo cruise travel?
Downs says that 2020 an 2021 will see a further increase for solo travelling in terms of new ships being launched, designed to appeal to different demographics within the solo market. “Virgin Voyages’ Scarlet Lady launches this year, with dedicated solo cabins, where as on many other sailings the supplement is minimal or nil when compared to a twin share cabin.
Downs even believes that solo cruisers are becoming more selective when it comes to what’s offered on board; “whilst there are already ships within NCL, Royal Caribbean, Holland America, Cunard and more offering dedicated solo accommodation, Virgin may be the right fit for a younger, activity focused solo traveller.
He also believes that agents are seeing an increase in solo cruisers who are drawn to certain destinations. “While Scarlet Lady is sailing from Miami, by the end of 2021 Valiant Lady will launch in Barcelona offering Mediterranean sailings which will be very popular with Australian Solo Travellers,” he said.
“We have many clients who are solo travellers and we receive lots of great questions and requests for advice specifically about solo travelling every week,” he added.
Royal Caribbean have responded to the demand with refurbishments to ships designed to better cater for solo travellers. With Serenade of the Seas arriving in Australian waters this year, three quarters of Royal Caribbean’s fleet here will be offering solo cabins, which is a record.
In Australia, RCL offer single cabins on Ovation of the Seas (28), Serenade of the Seas (3) and Radiance of the Seas (3).
Of the more than 20 ships in the global fleet, more than ten have solo cabins available.
Ships with solo cabins:
Quantum of the Seas (28 solo cabins)
Anthem of the Seas (28 solo cabins)
Ovation of the Seas (28 solo cabins)
Harmony of the Seas (15 solo cabins)
Adventure of the Seas (5 solo cabins)
Brilliance of the Seas (3 solo cabins)
Jewel of the Seas (3 solo cabins)
Mariner of the Seas (2 solo cabins)
Radiance of the Seas (3 solo cabins)
Serenade of the Seas (3 solo cabins)
While solo cabins onboard RCL don’t always have balconies, the interior solo rooms have the option of a ‘virtual balcony’, which is a fake window, that displays ocean-view vision as you cruise.
Cruise & Maritime Voyages are currently offering up to 40% off solo cabins during the 20/21 Australasian season on Vasco da Gama.
Vasco da Gama has 40 solo cabins on board with a range of inner, ocean-view and balcony cabins.
While the ‘Buy One Get One Free’ does not apply to solo travellers, CMV does offer significant discounts on the full solo cabin fare, such as the offer above.
Ponant offers the option of individual suites or staterooms on their selection of cruise and expedition itineraries with no single supplement.
The benefit of solo cruising with Ponant’s luxury small ships is that there are only 92 to 132 staterooms and suites, and most come with a private balcony. So for social solo cruisers, the ship’s smaller size can be a benefit.
Two of Ponant’s most popular solo cruise itineraries are:
An Immersion in Japanese Culture
May to June 2020, 8 nights from Osaka to Maizuru, Japan on board Le Soléal
The Essential Kimberley – with National Geographic
August 2021, 12 nights From Darwin return on board Le Bellot
Norwegian Cruise Line
NCL has been awarded Best for Solo Travellers – Cruise Critic’s 2019 and Best Cruise Line for Solo Travellers 5 years in a row by Porthole Magazine. They focus on creating plenty of opportunities for solo passengers to meet fellow passengers once on board. Most sailings have singles meet-ups for those cruising alone. Some onboard cruise staff even host bar crawls around the ship, and happy hour is on every night.
Norwegian offers a Solo Cruiser Discount with reduced single supplements for regular staterooms on select cruises (meaning you’ll pay less than double the cruise fare).
Norwegian Cruise Line was the first cruise line to build staterooms and common areas specifically for the single cruiser. When you book a solo cabin, (which are small but well laid out) you get access to the Studio Complex, which is a ‘solos-only’ lounge area with free tea and coffee, private bar and chilled-out tv areas.
If you do want to splash out and book your own double sized stateroom, generally you’ll pay twice the cruise fare but NCL only charges taxes and stateroom gratuities for one.
Ships with solo cabins:
Norwegian Epic (128 cabins)
Norwegian Escape (82 cabins)
Norwegian Breakaway (59 cabins)
Norwegian Getaway (59 cabins)
Pride of America (4 cabins)
Cunard is a luxury line and believes their ships are destinations in themselves since they’re often doing transatlantic ocean crossings, with few ports of call. This means on board activities are even more important than ever (to replace the on shore experiences).
Cunard has also remodelled their entire fleet to embrace the solo travellers trend.
Ships with solo cabins:
Queen Mary 2 (15 cabins)
Queen Victoria (9 cabins)
Queen Elizabeth (9 cabins)
Another popular cruise line for solo cruisers is P&O Cruises, which has also redesigned all of its ships with solo studio cabins. The remodelling of the Aurora was completed in April 2019, and transitioned to become an adults-only ship.
Ships with solo cabins:
Britannia (27 cabins)
Azura (18 cabins)
Ventura (18 cabins)
Iona (10 cabins)
Arcadia (6 cabins)
Aurora (4 cabins)
Oriana (2 cabins)
Solo cabins on these ships are only slightly smaller than the double-occupancy cabins, and have the same amenities. Solo cabins don’t have baths (showers only) and have a single bed.
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