These Are the Best Cruises for Solo Travelers

One writer actually prefers to travel solo on these cruises (even though she’s married). Here are her favorite cruises for traveling on your own.

Empty blue lounge chairs and pool deck area on Uniworld's S.S. "Bon Voyage" river cruise ship

Uniworld Boutique River Cruises is waiving its single supplement on numerous spring sailings—including in Bordeaux on the S.S. Bon Voyage.

Courtesy of Uniworld

Traveling alone can be tricky. I love the total independence, but even after decades of solo globe-trotting I still occasionally get that wistful “I wish I had someone to share this with” feeling.

Group tours, which many solo travelers opt for, ensure that you always have company. But it’s not always the company you’d choose, and the itineraries can feel a bit rigid at times. I often feel like I don’t have enough time to wander on my own when I’m traveling with a tour group.

That’s why I’ve fallen in love with small-ship cruising, which, in my opinion, offers the best of all worlds. In fact (and don’t tell my husband), I actually prefer traveling alone on small ships. Why? Because unlike on ships with thousands of passengers—many of whom you may never even encounter let alone get friendly with—it’s really easy to find like-minded travelers to socialize with. I have yet to travel on a small ship where I didn’t forge new and lasting friendships with fellow solo travelers, couples, and families alike.

Best of all, on cruises, the only schedule you have to follow is making sure you are back onboard by sailing time, so you can explore the destinations how you want to—alone or on a group excursion.

The downside, of course, is that dreaded solo supplement (when prices are based on double occupancy so you basically have to pay for two to get a private room). But with demand for solo cruising, particularly among women, on the rise, many cruise lines are responding with special sailings during which they either eliminate or reduce the upcharge for having your own cabin.

Here are five of our top picks for cruises for solo travelers.

About two dozen people in the water off narrow strand of sand in the Sicilian coastal town of Cefalu, viewed from water

You and your new friends on an intimate Sea Cloud sailing ship can explore the beauty and intrigue of Sicily together.

Courtesy of Ruth Troughton/Unsplash

1. Explore Sicily on Sea Cloud’s private yacht-style cruises

Suggested itinerary: Scenes of Sicily, June 24 to July 1, 2024, from $6,995 per person

Ever dream of traveling the world on a sailboat? Sailing aboard Sea Cloud’s three tall ships feels like having a friend with their own private yacht inviting you aboard. This year, Sea Cloud is waiving the single supplement on select sailings, including its “Scenes of Sicily” itinerary on Sea Cloud II, a sailing ship with a maximum capacity of 94 passengers. Set off under full sails for a round-trip journey from Malta, then circumnavigate the Italian island with stops at its premier ports for private yachts. Explore Mount Etna, Europe’s most active volcano; Ortigia’s ancient ruins and the baroque churches and palazzi of Noto; a private palazzo and the magnificent Cappella Palatina in Palermo; and the volcanic panorama of Taormina with its romantic alleys and flower-covered stairways. The intimate atmosphere on this small ship encourages getting to know your fellow passengers and crew. Most meals are served on the upper deck, with open seating for easy mingling.

A blue banquette and blue dining chairs in the café onboard Uniworld's S.S. "Bon Voyage"

You’ll have no shortage of tantalizing French food and wine on Uniworld’s “Brilliant Bordeaux” river cruise itinerary.

Courtesy of Benny Elena Lynn/Uniworld

2. A river cruise through French wine country with Uniworld

Suggested itinerary: Uniworld Boutique River Cruises’ eight-day Brilliant Bordeaux journey, starting at $2,999 per person

My first-ever small-ship experience was a European river cruise. And I was immediately hooked. While river cruises can conjure images of older retired couples on cookie-cutter boats, that is changing, thanks in part to river cruise lines like Uniworld Boutique River Cruises. Uniworld is a luxury river cruise line that stands out for its above-par service, ornately decorated ships, and top-notch local and regional cuisine and wine. The company says it has seen a 31 percent increase in solo travelers from 2019 to 2023—with a 61 percent increase in female solo travelers. In response, Uniworld is waiving the single supplement (through the end of April) on some of its most popular sailings, including one of my favorites: the wine-filled “Brilliant Bordeaux” journey along France’s Garonne, Dordogne, and Gironde rivers aboard the recently revamped 124-passenger S.S. Bon Voyage. My favorite spot onboard is the Soleil Deck, complete with a blue-tiled infinity pool and open-air, casual French bistro-style cuisine. Uniworld offers an intimate and hassle-free travel experience for solo travelers. Fares are all-inclusive and cover airport transfers, daily excursion options, onboard entertainment, farm-to-table dining, and wine and spirits.

The pool deck on the "Crystal Symphony" cruise ship, complete with numerous lounge chairs and couches

Relax and unwind poolside on the luxurious Crystal Symphony.

Courtesy of Mark Luscombe-Whyte/Crystal

3. Sail the Caribbean with renowned luxury cruise line Crystal

Suggested itinerary: Crystal’s San Juan to San Juan, December 9 to 16, 2024, starting at $3,000 per person

Looking for a larger ship with more amenities? Crystal, one of the pioneers of luxury, all-inclusive ocean cruising, offers reduced fares for solo travelers on select sailings on the Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony, including this preholiday Caribbean cruise that starts and stops in San Juan, Puerto Rico—with no other repeat ports, of course. Enjoy the sugar sand and clear waters of the Dominican Republic, St. Lucia, Dominica, Antigua, and the British Virgin Islands. Onboard, there’s a swimming pool, pickleball courts, and some of the finest dining (and service) at sea. Both ships, which hold just over 700 passengers, have nine dining options, including the only Nobu restaurants at sea. With so many dining choices, bars, an extensive spa, and all the amenities of larger ships, solo travelers can easily find a place to mingle or relax on their own.

An aerial view of coastal Old Town Dubrovnik, with small harbor

When it comes to exploring a bustling port like Dubrovnik, solo travelers can either roam on their own or opt for a group excursion.

Courtesy of Spencer Davis/Unsplash

4. Explore the Croatian coast in style

Suggested itinerary: Cruise Croatia’s seven-night Dubrovnik to Split sailing, from $1,495 per person

If you want to go really small, Cruise Croatia operates a fleet of yachts that is increasingly attracting solo travelers, particularly women age 45 and up, according to the cruise line. And there are not many places more beautiful to sail than along the coast of Croatia. Wander the historic towns and take a plunge off the side of the yacht into the teal-blue, crystal-clear waters of the Aegean Sea on a Cruise Croatia sailing from Dubrovnik to Split on one of its two deluxe 38-passenger ships. The brand offers 8 to 10 supplement-free cabins for single guests on dedicated sailings. Once those are sold out, solo guests can get a cabin on a lower deck for 60 percent off the double fare. And next year, the company is planning to run two departures exclusively for solo travelers.

Six passengers on a Zodiac boat in the Galágapos

There’s constantly something to see or do when navigating the Galápagos.

Courtesy of Sven-Olof Lindblad/Lindblad Expeditions

5. An expedition cruise in the Galápagos

Suggested itinerary: The nine-night Galápagos aboard on National Geographic Endeavour II, starting at $6,605 per person

Expedition cruises by their nature tend to attract younger—or at least younger-minded—and more active cruisers. But they can also be pricey. For solo travelers willing to take a bit of a gamble, Lindblad Expeditions (which partners with National Geographic on its expedition cruises) will pair guests of the same gender together. If a roommate isn’t found, you’ll get the double-occupancy cabin at the singe rate. And the line’s culture is based on the belief that just because a guest is traveling solo doesn’t mean they are traveling alone. The voyages are designed to make traveling alone easy with open seating in the dining room and small exploration groups. On this classic 10-day Galápagos sailing, learn how to capture the best photos of giant turtles, blue-footed boobies, and sea lions from National Geographic photography expert Rich Reid. National Geographic Endeavour II has 52 outside cabins and suites, all with ocean views.

Jeri Clausing is a New Mexico–based journalist who has covered travel and the business of travel for more than 15 years.
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