Get in early and stay informed for the best deals, writes Tiana Templeman.
In many ways, cruising is the ideal holiday for solo travellers. There is plenty to do both on and off the ship, it's easy to strike up a conversation with fellow travellers and there is no need to worry about the logistics of getting from one destination to another. However, there is one issue which is anything but smooth sailing: the dreaded single supplement.
Fortunately, cruise lines are adapting to better meet the needs of solo travellers, with some lines waiving this additional fee. Single staterooms are another trend that is revolutionising the cruise industry. Newer ships such as Celebrity Cruises' Celebrity Edge, Aurora Expeditions' Greg Mortimer, Holland America's Koningsdam and Nieuw Statendam, and Royal Caribbean's Ovation of the Seas, all have cabins designed for solo travellers.
Even with more lines offering single cabins and reduced or no single supplements, solo cruisers should book early to secure the best deals. Other solo saving strategies include joining cruise-line mailing lists to receive solo travel deals in advance or using the cabin-mate matching service available on some lines.
With this option, passengers can request to be matched with a same-sex travelling companion to share the cost of the room. However, this can be akin to playing Russian roulette, as reader and solo traveller Angela from Tauranga discovered on a recent cruise. Unfortunately, on this occasion Lady Luck was not on her side when it came to cabin mates. "It was a disaster and I will never do this again," she wrote.
If you would prefer to sail solo without having to share a room with a stranger, set sail on one of the ships mentioned above or any of these solo-friendly cruise lines.
Family-owned APT (and sister companies Travelmarvel and Botanica World Discoveries) have a Solo Traveller Club with newsletters offering deals for single travellers. Savings on European cruises can amount to more than $10,000 for singles who book early enough.
This boutique eco-tourism expedition line offers a standby singles programme and cabin-mate matching on all voyages. However, it is hard to go past the three-, four- and seven-night Great Barrier Reef itineraries, none of which have a single supplement.
Ponant Yacht Cruises & Expeditions waive the single supplement on a selection of elegant yet casual voyages. Early booking bonuses can be combined with solo traveller deals. Itineraries range from the Arctic to Central and South America, Oceania, the Atlantic and Northern Europe. Sadly, you will rarely (if ever) see solo fares for the Antarctic cruises.
Azamara Club Cruises
With two boutique-sized ships, this upmarket line is renowned for its immersive itineraries and friendly on-board vibe. Azamara offers a reduced single supplement of 125 per cent on some voyages and occasional no single supplement specials.
This line offers a traditional cruise experience with elegant formal nights, assigned dining rooms and afternoon tea served by white-gloved waiters. Single-occupancy staterooms are available across the fleet but you need to book early for these popular cabins.
Small-ship Asia river cruises aboard boutique, colonial-style luxury river ships that accommodate no more than 60 passengers. No single supplement offers are available on a regular basis. Sign up for the newsletter to get the best deals.
● Do you have a question about cruising? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with Cruise in the subject line and Tiana will be able to help.