If you’ve always wanted to take a cruise but never found anyone to go with, you should know that sailing solo can be a fantastic experience and not as lonely as you might think.
Here we walk you through what you need to know as a solo cruiser and offer our best tips for making your solo cruise vacation a success.
1. You can book a cabin for one
Most cruise lines will charge you a single supplement if you book a cabin on your own but this doesn’t apply to all ships. If you book on Norwegian Epic or P & O’s Azura, you can have a specially designed cabin-for-one without paying any extra.
The Azura’s single cabins are approximately 130 square foot in total and are air conditioned with a generously sized single bed, wardrobe and drawers. The room includes everything you might need while you’re away – a desk, television, radio, phone, safe and tea and coffee facilities. You’ll also have your own bathroom with a shower, WC and hairdryer. Your room is cosy but there’s enough space to relax – however, the outside rooms are worth booking as you’ll also have a window rather than a mirror, which can make a lot of difference to how you feel when you’re in a confined space.
The Epic’s single cabins are slightly snugger at 100 square feet – they are incorporated in a key card access-only area and they have a full size bed rather than a large single which is comfier but does take up more floor space. The rooms feature funky lighting and a flat screen TV, together with a window view into the corridor. You’ll also get exclusive access to The Living Room, a private lounge with a bar, large TVs and seating where you can meet other single travellers or just chill if you want some peace away from the madding crowd.
If neither of those cruise lines offer the itinerary you’re interested in, you might want to consider Holland America’s roommate-matching service. This allows you to pair up with other passengers of the same sex, and if you sign up, you’re guaranteed to pay the agreed-upon price only, even if they can’t find you a roommate. Alternatively, have a look at Crystal – they do charge a single supplement but it’s typically no more than 25% and they are a very popular cruise line for solo travellers.
2. You can meet people before you set sail
There are plenty of forums on the web that allow fellow travellers to introduce themselves before they actually step on board and many will arrange meet-ups on arrival. This is a great way to make a few friends on the first day and will help you settle in as a solo traveller. Even if you don’t end up hanging out with the people you meet for the rest of your voyage, you’ll have a few familiar faces to say hello to during your trip.
3. ‘Solo’ is not always ‘single’
People frequently mix up ‘solo’ cruising with ‘singles’ cruising. It’s perfectly possible to be in a relationship and go on holiday separately – so not everyone cruising solo is a single looking for romance. Cruising solo is a great way to make new friends and enjoy some ‘me’ time. It’s possible you might meet someone you’re interested in, but don’t feel like you’ll be bombarded with phone numbers the moment you step on board – plenty of people go solo for different reasons than love.
4. There are activities for solos to meet
The idea of spending 14 days on a cruise and not speaking to another soul might be your idea of heaven but for most of us, this could be a pretty lonely holiday. Fortunately, a number of the cruise lines cater specifically for solos and ensure that there are facilities and events to get you together with your fellow travellers. We’ve already mentioned Norwegian Epic’s private lounge which is a great way to make friends, especially if you drop in on their hosted daily pre-dinner gatherings. It’s also worth knowing that Holland America are well known for catering for solo cruisers – their Single Partners Program offers hosted on-board events for the solo traveller such as games and cocktail mixers. Crystal are also worth a mention – they host singles parties and have a tonne of inspirational activities that you won’t need a companion for, such as language lessons, acting workshops, astronomy classes and even a Computer University. You can enjoy these solo but they also provide an opportunity to make new friends, if you want to.
5. You can hire a companion
There are some activities that are just better with company and for these, it’s worth knowing that some cruise lines allow you to hire a companion when you need one. This service is only available on selected lines and cruises so if it’s something you’re interested in, check in advance whether or not it will be available. Holland America offers gentleman hosts on their longer voyages for dining and dancing, as do Silversea, who allow you to book a host for shore excursions too. Crystal also has both hosts and hostesses available to hire when you need them.
6. You can dine with others
Dining on a table with other solo travellers is a lot of fun and a fantastic way to meet others on board. Many of the cruise lines offer you the opportunity to dine with others – Crystal, for example, runs the ‘Table for 8’ program that pairs you up with other travellers at the specialty restaurants. However, do keep in mind that just because you book to dine with others doesn’t guarantee that you’ll have tablemates. You might find yourself on a table with a load of empty seats which can be a little embarrassing. If company at the dinner table is important to you, choose a cruise line that’s renown for having plenty of singles like Crystal (where singles often make up around a quarter of those on board). Seabourn is also worth considering – their officers and entertainers will host tables at dinner and solo travellers usually get the first look in when it comes to invites.
7. The dance clubs are full of solos
If you’re struggling to meet others on board, the late night disco is the place to go. You’ll find them packed with friendly solo travellers of all ages and they are the perfect place to have a drink, a chat and of course, a boogie.
If you’ve stopped at a port for the night, you might be tempted to try out the local club scene instead. Just be mindful that the crew tend to do the same and you could end up bumping into them which might be a little awkward. If, therefore, you’re going to try out the local discos, it’s better to go with a group.
8. Get involved
The best way to meet new people on board and get the most out of your trip is to put yourself out there. This means signing up for anything and everything, whether or not you’ve tried it before. You’ll find other solo cruisers doing the same and faces will quickly become familiar. It’s worth remembering that you never have to see fellow passengers again, so just go for it – try something new and don’t be afraid of embarrassing yourself.
9. You don’t have to socialise
So far, we’ve mentioned a tonne of ways you can survive the solo cruise without feeling lonely – but it’s worth mentioning that if you like your own company, it’s perfectly possible to avoid other people and do everything by yourself. Plenty of cruise lines have activities that are perfectly suited to solos, from seminars and workshops to relaxing pampering treatments. There are also plenty of places where you won’t look out of place on your own – internet cafes, smaller lounges and libraries, for example. If you’d rather dine alone, simply request a table for one and you won’t have to worry about making conversation with a bunch of strangers.
If you enjoyed this post, take a look at our guide to the best cruises and destinations for solo travellers.
Images sourced via Flickr Creative Commons. Credits: Roderick Eime