Cruise ships hold abundant appeal for group travelers looking to minimize planning and keep budgets in check. After all, cruise ships offer entertainment, sprawling public spaces, and all-inclusive meal plans that take the fuss out of diverse diets. There’s also plenty to attract couples for honeymoons and well-deserved getaways, too. Cruise lines also continue to elevate their ships and itineraries, leaving behind the industry's fading reputation for do-nothing cruises for buffet bingers and bingo blasters.
Solo travelers have historically been reluctant to set sail with groups of revelers or an abundance of couples. But, there's a growing interest from singles who are looking to go on a cruise and explore new destinations with the same carefree vacation vibe others have long enjoyed aboard cruise ships. And savvy brands are taking notice.
From reduced rates to dedicated programming, here are some of the best cruise lines and destinations for solo travelers, along with a few tips for making the most of your singles sail.
AVOID SOME ROMANTIC DESTINATIONS
Remote romantic destinations are anniversary and honeymoon hotspots, which means more of your shipmates are going to be couples seeking alone time in their cabins and swooning over meals at cozy tables for two. Sailing to Bora Bora, Maldives, or even Hawaii reduces your pool of potential friends, so if you’re not seeking a week of solitude, head for livelier destinations like Mexico or even the Caribbean. The latter is popular with newlyweds, too, but still attracts a hefty helping of the singles crowd.
SMALLER SHIPS OFFER MORE CHANCES TO MEET OTHERS
Bigger ships may hold the promise of more amenities and opportunities for fun, but you’re unlikely to take full advantage of these if you’re traveling alone, and you’re even less likely to encounter the same passengers twice among the hordes. Conversely, smaller ships often lead to many repeat interactions, affording you the opportunity to make new acquaintances, join in conversations, or extend invites to share a meal together. Excursions are also a great opportunity for meeting new friends and creating quick memories together, so it’s wise to book a few in the early days of any solo itinerary.
BIG SHIPS ARE STILL AN OPTION
To be fair, large ships were the first to introduce solo cabins in an effort to appeal to the otherwise ignored solo cruiser, and several of them continue to do so. If you do prefer the atmosphere of bigger cruise ships, Royal Caribbean is a great option with supplement-free solo cabins offered on several ships. Or, you can even complete a transatlantic crossing in style on a Cunard luxury liner, each of which is home to several solo staterooms. Cunard also pairs solo travelers for meals and is one of the few remaining lines to offer dance partners for evening galas.
MINIMIZE THE SINGLE SUPPLEMENT FEE
Advertised cruise rates are for double occupancy, and cruise lines have historically charged steep penalties for not filling that second spot in your cabin. In some cases, this fee, called the single supplement, has been as much as the full fare for a second passenger, doubling your required vacation budget without adding any value to your experience. Fortunately, there are two ways to minimize this burden.
Small-ship cruise lines are more likely to court solo travelers by offering deep discounts on single supplement fees for select sailings. Silversea, with ship capacities ranging from 100 to just under 600, regularly offers sailings with just a 25% single supplement fee, and the cruise line occasionally waives the fee entirely. Silversea also hosts a welcome reception for singles on every sailing, so solo travelers can get to know each other.
Similarly, river-cruise leader AmaWaterways has been known to reduce single supplement fees to 25% or less. This cruise line also offers solo cabins specifically intended for single occupancy and without a single supplement above its advertised rate. AmaWaterways currently hosts solo cabins on four ships, each offering themed cruises that tend to draw more singles. Popular European wine itineraries offered by AmaWaterways often attract solo travelers and are ideal opportunities to meet fellow passengers with similar interests.