Best Cruise Lines For Solo Cruisers (Tried & Tested, Pros & Cons!)


Cruising alone can be a lot of fun but it also comes at a cost. Solo cruisers can expect to pay a ‘solo supplement’ on most cruises which means that you could end up paying substantially more than you would if you were cruising with another person. Below are the cruise lines that I recommend when asked to recommend a cruise to a solo cruiser.

Cruises are priced per person but are usually based on two people sharing. Some cruise lines have solo specific cabins and many have onboard activities designed to bring solo cruisers together.

I have personally cruised on all cruise lines mentioned below but haven’t sailed in solo cabins on all.

Best Cruise Lines For Solo Cruisers

Saga

Saga are a 50+ cruise line focusing on ’boutique British’ cruising. Saga provides both river and ocean cruises and recently launched a new ship ‘Spirit of Discovery’. I was blown away by the ship and was lucky enough to stay in a solo balcony cabin which was HUGE.

Visit Saga’s website here: https://bit.ly/2JvsHmp

(affiliate link)

Onboard Cruise Experience

Saga includes a lot in their cruise fare. Gratuities, drinks with meals and WiFi are all included, as well as a transfer from your front door. Saga cruises also include your travel insurance so once you’ve paid for the cruise fare there is very little extra that you’ll have to spend.

The service and food provided by Saga are second to none. I honestly wish they didn’t have the 50+ age restriction because I’d be quite happy to cruise on Spirit of Discovery!

Why Are Saga Good For Solo Cruisers?

Saga’s Spirit of Discovery has over 100 solo cabins. This is amazing! The solo cabins range in size and price but I was lucky enough to stay in a ‘deluxe solo balcony cabin’. It was far bigger than any cabin that I’ve ever had before and the fact that it is for a solo cruiser makes it even more amazing.

All solo cabins on Spirit of Discovery have balconies.

Solo cabins are usually small and tucked away in rubbish locations, this isn’t the case on Spirit of Discovery! The cabin shown in the video below is balcony cabin S507.

There are so many little touches that I really love:

  • UK plug sockets
  • USB sockets by the bed
  • Guidelight by the bathroom door
  • HUGE walk-in wardrobe
  • Kettle 😉
  • 1.5x size balcony!

Solo Events

Saga do also have a number of events designed to bring solo cruisers together.

Possible cons:

  • Variety in  Ship Design

I loved Spirit of Discovery but a lot of Saga’s ships are much smaller and older.

  • British Experience

I personally don’t think that this is a con. I love the endless cups of tea and little British touches. Having UK plug sockets in the cabins is so helpful. If you would prefer a more multicultural cruise experience Saga may not be for you.

  • 50+ Cruise Line

I really do think that this one is  negative. I loved my time on Spirit of Discovery but I am 25 years too young to book a cruise on her!

Other Things To Consider

You do have to be 50+ to cruise with Saga. If you are cruising with somebody over 50 and you are 40+ this is allowed. Saga are very strict on this age restriction and there are no exceptions. I actually tried to order a brochure from the Saga website recently and it wouldn’t let me until I pretended I was 50!

Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Cruise Line are one of the largest and most popular cruise lines. They’re popular with younger cruisers, families, people that cruise solo and me! Norwegian Cruise Line are widely regarded as being one of the best cruise lines for solo cruisers. They don’t just provide solo cabins but also provide solo events and solo lounges. The solo cabins aren’t just used by people cruising alone but also by families who might have a member travelling alone, for example, a grandparent.

The solo cabins also provide a great experience for groups of friends who are cruising together but may not want to share a cabin.

Reviews from our Facebook group:

Cruised solo with NCL and I would recommend it! Especially like the solo meet ups every day. Met a lot of great people! Staff and other people cruising. – Ann-Charlotte

Onboard Cruise Experience

Norwegian Cruise Line is all about freedom of choice and flexibility. There are no formal nights and no official dress codes on any of the ships. Cruisers can eat when and where they want whenever they are hungry. On a number of the ships, food is available 24 hours a day. A personal favourite of mine is O-Sheehans bar and grill which serves things like hot dogs and buffalo wings.

The daily schedule on Norwegian cruises is always busy, there are activities taking part around the ship constantly. If ever you have a spare minute you can go for a walk and you will definitely bump into an event going on somewhere. This is one of my favourite things about cruising with Norwegian Cruise Line.

Norwegian Spirit Emma Cruises Le Teace
Me (right) and my cousin Libby in front of the Norwegian Spirit, my first ever cruise ship!

Why Are Norwegian Cruise Line Good For Solo Cruisers?

In my opinion, Norwegian Cruise Line offers more for solo cruisers than any other cruise line. The Norwegian Epic was the first ship to have a designated solo space on the ship and all Norwegian Cruise Line ships since have featured a similar area.

Norwegian Cruise Line have solo cabins which are all located together. They usually interconnect and will have a central solo lounge for the studio cruisers to spend time in. I hear that the solo lounge has free tea, coffee and snacks. Count me in!

All of the solo specific solo cabins on Norwegian Cruise Line are inside cabins which I think is a bit of a shame. They do have windows though which look out onto the corridor.

Solo Cruise Cabin Norwegian

I haven’t personally cruised in one of these cabins but Jessalynn has previously reviewed a solo cabin for us on the Norwegian Bliss.

My cabin

My cabin was small, but I expected that. Amazingly, even though I stayed in it for 12 nights, it never felt cramped or claustrophobic. I loved the small virtual “window” (that even had a shade to lower at night!). I found that keeping the room tidy helped it feel bigger. The room had two cupboards for clothes and my only complaint was the lack of actual dresser. There were no drawers to put away my clothes – I had to sort of stack them on the bottom of the cupboard. (Fortunately, I travel with packing cubes, so those came in quite handy.)

I definitely missed a few things about having a full-sized room, such as a mini-fridge and a regular bathroom and shower. The shower in the studio cabins is basically in the room, and the toilet is enclosed in a room so small I could barely shut the door while I was in it! Overall, though, I would recommend the studio cabins for solo travelers, but I would caution against them for larger people – they might not be as comfortable.

To read the full review of Jessalynns cruise on the Norwegian Bliss check out the post here: Norwegian Bliss Solo Cabin Review. 

Norwegian Cruise Line Solo Cabin Bathroom

Possible Cons

  • Not all ships are the same

Not all of Norwegians ships were designed for them and as a result, the facilities vary by ship. The smaller/older ships are some of my favourites but it is the newer ships that have better solo facilities. Norwegian Epic was the first to have a solo specific lounge and all ships since this date have the same features.

Cruise lines are increasingly focusing on solo cruisers which I think is exciting!

  • Larger ships can be busy

On the larger ships, you have to book theatre shows in advance and you may find yourself lining up for things. This isn’t a Norwegian specific problem but it is something that comes with cruising on mega-ships, of which Norwegian have quite a few.

Other Things To Consider

One of my favourite things about Norwegian Cruise Line is the ‘waterfront’ which features on the newer ships. The waterfront is a promenade deck which is lined with bars and restaurants. On my last Norwegian cruise, we didn’t have a balcony and instead would spend our time sitting on the promenade. It became our own HUGE balcony, complete with waiter service. Brilliant.

P&O Cruises 

P&O Cruises is a British cruise line owned and operated by Carnival Ltd. If you are from the UK you have probably seen TV advertisements for P&O cruises as they advertise heavily to attract the British market. That said, passengers from other parts of the world are always welcome.

There is an Australia portion of P&O Cruises although this is very different from the British part. In this post, I will be talking specifically about the UK portion of the brand.

Visit P&O Cruises website here: https://bit.ly/2YRo8rZ

(affiliate link)

p&o britannia kids

Onboard Cruise Experience

The majority of cruisers on P&O cruises are from the UK, I found the other guests to be extremely friendly and polite. P&O offer a number of cruises from Southampton and often offer short cruises.

You’ll find British favourites in the restaurants and the buffet. There is a kettle in the cabins too!

P&O do have formal nights and the dress codes are usually strictly adhered to. Men often wear tuxedos and women wear long evening gowns. It is possible to avoid the formal nights if you don’t want to dress up although I believe this would be a real shame! Try it at least once.

P&O offer both fixed and flexible dining. Table sharing is usually an option but it is also not required.

Review from our Facebook group:

Have cruised solo twice so far with P&O, and another one coming up in a couple of weeks. Did a week to the fjords and also a 3 week transatlantic. Both brilliant cruises and never had a problem with being on my own; always people to socialise with if you feel like it.
Would definitely recommend it. – Adam

Why Are P&O Cruises Good For Solo Cruisers?

P&O have solo cabins on Arcadia, Azura, Britannia, Iona, Oriana & Ventura.  They have solo balcony cabins on Arcadia, Aurora, Britannia and Iona which look amazing. The design of the cabins is the same as regular balcony cabins. I have a full post about the cabins that you’ll find on P&O’s Britannia: P&O Britannia (Cabin Tour & Guide). 

Below is a photo of a solo inside cabin.

P&O Britannia Solo Inside Cabin

Below are photos of a solo balcony cabin.

P&O Britannia Balcony Cabin

Possible Cons

  • No solo lounge or area reserved for solos
  • Formal dress/nights

Okay okay,  I know some people LOVE formal nights but some people also really hate it. The formal nights on P&O are quite formal and might not be to everybody’s taste.

Other Things To Consider

If you are cruising with P&O make sure you attend the ‘Great British Sail Away’. It is a bit of light-hearted patriotic fun on the pool deck. You’ll find many adults and children dancing around wearing union jacks and the entertainment team will be heavily involved.

The ‘Great British Sail Away’ doesn’t always happen during a sail away. On some Norwegian Fjords cruises it is a ‘Great British Sail Along’.

P&O Cruises Sail Away Party Top Deck

MSC Cruise Line

MSC provides some of the best value cruises around. MSC are an Italian cruise line and guests onboard speak a variety of languages. Announcements and entertainment happen in multiple languages but the staff on MSC cruises do speak English. I’ve been on three MSC cruises to date and there has always been a high percentage of English speakers onboard.

MSC are very popular with families and young cruisers, they have solo cabins on their newer ships and occasionally have ‘no solo supplement’ promotions.

Visit MSC’s UK website here.

Visit MSC’s USA website here. 

(affiliate links)

Onboard Cruise Experience

MSC cruises are relaxed and fun. MSC do have ‘gala’ nights although these aren’t very formal. I once saw a man wear a vest top (tank top) and a baseball hat to the gala night. The design of MSC’s cruise ships are all very similar, they’re modern and usually include diamonds/sparkles!

MSC Cruises provide amazing value for money. It is possible to cruise for under £50 per night if you book last minute and/or cruise out of season. MSC Cruises include dining in the main restaurant and buffet, accommodation and entertainment. To find out more about what the MSC cruise fare includes check out this post: Do MSC Cruises Include Meals? Your Guide to What is Included. 

Flexible Itineraries

One of the best things about MSC Cruises, in my opinion, is that their itineraries are extremely flexible. Guests are able to embark and disembark the ship in almost any cruise port which means that you can really cater the cruise to you. On most cruises, you’ll have a set embarkation and disembarkation date and won’t be able to change this.

Because guests board and disembark every day there isn’t a traditional ‘first/last’ night show and muster drills are completed every day.

msc meraviglia ropes course and waterslides
Me trying out the MSC Meraviglias ropes course!

Why Are MSC Cruise Line Good For Solo Cruisers?

MSC have solo cabins on MSC Meraviglia, Bellissima, Seaside, Seaview and Grandiosa.

MSC don’t, as far as I am aware, hold solo meetups or events but I put MSC on this list because of how fun and friendly the atmosphere is onboard.  I believe that MSC cruises are some of the best ones for making friends. I’m not sure if this is to do with the fact that multiple languages are spoken on board but just speaking the same language as your fellow guests feels as though it automatically makes you friends.

Possible Cons

  • Upsell

MSC cruises are pretty cheap which means that they’ll try to ‘up-sell’ you drinks packages and dining when you’re on board. On other cruise lines, this will usually stop after the first night but because guests embark every day with MSC Cruises the upsell seems to happen a lot more.

  • The food may not be to the taste of cruisers used to cruising with American/British cruise lines.

I have never had any problems with the food on MSC Cruises. I took 5 friends with me on the MSC Meraviglia in January and nobody ever had any complaints. The food was all hot and the portions were of a decent size. That said, cruisers used to big American/British portions may not like the food on MSC.

Other Things To Consider

If you are cruising with MSC and have a loyalty status with them (or any other cruise line) it is worth looking into the ‘status match’ program. I successfully matched my Norwegian Cruise Line loyalty status to MSC which means that now I get lots of freebies onboard. It’s brilliant! To learn more about how to apply and what perks you can expect check out this post: MSC Status Match.

Other Options:

The below cruise lines also have great solo options but I haven’t personally tried them. I don’t recommend anything unless I have first-hand experience.

  • Cruise and Maritime
  • Fred Olsen
  • Holland America
  • Royal Caribbean
  • Cunard

Where To Next?

If you have any cruise questions or photo/stories you’d like to share, join us in our Facebook group.

cruising isnt just for old people facebook group

 

Emma Le Teace

Hey! I'm Emma. A cruise blogger, YouTuber and founder of the 'Cruising Isn't Just For Old People' Facebook community and website. You can learn more here: About Me.

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