Sailing solo can be a wonderful experience, if you pick the right line and ship.
It isn’t easy being a solo cruise traveler. For starters, there’s the way cruise lines price cabins, which generally penalizes people traveling alone. Since most cabins are designed for two or more occupants, most lines charge solo travelers an extra “single supplement” of 50% to 100% of the base fare to stay in a room alone (it sounds harsh, but the economics of the cruise business is built around having at least two people in every cabin). Some ships also are so geared to couples and families that they are of only limited appeal to solo travelers.
That said, a few lines have carved out a niche of catering to solo travelers. Holland America and Cunard, in particular, are known for their singles-friendly activities such as singles meet-and-greets and dances (on some voyages, the lines have “gentleman hosts” on call to dance with single women). And Holland America is one of several lines offering a (same sex) roommate matching service that offers solo travelers a way to keep down room costs.
In just the past couple years several other large lines also have reached out to solo travelers in a big way, most notably Norwegian Cruise Line. The line’s newest ship, Norwegian Epic, has 128 single-occupancy ‘studio’ cabins — a rarity in the cruise business. The line already has announced its next two ships, due in 2013 and 2014, will have single-occupancy cabins, too. Meanwhile, Royal Caribbean added its first solo cabins (albeit just three) in the summer of 2011 to its Radiance of the Seas, during an overhaul of the ship in dry dock. British line P&O Cruises also unveiled 18 solo cabins on its newest ship, the P&O Azura.
Also known for catering well to solo travelers are the major luxury lines such as Crystal and Silversea (the latter sometimes offering discounted rates for single travelers that are barely above normal fares for couples). Crystal’s single supplement for solo travelers is only 25% on some cabin.