Fortunately single-berth cabins resembling something out of the Caine Mutiny have been banished to the deep, but the plight of the solo cruiser isn’t an easy one. Surcharges vary enormously - from as little as 10% to twice the fare, depending on time of year and availability, so why do lone voyagers get a raw deal?
It’s a simple economic fact that the most precious commodity aboard any ship is space. It is also a reality of ship design that single cabins take up almost as much room as twin cabins, yet generate half the revenue. Several older, Brit-popular ships offering a choice of single cabins include: Thomson Cruises; Cruise & Maritime Voyages and Saga Cruises. But now the tide has turned and an increasing number of newly-built ships are catering to solo travellers. Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines have introduced some great ‘twin-for-sole occupancy’ discounts. These special deals mean that a solo guest, occupying a twin cabin, will pay no single supplement on bookings made during February – so don’t delay.
The first new ship to break the mould was P&O Cruises’ Azura, offering 18 dedicated single cabins. It seems P&O got the message that they ignore single cruisers at their peril, so Arcadia, Aurora, Oriana and Ventura were all retrofitted with single cabins. When The Queen launched Britannia in 2015 the designers went to great lengths to extol the novelty of 15 single balcony and 12 single inside cabins on board. Whilst this represents less than one per cent of the accommodation it reflects a sea-change in attitudes.
During a massive refit last year Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 emerged with 15 newly created Britannia single staterooms. In truth, accommodating lone voyagers is nothing new for Cunard – the now retired QE2 had 100 single cabins – but this venerable ship was built in an era when the rich and famous travelled with their maids and man-servants.
Norwegian Cruise Line has also made solo cruising cool. Studio cabins are funky with multi-coloured lighting and an unusual bathroom design. There’s even a hip lounge for exclusive use of studio guests.
Cruise lines go out of their way to ensure their solo travellers aren’t treated as Johnny-no-mates. There’s plenty of cocktail parties for mixing and mingling and the maitre d’ ensures dining companions at large tables are compatible. One of the most sought after benefits for ladies travelling alone is the concept of Gentlemen Hosts, a programme that - according to rumour - sometimes has a soupçon of romance. For advice on the best options for solo cruising call 0800 484 0370 or click on www.cruisedirect.co.uk.
- 7th February 2017