I’ve been on more solo cruises than I can count.  It’s very different to cruising with a group or with another person. 

But it’s not as intimidating as some think. These 10 tips will help you make the most of being a solo cruiser.

Thinking of taking a solo cruise? These tips will help you make the most of it.

When you write for a cruise blog you get more than your fair share of staterooms for one.

Along the way, I’ve learned some things the hard way.  There are some things I wish I knew before I took my first cruise by myself. 

When “what you do next” is all up to you, whether on the ship or at a port of call, it helps to have a plan and know what you expect out of a cruise.

In this post I will give a few tips from things I’ve learned to help those thinking about taking their first solo cruise.

1. Don’t Assume Solo Cabins are Cheaper

I love that cruise lines are now offering cabins that don’t include a single supplement fee.  As you may know, most staterooms on a cruise ship are priced for double-occupancy.   

Solo cabins avoid this extra fee.

Norwegian Cruise Line has been ambitious in offering “studios” for solo travelers.    In fact, the cruise line has over 1,500 solo cabins across its fleet.

Here’s the catch though.  Sometimes, it’s still cheaper to book a regular cabin.   I just looked up a cruise on Norwegian Breakaway today, and the inside cabin was cheaper than the studio cabin.  I’ve seen some ocean view cabins cheaper as well.

Many cruise lines offer discounts on the single supplement fee or just have certain categories at such discounts that you’re better off avoiding the single person accommodation altogether.

The rise of solo travel has been so popular lately that demand has driven up the price of studio staterooms.  So don’t assume you have to get one of those staterooms just because you’re by yourself.

Read more: List of cruise ships with solo cabins

2. Embrace Your Food Options

Don’t worry about feeling awkward.  You can eat alone or join other people for meals.  You can do both or either, depending on your preference or mood.  Whether it’s grabbing a burger from the onboard burger joint, hitting the buffet, or enjoying a meal in the main dining room, it’s not as uncommon as you might think to eat solo.

Of course, if you want to join other people for dinner, I recommend talking to the maître d’ who can connect you with a table.  You won’t be the only solo traveler on board and can join others if you’d like.

You can also check out a specialty restaurant on your own.   My first time eating at Wonderland on a Royal Caribbean ship was by myself and it was a fantastic experience as this restaurant is like a magic show on your plate.

One advantage of eating alone on a ship is that it won’t take up much of your day.  I don’t mind longer dinners, but when sitting at a table with 6 or 8 people it could be more than a couple hours before you’re out of there.  I’ve missed too many shows because of long dinners.

Read more: 10 cruise buffet rules every traveler should follow

3. Plan Like Crazy

When I went to Barcelona by myself on a repositioning cruise I spent a lot of time planning.  I knew which places I wanted to visit and which areas I had to be a little more careful about, especially being alone.

The result was that by the time I got there I felt like I was already familiar with much of the city.  I knew which subways to take, how much public transportation would cost, what was walkable and what was not, and what “touristy” places I could skip.

I had my own kind of top 10 list of places I wanted to see in Barcelona, and being an independent traveler means you can just go for it.

All that planning doesn’t mean you can’t deviate from the plan though.  The whole point is that you have a structure to build from. But go off course as much as you want as well. 

4. Beat the Pre-cruise Jitters

If you’re not used to traveling alone it’s perfectly understandable that you might be a bit wary about a solo cruise.  One of the best ways to beat this is to really familiarize yourself with the ship and your destinations.  I already mentioned “planning like crazy” and this helps a lot of people feeling nervous about a trip.

Know everything a ship has to offer.  Watch those cruise ship tour videos, read reviews, and ask questions.  I find that when you take a few of the “unknowns” off the table it helps set your mind at ease to know what to expect.

By the time I get on a ship I usually know where most main areas are.  Ok, it might be nerdy to study deck plans before a cruise, but it’s something I really enjoy.

I also recommend scanning that daily planner on the app every day.  At least know what’s going on around the ship so you don’t miss something that interests you.

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5. Take a Walking Tour

Whether it’s through the cruise line or through a third party, I really enjoy walking tours when traveling alone.  It allows you to be part of a group and still get to dive into a community’s culture.

On my Barcelona trip I found several free walking tours of the city that only asked for a tip at the end.  As soon as my flight landed (and I lost a night of sleep) I joined the walking tour and spent the next 2 and a half hours with a group of 15 as we explored the city with an informative guide.

I would avoid tours that are mostly spent on a bus, looking out the window the entire time.  These are OK for couples or folks who don’t have the strength and energy to walk around.  I find that seeing a city while walking around gives you better perspective of the area, while also allowing you to find a few places along the way that you can revisit after the tour is over.

6. Keep Packing Simple but Bring an Extra Bag

Sure, you’ve got the entire closet to yourself, so you can bring some extra clothes if you want.  Personally, I like to pack very light.  But solo cruising allows you to have some extra space in your cabin.  Just know you will have to lug it around with you.

Some solo cruisers like to do a lot of shopping for everyone back home.  You can pack an extra bag that is empty too, so you have a way to carry all the great souvenirs you picked up along your journey.

Read more: Cruise packing: 15 things people always forget

7. Take Advantage of Solo Offerings

As I mentioned earlier, cruise lines are seeing a higher demand for this type of travel, so more things are being offered for solo travelers. 

You will find special meetups in the daily planner and activities and events planned just for those who walked onto the ship without an entourage.

This doesn’t mean you have to play a random game of 20 Questions with complete strangers.  That’s all up to you.

Just know you won’t be the weird passenger who has no friends if you decide to book a cabin for one.  And interacting with others in the “same boat” can help enrich the entire getaway.

8. Embrace the Alone Time

You’re on a ship with thousands of other passengers.  But maybe you just need to get away from it all on this trip.  Solo cruising allows you the freedom to relax in your own way.  Take a nap whenever you want, snooze away on a lounger in the shade, read a book in a cozy lounge with a view of the ocean, and book that thermal suite in the spa.

You can sleep in late or be as spontaneous as you wish without worrying about messing up anyone else’s plans.  Embrace that aspect of solo travel.  It will help you return back home much more refreshed.

Read more: 12 tips for avoiding crowds on a cruise ship

9. Realize You Don’t Have to Stay Connected

As I just mentioned, you might just need a getaway.  Wi-Fi on cruise ships has gotten faster and more reliable than ever before.  But this doesn’t mean you have to use it.   Your family and friends will want to know you’re OK on this trip, so an occasional message back home is perfectly understandable. 

But many phone plans offer data in foreign ports of call.  With my T-Mobile plan I can wait until the ship is in a port of call to check my email, send a few messages, and use data to make a couple phone calls.

Read more: Cell phone plans on a cruise ship: comparing the big 3.

10. Get to Know the Crew

On almost every cruise I’ve been on I’ve been impressed with the crew.  Most are hardworking, courteous, and just want you to have an amazing cruise.

Whether it’s the waiter at your favorite restaurant or your cabin steward, take the time to get to know them a little better.  Having that friendly face can help you feel less lonely, and you can always give a quick update on how your day off ship went.

With so many different cultures and countries represented by the crew on a cruise ship it’s a great way to broaden your horizons as well.  They can even offer insights into different ports of call since many of them have probably been off ship at those places before.  Ask them where the free Wi-Fi is or ask for a recommended excursion.

A little effort goes a long way so try to remember the names of the crew too.  I always feel terrible when my cabin steward remembers my name but I don’t remember theirs.  Sure, you could say it’s their job to know, but remember someone’s name can be one of the best compliments you can give them.

Final Thoughts

You don’t have to feel intimidated about cruising alone.  As an independent traveler the cruise will be what you make of it.  More people than ever are finding how liberating it can be to explore new destinations on their own.

Follow a few of these tips and add some of your own.

Read more: 7 ways to avoid spending an extra penny on board your cruise

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