Since you’re interested enough in cruising to have visited this site, chances are you will at some point have seen a TV advert or brochure for a cruise line or two. Distinguished couples standing together on a balcony, dad clowning around with the kids in the pool, mum sunbathing by the side of it … you get the idea. It’s rare you’ll see a solo cruiser represented in this sort of promotional material, but if you’ve ever been on a cruise in the past, there’s a good chance that if you are the sociable type, you will have had a conversation with a single cruiser or two.
There’s certainly an assumption from some quarters that the solo cruiser is an object of pity, that they are travelling on their own because they have no alternative, but in fact, chances are they’ve made a choice to travel alone because they can concentrate on enjoying their holiday in exactly the way they want to, without having to worry about anyone else.
Certainly, many mainstream lines hit the solo traveller hard, as they see the loss of a ‘body’ as lost potential income, so if travelling alone, you can expect to pay between 150 and 200 per cent of the fare to cover the cost of the passenger who would’ve been sharing your cabin, were you part of a couple. With the luxury lines, there’s still a supplement to pay but it’s usually lower and the lines are generally much more clued up when it comes to the solo cruiser.
In today’s ever-expanding cruise world, the luxury voyage in particular has opened up a world of discovery and adventure for the solo cruiser, whether they are content to enjoy their own company or are eager to meet new people and spend some time getting to know others on-board.
Crystal Cruises is one of the most popular luxury lines for solo cruisers, with a perhaps surprising 15 per cent of passengers on some cruises ‘flying solo’. Perhaps it’s because many of its online activities are appealing to the single cruiser, such as planned singles parties and their gentleman host programme.
When it comes to dining, there’s an assigned seating arrangement with Crystal, which isn’t common for the luxury lines. This means that the solo cruiser will sit with the same people each night and likely get to know them a lot better. The line offers a number of attractive supplement prices too, sometimes as low as 25 per cent.
Silversea Cruises is another line with quite a high average of single passengers, perhaps because it offers an interesting and engaging choice of enrichment programmes, which generally attract like-minded people. The line’s branching into expedition cruises is also a sign that the solo cruiser is never far from their collective mind, as informative and educational cruises like this can often be attractive to single cruisers. The line also offers limited availability solo fares on occasion too, with rates sometimes as low as 110 per cent.
Seabourn is another line which often offers discounts to solo cruisers, who’ll typically pay 50 per cent more, but where you’re cabin will be in this scenario is the line’s choice. Seabourn’s formal evenings are a long tradition for the line and the ship’s crew and staff are on hand most nights to host tables. As is the case with most lines, special dinner invites are issued to passengers, but Seabourn make it their business to make sure singles are catered for when it comes to such invites.
Generally, the ambience of the luxury ship lends itself more to solo cruising. The vessels tend to be smaller, creating the much-vaunted ‘country club atmosphere’ where it’s easier to meet different people either at dinner or just walking around the ship. There are fewer guests too, which means it’s more likely solo cruisers will meet some of the same people throughout the duration of the cruise.
At meal times, the single cruiser is of course free to indulge, with no one else to make them feel guilty! Cruising solo is also great if you’re a fan of a certain kind of cuisine, because luxury lines’ speciality restaurants offer a host of mouth-watering dishes, whether gourmet French, Italian or Thai cuisine is your thing. And for the wine connoisseur, most luxury lines tend to offer a speciality tipples as well as vintages included in the fare.
All the luxury lines offer a wide choice of enriching excursions and as a single cruiser, you can do exactly what you want when you want and indulge your own interests without having to compromise. You’ll fit more in of what you want to do and there’s also the option of going off on your own, to further enhance the sense of personal freedom cruising on your own brings.
By Simon Brotherton