Enjoy a relaxing solo cruise. Credit: Shutterstock

10 ways to make the most out of your solo cruise

Author: Caroline Hendrie

Published on:

From the joys of unlimited me-time to the fun of making new friends as you learn a skill, here’s how to enjoy every minute of a cruise for one

Whether you’re single by choice or circumstance, or perhaps you have a partner who can’t take time off, a cruise makes a great solo break.

Choose wisely, and you can enjoy as much company as you wish for sightseeing, meals and onboard activities.

But cruising solo can be a great way to enjoy some precious me-time, too. One thing is certain – you will never be bored if you choose to sail solo.

And the freedom to do just what you please, when you please? Well, that’s priceless.

Enjoy a solo holiday. Credit: Shutterstock

1. Plan ahead

More than 8 million Brits live alone, yet many cruise ships still provide only a tiny percentage of solo cabins.

Unfortunately, that means single travellers often have to book a standard cabin and pay the same price as a couple – the dreaded ‘single supplement’.

Dedicated single cabins do exist, and numbers are rising, but they tend to get booked up fast. Saga has set aside 109 solo cabins on each of its two ocean ships, Spirit of Adventure and Spirit of Discovery. From 2 January, NCL will offer more than 1,000 solo staterooms across its 19 ships.

Singles can enjoy all the fun of a cruise without paying double, but the key is to book that solo cabin early, as soon as voyages go on sale. Just think of it as having more time to look forward to your holiday.

Enjoy a solo cruise on Spirit of Adventure. Credit: Saga Cruises

2. Grab yourself a deal

If you can’t plan very far ahead, or if you like to treat yourself in the spur-of-the-moment, keep an eye on cruise line websites for last-minute sales where single supplements are reduced or even waived.

You won’t have a wide choice of itineraries or cabins, but the savings can be substantial if you’re prepared to be flexible.

For advance notice of special offers, sign up for cruise lines’ and travel agents’ newsletters.

Essex-based ROL Cruise prides itself on its exclusive deals for solo travellers, so rolcruise.co.uk is a good place to start.

Take in the stunning views of the Mediterranean. Credit: Shutterstock

3. Think big

The biggest ships have the best choice of entertainment, restaurants and bars, plus huge spas and gyms. But with thousands of passengers on board, they can seem a bit overwhelming.

The answer is an escorted tour where a group of around 40 guests enjoy exclusive onboard events, excursions and reserved dinner tables. You’ll soon get to know everyone in your party, and it’s a great way of enjoying all that a big ship can offer without feeling lost in the crowd.

Look for Titan tours on Holland America Line and Tauck aboard Princess ships. If you prefer to go it alone, NCL’s The Studio is a stylish enclave of single cabins – 73 of them on new Norwegian Viva– with keycard entry to an exclusive lounge where you can meet and mingle with fellow solos.

Discover the Norwegian Fjords. Credit: Fred. Olsen

4. Get with the programme

Delivered to your cabin each night, the ship’s daily programme will be packed with invitations to meet-ups for solos.

And the choice of activities on sea days is enormous, from friendly deck games and dance classes to recitals, lecture and quizzes.

On selected Fred Olsen cruises you can bond with fellow singles while learning the ukulele, while on Saga ships you can join a choir.

P&O’s Britannia (with 27 single cabins) and Oceania’s new Vista have hands-on cookery classes for a small supplementary charge.

Your programme will be filled with meet-ups for solo travellers. Credit: Celebrity Cruises

5. It's all about you

A cruise can be great for solos seeking sociable holidays, but it can also be the ideal break if precious me-time is on your wish list.

Imagine being able to wallow in the spa or spend lazy days reading by the pool, deciding when and where to eat, with no one to please but yourself.

Celebrity and Royal Caribbean ships have adults-only solariums with pools, and if you stay in an AquaClass Spa cabin aboard new Celebrity Ascent, you’ll have unlimited access to the SEA Thermal Spa and meals in the private restaurant Blu.
More of a bookworm? You’ll love Cunard ships, which all have well-stocked libraries with armchairs to curl up in.

Fancy some quiet? Curl up with a good book on the ship's library. Credit: Oceania Cruises

6. Don't be a wallflower

Just because you’re on your own it doesn’t mean you can’t dance the night away.

Cunard, Silversea, Fred Olsen and Saga all have onboard dance hosts to twirl you round the floor, and on sea days you can join free dance classes to learn new steps.

If you’re more of the clubbing generation, Virgin, NCL and Royal Caribbean ships offer great onboard clubs and discos – no partner required.

Dance the night away on Queen Mary 2. Credit: Cunard

7. Book a river cruise

The small scale of river ships creates an intimate atmosphere, and with only a couple of lounges, plus shared tables for meals, you’ll have ready-made company from the moment you step aboard.

There are few single cabins on river ships, but all-inclusive lines APT, Scenic, Uniworld and Tauck all offer reduced or waived single supplements on certain sailings.

Alternatively, Riverside Luxury Cruises has cabins with no single supplement on all its European voyages next year, while Riviera has scheduled 11 solo departures in 2024, with the entire ship reserved for single travellers.

Keen to explore further afield? Asian river specialist Pandaw is waiving single supplements on a range of Mekong and Ganges cruises in 2024.

Experience the Danube onboard Riviera Radiance. Credit: Shutterstock

8. Spread your wings

Don’t be nervous of exploring ashore. Ocean cruises offer guided group excursions in every port, with everything organised for you, though it’s perfectly possible to go it alone if you prefer.

You can invite fellow guests to join you for independent sightseeing, but flying solo can be wonderfully liberating (no negotiations over how long to spend in this cafe or that cathedral).

On river cruises, walking tours are often included in your fare, and central mooring makes it easy to linger in town and walk back at your leisure.

A visit to the Acropolis — Athens’s sacred rock — is a must. Credit: Shutterstock

9. Splash the cash

Perhaps you have a big birthday coming up and it’s time to treat yourself.

You could choose a ship-within-a-ship experience on a mainstream line, such as a suite in MSC Yacht Club or The Haven on NCL, living it up in an exclusive enclave with butler service, a private lounge, restaurant and pool, and with amenities like the theatre, speciality restaurants, bars and casino just outside your cabin.

If you’d prefer a smaller, ultra-luxury ship, such as new Explora 1 or the revamped Crystal Symphony and Serenity, sign up with specialist agency Mundy Cruising for solo cruise news.

Why not splash out on a holiday to St Kitts? Credit: Shutterstock

10. Chase your dream

If you’ve always longed to walk with penguins in Antarctica, spot polar bears in the Arctic or track giant tortoises in the Galapagos but can’t persuade family or friends to go with you, just do it.

Expedition cruises, where you go ashore in small groups with expert guides, bring together like-minded people to share once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

On ships sailing in polar regions, such as Ponant’s Le Lyrial, you can sign up to join a table hosted by a naturalist or wildlife photographer, so the conversation is sure to flow.

These voyages are never a budget option, but look out for ‘no single supplement’ deals to the Galapagos with Hurtigruten.

Get a glimpse of polar bears on your Arctic cruise. Credit: Shutterstock

Five great solo cruises to book today

  1. Saga's 15-night ‘Magic of the Northern Lights’ cruise aboard Spirit of Adventure, round trip from Portsmouth via Alesund, Alta, Tromso, Bergen and Flam, departing March 19 2024, from £7,767
  2. Fred Olsen's 15-night ‘Discovering Scandinavian Islands & Capitals’ cruise aboard Borealis, round trip from Southampton via Oslo, Visby, Stockholm, Tallinn, Helsinki, Turku and Copenhagen, departing April 17 2024, from £3,899
  3. ROL Cruise's 14-night ‘No-fly Canary Islands’ cruise aboard Cunard’s Queen Anne, round trip from Southampton via Madeira, Lanzarote, Gran Canaria and Tenerife, departing May 10 2024, from £2,921
  4. Riviera Travel's seven-night ‘Blue Danube River Cruise for Solo Travellers’ aboard MS Thomas Hardy, round trip from Budapest via Melk, Salzburg and Vienna, departing July 11 2024, from £2,899 including flights
  5. Norwegian Cruise Line's 10-night ‘Mediterranean’ cruise aboard Norwegian Viva, from Lisbon to Rome via Gibraltar, Cadiz, Ibiza, Majorca, Barcelona and Livorno, departing June 14 2024, from £2,289
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