Maybe you’re someone who relishes some quiet time to decompress without other people around. Or perhaps you found a great deal on a cruise, but it means sailing when no one else is available to go with you.
No matter the reason, cruising solo is something that many people do each year… and many more think about. We’ll be honest — as cruisers that have sailed solo — it is something very different to take a trip by yourself compared to having a travel companion.
To give you a better idea of what you can expect and what to consider before you take a solo cruise, here are some things to think about before you hit the seas.
Why Cruise Solo?
While we don’t know of any official statistics regarding the number of solo cruisers, the moves made by cruise lines indicate that it is far from rare to cruise on your own. Of course, cruising with a partner or friend is the more popular way to travel. Still, there are plenty of those who decide — or even prefer — to cruise alone.
There are a number of reasons for this. We mentioned a couple of big ones above, including people preferring alone time in order to relax without having others around. That alone time can give you time to think without interruption or spend the day as you want.
As well, meeting the schedule of another traveler can sometimes be difficult given school, work, and other responsibilities. If you find a cruise you want to take and no one else is available to travel then, cruising solo might be the only option.
There are also other reasons for solo sailing, including cost. It is generally less expensive to cruise by yourself (though maybe not as cheap as you’d think).
Finally, cruising is a unique vacation. While we think anyone can have a good time on a ship, there are definitely people that refuse to sail whether they are scared of being seasick or don’t like the crowds. Some solo travelers may simply be those whose friends or family that share the same love for traveling by sea.
No matter the reason, cruising alone definitely happens regularly.
It Takes a Special Kind of Person to Cruise Solo
There is a definite difference between taking a cruise with another person and going solo. Are you the sort of person that goes to the movies alone? Or maybe you dine out by yourself? For most people, this isn’t the case, but some people relish their alone time.
Before you take a cruise by yourself, you should know that it does take a special personality. While many people don’t have a problem being by themselves for a few hours, it’s completely different when you are on your own for several days at a time. This includes eating on your own and enjoying many activities by yourself. Those with spouses or significant others might be surprised at the newfound independence when they are used to having someone else around.
If you’re someone who already spends a lot of time alone, then it may not be a big deal to take a cruise on your own. Those used to having a partner in tow should realize that it can be a shock to the system to spend several days in a row solo.
There Are Lots of People to Meet if You’re Outgoing
One of the great things about cruising is that everyone is there on vacation. In other words, people are friendly and in a good mood. That makes it easy to strike up conversations with your other passengers and meet others.
Even so, it takes an outgoing personality to strike up a conversation with other cruisers — especially when they are normally coupled up with another person. Being in social situations like hanging out at the bar can help, but it will definitely be on you to break the ice if you want to meet new friends on the ship.
Cruise Lines Are Catering to You More and More
One thing to know before you sail is that cruise lines are catering to single passengers more and more.
Several lines include cabins designed and built for cruisers sailing as one. These rooms are smaller and take up less space, but also don’t charge double occupancy fares, meaning you can sail for less money. This includes lines like NCL and Virgin Voyages.
For example, in late 2023, NCL announced it was introducing nearly 1,000 new dedicated solo cabins across its entire fleet — including solo balcony cabins, which are rare. The cruise line will now have over 1,500 rooms for solo travelers. Perhaps best of all, this conversion of new rooms includes taking rooms that are normally double occupancy and designating them for single travelers — giving you more space than a traditional solo cabin.
Some NCL ships even have lounges with dedicated access for passengers sailing alone.
Cruise Lines Have Singles/Solo Events
There are many people who cruise solo, and there are also many who are single but cruise with friends or family. If you’re unattached, then these make good people to meet during your solo cruise.
To help you break the ice, cruise lines often host singles/solo events on the ship. These events are more “meet-ups” in reality, with a designated time and place for people to congregate. But if you’re hoping to meet other single and/or potentially solo travelers during your cruise, these meetings can be perfect.
You can find the time and place listed in the ship’s daily schedule. The meetings are generally held early in the cruise to allow you the chance to meet people at the start of the trip.
You May Not Save That Much Money
If you think about taking a solo cruise versus the traditional two people to a cabin, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’ll spend half as much money. Truth is that you’ll only get a discount on some things; most of your cruise will still cost the same amount.
Most cruise cabins (except for solo cabins on some lines) are priced at a per-person rate, but you always pay for two passengers. So if a cruise is priced at $599 per person, the fare for your cabin is actually $1,198. That’s what you’ll pay whether two people go or if it’s only one person. This is known as the “single supplement.”
Cruise lines offering solo cabins won’t have the single supplement on the solo room. However, that cabin will generally be more expensive than the per person fare for a double-occupancy room. So if the double-occupancy room is priced at $599, the solo cabin might charge $799. It’s less expensive than paying double, but not half the price.
Where you will save is that you are only charged taxes and port fees for one person, instead of two. You are also only charged gratuities for one person, and of course, any airfare or excursions you do are only charged for a single traveler.
In other words, you will save some money, but maybe not as much as you might think.
Solo Travelers May Get Double Points
One perk of paying more is that you can also potentially get more when it comes to loyalty programs. Every cruise line will have a loyalty system and they typically work where you get one point for every night that you cruise. So a 7-night cruise gives you seven points.
We’ve sailed solo on some lines (notably Royal Caribbean) where paying the double occupancy fare for a regular room did net us double points, meaning 14 points for a 7-night cruise.
We wouldn’t suggest paying double just to get a few more points, but know that if you end up doing it, you can get a benefit. You’ll need to check the specific terms of your cruise line’s program to see if they offer the double points.
You’re in Charge of Everything
If you’ve sailed before, but only with friends or as a couple, then it’s a strong possibility you shared some responsibility during the cruise. We’re talking about things like picking a place where to eat… what time to be back on the ship… where the dining room is… and even having help putting on sunscreen.
When you cruise solo, however, you have to be in charge of everything. No one else is there to remind you to grab your room key before you walk out the cabin or to make sure you bring a watch when you head into port.
On the plus side, you get to decide exactly what you do, where you go, and what you eat — without having to consider anyone else. You even get to decide what temperature to keep the cabin. In other words, your cruise is your vacation and no one else’s.
You Can Pack a Lot More Into the Cruise
Are you someone that likes to do it all on your vacation? Cruising solo may be just the thing. We mentioned you being in charge of everything, including what to do and where to go. One benefit as well is that you can pack so much more into your trip.
Instead of waiting on someone else to get ready or finish a meal or wanting to see one more souvenir store, your time is constrained only by what you want to do. So if you’re ready to see or do the next thing, then you can do it when you want instead of having to wait for another person.
While you’ll have plenty of time on the ship to explore and do everything, time in port is much more limited. If you’re stopping at a place where there is a lot to experience, being able to move faster on your own can be a big benefit.
Bottom line: There’s no doubt that cruising solo is a totally different experience than traveling with a partner. For many people — including us — cruising with a partner is more enjoyable as you get to share the experience with someone else. Having solo cruised multiple times, however, there are some definite benefits that are nice — especially on shorter cruises.
Have more questions about cruising solo? Let us know in the comments below.