Traveling solo can be a liberating and rewarding experience. It gives you a sense of independence. Though you may worry about getting lonely, that should hardly be a concern when cruising. There are people around you at all times. The only negative to cruising solo? The dreaded single supplement.
What is a single supplement?
Solo passengers often have to pay single supplements, meaning that they must dole out what a couple would pay for the same stateroom. When looking at cruise fares, you may notice fares are priced per person. To give an example, if you were looking at a stateroom priced at $3,400 per person, you would end up paying $6,800 as a couple. What you may not take into account though is that as a solo traveler you may also be looking at paying $6,800. That’s because cruise companies price staterooms based on double occupancy.
While this may seem unfair to solo travelers, which it may be, it makes sense from the standpoint of the cruise companies. Why sell out staterooms half-priced to one person, when two people would pay the per person fare? That’s why solo travelers often look at paying a 200 percent single supplement, or twice the per person fare. In doing that, the cruise companies don’t lose money.
High single supplements should not discourage solo travelers, though. Oftentimes companies waive or reduce these fees. Some cruise lines even have solo cabins. We’ll get to some tips on how to avoid single supplements in a minute – but first let’s talk a little bit about what it’s like to cruise alone.
The Solo Travel Experience
The first time I cruised alone was aboard Celebrity Edge in November 2018. I was nervous, worried about missing my transfer to the ship and that I wouldn’t know how to check in. It wasn’t that traveling alone was a new experience for me. I’ve spent multiple summers with friends in Europe. I have been flying alone since I was 13. It was the fact that I was about to step on a ship with more than 2,000 other people – and I didn’t know a single one of them.
Staterooms aboard cruise ships are generally meant for two people – meaning most of the time cruisers travel in pairs. Whether fellow guests are traveling with a romantic partner or a friend, chances are that these couples will eventually form bigger groups. As a solo traveler, it can be a bit harder to form these groups due to intimidation. Intimidated. That’s how I felt. I feared rejection from my fellow travelers.
In actuality, these fears were not legitimate. As soon as I got on the ship, I met so many nice people who embraced me with open arms – figuratively, of course. This has been the reality on every sailing I’ve been on since. Cruising is a great way to meet people. While you’re not forced to talk to other guests, there is always a forum to do so. Group dinners are a good time to meet fellow passengers, as are nights in the lounge. You may also meet your fellow guests during excursions or lectures, or group activities like trivia.
Just know that if you’re nervous about traveling alone, there will plenty of opportunities to make connections with your fellow travelers.
The Best Cruise Lines For Solo Travelers
Before we get to my tips on avoiding single supplements, we’ll look at which cruise lines are the best for solo travelers.
Cunard’s ships have a Social Host who makes sure guests are able to link up with likeminded travelers. The Social Host will arrange coffee gatherings, daytime activities, and also dinner tables to make sure that solo travelers are able to easily make connections.
Holland America Line
Holland America Line is a good option for solo travelers. Not only does Holland America Line have solo cabins on its ships, but also various activities for solo travelers to get together. Activities may include trivia, wine tastings, cooking demonstrations, and more.
Norwegian has lead the pack when it comes to solo travel. On Norwegian’s ships single cabins are called Studio Cabins. Norwegian has a Studio Lounge that is accessible to guests staying in these staterooms – meaning it is exclusive for solo travelers. Not only does this create a good forum to meet other solo passengers, but it is also less rigid than an event or a dinner may be. That way guests can mingle if and when they want.
How To Avoid Single Supplements
This is probably why most of you are here. Thankfully, there are ways to avoid single supplements. Some of them may be a bit more unconventional than others, but hey, sometimes you have to do what you have to do.
- Single occupancy cabins. There are other cruise lines that have solo cabins that were not mentioned in the list above. Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean, UnCruise Adventures, and Costa all have single cabins as well. Keep in mind, these staterooms can often be more expensive than double staterooms with a waived supplement.
- Know which companies offer solo travel promotions. This one seems obvious, but there are certain companies that have lower single supplements than other cruise lines. Crystal’s website states that the company has solo supplements as low as 110 percent. This means that guests will only pay 10 percent more than the “per person” fare.
- Google alerts. I was reading an article from Solo Traveler World that outlined a few tips on how to save when traveling solo. One thing I never thought of was creating a Google Alert. Janice, the author of the tips article, suggested using the format: “single supplement waived” “Ireland.” This way, you are able to either set an alert for a cruise line you are looking to travel with or a destination you are interested in visiting. You will get an alert to your email address as soon as anything is published mentioning those terms.
- Use a travel agent. If you go to a travel agent and say, “Hey. I’m a solo traveler,” they are going to be able to help you with current promotions and hopefully find a cruise where a single supplement is waived. Not only that, but you will oftentimes save money by using a travel agent, so even if you don’t get a waived supplement for sailing, you may be able knock enough off the fare that it becomes less important.
- Roommates. I told you some of these were unconventional. There are multiple ways to connect with other cruise passengers. You can do it here, on Avid Cruiser, in the comments section. You can also use Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. There are multiple Facebook groups for cruise passengers. Though it may seem a bit weird to some, finding a roommate can be a way to avoid a single supplement. If there is a sailing that you really want to do but the supplement isn’t waived, you may be able to find someone else who wants to do it as well. If you can find a roommate, you’ll both be paying that “per person” fare.
- Take a friend with you. Okay, this one isn’t really about avoiding single supplements. If there is a sailing that you absolutely want to do and there is no other choice than to pay a 200 percent single supplement – you can always take someone with you. If they are willing to pay airfare and other expenses like food and drinks, you’re not really taking a loss. Plus, you’ll have someone to keep you company.
In conclusion, traveling solo can be rewarding, but booking your trip can be frustrating. Just remember that while a single supplement can often feel like a penalty – it can be avoided with the proper amount of commitment. The reward? An unforgettable cruise experience that results in a sense of freedom.
Do you have any tips for solo travelers? If so, share them in the comments.