solo woman cruise traveller

Cruising for Solo travellers – Top tips you need to know before you go

Have you ever wanted to take a cruise but had nobody who either had the time, money or desire to go along with you? You end up putting it off for yet another year, thinking it’s not something you can do on your own. But the truth is, cruising for solo travellers is more common than you think.

And the trend of cruising solo is growing.

Since 2019, cruising for solo travellers has increased by 65%, according to Squaremouth, a Travel Insurance search engine based that increase on the number of cruise travel insurance packages sold to single travellers. Since the end of the pandemic, people have been tired of waiting for the “right” moment.

And cruise lines are listening

 

And cruise lines have begun to take notice. As such, many are creating programs and promotions to appeal to the growing market.

“There’s a segment of solo travellers who, while travelling single, wish to enjoy elevated services that come with suite amenities but are dismayed at having to pay — some could argue be penalized by — a single supplement.”

— Alberto Aliberi, President, Atlas Ocean Voyages


Despite the growing trend in solo cruise travel, people still ask…

Is it okay to cruise alone?

As a small ship cruise expert, I often have no choice but to travel solo. Not everyone can get away as often as I travel. And once you finish hearing what I have to say on the topic, you might actually find that you prefer to cruise alone. 

Here are some tips to consider and what you need to know before you start planning your solo cruise.

Cruises for solo travellers are not lonely

Another misconception surrounding cruising for solo travellers is the idea that single travellers will feel left out unless they are natural extroverts. Cue the awkward image of a solo traveller dining alone – all extra dining accoutrements have been removed from the table….meanwhile, only a few steps away, corks are being popped, and all-night revellers laugh the evening away over sparkling conversation as the solo traveller looks on with envy.

It doesn’t have to be that way unless that’s your preference. The best part of cruising solo is that you get to choose just how much or how little of your time you want to spend with fellow humans and make zero apologies for it. 

The very first evening, make friends with the 

That said, I say, resist the urge to always find the darkest table for two in the Lido Lounge. Instead, put yourself out there and choose a table with other travellers. Worst case, you pick a dud of a table one night, you just move seats for the next meal, and nobody will think twice. Try doing that if you travel with your spouse! Not nearly as easy.

many cining options on a cruise ship

Resist the urge to eat alone. Join a group.

Get to know your fellow cruisers

If you’re new to cruising, it’s easy to get the impression that there is you…and everybody else is an island. The reality is, that most people, even if they’ve come aboard with friends, are open to meeting new connections—and they’ll probably be happy to meet you. 

Don’t be easily intimidated. People are genuinely excited to share their travel experiences, and you might even be amazed by the trove of information you can glean from your fellow travellers.

No matter how much research you can do, there is always someone out there who has unearthed an even more compelling spot. So be sure to remain open-minded to new travel suggestions.

Try something new

Ever notice that it is human nature to find a comfortable spot and then head back to it every single time? It’s our brain’s way of choosing the path of least resistance. Don’t fall for that. Even if you’ve found a spot on deck that you love or a favourite table at a dining spot, forget it. Move around. The more new acquaintances you meet, the better.

Getting the most out of your solo cruise experience does require you to take some initiative, but the good news is…how much you participate is entirely up to you. Not to mention, I’m a firm believer that if something is calling you to try it, you should. Maybe taking onboard salsa lessons may land you in the arms of your significant life partner if that’s something you are open to.

Appear approachable

A tip for cruising for solo travellers means you’ll want to remain approachable. Even though it might be tempting to walk around with your hat covering your face, your sunglasses on, and sit with your nose buried in the latest airport paperback, this can really distance you from new opportunities. 

The hat, the sunglasses and the book are distractions that can serve a purpose and should be kept close for emergency situations, just try not to rely on them like a crutch. Put them down. Look around. Smile.

Get to know the staff on board

As a solo traveller, be sure to introduce yourself to the ship’s crew and staff. Especially when travelling on an expedition ship. The guides are a wealth of information, and they are happy to chat and make new friends too.

On river cruises or smaller ships, ask the crew for recommendations and advice. They can often give you the inside scoop and the hidden gems of things for singles that aren’t advertised, as well as tips about how best to enjoy yourself during your cruise. Remember their names will go a long way. 

Sign up for lots of shore excursions

With cruises for solo travellers, shore excursions are a great way to see a city but also a great way to interact with new people. It is so much nicer to explore a location when you have someone to share it with.

Normally, I recommend arranging custom shore excursions, and I tailor-fit them to the preferences of my clients, but for single travellers, unless you want to do something that is very unique, I think opting for the pre-arranged ship excursions is the better move. That way you can be assured to meet new people. 

If you do end up exploring a port on your own, be sure to write down the name of your ship, the pier, the port agent and the departure time on a piece of paper or note it on your phone. Believe me, it’s easy to get turned around if you’re not careful. And leave yourself more time than you think you’ll need to ensure you get back in time. Ships don’t wait, and it’s so not worth the stress of missing the boat! Literally.

two women on a cruise ship excursion proving that cruising for solo travellers is not lonely

Meet up with other solo travellers on day excursions

Ask about ship activities geared for solo travellers

The cruise line will be able to tell you what activities are available for solo travellers and whether or not there’s a special promotion for them. If you want to meet other people on the trip, look for activities that are designed to help you do so: for example, take a class together or go on an excursion with others.

If it’s impossible to attend these types of events with other passengers without paying extra fees (which is unlikely), then at least ask about them in advance so that when they’re offered during your trip, they’ll already be on your radar!

Stay connected

Even those who enjoy cruising alone may begin to miss their family back home. Whether you’re thinking of a partner, your children, your parents, or friends, complimentary Wi-Fi access will help you stay in touch.

Not only will you be able to share some of your adventures with them via video call, but you will also be able to send them the envy-inducing photos you’ve taken along the way. Who knows, you might inspire them to enjoy a solo cruise of their own. Maybe they’ll get hooked on cruises for solo travellers too.

Is solo cruising safe?

Travelling solo might seem risky, but it’s actually one of the safest ways to see the world. You always have options offered by the ship that you can join if that’s your preference. But if you prefer to wander through a port by yourself, that’s entirely up to you.

And while nothing is likely to go wrong for you, making friends with the ship’s crew and making yourself visible to a few other travellers also has some advantages…

I remember on one occasion, I was travelling on a 3-day cruise excursion off the coast of Malaysia and because I’m an introvert…I’d gotten lazy and hadn’t yet introduced myself to any of my fellow cruise companions. And at one stage, I was standing on the ship’s bow, looking over the evening ocean, and I had this thought, if I fell off at this very second, would anyone even realize I was gone?

At that point, I stepped down from the bow and started introducing myself. 

Hello…my name is Jennifer…

And it should go without saying…if you ever feel unsafe by your fellow travellers, always alert the crew. Trust your gut. You’ve been given intuition for a reason.

crusing for solo travellers on a boat in South East Asia

Enjoying some quiet time off the coast of Malaysia

Choosing the right ship for solo travellers

Not all ships are created equal.  While modern mega ships that carry up to 5,000 people are very popular with couples and families, the big disadvantage for solo travellers is that they are just too large. You can easily get lost in the shuffle, and it’s a rare thing to run into the same people twice. 

Unless, of course, it’s the anonymity that you are after. If you are trying to dodge the paparazzi, then the large ships might be a perfect solution. 

But if you are like me, choosing a ship that offers a more intimate setting allows you to get to know your fellow travellers easier.

Why not try River cruises offer a laid-back and convivial atmosphere.

But in terms of which cruise line or river barge is best suited for solo travellers, it changes all the time. That’s why I highly recommend letting me know if think a travelling solo would work for you and allow me to keep an eye open for you. 

The cost of solo cruising doesn’t have to be shocking

When you think of cruise ships and how they are built, it makes sense that cruise companies would prefer to maximize their profits by filling each cabin with two travellers who book excursions, drink, eat, and spend dinero at the disco. It’s understandable that they will want to charge a supplement for sole occupancy.

However, don’t let the cost of solo cruising intimidate you. More and more cruise operators acknowledge the growing trend of solo cruising and promote specials in hopes of luring in new cruisers.

How to save money on cruises for solo travellers

 

Don’t delay in booking

Even with the trend of solo cruising growing, the fact remains ships still keep a limited inventory of single cabins. There is no arguing that cruise companies can earn more revenue from a double occupancy cabin so despite the growing trend, there are never going to be oodles and oodles of single cabins.

However, booking a single cabin isn’t the only option. During wave season, Jan 1 to March 31, sometimes singles can score a deal so good that it makes sense to take a cabin normally designated for couples. This way, you can even get cabins with balconies. Usually, the cabins reserved for singles are often small and inside only.  The assumption must be solo travellers won’t want to hang out in their cabin by themselves anyway.

Be Flexible with Dates

Before booking time off work, look into cruise availability and promotions first. The difference in pricing, even between a week or two, can make all the difference. 

Cruises for solo travellers often have single promotions and can also sometimes offer price breaks on shore excursions. 

The point is, don’t automatically assume that cruising solo will be exorbitant. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Calling all extroverts

While this option isn’t for everybody, some cruise lines will pair you up with other single travellers of the same gender if you are open to it. 

And even if you are an introvert like me, skipping the single supplement and being open to having a roomie may introduce you to a new lifelong friend. At the very least, you’ll have someone to dine with and possibly venture out with on shore excursions.

Finally, consider finding a single traveller through online Facebook groups and/or Meetup groups. You might be surprised at how many travellers are just like you and want to cruise but are just tired of waiting for their friends and family to join them.

Whatever you do, don’t wait

If the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that life is precious. I’ve seen so many travellers put off cruising while they wait for a friend to find the money. Or they hope they’ll meet someone on Bumble who will share their enthusiasm for travel…but years pass, and they never get to go.

More and more, people are opting to go for it, take risks and travel solo. “Life begins at the edge of your comfort zone,” said Neale Donald Walsch. It’s time to step out.

If I have you convinced to try solo cruising, be sure to sign up for my VIP membership to be kept up-to-date on single promotions as they become available.

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Are you looking to take a cruise but have no one to travel with? Get top tips on cruises for solo travellers to help navigate the options.

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