Avid Travel With Britton Frost – Cruising Solo & Avoiding Single Supplements

This week on Avid Travel With Britton Frost we look at what solo travel entails, be it the good or the bad.

Many people looking at taking a cruise alone don’t realize some of the inconveniences that can come with traveling solo. In this episode we will talk about what it’s like to cruise alone, what single supplements are, and how to avoid them.

Listen below.

Read a transcript of the podcast:

Hi everyone and welcome to Avid Travel with Britton Frost. I of course am your host, Britton Frost. And today we’re going to be talking about solo travel. So I think that there’s a lot that people who maybe haven’t looked into booking a trip solo or just look kind of getting into taking a trip solo. There are a lot of things that you have to take into consideration that you may not think about. When we look at cruise fares, we often see that it says price per person and it seems like you know, that’s the fare and if you’re going with a friend or if you’re going with a partner or a family member, whoever you’re traveling with, each person is paying that one fare. But when you’re traveling solo, it’s different because you are as one person taking up the space of two people.

And so a lot of times, you know cruise lines when they’re booking these cabins, they can book a cabin and make twice as much off of it than they would by just being able to sell it to you as a solo traveler. And so that is why we have what is called a single supplement. Now some of you who are listening probably have heard of single supplements and maybe some of you haven’t. So I’m just gonna run over what a single supplement is before we get started with any of this because that is going to be coming up a lot in the podcast. So a single supplement is a fee that you have to pay as a solo traveler to be able to book a cabin solo. And sometimes when we look at single supplements, you know, we see a 200% single supplement.

So you’re paying essentially the cruise fare of two people as I mentioned. So if the price on the cruise is $3,200 per person, you paying that 200% supplement are paying 6,400. So you’re really just multiplying the cruise fare by two. But we also see oftentimes with a solo traveler promotions, you know, on some cruise lines in general, just have lower single supplements. But with these promotions, we’ll see things like 125%, 150%, 175%. So then you’re paying your per person cruise fare and then 25, 50 or 75% of of the other person’s fare. So you’re taking, yeah, I mean I think, I think that makes sense. So if your cruise is $1,000 per person and you have 125% solo supplement, you will be paying $1,000 to $1,250 opposed to that 2000 that you would be paying. If you’re paying a 200% single supplement.

So I think that makes sense and is kind of a good baseline. But really the lowest single supplement that you can get without it being waived, which cruise lines will do occasionally is, is 125%. For the most part. And I don’t think, I mean I’ve never heard of anything lower than that, but maybe some people have, so it’s either waived or 125 and then 150 and 175 and 200. So really 125 and 150% are going to be about the best that you can do. So before we look at which cruise companies are best for Solo travelers, and you know, waving single supplements and things like that, I just want to talk about the solo traveler experience because I think that this is definitely something that people take into consideration, but it might get put on the back burner is that traveling solo can be it can be hard.

You know, if you’re flying, having to fly alone and, and be an airports and, you know, sitting alone while when you have layovers and things like that it can be a lonely process. And I’m someone who travels alone pretty frequently and it’s not something that I mind, but if you’re someone who constantly needs to be talking to people you know, you might not always get that. And once you’re on board, I think it’s a little bit different and we’ll get to that onboard experience in just a minute. But, you know, leading up to the trip and before you get on the ship, you are looking at, you know, doing flights alone arranging transportation and not, and not only that, you know, you’re kind of only consulting yourself so you don’t have someone else to help make decisions. You’re, you’re booking air, you’re finding transportation and it can be hard.

So the number one thing that I always suggest and we’ll get into this a little bit again later, is to go to a travel agent and try to have them help you book because it’s always good to get a second perspective. And I think we’ll, we’ll talk more about the agencies in a minute because we’ll get to some tips about avoiding single supplements. And that is one of them. But I think that having a travel agent who can really kind of help you book air and, and transportation and kind of give input on cruising and which cruise lines you should take is valuable. And then, you know, so, so that’s kind of like the pre-cruise things that you’re going to have to deal with. And then once you’re on board, the great thing about cruising is that it’s so different to go on a cruise alone than it is to go on a regular trip where maybe you’re, you’re visiting somewhere and staying in a hotel because when you’re staying in a hotel, yeah, maybe you can go to the bar and meet other people, but oftentimes when you’re in a city and you go to dinner, you know, you can’t just walk up to a table of people.

I mean, I guess theoretically you could, but it might be uncomfortable to walk up to a table of people and say, “Hey, I’m going to sit with you all because I want to have dinner with people.” And when you’re on a ship, you can do that. You know, you’re, you’re often seated in groups of people and you know, you can, you can ask to be put at certain tables and asked to sit with other people. And so then you’re really kind of meeting people and it doesn’t take very much effort. And then, you know, on cruises in general, you’re meeting people because you’re meeting people who are like minded, you know, you’re all going to the same place. There are things to look forward to. You can go to shows, talk about entertainment, go to the bars on the ships. And so there are many activities that you can do alone, but you’re also still surrounded by other people.

So cruising really fosters this environment. Like I said, where you’re, where you’re with people who are like minded and you’re going and you’re doing the same things day to day. And maybe, you know, if you’ve taken excursion, you can meet people that way or you can talk about what you did in town or what you did, you know, in whatever port of call you’re in. And so then you have this background where people are sharing experiences and it just makes it a little bit easier to relate. So I don’t think that I’ve ever been on a cruise where I’ve really felt like, oh, I’m so alone. I’m so bored. I have no one to talk to. Because almost always you can find people to talk to, especially on ocean cruises, on bigger ships. But, but just in general, and you definitely meet people through dinner.

That’s one of the best ways. But I will say that oftentimes, like when I cruise alone that first day, that first second that I’m onboard and I get onboard and I’m unfamiliar with the ship and I don’t really know where to go. It can be awkward sometimes and feeling like you’re kind of crowding in on people or interrupting them. But there are times where, you know, when I was on celebrity edge and in the fall of last year, I was sitting alone and I, I was having a Martini by myself and I was just looking around, waiting for someone to sit with me because there were a lot of journalists on board. It was one of the preview sailings. And so, you know, I was kind of waiting for someone to approach me or me to find someone else that I could approach and it just didn’t happen.

So I, I sat there alone and I was on my phone and you know, I, I often take a book with me so I can do that. But you have to be willing to experience some of that discomfort. And maybe, you know, if you’re someone who’s been traveling alone for a long time or someone who has been single for a long time you might be used to that already. I’m someone who goes out to dinner at, at home by myself and goes to movies alone and things like that. So I think that, you know, before you decide to do a trip by yourself or going to be in an unfamiliar environment for as little as a week you should definitely, yeah, of course, make sure that you’re comfortable being alone, but I don’t know how many people would consider going on a cruise that weren’t already comfortable with that.

But yeah, I mean, it is important to note because while I’m telling you that you’ll have a lot of experiences to kind of mingle with fellow travelers, you might also not, you know, there might be times where you’re uncomfortable, but then after your first few days on the ship, when you’re really getting to know people that’s when you start forming relationships and finding things to do. And people will invite you to do things and it’s nice. So I just think that it’s should be mentioned that, you know, sometimes on those first couple of hours and before you have that first dinner and meet people, it can be a little bit awkward. But you know, that’s all part of it and that’s part of being alone anyway. And maybe for some people it’s not awkward. And for me it is, but I also enjoy it.

So just kind of be in tune with yourself, I guess as my first word of advice I guess. So let’s look at some of the cruise lines that offer single cabins because that is going to be the easiest way to avoid paying a single supplement. Now you might be paying more than you would pay for half of a a regular cabin on these single cabins. It just is going to depend on the cruise line and the cabin. But generally it’s going to be a lower cost. And also you’re not going to look at paying that supplement because your state room is designed for one person and only meant to be sold for one person. So Norwegian, Holland, America Line, Royal Caribbean and Cunard all offer single cabins. I’m going to start with Cunard, Royal Caribbean, and Holland America Line and then we’ll talk about Norwegian last because Norwegian has some things that are really of interest to me as a solo traveler.

So as I said, all of these cruise lines offer single cabins and they all have various daily activities that bring solo travelers together. So Holland America Line might have some special events like trivia, wine tasting, cooking demonstrations, things like that. Cunard has various daily activities. Royal Caribbean has various social events as well. And so there are gatherings where solo travelers can, can go to meet. Now what’s different with Norwegian is that they have, so the Norwegian single cabins are called studio cabins and Norwegian has a studio lounge, which is exclusive for Solo travelers. So that’s somewhere that everyone who is staying in those studio cabins can go and meet. And then that way you know that you’re meeting other single passengers. And I just think that that’s really neat because there’s not really a, I guess it’s not as rigid as maybe like going to an event.

You can go and sit at your leisure and it doesn’t, that doesn’t bring everyone together at once, but you know, you might be sitting there and end up talking to someone. So I think that that’s interesting. And I will say that I have never been at any of these single cabins and I’ve also never been to this lounge or anything, but it just sounds really nice and I watched a few videos about it and I just, I think that Norwegian for me kind of has a little bit of an edge just because of that. But also it’s going to depend on the type of ship that you want. Right? Like Norwegian is definitely a bigger cruise line as is Royal Caribbean where you’re going to be looking at larger ships that maybe aren’t interesting to you. And same goes the other way around.

Maybe Holland America line is a little bit too small for you and you know, it maybe not, not the vibe that you’re looking for. So any of those I would definitely say first look at the cruise line itself. Don’t let the cabin or that, you know, the, the gatherings be what motivates you to book a certain cruise line. I would definitely say look at the cruise line first and then let everything else fall into place. Just because that’s always my advice, just look at the cruise line first and then figure out destinations and everything like that. So I was reading an article about, you know, some tips on how to avoid solo supplements. And I think that there are quite a few ways, but one thing that I read in this article, and this is actually the only thing from this list that really stood out to me because I had never thought of it before, was to set a Google alert for whichever trip that you want to take.

So this, the people that wrote this article said, set a Google alert in the format where it says single supplement waived and then wherever you want to go. So single supplement waived Ireland single supplement with Baltic. And then that way you’ll get alerts when certain cruise lines have waived single supplements. And I think that that’s a really, really genius idea because it kind of takes some of the work out of it for you. So let’s get on to a couple more tips. The number one thing that I would recommend is, as I said, using a travel agent, because if you go to a travel agent and you say, Hey, I’m a solo traveler, they’re going to be able to look at which cruise lines are offering what, who is waving single supplements. And I will say that there are a lot of cruise lines that have the single supplements waived.

I know Oceana had a few Regent had a few and then, and then some cruise lines start lower. So if you go to a travel agent, they will really be able to help you, especially as a solo traveler, kind of pick something where you’re not going to be looking at that 200% single supplement hopefully. And so that, that would be my number one word of advice before anything else. Make sure that you, you find a travel agent. And then one thing that we’ve talked about, Ralph and me, is finding roommates. And I think that this is a little bit sticky. But, but plenty of people do it because they really don’t want to pay this 200% supplement. So there are, there are various forums where people can look for roommates for trips. And I mean the only downside about that is that you may possibly be looking at sharing a cabin with someone who you don’t know and possibly don’t like for seven days.

So, you know, if there’s a huge, I would think that, you know, it’s kind of like a college roommate situation where you’re vetting people a little bit and seeing what their interests are. And so, you know, there have been multiple people who have started cruising as roommates and then, you know, kept going and traveled together. But I don’t, I have never personally heard any roommate horror stories on cruises. But you know, if you’re dropping a pretty penny on a cruise fare, I’m talking, you know, thousands of dollars tens of thousands of dollars even. Then you really want to make sure that you’re going to have a great experience and maybe adding someone else into the mix isn’t going to give that to you. But then again, like I’m not the type of person who stays in my cabin a lot, so if I’m just using it for lodging, like I don’t think that I would mind having a roommate.

I do think for sure that a roommate would mind having me as a roommate because I snore very loudly. And so there are multiple things that you have to take into consideration, but you know, it’s just another part of planning the trip. But that is definitely something that I have probably heard most from solo travelers who are looking looking to avoid paying single supplements is one tip is to find roommates. And I have definitely heard of people doing this and I’m sure that a lot of you have as well or maybe some of you have even found roommates and have good stories about them. And then I guess the last kind of component of this is just taking someone along with you. If you’re looking at a certain itinerary on a cruise line and it’s a really speaking to you and there is no other option than to pay a 200% supplement, take a friend with you.

I have a friend who did a river cruise in France a couple of months ago with a friend of hers because the friend had been looking at booking this cruise with Viking and Viking’s single supplement is 200%. And so Nancy was going to be looking at paying 200% of the cruise fare anyway. And so she asked my friend to go with her because you know, if the friend could pay air or whatever, then she was really paying what she would be paying anyway. So that’s kind of my like final piece of advice if all else fails. But I think that definitely looking at a travel agent and it’s really, really easy to find these solo supplement deals through the cruise lines. So if you just go into Google and you know, when I was researching for this podcast, I kind of just looked up waived solo supplement and then whatever cruise line you’re looking at and then oftentimes you can find a promotion page on their website that includes a list of sailings where single supplements may be reduced or waived.

But you know, that’s about it. It’s, it’s definitely hard to travel as a single traveler for multiple reasons. But I think that the number one reason is the price. And so, you know, use an agent, try to find a roommate, you know, use any of these tips that I’ve given and let me know how they work out. And if you are a solo traveler and you have experiences with roommates or something like that, I would love to hear about it. But, you know, I think that a lot of people who are looking at taking a cruise and saying, I’ll do it by myself for the first time and haven’t really looked into it, are quite surprised at how expensive cruising solo can be. Where you think that it would be less expensive because you’re only paying for one person, but in reality, sometimes you’re paying for two when it’s just one of you. So a, please feel free to reach out if you have any single travel stories. My email is always in the description there. And I hope that you all have a great week as always, and I will see you next time.

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  • Suggestion….can you please also add text so that we can read it without having to listen to the video.
    We are on our boat and internet is iffy and the sound keeps breaking up.
    Too hard to listen to, and I just end up being frustrated and hit Delete. Thanks.
    Would love to read this Solo travel article, but I guess not.

    • I will be posting an article about single supplements in the coming weeks, so keep your eyes peeled!

  • Enjoyed the cruising solo talk. I’m 70 and have been cruising solo for several years now. Like most people my age, price is a big deal cause you are living on a declining income. I’ve sailed on NCL in their studio cabins which are well thought out and cozy. The dedicated lounge is very nice also with magazines and snacks/drinks. But, these studio cabins are very expensive on NCL. This past August I did a Baltic Sea cruise out of Copenhagen on RCI Serenade of the Seas in one of 3 studio cabins on the ship. My fare was $500.00 less than on NCL Getaway studio cabin also out of Copenhagen same ports of call / number of days. I did a 5 day Caribbean out of Tampa on RCI Brilliance of the Seas in studio for only $330.00, a pretty good deal. The most important thing I’ve learned about booking studio cabins is you have to book way, way in advance – at least a year! Example: this past January I booked a 12 day Mediterranean cruise out of Barcelona aboard RCI Jewel of the Seas studio cabin for just under $1600.00 dollars. The cruise departs on September 29, 2020!!! Sometimes I will pay the single sup if it is a ship/cruise I really want to do. I’m booked on Celebrity Constellation out of Tampa – 11 day Eastern Caribbean February 5, 2021. The solo traveler in a regular 2 person cabin was $400.00 less than paying double fare. Any savings like this is welcome! Hope this information helps you and other solo travelers. Eric


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