Solo cruising is on the rise – research shows 45 per cent of Australians are looking for singles travel this year.
Cruise lines are racing to put out the best offers to lure solo cruisers. This means there are plenty of hot deals and lots to know for those looking for solo cruises.
Traditionally the barrier to solo cruising has been the steep costs of one person having to pay for a double cabin. However, many cruise lines are now putting out deals that reduce or even eliminate the single supplement. This makes solo cruises much more affordable.
Furthermore, some cruise ships have now fitted solo cabins. Solo guests can forget about wrestling with the supplement and just book a solo cabin.
Beyond this, some cruise lines have special lounges or activities for meeting other solo travellers. Cruise lines are fast realising the new wave of solo cruisers need to be catered for.
Norwegian Cruise Line, who put a strong emphasis on catering for solo travellers, said they had been paying attention to research that was highlighting the rise of the single traveller.
Solo travellers not alone
Skyscanner research says 45% of Australians are interested in escaping solo in 2023. And 44% cite a solo travel trip as important for their wellness.
Ben Angell, VP and Managing Director, Norwegian Cruise Line APAC says: “Cruising solo offers the ideal balance of adventure, independence, safety and security, with guests able to explore ports alone or join excursions with a community of like-minded people.
“NCL has always been at the forefront of solo cruising, and our new Prima Class ships are continuing to innovate and provide opportunities and experiences tailored to meet the needs of this growing guest sector.”
Cruise Passenger also recently covered the rise of solo cruising for women, another significant industry trend.
Best deals for solo cruises
- Oceania Cruises is offering 50% off the single supplement for select categories, as well as added extras like free shore excursions, free speciality dining, free unlimited WiFi and more
- Silversea is currently offering a 25% single occupancy supplement on a wide range of sailings, allowing solo luxury cruisers to pay just 25% extra for a cabin to themselves
- If you book quickly, Virgin Voyages has extended its no single supplements offer until October 22, 2023, with 11 last-minute cruises left to pick from
- Paul Gauguin Cruises are offering an eliminated single supplement on a range of cruises from 2023 through to 2025 in the Pacific Islands
- Ponant is offering a range of completely slashed single supplement cruises, including many in the Kimberley
- APT is promoting solo river cruising across Europe and Asia. Solo travellers do not pay single supplement on cruises like a 15-day Magnificent Europe itinerary from Budapest to Amsterdam from $6995 or on a 13-day Vietnam and Cambodia Highlights river cruise from $8995. Explore here or call 1300 672 534 to book
- Aurora Expeditions customers can pay no single supplement on a range of Antarctic 2023/2024 expeditions with the promo code SOLO23
- Uniworld is currently offering 100% waived single supplements on a range of 2023 river cruise sailings
- Regent Seven Seas Cruises is offering a 0% single supplement on sailings across Asia, Africa, Europe and more
The best cruise lines for solo cruises
Solo-traveller friendly staterooms: Available on Celebrity’s Edge Series ships, including Celebrity Edge which will be making its way to AUNZ in December this year. There are Single Staterooms with an Infinite Veranda.
Celebrity Beyond has 32 solo staterooms with an Infinite Veranda, as does the new Celebrity Ascent. The Celebrity Apex features 24, while Celebrity Edge is home to 16 solo staterooms. Celebrity Silhouette will also have four inside single staterooms perfect for solo guests. More info here https://www.celebritycruises.com/au/things-to-do-onboard/staterooms/single-stateroom
These single staterooms start at 131 square feet, giving you plenty of space to move around.
Onboard networking: Celebrity has added new, dedicated events for solo travellers to their programs. This includes a gathering and dinner hosted by the activity team. Guests can check the time in their Celebrity App or Celebrity Today daily program and head for the Sky Lounge (on Millennium and Solstice-series ships). Or the luscious Eden on Edge-series ships, to meet fellow solo travellers.
The friendly Activity Team will help break the ice. There will also be a special solos’ table at dinner that night, and an un-hosted solos’ table every night thereafter. This is the perfect opportunity to get together with other people travelling solo. On the first night of each cruise, Celebrity will host a welcome party where all guests are invited to mingle. There’s also opportunities to connect with travellers with programs in the Fitness Centre, or mixology and cooking classes, and more.
Royal Caribbean has redesigned some of its ships to include solo cabins, which are now available in two categories: a superior ocean view with access to the balcony and a studio interior room with a virtual view. Unlike many other cruise lines, the beds provided in the solo cabins are in full size.
Solo cabins don’t always have balconies. Instead, you may book an interior solo room with a virtual balcony, which is a digital window that displays ocean views.
For cruises to and from Australia, Royal Caribbean offers single staterooms on Ovation of the Seas, Serenade of the Seas, and Radiance of the Seas.
Singles-friendly activities such as cooking classes, wine tastings, and scuba diving training are available. For meals, passengers cruising alone can also request to either go solo for some “me” time, or request to join a larger group.
Norwegian Cruise Line
NCL launched its first solo cabins on board Norwegian Epic in 2010. Today the cruise line offers dedicated solo accommodation options on nine ships, including its new Prima class vessels, Norwegian Prima and Norwegian Viva.
NCL’s solo Studios are cleverly designed to maximise storage space. All solo accommodation centred around the Studio Lounge. It includes a dedicated bar and TV area where solo travellers can meet and mingle.
NCL is the only cruise line to offer an exclusive lounge for solo cruisers keen to meet and relax with their fellow adventurers. Accessible by a dedicated key card, Studio Lounge provides a home-away-from home for solo guests who can unwind in a laidback environment offering complimentary refreshments, room service and a big-screen TV to watch movies with neighbouring Studio accommodation travellers.
Each NCL sailing also includes social activities coordinated by cruise staff such as hosted singles meet-ups, and opportunities to get together with other solo travellers to attend Broadway-style shows, participate in game shows, have a laugh at comedy clubs, join fitness classes or get involved in fun-filled outdoor activities such as sky-high slides, racetracks, mini-golf, and casinos, making it easy to mingle and make memories with new friends on board.
Virgin Voyages has been a heavy promoter of solo travel in its early years as a cruise line.
The cruise line offers many activities for solos, including a “grog walk” (pub crawl) through all the different bars on the ship. At the end of the walk diners will get to shared table restaurant Gunbae, where they will gather around and dine together.
The cruise line consolidated this attitude by removing the single supplement on a range of 2023 European cruises.
Princess Cruises offers special rates for single voyages, without the supplement. Special cabins for solo travellers aren’t currently available aboard Princess ships.
The line also hosts singles nights, including evening cocktail parties and other singles events. You can also join group events, like yoga, cooking classes or even wine tastings.
Oceania Cruises has witnessed a post-pandemic boom rise in the demand for solo travel. They are currently offering a total of 62 staterooms dedicated to solo travellers across its fleet of small, luxurious ships. Six more are scheduled to be added by 2025.
This includes six new concierge level veranda staterooms dedicated to solo travellers on the Vista. The ship offers the largest standard staterooms at sea at more than 26 square metres.
There are also 56 staterooms for solo travellers available across Oceania Cruises’ four Regatta Class ships. Each debuted 14 Solo Oceanview Staterooms in 2022.
Vista’s sister ship, Allura, launches in 2025.Her inaugural season on sale now. She will also have six staterooms dedicated to solo travellers.
For solo travellers, Cunard has redesigned the Queen Mary 2 to add 15 staterooms. The spaces were carved out from the former art gallery and casino. The oceanview cabins are spacious with a single bed, a sitting area, a writing desk, an ensuite bathroom with a shower and a mini-fridge. Solo cabins are also available onboard Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth.
Cunard is best known for its gala nights where you will be invited via formal invitation delivered to your stateroom. Tthe dress code is always revealed in advance of sailing so you can prepare.
Seabourn has special staterooms that are luxurious and intimate designed for sophisticated solo travellers, according to its website.
One of the highlights of solo travelling with Seabourn is the Retreat. It is a serene area of the ship, located in a distinctive flower-shaped canopy. The “single’s sanctuary” is ringed with 15 private cabanas designed as individual luxury living rooms. Inside, is a large HD flat-screen TV and a refrigerator stocked with your selection of drinks.
A Spa Treatment Cabana is also available for guests to enjoy personalised spa services, subject to availability.
The beauty of booking a solo cabin with Ponant is that the ships are luxurious. There are at least 92 staterooms and suites, and most have balcony access. So for solo travellers looking for a more intimate cruising experience, Ponant is a good choice.
If you are looking to meet nature-loving and adventurous solo travellers, you can join the National Geographic excursions. You will be guided by professionals and a team of Nat Geo specialists.
P&O Cruises Australia
P&O Cruises Australia has several ships with solo staterooms. However, the availability of interior, oceanview and balcony cabins are limited and will depend on the ship you have selected. Arcadia has the biggest interior and balcony cabins. In selected cruises, P&O ships have a secluded area called The Oasis.
Other P&O ships with solo cabins include Brittania, Azura, Ventura, Iona, and Oriana. Aurora was remodelled in 2019 to become an adults-only ship.
Solo staterooms on P&O Cruises are a bit smaller compared to double-occupancy cabins but offer the same amenities. Please also take note that solo cabins only have showers and single beds.
All Viking ships are adults-only so solo travellers are a major part of the demographics onboard.
Viking organises specific solo and single activities such as art performances, cooking lessons and lectures. But on shore, the line offers museum visits with other solo travellers.
Holland America Line
Holland America Line offers the Single Traveller’s Program with events such as dance classes, cocktail parties and mixers. There are more onboard activities and excursions that are ideal for singles who want to meet other people.
The staterooms on Nieuw Statendam or Koningsdam are larger compared to other ship. They are equipped with full-sized bed, ensuite bathroom and ocean views.
Activities for solo travellers are available. Just explore the Explorations Central, which is Holland America Line’s exclusive destination programming. It features indispensable travel resources and resources to help you engage with onboard experts and locals.