If you’ve never tried a solo cruise, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the options.

If you’re travelling solo, a cruise can be the perfect way to see the world – exploring in comfort, a friendly atmosphere on board, destinations galore and escorted tours if you prefer to explore in a group.

Cathy Winston, Editor of 101 Singles Holidays presents her tips on how to find your perfect solo trip.

1. Is there a supplement?
More cruise ships than ever are offering staterooms for single occupancy, without the previous single supplements that often made cruises unaffordable for solo travellers.

Norwegian Cruise Lines was one of the first to focus on solo cruisers, and you’ll still find plenty of solo staterooms on board their ships, especially Norwegian Epic – details from Friendship Travel.

Travellers aged over 50 can find plenty of options for single cabins with Saga, both on board the more traditional Saga Pearl II and the more contemporary Saga Sapphire. Even more are due on the new Spirit of Discovery, joining the fleet from summer 2019.

Or try a specialist tour operator such as Travel One which arranges holidays exclusively for solo travellers. It offers adult only cruises without a supplement, many departing from UK ports.

2. What else is there for solo cruisers?
There’s more than just your sleeping arrangements to consider. Are there any special events for those cruising alone, for example? Many cruise lines will arrange welcome drinks, and sometimes dinner or tours especially for those travelling alone.

Fred Olsen Cruises are particularly good at arranging gatherings and activities for singles. You can be paired with other solo travellers for dinner, while they’ll also provide gentlemen dinner hosts and companions for shore excursions, with deals for single cruisers available from iglucruise.

Norwegian Cruise Lines also has a Studio Lounge on board half a dozen of its fleet of ships, exclusively for those booked into the studio staterooms – the perfect place to relax or get to know fellow passengers, as it’s guaranteed everyone else will also be cruising solo.

3. Which destination?
The choice of itineraries covers the entire globe, so wherever you fancy going, you’ll find a cruise ship heading in that direction – from mini-cruises to test the waters right up to round-the-world voyages.

Do you enjoy exploring independently – and if so, is it relatively easy to do so at your chosen ports? In most European destinations, it’s easy to head ashore and discover at your own pace, or take a ship shuttle if the port is a little way out.

If you’d rather be part of a tour, you’ll be spoiled for choice with group trips offered by the cruise ship, including specialist activities and access which it might otherwise be difficult to arrange. Spending a day with a group early in the trip can be a great way to meet other passengers who share your interests.

Some voyages cater to specialist interests – for example, Peter Sommer Travels has expert archaeologists and historians accompanying its small groups, and cruises around Greece, Italy, Croatia and Turkey

But you can also find cruises with expert speakers on board, a particular music theme (anything from Gilbert & Sullivan to 80s music) or an emphasis on culture. It’s a great ice breaker as well as the chance to indulge your own passions.

4. How formal will it be?
Cruising has worked hard over the past two decades to shake off its previously staid reputation – if you love the formality of dressing for dinner, you can still find it on offer, along with wonderful service from stateroom butlers and restaurant staff.

But if you prefer a more relaxed approach, many of the cruise lines pride themselves on ever more flexibility such as speciality restaurants and more casual options alongside the communal tables of the main dining room. The newest ships, such as Celebrity Edge launching later this year, won’t even have a traditional main dining room.

Smaller ships can also have a much more informal feel – the smallest cruise ships sailing around the UK have fewer than 10 passengers. My top pick for a sense of adventure - explore the Hebrides with St Hilda’s Sea Adventures.

For a similarly small group in a sunnier location, try a Mediterranean gulet cruise or a luxury canal barge holiday.

River cruises also have smaller numbers than even the smallest ocean-going ships. Sailing along the Nile is one of the world’s great journeys, and On The Go Tours has trips with no single supplement – choose from a relaxed journey in a felucca or upgrade to a five-star ship.

Also, check out Mundy Cruising for cruises on Europe’s rivers such as the Danube.

May 2018