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Solo Cruising 101

If you’re thinking about going solo on your next cruise, you’re not alone. Here’s more about the trend and what you need to know

spinner image a woman on a cruise ship looking out at the water
More people are choosing to go solo on cruise ships, and cruise lines are catering to the trend with solo cabins, designated activities and more.
David Sacks / Getty Images

​Five percent of people who cruise aboard Cruise Lines International Association’s (CLIA) more than 50-member cruise line brands are opting to go solo — a number that has roughly doubled compared to a decade ago, the organization found. ​“This increase in demand has driven cruise lines to create more opportunities for solo cruise by retrofitting existing cabins to include solo cabins, providing ‘solo-only’ areas and more,” says Sally Andrews, vice president of strategic communications and public affairs for CLIA. “Some cruise lines have reported that as many as 20 percent of their passengers are traveling solo.” 

​Julie Sayer, an independent cruise and vacation consultant in Tampa, Florida, says solo cruising was a trend before the pandemic, but it has really taken off after COVID. “Just because [travelers] don’t have a significant other or travel companion, they still want to see the world and go.” 

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​If that sounds like you, there’s likely a solo cabin out there with your name on it. 

Cruise lines offering solo cabins and solo activities

​From ocean liners to small ships, solo cabins are becoming increasingly available. This is important because passengers avoid paying single supplement surcharges or full price on double-occupancy-based cabins. 

​“Solo travel has been on the rise for several years, which is why since 2016 with the introduction of our Pinnacle Class ships, we’ve offered dedicated single staterooms for our guests,” says Michael Smith, senior vice president, guest experience and product development, at Holland America Line. 

​Norwegian Cruise Line was the first to introduce studio stateroom accommodations designed for solo travelers (with no single supplement fee required) in 2010. The line now offers studio staterooms on nine of its 19 ships, including the new Norwegian Viva, which debuted in August 2023. ​​

spinner image a single stateroom aboard the rotterdam ship from holland america line
Solo passengers can book single staterooms aboard Holland America’s Rotterdam cruise ship. 
Michel Verdure / Courtesy of Holland America Line

In addition to Holland America and Norwegian Cruise Lines, cruise lines known for ample single staterooms include Celebrity (Celebrity Beyond has 32 single staterooms, all with verandas), Royal Caribbean Cruises, MSC Cruises, Costa Cruises and P&O Cruises. ​

In response to the growing demand for solo options, Oceania Cruises recently debuted retrofitted solo staterooms on each vessel in its small-ship fleet. “Our guests and travel partners wanted more options for solo travelers and more diverse tour offerings, and we are delighted to deliver,” says Nikki F. Upshaw, senior vice president of global sales at Oceania. Oceania’s newest ship, Vista, offers six solo staterooms with oversized private verandas.

​There are more solo cabins coming down the pipeline, too, including aboard Princess Cruises’ Sun Princess, which will have four solo cabins — a first for one of the line’s new builds — when it launches in 2024. 

​Most of the ships with solo staterooms also offer designated lounges, events and classes for passengers traveling alone. For example, aboard participating Oceania ships, guests receive a list of the scheduled solo gatherings at the start of the day. Holland America Line also schedules events such as trivia contests and exercise classes to encourage people to meet. ​

Tips for finding the best solo cruise for you

1. If you want to meet people on a cruise, consider booking one that’s going transatlantic. All the at-sea days and onboard events and activities are the perfect backdrop for lots of socializing along the way, says Anne Scully, a partner at EMBARK Beyond who has sold cruise vacations for more than 40 years. “Coming from England on the Queen Mary you gain an hour every night,” she says — all the more time to meet people along the way. 

2. “Attend everything,” Scully says. That could mean things like trivia events, game nights and lectures (the ones that interest you, of course) as well as white-gloved teatime and solo cocktail hours designed for cruisers on their own. ​

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3. Off-peak cruising times (which vary depending on the destination as well as the time of year and location) offer a better chance of getting a reduced single supplement on ships that don’t offer solo cabins, says Sayer, making those time frames a good window for traveling with other solo cruisers. ​

4. Consider testing the waters to see how you like traveling on your own as part of a shorter land-based tour before making the leap to a longer solo cruise. ​

5. Consider a themed cruise where you will be more likely to meet travelers — whether they’re cruising solo or not — with a common interest. ​

6. Sign up for smaller shore excursions that make it easier to meet and mingle with other travelers. 

7. Make the crew aware you’re cruising solo. “Passengers sailing on their own are hosted at dinner by ship officers, staff or entertainers,” says Karen Thomas, senior director, brand and external communications for Seabourn.

8. Don’t shy away from solo meetups on board — it might feel awkward to put yourself out there as a solo traveler by going to onboard solo gatherings, but it’s the best way to meet people traveling the same way you are. 

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