CruiseMapper's "singles cruise" survey provides information and tips on solo-cruising themed voyages on oceean-going ships and riverboats. Themed cruises for singles are an excellent opportunity for solo travelers to meet other single people sharing common interests or particular subjects.
This article is integrated with our hubs for Theme Cruises (reviewing other ways to meet like-minded people on specially themed voyagers) and Cruise Tips and Tricks. For your convenience, the following link jumps down directly to the singles cruise schedule (listing lines, ships, departure dates and homeports).
"Singles Cruise" - solo cruising vacations
Not very often, some "singles" cruise lines provide special deals on select voyages specially themed as solo-travel vacations. Most deals are offered as specials on usually shorter itineraries and during low- or off-season times. However, each of these themed voyages is always well planned, limited as availability and bookable through (and hosted by) the cruise line and / or independent travel agencies.
"Single cabins" (aka studios) are no single supplement staterooms available on select ships only. Occasionally, special offers allow booking a double cabin at reduced single supplement rates. Same-sex cabin sharing is also offered by some companies, usually on smaller boats as well as on themed voyages.
What exactly is the difference between "single" and "solo" cruiser? While a single cruiser wants to find others to congregate, a solo cruiser feels comfortable with the idea of good time on her/his own. It is a personal choice to be alone, but it doesn't guarantee a pleasant vacation in our coupled-up society.
Many companies are being advertised as "singles cruise lines", but only a few of them provide solo cabins - designed specifically to accommodate only one passenger. This was not always the case- the old Cunard QE2 ship had some functional solo cabins designed specifically for families with nannies along. The company no longer makes these provisions for single travelers, and neither do other companies with their newer ships. But why is this? The answer is pretty simple- even small cabins can accommodate at least two! Single cruising market today is not profitable enough to excuse single cabins producing. Revenue generation is of great importance to lines- a solo traveler spends less than a couple/family.
But there are real deals on genuine "singles cruise ships" - where it is still possible for a single traveler to find the rare single cabin, designed specially for one person. The existing "expedition" type ships also offer some solo cabins- a few, but pretty enough.
Singles Cruise lines, ships, booking tips, Information
Even singles cruise lines offer themed "single travel" deals rarely. When advertised as "Cruises For Singles", these deals include various themed activities geared towards single / solo travelers only. In this case "singles" means unmarried (often divorced) people who look to make friends, to have their "singles party" fun vacation, and sometimes - with a love connection in mind. This type of cruising is quite different from single person cruising where solo travelers simply embark on sea vacations.
Cruises for singles are operated with group booking deals - this way prices are cheaper, and all is well organized and pre-planned. Onboard activities include games, social gatherings, parties, dance lessons, speed dating events, guided excursions. There are voyages with pre-planned events where singles are able to get to know each other. The typical age of travelers on singles voyages is between 30 and 60.
"Singles Cruise" deals - the single supplement question
Single supplement is the price a passenger pays to occupy the entire cabin all alone! Generally, staterooms are bookable at double occupancy. So if you don't want to share you must pay the absent individual price.
Unfortunately, single supplement ends up with so excessive fees that singles would rather share with a stranger in order to save money. Single supplement fares vary from 110% to 200% (depending on company and ship), It means you'll have pay from 55 to 100% of full double occupancy fare.
Holland America and Carnival offer the so called "single shares" - a solo passenger agrees to share cabin with another (same-sex) passenger, and both pay the advertised rates. Crystal Cruises has fixed 125% single supplement rate, so Crystal boats attract a great number of single travelers. The super-expensive luxury brand Silversea offers super-single supplement fares of only 110% plus the possibility to make itinerary fit your timetable.
How to avoid single supplement cruise rates?
All single cruisers hate single supplement rates! When you first find out that you must pay double simply because you have chosen to sail alone, you curse the company. But you will pay the nasty supplement - because there is no choice.
Many of the world's major lines make no allowance for single passengers and charge double occupancy rates. Not only that, but lines also charge the single guest additional port taxes and charges for the missing traveler as well. A few are the lines that are known for tacking on extra charges for single cruisers, in order to compensate the lost onboard revenue that the second traveler would generate. Happily, there are a few companies that value solo passengers more highly and reduce single supplements.
But are there ways for avoiding this nasty single supplement? How to at least minimize its impact on your single cruise vacation budget? Continue reading, and then follow the tricks ;-)
Ideas for singles cruise deals to avoid (minimize) single supplements rates
- Book last minute! Booking a last minute voyage is a possible way to find single supplement prices. Especially when the vessel has lots of empty cabins the company is trying to fill. This rule holds for about every line.
- Low-season travel - sail during off peak times! When a line charges normally 200% single supplement solo passengers sailing in their cabins, do you think it will reduce rates at peak demand times as holidays? If you sail when children are back in school, companies are more likely to deal.
- Look for "not selling well" voyages! Certain vessels have weekend charters that leave them with a four-day sailing which is hard to fill. Such midweek sailing requires a week of vacation for working people. Let the travel agent check and see if the line would be willing to bargain.
- Find these special single cruise travel deals! Search itinerary-schedule websites for unusual itineraries and lengths by ship. Then use an online booking site to check availability. When you find an offer with lots of availability and a close sail date, the chance is on your side! Contact your travel agent to see if he/she makes a deal.
- Check the Internet! A wide variety of agents specialized in single travel list double occupancy prices on the web- singles rates are right alongside. Many travel agents also have inside track on sailings which offer single supplements that are quite advantageous. Some of the best on this market are linked in the below table.
Cruise Lines "Single Share" Programs
"Single Share" programs
These match two singles by gender so that each pays the per person price for the cabin. But if you use choose a matching program, you will be limited to a few lines offering such a program. Un-Cruise Adventures and Holland America have this, but most do not. You will also be restricted to the cabin category- share programs offer basic Inside/Oceanview cabins for cabin mate pairings.
Another disadvantage is that the company does not care about your age, sleeping habits, etc.
The good news is that there are other ways for setting up a cabin share, more likely to work out!
Hosted Cruises for Singles
Another option that is highly recommended is the hosted singles cruises (officially named "Singles Cruise Host" programs). Lots of organizations sponsor voyages for single travelers and these group operators also help to find people to share with. They also pair compatible personalities. Companies like Singlesatsea, Singlescruise and Singlestravelintl (all COM-domains), organize single travelers in groups, often by theme or demographic (20s, 30s, 50s and older). The better companies provide a questionnaire which asks about your habits.
Searching online for "solo cruise" deals
Search the Internet for cruise message boards. These will help to set up own share arrangements. Message boards' members can search the web for cabin mates on a variety of voyages. Post in your cruise details, or respond to others who look interesting to you. You can find your voyage companion online! This way you will have more options (cabin category, ship, line) and the opportunity to get to know each other. Plus, it's a challenge! Start with e-mails and proceed to the phone. Talk about what you are looking for and about your expectations.
No Single Supplement Cruises - why to book singles cruise vacations, anyway?
Single cruise supplement is offered by virtually all the lines/operators, but the cheapest rates are on ships with "single cabins" (studios). Cheap "solo cruise deals" (with no single supplement rates) could be also offered as bonus, cabin upgrade, special offers, part of group booking, etc.
Single supplement rates depend on company and ship - between 110% and 200%, meaning you're paying from 55% to 100% of the full cabin fare. Some major lines (like Carnival, Holland America) offer "single shares" - for solo passenger who agrees to share the stateroom with another passenger. The all-inclusive companies Crystal Cruises and Silversea have has single supplement rates, respectively 125% and 110%, but their ships sail on longer and more expensive voyages.
Less popular for solo travelers cabin categories (such as balcony cabins, for example) may offer very reasonable affordable single supplement rates in the range of 150-160% compared to 2-per-cabin rates. In the same time, popular among singles categories (like Oceanview and Interior cabins) have their rates increased. Generally, taxes/fees are no more than they usually are. According to numerous reviews, currently Royal Caribbean and NCL offer industry's best single cruise supplement rates, but this is not a rule - and not on every voyage. As numbers, Royal Caribbean single deals are only around USD 40 more than double occupancy rate. NCL's single supplement rates vary between 0-200%. NCL's Transatlantic cruises offer supplement between 120-160%.
In June 2018, Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line dropped company's single supplements on all oceanview staterooms. The decision was based on Booking.com studies on solo travel showing over 40% baby boomers booking solo cruises in 2017, and 21% planning single cruise travel in 2018. Company's no single supplement daily rates start from USD 149 per person.
Booking "No Single Supplement" cruise deals
As sailings organized especially for singles, these are another very well accepted type of land and sea travel deals. The Single Parent Cruise specials, though rarely available, offer great opportunities to share life experiences, to meet people with common interests, and to make new friends all over the world.
Who goes on Single Cruises?
Well, mostly single persons, of course. And while speaking of those single, but not alone people, I recommend you reading the Wikipedia's Single Person article.
Single cruises attract mostly people between 40 and 50 years of age, who prefer the cruise ship travel as a way to socialize and connect. Single cruise specials and general offers may refer either to dating services or a group themed cruise for singles, sharing same interests, tastes, occupation, of similar age, etc. The "Single Cruise Over 40" and the "Senior Single Cruise" themed deals are very popular options for traveling solo on cruise ship.
No Single Supplement cruise specials - programming and activities
Traveling solo generally means that a passenger simply needs another person of the same sex as a roommate, to share the cost of the trip. Some specialized in single travel agencies offer even roommate matching services. The feature activities on a single travel ship vacation include an introducing event, games, social gatherings, age-related events, dating events, parties, dance lessons, various classes, etc. As one of the most singles-oriented cruise lines, Crystal boasts the "Ambassador Host Program" - especially for singles, solo travelers, and mostly for the unescorted ladies on board Crystal's luxury vessels - with cultured and well-traveled hosts as dance and conversation partners.
Single occupancy cruise deals are special rates as on most voyages, company's official rates are based on double occupancy. To avoid paying double, check company's single supplement rates, i.e. how much exactly you are going to pay for single occupancy. Pricing includes cabin, dining, onboard activities and entertainment, plus themed for singles events organized by the travel agency (often, fares also include airfare).
Cruise ships with single cabins
Liners with single cabins are mainly newbuilds. Single cabins have been added on refurbished ships. The first among the lines with studios (as to availability) is NCL, and market's best "no single supplement ship" is Norwegian Epic. Epic's "Studios Staterooms" (128, many connecting) were especially designed and priced for solo travelers and are sizes 9 m2 (100 ft2). Exclusively for solo passengers, Epic has "Studios Lounge". Two more large NCL ships with solo cabins are Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway, each with 59 studios.
In the following table you will find Singles'themed cruise itineraries to some of the world's most popular travel destinations (including Alaska, Caribbean, Europe / Mediterranean, Asia, Australia). Most of these offers are provided by the world's largest cruise shipping companies - Carnival, Royal Caribbean, NCL Norwegian, Celebrity, Princess. Some companies (P&O UK, CMV, Fred Olsen) have smaller-sized vessels, often with plenty of no single supplement staterooms.
Note: In the following table, all links are internal (CruiseMapper) redirecting to the ship’s itinerary schedule where you can compare dates and prices per person (double occupancy rates).
|Companies / ships||Themes (departures dates / homeports, destinations)|
(Azamara Cruises) Azamara Journey
|"Cuba Explorer - Luxury Small Ship Cruise" (2019, Feb 11) 10-day Cuba from Miami FL|
Celebrity Cruises ships
(NCL) Norwegian Cruise Line ships
(American Queen Steamboat Company) American Queen
"New Orleans to Memphis River Cruise" (2019, Feb 17) 9-day Lower Mississippi River
(Uniworld) SS Maria Theresa
"Danube Holiday Markets River Cruise" (2018, Dec 2) 8-day from Budapest, Hungary to Passau, Germany.