Solo traveling can be quite liberating, and it's even more so when you're on a cruise. Imagine having loads of downtime to relax, recharge and maybe read all those books you've neglected for so long. When you cruise as a solo, you're able to dine when you want, choose the port experiences that you want and spend time doing the activities that you want to do, without compromising with other people.
In this coupled-up world, a solo traveler can find a few things difficult when cruising alone. Mega-ships can be so big that it can be hard to meet people and run into them again onboard. Snagging solo tables or finding dining companions if you do want company can be hard, especially in an era where social distancing has become the norm. Then there's the issue of cost: A solo can expect to pay between 125 percent and 200 percent of the published cruise fare to cover the cost of the "missing" passenger.
Some cruise lines make an effort to cater to solos. Some will greatly reduce or even waive single supplements to fill berths, or offer meet-and-greets or dining options for single cruisers. Several lines offer dedicated solo cabins, touting priced-for-one fares that generally run higher than the per-person cost for a double occupancy cabin, but lower than assuming the cost of the single supplement on a standard cabin. (See The Truth About Solo Cabins for more info on how fares for solo-dedicated cabins stack up.)
Here is a look at the seven best cruise lines for solo travelers who are ready for their own adventure.
1. Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian Cruise Line has made a concerted effort to put a bank of studio cabins -- all sized and priced for the solo traveler -- on many of its newest ships. While Norwegian Epic was the first ship to add the studios and has the most -- 128 -- other ships have followed suit. Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway have 59 studio cabins; Norwegian Escape, Norwegian Bliss, Norwegian Joy and Norwegian Encore each have 82 studio units. Four studios also can be found on Pride of America, which sails year-round in Hawaii.
A full-sized bed, flat-screen TV and private bathroom are all squeezed into these up-to-100-square-foot accommodations. (Square footage varies by ship). Although all studios are inside cabins, some have windows that looks out onto corridors. The studio cabins on Norwegian Bliss, Norwegian Joy and Norwegian Encore have virtual portholes that streams in ocean views. Four different colors of ambient lighting jazz up the room.
The biggest perk, however, is access to an exclusive, shared social space called the Studio Complex and Lounge. (It's not available on Pride of America, but studio occupants do have access to a shared living room space.) It's a sleek hangout area with its own large-screen TVs, coffee-making facilities, a bartender at certain times of the day and daily hosted predinner gatherings.
Pricing: Studio cabins are priced for one.
2. Holland America Line
Holland America Line is renowned for catering to solo cruisers. There are plenty of programs that don't require partners, and activities that can be delightfully solitary or a means to meeting others. (The culinary programs, from hands-on cooking workshops to wine tastings, are tons of fun.) The Single Partners Program, available on most voyages, offers hosted onboard solo traveler events like cocktail mixers and games, too. Singles are invited to dine together (by advance request).
The line's biggest and newest ships, Koningsdam, Nieuw Statendam and Rotterdam, offer 12 solo cabins. The solo cabins are all ocean view and range from 127 to 172 square feet. They feature all of the same amenities of a double-occupancy cabin, but with a twin bed.
Pricing: Solo cabins are priced for one.
3. Royal Caribbean International
Royal Caribbean International's Quantum of the Seas, Spectrum of the Seas, Ovation of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas and Odyssey of the Seas each feature 28 dedicated "studio" cabins for solo travelers, a mix of virtual balcony cabins (featuring 80-inch floor-to-ceiling LED display screens that project live images of the ocean and ports) and staterooms with actual 55-square-foot open-air balconies. These units all come with full-size beds and range in size from 101 to 119 square feet.
Harmony of the Seas and Symphony of the Seas also offer two categories (insides and outsides, though none with virtual or true balconies), but only 15 cabins are available, and they're smaller, starting at 96 square feet.
A variety of singles-friendly activities onboard Royal Caribbean ships allows solo cruisers to socialize and have just as much fun at sea as couples and groups. From scuba training in the pool and group fitness activities to wine-tasting demonstrations and cooking classes, solo cruisers can easily keep themselves well entertained.
Pricing: Royal Caribbean's studio staterooms carry no supplement.
Cunard has long attracted solo travelers to its traditional cruise ships and ocean liners, and the convivial onboard atmosphere means that solos can easily make friends with their shipmates if they choose. Cunard does try to accommodate passengers who wish to dine solo, but this depends on how full each voyage is.
Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria each have nine midship single-occupancy cabins; eight are ocean-view cabins, while the ninth is a standard inside cabin. Queen Mary 2, meanwhile, has 15 ocean-view single-occupancy cabins.
Solo travelers will never be bored on any Cunard ship with so many activities taking place onboard. You can attend lectures by experts in various fields, see a planetarium show on Queen Mary 2, enjoy theatrical workshops and performances by members of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, play numerous rounds of team trivia and relax in the spa.
Pricing: Cunard's single cabins carry no supplement.
Silversea doesn't offer "single" cabins, but its occasional special fare deals mean that a solo traveler can sail alone without a huge penalty. Typical solo fares are 25 to 75 percent above the double-occupancy rate. Singles make up about 7 percent of the line's passenger base, ensuring a good amount of fellow solos onboard any given voyage.
Another plus: the small size of all the ships in the fleet make it easy for solo cruisers to meet people in an intimate setting. Some of the enrichment programs and special-interest cruises ensure a compatible mix of people with like-minded interests, solo or not.
A welcome reception with Champagne is held on every voyage with a large number of solos. Most voyages of more than 10 days also have gentleman hosts onboard as dance partners and shore excursion escorts.
Pricing: Solo fares are often priced as low as 125 percent of the regular fares.
6. Crystal Cruises
Crystal is one of the most popular luxury lines for solos, who make up to 25 percent of the line's passengers on some sailings. Solo travelers are attracted by the wide range of activities onboard, plus supplements that can be as low as 10 percent for certain categories. Plus, while Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity are quite spacious, they carry only 848 and 980 passengers respectively; a sense of community prevails onboard.
Crystal's unique activities include seminars through the Creative Learning Institute, with choices like wine tasting, Tai Chi lessons, art classes and a Computer University@Sea.
Pricing: Depending on the sailing, solo supplements range from 10 percent to 100 percent of double occupancy rates. On occasion, Crystal will offer limited-time sales on cabins for solo cruisers on select voyages.
The cozy and social atmosphere on Seabourn's small ships assures solos that they won't be overlooked, and getting to know fellow cruisers -- and staffers -- is easy.
One of Seabourn's lovely traditions is to have its officers, staff and entertainers host tables at dinner -- not only on a formal evening but on just about every night. Solo travelers receive special consideration when it comes to invites, so you really don't have to dine alone if you don't choose to. All travelers are usually escorted across the dining room by the maitre d' or other staffer, which is a nice touch, especially when you are traveling solo.
Pricing: Seabourn's standard single supplement is 75 percent more than the double-occupancy fare for ocean view, veranda, penthouse and penthouse spa suites and 100 percent more for premium suites. As well, the line occasionally offers single guarantee fares for just 50 percent more than the double-occupancy fares; with this pricing, Seabourn (not the passenger) will choose the stateroom location and availability is limited.