If you’re a solo traveler considering taking a cruise, be aware that you could be paying for two. Cruising alone isn’t for everyone, but you’ll have plenty of company if you aren’t an introvert.
I recently took my first solo cruise and opted to book a balcony instead of the studio cabin available on my vessel.
In this article, you’ll learn what it’s like to cruise solo, how to pick a cabin, and the pros and cons of sailing alone. While some cruise lines offer studio cabins, are they the “deal” they are cracked up to be?
Paying A Single Supplement
If you’re cruising solo or with an odd number of people, you need to decide on a cabin choice. All staterooms, except single staterooms, charge a single supplement (or for the 2nd person) when you cruise as a single.
Some cruise lines offer vessels with studios or single cabins, which usually include a double bed instead of a queen. These are advertised as studios with no need to pay the supplement.
If you choose a regular cabin, you’ll pay for two people, but usually one pay one port fee and taxes. Onboard, you’ll also pay one set of gratuities. Occasionally, cruise lines offer a sale where you pay 150% instead of 200%.
So, should you search for a ship with solo rooms instead?
Which Cruise Lines Have Solo Cruise Cabins?
Norwegian Cruise Line
The Norwegian Breakaway and Breakaway-plus vessels have revolutionized solo staterooms by adding an exclusive area for those booked in studios. While these inside cabins are small at 99 sq. feet, you’ll have access to a studio lounge and a chance to meet other solo travelers.
Norwegian might be a good choice if you like to meet new people or buddy up and do excursions with others. Their studio complex provides a space to meet and mingle.
The Breakaway class (Breakaway and Escape) has 59 solo rooms, while the Breakaway-Plus (Bliss, Encore, Escape, and Joy) has 82. Some of the cabins can connect, too.
Alternatively, Royal Caribbean offers studios on its Quantum-class and Quantum-plus vessels. Unlike most lines, which only provide interior solo cabins, you have a choice with RCI. Select an inside if you’re on a budget or splurge for a solo balcony.
The Spectrum, Odyssey, Anthem, Quantum, and Ovation of the Seas vessels have 28 studio staterooms, 12 of which are balconies. So, if you’re tired of cruising in the inside cabins, you can enjoy the scenic views of Alaska from your private balcony.
With only 12 on each ship, you’ll need to book early to secure one of these coveted staterooms. The interior cabins are the same sized as Norwegian’s Breakaway studio rooms. However, the balconies are roomier at 119 sq. feet.
Due to their smaller size, you’ll sleep in a double bed instead of a queen, have no sofa, but will enjoy a full-sized bathroom. An alternative to the studios are the inside virtual balconies.
I’ve viewed an inside stateroom on the Quantum of the Seas, which was surprisingly very nice. With a floor-to-ceiling screen live streaming the view outside, you can feel like you have a balcony without paying the higher cost.
While the studios have much smaller square footage, you’ll enjoy the same size bathroom.
Celebrity Silhouette is the only vessel in the fleet that offers solo cabins, and there are only four. You’ll find these inside category rooms on deck 9 or the Panorama deck next to the main elevators. Celebrity’s category IS cabins measure 102 sq. feet.
Holland America Line
Three of Holland America’s ships feature solo cabins. You’ll find them on the Koningsdam, Nieuw Statendam, and Rotterdam. The 12 Ocean view staterooms are on the main deck or deck 1 and at the ship’s bow.
Due to the ship narrowing at the front, the rooms vary in size from 129 to 172 square feet. The double bed is pushed against the window, offering plenty of space for solo travelers. However, there is no sofa.
P & O Cruises
You’ll find P & O single cabins on many of their vessels. The Arcadia, Arvia, Azura, Britannia, Iona, and Ventura offer various studio categories.
|Inside (189 sq. ft) & Balcony (206 sq. ft)
|Inside (101 sq. ft)
|Inside & Outside (130 sq. ft)
|Inside (134 sq. ft) & Balcony (164 sq. ft)
|Inside (101 sq. ft)
|Inside & Outside (130 sq. ft)
As you can see, the staterooms vary in size, with the ones on the Arcadia and Britannia being the most spacious.
While MSC has a large fleet, you’ll find solo rooms on four of their vessels. MSC Bellissima, Grandiosa, Meraviglia, and Virtuosa feature 129 sq. foot studio interiors. They feature a twin bed that converts to a couch for multi-functional use.
While other lines like Princess, Disney, and Carnival Cruise don’t have single-occupancy cabins, should you forego these lines and seek rooms built for single travelers instead? Let’s investigate the overall cost and compare sailing in a studio vs. paying the single supplement.
Three of the four Cunard vessels have studio staterooms, and they are some of the largest in the industry. In fact, their solo rooms are more spacious than double occupancy staterooms on competitor lines.
|Inside (159 sq. ft) and Oceanview (133 to 168 sq. ft)
|Queen Mary 2
|Oceanview (178 sq. ft)
|Inside (159 sq. ft) and Oceanview (133 to 168 sq. ft)
Interestingly, the newest Cunard ship, the Queen Ann, doesn’t have studio staterooms.
Virgin provides solo cabins on all three of its vessels. The Resilient, Valiant, and Scarlet Lady have category I1 Solo Insider cabins measuring 101 sq. feet and category V1 Solo Sea View measuring 130 sq. feet.
Most inside solo rooms are mid-ship, ideal for those suffering from motion sickness.
The Cost Of A Solo Cruise
Cruising in a solo cabin allows you to forego the single supplement. Hurray! But is it more cost-effective?
I recently took my mom on a cruise and had to weigh the cost of having her in a cabin alone or let her share with my husband and me. At 81 years old, she couldn’t sleep in a Pullman. Since the Discovery Princess didn’t have a sofa bed in a balcony cabin, we’d have to upgrade to a mini-suite.
In the end, it was cheaper to book two balcony rooms and pay the solo supplement than to have three in a mini-suite. We preferred mom have her own space since she sleeps early, and we didn’t have one bathroom for three people.
We could find her on board with the Ocean Medallion system if we chose to do different activities.
Fast forward nine months, and my husband couldn’t cruise for medical reasons. He suggested I try a few solo cruises if I could find good deals.
I booked two solo cruises with Princess and Holland America. Since Princess doesn’t have solo rooms, I paid the single supplement to cruise in a balcony cabin. However, even though the HAL Koningsdam had studio cabins, I chose to book a balcony instead.
When I looked at the final cost, I paid USD 10 more for a balcony on the Koningsdam (and paying a single supplement fee) than booking a solo studio Oceanview room. This made me realise that although I wasn’t paying a single supplement on studio rooms, it’s built into the price.
The Oceanview solo cabins are at the very front of the vessel and much smaller at 129 to 172 sq. feet. It was a no-brainer to have a balcony over a non-balcony cabin, especially at a USD 10 difference.
So, I wondered if choosing a solo stateroom always had the single supplement built into the price. I checked out other cruise lines’ pricing on typical 7-day cruises. Here’s what I found.
Norwegian Encore: A studio stateroom was 15% cheaper than an interior with a single supplement. The studio is smaller at 99 sq. feet, unlike the regular insides at 135 sq. feet. However, studio guests have access to an exclusive studio lounge.
Celebrity Silhouette – I was surprised that the studio room came in at 15% MORE than a regular stateroom (with the single supplement).
Cunard Queen Mary 2 – The studio Oceanview had a savings of 10% over paying for two in a regular Oceanview.
Booking a studio cabin and not paying the single supplement doesn’t always provide the savings you’d think. Prices will vary by cruise destination, length, and number of available studio cabins.
Also, some vessels may not have the category of room that you desire in a studio. So, you can opt for the 10-15% savings or pay a bit more and enjoy a larger space.
Tips To Know About Solo Cruising
One of the most significant benefits of going on a cruise alone is that some cruise lines give you double loyalty points if you sail in a double occupancy room.
It’s a great way to attain a higher status, especially when loyal to one cruise line. The following cruise lines reward those who pay the single supplement in a double occupancy room. Note, you will not get double points when cruising in a solo or studio stateroom.
- Royal Caribbean – double points.
- Celebrity Cruises – double points based on room type.
- Azamara – double points.
- Princess Cruises – double points for cruises but not double the days.
Princess Cruises counts both the number of cruises and cruise days sailed. So, for my 3-day solo cruise with Princess, I got two cruise credits.
As you can see, you can level up quicker by doing multiple mini-cruises or booking an extended itinerary. When staying in a double occupancy stateroom and paying for two, your one cruise will count as two.
Holland America hosts single events, allowing cruise singles to meet other solo cruisers. With cocktail parties, wine tasting, and dance classes, you can still have fun on your own.
On longer itineraries of 30 days or more, they provide a social host who can act as a dance partner and company during the sailing.
Sometimes, cruise lines have special offers with no single or discounted supplement. Vacation To Go has a section of single cruises with discounts. There are also clubs like Singles Cruises that allows you to sail with other solo guests.
Cruising As A Solo Traveler
During my Holland America cruise, there was a meet and greet for solo and single guests on the first evening. Later on, there was a solo dinner.
Single guests can dine alone or share a large table in the main dining room. Traditionally, cruise lines offered early and late seating. However, many have now gone to anytime dining.
On the old program, it was easier to dine with other single cruisers, as the line often sat them together at the same table every night. It was a chance to make new friends and organize tours with fellow passengers.
With anytime dining, you will be seated with couples if you request a shared table. Alternatively, if you attend a singles or solo meet and greet, you can arrange to have dinner with other guests.
If you’re looking to do group activities with solo travelers, there are many online groups that allow you to connect before embarkation day.
Solo Cruise Conclusion
Going on a cruise alone might be overwhelming for some, yet others do it every day. If you’re worried about safety, you have the security of taking a cruise line excursion with other guests.
Whether you’re new to traveling alone or a seasonal single adventurer, solo cruising provides a way to see the world without being alone.
While I always traveled on a cruise ship with someone else, cruising alone allowed me to do what I wanted. Cruise excursions were less expensive in ports as I was paying for one. I could also fly with just a carry-on since I was packing for one and not two.
While I just experienced my first solo journey, I’m sure it won’t be the last.