If you’re keen to give solo cruising a try, here are some tips to make it more affordable.
Solo travellers are taking the bull by the horns and not being put off trying something new, just because they don’t have a travel companion. Cruise companies have acknowledged this trend and are adapting more of their ships, fares and programs to suit singles. So, if you’re cruising alone, here are some options to consider.
Room for one more
The easiest option for a solo cruiser is to book a single stateroom, to avoid the supplement fee for occupying a double cabin. However, there aren’t many such cabins available so they do book out quickly.
Cunard has installed nine single cabins on the Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth, and 17 on the Queen Mary 2. P&O has single cabins on its World Cruising fleet, including Arcadia and Aurora, both of which will be in Australian waters in 2017.
When Ovation of the Seas debuts in Australia in December 2016, it will be the first Royal Caribbean ship with single cabins. And the 12 singles on Holland America’s new ms Koningsdam all come with an ocean view.
Meanwhile, the new Aranui 5 introduces single cabins for the first time on its unique route between Tahiti and the Marquesas Islands, and several European riverboats are being similarly fitted.
A fare deal
To occupy a double cabin as a single, you will be required to pay a solo supplement. Some lines charge the same as if two people occupied the room, citing lost revenue opportunities through bar sales, activities and excursions. However, a 50 per cent supplement is more common and this can drop to 10 per cent or even be waived during sale. But such generosity is tied in with demand and therefore ‘subject to availability’, so you should be prepared to pounce on a deal when it’s offered.
Another option is a bit of a gamble – where a single cruiser shares a cabin with a stranger (usually of the same sex). If the cruise line can’t pair you with someone suitable, you get the cabin to yourself but pay no more. It’s worth noting that not all cruise lines offer this option.
For those who find it hard to break the ice in social situations, ships have programs and get-togethers for solo cruisers. For example, Holland America has hosted singles events, such as cocktail parties and games, and will seat solos together at dinner; Princess Cruises organises meet-ups for single passengers who don’t want to go ashore alone; and Cunard can arrange a ‘gentleman host’ dance partner for single female cruisers.
On large ships it’s easier to mix with the crowds, and open restaurant sittings mean you’ll usually be able to find someone with whom to dine. Also, not every couple attends the activities together, so there’s every chance of meeting other ‘solos’.
Jeremy Bourke loves planning travel experiences as much as he enjoys taking them. He reads a map in the way some people read a novel, and he prides himself on never having been lost – well, not for long anyway.
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