When it comes to solo travel, times are changing. These days, solo cruises are tailor made for anyone of any age who wants to get out and explore the world, without waiting for someone else to tag along.
Increasingly, these travellers can also escape the single fare supplements that used to be the bane of the solo cruiser’s life. That’s why solo trips now make up around 18 per cent of global travel bookings – an increase of seven per cent in the past year alone.
“Cruise holidays are a fantastic option for solo travel as they take away the stress that can come with travelling alone on a land-based trip,’ says Andy Harmer, director of trade body CLIA.
“Itineraries are organised by the cruise line, meaning that guests can explore even the most far-flung destinations without having to worry about sorting out the logistics, and cruises are a great way to meet new people and enjoy once-in-a-lifetime experiences.”
With so many of the world’s greatest waterways just waiting to be explored, we’ve picked the best river cruise lines, cabins and river destinations for single travellers. So, what are you waiting for?
Best river cruise lines for solo travel
Emerald shines brightly
Meandering down some of the world’s most stunning waterways and mooring right in the heart of exciting ports and cities, a river cruise must be one of the very best ways for solo travellers to see the world.
Exploring Provence, the majestic Rhine and the beautiful blue Danube, Emerald Waterways offers a luxurious option for singletons on its European routes, reserving five cabins per sailing for solo travellers, with no single supplement to pay.
While on board, those travelling alone will have countless opportunities to meet and make friends with fellow passengers. All Emerald cruises include a host of guided excursions, from walking and winery tours to visiting UNESCO World Heritage sites, and there’s also the chance to buy tickets to group on-shore dinners and events. So even if you’re travelling solo, you’ll find you never have to go it alone.
Get on board
7-night ‘Sensations of Lyon and Provence’ cruise, from Marseille to Lyon via Arles, Avignon, Viviers, Tournon and Chalon-sur-Saone, departing 3 October 2020, from £1,745 for a single traveller, emeraldwaterways.co.uk
That Riviera touch
If you really don’t fancy cruising alone, a cruise packed with guided tours and visits is a great option. Your itinerary is in the capable hands of a professional guide, and you’re guaranteed to meet like-minded fellow travellers.
With 36 years’ experience of running guided tours, Riviera Travel also organises some river cruises exclusively for solo travellers, which offer a host of these tours and visits. And when everyone is travelling alone, it couldn’t be easier to strike up friendships on excursions and over the dinner table.
The services of the tour manager are also always available, should you need any travel advice or assistance when cruising alone. And before you even leave home, there’s the opportunity to chat to other solo travellers online, and potentially meet a cruise buddy, on Riviera’s solo travellers forum. So you can set off for your holiday, safe in the knowledge that it will be anything but lonely and stressful.
Get on board
7-night ‘The Blue Danube’ river cruise exclusively for solo travellers, round trip from Budapest via Bratislava, Durnstein, Salzburg and Vienna, departing 4 July 2020, from £2,179 including flights, rivieratravel.co.uk
Adventures with AmaWaterways
Sailing into 2020, luxury river line AmaWaterways offers single-occupancy cabins on many of its ships, including AmaVerde, AmaBella, AmaLyra, AmaDolce and AmaDante – which sail the Danube, Rhine, Rhone, Moselle, Seine and the Dutch waterways. These single cabins rival the size of some solo ocean cabins – around 140sq ft – and come with all the same amenities as their double counterparts.
AmaWaterways offers cruises on Portugal’s Douro River, the Mekong in Cambodia and Vietnam, and the Chobe in Botswana. And while the ships that sail these waters don’t have dedicated solo cabins, the company offers special solo deals throughout the year, reducing or completely eliminating the dreaded single supplement. These can pop up on any sailing, so keep an eye on prices and be prepared to book well in advance.
For those looking to get away from it all and searching for some zen, AmaWaterways also champions wellness cruises, giving you the chance to relax and rejuvenate with tai chi and yoga on the waterways of southeast Asia.
Get on board
7-night ‘Paris & Normandy’ cruise, round trip from Paris via Les Andelys, Le Havre (for Honfleur and the Normandy Beaches), Rouen, Vernon and Conflans, departing 9 July 2020, from £3,102 for a solo traveller, amawaterways.co.uk
Solo travel-friendly Scenic
With a range of routes in Europe, Russia and southeast Asia, Scenic is a five-star river line offering a distinctly high-end cruising experience. And in exciting news for solo travellers, the company recently waived its single supplements on selected 2020 European sailings.
That means you can get your own double cabin for the same price that a couple would pay per person – and aboard one of Scenic’s super-luxurious ‘Space-ships’ that’s quite some deal. These seriously impressive river vessels also offer up to five included dining venues, as well as elegant public areas and even butler service, catering for your every need.
With passenger numbers limited to between 100 and 200, depending on the ship, this is an intimate style of cruising where it’s easy to mingle and make friends. In fact, by the end of your cruise, your fellow passengers may almost feel like family.
Get on board
7-night ‘Idyllic Rhone’ cruise, from Lyon to Tarascon via Macon, Vienne, Viviers and Avignon, departing 27 May 2020, from £3,270 for a solo traveller, including flights, scenic.co.uk
All aboard Avalon
Jam-packed with sights, cities and scenery, a European river cruise offers a constant stream of conversation-starters, and there’s never a spare moment to feel bored or lonely.
Avalon Waterways’ fleet comprises some of the most stylish ships to ply these great waterways, and for 2020 there is no single supplement on selected European sailings. Solos can enjoy several routes on the Danube, Seine, Main, Rhine and Moselle, with varied itineraries that will appeal to every type of traveller, sailing through glorious countryside and visiting great cities including Budapest, Vienna and Prague.
Enhancing the experience, Avalon also offers a host of cruise-and-stay packages, allowing solos the chance to enjoy luxurious nights in Milan, Paris, Berlin, Salzburg and the Italian lakes. For the just the cost of a single fare, you’ll get a spacious outside deluxe cabin, complimentary drinks with meals, and included sightseeing headsets with local guides. What’s not to love?
Get on board
7-night ‘Canals, Vineyards & Castles’ cruise, from Amsterdam to Remich via Cologne, Rudesheim, Cochem and Bernkastel, departing 2 September 2020, from £2,244 for a solo traveller, avalonwaterways.co.uk
The best of the rest…
With many river lines now offering single cabins or reduced single supplements, solo travel has never looked more enticing.
Known for its sumptuous ships, world-class cuisine and great selection of wines (when you sail alone, no one’s keeping track), Tauck has binned single supplements for entry-level cabins on all European sailings, and reduced its standard single supplement by a massive £740 for other cabin categories on 54 departures and 17 itineraries.
If it’s the ultimate in river-cruising luxury you’re after, there is one solo cabin on Uniworld’s fabulous SS Catherine – though you’ll need to book well ahead to nab it. If you want a quicker getaway, look at one of the many single cabins across CroisiEurope and American Cruise Lines.
Best solo-friendly cruise destinations
On American river cruises, the guests are mostly locals – which means they’ll be super friendly and love your ‘amazing’ accent. Try a trip down the Mississippi, visiting New Orleans and Memphis, or shop till you drop in New York City on a Hudson River cruise.
Get on board
American 7-night ‘Lower Mississippi’ cruise from New Orleans to Memphis, departing 12 September 2020, from £4,933 for a single cabin, americancruiselines.com
India & The Ganges
The goddess of worship and culture, Mata Ganges ‘accepts and forgives all’. Many wellness cruises operate on these sacred waters (perfect for solo travellers on an inner journey), while Pandaw and Fred River Cruises both sail with no solo supplement.
Get on board
Pandaw 14-night ‘Upper Ganges’ cruise from Kolkata to Varanasi, departing 21 January 2021, from £4,695 for a single traveller, pandaw.com
Hungary & Austria
Safe, friendly and ever popular, the Danube is the perfect solo starter cruise. Sailing through great cities and stunning countryside, you’ll never run out of things to do or talk about with your fellow passengers.
Get on board
Amadeus 10-night ‘Blue Danube’ cruise, from Bucharest to Vienna, departing 13 October 2020, from £2,649 for a solo traveller, rivercruising.co.uk