Solo cruises may seem intimidating but in reality, plenty of singles find it to be a relaxing, stress-free and sociable way to travel. Those who enjoy their own company appreciate aspects of a luxury cruise like the attentive service and the good food, while those who seek companionship can easily find a cruise line that takes special care of single travellers.
Things to look out for on cruises for singles include cruise lines that offer hosted tables for dinner and perhaps gentleman dance hosts who keep the party going in the evenings. Some lines have a social host or hostess who arranges coffee mornings, lunches and cocktails for singles – and other lines are ideal simply because they offer so much to do, whether your interests include watercolour painting or cookery.
Crystal Cruises is one of the most single-friendly luxury lines. In the evenings, officers often host tables and the maître d’ will always keep an eye out for single travellers who want to sit with other people. There are singles’ tables in the speciality dining restaurants – and there is so much happening on-board during the day that nobody need feel lonely, with classes, lectures and workshops. In the evenings, there is no need to fret about who buys a round as Crystal is all-inclusive – and if you feel like dancing, there are dance hosts to twirl single ladies round the dance floor.
Cunard is another good choice for Strictly fans; the Queens Room on each of the line’s ships has to be the most impressive ballroom at sea and is packed every night, with eagle-eyed dance hosts who make sure there are never any wallflowers. Like Crystal, Cunard has a wide array of activities during the day from lectures to drama classes – and some of the single cabins are gorgeous, particularly the new ones on Queen Mary 2, which have picture windows so big you can sit in them and just gaze out at the ocean.
Silversea’s ships are friendly, social and of a manageable size, so it is easy to get to know people. Singles’ gatherings are held early in the cruise and you may find as many as 10 percent of passengers are travelling alone. Silversea also has an impressive fleet of much smaller expedition cruise ships, which have a more intimate feel as passengers spend all day together, either ashore in the company of expert naturalists and environmentalists or exploring mangrove swamps or the icy shores of Antarctica on the ship’s Zodiac inflatables. Evenings on the expedition fleet are spent listening to talks on the local wildlife and culture, and swapping tales at the bar of the day’s adventures.
Seabourn also has a happy, sociable environment on-board. The line really stands out for its caring crew and officers, and the ship’s entertainers often host tables in the evenings. If you make it clear you’d like company, the crew will look out for you. Daytime activities on-board include lectures from top-notch speakers, talks on ecology and wildlife from the Ventures by Seabourn crew who travel on every cruise (and also lead more adventurous excursions ashore), and a particularly good wellness programme in the spa, with everything from talks on nutrition to guided meditation.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises also has a warm, friendly vibe – a lot of the passengers are repeaters and striking up conversation is easy. Regent is even more inclusive than its luxury rivals, so excursions are included in every port, which means you can explore ashore in company. Meanwhile Oceania, under the same ownership as Regent, is the perfect choice for gourmet cruisers and keen cooks; the food in the various restaurants is fantastic but if you like cooking, you will love the classes in the Culinary Centre on Marina and Riviera, many of which involve joining a tour ashore to shop for ingredients in the local market.
Otherwise, there are some smaller cruise lines to consider if you are sailing solo. Saga is especially single-friendly, with some 20 per cent of passengers travelling alone and all sorts of social events laid on for them. The line’s new ship, Spirit of Discovery, launching in 2019, promises beautiful interiors, mainly inclusive pricing (a chauffeur from home, for example, as well as wine with dinner, crew gratuities and Wi-Fi) and a choice of restaurants. An impressive 100 cabins, all with balconies, will be allocated to solo cruisers.
Scenic Ocean Cruises, launching this summer, promises the absolute last word in luxury expedition cruising, with unparalleled choice and service on its sleek expedition yacht, the 228-passenger Scenic Eclipse, where every cabin is a suite and everything you can imagine is included. Eclipse will roam the world, coming into its own in some of the remotest destinations, where you can fly over the Antarctic ice sheet in the yacht’s helicopter, or dive under the ocean in the submarine that’s carried on board.
Or why not try a river cruise? Luxury lines like Uniworld, Scenic and Crystal River Cruises are all-inclusive and offer the added bonus of excellent shore excursions in every port, so you will always have company as you explore the rivers of Europe and Asia. The service on each of these lines is superb – and the house party atmosphere that quickly develops has fostered many a lifelong friendship.