Cruise holidays are growing in popularity year-on-year according to the latest statistics from ABTA. Meanwhile, across the industry more travellers are heading off on lone adventures, with 15 percent of holidaymakers jetting off alone, and it seems the trend has seeped into the world of cruising. Though solo cruising was one a sure way to see an increased ticket price, more cruise lines are jumping on the singles trend and offering reduced-price tickets as well as specialist cruisers catering solely to this type of travel.
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“Travelling alone allows you to be in control of your holiday, meaning you can do whatever you want, and whenever you want to do it,” Colette Doyle, Group Editor of Real Response Media who organises the Wave Awards, told Express.co.uk.
“Cruise holidays offer multiple stop-offs in beautiful destinations around the world, but these can be limited to a couple of hours or overnight visits. Couples and families will need to forward think, plan their time and ensure everyone is happy at the port stop, whereas solo travellers can embrace the freedom and flexibility of going their own way.”
However, traditionally solo cruisers would suffer when it comes to ticketing costs, which could have put them off the idea in the past.
Many cruise lines are known to charge single supplements for passengers who don’t come in a pair or as part of a group.
A single supplement is a charge paid by a solo traveller to compensate the cruise line from losses incurred due to only one person staying in a cabin, as most are built to accommodate for two travellers.
With most cruise pricing based on double occupancy, it can mean singles find themselves handing over twice as much for the same trip in some cases.
Luckily, as the passion for solo exploring grows, more cruise lines are coming round to the idea and shaking up the industry’s offering.
Solo cruises can be more expensive as cruise lines traditionally implement a ‘single supplement’ to those wishing to go it alone.
However, with the number of single cruisers on the rise, there is far more choice when it comes to dedicated cabins, social gatherings and itineraries where single supplements are waived or significantly reduced.
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“The biggest hurdle for solo cruisers is the dreaded single supplement,” Kerry Spencer, Editor of Cruise Critic told Express.co.uk.
“Because most lines don’t offer cabins for one, or because the few that exist sell out quickly, they will typically charge an extra fee to a solo traveller who wants to reserve a double-occupancy cabin without a roommate. This surcharge can range anywhere from 10 per cent of the cruise fare to 100 per cent.
“However, if you can be flexible about your travel plans, some cruise lines may extend last-minute solo discounts on close-in sailings.
“The good news is that as more travellers than ever before are deciding to travel and cruise on their own, cruise lines have responded to this trend by coming out with priced-for-one solo cruise cabins on both new and reconfigured ships to meet solo travellers’ needs.”
Whats more, increasingly cruise lines are catering specifically to the single traveller.
“When it comes to solo travel, times are changing,” says Colette.
“No longer is it just for gap-year backpackers or those looking to start a new chapter when they find themselves single later in life.
“These days, solo cruises are tailor-made for anyone of any age who wants to get out and explore the world, without waiting for someone else to tag along.”
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Kerry adds: “In many ways, cruising is an ideal getaway for solo travellers.
A cruise is an ideal way to visit many destinations in one trip, and several cruise lines welcome singles with receptions, usually held early on in the cruise, that allow them to meet other solo passengers.
“Today, solo cruisers can expect tailored activity programmes, dedicated cocktail parties for mingling, and dining companions hand-picked for compatibility. There are also lots of other opportunities to be sociable and learn something new – in classes, seminars and on shore excursions.”
One such cruise line paving the way for solo travel is Emerald Waterways, who recently announced they would be abolishing the single supplement.
The river cruise specialist offered a deal which could save travellers up to 2,760 per person.
Travellers will be allowed to pay their portion of the twin-share price, yet still enjoy single occupancy.
“As the vessels are smaller, solo travellers tend to lean towards river cruises, finding them more comfortable and easier places to meet and interact with a like-minded individual,” says Colette.
“Potential passengers will also be drawn to those ships that have tailor-made solo travel experiences, whether it’s designated dinners, dances or cocktail parties.”
However, passengers hoping to snap up a single room may have to ask fast, as rooms can sell out quickly.
Indeed, this is still a theme amongst most cruise lines. Though they are expanding their options for single travellers, often it is at a limited capacity.
However, plenty are expanding this offering.
Kerry points out: “Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines has offered solo cabins aboard its ships since the line debuted in 1988, and now has 190 solo cabins allotted across its fleet. Norwegian, is also popular, as a result of its large number of amazing solo cruise cabin offerings, such as its high-design, single occupancy studio cabins.”
She continues: “Saga Cruises, however, leads the way for solo travellers over 50. This British-based cruise line claims that one-fifth of its guests travel independently – and it certainly has a decent number of dedicated single staterooms to offer them. Spirit of Discovery, launched last year, boasts 100 cabins specifically designed for solo travellers, out of its 540 cabin-total. The line’s sister ship Spirit of Adventure, due to launch this summer, will apparently offer a similar number of cabins-for-one.
“Expedition cruise lines such as Pandaw and Hurtigruten have also long recognised that single supplements are an unfair burden for passengers that prefer to travel solo, so in a welcome reaction to the growing number of independent travellers who want to explore far-flung destinations, they offer no single supplements at all.”
Plus, there are plenty of methods passengers can try out in order to make some incredible savings.
Kerry recommends always keeping an eye on any deals.
“If you’d like to make a solo sailing more affordable, shop around for the lowest supplement,” she advises.
“Several cruise lines add 50 per cent or less to the per-person rate for singles occupying a double-occupancy cabin for certain cruises and cabin categories. Many cruise lines offer price breaks on occasion, depending on the season and on how many cabins are booked on individual ships.
“If you can be flexible about your travel plans, some cruise lines may extend last-minute solo discounts on close-in sailings.”
Alternatively, more sociable passengers can opt to bunk up with another solo buddy.
Kerry continues: “Sharing a cabin with a stranger might not appeal to everyone, but it does mean savings.
“A handful of lines still offer roommate matching services.
“Basically, you ask to be paired with a same-sex roommate when you book, and if the line can match you, you’ll pay no extra supplement”
Solo cruises are also ideal for those who are after a tailor-made experience.
“It would be hard to design a holiday more suitable for people travelling alone than a cruise. Solos can see the world from a safe environment where they are well looked after, and if they choose their line carefully then there will be plenty of other people on their own to meet,” says Colette.
Kerry seconds this, saying: “Cruises offer both the chance to enjoy solitude or opportunities for social interaction, but perhaps, most importantly they take the stress and hassle out of planning the complicated logistics often involved in exploring a number of exciting destinations all in one trip.”
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