The boom in single women cruisers has led lines to consider new ways to make them comfortable – including meet-and-greet sessions, special activities and even the male dance hosts pioneered by one of the world’s top luxury lines.
Crystal Cruises, now owned by Abercrombie & Kent and Silversea are returning male companions to their ships – especially for longer journeys and world cruises. And Oceania – with six single concierge cabins on its new ship Oceania Vista, is also considering the move.
Deterred in the past by large single supplements, lines are now bringing down the barriers for singles – mainly women aged 55+ who have been widowed or divorced.
Oceania’s new Vista, 25-square-metre Concierge Level Veranda Stateroom for single guests come with private balconies. Guests will have swipe access to the Concierge Lounge and will be invited to an exclusive gathering for solo cruisers, offering an opportunity to meet other travellers.
As far as pricing, while it will still be more expensive per person than if you were travelling with a companion the surcharge is only 25%.
For example, on a 10-day Roman Rivieras cruise, the Concierge Level Solo Veranda is $14,710, versus $9870 per person for a Concierge Level Veranda, making the solo cabin $5030 cheaper than if you were to book an entire cabin for yourself.
The Vista’s solo cabins have proved so popular there is a weight list for the rest of the year.
Solo cruising is on the rise across the industry, Garn Anslow head of UK and Ireland for Norwegian Cruise Line told Ship Technology: “We expect solo travel to increase in popularity this year. A recent OnePoll survey found that two-thirds of adults had travelled alone and 37% preferred the freedom of it.”
A recent cruise.co.uk survey found that 70% of those surveyed would choose a cruise over a land-based holiday for a solo trip. Tony Andrews, cruise.co.uk managing director said: “It’s clear that cruising is becoming an increasingly popular option for solo travellers, offering a convenient and safe way to explore the world.
“Cruises provide so much onboard through their entertainment, spa facilities and restaurant choices. When combined with the ability to see multiple destinations, in the safety and comfort of a cruise ship, it’s clear why a holiday at sea is the preferred choice for solo travel.”
Lauren Brown, a Travel Expert and Team Leader at Flight Centre Forster told Cruise Passenger that many solo travellers, particularly women, are opting for cruise holidays.
“We are seeing a lot of women asking about solo travel, in particular cruising.
“Cruising is seen as an easy entry into solo travel for a number of reasons. Cruising is considered a sociable holiday where you can choose to spend time alone or join others when you want to meet people and have fun – such as dining, shows and having a drink at the bar. Plus shore excursions are another great way to experience new places and meet like-minded people.
“Another important aspect is security. Knowing that you can be safe, then relax and enjoy your holiday at ease. Not only for the traveller but also for their friends and family at home.”
The increase in popularity is leading to a golden age of affordability for solo cruisers. Virgin Voyages has just lifted the solo supplement on all European cruises for 2023, Silversea is offering single supplements at just 25% on select voyages, Celebrity Cruises last year waived the supplement on 275 sailings and many more cruise lines are constantly rolling out promotions to entice solo cruisers.
If you’re considering taking to the ocean solo, here’s a roundup of what cruise lines are offering solo cabins and what can you expect.
Royal Caribbean has solo cabins on 12 of its ships. Category options vary from inside studio staterooms, which feature on 11 of the 12 ships to super studio ocean view staterooms with a balcony which feature on Anthem of the Seas, Odyssey of the Seas, Ovation of the Seas, Quantum of the Seas and Spectrum of the Seas.
Solo studio staterooms are about nine-square metres and super studios are about 18 square metres.
Royal’s Australian homeporting ships, Ovation and Quantum both have 28 solo cabins.
Norwegian Cruise Lines
NCL has constantly been an innovator in making life easier for solo travellers, with dedicated solo traveller lounges proving a hit with guests. NCL has solo cabins across nine of its ships, including 128 on Norwegian Epic, the most of any ship at sea.
NCL solo staterooms are around nine-square metres in size and come with a double bed.
However, Norwegian Spirit which is coming to Australia next season, does not have any solo cabins.
Solo staterooms on Celebrity are bigger than average, coming out at 13 square metres. There are solo cabins on five celebrity ships, including 16 cabins on Celebrity Edge which is coming to Australia next year.
Celebrity Beyond has the most solo cabins of any Celebrity ship, with 32.
Celebrity’s activity team hosts a dedicated solo travellers gathering and dinner, making it easy to meet like-minded travellers.
Three Holland America ships have solo cabins, with 12 each available on Koningsdam, Nieuw Statendam and Rotterdam. They range in size from about from twelve to fifteen square metres, generally identical to standard ocean-view cabins.
Noordam, the next Holland America ship scheduled to sail in Australia does not have any solo cabins available.
Across Cunard’s three ships, all three have a selection of solo cabins available to book. Queen Elizabeth which is coming to Australia next season, has eight ocean-view solo cabins available and one interior studio.
Virgin Voyages has strongly considered solo travellers in their ship and business design, with 46 solo cabins on all three of their ships, including Resilient Lady which is headed towards Australia. The solo cabins are nine-square metres and mostly interiors, but there are some limited oceanview solo cabins available as well.