Solo female travellers  – including cruisers – are overtaking families as Flight Centre’s leading customers, according to the company’s insights reports.

Lauren Brown, a Travel Expert and Team Leader at Flight Centre Forster says among solo women travelling, there’s a particular interest towards cruising.

“We are seeing a lot of women asking about solo travel, in particular cruising,” she said.

“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.”

Ms Brown says much interest has always come from mature women, who have potentially lost their partner or have a partner unable to travel. However, she says now, single women are also empowering themselves to stop waiting and start exploring the world.

“Traditionally, we have seen the most solo travel enquiry from older women (and even men) who have lost their partner, or their partner may not be able to travel anymore.

“But now we are seeing more that single women are not waiting; they are more bold and empowered. They want to live a great life, explore the world and really love having amazing experiences, so they have stopped waiting for the right person to come along and travel with, and are doing it for themselves.”

Once women take the leap, they quickly become hooked.

“I get feedback when they come back, and usually it’s in the form of booking their next trip. The offer for solo travelling is improving, but the things they talk about when they reference solo cruising are more varied. More focused options onboard such wellness, fitness, authentic in-destination experiences.”

Ms Brown highlights Ovation of the Seas for its specialist solo traveller cabins, and NCL for its solo traveller cabins and dedicated lounges for solo travellers to meet up.

James Spencer, Flight Centre Travel Expert at Brisbane says river cruise is also proving a popular option.

“Since the pandemic, we are seeing a lot more women travel solo, and the cruise market is no exception to that. River cruising in particular has a lot of appeal for these trips as they boast an inclusive experience with like-minded solo travellers, as well as the safety of a group.

“Added to these benefits is the increasing number of operators who are waiving their single supplements for seasonal promotions.”

Ovation of the Seas has dedicated solo cabins.

What it’s like to cruise solo as a woman

Among the women taking to the seas alone is Lyndall Johnson. Ms Johnson has taken thirteen solo cruises, generally sailing with P&O around Australia, but has also cruised around the Greek Islands.

Ms Johnson has been a solo traveller since she was young, and after a break following the unfortunate passing of her husband, has continued to solo cruise and do what she loves.

“Some things can be annoying, solo prices for one, finding someone to dine with, though that can be a great way to make friends sitting with people you don’t know, not having anyone to dance with, but on the other hand, I prefer to cruise by myself. 

“I can do what I want when I want, no expectations from anyone else.”

Ms Johnson does recognise the safety implications of travelling as a solo woman and says basic precautions are necessary.

Well sad to say, you do have to be aware of personal safety. I tended to tag along with other cruise members when on shore visits, keeping cabin doors locked at all times.

“On my Greek cruise I was “hit on” by a crew member, and had to be very firm that I was not interested. This was when I was young and presumably quite attractive!”

Despite anything else, Ms Johnson says she loves solo cruising and has no plans to slow down.

In general I really love my solo cruises and hope to do some more in the next year or so. I’ve never had a bad cruise.”

Lyndall dressed for Gatsby night!

Tips for solo women

Cruise Passenger reached out to a range of solo female cruisers to get the best advice for those who are considering giving it a go.

Ms Johnson’s advice is to get a good travel agent for deals, as well as check out Facebook groups to find other solo travellers.

  • I have used both Travel Agents and direct booking with cruise lines, and these days as I have formed relationships with several Travel Agents and used them for several cruises, that’s generally my preference.
  • Use a reliable cruise line, check if any have deals on solo cruising.
  • Read what other solo travellers have said about their experiences. There are many online groups where you can travel as a solo but with others.
  • While not dedicated especially to women, Australian Cruise Solos is a group of 2000 solo Aussie cruisers.

Vee Lepp gives some tips based on her solo adventures with Royal Caribbean.

  • My tips are to book traditional dining and ask for a large table so you can meet lots of new friends, join a group for your sailing and encourage get-togethers in the group.
  • I always book a standard cabin so I get the double points as the studio cabins only give you 1 point

Megan Louise speaks about the increased sense of safety on a cruise ship.

  • Went on my first solo cruise over Christmas to Vanuatu. I travel on my own a lot and the biggest difference for me was the increased sense of safety on a big cruise ship. Literally, cameras are everywhere so I had no personal safety fears.
  • I had a great time, the staff were so nice to me knowing I was on my own. Met some people but pretty much kept to myself and didn’t get any unwanted attention. Was bliss.

Nicola Woodhouse, a regular solo cruiser with Princess, gives plenty of tips for those looking to head off solo.

  • I’d always book an inside, and save that extra money for excursions. There are plenty of deck areas to spend my day, my room is really only for sleeping and showering.
  • Join the cruise critic roll call, it’s great to know a few people before you sail and often you can source much cheaper port excursions.
  • The Sanctuary really is a lively place to spend an afternoon (or two) with some of that money you saved on the inside.
  • I turn up to the Main Dining Room fairly early and always ask for shared. Meet great folks and have your night free.
  • Take some printed A4 signs “getting food, join me but please don’t move me” for in the buffet if you want seconds or dessert and font want to find a new seat. “Refreshment break, back in 5-10 minutes” for pool loungers, I don’t want to have to take all my stuff to the bar/toilets etc.
  • Join in as much or as little as you like. Cruises are as social as you want them to be. Personally, for me, the single/solo get-together is cringey and uncomfortable. I’ve been once, but never again.
  • I always removed my cardboard name tag by my door, it’s a little more difficult now as it involves passenger services and the electronic door panel but I feel more comfortable not advertising my Solo status to passers-by.
Flight Centre says that women travelling solo often turn into repeat customers.