Sailing solo

Single cabins on cruise ships are all the rage now, what with the launches this year of NCL’s Norwegian Epic and P&O’s Azura, both equipped with shiny, new, headline-grabbing cabins for solos.

The trade publication Travel Trade Gazette has done a little price check on these single cabins, comparing similar(ish) cruises on Epic, Azura and Fred. Olsen’s Balmoral, which is also solo-friendly.

The cruises are all slightly different – Epic is nine nights and Azura, 14 nights, for example, and Epic is a fly-cruise while the other two are ex-Southampton. But if you distil it down to a straightforward price-per-night comparison, this is how it comes out:

  • Norwegian Epic £87.66
  • Azura £112.78
  • Balmoral £180.90

Big difference, isn’t it? If you’re buying purely on price, Norwegian Epic is a clear winner.

But do people really care only about the price, just because they’re single? Yes, it’s important and a matter of principle, too, but surely ending up on the right ship for you is a bigger factor?

There's more to solo cruising than the price

Couples and families who cruise for the first time are rarely encouraged to buy purely on price, yet with singles, it seems to be the only way in which cruises are compared, particularly at the moment, with all this focus on single cabins.

So, single cruisers, what’s your checklist when booking? Is it more than the money? A decent bar where you can feel comfortable, propped up alone with your Martini, or big, lively tables at dinner, or classes where you can meet like-minded people? We’ve compiled our own list of single-friendly cruise lines on Cruise Critic but we’d love to know your views!

SJB

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5 Comments

Filed under Advice

5 responses to “Sailing solo

  1. I think Epic is the only one which truely offers a fair deal to single travellers. they genuinely have single cabins with single fares, un-influenced by the normal double occupancy pricing. How is the Balmoral pricing at all attractive to single travellers? You get a smaller, single person cabin but for almost 100% single supplement. And whilst Azura has specifically designed single cabins, these prices are not single fares (the prices are obviously based on the double occupancy fares and incur a single supplement).
    Fair play to NCL for doing what they say on the tin and offering competitive and affordable single fare

    • Absolutely agree that NCL deserves credit for its pricing – and the single cabins are fun, too. I just think that if travel agents are directing people to ships purely on price, there might be some customers who end up on Epic feeling a bit out of place! SJB

  2. Sean McGrath

    My checklist for booking solo

    1. Price, circa $100 per day max
    2. Cruise-line passenger demographic, I’m in my mid 20’s so I prefer a line that will have a number of people around my own age
    3. Traditional dining so I can be assigned a table with people around the same age. I can speak to the Maitre’d if I have to.
    4. Nightlife on board the ship, specifically I enjoy a ship with a Piano bar and late night bar/ disco
    5. Texas Holdem in the casino

    Thanks

  3. It’s important to remember that Epic’s commitment to solo travelers goes beyond the singles cabins. The cabins themselves — very big deal. But as ships get bigger and let’s face it, a bit more impersonal (the size makes way for more amenities and facilities but offers less of a chance to interact socially which is a big part of the appeal of smaller vessels.) So the “Living Room” area potentially really adds a value-added aspect because it’s a place where, hopefully, the people in those solo cabins can experience a community, whatever the age or cruise style.

    Azura’s cabins are lovely, I’ve seen ’em, but are just cabins. There’s no real support system.

    And Fred. Olsen’s are actually not necessarily smaller than standard cabins, though they’re decorated with a solo traveler in mind (for instance, removing one of the two twin beds and putting in a couch instead). It doesn’t really need a “living room” as the onboard ambience tends to be more traditionally social.

    Sean makes a good point about the demographic and I’ll be interested to see how Epic’s solo travelers shake out, age wise, after a few months. The request for traditional, assigned dining scenarios, however, may knock out quite a few possibilities. I’m with Sue, Sean, would love to see your wish list….

    CSB

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