Historically, from a financial perspective, cruising has not been a great choice for solo travellers. The absence of single cabins, and single supplements approaching 100 per cent, have penalised those travelling alone.
The problem is that it has not been in cruise lines’ interests to include single cabins. Traditionally, cruise operators have worked on a financial model based on double occupancy of a cabin or stateroom. Whilst single cabins take up almost as much square footage as twin cabins, they generate half the revenue.
However, the tide is turning. Cruise lines are slowly recognising the growing and lucrative solo traveller market, and are designing their ships accordingly. With the introduction of their stylish single cabins, Norwegian Cruise Line has led the charge, and other operators are following suit.
But do these shiny new single cabins represent good value to the solo traveller? To help you decide, let’s take a look at what six of the most popular cruise lines are offering solo travellers.
Review of single cabins on major cruise lines
Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL)
Norwegian Cruise Line’s introduction of single cabins was marketing genius. Rebranding them as ‘Studio Cabins’, they are clustered together and include an exclusive lounge.
Which NCL ships have single cabins?
Studio cabins are on all the ships in Norwegian’s fleet.
What are NCL’s single cabins like?
Measuring approximately 100 sq. ft., Norwegian’s studio cabins are compact. Whilst they are all interior, their (shaded) windows look out onto the corridor. They boast a full-size bed, hip multi-coloured lighting and a clean modern style.
What extra amenities can solo travellers expect on NCL?
- Access to an exclusive singles’ lounge
- Meet-ups and bar crawls for solo travellers
Although solo cabins do not have penetration across Royal Caribbean’s entire fleet, they do offer balcony staterooms.
Which Royal Caribbean ships have single cabins?
Quantum of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas, Ovation of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas, Adventure of the Seas, Brilliance of the Seas, Jewel of the Seas, Mariner of the Seas, Radiance of the Seas and Serenade of the Seas
What are Royal Caribbean’s single cabins like?
The type of stateroom will depend on which ship you are sailing on.
Let’s take a look at their Quantum Class ships – Quantum, Anthem and Ovation – first. These ships offer two types of solo cabins for those travelling alone:
- Studio interior stateroom with a virtual view – similar in size to the studio cabins on NCL, these innovative staterooms feature a floor to ceiling LED screen displaying real-time ocean (or port) views.
- Super studio balcony stateroom – Super studios are 199 sq. ft. with a 55 sq. ft. balcony and full-size beds.
Harmony of the Seas features Studio Interior and Studio Ocean View cabins.
Adventure of the Seas, Brilliance of the Seas, Jewel of the Seas, Mariner of the Seas, Radiance of the Seas and Serenade of the Seas feature Studio Interior staterooms only. The availability of these solo cabins is limited to 2 -5 per ship.
What extra amenities can solo travellers expect on Royal Caribbean?
Meet and mingle events can be arranged in advance via Cruise Critic.
I have always had a fantastic experience with Celebrity from the balmy beaches of the Western Caribbean to the bracing winds of the Baltic cities. However, they have been slow off the blocks when it comes to accommodating solo travellers.
Which Celebrity ships have single cabins?
What are Celebrity’s single cabins like?
Celebrity Edge features their first cabins designed for the solo traveller, Single Stateroom with Infinite Veranda. As the name suggests, these staterooms have a balcony, but this is a balcony with a difference. At the push of a button, the veranda doors slide into the sides of the room, transforming the entire stateroom into a large veranda.
At 142 sq feet, this is smaller than the regular Stateroom with Infinite Veranda but does feature a queen-sized bed. There are only 16 of these single cabins, all on deck 6.
What extra amenities can solo travellers expect on Celebrity?
The itineraries on most of Celebrity’s ships have events for solo cruisers. For example, on the first night of the cruise there is a typically a meet and mingle event for solo cruise passengers.
One of the grand old dames of traditional British cruising, P&O is usually more affordable than Celebrity and many of its ships now feature solo cabins.
Which P&O ships have single cabins?
Azura, Arcadia, Aurora, Britannia, Oriana and Ventura
What are P&O’s single cabins like?
Like Royal Caribbean, the type of solo cabin will depend on the ship.
Arcadia, Azura, Britannia, Oriana and Ventura have a small number of single interior cabins. Arcadia and Oriana are adult-only ships, perfect for those looking for a child-free holiday!
Aurora, Azura and Ventura have single sea view cabins
Arcadia, Aurora and Britannia have single balcony cabins.
Note also that you will be sleeping in a single bed in all of these cabins.
What extra amenities can solo travellers expect on P&O?
There are coffee mornings for solo travellers on cruises over three nights duration.
The epitome of elegant, traditional cruising, Cunard has single cabins across its small fleet.
Which Cunard ships have single cabins?
Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth.
What are Cunard’s single cabins like?
Cunard’s ships have Single Inside staterooms and Single Oceanview staterooms. These are centrally located, close to the theatre and ballroom. However, this relatively busy location may not suit all passengers.
What extra amenities can solo travellers expect on Cunard?
Cunard hosts coffee mornings and dedicated daytime activities for solo travellers
Holland America Line
The Seattle-based Holland America Line (HAL) is another cruise line in the premium mould. Much of its fleet is getting on in years but the company has recently invested in upgrading its ships.
Which HAL ships have single cabins?
Koningsdam, Prisendam and Nieuw Statendam.
What are HAL’s single cabins like?
All three ships offer roomy Single Ocean View Rooms (127 – 172 sq., ft) featuring a queen-sized bed.
What extra amenities can solo travellers expect on HAL?
Traditionally, Holland America Line has excelled in offering activities for solo traveller including cocktail parties, exercise classes, lectures, wine tasting and trivia contests.
Is a single cabin good value?
It is worth considering a single cabin but, as a solo traveller, it is not your only option.
First and foremost, don’t expect the price of a single cabin to be half that of a regular cabin. As a (very) general rule of thumb, expect your fare to be 125 to 160% more than that of someone who is sharing an equivalent cabin class. However, this may still be a good deal compared to typical cruise single occupancy supplements of between 125 and 200 per cent.
In common with booking a cruise in general, book as early as possible. Single cruise cabins are limited and coveted by solo travellers. Therefore, they can get booked up quickly. If you have your heart set on a single cabin, don’t delay.
It pays to compare the cost of a single cabin to that of sole occupancy of an equivalent cabin. You may find that there is not much of a difference and the regular cabin is in a better location. As it is impossible to provide a general comparison between the prices of single cabins and sole occupancy of regular ones, you will need to do this on a case-by-case basis.
I’ll give you a real-life example. When I did my Norway fjords cruise on MS Britannia as a solo traveller in 2018, I booked a regular balcony cabin. P&O’s Britannia has single balcony cabins, which is commendable. However, these cabins have smaller beds and are clustered together on the Lido deck in the corridor leading to one of the ship’s bars from the pool.
This is an area that has a lot of footfall and can be noisy. When I compared the prices of this single cabin with that of sole occupancy of a regular balcony cabin, the difference was marginal. Rejecting the single cabin was, therefore, a no-brainer.
It is encouraging that cruise lines are doing more to accommodate solo travellers. However, this is not as rosy as it appears on the surface, and solo cruisers continue to be unfairly penalised.
As the business model of cruising is predicated on generating profit through on-board spend of their captive group of passengers, reduced ship occupancy is not desirable. Therefore, I don’t envisage this unfair taxation for solo cruise passengers ending anytime soon.